March, what did I say- it would be a busy one & it sure did provide some exciting racing!! With my best performance to date & favourite race memory, Mooloolaba World Cup, It still puts one huge smile on my face & gives me goosebumps thinking back to that race & moments shared with my mum & dad, coach, triathlon Australia staff & friends! You beauty!
But Back to the start…
I headed to the Sunshine Coast at the start of this month for which would be three weeks on the road full of racing! Starting with Mooloolaba World Cup, followed by the Gold Coast Triathlon Australia Mixed Relay invitational event & then New Plymouth World Cup across the ditch in our friendly neighbour NZ!
I was thrilled with how my early season training and racing had been coming along and was excited to see what I could do at Mooloolaba in a deeper world class field!
Being the only World Cup on home soil it's exciting to race with the crowd behind you all the way! I was super excited & proud to have my mum & dad up for the race to watch, something that's getting rarer as the World Series circuit races stretch more frequently & further abroad!
The tropical cyclone in far North Queensland was drowning the “sunshine” state in rain all week & dishing up some decent swell! I was excited, I love a true tough race & Mooloolaba was already providing a tough course with the hill every lap on both the ride & run, along with the coastal course leaving everyone well exposed to the strong on shore winds & then add in the big dumping swell & very strong inshore sweep! It sure was going to be interesting!
Having come a tantalising 4th last year on this course, I was more than ready to give it a red hot crack, I wasn't going to come 4th again if I could help it! I got off to a great start with years of surf Life Saving coming in very handy to use my surf skill knowledge to my advantage, breaking well clear of the race behind & exiting with a near 30 second lead! But after nearly 1 lap out in the wind & hills solo returning to transition, racing through the unique Mooloolaba esplanade & race expo tents, I decided to sit up & wait to be caught by the front bike pack and work within the bunch!
This was a tactical move, I didn't want to burn all my matches on the bike solo only to be caught near the end of the 20km ride as I have done in past races. Working within our front pack of 8, it was frustrating at times with some girls working hard even turns & others sitting up at the back and saving themselves for the run. But with 8 different athletes & 8 different race strategies, it's not always going to be smooth even work out there!
Continuing to focus in on nailing the little things I came into transition leading our front pack. I could hear the crowd yelling & cheering & got off to a quick clean start on the run!
The weather gods were kind to us and turned on a warm sunny day in the end.
I was feeling great, we practice in training & racing that no matter how we feel - good or bad, crappy or great, that we set those feelings aside and always Race good regardless of how our body might be feeling. But it's still awesome to hop off that bike & be feeling really ready to go. I set off up the hill taking the lead & wanted to push myself early & test myself & the other top girls around me! This worked to my favour as the top pack off the bike began to split early on that first lap, with Kirsten kasper hot on my shoulder!
Heading into lap 2 & 3 I only felt better & really confident in myself to stick out this foot battle, it was an awesome feeling! Likewise i not only had my mum & dad out on course but a whole bunch of close family & friends who speared me on all the way towards the end of that 5km! As I approached the far turn at the top of the hill on the last lap I could see I had broken away clear of Kirsten and it was all downhill from here, knowing how stellar Kirsten's sprint finishes are i kept the pressure on but was able to soak up some high fives, cheers, congratulations & the looks on my parents faces as I crossed that finish line, taking the tape & winning my first World Cup!
It was like a dream, that's exactly what we work so hard for & to have my team around me to embrace the achievement was magic! Some happy tears there for sure! Standing on my first World Cup podium, getting to sing the Australian National anthem with a home crowd of Aussies, and of course a proper champagne showers! It was epic! Super motivating to chase that feeling now into the rest of this big season ahead!!
Straight back into athlete life as I headed to Lennox head in Northern NSW the next morning for a weeks camp with the Wollongong wizards! I love exploring new places and I've never been to Lennox so it was really enjoyable to train on some new trails & stretches of road, and of course trying some new coffee stops! My favourite ride being my trip to byron bay with a lighthouse lookout & lunch stop, and my long run along the coast from Lennox to Ballina!
We headed Back Nth as a group to the Gold Coast where Ash Gentle & Charlotte McShane would finish their commonwealth games preparation here in Miami on the Gold Coast. And with just under 4 weeks to the games Triathlon Australia set up a great initiative with the inaugural Mixed Team Relay Invitational! We all were really looking forward to giving it some in the fast, furious & exciting super sprint 300m/8km/1.6km teams event! Held at Runaway Bay with some strong international teams racing! I was in the Aussie team 1 alongside Matt Hauser, Amber Pate & Steve McKenna.
Racing in the heats on Saturday with the Finals on Sunday, I kicked off our team starting first on the Saturday heat, battling it out in the swim & bike with friendly racing rival Kirsten Kasper & fellow Aussie Dani Defrancesco, before it came to a head to head sprint for the tag with just 200m left on the run I came in second to the touch behind Kirsten's kick! I'm the heat our team finished strong in 2nd behind the USA team with a terrific all round effort & secured ourselves a spot straight into the Sunday A final!
