Saturday, 24 February 2018

February Blog Update- Oceania & Aussie Elite Champ & one happy athlete!

Hey A Team!

Wow this month’s been full on, packed with exciting domestic season racing, new race locations, consistent hard work in the training athlete office & of course a bit of adventure squished inbetween!

Kicking off this months racing and my 2018 triathlon season with the Oceania Cup in Glenelg, the pristine seaside town of Adelaide, in South Australia! I couldn't think of a prettier place to start my years racing, with perfect blue skies & warm weather, crystal clear blue water with our accommodation right on the beach front making for some epic sunsets, plus coastal runs & rides!!

We competed on the Saturday afternoon for the Elite women Oceania Cup over the sprint distance and then backed up Sunday morning for the Oceania Championships Mixed Team Relay Event, which is run over the fast super sprint format of 300m swim, 6km ride and 1.6km run.

Saturdays racing was very hot, not just the competition but the weather too! With us Elite women the last race of the day at 2.45pm, incentive to run quick for the ice bath waiting at the end! I loved getting back in the ocean racing from a beach run start into the 750m swim, just like old times in Surf Life Saving, having actually raced down here in Glenelg at the 2012 World Surf Life Saving Championshusp! Taking on the choppy conditions to try and out swim the BIG fish that South Australia is so well known for... ekkk!

Exiting the water ahead & with a gap on the field I took my oppourtunity and (literally) ran with it (well rode haha) Head down, butt up as I took on the 6 lap course with a few tricky & tight sections! With the wind up there was no protection out there solo & it took its toll over the 18km as I hit it hard to try & race away, but just didn't have it this time around to hold off the large & strong chasing pack behind which caught with only 2km to go!! This pack held some quick quality competition, so we dismounted & headed out into one hot & flat footrace!!!

A pack of 6 soon emerged and we entered a solid run battle, including the likes of Andrea Hewitt, Charlotte Mcshane, Gillian Backhouse, Nicole van der Kay & myself! I stuck for the first 2.5km but dropped off for the bell lap & didn't have the legs to stick it out for an exciting sprint finish which saw NZ legend Andrea take the win over fellow Aussie Char mate McShane on the line!

Straight to the ice bath, recovery work & a nice afternoon ocean swim to get the body ready for tomorrow's super sprint Oceania Mixed Team Relay championship title event! Plus a little pizza to help refuel...

Sunday was an early start, kicking off at 7.30am for the new & very exciting triathlon team event, seeing the Aussies take on the Kiwi's! I was proud to be kicking off our number 1 Aussie team to start the relay from the gun, as each member competes in the mini triathlon before tagging the next, always running girl-boy- girl- boy to the finish! 

Playing to my strengths from the previous day I hit it hard swim- bike from the get go and was again able to get a gap on the remaining field, this time having learnt from Saturdays racing on course I was smarter & able to play the game to stay away on the bike and gain time for our Aussie team, running ahead but knowing full well that every second counted for my team, tagging Brandon Copeland in second with a 45 second lead, I was really happy with my performance for the team in my first real go at the Mixed Team Relay format, plenty more of this to come that’s for sure!

The relay sure didn't disappoint with a strong NZ team coming back over the remaining 3 legs with Brandon, Charlotte Mcshane & Ryan Bailey giving it to them but in the end it wasn't enough to hold off the Kiwi's from taking the gold! Watch out, next time it's ours guys! Jokes aside, its always great racing against our friendly rivals from over the ditch!

Straight home, family dinner & back to 5am swim squad Monday morning! No rest for the wicked, active recovery and resetting the body quickly so I can get tapping away again with some real quality training & racing later in the week! With my favourite FriYay night cycle Crit racing at Hart at the Manly Warringah cycling club, taking on the boys in B grade! Followed by the very special and memorable Richie Walker Aquathon on Saturday down in Cronulla!

This event is one I'll always support when I can, an annual race in memory of Richie Walker, a son & talented Triathlete lost far too soon & a very active reminder to get your heart health checked, no mater how fit, healthy or young you pass yourself off to be!! The event is such great awareness & support for Australia's heart foundation!!

 I was pleased to have a strong hit out here after a busy weeks training to take the Aussie Aquathon Open win over the 1km bayside ocean swim & 5km true hilly cross country run! A perfect opportunity to practice what I've been working so hard on at training under pressure in racing!! Thankyou to Richie's parents for having me back and a chance to give back! Congratulations to training partner Nathan Breen for taking out the Men’s field.

