Diving into the deep end!
March 10th, 2017
My first race back after 7 months consisted of:
1) The first race of the WTS circuit
2) a sprint finish
3) 2nd place
Talk about diving into the deep end!
So 7 months away from racing is the longest time I’ve been away. Needless to say, as you’re all aware, it’s been tough. Having been given the all clear from my injury late December I knew I had to sort my stuff out sharpish to be ready for the 2017 season. Although my winter training started a little later than normal, it’s been quite consistent. It was a completely different build up to what I am used to as recovering from injury it felt a lot slower, but I had to be sensible and think about the bigger picture. You’re all aware of my recent changes, which again was another spanner in the works for me, a new (colder) training location, a new training programme, new routine, new coach, I felt like a rookie again. Mentally I would say that it was more demanding, physically my body just seemed to react to the training, it’s work in progress for sure.
The first race of the year is always challenging, I normally like to get a little race done beforehand just to see where things are, but there was no time this year, so WTS Abu Dhabi it was. As always WTS Abu Dhabi was set to be an exciting one, with the main focus being the new course with the technical bike section! I have to say, I was really excited; short inclines, fast twisty descents, sweeping bends it was a playground for the bike on a F1 circuit, which is pretty cool. I really miss the likes of the Auckland and Kitzbuhel, bike courses, so was looking forward to something a bit different. Firstly though, the swim – I’m always conscious of the USA girls, they brought a big team here so I knew along with Carolina (ESP) that the swim was going to be fast. As I expected, packs formed, I felt like a had a better swim during this race, but was still 40 sec down leaving T1 in the 3rd pack (work in progress still).
Onto the bike and for me it was head down and push. I knew the gap, I knew what I had to do, so I just went for it. I got help from Andrea (Hewitt) and between the 2 of us we managed to bridge the gap across, with most of the pack happy to stay behind for the ride. To be honest, I know how hard me and Andrea were pushing, so I don’t know whether the girls just couldn’t take their turn or not, but either way, we caught the lead group. I knew I’d had a solid winter on my bike, and I haven’t been able to race the way I wanted to on 2 wheels so this race was a bit of a test to see how much I could do, and I was happy. I raced aggressively on my new Specialized S-Works Amira, I was happy to push the pace throughout the 40km, it was nice to put the pressure on a bit and feel good on a smooth bike course! The pressure came off on the last lap which is where the gap decreased a lot to the chasing pack, but I got into a good position coming into T2, with me and Gillian Backhouse on the front line. A clean T2 and I had no idea how I would run after such a hard bike.
The run started and I found myself at the front which is not where I wanted to be, after having no confidence in my run, from a combination of a delayed winter build block and new training routine, the plan was to just feel my way though the first 5k, but this didn’t work out, with the pace being just too slow. So after the first few km I went to the front. My mentality changed then, and I just thought; well lets just go for it then! I wasn’t silly for the first 5km, as the conditions also came in to play, especially with the heat!! My first winter in the UK (as you can tell from my ghost tan), means I was conscious of the heat. After 5km I was pushing the hill slightly as I could feel this was Andrea and Saras weak points on the course, but I couldn’t shake them. Then coming back into the finishing area there a long flat which Andrea was the most dominant. Still running together into the last lap, again up the hill I put the pressure on, but still the doubt of running in the back of my head came into play. Coming onto the flat with around 350m to go until the finish my Coach on the sideline shouted at me to go for it. So I did and managed a small gap as I looked behind. My legs were going as fast as I could make them, I had no idea where Andrea was. I was using every part of my body to get to that finish and then out of the corner of my eye I spot a tiny black tri-suit and there was nothing I could do. I was at full stretch and we crossed the line within 1 second of each other with Andrea getting the Gold. 2nd place in my first WTS race, back from injury – I’m happy. And more so that Andrea got the win – I know how much this race means to her, and she thoroughly deserves it, she is one tough cookie both physically and mentally. As for Sara, wowza, such a young talent and 1st time on the WTS podium! Bravo!
Looking back now, I’m still over the moon with my performance on the day. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still a lot of work to be done, and another 7 months of racing to be had. But my worry has now turned into a bit of relief that things are going in the right direction. The first race is my starting point for the 2017 season and I’m looking forward to building and seeing what’s to come. I’ve been inundated with messages – there are too many to reply to, although I have read them all, so will say thank you to you all now. Your support is incredible, and knowing you guys are all behind me makes me want to push on more and more. I cannot thank you enough! Good luck to start of the season for you all. See you on the Gold Coast!
Posted in Latest News
First birthday in the UK for eight years!
February 9th, 2017
A massive positive about being based in the UK this winter is having my first birthday at home for eight years, yep… eight years! On Wednesday 8th I turned 28 and ever since my 20th birthday I have never wanted to say ‘it’s my birthday’ until I can celebrate back in the UK with family and friends. This year I actually got to celebrate my birthday on the actual day with the family!
So what have I done…I’m still in a big training block in Loughborough with the first WTS literally round the corner, so no foot off the gas, and Wednesday was no different. With a 6.00 am swim start, about 5.8km total swim, it was over to the gym with Mr. Ian Pypes, then back home to grab some food before heading out on the bike. Afterwards I loaded up the Peugeot and drove home to meet Mum from work where we went on to my birthday meal – I had a nice steak at Miler and Carter – TREAT ME!
For the rest of the week I will be staying in Birmingham to spend a little time with the family, as well as putting myself through it at a local duathlon in Wombourn: a 5k road run followed by 29k on the bike, where I will get to test out the new Brotherton Cycles Specilized Sworks Amira for its first time, before a 2.5k final run. I wanted to do something before the Abu Dhabi race and this seemed like the perfect challenge! Then it’s back to Loughborough for the final prep going into Abu Dhabi.
