What an absolute ball that was! Noosa once again you were fantabulous. Such an incredible buzz and so much fun! That’s why we do it right?
Noosa 2013, the biggest Triathlon festival in the Southern Hemisphere, the second largest in the world and this year, the biggest female Pro line up in the races 31 year history, so what better timing than to make my leap and step up into the Pro ranks.
My focus as a Professional is going to be over the longer 70.3 distance, but Noosa is always such a good event and with flights and accommodation having been booked for the past year, it seemed the right thing to do. Also, fellow former Age Group, now newbie Pro Kym Jaenke was also using Noosa as her first hit out in the Pro ranks. Having first met Kym, through Noosa triathlon 2 years ago, and having raced in Vegas together, it was really cool to know we’d both be stepping up to the next level at Noosa together. (P.S Kym, sorry I think I still owe you coffee right? That was the bet?)
So first things first, Friday 1230hrs and the Pro Race Briefing. Getting in early and tucking myself away at the back of the room, trying not to be too star struck as all these legends of the sport walked in. Triathletes that I’ve seen race and compete on the global stage and read about online or in the magazines, were now all sat in the same room as me, well really I’m sat in the same room as them. Shall I pinch myself? Is this really happening?
Noosa is action packed and there’s so much going on in the days leading up to the race. It’s always hard to get the balance between experiencing all the fun and watching the Suburu Australian Open Criterium Race, the Asics 5km Bolt, the Legends race, and resting up preparing for your own race. With the likes of Peter Sagen topping the bill in the Criterium, and some amazing names lining up in the Legends Tri, it was hard not to get too carried away watching and then wiping myself out for my own race. Whilst I wanted to make sure I had fun and enjoyed the race, I also didn’t want to come last! However I put no pressure or expectation on myself for the race. As said, 70.3 is going to be my focus. This was also possible my way of keeping all my emotions and nerves and thoughts in control. This is also commonly known as denial!
Next up was bike racking on Saturday afternoon. I was quite excited to have my own dedicated spot, with my name on, even though I found out I’d be labelled as an Australian. Obviously whilst I live in Sydney and love being in Australia, I had actually got my Pro licence as a GBR triathlete, so it was a little bit confusing as to how I felt seeing my name and the Aussie flag up there. However I have to say I did spend a fair few minutes in there (transition), soaking it all in, and taking quite a few photos of my spot, and then all the other bikes.
So race day. It’s always odd the auto pilot we go into on race day morning and then the odd silent zombie like movement of triathletes all converging from every corner of town towards transition. I’m always pretty much there as soon as it opens, and Noosa was no exception. I was actually feeling pretty relaxed, again denial is a beautiful thing. Where my bike was positioned was right at the end of the Elite racks, so I could pretty much shut myself off to the world and not really notice or take in the other Elite athletes arriving. It was cool though to have a few friends say hi as they walked past our racks to theirs.
Yes this is my Coach, Spot Anderson (photo courtesy of Helen Cox)
Lining up on the waters edge and warming up for the start of the race, was pretty surreal and again found myself pinching myself to take it all in. Emma Moffat, Liz Blatchford, Emma Jackson, Mel Haulshcildt, Courtney Atkinson, The Bennetts and me! Oh yes and my very quiet, unassuming Coach Spot Anderson. It was great having Spot there to warm up with me. We didn’t really say much, but it just meant a lot. Thank you. Also a thank you at this point to all my Bondifit training buddies. I think we had the largest number of athletes competing this year, and it was brilliant. They were all down on the start line cheering me on. They definitely made the most noise and I think I had the biggest cheer when I was announced, by Pete Murray. They also gave me the Bondifit tunnel, not only when I left my house at 0430hrs but also with the whole squad down at the beach. I’m not really sure what the rest of the athletes or spectators thought about it, but I really appreciated it. Again it took any tension out of the moment.
Being given the infamous (ok well maybe just the loudest) Bondifit Tunnel before the race.
