My last blog was back in October, and so this is way way over due. I’ve been meaning to write a few blogs since then, what I got up to in the off season, my 2018 review, and now thoughts around the start of 2019, but struggled to really get inspired with the content or what I was trying to achieve out of them.
I was tempted to combine then all of the above in here, but that, considering the way I write would equate to a blog post that’s longer than The Blah (http://mentalfloss.com/article/18661/quick-10-10-longest-novels-ever) a mere 7312 pages long!
However, now I’ve started writing, I do want to try and cover a few things.
My last race for 2018 was at the end of October and after the last couple of years of heavy racing (2018: 12 races including 5 full distance, 2017: 13 races including 4 full distances and a significant number of flights and travel in there, due to my nomadic nature and frequent racing), it was time to take a longer break. Something I’d avoided in the past, fearful that as I’m no youngster, it would be hard to regain fitness, but also because, sport was what I did, hobby, career, that was me.
However mentally and physically I needed the break and so pretty much took from the end of October right through to the middle of December off. However, as mentioned… sport is what I do, it wasn’t probably the complete break away from the sport, as the time was filled with commitments, meetings, and other triathlon related activities.
In those weeks off, I spent a hectic two weeks back in the UK, spending time with my family but only actually being at home for about 4 nights out of that trip. I had a few days in London, for the Team Hatch End Of Year Dinner, and a chance to visit Great Ormond Street Hospital, and see where the money they had raised had been used. Whilst in London it was also a chance to catch up with Parcours, and also a few contacts. Back from London and I headed up to Chester to spend an evening with Knutsford Tri Club, (see the previous link and this one for a couple of articles about the visit) before back home and an early start the next day to get to Stansted airport to fly out to Madrid for the Challenge Family European Race Directors meeting. It was an honour to be asked to attend and present my thoughts on Triathlon, Professionals Triathletes, The Challenge Races and other issues. Back home and a meeting with British Triathlon, to try to help expand and grow the knowledge and support to the longer course triathletes, and trying to grab some more family time, before I was back on a flight to the Southern Hemisphere.
Back in the Southern Hemisphere and it was still go, as the day after I landed I drove straight over from Christchurch to Queenstown, so support the Queenstown Marathon, and then spend a week in Wanaka, a place I love relaxing but working with Tim Brazier on some swim and run elements. After a week or so in Wanaka, I was back in Christchurch, and then headed up to Taupo for the Ironman 70.3 as part of the commentary team. This was great fun and really good to still be part of the event but see the other side of things. As well as the opportunity to be part of a video… My Taupo with the Seven8 crew.
It was always going to be hard to top off the last few years with the races, results and experiences and opportunities I’d had in 2017 and 2018. However, I came back ready to attack and hold faith in the process of getting fit again and reaching new levels having given body the break from training.
I stayed in Christchurch, New Zealand over Christmas to be able to focus on training, having had time back in the UK with my family in November. It’s always a tough time to be away from family, and the guilt was horrible. However I felt it was the right thing to do this year, having just really started back into training, and with all the travel I’d done, and with some key races for me looming in early 2019.
So 2019… after a few toys out the pram as I got back into training, wondering if I’d done the right thing having such a big break as everything just felt awful and horrible, things soon, and predictable started falling into place. I also had the additional bonus of my luuuuuuvly new bike and a new partnership with Factor. My Factor SLiCK is as the name states. I’m in love and it’s just so much fun to jump on and ride. (Keep an eye out for a full review of the bike coming and all the components.) Oh and if you are interested in a Factor bike…just drop me a message! 🙂
As the past few years, it started with the PurplePatch Training camp in Arizona. A chance to get together with the other Purplepatch Pros and some of the awesome Purplepatch top age groupers, and spend some good time with Matt and Paul. We’ve got a few new faces in the Pro ranks this year, Chelsea Sodaro and Laura Dennis. So, it was great for some new blood to mix in with us oldies.
