When I first started in Triathlon I had a pretty standard road bike, it was heavy, it was cheap, but it did the job. My old coach Brett Sutton use to call it the tractor! When you start off with such simple equipment anything that you receive from that point onwards is a rocket ship and a prized possession. I have always managed to perform on whatever equipment I have. I was always a strong swimmer and runner, the bike for has always been a work in progress. But it’s true what they say; time on the bike is all you need. I think it took a good 13 years before I considered myself a stronger cyclist! But it did happen. When I started performing on the bike it was more about belief and attitude, rather than the type of steed I chose to ride.
When I decided I would come back and give it good crack I had one of my favourite bike brands a Cannondale, but I was tad too big and with my short torso I ended up having to use a short stem to make it fit.. This seems to be a theme with me! I finally got my first Carbon TT bike approximately 5 years ago, it was an Orbea Ora. I loved it! Yes, pretty basic by most peoples standards, but for me it was the perfect bike. It fit me well (still a short stem), the geometry wasn’t too steep and I could use it on every race course out there. I remember purchasing my first set of Carbon Vision bars and was giddy with excitement. And yes, I still get excited about bike parts. I don’t care for shoes.
My Orbea and I bonded, and we produced fantastic times and results. Enough results for me to combine with my past results and once again secure my pro licence. The thing about ‘Orby’ (my name for my little rocket ship), was that the bike frame really suited me and my style of riding. It so important to get this right and I believe even more so when you are a small female rider. After Orby came a string of bike affairs, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ride a number bike brands some that were better than others however, the past 18 months I received the mother of all rocket ships, or so it is so heavily touted. The Specialized S-Works Shiv. Now this is a beautiful bike, it’s a fast TT bike that loves to in a straight direction fast, but it’s a tricky one to fit if you are accustomed to riding with an aggressive aero bar drop. I was set up on the small, which we now know was most definitely the wrong size for me. Maybe my love affair would still be going had I been fitted to the correct size, the extra small. A lot of people have gone down a size to make the bike fit, also have fitted with their own aerobars which I did too.. However, it is also a lot of bike!! Personally for me, I love a bike I can use on every course, all sorts of conditions and also I like to feel part of the bike and be able to manoeuvre the bike like it’s an extension of me. Unfortunately my experience wasn’t a good one, probably due to a bad bike fit and I battled the beast for 18 months! I did produce a fast time at Melbourne in windy conditions (solo I might add) with a 5.07 however, that is a pretty flat fast course.
So after 18 months of up and down performances both in training and racing I have decided to do research on bikes. My goal is to find a bike that fits me and offers the attributes I’m after in a bike. Choosing an ill-fitting frame can hamper your performance not only during the bike portion of the triathlon, but it destroys you for the run. Trust me, coming exhausted into transition after battling a bike for 5ish hours is not fun! I have come across some excellent options for women, small frames with great geometry and light frames, and now it will be just a case of deciding which one to pursue.
In the meantime my training has been on my roadie. It always takes a few weeks to adapt back to the seated position after being propelled forward on a TT bike. But you forget how much fun these bike are! Super light, fly’s up hills, zips around corners and are much easier to ride when cycling in a group. I’ve spent the last 8 weeks on my roadie, I wouldn’t say I’m any faster on my little machine but I’m enjoying the ease that it climbs up the hills! So much easier! For those heading into winter like we are here in Australia, getting out the road bike into the hills is a great way to gain strength and work on some otherwise neglected skills. You can locate some long climbs and spend some solid time building strength, something that’s not so easy when you are on your TT bike.
Given the circumstances with my bike, I am now sans TT bike. I want to keep on racing, but until I find a bike that suits me I will need to keep it short. So I had this crazy idea that I would go back to my roots and race an Olympic distance race! I also believe that after my last race in Taiwan my body was little tired with all the long training and racing, so it was probably a good idea to inject some speed. I am actually excited about my upcoming race, so excited that I did short running race on the weekend to ensure that my legs still go fast! My time wasn’t quite near my 36min 10km off the bike, but it was low 40’s and hopefully I can improve it with a swim/bike warm up before it!
Looking forward to my next hit out at Philippines 5150! It’s going to be hot, fast and hurt like hell... Can’t wait!
My trip to Challenge Taiwan would have to be my best race travel experience to date. While my race result wasn’t the best, the Challenge Taiwan event, the cultural uniqueness and the new friends I met, will make this a trip to remember!
Anybody who knows me can tell you how organised I am, I manage a heck of a lot in a 24 hour period! My streak of perfectionism and my work ethic form a formidable combination; it has given me success and at the same time forced me to a grinding holt! Which is why my airport saga still has my nearest and dearest shaking their heads. I had everything packed, organised weeks ago with extra race supplies.. For some unknown reason I was convinced that I was leaving Monday midnight, 00:05 to be exact. I was tucked up in bed, already had fallen asleep for a couple of hours when I awoke at 10:30pm with the realisation I was leaving midnight on Sunday!! I have no idea how Russ got me to the airport in record time, I had chest pains I was that stressed on the way there! We don’t live close to Melbourne airport, luckily at that time the roads are pretty clear. Russ dropped me at the door and said “I will say goodbye now in case you get on the flight”, with my dumbfounded look I said “highly unlikely, park the car and I’ll see you soon”… Wandering though the terminal a lady from the Singapore airlines counter shouts at me “are you for Singapore Air?”.. Umm yes but there is no way I’m getting on my flight, I will have to settle for the next one! She said “You have 2 mins to check-in, here is your express customs card, I will call for your bike to be picked up now”.. In disbelief I made my way through customs and to the departure gate just as boarding was being announced! Calling Russ, I will still in disbelief and trying to settle my heart palpitations advising him I had made the flight.. Lucky he said goodbye earlier. This also proves that you can be in bed at 10:30pm and make an International
midnight flight with 2 mins to spare, also that you won’t get your bike bag weighed!! Bonus! :-)
Thankfully from this point on the trip was fantastic and definitely the best race experience I have had in a long time. Challenge Taiwan did an amazing job looking after the professional athletes, they ensured that we all arrived in Taipei prior to the press conference and then assisted us with our transfer to Taitung for the race. The training day in Taipei was a good loosen up and the press conference was definitely entertaining to say the least! But a lot of fun at the same time! By the end of the day we were on our way to Taitung and settling into our accommodation.
