Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Third in the World...

Last Sunday I again had the opportunity to represent New Zealand and wear the silver fern. This was my fifth world championship for Triathlon and the culmination of a three year plan to podium.

This World Championship was different to most that I have competed in. The race was at home... this meant that there was no added stress of packing my bike, flying somewhere, not knowing where a supermarket is, not having a car etc. It was great staying in my own bed and being able to keep to all my own routines.

I took a whole week off work before the race and although it was as boring as hell it was really beneficial for me. I was relaxed, de-stressed and had time to plan for my race.

Monday was busy, it started with swim squad which was the first session in a long time where I have not felt great... I was sluggish and felt out of sorts.... but my times were still better than ever which was the main thing. Then I was off to the bike store for a bike service, grocery shopping and later in the day a massage.

My masseuse was very impressed about the state of my muscles- he said that I was pretty well balanced and was confident that I was in great shape for a good race... this was a nice confidence boost.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were all pretty similar days, very light training sessions and the lots of DVD watching and book reading (oh and checking out the Perth weather website consistently)... Friday was a full rest day for me and all I needed to do was set up my bike.

Saturday was a final swim/bike/run, bike check in, transition familiarisation, race briefing, carbo loading and sorting out my race day nutrition. I managed to get a great sleep as well which is unusual for the night before a major race...

Sunday morning I was up and eating my porridge at 5am... its still hard to get food down at that hour! No matter how many races I do. It was a later than usual race start (8.13am) so we had plenty of time to set up transition, familiarise myself with the swim course, get away from the comings and goings of the race start and then do a warm up.

The weather was extremely windy- perhaps the windiest that I have seen Perth since living here. This meant a very choppy Swan River- this didn't faze me as i wasn't anything on Wellington on a regular day (let alone Wellington on a bad day)....

Here I am deep in thought waiting for us to be called into the race pen before our race started.

As you can I see I was at the front of the compound so that I could get into the pen first, therefore allowing me to get to where I wanted to start in the swim (which was on the far right).Here we are- the first two into the race start compound... it looks like we are walking to out execution :-)Here are starting our line up... its funny- when we were in the water it looked like we were in line with the two buoys... obviously not. Apparently the starters hooter went off about 5 times but none of us heard it out there in the water.

Once we did hear the start signal, we were off. Its always a big melee at the start of a triathlon but I had a pretty clean start and I was pleased to get away from the crowds and get into a good rhythm pretty early on. The water was really choppy- it never looks that way on photos though.

On the first leg of the swim (1800m) we were heading into the wind and waves but had the tide/current with us. We then turned around and the wind/wavers were behind us but then we were swimming into the current... so all in all it was a tough swim. I had a reasonable amount of trouble sighting the buoys as well so at times I was going on a bit of hope and prayer that I was heading in the correct direction.
Here I am on the return leg (which seemed to last forever)... I was by myself here but near the closing stages of the swim caught up to a couple of swimmers in my category. Check out the splash from my kick...
Here I am at the swim exit. Thank goodness for that... I was pleased to get away from all the jellyfish, waves, yucky dirty and salty water. We all exit with the green "Swan River Moustache" as well... hmmm very attractive.
Hmmmm get out of my way :-) I was itching to get past the swimmers in front of me.
Heading up the steps out of the Swan River and off to transition we go. It was a reasonably long run from the river to the bikes and I took it at a pretty steady base so that I could get my breath back.
After the 3km swim we were off onto a 4 * 20km lap bike course. The first leg was thankfully with a tail wind, which gave us time to get our cycling legs.
Here I am leaving transition.
After the tail wind assisted leg down Mounts Bay road we turned straight back into the head wind, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but it was still a grind. During this part of the bike course I tried to eat a little but I was feeling very nauseous. I must have swallowed some river water I think as I feel sick for a lot of the ride. Even so, I think that I followed my nutrition and hydration plan well and set myself up for a solid run.

Once we headed back in from Mounts Bay road we cycled down the freeway and back with wicked cross winds the whole way. So the ride, just like the swim, presented some interesting challenges.

Here I am heading back into town following the first lap on the bike and it is heating up. I emptied the majority of a water bottle over me, partly to clean myself up from the river crap, but mostly to cool myself down.
And here I go... heading out on the second lap.
This was probably the hardest part of the ride for me... the Kwinana Freeway on ramp. But it was short and sweet.
The race had a 12 * 3 m draft zone with a 5 min drafting penalty... and to be honest this was the cleanest race that I have ever raced in... no drafting at all and I wasn't ever in a compromising position at all. Check this photo out... all by myself and loving it. Riding the freeway, the smooth roads and not having any pesky girls using me for my cycling strength!
Sucking in the air on one of the laps.
So the ride took 2 hours 15 and little did I know, by this stage I was in third place in my age group.

