Sunday, 15 February 2015

Kurnell NSW Sprint Series // Race of Dreams 15/2/15

Hello Again,

For those that read my first attempt of a blog upload last week, thankyou and I hope you enjoyed it! Hopefully ill get better along the way…. And if not, then don’t tell me haha!

 I had in my head I wouldn’t write another little chapter until next week after the Devonport Oceania Olympic Distance Elite and U/23 Championships, but after having an absolute dream race yesterday I’m going to share my cloud 9 experiences from that, because in this sport you got to take those races with 2 hands cause you don’t know when the next one will be!! (Although I’ll add that in every race there is always a chance to go out with purpose and objectives and seek positives and things to work on after)

Yesterday was the third race of the Triathlon NSW Sprint Series in Kurnell, a popular race amongst age groupers, and yesterday their was even more hype with the brilliant Wollongong Wizards, a Wollongong based Elite Training Squad made up of WTS Level International athletes from all over the globe and full of talent, with Current ITU World Champions, ex World Champions and ITU Grand Final Winners. I was pumped to get another opportunity to come up against these guys in my own backyard! Another factor adding to the day’s hype for me was the very special appearance of my Dad coming to watch me and cheer me on, a rare oppourtunity for him to be able to be there, so I wanted to make it a good one!! (No offense given to Mum, I take my hat off to the mother of 4 active kids, a true “Supa” mum & for many years she travelled all over the place with me as a junior and she’s definitely my number one supporter)

It was an early start, the weather was tame and the day was warming up quick! Race site had its usual buzz of nervous athletes and very long toilet queues! It wasn’t long till us Elites were off to the beach/Bay for a start. I had a clear race objective in my head and was racing with a purpose, thanks to the Best coach & good mate Mick, Head coach with the great Pete Clifford at HPT (High Performance Tri) and I’ve got to say, not many squads will you see athletes, on their “day off” heading down before the sun’s even up to come along and watch & support their fellow athletes. A credit to Mick and Pete with the positive and always encouraging environment they have set up!!

Starting 1 minute behind the Elite Men & it was on like Donkey Kong! Off to a clean and quick start which helped set up the race for me, allowing a gap to emerge between me and current ITU World Champion, and clear favourite Gwen Jorgensen, who jumped on my feet, and the other Elite Women chasing. Emerging form the water together the pace was on to get to the bikes quick and get out there! The bike course starts with a bit of undulating up’s and downs, along some road in desperate need of resealing, before turning around at the Botany Bay National Park Whale watch lookout and heading back past transition, and out onto the flat out and back remainder of the course. My goal was to not let Gwen get away from me, but as we got into the cycle leg I was feeling great & strong so I pushed the pace and by the time we got to the flat remaining ¾ of the course I was in front with a small gap and put my head down, on the aero bars and pushed hard on my beautiful Avanti CORSA DR Di2 Racing machine, supplied and kept in the best of knick by the legends at my local Narrabeen AvantiPlus store.

Playing mental games to pick boys up ahead to try catch one by one, who were all from the Elite Male wave so I was putting myself out at a hard effort which I thought if I could continue to do it would keep me ahead, and that is where I helped to further set up what would be a race I will remember for years to come! At the turn around I could see the lead I had established between the other girls and myself and this further boosted my confidence.

As many will agree I’m sure, there’s just something about that feeling you get when your in the lead, somehow you just hurt that touch less and have that added pump of adrenaline spiking you up.

As the race was not draft legal, the opposite to ITU racing style where we can ride in bike packs and draft off one another, it meant you had to be conscious of the gap you gave to the next rider and if passed there are rules surrounding dropping back, and so forth if you are the passing rider, as there are always officials out on the motorbikes waiting to give penalties to anyone pushing the limits. I was lucky in that the group of 6 or so riders I had set my pacing off in a steam train single line formation were all playing it fair and leaving decent gaps whilst still playing a classic game of cat and mouse.

Heading into transition, I got called Gwen (no issues there haha), then the announcer apologized and said that their were no females yet to come off the bike, before having my identity returned as I headed off onto the run leg with a solid lead on Gwen and the rest of the world class Elite Female field following.

Trying not to pinch myself as I was running , I couldn’t believe where I was sitting, and pre race had not even considered this to be a situation. Off I set, turned out I had pulled the 5th fastest overall bike time of the day (watch out boys haha) and put 2 minutes onto the other girls. In saying that, anyone that has ever watched a bit of top end ITU World Triathlon Series Racing will know how Gwen stands as an all time best back-end Runner, and I knew she would be coming for me! Lap one passing the squad, coach and Dad, I went buy chucking out a little personal joke and in return got loads of encouragement and a real lift from the guys! Lap 2 I could see Gwen hadn’t gained much ground to my surprise, although spurring, I was fading as the legs started to really fatigue!

I must comment on all the amazing support off everyone on course, Aussies love an underdog, and to be beating the current World Champ and my idol, along with many other elite female athletes I aspire to in the sport was surreal!! The encouragement was flowing in thick and fast but lap 3 I knew she was closing in! You always think post race you could have ran faster that last km or pushed it more, but post and during are two very different things! Lap 3 of that run hurt and despite my efforts, the absolute legend and champ passed me with a mere 200m left to the finish. Exchanging a few broken words of encouragement to each other as she sailed through, and if someone was going to beat me, I couldn’t have picked a better athlete!

 I was proud of the effort levels I had to push Gwen too in the battle to claim the win! For me, I was over the moon with the race, a post race bear hug from Dad at the finish line, and what I can be proud to say was a level, and mutually respectful, athlete to athlete post race debrief with Gwen. Topping it off with some solid PB’s.

Standing on the podium next to Gwen and Anne Haug 2012 World ITU Grand Final Champion (Where I watched her win the World Championship race at my very first World A.G. champs as a little 17 year old just starting out) The day was one to remember.

I was definitely swapping that post race classic ‘chocolate something’ with a glass of wine to celebrate.

Back to the office this week, recovery today and a week of tapering before flying out to Devonport, Tassie, this Friday for the OTU Oceania Elite Olympic Distance Champs on Saturday. Travelling down with some fellow HPT Junior athletes for a solid hit out. Ready to take on the cooler ocean temps (hopefully big swells…) 8 tough hill reps up the famous North St, and 10km run to the finish.

I’ll finish with this all time favourite quote of mine, “DARE TO DREAM”

Until next time J

Em. x

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