I’m not going to lie, this has been really challenging prep for me with such big changes in my training programme, coaching staff and routine. With all of this change has come loads of physical and mental challenges, but of course I have enjoyed some and hated others! The athlete doubts going into the new season are very present having come back from a massive injury, but my coaching and support team are the best in the world and I couldn’t thank them enough for getting me back to what I love to do. I’m nervous and excited to get the season going and see what challenges lie ahead for me this year!
It’s a big year for me with the goal to try and qualify a year out for the Commonwealth Games in the GC 2018 but I’m up for the challenge! I hope everyone is enjoying your own challenges you have set yourselves for this year and working hard to achieve them!
Posted in Latest News
It’s definitely time for an update…plus, Santa is coming!!!
December 20th, 2016
Just one line to say 2016: you’re in the past…now on to future challenges to be had in 2017.
So, my 2017 training is well underway and it’s been challenging in a way I am not very fond of. Strange to admit really, as normally I’m well up for any challenge. But this is a different kettle of fish and my patience has been tested to the MAX! Swimming first off has been full of technical changes (yet again), which for me is massively challenging as my mentality is to just go hard, but now I am having to focus on and realise that technique is key. I know that this is the main area that needs to improve if I want to be swimming with the best. I know I can do it…now it’s putting in the hard work and stepping it up a gear for next year! Things are moving forward and I’m swimming better than I have done in a very long time, which is great at this time of the year – but there is still a long way to go. The consistency isn’t there yet – I need to be blasting these sessions out and nailing them near enough every time. This is of course helped by the great support I have from TYR. They are an amazing team to be a part of, and I look forward to once again representing them next year!
The key to triathlon is being able to balance the training in all three sports, so when my volume hasn’t been there for my running, it opens up the opportunity for more cycling. Cycling has opened so many new doors for me. I am now working with power and cycling in the right zones on different sessions. It may surprise a lot of people, but I have never worked with power and have always gone on feel, so this is amazing, and again something different. I love getting back from my rides and plugging in my Garmin Edge 1000 and checking out the numbers – it’s really re-energised my cycling and I can really see the difference – I’m getting stronger and stronger. It’s safe to say I am really happy with getting my cycling back to where it previously was, and I’m excited for the season on my bike!!
Running…hmm – as everyone knows this is my fave out of the three disciplines. It has given me the biggest highs and the lowest lows over the years. These past five months have been such a pain! Injury for any athlete is a nightmare – physically and mentally. It has been (and still is) slow progression, and I am not yet up to full load running. God Bless the British Physio Team who have put up with me constantly moaning about the lack of running, but I know I had to put my full trust in the experts, and we’re getting there. It’s been so good to be able to pull on a pair of Asics and even just jog! Any kind of running is nice, even if I do feel like I’m running in quick sand. I’m looking forward to getting that running form back again, and enjoy the hard sessions I miss so much, but for now I’ll enjoy the fact I’m healthy and I’m actually running.
With all the big announcements that have been coming out, I thought I may as well put mine out there too! The end of my season saw Coach Daz and I part ways, which left me with a huge decision . . . what do I do? I spoke with a few coaches, and fellow athletes, and weighed up my options, looking mainly at my “work/life balance” and I have made the decision to move to Loughborough. I am working with a great team of coaches, mainly being lead by Ben Bright and Adam Elliot – part of the British Team. I have embraced the opportunity to work with these people, and have based myself around the whipper snappers training at Loughborough University. So many people have started off, come from, and remain now at this training base, and it’s the right decision for me. The support staff I am working with here are amazing and really so passionate about making me the best I can be. A big change I have made is actually doing a proper gym programme. I’ve always done a “kind of rehab programme” which is okay for maintenance, but doesn’t last forever, derrrrr! I need proper core strength, so now I am in the gym making myself stronger so my body can handle the swim bike run training I’m putting it through. Sounds good ay!
It’s Christmas in one week, and I hope you’re all looking forward to spending time with your family, friends and loved ones. I’m in Loughborough until just before and then will be heading home for some much earned family time – it’s Christmas, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be!
Looking forward to the year ahead and couldn’t be more grateful for my team of sponsors who have stuck by me, and will keep me fighting into 2017:
J Hayward & Sons of Walsall LTD
Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you have an amazing 2017.
Posted in Latest News
World Triathlon Series Update
September 12th, 2016
Okay…most will now be aware that the WTS Series has finished for me. The final KO blow was an injury to my foot that was confirmed last night as being a 5cm tear to my left Achilles. Not quite sure what I have done to 2016, but for some reason it was not my year. With not being selected for Rio, I focused on ending the season well in the Series but now I’m unable to do that so what do I do?! I’m devastated that I won’t be able to race the Grand Final and end the 2016 season on a high.
I escaped to Boulder to go and train with Siri Lindley and her bunch of star athletes, who all welcomed me with open arms. Before going out I’d picked up what I thought was just a niggle, that would soon clear up with a bit of treatment and rest. This resulted in not much running at all in the last month, so on top of not going to Rio, I couldn’t even go and do what I love to help heal my heart break. Sometimes for me, the best medicine to mend a broken heart is to go out and kill myself in training. Pushing as hard as I can is kind of a relief for me – it makes me feel good. This is what I did on race day in Rio. I watched the race, and cheered through the TV, but then to control the mixed emotions I went on a bike ride, and got lost!! As you do! But I came back feeling better, and focused on ending the series as high as I could. For me, if something doesn’t work out as planned, I set a new goal, something to aim towards and keep my mind on track. I was happy to fight for this series and do whatever possible to end as high as possible. I don’t think I had been out of the top 4 all season, and now it’s all gone, and what makes things worse is that it’s not something I can even control.
