WTS Gold Coast

Racing in the Gold Coast felt like racing in my hometown. It was only a one hour flight from our Wollongong, Australia home. The city of Gold Coast reminded me of a city in the USA like Miami, FL, or Myrtle Beach, SC.

The Gold Coast WTS was a beach start swim in the Nerang River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. Depending on the time of day, the tide (and the current) changes. The day before the race, we did our swim preview and the current and wind were so strong that when I stopped in the middle of the race course, I would unknowingly float (be dragged) meters in a matter of seconds. I knew this tide could play a major role in the race, however, on race morning the current wasn’t as strong.

I was honored to wear #2 for the Gold Coast WTS. The #1 slot was left open to honor the great Jackie Fairweather. The #1 bike rack in transition had Jackie’s name, number, and a rose. Jackie passed away in November of 2014. She was a World Champion in triathlon and duathlon, and active in the sport of triathlon after her sporting career ended. Although I never met Jackie, I have a huge respect for what she did for our sport. She was a mentor for my coach, Jamie Turner, and she apparently loved chocolate, which makes her an instant winner. On race morning, I racked my bike in transition across from Jackie’s name and got ready for the race.

When the gun sounded, I sprinted and dove into the water. I made it to the first buoy in good position, allowing me to get around the buoys cleanly. I exited the water on the first lap and dove back in for the second lap when I got a blow to the face. My goggles filled up with water and my nose felt like it was bleeding, but there was no time to worry about sharks being attracted to my blood. I just focused on moving up in the pack.

I ran out of the water towards transition in fourth.  The bike course was extremely fun, with lots of turns and corners we could take at speed. Our bike pack was working relatively well together, trying to stay away from the chase packs, but not without casualty. Early into the race, two girls crashed around one of the corners. I saw the whole thing happen. And I thought, Okay, where can you get around? What’s the fastest open line? I slowed and avoided the crash, but had to work to catch back up with the front pack. Our pack continued to work together and we managed to stay away from the chasers.

I ran into transition and racked my bike, which subsequently tipped over. I put on my Noosa Fasts and ran out of transition with a few girls in front of me. As I was finishing my first run lap (of four) I glanced at the penalty board like I do every lap and saw it was empty. On the second lap, however, that had changed as I saw “2” (my number) on the board. This was my first (and hopefully last) penalty. I stopped, wondering what I did wrong. You can get a penalty for mounting your bike before the mount line, or not getting your helmet in your box, OR for not properly racking your bike…

I served my 15 second penalty and ran off with extra motivation. As I ran down the finishing chute towards the blue tape, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe what a great race I had (besides the penalty). I had a great swim, a great bike, and a great run. It’s the way I train to race. And, as if it couldn’t get any better…I turned around to see Sarah True back on the podium in 2nd and Katie Zaferes coming in 3rd for a USA podium sweep! It was pretty special to hear the Star Spangled Banner while standing next to two USA girls. Incredible!

Thank you to all my sponsors for their support, Jamie and Patrick for their daily investments, USA Triathlon, and my family, friends, and fans. Without your help this journey would not be possible. I will miss the next WTS race in Cape Town. I will get in a good block of training before heading to Yokohama for the 5th WTS of 2015 on May 16th.

So happy! Photo thanks to witsup.com

So happy! Photo thanks to witsup.com

1-2-3 USA Podium Sweep. Photo thanks to Witsup.com

1-2-3 USA Podium Sweep. Photo thanks to Witsup.com

Photo thanks to witsup.com

Photo thanks to witsup.com

Photo thanks to witsup.com

Photo thanks to witsup.com

This is after the swim preview the day before the race. Photo thanks to witsup.com

This is after the swim preview the day before the race. Photo thanks to witsup.com

Practicing some race starts with Wizards Charlotte McShane and Sarah Ann Brault the day before the race. Photo thanks to witsup.com

Practicing some race starts with Wizards Charlotte McShane and Sarah Ann Brault the day before the race. Photo thanks to witsup.com

At the swim preview the day before the race. Photo thanks to witsup.com

At the swim preview the day before the race. Photo thanks to witsup.com

This is the meal Patrick cooked for me in the hotel the night before the race. Yum!

This is the meal Patrick cooked for me in the hotel the night before the race. Yum!

Photo thanks to Delly Carr

Photo thanks to Delly Carr

Jackie Fairweather's transition rack. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

Jackie Fairweather's transition rack. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

Me serving my penalty.

Me serving my penalty.

All smiles post race

All smiles post race

Auckland WTS 2015

The Auckland WTS is known to be a tough course because of the hilly and technical bike course. The weather can also make the race hard as it can be windy, wet, and cold. Thankfully, our race was mostly dry and warm.