The majority of the professional field were staying in a self-contained B&B houses that the Challenge crew had booked out, we took over 2 houses and to be honest it was like being on school camp! I had the same room mate from Taipei, fellow pro Katrin Walther. Kathrin had luggage woes and was without bike and clothes, being 5ft 5 I wasn’t much help in the clothes department as Katrin is much taller than me, but she did manage to borrow a few
items from others until her luggage arrived. I wanted to take everything in, I hadn’t been to Asia before.. So every day I made the most of every opportunity and experience that came my way. I was unsure how I was going to adjust to the food in Taiwan, but I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy some of the food and I still managed to locate some western options leading up to the race. The French bakery café in town became a regular trip for a caffeine hit and the pizza place which was just a few doors down from our accom became a popular option pre and post-race. Pizza Pete took care of us and our fuel leading up to the race.
Race day came around quick, I was feeling good but I was unsure of my fitness leading into the race. I had felt fantastic earlier in the year and I had found it hard to keep it going for Challenge Taiwan. I also felt I was little heavier going into the race, but I tried to turn around thinking it would be ok to fuel me. The one thing that was playing on my mind was the bike leg and how much impact it was going to have on me. In the past my bike has been quite strong, but I have battled my bike over the past year and I knew it was impacting my performance not only during the bike portion, but also affecting my run. Race morning was warm, and they had ruled wetsuits the day before which I wasn’t a fan of, I do prefer a non-wetsuit swim. I missed the main pack on the swim, I had positioned myself poorly and I couldn’t bridge the gap and get across. I won’t do this next year!! I found myself alone pulling Britta Martin along the course behind me. I managed to drop Britta after 2km, but I was working alone and wishing I had some feet to sit on!
I started off okay on the bike, I was feeling quite good heading out to the turnaround however, after turning the course does seem like it’s going up more than down. I love the course, it’s undulating and along the coast, beautiful and scenic however, the bike was really making me work harder than I wanted to and it was heating up! I looked at my computer around 80km and it read 35 degrees, coming from Melbourne I was starting to cook! The second lap was much slower, I felt that I was tiring to quickly and I really was battling my bike through the rolling hills.. I knew I would this would be my last race on the Shiv so I just had to get to the marathon the best I could.
I don’t think I have ever taken so long in a T2 tent! My ride had been a good 10-15mins slower than I wanted, I felt that I didn’t have much left. To think I had to run marathon! I had a few tears run down my face, I knew I was
cooked. A lady came to check on me 3 times in the tent because I was taking so long, I think I must have been prolonging the shufflefest!
I started the run the best I could. The run course starts around the lake before heading through a beautiful park area and then through the city for 2 laps, I would have liked to enjoyed the course and scenery a little more than I did! I tried all the tricks with cadence, fuel, putting coke in early.. I was desperate! I had so many low points and I hadn’t even reached half way. Hilary Biscay came past me while I was having a little walk and sook, she encouraged me to run with her which I did for some time but my shuffle was slower than hers. Then Belinda Granger came past me just I was about to complete the last section of the run, a few words of encouragement from BG (actually it was “make sure you finish”) and I was back running again and I kept telling
myself I can make it.. I had a few other low points on the run, a bit of shuffling, a bit of walking….I couldn’t work out which method was being more effective in moving me forward. I finally came across the finish line, a very slow time, but an extremely satisfying moment. I went to the well big time! I dug deep physically and mentally just to finish, it was my worst race result ever, but it gave me so much strength. Iron distance racing has been beating me up over the past 18 months, I have had a few DNF’s which I hate doing, a few subpar results, illness and injury. I felt I had lost the ability to dig deep. I believe I got that belief back again at Challenge Taiwan, it was a tough day but I managed to pull through. Thanks BG, I don’t think I would have got around if it wasn’t for our little chat mid race :)
Challenge Taiwan has left me wanting more! Ironic given it smashed me! I absolutely loved the race and travel experience with the other pros.. The Challenge Taiwan crew were amazing with their support, ensuring that we had everything we needed. Special mention to Michael Dhulst and Charlie Chen, it was a privilege to meet you both, your support was amazing and I can’t wait to come back next year!
Training for an Ironman is draining let alone doing one, and sometimes you don't quite get the mix right. Even a tried and tested routine that you have always followed may not be the answer this time round. Listening to your body and paying to it's signals is essential, as is keeping your thought pattern and mindset in check.. Which I was about to learn!