Edmonton came, and I knew in my head I wouldn’t be able to run, I was even worried about the run up to transition, but my heart just said “GIVE IT A GO, YOU NEVER KNOW”. Now, what do I do? Listen to my head or my heart?? My heart won and I raced, but then my head took over and coming into T2 even though I had ignored the pain running from the swim to the bike, I think kind of stupidly hoping the pain would go away but then jumping of the bike and doing a double jump to get the weight off my leg I knew running a 5k was not possible.
In one way I want to hide under the covers and not come back up until 2017, but likewise I thought I’m not finishing off the 2016 season injured (or so I thought, until last night!!!). So what am I going to do? My plan is, I’m home – well I’m in the UK ready for treatment and rehab. The plan until last night was that I would end my season racing the Island House Triathlon. I was honoured to be invited to this amazing event, and have been so so excited to race, and I thought giving myself another goal would help control my emotions . . . until last night. So, I was scanned, and following the scan we found I had a tear, best case scenario – a boot for 3 weeks then build everything back up. Then the MRI results came back which shows the length of the tear is 5cm and it’s a boot for a very minimum of 3 weeks and more likely 6, with no swimming or cycling, nothing at all!!
Thank you so much for everyone that has been on my side supporting me this year -family, supporters, sponsors, coaches, friends and rivals, you have all been beyond amazing and I really cannot thank you all enough for your messages of support. I’m down now lower than I have ever been, but I will be back, I promise! So now I am forced to take my end of season break stupidly early, stuck in a big black boot, but hopefully as long as I do as I’m told, I’ll be able to start building in a few months, ready for my winter block of training so I can go out and smash 2017!
Finally, some will have seen that my Coach Darren Smith has posted on Facebook that our relationship has now come to an end. As all things do. For us both, it’s time to move on. Darren has been my best friend and worst enemy these past 4 years. We have had so many ups and thankfully very little downs. He is the oracle, the font of all knowledge, and has taught me so much. Not just about the sport, but about myself as an athlete, and as a person. He has taught me to be the best I can be. I have had the best results to date with Darren as my coach, WTS podiums, WC podiums, and of course my first Major Games win at the Commonwealths. Anyone who knows Darren knows he doesn’t really show his soft side, and doesn’t like to admit he has one, but he has a huge heart, and this year has been just as tough for him, as it has for me. He was the main person to see me day in and day out, pushing through training to reach that Olympic dream that never happened, but we gave it our all. Sweat, passion, tears, dedication from both of us just wasn’t enough this time, but Coach I will get there, I promise you, and when it happens, I will think of you, and what you have given me the past 4 years.
I will value everything Darren has given me, and I am so so thankful of everything he has done for me over the past 4 years. I wish him all the very best for the next chapter in his life, and thanks also to the lovely Liz, who again has been so supportive of me, and Daz to be able to do what he does. Take care both of you, and I really cannot thank you enough.
I want to wish all my WTS friends the best of luck for the final in Cozumel. Enjoy the after party, have a Mojito for me! It’s been such an amazing year for the sport of Triathlon – I still love the sport and I look forward to 2017 so hurry up and start. I hope everyone enjoys the last few races of the season, and I’ll update you in about 6 weeks with what’s happening.
Posted in Latest News
With everyone gearing up for Rio Olympics, what am I up to?
August 3rd, 2016
So Rio is just around the corner and I’m on the roller coaster of emotions with having some days where to be honest I forget about the race, and these are the days I like. And of course when I’m training this is never an issue and I just get lost in the session and the goals I’m training for, but I’m not going to lie…there are times where I’ll read a tweet, see athletes leaving for Rio, an advert on TV or an article in the Daily Mirror saying I’m a medal contender for Rio?! And I’m like…this is rubbish! But I’ve got the support I need to get through it. Training is actually going okay but the down times are getting a little bit more often with Rio so close.
What I need now is a bubble containing happy, positive, motivational people with different targets…so I’m going to Boulder! Anyone that knows anything about Boulder knows it’s a bit of a long distance triathlon HUB and is known for being a bit of a triathlon mecca so I’m going to love it! I’m so excited.
Before that little trip I’m going to race the London Triathlon on Sunday which I’m really looking forward to. It’s nice to be able to race a great UK race like the London Tri. Something to keep the training and race prep ticking over, then a few days at home and I’m off! Get my head down for 3 weeks before leaving to race Edmonton and Cozumel, the last 2 races in the WTS series.
I have a great opportunity to go and train with Siri Lindley and her amazing group of athletes. Siri was an amazing athlete herself, and not only known for what she has accomplished as a competitor, but also as an amazing coach, so I’m extremely lucky to be able to go and learn from her. I’ve never really had a conversation longer than a few sentences with Siri, so I really just know her from what she has achieved, but this is just the outlining of a person that I think a lot of. Over email she has been great, which I’m very grateful for. She is already showing me so much love and support from the U.S and she has her hands full with a team, not only going for glory in Kona but 70.3 as well, so I’m looking forward to getting it given to me by some hard core guys and gals in the group! Thank you in advance for having me with you all.
I have had loads of support from many fantastic people through this tough time. Messages over social media, sponsors, family and friends have really shown how amazing they are and have been nothing but supportive towards me, and people close to me know I have really needed them at times, and will do over the next few weeks. But I’m okay…I’m still able to do what I love, and compete against the best in the world, even if I won’t be at graduation party, I’m happy to be a fresher for this year. I’m still loving pushing the limits, and finding new boundaries both physically and mentally for sure.
This is the last blog I’m doing before the Big Day, so I’m going to end it by saying I wish everyone on the start line in Rio the very best of luck for the race. Let the years of hard work come out to shine and leave nothing left when you cross that line. I have no regrets, just new beginnings to come. And finally a note to my GBR girls Non, Vicky and Helen – go give it some girls! Wear that Union Jack with pride and I wish you all the very best of luck!