The elite men were off first, and we were a minute behind. My race plan….find Mel Haulshcildt and try to stick to her feet in the swim and then her wheel in the bike. Spot said he didn’t care if I walked in the run, that was the plan. So as we entered the water I searched out Mel. Ignoring (denial again) the screams from some of the girls about some snake in the water (I just told myself it must be reeds or something), the hooter soon sounded and we were off. Not surprisingly I was soon at the back of the field, but I had Mel in my sights and didn’t seem to be dropping off the pace. I’d not really been looking forward to the swim. I knew I was likely to die as the girls swim so fast and I’m not a quick swimmer. However my confidence grew through out the 1.5km as I still stayed in touch with the the others and knew Mel was in the front of three of us at the back of the field. As we approached the swim exit and the two girls infront of me stood up, I quickly realised it wasn’t Mel at all. Sh*t. How did I lose her? How far behind was I? Again the loud cheers of the Bondifit crew were there to spur me out of the water and through transition. Again I was also happy I hadn’t been dropped completely by the field, so this gave me a bit of confidence.
Firing up on the bike (Photo courtesy of Owain Matthews)
Getting out onto the bike I looked up to see Mel just 20m ahead. Winner. It was back on. 100m later I realised it was not back on as Mel just powered away. Now call me delusional or naive with having a plan of sticking to Mel’s wheel, but I thought I may have been able to hold her at least at the start. Well no flippin’ way. She took off like a rocket and I watched as she just ate up the ground and disappeared into the distance. So I brought myself back to reality and my race and just set about powering away and chasing down the girls in front.
I caught a group of girls at the bottom of Garmin hill and was able to move past them and power up and away from them to the top of the hill. For the rest of the bike, it was a case of head down and just sighting the next athlete ahead to chase down. On the way back into town I used the big Noosa hill descent to again put more distance between myself and the rest of the field and in the last 10km I caught and passed Laura Bennet and then Charlotte McShane (again slightly surreal moments). I entered T2 with a huge smile on my face and just before Charlotte, who then before I’d even really blinked had scooted round me and gone back in front as we ran over the bridge and out onto the run. I started to run and everything was just tight. Glutes, hamstrings, calves, the lot and I did think a few times in the first 1km if I was actually going to end up walking, but I just broke it down and kept making progress. Sam Warriner passed me in the first 2km and then as we approached the 4km marker Laura Bennet ran past. I remember thinking how cool it was that I could watch the Pro race unfold…before having a reality check moment that I was actually in the race too and that I’d better start believing it! Ha ha! I did laugh to myself at that moment. What an idiout! So I started to try and latch on to the back of Laura, or at least slow down the rate at which she was pulling away from me. With every km I felt better and better and although I still felt pretty stiff, I was picking up the pace slightly. At the turnaround I got a good chance to see who was behind me and how far and again started to make myself believe that I was actually in this race and that I needed to pick the pace up again and that no one else was going to catch me. I also noticed that I seemed to be closing back in on Sam Warriner. This gave me a boost, then with the words of encouragement from Darryl (Shotz Nutrition) telling me I could catch both Sam and Laura Bennett, I really did start to move closer to Sam. I managed to catch and pass her just before the 8km marker and knew I had to try and keep the pace to keep away from her. I was willing that final bridge to come into view, all the tents, flag and banners lining the road, and signalling that the finish was not too far away.
In the finish chute – anyone would have thought I’d won (Photo courtesty of Tori Gorman)
I think I ran down the finish chute as if I’d won the race, arms aloft, big smiles. I guess it was a little bit of a reflection of the races I’d done in the past few months and everything that had happened, as well as the relief that it was over, but also how much fun it had been. My first race as a Professional triathlete and I’d finished to top 10.
It was great then seeing Kym cross the line not too far behind. I’d seen her at the run turnaround and she was looking great, and whilst I was wanting her to catch me (and thought it would have been great to run the last bit together), I was also trying not to let her, or at least not make it easy for her! (I’m excited to watch Kym mixing it up with the Pros over the 70.3 and Ironman distance over the next few years.)
I was just buzzing though. This probably partly due to the caffeine gels I’d had, but also just with the whole race and now being at the finish line, with these amazing athletes. I also then had my first post race interview as a Pro with Stef Hanson of Witsup and Triathlete Australia magazine fame. I don’t think I stopped smiling and laughing throughout. What a high!
Now whilst I’m pretty happy to have finished 8th at Noosa, I’ve already analysed my race to death and to be honest was a bit disapointed with the time and certain elemets. Whilst this will be hard to explain and may not come across right, 8th simple isn’t going to be be good enough going forward. However it was a solid start and I was happy (see the smiles) but I can’t wait to get at it and make sure I’m further up the rankings in the future. To finish at least on the podium in future years, may well becoming a goal. ha ha! Don’t you just love Noosa!