It's hard to say what has caused my recent slip in health. I trained well for Ironman Melbourne, but was it too much for my body given what it had been through over the past 6 months? Last year I copped quite a bit of illness, we did return to living in a cooler climate and that can have an impact initially. However, a couple of bouts of gastro, a flu and then a virus at the start of 2013 my immune obviously wan't that strong or was it? Also my recovery from Ironman events is usually very fast, I can usually race again 6 weeks later given I have prepared well for the first. But this time was different.. One week later I was still pretty smashed, I had gone to the well on race day so I assumed that I had just tapped myself out of energy. I managed a few rides, a couple of swims and approaching week 2 an easy run. It started with a sore neck, headaches, then an ear ache, and from there it went down hill..
A couple weeks post Ironman it was my turn to support, Russ had entered Xterra Angelsea. It was his first triathlon, an off road one at that as he wouldn't have done it any other way, and I was excited to support him! I ran from point to point taking photos, encouraging him like he does for me. Except the whole day I had an excrutiating ear ache! It didn't make sense I hadn't been huge amounts of swimming, so I assumed I was getting a cold or something as I had headaches during the week. Funny because initally I thought the headaches were linked to something else, my monthly cycle which happens to be getting worse the older I get! I felt really good running everywhere, so getting sick didn't really sit with me. I didn't feel ill, actually I felt pretty fit and awesome!
Awaking on Monday, there it was.. My glands had gone up on the right side of my throat, just under my ear. Ahhhh it all makes sense now. The earache, headaches.. So assumed yep, I have a cold/flu thing brewing! The other odd thing that came up was a rash on my jaw which resembled more like cystic acne, as it was so sore. It was actually throbbing and sore to touch. We drove home from Angelsea and I went to work. Come 3pm and I was feeling worse, spoke to my boss, told him the story and showed him my glands and rash. By 5pm I had the shakes, I was freezing and trying to find a way to stay warm. Hot bath should do it! I sat in the bath for ages, topping up the hot water as it cooled. Russ got after 6pm and I was in bed and going down hill. So Tuesday morning after waking up drenched in sweat, I was convinced I had the flu and took myself to the doctors. I actually felt a little better in the morning, but I soon learnt that, that particular feeling just came in waves and I was actually quite ill. The Doctor confirmed that I had Shingles. Shingles! I thought, how the hell did I get Shingles! I knew I had pushed my body, but not any more than usual. This time I had done a really good job on myself!
It's been just under 3 weeks since I got sick, the illness and recovery has been slow. However, when I speak to most people they are amazed at how quick I am recovering. I have managed an indoor cycling ride and two swims this week! Apparently Shingles can take a long time however, I'm not that sort of person and if I can find a way to turn it around quick I will! I went to see Adam my Chinese Medicine guy, he gave me some great herbs to purge the virus out of my system, I cleaned my eating even more so and I also went to see my Reiki healer and everything else spiritual guru Neil :-) Neil has been instrumental in my life for many years, I missed him when I moved to Brisbane as I couldn't receive regular healings or guidance. My belief system and mindset wandered off track a little over the past couple of years, it was no doubt the cause of all my illness over the past 12 months. The body can not be at ease, when the mind is at dis ease. Ironic it spells disease huh?! I still have a lot to work on, I still haven't quite mastered the race mindset I need to put a solid performance together however, I do feel I'm getting a little closer. People who know me quite well would know that I'm an extremely passionate, driven, positive person...but along with that has been a tremendous amount of pressure that I have put on myself. Not just in racing, but in life. Practicing flow is my new mantra, placing more emphasis on love and enjoyment, and taking away forced actions and stress is the goal. Our health is a reflection of how we treat ourselves spiritually and physically. When we come from a place of love, our body and mind is in balance.
I really needed this jolt to make some changes. Not just the mindset as I have mentioned, but also some physical changes. One of them is my current working conditions. As most would know making a living as a professional triathlete can be challenging andit can also take time for results to show. Many are still working day jobs and balancing racing, as I am too. However, there needs to be change, it's great having the cash flow and all but having the necessary time to train, rest and enjoy life is just as important too. I have always predominantly worked part-time but I have had stints of full time employment, it's clearly evident to me that I can't do both. It really is just too much, so this year I will be reducing myself to a few days per week. I also want to bring myself into alignment with my passion, being in an evironment that doesn't reflect who you are or what you love can have a huge impact on your energy and health. This is true for me and I am putting steps in place to move towards what I love, rather than doing what has appeared to have been a necessity. I intend to move into a coaching/guidance role as I reduce my work hours, I will also balance this with my training for long distance triathlon and continue to pursue the goals I have set as a professional triathlete. I believe we all have the ability to truly make change in our lives and pursue what we love :-)
It's not very often that you get an Ironman race in your hometown! Convenient...yes, less financial stress...yes, knowing the couse...yes, getting sleep in my own bed...YES!, race day hurting any less...NO!
This race was very different for me. I usually travel interstate or overseas to race, so the week leading up to the race didn't feel like the usual Ironman preparation or experience. I worked right up until the Friday before the race, why? Cause I need the $$$! However, I did manage to take off early and register for the event and start to get myself organised for race day.