Posted in Latest News
Race Week Insight
July 26th, 2016
I’m changing things up a little and giving you another insight into my race week. This one will be a little different, with the arrival of Mum, who I’m so excited to see, but before that, a little mention about Stockholm WTS.
Stockholm is officially my bogey race. All I want to do is forget about it, but I feel I owe you guys an explanation. I think we’ve come to the decision it was an altitude problem. Going into the race I was quite excited, training was going well and I wasn’t ill – there was no reason why I felt so terrible. First lap of the swim and I felt fine, I was happy with my positioning but as soon as I dived in for the second lap my energy was just zapped, I got dropped a few places, got out onto T1 and felt disorientated to the point where I forget where my bike was (quite embarrassing considering it was parked right at the front!!!). Onto the bike I tried to push on but getting dropped from the 1st pack, to being solo, the chase pack, to being solo, to the third pack, to being solo. I was literally going backwards. I would rather come last than pull out of a race, but I started to get blurred vision and started to feel sick, so I had to pull the plug. I didn’t know if I’d be able to get up the transition hill again, but I managed it and as soon as I handed by bike over the railings . . . well, you can imagine what happened. But that was then, and this is now, onwards to Hamburg WTS.
1 Week to go…
It’s Saturday today which means 1 week to go. We are doing the DSquad Lake Montriond World Champs. Anyone that’s been following me for a few years will know that this is a DSquad tradition. That every year we have mini World Champs between the squad members, to get the little things practiced under the pressure of the group…and Darren of course! This years Champs consisted of GBR, SWE and RSA, so you would think less room for error. The format was as follows: a 1300m ish swim, 15km bike, and 2.5km run. Things went well and we got the title lol. But more importantly it was a hard, fun hit out with my friends and training partners, and showed things that need to be looked at going into Hamburg. Following this was an afternoon spin, and my body was ready for the taper.
So I’ve got a longish run, not the 2 hours that I’m used to, and my legs felt fine for that, so then it was back home and watched London Has Fallen (loved it, highly recommended), and in the background I had the Tour on, I’m just a little bit hooked #GOCAV!! and the L’Étape has come through Morzine today. From where I am living I can see the finish, and the flow of 15,000 riders coming through is making me feel very lazy! I was worried that I possible wasn’t doing enough training, but I’ve had an email pinged through from coach saying “all is fine” and I trust him. So I’m doing what I’m told, like I always do hey coach!
Starting with a morning run whilst the people of Morzine are still cleaning up the barriers of the race from yesterday and on the way back from my run popping into the shop to get a few food bits. Not wanting to buy too much as leaving in a few days, although got to the till and still bought too much – I think that’s a common theme with everyone!!! Then it’s off to the pool. This is where the doubts of race week come in, and doubting the time cycle set by coach on a “Monday Blues Day”. I got it handed to me in the pool with special thanks to Miss Norden who I was chasing. This just kept me going to get the set done, even after my little outburst to coach half way through the session, which I did apologise for afterwards. Then gym and bike spin to finish the day.
So today we started with a bike to run session x3 where Darren set a technical course, but not too technical by his standards! And then the run course was just a km loop. The main focus for the session was the technical bits on the bike, transitions and finding form quickly on the run. It went okay, legs didn’t feel fantastic but ticked the box, and then back home as the rain really started to pour here in Morzine. I finished packing my bag, which I always manage to overpack, but I would always rather have too much than too little, and packed the bike up as well. I’m not just saying this because I’m sponsored by them but Scicon Bike bags are the most effortless to use. I have been racing quite a bit this year and having the Scicon bag has made such a difference to how easy it is to get ready to go – please take a look at them! So then off to the pool for a dive set, and back home to Skype the family. Erin filled me in on her sports day and showed me how fast she can run! I miss them all so much, but excited to see Mum tomorrow. She is my best friend, and even though I’m training well and things are going okay, I still have times when things suck about Rio and it’s times like that when I lean on her the most.
Travel day – my worst day. The flight wasn’t due to depart until after 4pm so was quite nice to have a relaxed morning but a productive one at the same time. So I went to the launderette and put on some washing, then back and got to meet Catherine Jamerson for a nice morning run before then heading back and packing the last few bits up. Mari has still been living up the mountain in Avoriaz, some 20mins and another 800m up the mountain, so she drove down to me in Morzine at about 12.30 and I drove from there to the airport. The flight was pretty straight forward, however it took us forever then to get to the hotel, arrived after 9pm, so it had been a long day, but I was now with my Mum so I was happy! My good luck charm!
Briefing day of course, but first it’s a little bit of training. Start with a morning run, breakfast (hotel was lovely thank you), swim and lunch. Me and Mum went to our soup shop which is amazing, and the lady behind the counter remembers us every year! Post lunch ride (turbo :-/) then an early dinner where I went on trip advisor and found a lovely Thai, so I had chicken and noodles and on to briefing.
Pre race day, so met the Squad and coach for a course reccie which we did in the pouring rain, so was well practiced if the heavens did decide to open up on us. Back to dry off and have a break before heading to the pool for a normal pre race swim set. Back to the hotel and its boring legs up time, so me and Mum watched a movie called “Room” – good movie! Then went out for the pre race dinner where I always have seafood pizza, yummy!!!!
Race day, but with the race not starting till 4.43pm, it was going to be a long day no matter what. I got up and did a morning run, had some breakfast and went to the swimming pool, then back and still had to wait a little while to get ready for the race.
