Monday, November 17, 2014

Murray Man Long Course 2014

So many race reports at the moment I can't keep up! I have tried to add photos in this post that are not already on social media. 

I flew into Adelaide in business class on Friday night after work. It was a relaxing way to travel especially with a three hour drive the next day. 

In the morning I did a small jog from by parents house and went to breakfast with my mum and dad. We then left for the riverland driving through the town I grew up in until I was five (Karoonda). 

Road home via Gawler (edge of the Barossa)

Mum at Karoonda (Murray Malee region)

We arrived in Berri at about 2pm and took a nap before checking the bike in over at Barmera. My brother drove up in the afternoon and met us for dinner at the Berri Hotel. Matt was born in Berri so it was great to visit the town and see where we had lived before I was born.

It was a late start (7.30am) so there was plenty of time to get to the venue and set up transition, have a run and get my nutrition right for the day.

The swim was in Lake Bonney. Beautiful place, flat, warm and a clear swim. We started with the men. I was hoping to keep up with the guys but didn't get a great start and missed the hip. It was a small group so it fragmented quickly. I was with Maddy for the whole swim and couldn't shake her, not without trying. 

Swim start, Photo credit: Grant Swatty

We exited together and I probably lost some time in transition but had a great flying mount onto the TT which was a first. I decided to attack the first 3 laps of the bike. With a strong headwind on the bike, the gap I had established was easy to maintain which allowed me to spin my legs out a little after 70k. The ride was very pretty as it overlooked Lake Bonney.

Bike mount, Photo credit: Grant Swatty

I wasn't sure how my legs would go on the runs after such a stong headwind. I got started and they seemed to feel ok. I once again attacked the fist two laps of the run and consolidated on the third and held pace on the fourth. I was happy to win and bring the racing block to an end with a great result.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Noosa Triathlon 2014

I was up at the Noosa triathlon on my own this year, Mike had exams. I was very keen to peg myself against the girls so I was happy to keep it low key and do my own thing. 

Race morning was easy going with a walk down from the outrigger only taking 10 minutes. Being Olympic distance it didn't take long to get the gear ready.

The seeded men got called and then the women shortly after but there was not much time between the waves so we had to sprint to get from the shore to the start line. 

I started on the right hand side closest to shore, hoping that I would have a good line to the first right hand turn buoy. I was in the pack albeit at the back until just after the second buoy when there was a surge on the straight where the current is pushing outward. Unfortunately if you get dropped off the back in this section it is much harder to get back on. I swam the remainder of the swim in a small pack of three. 

It was quiet in transition there were only four bikes left so I knew I would have to put some work in to make up for the swim. I took off from girls I was with and attacked the ride. I was about a minute down. Mel passed me on the hill and ride up to the next group. I didn't reach them until after the turn around. I think I moved up three positions on the bike.

Noosa Bike leg (Photo credit: Rachael Paxton)

Into the run and I hadn't realised the gap the front girls had put in on the bike. I thought I had a cracker ride but really the lead group had pulled away by a further 3 minutes. This is something I need to address. 

Onto the run and I couldn't seem to get the speed going. I settled in nicely but wasn't really running the quick. I was passed by felicity just before the bridge and worked my way passed Radka at about the 7 k mark. I was in 8th, Mel was about a minute ahead and Radka the same behind. I decided to just control the rest of the run and so I finished in this position. 

Noosa run leg (Photo credit: Rachael Paxton)

All-in-all an ok day finishing in 8th amongst a strong field, but it does raise an issue with my bike strength at the moment or potentially that the swimming is hurting the very first part of the bike.

Noosa Elite women's results

Thanks to the Reddog team for all the support on course and Kristen for looking after my bags! Thanks also, Endura, Rudy Project, CompressSport, No More Knots for the continued support.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stealth visit to the Nepean Tri

I think I only decided on the Thursday morning prior to the race to venture down to the Nepean Tri. I didn't have any major plans for the weekend and couldn't see how it would hurt my schedule. I initially investigated an entry and once I could secure that I looked into accommodation.

I found a nights stay at the Chifley Penrith Panthers and was able to lock in Virgin flights for $6 after using some velocity points. So there you have it I was headed to Western Sydney. I hadn't been out to Penrith before, but was confident that I could wing it out to the race.