We had some wild weather predicted for race day and we were already experiencing some of this a few days out. To think that only a week ago we had 3 weeks of hot sunny weather above 30 degrees everyday! The conditions across the bay were blustery and the Melbourne locals knew exactly what we were in for! There is a joke about Melbourne weather, that we experience '4 seasons in one day'.. Or the other, just wait a minute and the weather will change again! So it was no surprise the weather gods were dishing up some of Melbourne's finest weather and it was enough to send most into a panick. Even the Registration and Expo tent had to shut down on the Thursday prior to event because it was going to be blown away! :-) ahhhh Melbourne you got a love it!
The professional athlete race briefing is held the day before an event as is bike and gear bag check in.. Transition for Ironman Melbourne is down in Frankston approx 20km from my place in Bayside Melbourne. So I took myself and my steed down to Franga (local name for the town of Frankston...other than Frankganistan) for the days activities! Bike check-in was cool! This was a big event, Ironman Melbourne is also known as the Asia Pacific Championship race so the field was stacked with top professionals. First of the Bike a website dedicated to triathlon was at race check-in and snapping photos of the professional's bikes before they were racked. So my Specialized Shiv looking hot with Zipp Vuka aerobars and Zipp Firecrest wheels got it's happy snap taken.
I was actually quite nervous about this race until I went to the briefing. I have been to many race briefings and also over the past few years professional race briefings.. Now usually these are pretty quick, 30 minutes or so and a reasonable number of competitors. But this race was stacked!! There were approximately 80 professionals racing and 27 of those were females.. I sat down and as I looked around I was surrounded by multiiple Ironman champions, World Champions and that point I realised I was lining up against the very best in the world in Ironman triathlon. Due to the numbers, the many questions and concerns about the race the briefing went a lot longer than usual. We were advised that the swim could be shortened and there would be a change to the start times. At this point as I listened and watched all the other pros raise questions, my nerves just disappeared! It was at that point that I realised that these guys were under a lot of pressure and I didn't really need to put any pressure on myself but just enjoy the day.
Race morning came aroundly quickly and the weather gods delivered their finest! Seriously windy, choppy swell and cool conditions. Due to the water conditions the race organisers decided to shorten the swim, so this isn't really a good scenario for me being a swimmer however, I was thankful that they were giving us a swim! The unfortnate part was the gap back to the main field after the pro women started. It was only 5 mins, which meant the faster moving age group men would be close to the weaker swimming female pros.. It's definitely something race organisers need to review, every race needs the same set of rules for swim starts and also drafting rules. More on that later.
Exiting the swim in my new Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit
So my swim start was good, actually really good thanks to my surf lifesaving background! I was out lifting my legs through the break, then I panicked a little realising I was in front, but then it was only matter of seconds and the fast swimming chicks were all together. I had my new Blue Seventy wetsuit on, and it felt great! I headed out around the pier and tried to maintain my position. I found the feet of Caroline Steffen and Bree Wee, not bad feet to be on so they became my target around the swim. While going around the boys was choppy, the return to shore provided good runs of swell and I tried to make the most of them. I came out close to the faster swimming girls and at least 5 of us were in the change tent getting ready for the bike. I chose to put my bike shoes on in transition and run to my bike, I had my road shoes as I feel they give much better support than a tri shoe and also it's what I'm most use to.. I ran to my bike and to the mounting line, quickly clicked in and rode out of Frankston! It was definitely a great choice as I watched other girls fumbling to get their feet into their shoes that were attached to their bike. I hit Eastlink where the bike leg was being held and set out on my day.
Heading out to start the bike leg
Upon reaching Eastlink I brought up quite a lot sea water, I didn't remember drinking a whole of water in the swim however, I must have had a fair bit! I thought great, that's out now so I concentrate on the ride. Unfortunately not was not the end of it for some time. The wind on Eastlink was gusty, we had a head cross wind just to make things interesting! It was pretty tough going out and it was long before some of the faster moving age group men moved through the field. I was holding a reasonable position and was comfortable riding on my own. The usual pro female drafting offenders started to come through, I'm amazed at times how some of these girls seem to get it away with it.. I try not to let it get to me as I decided to switch from short course to long course many years ago as I didn't like drafting! Well nothing prepared me for what came next, I decided to take a look bike as there were more and more people coming past in large packs. Then there was atleast a pack of 100 riders approaching the tunnel bringing many female pros through with it.. It was unbelievable and so dangerous! Going through the tunnel I wanted to stay upright, so I sat up and accelerated up out of the tunnel. I got clear pretty quickly....obviously the peleton couldn't climb and after the turn around I managed to find clear road. From that point I was pretty much riding solo. The few girls that were around me seemed to drop away and I even caught a couple on the second lap. The whole time I was riding strong, but comfortable. The problem I had was keeping in nutrition. Each time I consume a gel or water, 30 seconds to a minute later I would project it right out again. I vomited the whole 5 hours on the bike! I knew what this meant, I had little to no fuel inside me and I had to run a marathon. I tried not to let it deter me, as I was feeling pretty good :-) I had a good ride in 5 hours 7 minutes, and was in good place going into the run.