Going in as Number 1 as Flora was away getting ready for Rio, was in one way an honour, especially with having athletes like Gwen in the field. Dived in and feeling a bit better in the water but still not near where I need to be, left me quite a fair way back AGAIN – not a happy chappy! Big effort on the bike to get into the race and this was the second pack, as Lucy Hall among 6 others were up the road, and this is where it stayed. For 4 laps the gap stayed around 30 seconds then coming into T2 was just under a minute so it was going to be tough.
I ran out of T2 solid and was quickly joined by Barbara who I knew was running well, then not long at all until I saw Gwen coming through. I just thought – “I’m going” so I hooked on to the train and just kept on trying to hold Gwen and seconds! So I didn’t run with the long legs of Gwen but this gaped me from the runners behind, and I managed to pass everyone from the group that was in front apart from Katie and Rachel, so was happy with my 4th, but so much more to work on! This then got me in the GBR relay team, fast fast fast, and what great fun. What another great way to show off our sport of triathlon! We didn’t come away with the result we wanted, but wasn’t for the lack of grit by anyone on the team.
Now I’m back in Morzine and will race for EJOT next weekend before the final prep for the London Triathlon which I’m also really excited about! It’s all still a working progress guys, getting ready for the last 2 races of the WTS! I want to thank my Mum, Simon, Sarah, Beautiful Baby Jess, Derek (yes this is the famous Auntie Derek), Grant and Olly for coming out to Hamburg to support me, and also to mad cousin Carli for coming to Stockholm. I really do have the best team behind the scenes, and when they get to watch me race it’s so good having them there. Lastly thank you so much to Columbia Threadneedle for looking after me and my family, I really feel very honoured to have them backing me!
Happy training guys, summer I hear has finally arrived in the UK . . . for now!
Posted in Latest News
Happy to be in a positive place!
June 16th, 2016
So, this isn’t going to be the easiest of years by any stretch, but I’m happy to say I’m doing okay. It’s taking a while and I’m still building myself back up both emotionally and physically. It’s not okay about Rio…and it never will be. Nothing I achieve this year will replace what the Olympics mean to me, but I have shifted my focus, and I will do all I can to podium on the Overall World Triathlon Series. Each race has been about building and learning, and I will continue to try and improve as much as I possibly can throughout the year now. Let’s see where that takes me.
Leeds WTS…what a fantastic race, course, support, everything was pretty amazing to be honest. I’d only been back on camp with Darren for 10 days before heading off to Leeds, so was a pretty short time on camp. Would be interesting to see how things would have gone had I have had a few more weeks block of steady training! I knew I was in okay shape bike and run wise, but swimming, oh dear, I have no idea what has happened! It’s so annoying not being able to pin point what’s going on, but I suppose it’s work in progress.
Going into the race ranked number 2 I stood next to Flora on the pontoon, and that’s as much as I saw of her! Claxon sounded and she was gone! I didn’t have a great swim, can’t say exactly why not, but it was an improvement on my other races, so I’ll take that as a positive. There was a long run into T1, that’s such a nightmare as I can’t help but red line it as fast as I can in case I miss a break. So onto the bike and I felt terrible until just before I entered the city. By this time our pack had managed to bridge up to the trio of Gwen, Emma and Vicky. This left Jess, Lucy and Flora who were well away. I didn’t really expect to catch up to those girls especially on this course which is perfect for a small breakaway – tight roads and tight turns really suit those girls who are all strong cyclists and technically very good as well. I have to mention Andrea Hewitt – she was amazing throughout the 41.5km bike, technically she was so aware, and so strong going in and out of the turns, turning the power up to the point I felt sometimes I was just hanging on. The gap was up and down, but I think averaged between 1.30 – 1.40, going into T2. Coming into transition I made sure I was in safely and the plan was just to focus on my own run, which ended up being a 10km battle with Miss Vicky Holland. I felt I was stronger on some parts of the course, but wasn’t strong enough to drop her, and she was stronger on other parts. I was conscious that there were still the likes of Non, Barbara, Andrea and Rachel chasing behind, so couldn’t let the pace slow. It got to the final lap and I had no idea who was going to take it. The last 1500m I was hurting… we took the final left turn and Vicky surged, I tried to go, but had nothing left, and finished just off the podium in 4th place.
I’m happy with the result, considering how training has been going, but not fully happy with how I executed the race. Congratulations as always to the podium Gwen, yet again showing her class, Flora and Vicky. I had so much support out there on the course, not only did so many of my family and friends make the trip to Leeds, but I just felt every person behind me out there, it was one of the best supported races I have ever been in. The city was 3 people deep at least all around the course, it was truly a race I will remember for a long time. Thank you so much to everyone involved, especially the volunteers.
Just on a very quick note, I’m so sorry to the 1000’s of age-groupers who had a bad experience. Social media has filled me in with the disappointment you feel. All I can say is that it’s a new race, a new course and lets hope that the organisers learn from your feedback, and make it a better experience for you all next year. Please don’t let it put you off. Triathlon is such a difficult sport for us to participate in, but it’s also a difficult sport to organise. I really cannot thank everyone enough out on the course in Leeds, yes the course was amazing but the support was just incredible. Hope to see you all, and more next year!!
I’m now back to Morzine, and will get my head down for a little bit longer before jet setting again to race for my German Team EJOT, and then Stockholm will be the next WTS on the schedule. Hope everyone’s mid season training is going well, and yet again thanks to everyone for all their support.
Posted in Latest News
Dream Gone, Heart Broken.
April 20th, 2016
“We regret to inform you that you have not been selected to represent Team GBR in the Rio Olympic Games”
This was the hardest email I have ever had to read in my triathlon career so far. Not because it wasn’t what I was expecting – I knew after my performance on the Gold Coast that I wouldn’t be going to the Games but it is hard to read, and hard to digest.
