Monday, 29 August 2016

August Update ~ on the move chasing the sun!!

Hey hey! 

August has been a crazily busy month on the  move. Around the world in 4 days & setting a new PB of 3 continents in just 96 hours!! 

 But let's start back towards the beginning with the World University Games Triathlon Championships held in Nyon Switzerland on the first Sunday of this month. I was very proud of my selection into the Triathlon Australia & Uniroo's squad to have the opportunity to put on the green & gold again & represent Australia and The University of Sydney too. 

I have been involved in the University of Sydney Sport & Fitness Elite Athlete Program since I left school and started my Bachelor of Nursing Degree in 2013. They have backed & supported me 100% & enabled me to continue studying through my triathlon commitments, despite some unique study patterns... With my degree almost completed it was an honour to go out & do USYD proud. 

Nyon, where the race was held, is about 15km out of Geneva, with 360 degree views of the Swiss & French Alps surrounding Lake Geneva where the town sits. It certainly made for a spectacular few days!! 

The event was extremely well organised & ran by FISU (International University Sports Federation) with over 26 different countries competing from across the globe & some deep fields in both the men & women's events. 

The Opening ceremony parade was something special, walking in with the Australian Flag & my teammates. Set on the Nyon town hill where Ancient Roman pillars stand, with a beautiful back drop over the lake & some cultural performances it was a great evening.

Ironically it was on the same day & about the same time as the Rio Olympians would be walking into the Opening ceremony to begin the games! Pretty cool, a little taste of what I'm chasing!!

The World University Games Championship Triathlon course was a true tough course! My kind of racing. It was a 3 lap 1500m lake swim with a long 400m steep uphill transition before 40km on the bike with one sharp climb each lap & some technical sections, and a 10km run to finish things off! 

Race day came & us Elite women had a 9.15am start. I went into the event ranked number 2 which was pretty awesome! The water of Lake Geneva was super choppy as the wind had come up & was blowing onshore. It was so bad that the Men who started later in the day were forced to wear a wetsuit due to the "dangerous conditions." 
Needless to say, us chicks are tough & kicked things off in the tough conditions, even swimming a long 1800m instead of 1500m due to the buoy moving off course in the wind. For me it was just like being back in the surf on a rough day, you beauty.

The chop ensured the field spread out pretty quick & hopping out of the water there was a clear gap between the top 7 of us & the rest of the field. The legs were stinging from the get go with a long stead hill climb run out of the water & to our bikes, & the pace was on to get away with a small group of us on the bike. This worked to plan with 4 of us getting away together off the front on the bike for the first 10km before we were joined by 3 more athletes to make up the front pack of 7 for the next 20km. We worked okay as a group with some athletes purposely choosing not to take their turn on the front for their own benefit later on in the run. Annoying for those of us working extra hard to try & stay away but hey, that's all part of the tactics & strategy of ITU draft legal racing & I do love it!! 

For me I wanted to put in a hard 40km bike leg to get off with tired legs & run, all great practice for the big dance later next month in Cozumel at the world champs over the same distance. So I was working hard on the front and powering up the climbs leading each lap which was pleasing. Unfortunately though with 5km to go on the last lap the motivated chasers behind caught us & we got off the bike with a pack of 20 women. 

It's easy to be frustrated with this as we could have stayed away had we of worked better together but as a glass half full person this meant in my head that I now had the opportunity for plenty of competition on the run! Many went out hard & faded but some went out hard & stuck & that's were they stayed till the finish line, a crucial point for me which may have cost me a few positions as I was a touch slow working my way into the run over the first km & never fully closed that gap to the leaders in front. Needless to say, the little battles were there & I was pleased to back end my last 3km, finishing strong & crossing the line in 7th position in what was a close finish for the title & minor placings of World University Games Triathlon Champion! Congratulations to all who raced & cheer's to the friendships made with like minded athletes & academics over the 5 days in Nyon.

Walking away proud of my race execution and outcome & confident with my processes that got me there. Looking forward to the next 5 weeks ahead to build on these into Cozumel!

With 2 days before my flight home to Vitoria-Gasteiz Basque Country (Spain) it meant I had time to explore, my favourite activity out of triathlon & in my second favourite country- SWITZERLAND!! The chance to see new sights & wonders of this world! 

So I set off the day after the race for a "recovery ride" into the Swiss alps, climbing up 2000m before crossing the border into France, pretty cool stuff! Descending back with insane views of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, and panoramic views over Lake Geneva. 

The following day I packed my bike up & headed to Geneva for the day, returning to some legend spots which we had exploded in 2014 as a family & finding new ones for myself. 

