Saturday, 30 July 2016

July update- Europe, Family, & the best race yet!


( A new word I've grown to love here in VitoriaGasteiz Basque Country, its translation isn't clear but you happily yell it to other riders on the road as you pass & it means something along the lines of "Yewww" or "go go go"- a bit of fun)

So Yewww to July! It's been an awesome month & ive soaked up every second of it!

Here's a recap through my eyes (goggles, helmet & oakleys) ...

Order another coffee or please sit down, it's another long one, I hope I'm making my English teacher proud haha.

I started the month where many athletes spend large chunks of time, one guess?

The airport. On route to Amsterdam from Bilbao with training buddies Luke William & Grace Musgrove. We were heading to Holten, about a 2 hours drive from Amsterdam in the Dutch countryside & home to a long standing European Premium Cup, meaning it's worth double points & double prize money. Attracting some good names to the start list, that's Europe for you- depth of field & it means you need your A game every race to be rewarded.

Grace & I hired a car to road trip it out to Holten, the biggest struggle not being direction but the Tetris game that was packing a tiny European car with 2 bikes, one suitcase & one giant suitcase .... Whoops... Plus us!

Arriving in Holten with a day of rest pre race which is always nice...  and okay enough time to discover the famous Dutch StroopWaffles! Amazing!!

Race day came & it was a bit of a different race with a split transition meaning we changed swim to bike at one location, road 8km into town before doing 2 technical loops in town with one hill each lap (probably the biggest and only hill in the whole Ducth countryside). Transitioning in the heart of town before heading out for a 4 lap run though the cobbled & crowd lined streets. Holten puts on a show & it was a really great race. Rain on race day never phases me, it's not the nicest sure but rewards those with the skills on the bike, a big thunderstorm mid race meant we had wet roads & slippery corners to deal with which saw even the leaders (excellent riders) come down. A lesson for all I think.

I finished just off the podium leaders in a tight finish with a battle for 6th, 7th & 8th. I am really pleased with how my run is progressing this season & was proud of my Race execution to take 7th.

(Not saying it was perfect, far from it & like every races, key lessons were learnt & reiterated)

From here I got the train back to Amsterdam with a free day to explore that pretty spectacular city! For anyone who has had the privilege to roam the streets on bike or foot I'm sure you can agree, it's an experience everyone should tick off! Avoiding any coffee but taking a stop in to try a few cheeses- yum! The afternoon was spent with a Map in hand, a pen to circle all the key sights and a hired bike for the day. I was set & loved my day exploring, getting lost & stumbling upon some pretty awesome sights, streets, canals, museums, churches, cafes & views along the way!

Next stop- Eastern Europe & onto Hungary, I had a little less than a week until the next race in Tiszaujvaros, the longest standing World Cup with the first ever event held there in 1996 (it's 20th anniversary this year). Because Hungarian is a quite a hard language to speak (& I'm a sucker for foreign dialects) we refer to it as "Tizzy". And every triathlete not living under a rock has heard about the great stories that have come out of the famous Tizzy (and its Hungarian Camelot night club, but you certainly didn't hear that from me). I was lucky to have Mick there coaching a Junior & youth European Development camp, working with some great hard working kids. I was lucky enough to work with these guys & Mick as a mentor over my time in Tizzy, running though my pre race sets,  (being pushed by some speedy junior boys) my routine leading into a World Cup and a Chat with the guys about my story, challenges & lessons with a good Q & A. I'll always grab a chance to give back to something I love & was very appreciative of this opportunity, so thanks to Mick & the European Triathlon Union.

Tizzy lived up to its reputation, I got my town tour seeing the main spots- Hotel Phoenix, the "lake" (pond), the Tizzy Triathlon clubhouse, excellent outdoor 50m pool, town square (which hosts a loud & lively party every night of the race week!! I soon found Mumma Rosa's restaurant too ( There vegetarian calzone pizza is a must) & the park at the end of the street with an awesome 900m loop (just 100m off being perfect, come on Tizzy).