I started off ok going in to the run, legs were moving okay, a little heavy to start with but I know this is normal and that they would come good after 5km or so.. Unfortunately they didn't spring into action like I know they can, I kept telling myself that your legs in the past have taken some time to get going and this may be the case today. Hang in there, efficient steps, get nutrition in and keep moving forward! I was putting my Shotz gels which I love, they work really well but I knew I had not kept my nutrition in on the bike. Which I have to say is the first time in 20 years that I have puked for so long! As I was approaching Mordialloc along the road one of my training partners passed me, he looked strong and running well. I encouraged him to go for it wishing that I had the legs to go with him too! I knew from that point that this was going to be a survival run, a long one at that. Approaching Parkdale along the beach path I had nice surprise where my Mum was standing. I tried not to cry as I ran past, I was quite emotional knowing that I was struggling, I actually stopped for few seconds, gave her hug and kept running along. At Mentone, I was running with Bree Wee, she was also having a tough day and was making a dash to the porta potty! At least I had that bit under control, but legs were screaming and energy low. At this point I wasn't so sure it was good knowing what was ahead, I know every corner, every landmark on that run course! I live in Bayside Melbourne, so I run along the path often and I knew exactly how far I had to go! I saw many friends who were out cheering as I was running along, that was keeping me going and then finally I saw Russ at 30km around Sandringham.
Running to the finish...teeth gritting! haha!
I yelled where have you been?? I had been hurting for so long and at times that I had been hoping to see him earlier. He was on his mountain bike watching, so he was able to ride up to certain points along the course and keep me going. When I got Brighton I started to get some of my efficiency back in my stride and I was pulling back some of the other girls who had passed me earlier. My cadence improved and I passed a couple of girls, then just before the finish at approx 2km to go I saw a fellow competitor of mine Elly Franks just ahead. Russ encouraged me to go for it and leave nothing in the tank, which is funny given I was having an average run and back in 20th place. But part of me knew he was right, I am racing after all right?! So I picked it up and gave it what I had. As I ran past Elly she surged, I thought oh no! Heck now I'm going to have to sprint to the finish! I stayed next to Elly keeping pace and I didn't slow down, she pulled back and I kept running straight to the finish. Sprinting for 19th place after having such a bad run is funny! But also kind of satisfying as I knew deep down I had given it everything I had.
Overall I was really happy with my day at Ironman Melbourne. I lined up to race some of the best female pros in the world, I gave it everything I had even though I didn't have the perfect day with my run. It would have been nice to show myself, family and sponsors all the hard work I had done on my run, but now that will have to wait until the next race. I knew my swim was on, my bike surprisingly was back and with my fastest bike split 5hrs 7mins, so I had some really good feedback from my day.
Congratulations to everybody who raced on such a tough day! Thank you to Russ, my family, friends and sponsors for your support. Looking forward to an exciting 2013!
There are 27 professional women lining up at the Urban Hotel IRONMAN Asia/Pacific Championships, Melbourne, and we have managed to profile each one to suss out where their body, head and hearts are at in the lead up to the event. Reigning, Caroline Steffen, leads the charge in this field, with some house hold names lining up again this year. There are also a few athletes flying under the radar, so Sunday’s event will prove to be a great battle. This is our second instalment of profiling the pros and in no particular order, welcome Britta Martin, Meredith Kessler, Sarah Piampiano, Caroline Steffen Jodie Scott and Elly Franks (WITSUP ambassador).
Click on the link below to read about the professional women racing at Ironman Melbourne, including myself.
And so it’s the Australian domestic season again... With nearly 6 months off racing this was always going to be a race to blow out the cobwebs and see what needs to be done. It’s not really that ideal when you the races available are top tier races that possibly others have done considerable preparation for.. but then again you have to start somewhere and there is no better way to find out where you are at against a quality field.
I am really out of practice! It’s the little things, like do I have new goggles, what do I need to pack? and argh! Packing the bike! Ok bike packing is a big thing as far as I’m concerned. And lucky for me Russ had got started on it before I got home from my post work run. He really is good to me :-)
So first race back and I’m travelling solo, I got the little airport bus to Melbourne airport. It’s nice to have someone else take care of the commute to the airport, but I’m sure if I was driving I would have got there a lot faster! Patience isn’t exactly my strong point. I had myself sorted this time pre-flight, all my excess baggage was prepaid so I didn’t have to deal with the extra hassle at the airport. Lucky Qantas have made this a lot easier these days with giving you the option to pre-pay before your flight. I was there pretty early as usual, but that’s was okay as it meant I had time to walk around get myself a morning coffee. I had a connecting flight in Sydney, so a brief stop before stepping onto the little pencil plane! You know, the skinny little planes with the propellers that are scary as hell in windy conditions. Yep, one of those little jiggers! It’s a pretty quick trip, so 50 minutes later I have arrived in Port Macquarie. As they were bringing out the luggage I noticed there were not too many bikes…and many triathletes standing around waiting for bikes! The aircraft was way too small to accommodate the number of bikes for that flight, so only 4-5 made it on board. There was a small queue at the service desk of triathletes all giving our accommodation details for our bikes to be delivered later and arriving on a later flight.
Making the most of the time I had, which I was originally going to use to build my bike. I decided to hit the supermarket and load up on all the food I need for my short stay. Finally at 8.30pm my bike got delivered and I was advised by the Qantas staff member that they had put on another flight leaving Sydney to bring up all the bikes! Maybe they will fly a slightly larger aircraft the next time an event is on.. By that time I was far too tired from travelling to build my bike and it could wait until the morning.
