After 3 1/2 weeks down under, I can finally write this end of season blog. I was going to do it yesterday, but after the flight from hell and no sleep, all I could think about was sleep. What was meant to be a short nap before dinner turned into a 15 hour sleep!
So before the jetlag hits me again, I am going to condense the last 3 weeks into this short blog!
Australia, you have stolen my heart! I'm barely 24 hours back in the UK and I already want to go back! It all started in Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast. I am never going to forget the view we had from our apartment and pictures do not do it justice (see below). I spent some time in this area before moving up the coast and took in some amazing sights whilst cycle training with a local triathlon club. We even had a kangaroo bouncing alongside us during one ride! Amazing.
A few days before the race, we moved to an apartment directly next to the competition site, and that was when the nerves started! As my race was on the last day of a 4-day race schedule, I could watch everything from my apartment balcony, so there was no escaping the atmosphere of it. Although I love the atmosphere of a race, having the cheers of the crowd, the sound of the official's motorcycle going past, and the view of everyone else's race happening all day everyday can be quite annoying in the build up to your own race!
After the 3 days of registration, team briefing and bike check-in, it was finally race day. I have raced at all sorts of hours, from early morning to late afternoon, however, this was a whole new experience for me! We were up at 3am to get ready for this day, with a 4:30am transition check-in. It was still pitch black outside, and the floodlights over transition that were meant to help us see our bike area only cast everything in an even darker shadow. I have never had to set up my transition with a torch light before!
Although the circumstances were not ideal, it did bring out a whole new level of comradery between the countries. I had a fellow Brit on my right, and a Mexican competitor I had made friends with a few days before on my left, with a New Zealander on her other side. Although we were all competing against each other, we held torches whilst the other sorted their wheels, held bikes whiles pumping up the tires, and offered words of encouragement when the nerves got too much! It was the nicest and most relaxed ambience I have felt before a Triathlon, and I wish I could have stayed and chatted with the girls for a lot longer.
Nevertheless, we had a competition to get through. Once transition was set up and the sun decided to rise (typical it was after I had finished setting up transition!), it was time to head down to the competition start. Just like the European Championships, the swim was a straight 1500m swim with no turns which I prefer. It did mean a long walk to the start line, but at least the walk was on part of the run course!
It wasn't my best swim but enough to come out in 12th position. It was then time for my favourite part of the race, the bike!
I had already been around the course on the bike recce with the GB team so I knew what to expect, and I liked it! The majority of the course was flat and fast, which meant a lot of time on the TT bars. The roads in Australia are amazingly wide and the surface smooth, so along with them being closed even going round the corners were fast!
There was no time for rest on this course as I knew everyone else would be going fast as well, because of this I managed to clock my fastest time ever on the bike section! I got the third fastest bike time in my age group and I managed to make up enough places to 6th position.
And then came the run. I will not hesitate to say that the run hasn't worked for me this year, but ask any Triathlete and they will tell you that it is nearly impossible to keep all 3 disciplines at a good level at the same time plus this is the end of a long season for us Brits (Australians are just starting their season so fresh legs!) That is why I made sure my bike was as fast as I could as I knew the run wouldn't be as good.
I had put so much effort into the bike that my legs were not having it for the run and I felt like they were extremely heavy, but I managed to keep my 6th position all the way to the end with help from family members who had travelled up from Melbourne to see me and shout me in all the way to the finish! I knew when I crossed that line that I had given everything I could and couldn't have done any better this year, so I am so proud of myself!
AND... I'm 6TH IN THE WORLD!!!!
It has been a very long year with many ups and downs, but what a year! From my shoulder operation in February and thinking I wasn't going to be able to compete this year at all , to becoming European Champion in July and now 6th in the World!
Now that I have had my 2 week break from all training - spent travelling up and down the East Coast of Australia and having eaten a year's worth of chocolate and TimTams in that time, it is time to get stuck into my winter training to prepare for next year and get my strength up in this shoulder.
This 'short' blog has now turned into quite a long one, so I think I will leave my down-time blog to another time!
Thank you everyone for the lovely words of encouragement and congratulations I have received not just for this race, but for this whole year! I love you all!!
I just want to say a huge THANKYOU to my sponsors for your continued support this season to Richardsons Cycles, Sovereign Play Equipment, Rippleside Metalworks, plus help with funding from Essex & Southend Sports Fund/Annabel and Gerald Malton Fund... and of course Kris Whitmarsh, for all of your help with my coaching this year - I seriously doubt I would have been able to achieve everything I have without all of your help and support! Thankyou all for still believing in me.