I started the race with an average swim. I was about 40 seconds down from the lead group of nine coming out of the water, but I was surrounded by strong cyclists. Lisa Norden helped to bridge our chase group up to the lead group on the third lap, forming a group of over twenty athletes. However, as the race continued, the demanding course took a toll on our group and it dwindled from about twenty athletes down to twelve.

I was happy to come into T2 with the leaders. However, the hilly bike course took a lot of energy and I was running on very tired legs (as was everyone else, as you can’t hide on the Auckland course. Everyone has to go up 3 hills per lap, 8 times).

I was ecstatic to cross the finish line in first. Auckland was a challenge—a big challenge—for me. It was a targeted race and a race I’ve fallen short in the past three years with second place in 2012, DNF in 2013, and twelfth in 2014. I couldn’t have been happier to come across the finish line first, but then I saw USA Teammate Katie Zaferes running in for second. It was another great day for team USA!

That night, the World Cup Final cricket match (New Zealand vs Australia) was on TV. I went out with my coach Jamie, his mother Tubby, Patrick, and our friends AJ and Esti. I enjoyed learning more about cricket and celebrating with them.

Although I was only in New Zealand for four nights, I experienced a lot. Before the race, I took a sea plane ride with Patrick and Emma Snowsill. We took off from Auckland CBD and flew over islands, some of which I’ve visited via boat in the past. In 2012, Patrick and I went to Waiheke Island, which is known for wineries. This past September, when I was in New Zealand for an ASICS shoot, I went to Rangitoto Island and hiked to the top. When we flew over Rangitoto, it was incredible seeing the trail I hiked up and the volcano crater from the sea plane. The island looked so remote from above. It was hard to believe it only took a matter of minutes to get to via plane from the hustle and bustle of the city of Auckland.

After the race, Patrick, Aaron Royle, Javier Gomez, Jonathan Brownlee, Carlos Prieto Lopez, and I did the Auckland Skywalk at the Sky Tower. The Sky Tower is an iconic landmark in Auckland. It is the tallest man-made building in the Southern Hemisphere sitting at 328 meters. The Skywalk was terrifying. We took an elevator up about 200m and went outside, where we walked on a narrow walkway around the Sky Tower. There is no railing, so it was hard to enjoy the bird’s-eye view in fear of falling over the edge. But, once I was able to get over my fear, I was able to enjoy the magnificent view. It was a once in a lifetime experience. As a professional athlete, I travel all over the world, but I don’t always get to experience the city. This trip was different and I was so thankful for the opportunities.

Thank you to my coach Jamie and husband Patrick for their help and patience. Thank you as well to my sponsors, especially ROKA and Mobile Warming for making sure I had all the gear I needed to stay warm in case the weather was bad in Auckland.

In two weeks I will be competing in the third WTS of the season in Gold Coast, Australia.

It took me four years to conquer WTS Auckland. I am very happy. Photo thanks to Delly Carr.

It took me four years to conquer WTS Auckland. I am very happy. Photo thanks to Delly Carr.

I am so honored to wear Red, White, and Blue. Photo thanks to Delly Carr.

I am so honored to wear Red, White, and Blue. Photo thanks to Delly Carr.

Me exiting the swim at WTS Auckland. Photo thanks to Delly Carr.

Me exiting the swim at WTS Auckland. Photo thanks to Delly Carr.

The bike portion of WTS Auckland. Photo thanks to Delly Carr.

The bike portion of WTS Auckland. Photo thanks to Delly Carr.

Seaplane ride from Auckland CBD pre race

Seaplane ride from Auckland CBD pre race

I was able to enjoy the Seaplane ride with triathlon legend Emma Snowsill

I was able to enjoy the Seaplane ride with triathlon legend Emma Snowsill

Post race snack/lunch with Patrick.

Post race snack/lunch with Patrick.

Dinner and drinks with AJ, Esti, Jamie, and Patrick while watching the cricket final.

Dinner and drinks with AJ, Esti, Jamie, and Patrick while watching the cricket final.

This is a view from the Seaplane of Rangitoto. You can see the trail I hiked up the prior year.

This is a view from the Seaplane of Rangitoto. You can see the trail I hiked up the prior year.

My sister and her friends viewing the Badger Game and then the ITU triathlon.

My sister and her friends viewing the Badger Game and then the ITU triathlon.

The Skywalk = terrifying

The Skywalk = terrifying

Jonathan Brownlee and me completing a Skywalk Challenge.

Jonathan Brownlee and me completing a Skywalk Challenge.

Chef Patrick cooked this for my prerace meal.

Chef Patrick cooked this for my prerace meal.