The other change was that the wind had totally dropped by now and this meant incredible heat!!!! Arghhh... the trying conditions just kept on coming. Not sure that I liked it that the spectator looks faster than me :-)
The run was a 4 * 5km lap route, and it was HARD. AT 5km I wanted to give up to tell you the truth. At 10km I was certain I couldn't finish another 10km, at 15km I was starting to feel better and then the last 5km went really well for me.

Here I am heading down one part of the course and the aussie girl almost opposite me was the eventual winner in my age group.
Its getting hot now, but I was stoked to be passing lots of racers- male and female, this included passing a professional male as well- he ended up finishing slower than me!
This is it- the last part of the run for me and I am stoked to nearly be over.
Well the day was tough, my times were slightly slower than anticipated but the conditions dictated that. When I finished I had no idea where I was in my age group and by process of elimination I worked out that I came 4th... I was really happy with that and after a little bit of catching up with friends Jason and I headed home via the ice cream shop.

However, I couldn't get over the feeling that I needed to find out the results so I went back to the race site... and low and behold I got THIRD.... a BRONZE medal!!! and I was by myself and couldn't get hold of Jason to tell him.... I was going CRAZY!!!!!!!

My first medal at a World Championships and I was by myself! But still- I was stoked with the result.

Check out this article: New Zealand Age Groupers Stun at World Champs.

So now upon a few days of reflection I am still very pleased with my result and I have no idea of what my next goals is going to be. For now, we are happy just to have a casual few days with no scheduled training.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Update from WA

So last week I mentioned that I had a foot/ankle niggle. Well I saw the podiatrist and I have tendonitis in my posterior tibialis tendon, which is located on the inside part of my ankle just behind the bony knob. Apparently this tendon is the one responsible for raising the arch of the foot, so for those of us out there like me who's feet collapse in (over pronate) tend to be susceptible to tendonitis in this area. Its not incredibly painful, but it certainly isn't comfortable at all and I can feel it every step of every day.

So I have a regime of daily ice, massage, anti-inflammatory meds, taping and stretching. Along with this I am not allowed to wear thongs (ahahaha I thought that I would slip an aussie slang word in there), unstructured shoes or use fins while swimming. Anyone who knows me will realise that the last one will be the hardest for me as I LOVE my fins while swimming.

The podiatrist said that training on it will make it worse but that with two weeks to go I am allowed to keep my training as normal and we will sort out the issues after the race. I am sooooo pleased that the podiatrist is realistic with athletes... I wouldn't have stopped running this close to the race if he told me to.

Other news from the WA front, Jason has started his summer season of water polo, enjoying his first proper league game for his new team (and getting second in the player of the match competition). The canoe polo boys want him back as well but the league nights clash!

Perth is starting to heat up now, it was 17 degrees at 7am today and peaked at 29 degrees, its gonna be 34 degrees on Sunday as well- so back to it with a bang after a mild and cooler that usual WA winter!

We also want to say Happy Birthday to ALL the October birthdays in the family: Camille, my Mum and Dad, Leza and Summer! We wich we were able to celebrate with you, and hope you know we are thinking of you on each day.

The next time I post I will be in my week off work before race day. I hope to have some more photos by then as I realise all text updates are very boring.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Countdown to Perth World Champs race...

16 days to go until my second World Championships of the year, the Long Distance World Championships which are being held in my new home town Perth. For more information check out the website: http://www.ldworlds.org.au

The race distances are 3km swim, 80km cycle and a 20km run. All based in and around the CBD of Perth.

During this most recent training block my body clock has changed considerably. As we get up three days a week for swimming at 5am, my body seems to think that it should wake up in between 4am and 5am every day of the week. The upside of this is I get a lot of my training done in the mornings. The downside of this is being practically asleep by 6pm each night. Poor Jason, I think I have kicked him out of the computer room (part of the bedroom) at 7.30pm for the past week so that I can go to sleep...

In terms of my training my swimming has recently had a massive boost. I am swimming like I never have before, I have been promoted to the fastest lane at swim squad and I just feel so strong in the water right now. My lane at swim squad practically kicked me out as I was too fast for them... I love swimming right now and can't seem to get enough of it at all.

