Gold Coast WTS 2016

The streak. I can’t remember the last interview I did when I wasn’t asked about the streak. To be honest, I never knew what to say because the truth is I didn’t think about it. I always just looked forward to the next race and tried to execute on the day, which is what I did in Gold Coast.

Gold Coast was my first WTS of 2016. I don’t have a great track record of coming out strong in my first WTS of the year (I missed the front pack swim in Abu Dhabi in 2015; I was 12th in Auckland in 2014; I had a DNF in Auckland in 2013; I was 4th in Sydney in 2012 – this was an outstanding race at the time for me and also the first time I did a training stint with Jamie Turner – ; and I had a DNF in Madrid in 2011). I came into Gold Coast with confidence. I believed I had the ability to win, but I also knew that my competitors did too.

The Gold Coast race started and I was happy with my swim. The swim was extremely rough and I got pulled back and under water many times, but I was able to stay in contention with the front pack. We started the bike and I was under pressure. I fought hard, but when Flora Duffy, Helen Jenkins, and Andrea Hewitt attacked, I wasn’t able to match them. The bike course changed from 2015, making a huge difference. There were numerous power spikes on the bike course and it was technical with few straights to recover on. The three strongest riders were able to stay away on the tough bike course and come into transition with over a 90 second lead. My engine was there, but my tank felt like it was filled with diesel instead of high octane.

I started the run in fourth gear. It felt like I was giving it my all. I was tired, but I kept pushing forward. As the race went on, I didn’t appear to be closing the gap. I focused on increasing my cadence as I tried to push forward. On the final lap, I accelerated and I was able to bridge up to 2nd and 3rd place (Flora and Andrea). As the three of us came into transition, Andrea surged. I desperately tried to stay with Andrea and as we went down the blue carpet. I pushed as hard as I could and came across in 2nd behind Helen Jenkins. Helen was phenomenal. She was well prepared and executed her race. Congrats, Helen. (Fun fact: My only other silver at a WTS was my first ever podium at a WTS in London in 2011. Helen beat me that day as well.)

The streak was fun while it lasted, but it is now over. I appreciate the concerns and notes asking if I am okay. To be honest, I am doing great mentally and physically. Obviously every race I start I want to win. But so do my competitors. I gave it my all in Gold Coast and came across in 2nd place. In 2013, when I was third at Cape Town, I debated quitting the sport. I have no thoughts of quitting this time around. Maybe I have matured, maybe I love the sport too much, maybe I’m just excited to keep trying to improve, or maybe I realized the outcome isn't always the end. I can tell you one thing for sure: I’m motivated and excited to continue trying to improve.

I am now back in Wollongong for three weeks of training before heading to the Yokohama WTS. Thank you for all the support.

Photo thanks to Korupt Vision. This was the bike preview. 

Photo thanks to Korupt Vision. This was the bike preview. 

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This was at the swim preview. Photo thanks to Tommy Zaferes.

Photo thanks to Delly Carr. 

Photo thanks to Delly Carr. 

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Photo thanks to Tommy Zaferes.

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Sprinting down the blue carpet with Andrea Hewitt right behind. Photo thanks to Stef at Wtisup.com

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Podium shot thanks to Delly Carr. 

February 2016 Update

I spent six weeks in Wollongong, Australia, from January 24th through March 7th. Wollongong has become my home away from home. My first year in Wollongong was in 2013 and at that time it didn’t feel like home. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know where anything was. Wifi was hard to get and had limitations that made staying in touch and getting around challenging. Slowly, Wollongong has become a place of comfort. It’s now a place I consider a second home. I know my way around without maps, know where to get the best food, and know where my friends hang out. Best of all, I discovered an international MiFi hotspot called Skyroam (@MySkyroam) which has allowed me to stay connected with family and friends back home. It’s a gadget I don’t leave home without. I traveled to New Plymouth, New Zealand on March 7th for a training camp with the Wollongong Wizards and did not forget Skyroam. I will use it during our New Zealand training camp as well as in Vitoria (Basque Region of Spain), the UK and wherever else my travel may bring me. Skyroam works nearly everywhere in the world and is an essential tool for those who travel often and don’t have access to local internet options.

