Flying into Sydney from Christchurch felt good. It was familiar. I’ve spent 7.5 years living in Sydney so have some strong ties and connections and it was good to land back on Australian soil, albeit for only an hour in Sydney airport before connecting on to Western Australia and Perth.
It was a good trip where I also managed to connect with family and friends in WA. Time seemed to travel at a slower pace. I don’t mean things were ‘slow’ as such (although interpret how you wish ;-), but the whole time I was there I just felt like I had lots of time.
Even on a pretty busy Saturday pre race, helping at the Ironkids event, which was so much fun, fitting in some bits of race prep training, Pro Panel Q&A, Pro briefing, getting my bike ready and dropping it off – just felt like there were so many hours in the day. Nothing was rushed or panicked. This was a good sign I think.
Ironkids was an awesome event. Being involved by handing out medals to the kids was so much fun.
Yes a lot of kids left me “hanging” on high fives and were far too cool for school, but 99% of them finished with the biggest smiles and high fives and loved being involved in the event. (Check this video of Pete Murray warming all the kids up.)
I am still new to the sport and as a Professional, and don’t have a resume of impressive results, so I was surprised but honoured to be asked to be on the Pro Panel at the Q&A with Caroline Steffan and Yvonne Van Vlerken. Both women are incredibly experienced and world class athletes. I hope I was able to give a slightly different view point from being much newer to the sport, but at the same time, it was great to be able to learn from Caroline and Yvonne, and these are all great experiences that I can bank and use to grow as a person in the sport.
Funny walking to transition on race morning and there were a fair few people still out on the streets from the night before! This always makes me laugh and smile. I’m about to make the most of my day and push my body through a half iron distance race, and they will probably sleep for most of it and miss out on the best bit! (OK yes I know people will probably disagree with me on that!)
I made a tactical error at the start of the swim. Knowing the first turn buoy (about 200m form the start) was a right turn, I wanted to be on the inside, particularly as with the current I felt that was the best option. Whilst I wasn’t out on a limb on the right, the movement at the cannon came from the girls on the left and I missed the feet. I tried a few times to get back onto the two girls that were swimming together just in front, but was unable to. I did make up some ground by cutting the course (legally) where the others swam wide around the guide buoys, but again couldn’t quite get the feet. However, mantra for the day was “my race, my pace” so just settled in and tried to keep rhythm going and limiting the deficit.
I was 6th out the water, 3mins down from the lead. Yvonne van Vlerken and Renee Baker weren’t too far ahead.
As said, the days focus was “my race, my pace”, so wanted to just get on the bike and go. Gave myself 10-15km to get the legs moving, knowing if they didn’t feel as good, that it may take that long to come good. I could see Vlerken but wasn’t really making progress so just focused on myself and riding my bike well over the terrain. Maureen Hufe, caught me at about 25km, and we were able to ride together for much of the bike leg, making ground on the women ahead. Yes at this point, “my race, my pace” mantra did go out the window. I made the decision that I had to stick with Hufe and it was the much needed “kick” to get me riding, not great, but better than I had been for the first part. Unfortunately Hufe crashed out at an aid station (~ 65km), amazingly she continued to finish the race, with ripped tri suit and road rash. You never want to see athletes go down, even if they are competitors but I know I just had to focus on my race for the last 20km. I moved up into 3rd with about 15km to go, but took the edge off my ride in the last 5-8km, just spinning a slightly higher gear to prep the legs for the run.
The run was two laps, but the fun bit was that we went through the finish area and the main street of Mandurah 3 times, which was packed with support. My race plan was to find rhythm and good foot speed but to give myself the first 6km, out to the first turnaround, to find form. Katy Gibb, a local WA athlete came past me within the first 1.5km out of transition, pretty much as we ran through the main street, so she was receiving a lot of crowd support out there. It was actually really great to hear the crowd get behind her.
I really enjoyed the run course, the two laps and the section through the town was great to break it down. As planned just found my feet on the first 6km, and once at the turn around knew I had to try to start ramping up and start to build better speed. I felt strong and that gave me confidence. I felt pretty safe in 4th with the rhythm I’d found but wanted to make sure, and as I started the 2nd lap, I felt I’d pulled back a bit of distance to Gibb and wanted to put the girls behind me out of reach, so I decided to try to put a little more work in out to the turnaround (16km). I was feeling strong and in a good head space. Somewhere around the 11km mark, Gibb was suddenly back in sight and came back to me quickly. I moved past her at about 15km and ensured it was a strong definite move. I wasn’t sure if she would try to come with me or what she had left, so I wanted to try and do the damage straight away. I was still feeling strong and this gave me more confidence. I started to wonder on the way back if I could actually claw back Vlerken, but I had no idea how much time she had on my so it was a case of just holding it together.