When I landed I had a call from the fabulous Tash who was able to advise me on catching the correct train. FYI it is very easy. I caught a train from the airport to central and then straight out to the race. The journey was only 90 minutes and $18. When I got out there I used a cab to get to the Panthers and then checked in before cabbing over to rego and back.

I rode down to the race on race morning and was really happy to see the other girls. Spring racing in Australia is fabulous because everyone is back in town and its a great opportunity to catch up with some old training buddies. Emma Jackson and I swam down to the start line from a pontoon further up, it took a bit of convincing to get in the water as it looked a little green. No one was stressed on the start line it had a very relaxed feel. The buzzer sounded and we sort of just eased into the swim. A small gap formed at around the 500m mark which turned into around 45 seconds by swim exit. There was a group of 4 then our group. The swim is in the Sydney Regatta so its a very easy swim with only one turn buoy.

Race venue

For some reason I didn't feel myself on the bike. Despite having a fast bike it was not as quick as I would have liked and so I didn't make up any ground from the swim. The Nepean race is pretty flat so there is no opportunity to make up much ground.

Onto the run and I just started chipping away at the girls. I caught 2 by the first lap and had Felicity in sight but she took off on the second lap and I was left with a comfortable fifth.
Results summary

Well worth it, lovely race. I was in good company at the presentations.

Top 10 men and women

Thanks to Trent from Reddog Triathlon Training for helping with the logistics, Endura, CompressSport, Brooks Running, Scott Bikes, Avanti Plus the Valley, No More Knots and Rudy Project Auz

Friday, October 24, 2014

Adelaide OTU Duathlon Championships

I was really excited to have a home town race. It was set with (Adelaide Oval) as the back drop. The race featured the new foot bridge and the challenging Monteforie hill. 

It was a late start for us, 12pm. So I was able to wake up at 7am eat breakfast and head into town for a second breakfast at Sean's Kitchen. Check it out if you are in town, all class.

Race check-in commenced at around 10am. It was a serious matter. I forgot all the ITU checks. First race suit photo, then seat position check, tri bar check, bar end check, wheel depth and brand check etc. For the record Matty White and I owe Tom Currie a BIG THANKS for the ITU compliant tri suits. I was ok with wearing an SA suit, albeit a boys suit that was a bit big.

After a course familiarization lap, I really did realize the damage the hill could do and reminded myself of my race plan. I have been focusing on getting quicker at the running in the past 4 weeks, not to run a faster first run, but to run the first run more controlled and attack the bike.

Lining up as Ma and Pa Currie (literally as we were vastly out numbered by string bean whippets), Matt and I took the line sporting our SA kits. I quickly realized during the athlete call that the race was going to be hot.

We were off at 12.02pm. When I say off I mean off!  I figured I wouldn't be able to set a 5k PB as I would be wrecked and won't be able to ride so I controlled my run holding back enough for an attack at the start of the ride.

Into transition and my second tip is always have two pairs of shoes. This was even more relevant in ITU racing as once an item is used it must go in your box. This includes your running shoes. Which means that you'll have to dig them out of there if you want to use them again. 

I entered transition with Annalise but had a really smooth one (and a clean mount). I hadn't practiced that for a while so it had the potential to be a disaster. On the bike I focused on attacking the hill and punching over the top each lap. Redman has had us standing over a hill at St. Peter's recently and it was ideal for this hill. One problem I did notice was the dry heat. I drank all my bottle but couldn't get relief. I spun at around 95-100 cadence for the last k into T2 and had another quick transition. After attacking the first k off the bike I slowed up fairly hard with a stomach cramp largely due to the over hydration. Lucky for me it was only 2.5k run to home. 

I had a great time at home. I did a session with the Meteors and spent some good time with the Fuse gang. After formalities I was straight over to Haigh's to re stock for the journey back to Qld. I really think this was a great race. It was a street circuit with full road closure for both age group and elite and had a shady flat and fast run.

Thanks to Endura, Brooks Running, Compressport, no more knots, Orca, Reddog and Avanti Plus the Valley.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunshine Coast 70.3

I sit hear in beautiful Terrigal NSW back to reality after a exciting four weeks of racing. I feel somewhat disappointed with my race on Sunday at the Sunshine Coast 70.3 and can't help but think what else I could have done to capitalise on a great swim / bike.