This is not the blog I wanted to be posting, but anyone who reads my blogs knows that I tell the truth and talk from the heart and this will be no different. As I type I can feel the tears coming on and the goose bumps coming through my body, so here we go.
After the great start I had to my 2016 campaign, a win in Abu Dhabi followed by a win in Mooloolaba, I knew I was heading in the right direction in my mission to get on the start line at the Rio Olympics. Training had been going well, although it’s always hard to judge, pushing your body to the max to get the most out of it, but this is what was needed leading into the Gold Coast race and trying to get the best out of myself on race day.
This was the race that I was aiming for, it’s the race that I focused on when I was mentally drained, physically exhausted, it’s the reason I was away from home – all I had to do was perform well, like I had already done, and get myself on that start line in Rio, going for a medal.
Going into the race I was prepared, ready to go, thanks to coach Darren Smith and my D-Squad girls Mari Rabi and Lisa Norden. We had been the musketeers since October, and all 3 of us on a mission to get to the 2016 Olympic Games. The first 2 races didn’t mean anything for Olympic selection, and I knew that, the races that count were the Rio test event in 2015, Chicago Grand Final 2015, and Gold Coast WTS, but I still wanted to race them to make sure I wasn’t going into the GC race rusty and not quite knowing where I was at having only been just back from injury for the first two races.
The GC race itself, I went in ranked Number 1 based on the Abu Dhabi result, I felt fine before the race, yes swimming was a doubt of how I would fair, but this is mainly because my team mates are so good in the pool. I was hoping for the best, dived in and felt flat – I had nothing. I couldn’t feel the water, couldn’t push, couldn’t get the heart rate up, and this was pretty much the same on the bike. I took my turn at the front of the pack and tried for the first 3 laps to chase – it wasn’t happening, nobody was willing to work with me to close the gap to the lead group. I just couldn’t close it and came off the bike 26th. But I didn’t give up and on the run I just gave it my all. This again wasn’t a true reflection of what form I am in at all. I knew what was happening in the race, and I knew that it was nothing I could control, and as I ran each step I could feel that 3rd Olympic spot slipping away from me. I crossed the line in 12th, after coming out the swim 40th or something. I hope this shows that I never gave up, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t perform on the day. I have no excuses – it just wasn’t my day.
Helen had the most amazing race, she raced tactically, and won in style. What a great way to gain an Olympic spot. I would like to personally congratulate both Helen and her coach Marc on selection, and wish them both a successful training block until the Games.
Words cannot truly express how I felt when I crossed that line, and that feeling still remains now. It’s so tough to put into words what’s happening in my head and heart. Since the disappointment of London 2012, all my focus has gone into Rio 2016. I was adamant I would be on that start line, as a medal contender. Now I doubt whether I am even meant to be an Olympian at all, and that hurts so so much. I know that everything is still raw, and maybe my mind set will change in time, but it’s now a matter of trying to refocus on new goals for the 2016 season. Tokyo 2020? Who knows?
All the support I have had from D-Squad, coach, family, friends, supporters, sponsors has been unbelievable, and everyone has been so supportive, but I cannot help but feel like a failure, and have let so many people down. I’m truly devastated knowing that I won’t get to wear GBR on my chest in Rio.
The highs and lows of sport and life are so dramatic after the race. My head was spinning, I didn’t know where to turn, or who to turn to. I headed back to the hotel post race and Skyped Mom and my sis, I couldn’t speak through the tears. I felt so empty and it was so hard having them on the other end of a call when all I wanted to do was give them a hug, and tell them I was sorry. I really need to thank Mari and Chris for looking after me post race, not only is Mari a great training partner but has become such a great friend and is still helping me through this.
Every day is a battle so far, and I would like to say that I’m taking my anger out on some sessions but I’m still a little numb at the minute. I will come out the other side – it just might take a while. I’m currently back in Stellenbosch and will race Cape Town WTS this weekend. I have no idea how the race will go, and really have no expectation on the race. I intend to go in and race hard and then look forward to returning home for some much needed family time.
My plan now? I’m not too sure… I’m doing The Great Birmingham 10km on 1st May, then looking to race the rest of the WTS series, and maybe a few ITU World Cup races in between. I would like a say a massive thank you to everyone’s messages of support, both pre and post the GC race. I have been completely overwhelmed at the response and it’s so nice to know people support me.
Team GBR are sending 3 amazingly strong women to Rio, Non, Helen and Vicky all deserve to be on that start line. I am privileged to be in such a successful GBR women’s sport, and I am sure that our ladies will deliver the goods in August. I wish them all the very best of luck – go get ‘em girls.
Thank you once again to everyone – don’t worry, I’ll be back.
Posted in Latest News
WTS Abu Dhabi – Day by Day
March 9th, 2016
So I thought something different would be nice for my next blog. A day to day lead up into the race, starting on travel day:
Tuesday 1st March – started with meeting coach for a fun bike to run session. It had a little work in it, but mainly to go through the transitions and the steps you get rusty on over the winter. We’ve done a few sessions; swim – bike – run, or just bike – runs and transition practice, but it’s always good to have another practice close to race day, then a quick coffee and a swim off, again just going over things.
I need to concentrate on trying to swim at my best come race day, as I know I’m going to have to have an excellent swim to get out in a good position. I know this, not because I have inside knowledge on the other women in the field, but purely because of the other girls in my squad, Lisa and Mari are little fishes and are swimming well…really well.
I cannot control how fast they swim, or anyone else (as much as I’d like to) it’s just what I can do and hope it’s good enough. A nice cycle back home and pack up the Cervelo tightly into my new SCICON bag, which is super easy, and allows me to leave packing my bike until travel day which is nice. My first flight is Cape Town to Johannesburg, a few hours flight and then over to Abu Dhabi, which is around 8 ½ hours. It’s not so much the actual flying that’s tiring; I mean what do you do? Sit on your bum and watch movies, but I suppose that is the tiring thing in a way, when you’re used to training most of the day. My pet hate is after the flight, waiting in the luggage lounge, and then the dreaded transfers to and from the airports, not my ideal way to spend my day. So, when is the travel time machine coming out? I mean, come on, it is 2016!!!
