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 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 incase 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.

It took me four years to conquer WTS Auckland. I am very happy.

I am so honored to wear Red, White, and Blue.

I am so honored to wear Red, White, and Blue.

Me exiting the swim at WTS Auckland

Me exiting the swim at WTS Auckland

The bike portion of WTS Auckland

The bike portion of WTS Auckland

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.

February 2015 Update

I am currently in Wollongong, Australia, training with Coach Jamie Turner and our training group, the Wollongong Wizards. The Wollongong Wizards grew this year, and it’s great to have more people to push me daily. Canadian Amelie Kretz, a few Hungarians, and special guest Anne Haug have been challenging me up hills, on the roads, and through the water. At least once a week, we train in the Pacific Ocean. Last week, a friend of the Wizards, Trevor Kemper, filmed one of our open water sessions. You can watch a video of it here: http://youtu.be/MIsIP0hq4_U In my mind, with every stroke we take we move forward, but Trevor’s video proves otherwise as I watch us helplessly get sucked backwards.

One of my favorite rides we have been doing is a weekly 100km bike ride, which includes many Queen of the Mountains (QOMs), some hard pace lines, and a little recovery. The ride is enjoyable, but leaves my legs feeling heavy for days. We have also started to do some bike workouts on fixed gear bikes at the Velodrome. I love it! It gives training a new dynamic. (A fixed gear bike has one gear and no brakes. You cannot coast. In order to stop, you must use your leg/butt muscles to slow the bike). Our run training has been ramping up as well with a new run workout this year: track workouts. I’ve been coached by Jamie for over three years, and this is the first year we have tested ourselves on the Beaton Park track. It’s enjoyable to be back on the track running in a controlled environment that is the same every week.

I did a local Aquathon at the end of January, and a local non draft triathlon in Kurnell, Australia a week ago. It’s fun to start racing again, but it’s also a harsh reminder as to how painful it is and how much I still have to improve.

With my volume of training high there isn’t too much to report. I don’t do much besides train, sleep, eat, read, and watch TV. To check out some things I’ve been eating, you can follow my #FoodFriday tweets. I just finished reading Alberto Salazar’s book, 14 Minutes, and am currently hooked on Australia’s TV show My Kitchen Rules.

On an unrelated note, last September, I traveled to New Zealand to be a part of ASICS global campaign. It was a great experience, and one I will never forget. The directors were very patient with my lack of acting skills, and I was able to briefly experience the life of an actor/actress. The days were long, but enjoyable. We had hair and makeup followed by numerous takes. When the director was happy, we’d move to a new location and start another shot. We were immersed by scenic, iconic views, but we also had to start filming before sunrise and end after sunset to get the shots. It was incredible to see how hard these individuals worked to transform a perfect image they had on paper to a real life commercial. I’m thrilled with the result! It’s a great campaign that hopefully gets you excited and motivated to Go Run It. See if you can spot me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_B5X22YY0Q The commercial began airing on most major TV stations on February 23rd.

Up next, I will travel to Abu Dhabi to test myself against the best in the world at the first WTS race of 2015.

This is us on our 100km Saturday morning ride

This is us on our 100km Saturday morning ride

Madeline Heiner running loops on the track with me. She's a local Australian runner who can drop me no problem on the track!

Madeline Heiner running loops on the track with me. She's a local Australian runner who can drop me no problem on the track!

The lady Wizards after an early morning race in Kurnell (From L to R: Sarah Ann Brault, Barbara Riveros, Grace Musgrove, Anne Haug, me, Charlotte McShane)

The lady Wizards after an early morning race in Kurnell (From L to R: Sarah Ann Brault, Barbara Riveros, Grace Musgrove, Anne Haug, me, Charlotte McShane)

Finishing a tempo run with the lady Wizards (Photo by Pat Lemieux)

Finishing a tempo run with the lady Wizards (Photo by Pat Lemieux)

The top of Mount Keira, overlooking Wollongong

The top of Mount Keira, overlooking Wollongong

Ellen Pennock and me riding our Langster track bikes

Ellen Pennock and me riding our Langster track bikes

Jamie explaining the days training

Jamie explaining the days training