Tizzy was a unique format in that we raced back to back in a semi final & final format. Saturday hosted the semi final, where the top 14 girls would progress through to the final on Sunday. I was in semi final 1, starting at 3.30 pm and the first elite race of the day. The courses also differ between the semi & final, I LOVE the concept! Brought me back to my old surf life saving days for the iron man event, with heats, semis & finals and a different course each round.

Saturday was a big day, with my 3rd World Cup that afternoon I also had the brilliant arrival of my beautiful family! The 6 of us reunited after close to 7 weeks apart! Bear Hugs all round, I was so happy and now, now I was ready to race, absolutely pumped to execute this semi & earn my spot in the final!

The thing about the Tizzy lake is that like the town itself it's quite small, so for 750m we had a 3 lap, close looped swim with the first buoy only 102m away. For anyone that's had experience in a mass start, that first buoy can be congested when it's 300m away. So it was on from the go. I hit the swim & executed well on process to make it clear around the course & exit the water in front with a small group of 7 girls close together. We worked HARD & we worked well together on the 2 lap ride, essentially shutting the race down from there for an easier run to make it home with a spot in the final. I felt good & went out comfortable, sitting with former world champion Paula Findlay from Canada, the last lap, starting to think about the final I really brought it back & finished in 2nd.

Very proud of my race execution & thrilled to progress into Sunday's Final ranked 3rd!

 (A big goal of mine ticked off- starting in a World Cup series event ranked as a single digit. Today was a good day!!)

Jumping straight onto all aspects of recovery because i wasn't done there, I had a final to execute on tomorrow!! But I was able to stop and enjoy a great "post race" dinner with my family & coach. Content, and as my Supa Mum would hashtag #soakingupthe6ofus

Sunday- finals Day!

Pre race routine, shaking out the fatigue of yesterday! I was ready to roll for the real race! Having had a taste yesterday for the swim course & some of my competitors. While mum & dad enjoyed a Hungarian beer in the sun I lined up, chatting over some final processes to execute on with Mick.

Funny how things play out as the key points we discussed played out in the race!

Getting third pick on the start line, feeling nervously sick to the sound of the final heart beat start music it was off & racing! Thinking I had established clear water with the girls up front beside me, I was swamped when we hit the first can at about 101 m and quite literally went under & then to a stand still, not panicking I used my surf experience to regain composure & build my way back up to the leaders over the next 2 laps so that by the 3rd Lap I was back sitting in 2nd on the leaders feet, as coach Mick would say, tick.

Getting on the bike with a front pack of 7 girls, this time riding a 8 lap (2.5km) criterium style course, spectator friendly, tight, technical & loud as the crowds of up to 5000 boom in the spectator stands that line the street! We had a 22sec gap on the BIG group of chasers, we worked hard but weren't making any ground on the motivated chasers & they gradually closed the gap to get off the bike a mere 12 seconds behind us.

The run was on! Race winner Renee Tomlin was in a league of her own on the run, going off the front from the start with the rest of our pack settling in pushing the pace. The top chasers started to come through pretty quick and here was the real challenge to hang on & push harder, something I struggled with in my last 2  (and first 2) Wolrd Cup races.

The battles were there for me, and I am very proud of my run I executed on the day here, my best to date. The last lap was one I'll remember as I surged & went from "satisfied" sitting in 8th to finishing "thrilled" in 5th at my 3rd ever World Cup. A big lesson was learnt right there.

Safe to say I was over the moon! Very proud of myself, for my coach & the hard work we have put in over the last block & that today it was rewarded with a performance. Because as many athletes know, sometimes our efforts on race day don't reflect the hard work we have been putting in at training. Today was a day I will remember forever.

 I was surrounded by my family, with tears of joy from my beautiful mum, a giant proud bear hug off my dad, the screams of my sister Meg & chief hair braider, & the proud smiles & hugs off my bothers who got to see their first World Cup! I had done them proud!

Finishing my time in tizzy with the famous on stage dance off for the Top 20 athletes who get presented with medals & a MASSIVE town applause as you hop on stage in the centre square & for me it was quite literally a "hop" as I skipped/ danced & embarrassed myself like kangaroo across the stage all in good Fun. Soaking up some sister time with a night off & good dance to top of an awesome week in Tizzy.