Wednesday 2nd March – arrived in Abu Dhabi 6:00am. The minute I get off the plane I’m in hope of – please let my bag and bike be there and in one piece – waiting at the belt looking for my luggage to arrive…well, yes they did. And my Cervelo arrived safe and sound, tucked away in my Scicon bag…lovely! A 35 minute transfer to the hotel and I arrived just before 8.00am. At the desk I was told I had been booked into a smoking room, I didn’t know they still allowed that! Not happy, each to their own of course, but not for me! I ended up waiting a little longer to get a different room but no drama, well done Hilton. While I was waiting in the lobby I built my bike up, and I was sorted. Up in my room, I unpacked, checked my email and social media accounts – very important when you have been off the net for 10 hours – and then knock, knock, knock. I thought Mari is here early for the ride? Drug testers already? Open the door, and who would be standing there but my Mom and Dad, what a surprise! I was so pleased to see them! I haven’t seen them since the beginning of January, and didn’t expect to see them until May, and there they both were stood at my hotel door in Abu Dhabi! How lucky am I to have such great support -my family and my best friends. I gave them both a big hug and didn’t want to let them go- I was grinning from ear to ear. I’ve got to say well done to my sister for keeping this one from me. It must have been so difficult for her as I was constantly nagging her trying to organise all sorts for Mothers Day!!!! Told you guys I have the best family!!!!!!
Ok so once I let mum go, I went out for a bike with Mari and loosened off the legs whilst chatting away, went round the course a little, then had a little lunch with Mum and Dad, followed by some run drills in the evening and a chilled evening . . . yep, with Mum, Dad and Mari.
Thursday 3rd March – Slept like a log last night, and woke up to my alarm sounding at 5.30am which is nice, usually I don’t sleep to my alarm, I think I was knocked out last night by 8.15pm so thanks to the black out curtains!! Went out for a ride with Mari this morning, and then off to the swimming pool for a swim. Met the parents at their hotel for a little dinner before having a run and race briefing. I sometimes wish we could just have an online briefing, where athletes have to just check in online or something, but hey ho, it’s one of those things you have to go and get done.
The good thing about this year is that ITU are allowing us to have “LV” on our suits, and not having the Start Number 1 for the first race to show respect for the passing of Laurent Vidal. For anyone that doesn’t know, in April 2014 Laurent suffered a cardiac arrest whilst swimming in Sète, which led to him being placed in an induced coma. As a result of this, Laurent was forced to retire from competition and focus on his role coaching his partner Andrea Hewitt. On 10 November 2015, Laurent suddenly passed away, he was only 31 years old. Laurent was not only a fantastic triathlete, following his retirement from competing, he threw himself into coaching Andrea and last year’s result for her says it all! Laurent was such a funny person, he brought a smile to any occasion and was a right performer in front of a crowd. It was an absolute pleasure to know him. He was such an inspiration and great person to have around the triathlon circuit, he would always give you a cheer, congratulate you on a good race, but would be the first to say don’t stress after a bad one. A true gent and was taken from the world before his time. He will be remembered for the great things he has done, and the impressions he has left on many people, myself included!
Friday 4th March – Pre race day started with a little training with Mari in the morning and then back to the hotel for a quick bite to eat before heading off for the bike and swim course reccies. I only did the technical bit of the bike course, as I didn’t think I needed to see the straight out and back 13k loop, which was a good idea, as I think the reccie had to stop and start at every set of traffic lights. The swim reccie with Mari and Lisa; the water was a lovely temperature, but very salty!!! Then that was it, nothing else for me for the rest of the day, so I watched a movie “The Legend Of Bagger Vance”. I’d seen it before, but not in a long time, then I met Mum, Dad, and Mari for the usual pre-race seafood pizza, it’s a must before a race for me!!!! Yummy.
Saturday 5th March – RACE DAY – well it’s here, nothing I can do now. Let’s see where I am, and what I need to focus on for the next 5 weeks going into the GC race. So normal pre-race routine starts with a morning swim. You try not to read too much into how you’re feeling, but I felt terrible this morning, but what can you do about it? You just try and do the drills that make you feel better which I did, so feeling a little better by the end of the swim. Because of the late start I went out and did some run drills midday, anyone who knows me knows the later starts are NOT my favourite to say the least.
The race . . . . .
Well, me feeling bad in the swimming pool that morning was kind of a sign, I had a shocking swim! I got absolutely battered in the first loop, and was just trying to stay calm and swim throughout the whole 1500m, NOT a good start – some 30 seconds down! Don’t panic! I had a good T1, and was on the chase. Looking around I saw my team mate Lisa Norden and a few other girls that actually wanted to be in the race, and others who were happy to sit on the back of the train, so after a solid effort we caught the main pack by the end of the big lap, which left 6 smaller loops to go. The pace was very on and off to say the least. It was a big group to get organised, and with one lap to go the amazing Nicola Spirig and Ashley Gentle bridged the gap, so going into T2 there was basically the whole field.
Moving into the narrow section just before transition everyone was getting sketchy, I could feel the atmosphere change, people getting their feet out their shoes, others trying to move to the front -not only to get into transition first, but to stay out of trouble, but this made for a bad crash! I saw something twitch to my left and then heard the crash, this took out a large amount of girls, who I hope are all ok, and if not, recover quickly.