An evening flight back to Bilbao & drive back home to Vitoria Gasteiz for what would kick off many nostalgic "lasts." The last swim, ride, run, coffee & pinchos stop, cruise through the town center & night sleep in what had come to be my home! Finishing off the weeks training & packing my .... Overweight.... Bags ready to fly to my real home in Sydney (via Madrid & Dubai) with one Beautiful mum, family, friends, horse & dogs waiting to greet me! 

I'm very lucky to have had such a terrific European season debut & loved every minute of my experience racing, training, learning & growing as an Athlete & as a person with so many great opportunities, support staff, coaches & athletes! Along with meeting new friends & training partners & diving into the culture here! Vitoria-Gasteiz, my second home, i'll be back next year! The endless summers have just began!!!

* Time zone 1 - Central European time* .......

At the same time I was boarding my first of many flights over the next few days (44 hours of flight time total as a matter of fact ... And I'm still not crazy) the Wollongong Wizard training group athletes who were headed to Rio were boarding there's!! Racing on the 18th & 20th of August on Copacabana Beach in Rio. What an amazing experience to have been able to train & live with these guys in their lead up to the biggest ITU triathlon event in every 4 years! 

Arriving home early in the morning it was time to squeeze in as much as I could in my 4 days at home before I was back in the Sydney International Airport departures! I am so lucky to have the most amazing family & friends around me to support me on this dream chasing mission, Thankyou for the love & understanding & quick catch ups that I got!  I won't carry on except to say the first thing I did (after a hug & cry with my Supa mum & darling sister who flew home to say hello) was hop on my horse Cherokee for a bareback ride like no time had passed, a cup or two of the world best coffee Sydney has to offer, along with a dip in the Pacific Ocean & a home cooked roast dinner! 

* Time zone 2 - AEST * .........

96 hours at home over 5 months is nothing, and it flew by.

 Back on the plane & this time headed for the United States of America! My first time to the US! Another long haul flight, dodgey airplane food & delayed flights before landing into the perfect paradise that is Destin, Florida. 

* time zone 3 - Central American Time Zone *...........

Here to see my good friend J.P, a local legend who I was lucky enough to meet on her travels to Australia after befriending my best mate Madi in the US on the Beach lifeguarding. All water babies it was impossible that the 3 of us wouldn't hit it off as great mates, & after hearing all of Madi's awesome stories about Destin, well I had to stop by for a few days & see it for myself! 

That didn't mean no training as I was welcomed into the heat & humidity that I was after for my prep into Cozumel, having one of the tougher runs I've done after a crazy few days travel & in the heat of the day... Rookie error! With many sweaty rides, runs & swims over the next few days I was able to explore the coast heading towards both Panama City & Pensacola on my rides, and remembering to stick to the right hand side of roads and footpaths! 

Destin was like a dream, an absolute awesome town on the Gulf of Mexico, with some of the best stretches of beach I've ever seen! A brilliant day on Crab Island with the amazing Magee family, jet skiing & playing on inflatables (I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard for a solid hour of fun)

 Soaking up the Crystal blue water, white sand & the sunshine of Destin, Seaview & Panama City with Jourdan & the Magee's.

 Take a look at this pics above, words can't describe how amazing these beaches are! Taken up like part of the family here by the amazing group of people here!! I will be back! 

Time to pack the bike again after a fun few days training & catching up as I was heading east (yep on another 2 flights... My passport is almost full haha ) 

* Time zone 4- Eastern American Time Zone*...........

Happy to be able to settle in, this time to a totally new country, town & "home" in Orlando Florida for a tough 3 weeks ahead!! Training camp time, and lucky to have my Coach Mick here to facilitate! With the great National Training Center facilities right on our door step & plenty of clay trails for running & endless lake country to ride & explore... on and plenty of lakes if you fancy taking on the GATORS!! Along with the perfect conditions here to acclimatise to the pretty extreme heat & humidity that we will get on race day! With a daily temp sitting above 35 degrees & humidity around the 60-80%. Not to mention ocean temps of 28 degrees I hear in Cozumel, woah!

So ... Head down, bum up & pumped to knuckle down for the last few weeks of work before my first Elite Aussie team World champs and the big race- the ITU Grand Final World Championships. Set in the island paradise of Cozumel Mexico! 
Not bad hey? 

And yep that means a few more flights. This time from Orlando to Miami & onto Cancun, before a ferry over to the island.
Stay tuned!

 The athlete life hey!! Trust me, we work our butts off!

Thanks as always for the endless support on this journey!

Em X 

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