Straight back into another hard weeks "work" in the athlete office while balancing all my favourite things and people into my week, which believe me - can be quite the art!! People often ask how I fit so much into a day, but I feel like if you enjoy something enough you find the time to make it work & fit with you for the week or the day! That said, a 4:30am start each day does help to give me more time than most, my 21 grams local & favourite coffee is a great creature comfort along with the old lunch time “nanna” nap and a very full diary calendar to keep track and organised with my time! I do love my double ride days where I get to ride my bike & my four legged child, Cherokee my quarter horse!

My third weekend of February saw me heading very far south to our island friend of Tasmania to contest and hopefully back up my win last year for the Oceania Elite Sprint Championship title! This was my fifth trip down to Devonport, one of my calendar favourites!! Devonport has always been kind to me, it's familiar & I love the town hot spots, the tough course & race it proves each year! 

Devonport didn’t disappoint this year either, with a stronger field than has previously heading south it was great to have some quality racing over the 750m chilly Tasman Sea ocean swim, a tough 20km ride with 4 laps up North street hill (some of you that have been reading my blog the last few years would remember this one from the 3 years previous, this year the race was a sprint -20km ride, not Olympic- 40km ride, so we only battled half the amount, it almost seemed easy haha) and onto the 5km flat & fast run along the ocean swept streets!

Team NSW & HPT have stayed the past 5 times at the same homely B&B – Dannebrog & it really makes a big difference returning to a place that’s familiar, you get to really know the town, where to swim, ride & run, where the best cafés are, where to book dinner & find coffee, along with getting to know all the local characters, it’s a part of the travel involved with racing that I love!!

Arriving mid afternoon on Thursday meant I had time to settle in pre-race, get my prep work done and relax, mum & I even snuck in for a movie afternoon off the feet! Racing early Saturday morning for a refreshing change, with us Elite women kicking it off at 7.30am sharp, with the sun barely peeking through, it was cold & chilly both in the water (17.5 degrees) and out! Lining up for another beach start, running into the water, unfortunately no surf making its way into Devonport Bluff (on the very odd chance) but still, I’ll happily take an ocean swim any day!

Making our way around the course, I could feel a tapping on the feet at about halfway & wasn’t surprised to see it was fellow NSW training & racing buddy Nat VC on my feet as we exited the water with a small gap on the chasing field behind! We got straight onto the bike, hustling to make work of this small lead we had, both of us on the same page which was great! It was heads down bums up for the first 5km to hammer it and extend the lead out to around 35 seconds, being a course that doubles back on itself we could see our lead extending, reward for our effort and efficient pulling of turns together, by 10km we had about 50 seconds and the lead extended out to 1:20 by the end of the 20km ride! Although a tough course with the hill & strong winds regardless it was great to have Nat their to share the work, after riding the 40km cycle leg solo the previous 2 years in a breakaway off the front.

Running into transition with the support on course & cheers form my number 1 supporter Supa Jeffcoat who had been cheering absolutely everyone on from the start, as she ALWAYS says to me before I race ,whatever the event- “have fun & race safe” - that’s all she’s after! 😊

Heading out onto the run leg with a solid gap over the field it was looking to be down to a footrace between us 2 having taken the race away from the other strong & quick ladies in the field! I was really pleased with how my legs felt heading out and was comfortable to settle into a rhythm and just slightly get the edge over Nat in lap 1 but equally knowing Nat would be hot on my heels till the end so I had to push it all the way to the finish!! With a definite smile creeping onto my face with about 1km to go as I realised I was going to get to take the tape, earn myself a second Oceania Elite Championship Title & have the chance to celebrate the win with Mum & Mick my coach with them waiting across the finish line! 

Certainly a pretty special moment for any athlete & one I loved being able to soak up and enjoy as I ran towards the finish with a few high fives and plenty of course cheers on route!

With Nat following closely  behind and Charlotte McShane rounding out the podium it was one of those awesome days, smiling away on the podium & “cheers”-ing to the girls with a nice bottle of Tasmania’s Sparkling wine (which Mum helped me enjoy a glass of later) It was straight to athlete business as usual with press/ media work before anti-doping control testing, taken away into a downstairs locker room waiting to pass a sample, the real athlete life right their with the celebration party of 1 going off… not!!