After a very mixed 2015, it was good to get a solid race executed and to come away on the podium. I finished strong on the run and still felt I had more in the tank. I made errors for sure throughout the day, messing up a few basics as well, so there’s certainly more learning to take away and build on. I’m still 10mins off the front and need to work to close that gap.
But it was great to share the podium with two of the best women in the sport, Caroline Steffan and Yvonne Van Vlerken, who have had very heavy years in terms of lots of racing and just are able to back up every time, but both just have a love of racing and love what they do. For Caroline it was her 5th 70.3 win of 2015, and her 20th career victory, shall I add that 2015 was a pretty average and bad year for her in terms of injury and illness and a few other issues she had to deal with! A pretty impressive performance.
I’m now back in Christchurch and back into the work. It was fab to be back to Austraia and race again and it was a solid day banked, lessons taken away and moving forward.
Thank yous! As we all know it’s about more than just the athlete.
It’s been a bit of a mix and trial, the last two weeks leading up into the race, as I re located to New Zealand, starting a ‘distance’ coaching relationship with my coach, Matt Dixon, and leaving behind my training group (Purplepatch fitness) in San Francisco. A massive part of making the move and new routine successful, has been Paul Buick. Paul is our (Purplepatch) bike guru and based here in Christchurch. He’s been Matt’s eyes over the past few weeks. I already can’t thank him and his wife Francine, enough, for the amount of help and support they have given me the past couple of weeks. Showing me around the place, introducing me to people, cooking dinner for me, and coming out on rides. Paul’s knowledge and expertise with riding is incredible (definitely worth considering booking a session with him), yet he’s also has a pretty damn good eye for tweaking bits on the swim and the bike. A huge thank you to Paul and of course Matt, who still manages to inflict pain (read awesome training sessions) from the other side of the world. Thank you.
A few other mentions and thank yous.
British American Business Council (BABC) – Thank you for your support and for the opportunities to be involved with Raphael House. It’s great to connect with business and business men and women from both the USA and Britain.
I am an Athlete Ambassador for the Women’s Sports Trust and incredibly proud to represent them as I train and race. The WST are a fantastic organisation, working to raise the visibility and increase the impact of women’s sport. Check out their website for all the amazing things they are doing, and sign up for The Mixed Zone
SOAS – Stef and Andrea who continue to design awesome kit and build a fabulous team. What SOAS do for the sport is great. They support a huge global Age Group Ambassador squad, that have an amazing vibe where everyone, is incredibly supportive of one and other, regardless of where they live in the world. It’s a pleasure to work with SOAS and represent them. (GOLAURA2014 for a discount 🙂
Shotz – Darryl from Shotz Nutrition. Having the confidence going into races that I have a great nutrition plan, takes another stress away from racing. If you haven’t got your nutrition sorted, you need to speak to Darryl! Just read these two blogs from Caroline Steffan and Sam Appleton.
A Runners Mind – Mike and the team at ARM for supplying me with the best foot ware for my feet! Amazing service and a great community. My feet were in the best condition they have every been post race, wearing the Asics Noosa Fasts, with no socks as well. Very happy about that and so were my feet.
Profile Design – Very grateful to be supported by Profile Design. I love that I now have a set of wheels for racing and training, but also options for my hydration, and aero bars. Thank you for the support.
Kask – Love wearing Kask. Having a small head, it’s hard to find fitting helmets or things that look semi-decent, yes ok when do cycling helmets ever look decent! Kask certainly helps with this and yes how good is my custom painted Bambino! Love it! (Thanks to my sisters and also SOAS for the design)
Kitbrix – These bags are fab! Great for storing all my swimbikerun kit, and a regular ‘must have’ when I travel! I love the concept and idea, and there’s some more exciting products about to be launched!
SockMine – Whilst for a half iron race, I tend to race without socks (more for speed through transition), it’s great to work with Sock Mine, to keep my feet happy through training and longer races . Sock Mine are based just 30mins from my home in the UK, so I love that I can work with and support a local company, who manufacture and design awesome socks! It’s very cool that I have my own custom socks too! #Dontdiewondering. Thank you
Scicon – I hate travelling with my bike on airlines, but the ease and speed of packing my bike in a Scicon bag, definitely helps relieve that stress. (FRIENDSOFLMSIDDALL for your discount)
Funkita – So great to have awesome designs and colours to brighten up the pool! Even if my swim isn’t the greatest, the swimming costumes are! Thank you.
Oakley – Thanks to the team in Australia and the US, for awesome sunnies! Wouldn’t race or train in anything else.
Huub – Thank you Anthony and Deano for the support.