At the start of the racing block Trent and I were focused on getting off to a great start with Samoa, which I did but I feel I sold myself a little short on the weekend largely due to missing a couple of key running sessions in between, replacing them with the Challenge GC ride and easier week after Des Moines. It just re-iterates how important it is to plan every session / week to ensure things keep ticking over to plan.

Despite that, 80% of my race at Sunshine Coast 70.3 was positive and shows signs that I am getting back to where I was at at the start of last year.

I was slightly rushed getting to swim start on Sunday but arrived just in time for the athletes call and therefore missed getting a swim warm up. It was a beach start and quite a funny one as we all ran down to the water and pretty much fell in (underestimating the water drop off). I settled in pretty quickly in the second bunch which pulled me the whole way around, picking up a couple of the girls that went out really hard at the start of the swim. I had a really swift T1 and departed in 5th.

Photo Credit: Aimee Johnsen AJ TRi

On the bike a quickly moved into 4th and held that position for the remainder of the ride pulling away from 5th and 6th. I was really happy with my ride as I didn't have much opportunity to train while in the US post Des Moines. The hard bike came at a cost and I realised after lap one that my legs had tightened up a fraction. I maintained a steady tempo through the second lap.

Photo Credit: Aimee Johnsen AJ TRi

I left T2 in 4th with a comfortable gap to 5th (at least a couple of minutes). I am ordinarily a strong runner but was uncertain of where my running was at. Post Cairns 70.3 I have had a slight niggle in my right hip that has meant that I could only do around 40k per week running which has meant that the longer runs have suffered. I was really geared towards 10k so wasn't sure how I would go over the longer distance.

Photo Credit: Aimee Johnsen AJ TRi

I headed out trying to hold back and run no faster than 4m per km. I knew if I kept the pace around that mark I would be fine to hold onto 4th. I probably could have reduced this to 4.15 and still held on. Unfortunately this worked fine for 10k but after that I tightened up and started to suffer the effects of less than adequate base running. By 15k I had dropped to positions to 6th and was hanging on for dear life. I could only dig in and try and hold form and hopefully make it through. I did feel that I lost concentration at 12k that may have impacted my chances of holding 6th.

Photo Credit: Delly Carr / Ironman

Past the RedDog tent and I thought I was safe but into the finish shoot and I was passed for 6th moving into my final finish spot of 7th. It was incredible racing and I really loved it. I was in touch all day and can see that if I focus on some base running I will have a real shot at some of the races later this year.

Also, I think its great that we can finally race 70.3 as girls in Oz, rather than just going around and being complacent with low field sizes etc. No longer can the guys complain about the woman's field sizes or quality of field. It shows there are exciting things to come in the longer form of Professional racing in Australia.

Special shout out to Peter from the North Point Apartments at Alex Headland for sorting me out with accommodation after a mix up. What a legend. Trent and all the RedDogs for on course support, Endura, Orca, Compressport, Brooks, No More Knots and Avanti Plus the Valley. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Des Moines, Iowa ~ 5150 US Pro Championship

I arrived in Des Moines on the Wednesday prior to the race having had very little sleep following the long haul from AUS. I like Des Moines, it reminds me of Adelaide it is clean, safe and pretty.

I was quite familiar with the town so jumped straight into my pre race training schedule the next day, albeit after sleeping in until 11.15am. The down town YMCA is a short walk from the embassy suites (the athlete host hotel) and cheap.

I didn't ride until the Friday but noticed the course was very flooded (reminding me of Brissy). Unfortunately this meant that the course had to be changed. I think USAT did a great job of calling this early and making very clear changes. Our race ended up a multi loop street circuit.

I was pleased with my pre race prep and was ready to race. However, I didn't realise how significant the impact of jet lag would be and got only one hours sleep the night before the race. Luckily I got a full nights sleep on the Friday (after going to the baseball) which meant I could manage to get up on race day.

Even without sleep I felt pretty good on the start line and got off to a great start in the swim. I was hanging off the back of the main swim pack and was just shy of them out of transition 1. I was really happy with this effort.

I had a significantly better ride than last year but was still well off the pace. I am really amazed with the strength of the girls on the bike, tough competition.

