Sunday, 22 February 2015

Devonport OTU Oceania Olympic Distance Elite & U/23 Championships

Happy Monday!

Third time lucky....  Enjoy the read :)  

Last Friday I headed down to Devonport Tasmania, with the HPT gang. This trip away consisted of 4 great Youth & Junior athletes, Mick; Coach, peace keeper and equally a shit stirrer haha, and myself.  It was my second visit to Tassie, 12 months ago I was heading down as an Age Grouper looking to earn my Professional Triathlon license and this time round I was heading down with that license as an Elite U/23 Pro looking to be aggressive and take on my first, but the races 30th anniversary, of the Oceania Olympic Distance champs, & for me that was already a little win - If all else fails Persistence always prevails!!

I love Tassie, set the clock back 20 years and you've got air that just breathes lighter, with beautiful blue coastline facing North onto the Bass Strait, and the little tucked away town of Devonport. 

A town small enough that just about every squad of athletes were eating at the same Italian restaurant for pre race dinner!

Ironically Tassie was having a heat wave for the weekend, as locals were telling us it's rare enough you get one day where the thermometer pops over 30 degrees, let along two days in a row! And boy oh boy did my back and shoulders have to show for that.... Hello trisuit cossie tan, time to get undoing... 

Meanwhile poor Queensland was being hit with a category 5 tropical cyclone, with extensive rain, wind and storms, with some athletes not able to make it to the Brisbane airport to get the race, so no complaints!!

We stayed at the lovely hospitable Dannebrog accommodation which as the slogan goes is "probably the best accommodation in town" ... Now I don't know, but if it were me I'd 'probably' just say "the best accommodation in town" and leave it at that haha. It was our second stay here with the beautiful Milka who's calls us "her champions" as we come and go all weekend. Stocking the fridges with every kind of food for us hungry athletes!

Race day came on Saturday packed with action, starting with the National Championships for the Youth event then the Close knit National Elite Junior races, before the Oceania Championships kicked off for the Elite & U/23 females starting at 12pm, and the Elite Males following at 2.30pm. A sleep in on race day, how ironic!! I could get used to these later Elite race start times, and could equally practice my nutrition plan pre race, dare I say I need to get used to EATING & DRINKING MORE pre and during the race! 

The water was a warm 20.7 degrees which being above 20 for elites meant a non-wetsuit swim. The conditions were tough, hot, onshore winds, and that swim was choppy! So much there was a wave to be caught into the shore! For me I loved it, with all those years growing up racing in Surf life saving, this was a walk in the park.  The swim went to plan, I was able to sit on Rebecca Clarke the strong kiwi swimmer's feet, and came out 2nd. 

With a quick Transition i was out onto the ride leading the start of what would be my toughest bike course to date, and one of the toughest you will come across in Elite ITU racing... so I am told. 

The ride was an 8 lap 40km course with one massive hill to conquer each lap, North St, famous among triathletes for the Burn and grief it gives! In saying that, coming into the race "the Hill" was the one objective i was most concerned about. 

Afterwards although I would be sick in the head to say I enjoyed it but it was a really aggressive, tough and testing hill/course, which also made for a big challenge! For me each lap I stuck with that front pack of 7 riders, 3 Aussies & 4 Kiwi's, was one more than i thought i could hold, and before I knew it the mental count down game was down to 2 more reps, and i was feeling a truck load more confident in myself and was not about to let the pack get away! A big tick and step in the right direction, looking back 3 weeks earlier in Kinloch, where i had been dropped first lap, first hill! 

As our front pack of seven remaining survivors came into transition, poor Grace Musgove(Aus) had a tumble, through no fault of her own, that shit happens! It made for some nasty photos frames taken, and a good story for Grace who battled on to finish 5th, Big Kudos!! 

With a flat, fast and hot 10km to go i was feeling hot, flat and slow! I really struggled, the legs didn't give me much despite my hardest efforts. But without losing the plot i chugged along, noting the level of those front runners as they escaped down the road away from me, storing it in the mental bank as the level I need to work towards, one step at a time! You always know shit's getting real when the coach is crossing the road each lap to dish out double the amount of encouragement..haha. 

Not to mention the finish... just when you think your coming round that last bend, & you hear heavy breathing behind and you know its on! I had 2 girls catching, time to dig real deep for a rough 200m last "sprint" effort to finish, coming out on top.

I  think i started to cry before I even crossed the finish line. But as Mick has always said, "I either want you vomiting or crying when you finish" ... Now I always used to laugh at it, until this race,  I was super happy with the race but finished and couldn't stop crying, and of course the tears kicked off again when it came to calling home; mum and dad! And I should note I don't cry... I could easily count on one hand how many times I've cried in front of someone other than my mum ... it doesn't happen often! Put it down to whatever you want but for me, i think it was a combination of absolute fatigue from pushing myself to a level i didn't think i was capable of, mixed in with pride and that surreal rush of reaching that next level you never knew you had in you. 

 Lying down splattered across the finish/recovery area i wasn't getting up too soon. All i could think was water water water, sculling one water, the other pouring all over myself, a key wrong move and area to work on leading into the next few races- being able to handle taking onboard water and gels for the 10km run, without getting a killer stitch!

Finishing the weekend off with a 11th overall in the Elite female Oceania Olympic Distance Champs and a 5th in the U/23 Oceania Championships, with some valuable ITU World Ranking Points!

Back at home now, its back to Uni next week, where i will finish my Second Year of Nursing (specialising in paramedics) studying under the Elite Athlete Program at the University of Sydney. A program that i can't thank enough for helping me to continue my studies, although part time, but managing stuff like, timetables, missed classes due to being abroad racing, top race trip funding, and a wide support network of services! 

This weekend coming is the Richie Walker Aquathon, a 1km swim/ 5km run for a bit of racing fun as the F1Tri Round at Cronulla, scheduled for this date, had to be postponed. 

With a relaxing day off today, and week filled with all things athlete related; acupuncture, Chiro, Physio, massages, and a trip to the Sydney float tank (Plus friends to see, a social life to try keep, a beautiful horse to ride and feed plus family to see... oh and a nasty tan to undo) Its straight back into the hustle and bustle of The Athlete Life. 

x Em

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