A year in review….yes I cringe at the Christmas letter, but since moving to Australia, I’ve swallowed my synicism and at the end of the year as I send Christmas cards back to family in the UK, I include a letter. I know with Facebook, that most of my family can keep track of me over here, however I’m old fashioned as I still believe a card and a letter beats an email/facebook update anyday. This year I’m sharing my Christmas letter with a few more people.
“Well 2012 has flown by as always and what a year it’s been. This Christmas, it will have been 5 years since I moved to Australia! Heck! Didn’t see that coming. I’ll say it now, as I know everyone asks and wants to know, I can’t say now whether or not I’ll be here for good or not. For now I’m loving it and it suits me, although please don’t think that means that I don’t miss family and friends back in the UK. I do a lot.
Last Christmas was spent back in the UK and it was lovely to have a proper Christmas with family and friends.
I don’t think it’ll surprise any of you to that the year started back in Australia with a 4 day cycling training camp down in the Jindibyne area – the mountainous area of Australia. Yes I know, Australia isn’t renown for it’s skiing and mountains but I can tell you when you are on a bike they are hellish enough!
From there on in, it was triathlon, as the season runs from September to May. I had some big races and some great results, but a lot of the time I was finishing 2nd, even if it was often behind a Professional Triathlete, it was second.
In May I started a new job with Leighton Contractors as their Continuous Improvement Manager. I’d decided that the life of Consulting and the company I worked for were not right for me or the balance I wanted with my sport. Leighton, on the other hand, have been amazing to work for and I can’t believe how supportive and encouraging they are of my triathlon training and competing. It’s been fantastic. The job itself is about setting up continuous improvement within the business to improve productivity and efficiency. It’s about trying to get the business to think daily how they can improve processes and remove ‘waste’ / non value add activities. Anyway enough of work!
The triathlon season ended in May and I had a few weeks down time before getting back into Winter training ready for the start of the 2012/2013 season. Yep, I do this triathlon training lark pretty much all year round! I also found out in May that I’d won a competition to be sponsored by Wiggle (www.wiggle.co.uk) an online bike and sports retailer. This was incredible to be selected as one of four athletes out of 1000s of entries to join Team Wiggle. It’s a fantastic opportunity and the support I get through products and financially is amazing! I am truly very lucky. I think I probably bullied most of you into voting for me via Facebook with the offer of cake and beer if I won! (Thank you to you if you did vote, hopefully I’ve been able to buy you a beer by now.)
I did take a bit of time off through the Aussi Winter, in August to head back to the UK for the Olympics. Wow! What an incredible few weeks that was! I loved every minute of it and felt truly proud to be British. It was great to see all the family too at the Siddalympics Party as well as friends and just spend some time seeing London and taking in the buzz of the sport
Back to Sydney and the day after I landed from the UK, it was the famous, annual City2Surf race. 75,000 people run from the center of Sydney the 14km, out to Bondi Beach. It’s an iconic event. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The course is grueling too with plenty of hills to conquer. The finish line then taunts you as you can see the flags yet have to run past it and on for another 1km before heading back across the line. But it’s a fabulous day, the sun always shines and everyone parties all day in Bondi.
After that it was full focus on training as I had the biggest two weeks of my career coming up quickly. I was to travel to Auckland, NZ for the World Triathlon Championships in October, where I was competing for Great Britain in the Olympic Distance event, then just under two weeks later it was the Noosa Triathlon (the biggest Triathlon in the Southern Hemisphere). In 2011 I won the sprint distance in the World Championships in Beijing, in front of Mum, Dad, Charlotte and Dave.
This year Mum and Dad were again travelling out to NZ to see if I could step up to the longer distance and win again. It was great having them out there. They were fantastic and just let me get on with training and focusing on the race. They’d travelled half way round the world and were prepared to just let me do my thing. Incredible and I’m forever grateful. Unfortunately as with most Triathlon races mum and Dad have been too, the weather was pretty average as it was rainy, windy and cold! As most of you will know by now I won, however it was one of the hardest races of my life. I think I’d put so much focus on this race and so much into it, and having my parents travel half way round the world, when I crossed the line, not sure that I’d won, I simple fell to the ground out of exhaustion and relief, just trying to let everything sink in. For my sisters and people watching via the internet, my fall to the ground meant a few giggles and some extra viewing time for them, so at least some entertainment there! Although I had another race in just under two weeks I did spend the following day with Mum and Dad, wine tasting on Waiheke Island, before I headed back to Sydney and left Mum and Dad travelling in NZ.