My time in Wollongong went by quickly. I trained, ate, slept, read a book, and had a few dinners with friends. I also took a mini holiday (one day) and went to the famous Bondi Beach in Sydney. I stayed with a very nice couple who I met through Team Visa. When Patrick and I arrived at Bondi Beach, we were treated to a local tuna dip and had a personal tour guide for the next 24 hours. It was the first time I really enjoyed Sydney. The beach was beautiful, the food scene was perfect, and the parks were plentiful.

Training in Wollongong was more strength based than usual. My fellow Wizards who were racing in Abu Dhabi did some speed work, while me and others stuck to base training. For a few days, I really wanted to just go for a PR, but I restrained because I know the only goal for the year is the Rio Olympics. I have to remember, I am building a strong base for a top performance on August 20th.

Right before leaving Wollongong, I did a Continental Cup (CC) race. There are three levels of racing in ITU: CC, World Cup, and World Triathlon Series (WTS). WTS has the highest quality of field (the toughest competition) while CCs are entry level races. The last time I raced a Conti Cup was in Devonport in 2013 where I came second to Jodie Stimpson (who recently won the first WTS of 2016 in Abu Dhabi). I was really looking forward to the Wollongong CC because it was the first time I was able to run as fast as I wanted (as opposed to the training which had been capped at my 10-mile PR pace). I was happy to come away with the win at the Wollongong CC. I was able to get in a race and hopefully get most of my mistakes out before sharpening up and joining the world’s best on the WTS circuit in Gold Coast on April 9th. 

Patrick and I packed our bags, cleaned our guest house, and flew to New Plymouth after the Wollongong CC. I was a bit apprehensive at first because I don’t like change, but New Plymouth is beautiful and the people are very welcoming. Flying here is not the easiest, but it’s beauty made me forget about the ten hour travel day it took to get there. The people of New Plymouth also make it worthwhile. Blair Cox, the owner of a Mitchell Cycles, a local bike shop, has taken the time to show us the local running trails and bike routes. Another local, Ross Dingle, opened up his house to the Wizards and me for a wonderful Sunday BBQ.

Currently, I am renting a house with Patrick, Aaron Royle, and Ryan Bailie. We are 150m from two beautiful running trails. One trail feels likes I am in the middle of a forest, while the other is along a river with flowing waters and big beautiful stones. The riding has been great as well; I doubt I will even come close to riding all the roads in the area. The swimming is pristine as well. We have a beach with black sand to swim in the open water and have a pool less than a kilometer from our place. In New Plymouth, the training will increase and speed will start to be tested. It’s a tough time of the year as my body adapts, but I’m looking forward to testing and pushing myself. We will stay in New Plymouth until April 6th, when I fly to Gold Coast for my first WTS of the season. After Gold Coast it is back to Wollongong.

 

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The Wizards going for a run with Blair Cox from Mitchell Cycles

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The Wizards in New Plymouth watching a kids triathlon

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The Wizards in New Plymouth

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This is from the Wollongong CC. Photo thanks to Craig Holbrook 

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Wollongong CC.  Photo thanks to Craig Holbrook 

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Wollongong CC.  Photo thanks to Craig Holbrook 

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Patrick and me at dinner in Bondi. 

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Ocean swims in Wollongong were plentiful 

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This is from a nondraft race in Kurnell. 

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Running in Wollongong with the other lady Wizards. 

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We were at the velodrome twice a week in Wollongong. 

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Enjoying the black sand and the beauty of New Plymouth. 

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Patrick and I out to dinner on Valentine's Day in Wollongong :) It was a wonderful night where we had the entire restaurant to ourselves. Way too much delicious food and wine, but it was worth it. 

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I got a new Amira! Pretty :) 

15 moments in 2015

As 2016 starts, I want to reflect on my fifteen memorable moments in 2015.

 

Number 1: Hill Strength Workout

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March 22, 2015: On most Sundays when I was training in Wollongong, I would be the only athlete on the list to have an afternoon bike strength workout. Sometimes Ellen Pennock would join, but usually it would just be Patrick and me out on Mt. Keira doing four minute strength efforts (cadence less than 70). It is a workout I struggled with. I would wake up Sunday morning, go for a long run, head to church, and then procrastinate on completing the bike workout. After a hard week of training (and a 100km ride on most Saturdays) the last thing I wanted to do was do bike efforts, but every week, I did them...until March 22, 2015. Going into the ride I thought the same thing: I’m tired. I did my first effort and had the highest watts I’d ever seen at that cadence. The watts were on par with my peak four-minute effort. I came home and told Jamie that this ‘stonecutter’ workout has finally worked and I managed to chip the stone. After that, I never did the Sunday strength workout.