Onto the run and I started strong chancing down the next group early in the run. It was a lot more motivating this year to be amongst it on the run. However, I faded in the back half and didn't get the result I would have liked. 2 minutes is worth about 10 places at the 5150 champs and I didn't capitalise on the opportunity.

All in all I am happy with about 70% of my race but there is still plenty of work to be done on the bike / run before Noosa. I am realising more and more how hard it is to manage both 70.3 and shorter course racing at the pro level, particularly when you can not afford the time to train full time.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Samoa Warrior Race 2014

After the fantastic experience I had in Samoa last year, it was an easy decision to return. This year I was limited to a shorter stay in Samoa as I am headed to the USA for the Hyvee US 5150 championships on the 31 August. It was great to be able to showcase  the country of Samoa this year to fellow pro Sam Betten and to share the communities enormous hospitality and culture.

We arrived in the early hours of the morning on the Thursday before the race so the first few days were spent relaxing, visiting rock pools and sipping coconuts. Friday we gathered for the parade through Apia and the opening ceremony for the event. As the highest ranked female returning warrior, I was asked to say a few words about the race at the ceremony. It was a great opportunity to thank Seti Afoa and his team for the event and all the work he has been doing to support triathlon in Samoa.

We stated in the dark on race day. It was barely day break when we started the swim (clear goggles recommended). I was happy with my progress after the first lap, sitting comfortably with the main pack of men. I was delighted to see a young Samoan boy mixing it up in the swim pack, there is definitely some raw talent in Samoa. The swim for this years race was in a slightly different location requiring a 600m run from the swim exit to transition. We all decided to use shoes to run the distance. I fell a fraction off the back of the group towards the end of the second lap of the swim and decided to run bear foot to transition with shoes and socks in hand. A slightly risky strategy but it was ok in the end.

I left T1 in no mans land and was struggling to obtain momentum on the bike. Last year a number of the the pros had flat tyres so in the week before the event I took my bike into Avanti (the valley) and had my training wheels put on my TT bike and changed to thorn proof tyres. I didn't get any flats but, far out they were slow and tacky with terrible roll! The tussle for the lead commenced at about the thirty km mark where Julia passed me for the first time. I knew I'd be safe from flats so remained positive despite feeling very sluggish. The next time I saw Julia was on the return from the climb up Falifar Pass. Julia would have been a good 90 seconds to 2m ahead at the top of the 5k climb so I needed to get a wriggle on if I was going to regain the ground I'd lost. About 20k from home I regained the lead after Julia got a flat. In the end the trade off between a flat tyre for terrible rolling tyres seemed about even.

Mead Norton Photography

I hit the run out of T2 in front, but after a quick first couple kilometres I became vey cautious of  the heat. It would have been at least 34 degrees (quite possibly more with the radiant heat from the road). I decided to play safe and run conservatively. So after two kilometres, Julia passed me back. I started to notice a number of the men struggling with the heat and so I payed very close attention to ensuring my hydration and nutrition were optimal. I drank at every aid station and used the sponge at every aid station. I took three Endura gels on the run, using two, one at 9km and the other at 14km.

By 15km I had somewhat recovered from the ride and was starting to feel the effects of the gel. My energy levels were up and I could see Julia fading off the back of Jo Carroll (one lap behind but running superbly). I decided that if I could control myself in the heat I could make a play for the lead. At the 15k turn I was about 400m behind, and after receiving encouragement from the crowd, I up'ed the pace. I ended up catching Julia at about the 17.5k mark.  With 3ks to go I pushed on. I was uncertain how much she had left, particularly as we had been battling and switching the lead all day. I wasn't sure I had enough of a gap until I could actually see the finish line at 100m to go.

Mead Norton Photography

I am delighted to have taken the win and will use this as a very positive experience going in to Hyvee. Most of my training has been focused on shorter faster racing in preparation for Hyvee. I was very happy to have survived and am encouraged by the strength of the back end of my run. The times for the day were significantly impacted by the road conditions, the steep climb on the bike and the heat on the run.

All-in-all a tough day out in the heat and tough terrain but worth it for the views and the racing. Thanks to my sponsors, Endura, Compressport, Brooks running, Orca and Reddog triathlon training.