Camp went well with some solid work banked and things progressing well. Back home after camp and it was full steam into my first two races of the year, Challenge Wanaka (half) and then Ironman New Zealand.
These two races are incredible special to me. Partly because I spend so much time here in New Zealand, and so feel very part of this place. Challenge Wanaka I’ve finished 2ndthe past 4 years of racing, 3 times when it was the full distance, and last year as it was the first time for the half. Ironman New Zealand I’ve also had some good results, 4th, 2ndand then winning last year. Whilst those results mean a lot to me, these races are more about the amazing communities, and the incredible people I’ve met over the years of going back to these races year after year.
Excited as always to get back to Wanaka. It’s just the most beautiful place. I love it. The mountains, the scenery, it’s just stunning. There was a great start list for the women, with some world class names and up and comers, and it was going to be a tough race but one I was ready for and relishing the challenge.
I exited the water in 4th, four minutes down from the lead, but hey that was an improvement from 2019. I wasn’t panicked as I knew I could make an impact on the bike…
But sadly I had left my bike… well…somewhere else and it definitely wasn’t with me in Wanaka. Apparently, I’ve never ridden a bike so badly. Yep! My power was the power I’d see on a endurance ride (if that). So unfortunately, I failed to make an impact on the race that was developing up the road. The positive was that I didn’t lose any more time on the bike, so for a well below par day, I was still riding the same speed as the front women. However, it left me really out of the race. It would always be tough to catch the leaders on the run, even on the course I know so well. But I love the run course so tried to make the best of it, and actually managed to run myself up to third and sneak on the podium once again.
Yes it wasn’t second place, like my last four years of being the bridesmaid in Wanaka, and always grateful for a podium finish, but let’s face it, I’d prefer to have come second again rather than third! It was frustrating that I hadn’t been able to perform on race day, especially in Wanaka, and it left me well out of the race I wanted to be in and knew I could be in and what I felt was another missed opportunity. I’d have loved to have been running side by side with Hannah, Meredith and Kerry. That would have been such a race to be involved in. But on the day I wasn’t good enough and it was disappointing.
Ironman New Zealand
However, I knew that in training I’d been swimming, cycling and running well, and again in the two weeks between Wanaka and Taupo, all things were going well, putting my Wanaka race behind me.
I was returning to Ironman New Zealand as the 2018 Champion. What an honour that was! What a privilege to be able to return to a race having won the year before. You really don’t get many opportunities in this sport, to do this (unless you’re called Daniella Ryf), so I took it as a huge honour to be able to race again at Ironman New Zealand in 2019.
So I want to give a little insight into my week – because it was awesome! I get criticised a lot that I say ‘yes’ to too many things, but as said, it was a privilege to be returning, and I’ve built up some great relationships with the people of Taupo over the years. Nothing I did in race week was a chore, far from it. I loved every minute of it and felt incredibly honoured that I had the respect of so many groups and the locals that I was asked to be part of these events.
Tuesday started with a radio interview with Sport Radio, and then hosting the Hoka One One Run along the run course! Not a bad way to start the day with a great bunch of people, right on the lakeside path. It was fab to meet local athletes and ones from overseas with a chilled run and some Hoka goodie give aways at the end.
Then probably one of the highlights to my week. I was invited to present the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Awards to the Home School kids, with the Mayor of Taupo, David Trewavas. I’d met this awesome group last year in 2018, when they were just starting out working towards the award. This group volunteered a crazy amount of over 800 hours during race week! It was awesome to come back and present the students with their awards that they had achieved through hard work over the past year! I’m excited to see them progress through their Silver. Oh and this year they put in over 1000hours volunteering at Ironman New Zealand!!
Wednesday, and a Hoka One One run again, and again the chance to meet more fab people and hear all their stories. The day finished with a chilled function with the Ironman New Zealand team and a great way to relaxed right on the water front.