I have been having a bit of a love hate relationship with the bike recently. I am not training very well on the bike and I hope that it doesn't impede me in the Worlds. I just am not motivated for the hard work on the bike right now.

Running is generally going well apart from a small ankle/foot niggle... I am seeing the podiatrist tomorrow so fingers crossed I can still run etc for the next few training sessions.

This weekend is my last big weekend of training with a 5 hour ride, 5km run and swim squad (total 5km) on Saturday. Sunday is a 2 hour ride, 90 min run with intervals and a open water swim. Next week it starts to taper down to freshen up the legs before the big day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's wildflower time...

I think I have mentioned in another blog post the huge difference between seasons in Western Australia. During the summer months it gets very, very dry and dusty. From January through to may I think there was only 1mm of rain this year. Winter is so, so different to this. It rains a lot here, not as much as Wellington last winter. The good thing is it seems to rain a lot at night and stay reasonably dry during the days which I am happy with.

The upshot of all this rain is the awesome difference in the seasons. Everything is pretty and green right now and then there is the wildflowers. Mention wildflowers and most people in Australia think of Western Australia. There are up to 12,000 wildflower species found within the state, and Western Australia’s wildflower season draws visitors from all over the world.

We haven't managed to do a drive out to the most spectacular wildflowers due to training commitments, but we have seen some of the local highlights. Jason is really looking forward to our wildflower trip next year (hehehe). I want to do a 2- 3 day trip to see the best of it.

Here are some of the shots that I have taken locally:

Everlasting daisies facing the sun...

Most Western Australian wildflowers bloom in late winter or early spring, from July until November. Some species require more warmth for growth and therefore bloom in late spring during the months of October and November.

The wildflower season, beginning in the Pilbara in July, commences slightly later as you head south, concluding in the southern regions in November. The season is subject to weather variations, but generally wildflowers can be seen in profusion in Western Australia from July until November.

Close up of the everlasting daisies:
The fields are full of them... they go on for ages...
From the WA Wildflower website: "The wildflower season ranks as one of Western Australia’s most fascinating and precious natural treasures. For several months of each year wildflowers are scattered across 2.5 million square kilometres of terrain. As diverse and colourful as the locals, the uniqueness and natural beauty of the wildflowers attract thousands of tourists and scientists every year."

Close up of the kangaroo paws...
I may try and head out for a day trip a little further afield to check out the wildflowers after the Perth World Champs race... maybe it will be my birthday treat :-)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

One year in Perth today

Wow, we have been in Perth 1 year today, 1 October 2009. I can't believe how fast the year has gone.

Having been here a year it is a good time to reflect on the year that has been. The first few weeks here were really, really tough. We were totally shell shocked and really surprised at the culture difference between NZ and Perth. But after a year things are starting to seem normal for us now- even the odd shopping hours.

We are starting to get a good routine now and Perth is slowly starting to feel like home for us. Even the reasonably slow to come around Western Australians are starting to be a bit more friendly towards us.

I think that I initially underestimated the upheaval that comes with shifting countries and jobs all at once. Having had some time to reflect lately it is no wonder that I have really struggled with my training this year. Everything has seemed harder training wise than it used to be. Its no wonder though, doing on average 20 - 25 hours training a week by myself has taken a toll. But just recently I have managed to do a couple of training sessions with others (including a 170km ride/10km run/3km swim day) and it makes such a difference. I do miss the local triathlon hangout at Freyberg Pool in wellington still and all my training buddies.

Jason has started Water Polo again with the Melville Water Polo Club and he is really enjoying it. They play each Wednesday night. The club has its very own pool and after games there is always beer and a bbq. Its good to see Jason out and about.

We both miss family lots but have been lucky to see Jason's family in March, May and September and my family in June and September.

We both agree that the move has been the right one for us though. Jason's work opportunities have been broadened, my work is challenging and expanding my abilities, financially we are better off and the lifestyle here is great (even if they don't have shops open on weekends and public holidays and voted against daylight savings).

Interestingly enough if we had the time again we would have chosen different things to bring with us, but other than that we are happy with our decisions to date.

We are now on the cusp of our second hot season starting and hopefully this year we are better equipped for it... hmmm not sure I'll ever enjoy the 30 degree nights.

So that's about all for now. Till next time (I promise to be more regular in my posting).