I always like to do a test ride the morning before my race. I like to get my legs moving and ensure that all my gears are working on my bike. My test ride also reminded me how awful the roads are at Port Mac! Honestly the road surface and patch jobs really are not the best and I would hope that they are looking to resurface them before the next Ironman event. My cassette was a bit loose and the rough roads didn’t help, so it appeared that I had to make a trip to the bike shop to get my wheel sorted. Thank god for the test ride! Always do it you won’t regret it. So after returning from my ride it was going to be a busy morning, getting wheel sorted, gear organised and then in the afternoon bike check-in and briefing. It always busy the day before race day. I got my wheel back around midday, which meant I really had to do another test ride. Lucky I bumped into long time friend, former bike shop owner and now commentator for USM, Noel Phillips. It’s amazing how at times the right people appear when you need them! My gears were jumping all over the place with the extra spacer in my cassette! Now I can actually adjust my own gears, but I happened to be in a bit of nervous panic about the time I had left and the anxiety was not helping my mechanical skills. So I tracked Noel down and asked him to help me out. Gears sorted, and I really felt that I needed to do one last test ride to put my mind at ease. I finally got my bike checked in, attended the briefing and then it was time to put the feet up and relax. The bonus about my stay in Port Mac was my accommodation; my motel was in walking distance to transition, race start, race finish and the shops. Perfect!
Race morning came around and I awoke before my alarm as per usual, got fuelled up and walked down to get myself sorted for the day ahead. I wasn’t overly nervous which was great! Just enough on edge to get everything organised and get down to race start. We had separate pro women’s wave 2 minutes behind the pro men, and then the age group men were only few minutes behind. Not a big enough gap really as I feel the slower swimmers really get an advantage when the guys come through. I had been doing a bit of swimming training and my start was quite good, but I didn’t seem to have the strength or acceleration to hold onto the front pack which is where I would normally be. I decided just focus on myself and try to hold a solid swim. I have been having some issues with my wetsuit over the past year or so, as a swimmer I really would prefer a bit more flexibility in the suit and found my arms and shoulders getting quite tired by the end of the 1.9km swim. Maybe that also had something to do with the amount of swim training I had done prior to the event to! Out of the water in 4th, it wasn’t so bad. I had the usually battle with my wetsuit in transition, finally off and onto my bike.
Now the bike was a surprise… I honestly expected this leg to go a lot better than it did. I found myself struggling climbing the hills, and I had a few problems with my breathing during and after each climb. I did have a cold the week before however, I thought that it was well and truly out of my system and I wasn’t about to use it as an excuse. Gauging by the number of snot rockets I shot during the race………it was possibly not out of my system! I seemed to lose quite a bit of time on the bike and it’s not something that usually happens. I can usually hold my position quite well and keep good pace. So again I found myself saying, it’s okay just try to keep good rhythm, stay strong and get through best you can. I had my new bike a Specialized Shiv, and also new shoes. Racing under pressure is a good time to determine whether everything is okay with your equipment, I feel you always ride differently in race conditions than in training. So with the ride done I was able to gauge what changes may need to made. I think I was still sitting a bit low, and when moving forward on the saddle to the TT position I didn’t feel that I had full leg extension and generating the power I wanted. So that will be something to rectify in coming weeks. There were a few moments on the bike where I struggled mentally, when having a bad day this often happens and pulling off to the side of the road crossed my mind a few times!
Back into town to start run and I was keen to just get this race done. I started running and my heart rate must have been sky high! My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest! Haha! My breathing again was shocking, it was like I was having an asthma attack something that I haven’t had to deal with since my teens. I was convinced that this must have been residual from the cold and the plan now was just keep ticking those legs over and get my rhythm going. Fuel wise I felt good as I had consumed my Shotz gels throughout the ride and I was pretty happy with my nutrition. My legs on the other were taking quite some time to get going, I had some bad patches of walk/run and they finally came good around 9-10km. Okay for an Iron distance race, but in a 70.3 the race is half over! My friend Andy came flying past me and told me to jump on; I yelled “dude you running too fast”! So I started to play the game of run as quick and fast as you can to the next aid station, grab fluid taking time and then get going again. Looking at my watch my time was going to be super slow, both ride and run times were not the best. But I was keen to get the race and long training day in the bag. Funny thing was that once around 15km I actually started to feel ok and started think what if this was an Ironman? I could run at this pace and possibly faster for some time now. Half distance has never been my forte! The longer the better… Crossing the finish line felt good and I was proud that I didn’t pull the pin even though I was having a rough day. I proved to myself that mentally that I’m bouncing back and from here it can only get better. After 6 months off racing it felt good to finish even though it was a slow day for me.
So next on the cards is Shepparton 70.3 in 3 weeks. I have couple of weeks to go over my equipment and make some changes. Also get some quality training done as I now go into Ironman build for next year.
Thank you to Russ, my family, friends and sponsors Shotz Nutrition, Saucony and Cyclespeed for your continued support.
For me the past 6 months have been quite tough. I returned to working full time to make ends meet, and residence wise returning to the colder climate of Melbourne meant trying to stay healthy over winter. I wish I could report that I succeeded with this, but unfortunately I didn’t and I succumbed to the dreaded flu which was 5 weeks down and out, and then a severe bout of food poisoning. Not ideal when starting new jobs, and trying to train at an elite level. My body was completely annihilated. It’s taken some time to rebuild to quality health and I am still building the training up each week. I have really had to pay particular attention to my nutrition and sleep in order to get back on top of things. Always such a work in progress!