Mum & I pre planned to stay the night of the race in Tassie still so we could finally make our way down to Cradle Mountain! One of the state & Australia’s well known natural beauties & a bucket list sight I’ve been wanting to get down to see the last few trips! Enjoying an afternoon road trip & exploration adventure up at Cradle Mountain, choosing the half day hike around Dove lake at the highest car accessible point of Cradle mountain. Although the weather wasn’t playing too nice it was pretty spectacular, a lot of fun, well worth the trip & a great recovery walk! (no worries coach haha)

Sounding like a broken record, it was straight home Sunday, back & settled in to kick back into another busy weeks training & activities bright & early Monday morning! By Thursday it was bike cleaning & suitcase packing  time for the last race of the month on the Gold Coast, heading up for the memorable Luke Harrop Triathlon event, which hosted this years Australian Elite National Sprint Championship Event. 

The pressing cyclone far north meant the sunshine state was not dishing up its usual beautiful weather, and instead I was welcomed to rain and storms, and with this heavy rain flooding in the Australian Elite Sprint Championships was turned into a Duathlon- 2.5km run, 20km cycle & 5km run, because the water quality measured at over 200x the passable level of cleanliness considered okay to swim in, gross!

That's racing, as athletes we need to be adaptable to whatever the conditions, everyone is in the same boat & although I certainly would have preferred a swim you've just got to take it as it is & get on with the racing!!

Kicking off bright and early at 6.15am for the Elite women Aussie Tri Champs, the weather was playing nice & my reverse psychology of buying an umbrella worked wonders to stop the rain haha.

I was wanting to take the first 2.5km run out strong and put the field under pressure to try and string out the upcoming bike pack, and if you haven't noticed yet it's my only style of racing that I know, old school Aussie- hard from the gun. The field broke up as hoped & a front pack of 6 emerged on the run, & with a smooth first transition I got a little gap on the field and went for it solo off the front on the bike!

Onto the 20km ride the race was as per usual from here & I settled down onto the aero bars, pushing to stay away from the chase pack behind. At the first 5km turn I got a look back at the gap & was comfortable here & continued to work! By 10km the pack of 7 chasers weren't too far away so I made the move to ease up and join the bunch, rolling strong turns we all worked well as a front bunch to keep the pace there!

Heading off onto the second run with a hard 5km ahead! Having U/23 Katinka right with me heading out to the first 1.25km turn, she was doing a great job at keeping me honest, as were the chasing girls on our heels! I decided to test the waters and put down a surge before the turn and got the gap I was after to pull away in the lead. The girls behind certainly kept me running hard, pushing all the way to the finish with some strong runners there!

I was thrilled to take the tape for a second weekend in a row & take the Australian Elite Sprint title after winning the Oceania Elite title the weekend prior! A special double & a real positive sign for where I'm at & moving forward! Bring it ALL on!! (Preferably triathlon over duathlons in future though please & thanks!)

Certainly HAPPY DAYS, and soaking it up now because there’s plenty more hard racing to come!!

It was terrific to have my coach Mick & his family clan thereon the Gold Coast to watch with their homemade "go Emma" signs in Green & Gold which was awesome!

The true athlete life, straight to media & anti-doping control, packing Bikes, checking out of the hotel, running back to presentation & cheering on all the age groupers before hustling to the airport to make my flight home!!

A HUGE Thanks to my brilliant team of sponsors & support crew around me allowing me to go out & do what I love, chase the dream & rip in every day!! 
You beauty, you guys rock!

Guess what, March is just as busy team so stay tuned!!

Thanks for the read!


Saturday, 3 February 2018

January Blog Update ~ Kicking off Fresh

 January Blog Update ~ Kicking off Fresh

Hi Legends & Welcome 2018!

 1 month gone already, can you believe it! How are those new year’s resolutions going, or was it more a case of new year, same me? Whichever the case, I hope the summer holiday vibes are still lingering & leaving you energised & pumped to kick start 2018!

I was very lucky to be able to spend 10 days over Christmas & into the New Year at our family’s “second” home at Seal Rocks, on the NSW Mid north coast, staying at our Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage at Sugarloaf lighthouse overlooking the incredible lighthouse beach. It’s a place I cherish & certainly seaside views you can’t not be in awe of, with a sunrise over the water & lighthouse beam guarding overnight! The place is very special to me, with my whole family together which is rare these days! (something I wish I knew as a kid growing up, you take it for granted having everyone living under the one roof as the “normal”) 

It’s turning into a (very important 😉) annual ritual for me & the family to take a breath, get away from the hustle & bustle and recharge the batteries for the busy new year ahead! It’s certainly no break though, its training as normal up there, with 3-4 sessions a day, making the most of the backyard ocean pool for open water swims, the great Myall Lakes National Park with its extensive run trails & mountain bike fire trails, a backyard gym set up & some quieter roads for the longer km rides! I love the change of scenery for training, it’s very refreshing & compliments the work this time of year!

