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.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Challenge GC ~ Scott Foil vs Plasma ~ I vote Penny Farthing

This weekend myself, Ew-Dog* and GB* went solo on a recon of the CGC course. Intending to start a 6'ish we were naturally late after Ew-Dog (without fail) sleeping in and GB dawdling at the start. So after an early morning bakery stop, toilet stop and rough guess at the course, it wasn't until 7AM that we headed off.

For a summary before I start, check out the official Challenge GC bike course below on this really cool 2m video.

All three of us were on road bikes. I had my Scott Foil Premium (11 speed compact with 12/27 range), GB and Ew-dog both ran standard chain rings with 12/25 on the rear.

Ew-dog was keen to go moderate from the start so I enjoyed the scenery from business class on the first "finger".  The first "finger" was exactly 20kms and was very uneventful. There was a slight natural uphill outbound with some mossy wet corners to note near the turn around. The turn around is at an Eden ..something wall sign.

We rode back much faster taking advantage of the slight downhill. There is one sharp curve around a U bend at perhaps 26km. Next is a left turn at the 30k mark. Then uphill toward the "pinch" which starts about 300m up the road. There is a lead-in hill that is similar to the bottom of Mt Gravatt which lasts about 150m (at 5%-8%) then a plateau before the pinch of 15-20% for about 80m before left and right turns where it pitches up a little more for another 50m or so. I managed to stay seated for the full length of the ride. Ew-Dog stood up and took off. It is not anymore difficult than perhaps Clear Mtn Road ~ if you head from E-x'ing road to Wynn Road direction. The decent from this side is safe.

Another 5-6km along (having passed through a round about) you will hit a T-intersection (at lights) then turn right. A couple more kms down the road there is a gradual hill (max grade 8%) followed by a sharp decent the other side (a little more fun on your way back in). The remainder of finger 2 (including the little thumb) was basically rolling hills. Continue on Finger 2. At the 49km mark take a left on Peitch Creek Road (may have the name wrong). After about 3km do a U-turn at the buss stop (just prior to the road significantly narrowing) and return to Finger 2. Turn left. Head out until 60km (basically it will be as far as you can go again before the road narrows. You will pass 2-3 narrow water courses. After this turn you return home (by-passing the little thumb).

The "pinch" from the other side is way easier as it is a series of inclines and flats. The decent is a little dangerous as you follow the switches at the top before the drop down the steep hill. Once you return to the T-intersection on the first finger turn left and return to the start (we started at the school pool).

This is unquestionably a TT course (so the Plasma wins ~ once the gears are fixed!) unless you are a beginner or out of condition in which case you may consider a road bike for comfort. For a challenge it would be fun to see your roll over in a penny farthing. We sore this guy driving around when we got back to our starting position. I am pretty sure he didn't do it but you never know.

We rode around moderately and finished in about 2hours 45ish. One thing we noticed was that we had pretty saw backs when we tried our 10m run off the bike.

The scenery was fantastic. Lots of rolling hills, sub tropical forest, water passes and rural properties. The roads are a little bumpy with some pot holes but mainly on the shoulder. On race day you will be able to take advantage of the main part of the road. We were all pretty impressed and look forward to having another go soon. For anyone interested here is my Strava. For Brisbane based guys one word "Brookfield".

Get out there have a go and enjoy the beautiful scenery!

*Nick names used to preserve privacy of campaigners (although known well to Red Dogs)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Winter Warmies..what to wear when cycling in winter

It appears winter is upon us. Temperatures in Brisbane dropped below 10 degrees Celsius last night. It is by no means "Jack Frost" type cold  but it does raise the question of what is the most appropriate quantity of winter warmies to be pulling on without looking too delicate.

I have come up with this scale (temperature across the top):

Monday, June 16, 2014

City2South ~ What to do in the week after a race that goes wrong

After my last write up, I have been thinking about how I react when a race goes wrong. Particularly when you are training the house down and have much higher expectations. I think the learning's from the past week are useful in both sport and other aspects of life.

Surround yourself with positivity
I have been fortunate to have a great support crew to which I owe a great deal of thanks (www.reddogtriathlontraining). There have been a number of people that I have talked their ear off. No doubt they are sick of hearing about it, but same said they were prepared to listen. Getting it off your chest is the number one thing.

Get back on the horse
You don't need to go straight back into 30 hours a week training but a gentle river loop or frolic at the pool the next day and before you know it you will be back building the engine.

