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.
The Wizards going for a run with Blair Cox from Mitchell Cycles
The Wizards in New Plymouth watching a kids triathlon
The Wizards in New Plymouth
This is from the Wollongong CC. Photo thanks to Craig Holbrook
Wollongong CC. Photo thanks to Craig Holbrook
Wollongong CC. Photo thanks to Craig Holbrook
Patrick and me at dinner in Bondi.
Ocean swims in Wollongong were plentiful
This is from a nondraft race in Kurnell.
Running in Wollongong with the other lady Wizards.
We were at the velodrome twice a week in Wollongong.
Enjoying the black sand and the beauty of New Plymouth.
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.
I got a new Amira! Pretty :)