Next stop was Noosa and I was excited for Mum and Dad to see a different kind of triathlon. The sun always shines in Noosa, and it’s an incredible festival atmosphere with so much going on, it was great they were going to see this kind of event. (If it rained in Noosa, my parents I think would have been banished from triathlon races for life, fortunately although a little bit of rain, so I’m sure there is a link, the sun shone for most of the day.) I had a great race, much better than my race in Auckland and felt so much stronger at the end (no collapse across the finish line) and won the Open Age Group, finishing 9th overall beating quite a few of the Professionals. I posted the 4th fastest bike split (including the Pros) too, so was pretty chuffed. With 2km to go on the run, I was pretty sure I had the race and made myself enjoy the last 2km, making up for not really knowing what was going on in Auckland when I crossed the line. This time I made the most of it, high fiving anyone who would and running across the line with the biggest smile on my face and arms in the air! Amazing!! Again Mum and Dad were brilliant fans and supporters!
Following Noosa it was a week of quality time with Mum and Dad in Sydney. This was great and I loved every minute. It was time for wining and dining and catching up with the Sydney cousins. It was time to say thank you to Mum and Dad for following me around Auckland and Noosa and being so patient with my race prep and focus and being my biggest supporters.
The last month hasn’t really seemed to slow down, and Christmas has almost sprang up on my without me realizing. It’s been a mad frantic rush to buy presents and post them home and write cards. I’m currently writing this sat on a plane to Melbourne for a cycling event sponsored by Wiggle. As to give you an idea of a typical day for me in Sydney, this is what today looked like (ok I don’t normally fly to Melbourne but anyway). I started the day with a 24km run around the coastline of Sydney, followed by a surf swim session in Bondi. A quick stop off at Bondi Farmers Market to support a friends’ stall, and then home to shower, change and pack for Melbourne (including packing up my bike), off to the airport via Paddington Markets for some Christmas present shopping (annoyingly one of the stalls I’d hoped was there wasn’t, sorry Dave and Keith, you may not have a present), then to the airport. In Melbourne I’m catching up with a friend for dinner before driving to Bendigo (1hrs 40mins) to then cycling 125km event round the countryside there on Sunday. Last weekend, I raced a sprint triathlon in Sydney, and on crossing the line I pretty much continued straight to my car, drove the 50min back to Bondi to them jump straight in the water to swim from Bondi to Bronte (2.4km round the headland) in an Ocean Swim Race. In the afternoon I had a weights session and massage. These are pretty typical days for me at the weekend, but I love it!
Mum and Dad being here and my time back in the UK for the Olympics, brought it back home to me just how selfish triathlon and sport is. Living out in Australia on my own, I guess almost spoils you for this, as I can pretty much train and do what I like or what I need, when I want. You don’t realize quite how selfish the sport and training is until you’ve suddenly other people around wanting to do things and having to fit in training around that. I am forever grateful for the support of my mum and dad and sisters (ok they give me a fair bit of grief, but still). Mum and Dad were fantastic when they were in Australia and NZ. They were fully behind me, but also just let me get on with things, without complaining or moaning. Having the week with them back in Sydney after the races was my way of saying thank you. I know they are my number one fans albeit from the other side of the world.
Christmas will be a sunny (I hope) affair this year in Bondi. It never really seems like Christmas when it’s 30+deg but it’s still a good day and I’m lucky to be able to spend it with the Pearts (Harriet and Chris) and the Morleys (Dan, Sarah, Fen and Isobel), my cousins here in Sydney.
Well that’s pretty much 2012 wrapped up, and I’m looking forward to 2013. It’s back to a lot of base training and fitness, having had a few weeks off after Noosa, I need to get back to race shape for the new year. I’m going on a training camp in Canberra in January with one of the best coaches in the World, Darren Smith (he was coach to Lisa Norden, the Olympic Silver Medalist (by the thickness of a tri suit) in the Triathlon in London as well as a lot of the other top triathletes, so I’m excited to see what I can pick up and learn. My next big race is in February in Geelong and then in Mooloolaba in March.
On the work front, 2013 will be exciting as the company is going through some big changes and so it’s head down to make sure I keep up and can delivery the value and goods that I know is there.
I wish you all the very best for a wonderful and merry Christmas and the very best of wishes and good fortune for the New Year.”