Look to the future
Re-focus on the next race. Whether its a small fun run or a global race focus on the future. I almost immediately signed up for the @city2South. Considering I was only giving myself a 7 day rest, I was happy with a 52m (3.45km avg) run over the hilly course. I ended in 5th. My fellow Compressport athlete Clare was the winner. I was as always kitted out in my Brooks running shoes. Thanks for the on course support from the RedDog team and to Aussie Tom for reminding me of the short rest between races and the agony on my face.

Focus on the controllable
Reflect on what went wrong. Was it controllable? If its not controllable then try not to focus on it, remember some times things just don't go your way! Let it be.

If all else fails go shopping
Retail therapy is a cure all. With winter fast approaching next week I will be reviewing what to wear at various temperature ranges as the temperature drops further into our Queensland version of "winter".

Above all... step away from the cookies. #saynotosugar

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cairns 2014

So I am back in Brisbane thinking... what just happened. The last week was a bit of a blur. I know my fitness is there but I didn't get the results I was looking for. I have played both the Coral Coast and 70.3 race over in my head many times. The first issue was controllable the second was completely out of my control leaving myself thinking why that race..

Coral Coast
I only decided to do the Pt Douglas 5150 on the Tuesday before the race. So I was still fully loaded with a big super session from the previous weekend plus a 5 x 1k track on Tues and a TT on the bike on Wednesday. I wasn't sure of how well I would go but knew I would be hurting with the added intensity of an olympic distance. I wanted to race because it is a great lead in to the 70.3.

I had everything ready and was looking forward to the race (even if the legs were not!). It was a beach start. I got a great start and was out in second by the first buoy. Yes me in second in the swim. I have been working on my swimming (in a slightly different way to ever before) and it has started to pay off with good swim results in Byron and the past two races in Cairns. I went a little wide as the swim was slightly angled. I was counting the buoys and by the last Ironman Branded buoy I could see the swim exit so headed in. I was racing in when I was caught by a guy on a ski saying I had cut in short. I looked back and sore the girls heading around a smaller yellow buoy further along the beach. My heart sank. I sprinted back to the buoy and ended up in transition as the girls were leaving.

Heading out onto the bike I bolted and cooked what little I had in the legs. I eventually made it back to second (and first for a short amount of time) on the run but my day was over. I had to conserve for the 70.3 so strolled around until the finish. I ended up in 4th.

Couple of lessons learned. Confirm the course (you are responsible for knowing it) and be patient and race to your plan. If I raced to my original plan (even after the miss hap) I may have consolidated but instead I baked myself on the bike.

Cairns 70.3
This race would have to be right up there with one of the most disappointing things that have happened in my triathlon racing. I was really ready for a cracker. I had taken the week pretty easy. Other than flying to Sydney on Sunday night and driving to Newcastle for work for the week until Wednesday!

I took all precautions with the course and walked both transitions the day before. Everything was ready.

We had a 4.15 start to catch the bus to Palm Cove for the swim start at 6.36. We started in knee deep water. It was a funny race start they sort of blew a weird quite horn. I got off well and was in the main chase bunch for the swim. It was a solid group with 19 pro females on the start line. I am really enjoying the improved swimming as it helps with my bike and run legs. I was out the water and through transition quick with only Caroline, Lisa up the road.

I jumped on the bike and headed through the streets of Palm Cove, quickly realising that my gears didn't seem to be responding. I ignored it for the first section out toward the main road but became concerned and realised my rear derailleur Di2 was not working. My heart sank. I was chumping at the bit to get out there on the bike but could only spin along until I found a mechanic.

The mechanic reached me on the ocean road but was not much help as we really needed an electrician! The gears were stuffed from the rain. No luck for me. I was able to tighten the derailleur cable into the 18 which meant i had only 53/18 and 39/18 to choose from for 90ks. I got on my way but not after loosing no less than 11 minutes to the lead girls. My day was over. Almost as hard was the fact that the race photographer was taking pictures of me on the side of the road with my heart on my sleeve.

I fought on because all too often Pro's pull out. I am inspired by my age group training buddies who wouldn't DNF for anything. It was a tough task, re-commencing with the AG females but I got on my way. It took me until 60ks to catch some of the Pro females. I was motivated by this and fought on catching a couple more on the run. I ran out of transition trying to catch but lost heart by the end of the first lap realising top 6 was out of touch ending in 11th.

I look forward to the next race. It was just such a shame because of how much I love the Carins 70.3 race having won in 2012.

Thanks to Reddog Triathlon Training, Brooks, Endura, Aussie, Compressport, Avanti Plus the Valley and Orca for all your support. Special thanks to the mechanic out on the course that advised me on the issue at least I finished. Lots of positives to take away for the next one!