 

Number 2: Birthday Dinner in Wollongong

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April 25, 2015: Patrick surprised me with a dinner on my birthday. He found a restaurant months in advance and talked to the chef. We walked in the restaurant and were welcomed with champagne. The deliciousness continued and it was a fabulous night with the one who supports me the most.

 

Number 3: Velodrome

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April 28, 2015: About two times a week the Wizards went to the velodrome to ride our track bikes. I loved it. It kept my mind entertained. On most days, Tamsyn Moana-Veale would be the strongest Wizard, dropping me around the 280m track. We would do a teams pursuit and a points race. Training on the velodrome was fun, it was different, and it was challenging. On a track bike I don’t have brakes so I need to be focused. I also only have one gear, so it takes power to get on top of the pedals. I remember sprinting to catch onto the motorbike and thinking Ohhhh…this is what it means to get on top of the pedals. For years, I’ve been told to get on top of the pedals, but until this day I had no idea how to do it. (Even after I learned how to get on top of the pedals, Tammy would still be able to outlast me on the track).

Number 4: Gold Coast WTS Swim

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April 12, 2015: I have been working on my swim with Jamie since I joined him in late 2012, and Gold Coast is one of the first swims that showcased how much Jamie helped me improve.

 

Number 5: The Longest ride

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June 22, 2015: Mondays are usually easy days: a light swim and bike. However, I woke up on June 22 and saw we had a four hour ride. Four hours of anything is not easy, but I was looking forward to the longer ride. I remember discussing at swim what route we were going to take and what time we wanted to leave. We decided on 2:30pm, which should have had us back at the very latest (with stops) at 7pm. We left at 2:30pm with a new four-hour loop planned. However, four hours later, we were lost, riding up dirt roads and searching for anything to point us back to Vitoria. It was a very long ride and in the moment, I wanted to go back in time and do the out and back down and up Urbassa, (a route I know perfectly) but looking back I cherish this moment. It was so bad, we all just laughed. No one seemed upset as our ride time increased and increased until we hit five hours. We dispersed quickly once home. Some needed to apologize for missing a physio appointment, others needed to apologize to roommates/significant others who were waiting, and others needed to take a warm shower and recover. It’s a ride I will not forget.

 

Number 6: Qualifying for Rio

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August 2, 2015: I qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games, which was a goal of mine since London 2012!

 

Number 7: Rio Party

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August 2, 2015: Red Bull hosted a party for me in Rio after qualifying for the Olympic Games. It was a long night full of drinks, good food, and amazing company. My parents, sister, sponsors, and friends were all in one location enjoying caipirinhas and each other’s company. (Picture is at the party of me, Jamie, and Aaron Ryole. Aaron is also a wizard who qualified at the Rio test event)

 

Number 8: Vacation in Pau

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August 4, 2015: In May, Patrick and I had a three day break where I got to pick a vacation spot. I picked San Sebastian. I remember Patrick wanted to go elsewhere so I made him a promise: “If I qualify for the 2016 Olympics, you can pick anywhere to vacation and we will go there post Rio.” Well, I qualified and the next day we flew back to Vitoria and went straight to EuropCar to rent a car for our vacation to Pau. We had done zero planning and were lucky to get the last car in Europcar’s parking lot. As we drove to Pau, we had no idea where we would stay or what we would do. Patrick did all the planning and it turned out to be an amazing few days (even if we had to ride more than I anticipated as Patrick wanted to do the famous Pyrenean Tour de France climbs). I was so thankful we went and wanted Patrick to just have a good time for all that he invests in me. (Picture is of me at dinner with Patrick in Pau)

 

Number 9: Chef Alan

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August 11, 2015: Alan Murchison is a Michelin starred chef and a triathlete. It’s a long story as to how we got connected, but he came to Vitoria to help Patrick in the kitchen. It was a fabulous week where I ate flavorful, healthy meals. Every day we had a different meal. Alan taught Patrick how to pick out fresh fish at the market, the importance of quality pans, and the importance of different spices and herbs in creating flavorful dishes. Yum!

 

Number 10: World Champion

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September 18, 2015: I became a two time world champion. (Yes, it’s still crazy to write/say/see that.)