All smiles being interviewed post race by Stef Hanson (Wistup) with Kym Jaenke (photo courtesy of Witsup.com)
As mentioned earlier, there is so much going on at Noosa, that it just makes it such an amazing few days and I was keen to really make the most of it. What I love was that it was a brilliant chance to catch up with friends from around the Triathlon community, as well as meet people I’d spoken to over email or phone. The festival just takes over the whole town and you can’t walk 10m without bumping into someone you know and saying hello, or seeing one of the legends. I was able to meet the Oakley team, who I’ve only ever spoken to via email or social media, and it was great to spend some time with the Huub team (www.huubdesign.com) at the expo, and I loved helping out, I think I made two sales! Wahoo! Ha!
But it’s a chance to talk to other athletes, some competing for the first time in a triathlon, or some in a team and hearing all their own personal stories. I then had an awesome time at the beach at the SSNLRSNWBB Championships with all the Shotz Nutrition team athletes (www.shotz1.com). This again was a bit of a star struck moment being introduced to the likes of Clayton Fettell and Joey Lampe. But it was great fun trying to body surf on Noosa Beach in absolutely no surf! And contrary to what you may have heard, even though Bacon is claiming the win, that was in the warm up, and Fettell is claiming the win, but that was after the event, I’m definitely claming that I won! (Even though rule number 21 stated that no girl was allowed to win!) It was also fab to meet Michellie Jones and the ISM Saddle team and chat about racing and races around the globe.
Eyeing up the massive surf for the Shotz Sports Nutrition Local, Regional, State, National, World Body Bashing Championships
I got to catch up with friends that I’ve made through this amazing sport even though we live in different parts of the country. Yes, can you see why I love this sport and get such a buzz. I’d chosen to stay up a few days as well after the race which meant I was able to go to the Witsup brunch (www.witsup.com.) The Witsup or Women in Triathlon brunch were hosting a Q&A session with some of the elite from the triathlon world, Emma Snowsil, Liz Blatchford, Emma Jackson and Charlotte McShane. It was such a great morning after the race and a great opportunity to listen to the ladies talk about all things triathlon and such, and be able to ask them questions and have some really great discussions about some prominent topics in the sport (one being the issue of prize money with Noosa paying the top 10 men and only the top 5 women – just thought I’d drop that in!) However if you haven’t heard of Witsup (whether you are male or female) then get on board and support it or get along to one of their next events. Lots of fun with a great bunch of people.
A great Q&A session with Liz Blatchford, Emma Snowsil, Emma Jackson and Charlotte McShane, at the Witsup Brunch
Noosa is just a fantastic place. A real gem of a training spot too I can see why so many legends of the sport are based here. Having been up in Noosa on the Turbo Studio camp back in August, where we had Pro Cyclist Ben Johnson riding with us, I took the opportunity to get out with Ben and the Noosa Bike Shop guys on a couple of rides. What an awesome bunch they are and incredible welcoming to everyone. I was so apologetic the first time I turned up, on my TT with an aero helmet, with all these roadies, obviously explaining I was up for the race and don’t always were my Kask Bambino helmet for training. But the fact that I was on my TT they didn’t care. As long as I could handle my bike that was all good. They were all so friendly and welcomed me into the group and it was great fun riding with them and chatting to them all at the compulsory post ride coffee after. Thank you! It was great watching Ben race in the crit event too and I can’t wait to see him ride with Drapac team over the next season.
Ben Johnson just after racing in the Crit.
So once again I’ve found myself lost in the sport of triathlon and my race report has become far longer than I had planned. I just can’t help it. This sport is fantastic and Noosa is one of the best weekends and I think I’m still on a high!! I’m so excited now at what lies ahead. This is what I love and this is what I want to do. I can’t wait to get stuck into training again and planning out the next few years of my career. I know it’s not always going to be smooth, I’ve been pretty lucky to date, but I’m ready to take it on. It’s exciting (did I say that already) and I’m on a permanent high at the moment. I am pinching myself every day…is this really happening? It really is, so I’d better start believing it!
Till next time….