While there have been challenging times, I have had to draw the positives out of my current circumstances and try to make the changes work to my benefit. First of all I actually don’t own a car anymore, so getting around is usually by bike, running and walking. Being back in Melbourne, that means longer travel time and usually in freezing cold weather over winter! I managed to secure a contract role in the town of Port Melbourne which is approximately 30km from my house using the more bike friendly streets and bikeways. So I decided to use this to my benefit, commuting to work and training most days on a heavy steel commuter bike. Now if you’ve seen my commuter bike you would understand how this piece of machinery could easily be a double edged sword! It may make you strong on occasion, but get too wrapped up in attacking the ride and elements each day and you could also end up in a hole! I mean that physical hole of fatigue.
Melbourne offers it all over winter. Gale force winds across the bay, torrential freezing cold rain, icy cold mornings and hail if you are lucky! What surprised me the most was my resilience and mental strength to cope with this after spending 2 years in sunny Queensland. I rode most days to the swimming pool in Albert Park before riding onto work. I would then ride home again, and weather dependant I would either run or take a hot shower! There were times when I just had to make the call to get straight into a hot shower and not do anymore. I guess when it’s freezing cold and you are soaked through from the rain and hail it gives you little choice. When riding in the conditions I was convinced that it was making me stronger mentally, nobody else is out there doing this Jodie I would tell myself. Of course they aren’t! They are probably being smart and inside on their trainers and treadmills! I usually do this myself, but when the bike is your only mode of transport it gives you no option but to keep riding.
So with the arrival of Spring and daylight saving, one of my favourite things is daylight saving! The extra hours of daylight are most definitely welcomed when trying to squeeze in work and training. The days are actually starting to improve and we have been given a little taste of the warmer weather to come. Honestly I’m wishing for a long hot summer! It also means that the Australian domestic race season is upon us, so it’s time to start ramping up the training and getting ready for the upcoming races. My first race will be Port Macquarie 70.3 in NSW. Given my limited winter preparation I don’t really know where I will be at, it’s a tough race to start on and to be honest it will probably be the best indicator of form and what’s needs to be done. It’s not easy to rock up to race when you are not entirely confident of your preparation, mentally it will be test and I will need to remain strong to ensure that I just get the job done.
It’s also time to review my training again, winter is always 1/3 of what’s possible in Summer. The cold can have such an impact on your health and ability to train, it’s like everything just slows down a little. I guess we do kind of hibernate in the cooler climates. For me I need to start planning my training for my Iron distance races in the new year. My half ironman races leading up to Christmas will provide a platform to work from, the hard racing really can bring your fitness up and I will use these races as key training days. Not only do you get to practice the swim/bike/run under pressure, it also allows you to work out your equipment, pacing and helps you deal with nerves you get before a race. I have been absolutely crippled with nerves before key races in the past, and while some nerves are good for performance, when they are extreme they can sabotage your day. Building a program around racing is something that either your coach or your need to consider carefully. You can’t be up for every race, sometimes you need to train through and the body can be quite tired or just not on fire. If you can accept that the race isn’t key race, then you will get the benefit from racing. As they say, “racing is training”!
My next post will be after Port Mac 70.3, so I hope to get some good feedback on my long training that I can share with you :-)
I read this today and had to share...
"The more you believe in your dreams, the less you will care what others think... and the more fearless you will be in pursuing them" - quote from the Sunshine Page
Over the past year I had the opportunity to try some different nutrition and I decided to try Shotz Sports Nutrition during my build back into training and racing. I purchased a variety of the gels and bars, and tried and tested the products out during my training rides and also my first two races back. Anyone who does any form of endurance racing understands the importance of fueling, finding that product that works for you and doesn't upset the digestive system while under stress. Well I have been using Shotz Electrolyte tablets (Orange Vanilla my favourite!), the Shotz gels and bars with great success! No gut issues and delivering the energy I require throughout the day.
Last week I was fortunate enough to align myself with a product I believe in, and I'm happy to report that I have signed with Shotz Sports Nutrition for the year ahead.
Check out the Shotz Sports Nutrition range at: www.shotz1.com
The unknown… an experience that is familiar to us all. The mind starts working overtime imagining all sort of crazy things, the good, the bad, what may happen out there or what may not happen for that matter! The nerves build up and the body starts reacting to the fear we have imposed on it… If you dare to think about this for just a minute, you have just created a number of different positive and dare I say it negative scenarios in your mind and there’s a very good chance you’ve attached those associated feelings with it… scary huh?!
So after a year off racing, and even though I have done this racing business my whole life….I found myself even more out of touch than usual. Even though I have a good understanding of how the state of my mind impacts my body, my health, happiness and yep racing results! I turned up for my first hit out in 12 months with a scrambled head, battling some kind of virus and getting a result that I wasn’t entirely happy with… all though after 2 weeks of analysing it’s amazing how I can say I’m happy with the experience.
When you have been racing for as many years as I have some things become routine, packing the bike, packing the bags, sitting around in airports, race registration, getting your race bag to see if there’s anything in it worth keeping (yes I do that too), checking in your bike… you get my drift. I usually panic about one or two things to do with my bike, after 17 years I have established that this is nerves. And I do it every race! But there is one thing that never seems to go away, that feeling of the unknown, not knowing how you are going to feel out there. I had put Port Mac 70.3 on schedule because I knew I had to do a race, one I needed to do hard training session, two I needed to practice going through the motions of going to a race, if you haven’t done it in while you are most definitely out of practice. So yes, I entered Port Mac to practice dealing with my nerves, setting up my little transition and practicing not have a cluttered mind while racing…. Haha. Yes, easier said than done. So let me run through my day and you will see how the state of mind was far from perfect and yet, it provided me with everything needed to learn. Yep, still learning …
Race morning, I didn’t feel super nervous. That means that I could eat my breakfast, quick cup of coffee and head down to transition to put the final touches on my bike. Sometimes you get those stomach butterflies that make eating such a chore….I didn’t have those. Interesting, 12 months off no butterflies. Good start.