 

Number 11: Sister Time

 

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September 19, 2015: After winning the Chicago Grand Final, I was overwhelmed with the amount of sponsor and media engagements. Thankfully, my sister was there. I miss my sister, I never get to see her and she’s such an important part of my life. I will never forget the night of the 19th. I had a microphone on from 7am until 4pm and knew the microphone was going back on me at 7pm. I had to be ‘on’ the whole time which can be a bit overwhelming. Thankfully I had my sister, Elizabeth. Elizabeth walked over to my hotel to just talk. She ended up straightening my hair and I remember thinking I have the best sister in the entire world. I don’t see her for nine months and when I see her it’s like no time has passed at all.

 

Number 12: Cable, WI Trip

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October 4, 2015: Patrick and I drove to Cable, WI, for an anniversary vacation at the place where we got married. I put an out of office reply on my email for the first time since becoming a full time triathlete and realized I too deserve a break from emails, interviews, notes from fans, etc. I spent a week swimming in the lake and riding mountain bike trails. Patrick, Dennis (the man we stayed with), and I woke up without an alarm, made pancakes, talked and enjoyed each other’s company. And we always went for a bike ride mid-day. The days went by quickly and it was relaxing. (Picture is from October 4, 2015 of Patrick and me in Cable, WI with Denis the man who married us, at the place we got married)

 

Number 13: Bahamas Race

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November 6, 2015: I was excited to go to the Bahamas for The Island House race, and it did not disappoint! I spent a few days on Highbourne Cay to race the unique, three-day stage race. I met new athletes, played in water so clear I could see 10 feet deep, and took a boat to an Iguana Island and a sand bar.

 

Number 14: Gabriela Hearst 

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November 10, 2015: I spent a week in New York for media engagements, and to be honest, it’s not my favorite part of triathlon, but there are some perks. I met Gabriela Hearst, a fashion designer in New York. She invited Patrick and me to her house two days in a row and it was the highlight of my time in New York. We went over on November 9th for a fitting. I tried on her clothes and she had a seamstress there, but nothing needed to be altered. I felt like a princess being dressed up and couldn’t believe how amazing the clothes looked! The next day, we went over for lunch where a chef came to Gabriela’s house to cook Patrick, Gabriela, people from the media and me lunch. It was so much fun!

 

Number 15: Patrick's New Bike

 

December 1, 2015: I got a call from Specialized (Gavin Noble). He asked, “Hey, is Pat around? Is it safe to text you on this number or will Pat see?” I was confused and had no idea why we needed to keep a secret from Patrick, until Gavin said, “We want to do something special for the World Champions. We want to give a bike to someone who helped them become World Champion.” I was in shock! Patrick had been asking for a new dual suspension mountain bike for two years and I kept saying “wait until next year. If you get one now, you will only use it a few times before we have to fly to Australia.” Patrick wasn’t expecting the bike, and when we walked in our apartment and he saw the bike hanging up, he had no idea whose it was. When he finally realized it was for him, he was in shock. The last time he had received a fully built bike was when he was in high school. His genuine smile and disbelief was incredible.    2015 was a great year, but it’s time to look onward to 2016. I am currently in Falls Creek, Australia getting back into training with the Wollongong Wizards. Fitness takes time to create so I'm trying to be patient.  **Pictures are not all my own so please do not copy/share photos

December 1, 2015: I got a call from Specialized (Gavin Noble). He asked, “Hey, is Pat around? Is it safe to text you on this number or will Pat see?” I was confused and had no idea why we needed to keep a secret from Patrick, until Gavin said, “We want to do something special for the World Champions. We want to give a bike to someone who helped them become World Champion.” I was in shock! Patrick had been asking for a new dual suspension mountain bike for two years and I kept saying “wait until next year. If you get one now, you will only use it a few times before we have to fly to Australia.” Patrick wasn’t expecting the bike, and when we walked in our apartment and he saw the bike hanging up, he had no idea whose it was. When he finally realized it was for him, he was in shock. The last time he had received a fully built bike was when he was in high school. His genuine smile and disbelief was incredible. 

 

2015 was a great year, but it’s time to look onward to 2016. I am currently in Falls Creek, Australia getting back into training with the Wollongong Wizards. Fitness takes time to create so I'm trying to be patient. 

**Pictures are not all my own so please do not copy/share photos