WTS Abu Dhabi – Day by Day
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!!