Sundays A final was a quality show, with the top teams all there it was epic racing to be apart of! Our team decided to switch it up & have myself go 3rd & Matt Hauser, Comm Games bound, in 4th to bring it home! We both had the opportunity to have some fun & chase solo from behind, some solid TT work & we came from the back to move up into 4th, with Matt nearly earning us a step on the podium. It was a really exciting weekend of racing to be apart of a team within what is generally such an individual sport! It’s terrific & you can't help but yell & scream for your teammates as you chase after them around the course with the lead swapping & changing as the relay progresses, such an excellent addition to this years 2018 Commonwealth games and secured for Tokyo 2020.
Congratulations to Team Nth America (Mix of the USA & Canada) for the win, followed by Team USA in 2nd and Aussie Team 3 with Ash Gentle, Gillian Backhouse, Ryan Bailie and Dan Coleman taking the bronze!
We packed up our bikes that afternoon at race site & those of us bound for the next World Cup in NZ headed on the train Nth to Brisbane. Flying out at 6am the next day it would be a not so gracious 3.15am wake up Monday morning to make our way across the ditch, hello coffee! A delay & missed connection in Auckland saw us sourcing out some cookie time & a wifi network at Auckland before arriving into New Plymouth later that night, unfortunately for me, my bike decided to spend the night in Auckland, oh the joys of travel!
We were lucky to get to spend a week in New Plymouth in the lead up to The World Cup event on that coming Sunday. It's rare you get so long in a place to settle in pre race, I was stoked as I really love NZ, the people are just so caring & welcoming into their community and really invite you in as one of their own. Not to mention the country side landscapes are breathtaking with snow capped mount Taranaki on one side & the shores of the pacific ocean on the other! New Plymouth is certainly not short of a of host of great cafes with awesome coffee and food, it's an all round win win for us Triathlete with the perfect training location literally at the doorstep!
Come the weekend I had well & truly settled in & was relaxed and pumped to get going again racing!! The course was another real tough one & I was excited to rip in!! With a cooler wetsuit harbour swim, a technical & hilly bike it was going to be testing with 4 laps of a 5km loop, each with a hard 1km climb within the loop, before a mostly flat 5km run to finish!
Unfortunately the only thing NZ didn't make picture perfect was the weather this week, hiding New Plymouth’s Guardian Mount Taranaki from us & bringing in some heavy rains & scary storms throughout the week.
As race Day Sunday came along, with us elite women kicking off at midday it looked like the sun would be out… but it wasn't to be today let me tell you I quickly found the slippery wet ground later… Oh Emma!
Kicking off with a great start & lead in the swim, leading around the course before exiting the water with Kasper & Summer Cook onto the bike, there was a big front pack establishing early on the first lap and some athletes just off the back out of the water fought hard over that initial stage to get onto the pack! Lap 1 the rain started to come down and by the middle of the bike the rain had come down quite heavy, leaving the roads wet and slick with some of those fast descents from the uphill climb, and some sharp corners & rail way line crossings!
By the end of lap 3 it looked like our continued efforts to try split the front pack or at least put those hanging on at the back under pressure appeared to have worked well as I thought we had a gap coming down the hill, getting a little carried away and over excitied I was too busy thinking ahead, and with my mind up the road I came into one of the ports slick grave laid corners a little too fast, breaked too late & hit the white line, sliding straight out, flesh gliding on cement as I hit the deck hard.
Ouch! Bouncing nearly straight back up I was hoping to get on the back of the pack as they came past but with a bit of Shakey legs I missed clipping in & getting back on by a few seconds and it cost me the front bunch, with 1 lap to go, battling my way into transition 2 and out onto a long 5km run, with a bleeding hip, shoulder & elbow & possibly the worst- my new lucky Australian trisuit from Mooloolaba ripped! Battling on and keeping my cool to the end, my run didn't fall apart and I finished what I saw as a respectable 16th for a tough day out! It takes a lot more than that for me to throw in the towel!
Sometimes we have to live & learn the hard way, this was one of those times as I coped some fair banter & one stiff trip home on the plane flight the next day- cuts, bruises and impact soreness!!
Lucky for me, the racing calendar had tied itself in so well with the real world this year, arriving home in time for Easter & a long weekend away with the family to our second home at Seal Rocks, staying at our absolute favourite- Sugarloaf Lighthouse, again sorry not really sorry for all the Instagram spam, the place is just too incredible!! Soaking up some quality family time at “home” by the ocean, in the Autumn sun, with an Easter bunny chocolate visit & able to just get back to the basics and refresh for a few days! It was just what the body & mind needed after what has been a really pleasing & exciting start to the years racing with still so much more to give!!
I cant wait to see what the rest of the year holds in stall for racing, training, hard work, travel, adventures and a whole lot of fun along the way I'm sure!
Bring it on! I am ready!
Thanks for the read & checking in, until next months update check my social feed for some pictures in the meantime-
FB: Emma Jeffcoat Professional Triathlete page.