That 4.30 am Monday morning transfer back to Budapest stung & to my joy dad had booked a 8 hour Bike tour of Budapest starting at 10am. Our very own Tour de France in the 30 + degree heat. Jokes aside, I LOVED Budapest. A fantastic city, so rich in History & breathtaking sights such as St Stephens Cathedral, The Buda Castle, Fisherman Bastillion, St Matthias Cathedral, Heroes Square, Hungarian Parliament & the thermal baths! We hired bikes for 2 days & toured museums, dipped in the thermal pools, ate where the locals ate & explored this marvellous city as a family, soaking up a few days off for me with the fam bam.

Next stop was Helsinki Finland, heading North. The family time continued as I was lucky enough to explore these new destinations. What better way than swimming, running & biking your way through a new city too!! Just ask my dad when he realised we had to bring my bike on our flights & transfers. Sorry not sorry. Haha. Back to training (having researched the local pools, loops & parks) but able to make the most of my time abroad- highlights were a Cycle tour through the city of Helsinki, a  day Trip to UNESCO world heritage island of Strasbourg just out of Helsinki and our cruise trip across the Baltic to Tallinn Estonia.

#soakingupthe6ofus - was trending this week!

Flying "home" to Spain where my own disrupted travel plan changes (always a joy at London Heathrow airport) meant I rebooked flights & spent 2 days in San Sebastián before I got on the bus back to Vitoria Gastiez & my family headed home back to Sydney. Joined by my extended family from London who we were lucky enough to share a house with right on the Waters edge in San Sebastián, a few steps and you were on Playa de la Concha & in the water! Seafood dinners, hilly (but rewarded with amazing views) runs & rides, island swims with my dad, pontoon slide fun with the boys & showing the family how well the Spanish do Pintxos or tapas... & gelato!

I arrived back to Vitoria Gasteiz after a few days longer abroad than expected but I was refreshed & ready to get back into the group training environment! Pushed by one another every session!! Unfortunately my body had other plans as I came down with the gastro super bug that had passed though our living complex. No one needs to be to told how awful gastro is, I nursed myself for 4 days & tried to sleep it off & keep some fluids down.

My timing was off as this all correlated with my last German Bundesliga race in Tubingen for the grand final & I was pretty devastated to not be able to perform for my TV Lemgo team Komet here, having to give my first DNF. But literally my body had nothing & the race was deep with some big names, usually a massive excitement for me to race with these girls but not today, I wanted bed. Our team had an awesome season though overall to finish 2nd on the rankings & I was lucky enough to hold onto 3rd in the individual ranks. I certainly hope to be back next year racing for team Komet in the Bundesliga, an awesome style of hard, fun racing, making friends along the way!

Listening to the body & cautious to give myself the rest I need to fully kick this bug in the butt & get my fuel & fluid back up to 100% meant I had a few frustrating days training as I was left behind to take it easy but patience works as I am finishing the week back to full work, feeling great & back to my usual self! Hopppa!!!

Lastly ( I promise), I was rewarded with an email this week to confirm my automatic nomination (from winning the Australian championships in Devonport) with selection by Triathlon Australia into the U/23 Triathlon World Championship Grand Final in Cozumel Mexico this September. I'm thrilled to officially be on my First Elite team for Triathlon Australia & can't thank Triathlon Australia, the NTA program, my coach, family, friends or brilliant sponsors enough for your continued support, help & guidance as I chase the dream!!

July, by the length of this update you were pretty jam packed with Awesomeness (is that even a word)

Bring on August, as I finish my block here in Vitoria Gasteiz with my final race in Europe, representing Australia & The University of Sydney at the World University Games Triathlon event in Nyon Switzerland, proving an impressive start list!!

Then it's time to pack, board my flights home & start my last training block over in the heat in Florida leading into the Elite U/23 World Championships in Cozumel Mexico! Along side Mick & my training group here who I will join over in the States for our lead in.

I guess there's nothing more to say than...


As always, thanks for reading legends! I hope you enjoy the look inside my head!


Em. X

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