Well That was Unexpected - True Triathlon Course - Over the Moon
WOW. That about sums up that race! The first WTS of the year and to take the win was totally unexpected, but I really couldn’t be happier. I'm sitting on the plane on the way to Stellenbosch writing this blog and still smiling from ear to ear! I will talk you through my thoughts . . .
So, since New Plymputh World Cup 2 weeks ago I have been back in Wanaka training with D-Squad which has been great. It was a new place for me training there and what a stunning place it was. By the end of our 5 weeks there I was ready to move on though, as to get to our accomodation it was a 25 min drive up a very rocky, twisty road, and even though the drivers (Coach Daz and Team Greg) are more than capable of driving, my nerves were not, and I got worse going up the rocky road as time went on, so I don’t think my stomach could of handled much more time there. So we left for Auckland WTS on Thursday and was greeted by rain! Thankfully, that was the first, and the last of the rain we had over the race weekend.
The lead up to the race was straight forward, and I was feeling really relaxed. Even though I was going in ranked number 1, to me, for now, it's just a number on my arm, with the stacked field on the start line I was by no way in my mind going in as favourite, or even one to look out for, so things were nice and calm leading into the race. Don't get me wrong, just because I was relaxed, doesn't mean to say I wasn't excited. This was my first Olympic Distance race of 2014, and I was excited to find out where I was.
My second family live in Auckland, the Statham family, so it was awesome to get to see them in the lead up and on race day. Also over in New Zealand I have some old friends who used to live in Oldbury, The Walters' and I was so pleased to see them too :-)
So, race morning came around and there were no dramas. As I spoke to Darren, his words were "well you're in good shape, and you for sure, you'll do better than last year" (for those that don’t know, I got hyporthermia last year, and didn’t make it round the first lap of the bike) so I thought - well I bloody well hope that’s true! With the water temp 20.8 degrees it was only just a non-wetsuit swim. I decided to still warm up in my wetsuit, not wanting the past to slap me in the face again, so on goes the FON and off on my swim warm up. The water was flat, especially compared to last year, but when the heart beat music started it was on!! In my 17 years of competing in Triathlon, this swim was one of the worst swims I have been in, there was no letting up on trying to get some clear water, and just be able to swim without fighting with anyone.Usually you can expcet this until the first bouy, or even round the bouys, but this didn’t let up for the whole 1500m! MAD! I was kind of glad to hear the same from all the other girls in the field after the race.
Out of the swim in 27th place, not the greatest of positions but I knew I was part of a huge pack of girls, so jus blasted up to T1 just ensure I was there with them. The pace on the bike was on from the go, and my legs were killing going up the first hill. Oh dear, I was preying they would come good, I was red lining just trying to get on the highly motivated group of girls led by Kate McIlroy. After a couple of laps my legs found their form but the pace didn’t drop. The group was around 18 I think, but some women were getting left behind from the pace set on at the front, and the extremely hard, technical course.
About half way through the bike, about 4 laps to go, I saw Kate and Nicky Samuels had a gap. I knew it was the NZ selection race for the Commonwealth Games, and I also know how aggressive and strong these girls were at cycling. Seeing them out in front I took the chance. It took me a while, as I didn't know 1) if I'd be able to catch them, and 2) if I could stay with them knowing they'd be going for me, but I risked it, jumped across and dug in until I caught them. I remember looking behind me to see if anyone had latched on, but they hadn't, so me Kate, and Nicky were off, and there was no turning back now! As soon as I'd settled in with the break, the first thing that came in to my mind was "if this doesn't work, Darren is going to kill me", I was absolutely hanging, pushing with the girls as much as I could. My Cervelo S5 and Zipp 303s were handling the technical course great, but Kate’s skills on the bike are fantastic, and following this girl going though some of the fastest technical sections got my heart rate up even more, but at this point I'm like "well its all or nothing now".
The gap stayed at 30 seconds for most of the ride and then on the last lap we managed to squeeze another 10 seconds so going into T2, so ended up with a 40 second gap on the chasing pack which included some fast runners; Anne Haug, Helen Jenkins, Emma Moffat just to name a few. I had no idea whether I would get caught or not, and to be honest I was too scared to turn around to have a look. I knew there were points on the run course we would cross paths so thought I'd leave it till then. Onto the run and I followed the instructions from Coach on the side line, "tempo, don’t go all out, tempo" which is what I tried to do. Keeping my check list in my head of what I needed to focus on, the things Darren says to me every run session, keeping all my bits together or at least trying to.
I was out in front, and my mind felt like it was in overdrive. On lap 3 I was starting to hurt and apart from my checklist the other thing going through my mind was my family and frends. I thought about how long ive been away, how much I missed them, and how much I wanted to do this for them and make them proud. I felt that thinking of this made me dig deeper. Onto the last lap, 2.5km to go and the chasing group of girls were around 30 seconds back. All I could think about was trying to keep things together, what can I do better? around the top corner, about to run down the false flat I saw Anne had made her move on the girls, and showed her speed on the run. She was coming, and I was going as fast as I could, not looking back, just focusing on looking for the blue carpet. I saw it, the home straight, and there was no letting up, I couldn't risk Anne catching me so I sprinted as hard as I could to finish. WOW, where the hell did that come from? I crossed the line, saw the Statham and Walters family in the crowd and couldn't stop smilling, then saw the man I was looking for - coach, smiling from ear to ear, I thought "thank God that break worked". I thought my face was going to explode!
Just a quick one also to say welcome back Helen Jenkins, what a fantastic result for you. And former team mate Anne Haug, was great to share the podium with you.
Thank you so much for everyone who has supported me, for those who were up at stupid o'clock watching the race, and for those who have been part of my journey so far. It's just the start of the season and what a way to kick it off! I've had so many lovely messages of support and congratulations and want to say thank you to you all, it means so much, and I know I'm extremely lucky to have the best team around me!
Now I have enjoyed the success I'm back on it, with Cape Town just three weeks away, new race, new place I've never been before, and best of all I get to see my Mum and Dad who are coming out to see the race.
Excited is too small of an emotion to explain how I'm feeling right now.
Thank you again everyone.
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