I had an appalling T2 -there were coaches leaning over the barriers shouting at their athletes for where to go which totally put me off. This is one thing I will try not to let distract me again as I ran straight past my spot which cost me 10 seconds. Carrying my bike back some 4 spaces back up the blue carpet against the grain of girls was not an easy thing to do. Shoes on, don’t panic. Out of T2 and I made my way to the front pack of girls. I ran alongside Helen, Flora, Ashley, and Emmie for the first 5km. Emmie lead the first 5k, but the whole run was quite technical, nobody wanting to really lead for long periods, which made it slow at times, but not slow enough to allow the others back into the race. Onto the final lap and it was down to Helen, Flora, Ashley and me. I felt the pace slightly increase and Flora dropped off, and then there was 3. I felt Helen pick up the pace once more and reacted, I knew I had to stay with her, and I kept on her shoulder. With about 1500m to go I made my move, this made for a long kick, which hurt with every stride. On to the blue carpet and I couldn’t stop, I had to keep pushing, and I crossed the barrier with Laurent on my mind. I turned and saw Ashley cross in 2nd and Helen in 3rd. GBR dominating the podium in Abu Dhabi-nice one!
I’m happy with the race overall of course, but this shows me what I need to try and do better in the GC -mainly my swim. I need to make that front swim pack – Darren, it’s over to you lol!!!!!
It has been amazing having Mum and Dad here and having them see me race well. They seem to be my lucky charms lately -hint hint for the Gold Coast!!!!
So, what now? A little fun this weekend at Mooloolaba WC, then it’s head down for a few weeks before the GC. I cannot thank everyone enough for their amazing support and messages! I don’t think you all realise how much it helps and brings me up. Thanks again to my fantastic sponsors, Cervelo, TYR, Asics, Oakley, PowerBar and Columbia Threadneedle, without your support I would not be able to do what I do.
I hope everyone is going well at home and abroad, and are being safe with the bad weather, it’s nearly Spring!!!
Chin Up! Train safe guys and I’ll see you on the GC where the battle will commence!!
Posted in Latest News
WOW WOW WOW, can you just slow the clock down please . . .
March 1st, 2016
It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog so thought I needed to fill you in on what’s been going on my end. Usually there are 2 reasons why athletes are quiet on the blog front: 1) Because they’re injured, things aren’t going the way they would like -general bad times or 2) because they’re just head down and training and there’s only so many times you get a chance to sit down and chill. Thankfully for me it’s the latter.
How things have changed since this time last year. Last year I wasn’t really running, and when I was running, I knew I really shouldn’t be. Yes swimming and cycling were going ok, but I knew in my heart things weren’t right.
Now I have nothing to report on that front. I’ve just been training away – swimming, cycling and running, in the gym, sleeping, eating and trying to get ready and focus for the challenge ahead. I suppose there is one big thing in common with last year, I want time to freeze so I can have some more of it!
This is where I start to get nervous about racing…even though I love racing, and I am excited, questions start propping up in my head. How am I going to compare to everyone else? Am I going to race ok? Am I going to be able to perform on the WTS stage? How is everyone else training? Am I going to qualify for the Olympics? These questions/doubts come into your head, no matter what you do in life, and they do worry you, but at the end of the day I have come to realise that what will be will be. I know I’ve had a good training block this winter and it’s been great training in SA Stellenbosch. If my best is not good enough then of course I will be devastated, but I will know in my heart there is nothing more I could have done, and it will be time to re-jig and refocus on something else. Easier said than done though!
The sessions have just started to change here on camp, and things are becoming more intense, and more “top end stuff” which Coach has been holding me back on until now. Even though my first race is in 1 week in Abu Dhabi, the main race for my early season is the Gold Coast, which is what the selectors are looking at in terms of qualification for Rio. Don’t get me wrong, I want to race well in Abu Dhabi as it will be a good reflection on how my winter training has gone, and to have an Olympic distance under my belt is good, but I will need to concentrate more on the GC race in terms of qualification.
Today saw a really fun day in training for the D Squad. Our first “hurt session” was a 3k open water swim race, where myself, Mari and Lisa ended up in a 3 – way sprint, which I’ll take the win for (with about 0.00000001 seconds in it…literally!). The next “hurt session” – a 1500m open water race, and these 2 fishes gave me a good whipping, not saying anymore than that! LOL. The last “hurt session” ended on a high, we all did a 10km running race – Ginos Fun Run – which is quite well known, not only by the locals, but from athletes that have trained here in the past. I was so nervous about this bloody 10km race, so it was good to get that feeling of the nerves before a race again. I was happy coming in as 1st lady! It was super hot, even though it started at 6.30pm- which was getting close to my bed time for anyone that knows me! But it was such a fun race to be a part of, and would recommend it to anyone who’s out there.
We are continuing with the top end sessions and race practice leading into the coming races. It’s gone really quick here and can’t believe we are leaving for the WTS races soon! There have been some races starting around the world in AUS and USA, so now the race season is upon us, and everyone is getting ready to try and hit their early season goals and the D Squad group are no different. We had our annual “D Squad World Championships” here in Stellenbosch. Coach sets up his usual challenging course – which was a 2km spin away from my house, pretty perfect to start. So, 4 in a lane, swimming nice and tight, technical bike course to keep us on our toes, then a fast run loop x2, it was a nice hit out, and so much fun.
We are into our last week now here in Stellenbosch, and then off we jet for the first WTS race in Abu Dhabi. 2016, has begun. I hope everyone is having some fun in training and enjoying getting some more lactic filled sessions in the program like I am. The early challenges are starting, and I’m in a good place to do what I can and that’s all you can do. As I said before – easier said than done and it is difficult to remember that most of the time, so Darren and my family have to keep me in check, reminding me of that.
Happy training everyone and thank you for all your support.
Posted in Latest News