Avantiplus Narrabeen & myself organised a great Scott Mountain bike- the Spark, for my dad for Christmas, so I could take on the trails with Dad, and possibly a few surf checks & Single Fin Coffee Food truck stops for their famous coffee & Nutella croissant up at Seal Rocks, too good to resist! 

Heading home to Sydney the second week of January to get back into routine & continue building up my early season base. Returning down to my Southside training base group again, kicking back into some track work, moto pacing, (Um, ouch the legs forgot how much that stings after a break!) Friday Night Sutherland Cycle Club Crit Racing & long bunch rides. A great group environment & welcoming me back into the HPT High Performance Tri weekly training environment!

I love this time of year with a pretty perfect Summer balance, just before the early season domestic season racing & travel kicks off, I get my time at home to see friends who are still on leave from work, enjoy the Sydney Summer with daylight savings evening perks squeezing in the most of the day, yes that means afternoon Trail horse rides & swims at the beach to end the day!

Mum, Dad & I headed away to Melbourne for 2 nights to watch the Australian Open of Tennis, getting Mum & Dad tickets down for Christmas, a tiny token of thanks for the huge amount they do for me but it was brilliant quality time together. I'm very close with my parents so it was awesome to be able to sit in awe at the Australian Open of tennis watching the Quarter finals, enjoy some fine dining at Melbourne (ChinChin was a winner) and coffee hunting! Roaming the famed Melbourne lane ways and enjoying a swim, run & gym session down here! 

My only race for January was the famed Wollongong Australia Day Aquathon which is turning into a reoccurring season starter, my 6th in a row this year & my first time sneaking onto that prestigious podium, lining up with a world class Wollongong Wizard international squad of athletes, with big names like Gwen Jorgensen winning multiple times in the past, and Ash Gentle taking line honours in 2017. 

The race consists of a 900m harbour 2 lap swim, before transitioning onto a 7km mixed surface run. This year the run headed up the hill out of Wollongong harbour, onto the grass & pathway towards Puckey’s Park, before looping back onto the trails and turning for home around the big grass oval again & back up over the hill towards the harbourside finish shoot! 

I got a clean break away in the wetsuit legal swim and was able to exit the water with a slight edge on the field, with a quick transition I was off onto the run, chasing down the men ahead who started 20 mins prior to us women, & waiting to hear the breathing of another female down my back. Like I said, having raced 5 times prior, I had my fair share of experience in being run down by some World Class runners, so was pleased when I passed half way in the lead! Its very early season, so running at “pace” doesn’t feel too great, nor too fast, but working hard I tried to jump on the speedy tail of Ash Gentle as she passed through the trails. The 2017 ITU World Champion runner up, Ash, ran away to take the Australia Day line honours very deservingly & I was happy to stick hard & take runner up & my first podium. A pleasing sign for the very early season & a great way to start my 2018 racing calendar! 

Lets hope in a month or 2 so the trisuit won’t feel so tight & running won’t feel so tough, or at least ill be getting places a little quicker for the same effort haha. 
The Australian domestic & Oceania season kicks off early this year, starting the following weekend, the first weekend of February in Glenelg- South Australia. 

Here I’ll be racing my first Triathlon for the year in the Oceania Sprint Champs on the Saturday afternoon in the South Australian Heat, and then backing up on Sunday morning to compete in the first Oceania Elite Mixed Team Relay event. As some may know, very exciting news for the sport of Triathlon moving forward, with the addition of this event to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo & sooner still at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, another Triathlon Gold medal up for grabs! 

I absolutely love this style of racing, short, sharp, critical & furious, no room for error & rewarding those who get the little things right and done Quick! I’m very excited to line up in a team Sunday morning & complete in my first Oceania Mixed Relay Team event, hopefully us Aussies can get the edge over our friendly Kiwi rivals!

 Stay tuned for next months Update, I’ll be sure to fill you in on all the action plus keep you up to date with the next 7 weeks straight of racing after that (yep you read that correctly, 7 weeks straight of travel & racing! #ATHLETELIFE)

Thanks for the read,
Get out in the mornings & evenings while we have the most daylight hours, for a walk, cycle, swim or run! It’s the best way to start or end the day on a good note & I promise you won’t regret it!

Em. X