I set up everything super quick, looking around I wondered if I had forgotten something because some people seemed to be spending some serious time at their bikes. Ahh there we go, head scramble number one! All of sudden I couldn’t decide whether to race with the new tyre inflation device Russ got me or not.. I hadn’t used it before, I looked at the instructions, it can’t be that hard. I will ditch the spare tyre, it’s only a 70.3. Although I didn’t fancy being stuck out in middle of nowhwere.. Seriously Jodie, stop entertaining the idea of you are going to get a flat tyre! Yep, the mind it was already winding up. After setting up transition, time to get suited, lubed and ready for the swim start.
The race organisers decided it was good idea to call the pros individually down to the swim start, so much for my ducking under the radar and not letting anyone know I was racing. I really did just want to get through the race and have a solid training day. All well, suck it up this is what it’s about, you wanted to pursue this avenue of racing Jodie. My swim start was surprisingly good, my ability to hold it was not! The swim is one of my strengths but on this day I had absolutely no strength. I seemed to be having trouble holding the water and felt quite weak. I tried to focus on long strokes, finishing off my stroke and finding a good rhythm. I lost touch with the pack in front and was swimming by myself the whole way back to transition. I couldn’t believe how weak I felt, I was sure that I was the last pro in the water and was waiting for the waves behind to catch me. My head started to fall apart, if swimming is my strength and I can’t put this together my day is pretty much over. Reaching the finish I ran through transition to see a number of bikes in the rack, so I wasn’t last.
I fumbled getting on bike, I told myself to get it together and spin out of town. My heart rate was through the roof, I don’t wear a monitor but I could feel it beating out of my chest! I had worked a lot harder than I would have liked just to get through the swim. The ride is where I thought I could make up a bit of time and get myself into a reasonable position. But like the swim, the power and strength just were not there. The coarse dead road (which is atrocious!) and the hills were taking it out of me and I knew it was going to be a struggle. The whole ride I let my head take over again, I should feeling better this, this isn’t how I ride and I would look at the other girls ahead of me each time we passed in the opposite direction. Not too many positive thoughts were going through my mind, but I kept trying to pull myself up saying ‘just get through the bike it’s only 90km’, ‘it’s your first race back in ages just treat as a good training hit out’… But once a racer, always a racer... It’s very hard to put the ego aside and say I’m okay with this and this is just not the day for you. It’s funny, because it’s probably only you and your nearest and dearest who care about how you perform. The loved ones do, because they have to deal with the aftermath :-)
I got back to transition, took my time putting my running gear on and ran out onto the run course. The first km’s are generally always ugly trying to get the running legs going, but after my swim and ride, I wasn’t feeling overly confident. Part of me was convinced that I would run well, we live in one of the most hilly places in Brisbane, everywhere I go there is a hill! So if I can do something, it’s run through the hills. I got just out of town, stopping and starting again. I knew I wasn’t 100% and it really wasn’t happening today. I was watching people run past me and I had nothing. I was trying not to cry, and I walked off the run course and hung my head over rail overlooking the beach. The tears flowed freely I started questioning whether I was still able to do this sport... Awful thoughts came into my mind, and I questioned my ability. One of the amazing volunteers came over to see if I was okay, they are always so positive and happy and want everyone to finish and do well. Her smile and positive energy was amazing and she encouraged me to keep going. I agreed with her that I should keep going, no matter how I finish and I walked back onto the course. I told myself if I was at home, I would be training anyway. So just get out there and do a long run! An age group man came past and encouraged me to run with him, so I did. Now resigning myself to the fact that I was going to finish, but not how I had initially hoped I kept moving forward watching the competitors and the expressions on their faces. Watching how each person was dealing with the race and the pain. Now engrossed in everyone else out there….I seemed to be running again. I went through half way and finally spotted my supporter, my Mum! Had I see her earlier, I’m sure I would have pulled out. I stopped briefly to chat to her and told I was going to try finish. I then stopped to give my good friend Amanda a hug, her words of advice “you are not here to win, you are here to get fit”, I agreed and told her I was going to finish and another lap later I did. The funny thing was in my last 5-8km I started to feel much better and was tapping along with a nice little rhythm. Maybe another couple of laps and I would have been good!
Crossing the line, I saw Amanda again. We both agreed the mental battle I had endured had to do more with my ego being affected more than anything else! Watching the race pass me by was hard, but pulling out of the event would have been worse. I have had to do this in previous races, and trust me is the most awful feeling that one can experience. Finishing that race I felt a sense of accomplishment, even though it was probably one of my worst performances in terms of time and result. I got more from that race than you can possibly imagine. It showed me how leading up to the race my mind was it such a poor state and I possibly even created my virus. Coming away from an experience like that has given me so much to work on, the physical, the technical and most importantly the mental. It also allowed me to take the pressure off, the first race to blow out the cobwebs has been done and I can now move forward working on my training and upcoming races.
My next race is Ironman Western Australia… Physically will I be ready? I am not sure.. But I do know that if I can monitor my thoughts and keep them in check leading up to and during the race, the experience will be a lot more positive and rewarding :-)