Yokohama WTS 2016

When I arrive at a race, the work is already done and it all comes down to executing mentally on race day. I arrived in Yokohama fairly early. Usually I arrive three days prior to the event, but because of the 10 hour travel day, I arrived five days prior to the race. Japan is one of my favorite places to race and visit (one reason being the food: sushi, sweet potatoes, and bubble tea). 

On race day, as I walked my bike to transition, I went through my mental checklist. ASICS racing flats? √ Specialized Amira? √ SRM? √ Helmet? √ Oakley sunglasses? √. I racked my bike and checked my tires to make sure there was no debris or dirt or glass that could cause a potential flat. After that I checked the tire pressure. As I rotated the wheels, I checked the brakes to make sure they weren’t rubbing. Once everything looked good, I checked once more that I had everything I needed (at a previous race, I once almost forgot my ASICS and as I double checked everything, I realized in panic that I forgot my shoes!).

The swim was unique as it was a non wetsuit swim in choppy water. There was a strong current coming from the left that hit the shore and then pushed the water back to the right (making it appear like the current was pushing athletes from right to left). However, once I dove in, I felt a current from my left. It was extremely choppy, making it difficult to move up and break away on the swim. This caused a massive pack to exit the water together.

Once on the bike, a pack of 42 formed. When there is a big group, it is often hard to get everyone motivated to work. Yokohoma was a selection race for many nations, which also can create a slower bike. I was hoping for a hard bike--and my bike split was minutes faster than last year--but it still didn’t feel as difficult or fast as I would have anticipated.

I got off the bike and ran my own race. I am known to negative split (get faster as the race goes on). This time, I got off the bike and my legs felt fresh, so I ran my own pace and before I knew it, I had a lead. I tried to maintain pace, but began to slow on the last lap. Crossing the finish line in first was amazing. It was my fourth time winning in Yokohama. The fans were incredible in Yokohama. I don’t think there was any part of the run course that wasn’t lined with spectators. Thank you to all the volunteers and fans who made the race safe and fun.

I am now in Vitoria (Basque Region), where I will remain until the Rio Olympics. I couldn’t ask for better training grounds or training partners. The riding is beautiful and safe. Salburua, which is a trail less than one minute from my doorstep, is my favorite place in the world to run, and there are multiple world class pools to train at.

My next race will be in Leeds, United Kingdom, which is a new stop on the WTS circuit sponsored by Columbia Threadneedle.

Thank you to everyone for your support, help, and cheers. I had so much fun racing in Yokohama, which wouldn’t have been possible without my enormous support crew. A special thank you to Jamie, Patrick, and the Wollongong Wizards. I’m looking forward to the upcoming work as we head towards August 20th. 

 Interviews pre race. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

Interviews pre race. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

 ITU press conference. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

ITU press conference. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

 Taken right before my pre race ride on Friday. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

Taken right before my pre race ride on Friday. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

 Pre race swim with the Gong Wizards. Photo thanks to Tommy Zaferes.  

Pre race swim with the Gong Wizards. Photo thanks to Tommy Zaferes.  

 Team USA! Photo thanks to Tommy Zaferes 

Team USA! Photo thanks to Tommy Zaferes 

 Bike pack mid race. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

Bike pack mid race. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

 The fans are amazing! Photo thanks to Delly Carr

The fans are amazing! Photo thanks to Delly Carr

 Thank you fans for pushing us athletes to do our best. Photo thanks to Tommy Zaferes.  

Thank you fans for pushing us athletes to do our best. Photo thanks to Tommy Zaferes.  

 Charlotte is one of my training partners who works so incredibly hard! Proud of her highest ever WTS finish!  

Charlotte is one of my training partners who works so incredibly hard! Proud of her highest ever WTS finish!  

 Patrick and me post race :) Photo thanks to Tommy Zaferes.  

Patrick and me post race :) Photo thanks to Tommy Zaferes.  

 Photo thanks to Delly Carr.  

Photo thanks to Delly Carr.  

 I've signed something for Naomi for three years now, she's so kind and generous. Thanks for being a fan! 

I've signed something for Naomi for three years now, she's so kind and generous. Thanks for being a fan! 

 Post race signing phones  

Post race signing phones  

 Pre race hotel dinner cooked by Patrick 👌 

Pre race hotel dinner cooked by Patrick 👌 

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 :)