Thursday was pretty crazy but so much fun. Kicked off with an incredible morning at the Women for Tri Breakfast. Such an opportunity to sit next to true legends of the sport, Sam Warriner (2 x Olympian and more), Jo Lawn (7 x Ironman New Zealand winner), and Meredith Kessler (5 x Ironman New Zealand winner). Hosted by Stef Hansen (of Witsup.com fame) it was a fun filled, laugh a minute, morning. The conversation and stories when down so many tangents and holes it was brilliant and great to see and meet so many amazing women at the event.
After the breakfast I hot footed it up to The Hits Radio Studio for a quick interview, before back to the Expo, to be on the panel for Q&A with Hoka, Hoka Hints. After Hoka Hints, it was Witsup Speed Dating, on Facebook live. As anything that you do with Witsup, this was great fun and a lot of laughs. Sadly I didn’t get a date from it… still waiting… Pro Meeting, and then a headshot photo shoot for the race coverage. In the evening was the official Ironman New Zealand Welcome function, and on stage for a few words to wishing everyone the very best for race day. Totally biased but it’s totally true, the Ironman New Zealand Welcome function is one of a kind and very much an event you need to attend if you are racing in Taupo. The cultural involvement and experience is just amazing.
Friday, was Meet The Pros, as well as bike racking.
Saturday… cannon fired…let’s go!
Between all this I managed to get all my training and race prep done, as well as catch up with friends for the odd coffee. It was great and I felt completely relaxed and in control, and didn’t feel I was wasting any energy with all the commitments or interactions. Yes it’s our job to race and perform, but I also see it as our job, and take great pride in the fact that I’m involved in so much more around the race. I also feed of it and it gives me a buzz.
Again training was good and I was pretty excited to see what I could do when out on course.
Race morning is always special at Ironman New Zealand, with the Maori Waka coming in off the lake, and the Haka performed on the beach as the sun just starts to come up.
I knew it would be a fast swim with Meredith, Bec Clarke and Teressa Adams. Not too far into the race I found myself on my own in the swim, but I’d fully expected this, and just carried on as best I could. I felt pretty relaxed through the swim, knowing I was off the lead, but not feeling disastrous about things. That was until I got out of the water to hear I was 11 minutes down. Ooops… what had I been doing… following the fish not the swim course? Seriously Siddall! 11minutes. However again just going into auto pilot, process mode, I knew I’d been riding well so was pretty composed about what I could achieve and set about getting into my plan.
Let’s just say, my average power in Taupo (for 180km) was significantly higher than in Wanaka (90km), however it was as it states…. average… yes a pretty average bike ride. Again not making inroads on the bike left me behind the front of the race, with the four women battling it out up the road. However, iron distance races are long days, so still held onto the fact to keep pushing forward with what I had and hope things could still develop better on the run. Whilst the run didn’t get particularly worse, it didn’t sparkle too much either. I did manage to run my way into forth, but that was about all the body would give me and I wasn’t able to match the women ahead.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed…ok gutted with my race. Yes the position is disappointing… who wants forth place… but it’s the performance that hurts. I think you can be pretty happy with a position, forth, seventh, third whatever, if you know the performance was everything you had and the reflection of all the work you’ve put in. To me it just didn’t, and to have another sub par performance here in NZ at two of my favourite races hurt. It hurt a lot.
Anyway… enough of grumpy Sid… not too much else to say.
I got over my frustrations by throwing myself off a platform, 47m in the air. Attached by an elastic band… yes I did a bungy jump! I actually did a tandem jump with Meredith Kessler. I can honestly say if I’d not been tied to Meredith, I’d probably still be sat on the platform now, not able to move! Ha ha! For many many years I said I would do a bungy and a sky dive. I ticked off the sky dive on my Gap Year in the British Army, doing a tandem sky dive but also a static line parachuting course, so for some reason chucked myself out of a plane, on my own, several times! The bungy jump I then pretty much parked it in the background on my ‘bucket list’.
I said to myself…
“If I ever go to Australia I’ll do a bungy.”
In 2007 I moved to Australia.
“If I ever go to New Zealand I’ll do a bungy jump”
In 2011 I had an eight week work placement in New Plymouth, New Zealand.
