The Nigel Farrow shot says it all. 8th in World after a season of consistent performances, then I topped it off with my best performance to date.
After (my last blog) I left Sedona, I raced in Yokohama. I love Japan, rice triangles, Procari sweat and getting to meet up with the Asics Japan guys who always give me snazzy shoes with my name on. I was 4th there in 2011 so I have fond memories of the course and its crazy 70 corners. I finished 12th and a decent few points.
A had a much needed 3 weeks at home to spend some time with the hubby, but also trying to keep up my training. It can seem weird to people to say that I was ‘hiding’ but really you cant be going out all the time or meeting all the people you would like to for cups of tea- otherwise you’d not get much rest between sessions.
Onto Madrid, with a silver last year, I knew from experience the course would favor strong riders over the hilly Campo Lopez course. I swam and biked with the front pack, and tried to put into practice my transitions I’ve been working on with Darren. Whatever happened I ended up at the back and was dead last out of T2, something that cost me a few finish positions. I did have the fastest last half lap run split, but if your not in the race at the start of the race….
European camp started straight after Madrid when the D-squad arrived in Morzine, France. A beautiful sleepy village haven for skiing and downhill mountain biking. Every day our first session would start at 7.30am, taking advantage of the 1000-1300m altitude, in the French alps. An idyllic location for hilly biking, trail running and open water swimming. House-sharing with Mitch was fun as I found someone more OCD than me. We were settled in by Amelia & Joe at Tri4 the Alps, merci boucoup!
I sneaked home a weekend to race at the ‘City of Culture’ Triathlon in Derry. Cold, wet and blowing a gale it wasn’t the weather I was now accustomed to. My 4minute transition (jacket and coat) raised a few ‘what-is-she-doing’ eyebrows. Nevertheless the organizers did a superb job, the town looked amazing, and I had a fab time. I also took the opportunity to pick up my swanky new PlanetX Mondo to race the rest of the season on.
I was in two minds as to race in Kitzhbuel. A gargantuan 13% average climb with sections of 28%, finished with an uphill run, at altitude! Darren wanted me to sit it out, and so I planned not to race. It appeared from training I was much better at the big climbs than we both thought I was, so I entered late. I swam at the front and biked steady. The girl in front dropped the wheel, and I tried to make up the difference. I blew up and was just happy to make it to the top. Honestly the toughest race of my career. Team mate Jodie Stimpson won, and I finished 17th below what I had hoped, but statistically speaking those who done well here were either >45kgs or specialist bikers. Figures.
In Hamburg 2010 I came away with Triathon Irelands first medal at a world event. Though I also had a bum race here in 2012 having raced rank no1. This year I had my first ‘bad swim’ getting swamped before the first bouy. Luckily the new training with Darren has prepared me well for this, and I can now swim without panic in those conditions, use my head to get to where I need to be and swim faster to make up the difference. I did and I got out in a decent position and into the front pack. The bike was full pace with D-squad Anne Haug at the front. I ran a reasonable run but was outsprinted for a top 10.
With training going well, but little in the way of a confidence boost in the year I asked Darren if I could race at Tizzy World Cup. With a double round sprint event sat/sun I thought it would also be a double chance to practice my transitions and some of the technical changes we had made to my run. The sat race was all about making it into the top 14 and into the ‘final’ but the swim and bike were really hard! My group pushed a 3minute advantage on the chasers, and so I jogged the run (but technically beautiful) to save energy. The plan worked, and in the final I took my first bling of the year with a silver medal.
In the lead into Stockholm D-squad upped sticks and upped the Avoiraz mountain to live at 1800m. I think the high altitude suits me, and we gained from loads of strength work. I stayed in a tiny ‘caravan’ (apartment) with Katie Hewison, and she nicknamed me her ‘gypsy wife’ as I cleaned our wee caravan all day!
Stockholm, what a beautiful city. I knew it would be a tough bike course over the cobbles so I tried to stay near the front. With the changes Darren and I had made to my running stride I was keen to put them into practice here. It showed and I managed to reel in a few at the end for a strong 8th.
Returning for the last block of 3 weeks in Morzine I was keen to put my head down and do the best I could for the end of my season. Changing something like your run stride can be tough at the best of times, but at 31, and half way through your season is testing. Both physically and mentally. But I put my trust in Darren and benefitted from his use of video work.
I went into London ranked world no 11. I was excepting a fast swim. I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so cold. On the bike I realised the top players (Jodie, Gwen and Non) were in my pack, but Anne was missing. She suffered a violent swim. On the second lap Gwen came down at bird cage corner. Darren had prepared us well, having cycled/ walked/ and pushed my bike sideways on the road I knew it was VERY slippy and went wide to avoid her and a similar fate to August 2012.
I was so cold in T2 I couldn’t feel my hands to get my helmet off, nor could I feel my feet when I started running. I actually looked at my feet after 400m to make sure they were my shoes as they felt 2 sizes too big. My only thoughts were that if I’m this cold, everyone else must be too. I felt surprisingly fresh and bouncy despite the feet issue. Every time I passed transition I could only think of my husband and family in the stands and what they must be thinking of me running in the top 5. On the last lap I tried to make a gap on Jodie so that I would have a cushion for the sprint. In doing so I caught Moffy?! I sprinted and crossed the line in 2nd. Holy moly, where did that come from? I ran into Non’s arms and we were delighted for each other as former French team mates and under-dogs! Moffy 3rd and Jodie 4th. Non won the series, with Jodie in second and Anne third. My 2nd place boosted my ranking points enough to put me in 8th and fulfill the second of my end of season goals- the other to have a consistent year!
At the medal ceremony I loved watching the Irish flag flying, but I dream some day I’ll hear the Irish anthem instead.
This year has been challenging for me. A new coach, a new group, new training methods and 9months away from home and from my husband of only 11months! But I love my job, it’s only a sacrifice if you don’t. I may not have long in this game, and if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it whole-heartedly. My husband feels the same and I’m lucky to have found someone who appreciates the demands of our crazy sport and the desire to be the best I can be.