“If I ever go to the South Island I’ll do a bungy jump”
In 2015 I moved to Christchurch for the summer and have returned for summer ever since.
“If I ever go to Queenstown I’ll do a bungy jump”
So I have flown in and out of Queenstown so many times when racing Wanaka and then Taupo, but technically I never actually went to Queenstown, just the airport which is on the outskirts and would then head straight over to Wanaka.
Then in November 2018, I went to Queenstown to support Nadine in the Queenstown marathon and repay all the times she’s come to support me at my races
So I was in Queenstown and had pretty much run out of excuses, and so just called it a day. I didn’t want to do a bungy. Why was I kidding myself and pretending I wanted to.
Ha ha! So the day after Ironman New Zealand I’m standing 47m over the Waikato River about to jump off! Funny after telling myself I was happy with not doing a bungy and it wasn’t on my bucket list anymore, suddenly the opportunity presented itself, and in my weird, spur of the moment, unplanned self (yes I do have a side that sometimes says just fuck it), I signed up! Then Meredith decided to announce it publically at every opportunity in race week so there was really no way of getting out of it.
I could go on more.. but best to actually watch this video and you can see my fear and MBK’s excitement! Ha ha! Oh and that’s my shoe that flies off on the second bounce. It landed in the water ….and floated (Hoka One One Tracer), and was retrieved by the awesome guys at Taupo Canoe and Kayak!
Another awesome opportunity I had to put life into perspective, was that I organised to go into Hill Top Primary school. I’ve visited this school a few times and I’m always blown away by the amazing welcome I received from the students. They always perform a local Maori song, and so I asked if I could go into the school and actually join them for a class, and attempt to learn a song too. It was amazing, and such a magical experience. Thank you to Hill Top school for allowing me to do this.
Whilst my races didn’t go as I’d planned or wanted, I had some incredible experiences that I am so grateful for and will stay with me forever. It’s these experiences and the people that we meet that add so much to my life and are bigger than the swim bike and run.
From Ironman New Zealand, I headed back to Wanaka, for a few days R&R which turned into a mountain bike race and an off road marathon… but I’ll save that for next time…oh I can sense your anticipation!
As I said in an intagram post 6thMarch – “As a professional you represent brands. I am one who is incredibly loyal to a brand I partner with and fully believe in them and their products, the people and stories behind them. Often it’s the background to the company that excites me and their journey in developing in the sport. I’m an engineer too so I respect and value companies that are constantly looking to evolve and improve and have high levels of quality and standards in their products and values.
I haven’t yet felt I’ve been able to truly do justice to the incredible brands supporting me this year, but I’m very grateful for the partnerships and know that it will all come together and I can do them all justice and thank them.”
@factorbikes – absolutely love my SLiCK – it’s a pleasure to ride and when the engine comes right I know we will fly.
@rideparcours – new and rapidly growing company from UK who are doing great things with their wheels 👍
@kask_cycling – it’s been a few years with Kask and just love their helmets. Always wear your helmet!
@hokaoneone_eu / @hokaoneone_nz – great to connect with the NZ team in Taupo, for the Hoka runs and Hoka hints this year and potentially some exciting things in the pipeline. Also how good are Hoka’s! They float when they get flung off during a bungy jump 😂
@shotznutrition – support from Darryl and Steph since the start and from being an Age Grouper! Thank you!! .
Thank you also to Caitlin Fielder who having painted my awesome cycling shoes last year, then designed my race kit for 2019. Caitlin’s work is amazing. Get yourself a pair of her awesome custom painted shoes! Tell her I sent you! ha ha! Also thank you to Scody who came in at the last minute to get me a race suit for IMNZ, after a previous company let me down and failed to deliver prior to Wanaka or for IMNZ. Whilst I’m no longer working with Scody, I was grateful that they were able to step in and help, and it was peace of mind knowing how good their race suits are and that I’d have no issues if they could get the suit to me… they did! Thank you.
Watch this space for the next instalment about the off road adventures in Motatapu