World triathlon series grand final podium

Hi all, it’s been flat out and time has been rapidly rolling post Commonwealth Games. Here’s a snippet of the last few weeks.

Its 6am now in Edmonton and I was still awake at midnight that just shows how much a race can hype you up! I thought no better time than now to get you all filled in on what I have been up to over the last month and caught up on some of the changes Jon Brown and I made post games.

So immediately after CWG I spent another 12 days back at altitude in Font Romeu, doing some longer training and not so much high intensity, just getting things rolling again and back into the groove. I found my motivation rather low post CWG Games, which is normal post a peak race but when you have the series to follow you need to get over disappointments as quickly as possible and change focus. I figured because I didn’t race well at the Games I should realign my focus now to the World Series Final in Edmonton, Canada. I felt that I had a good base under my belt but was really struggling with the race pace work.

From Font Romeu I made the huge travel to Embrun (France) for the next French GP race. I took the rental car back to the Toulouse Airport where I met my club manager Phil Charge (again thanks Phil! He is simply the best, made my trip so much easier) and along the way included a lunch stop picnic on the side of the motorway - I was on the road for the longest I have been in a car in one hit in my life! I left Font Romeu for which was a 3 hour drive to Toulouse at 8.30am, arrived there and met Phil (who had left at 7am…) then arrived up another mountain at 1400m to little cabin in the Alps 7.30pm that night in Embrun with the rest of the TCG team! Unreal. The traffic was stop go for the last small section too, I was tempted to get my bike out and ride but hung in there, mission complete.

Embrun was a great place to have a race. Huge mountains around, lovely lake to swim in and being summer it was very busy with people - how the cleared the lake out of people for our swim I’m not too sure but they did.

The day before the race my legs where saying NO NO NO but I think that was mainly because I had sat in a car for so long the day before - if had it been a plane I would have been half way back to NZ! It’s always fun racing for my team, we have a good crew racing for us and the comradery and support from the management and ream is amazing.

The race is a tough one - I have been waiting 8 or 9 years for this race to return to the circuit as I loved the sound of it! The swim is in a mountain lake at 1400m which after transition and once on the bike goes along a very rough service road, then up the side of a mountain and back down, then the run is then on a trail by the lake once you get back to T2. It’s a sprint distance race and I exited on the back of the front pack in the swim after a bad pontoon choice with my team but comfortably made the front pack in the first climb out of transition. The ride was good and I sat on the front going up keeping a nice steady pace all the way, I looked back a couple of times and all of a sudden weren’t so many on my wheel still - I thought where did everyone go!? But kept on trucking. I wanted my team to stay with me, Emma Jackson (TCG) just falling off in the last 1/3 of the climb and Audry our little French athlete hung tough right to the top but dropped off on the descent. Then it was just Andrea Hewitt (Poissy), Barbra Riveros (Val de Gray) and me to nail it to back to transition.

It was so much fun descending the windy course back into town, we hit T2 and it was on for the run, I finished in 3rd, Andrea in 2nd and Barbra took the win over the 5km undulating trail run. Pretty cool and didn’t know at the time it would be the first of 3 podiums Andrea and I would share. But more importantly Audry came in 4th and Emma in 5th, In the GP racing they count the positions of the first 3 in your team across the line so with 3rd, 4th and 5th our team won not only today but we sky-rocketed from 4th in the overall rankings to 1st ! So a very very good weekend and I now feel comfortable in leaving the European side of the team take over and hopefully hang on to first place, in my 9 years racing for Parthenay we haven’t finished 1st and I think we deserve a team win -maybe this year?!

I was lucky enough that after the race Ryan Sissons and Tony Dodds had the honour of waiting for me to finish with the podium activities and presentations, then after a quick stop to McD’s to refuel ;-) we were on our way. Next stop Banyoles (Spain) 5.5 hour drive away which landed us with a 12.30am arrival. Ryan was amazing – he drove all the way; we did test the fuel light for a while so it was a bit touch and go as the French petrol station machines don’t take NZ cards but after a bit of “drafting” made it to the next one nevertheless.

The following week I worked closely with Jon. He became my running buddy and it clearly worked - I clocked up around 28-30hours of training that week and got some good sessions in with it too. Finally being down from altitude I felt like there was just so much oxygen available and running was just so easy, add that to running with Jon and small pointers being given all the time, tweaking the programme working together to get what was best. This was what I was waiting for all year… better late than never I suppose! I think my swimming might have lost a bit as there was not much pool access so was swimming up to 6km in the lake on some days, in fact I only pool swam twice since leaving Font Romeu which seemed like a long time to be out of it as its really hard to judge how you are going without the clock reminding you. Tim Brazier had a couple of great hard open water swims planned though which I nailed with the boys so I figured I must be doing ok.

After 9 days we left to Barcelona airport, stayed the night there, followed it up with a 6am check-in time and it was off to Stockholm (Sweden) - now they have some cold water! 16 degrees they told us at briefing, well I got in there and there was no way that was 16 - I was thinking lake Wanaka in late December, maybe around 14degrees. In the swim famil I couldn’t put my face in until the first buoy it was that painful, I contemplated just getting out after 100m but pushed on, glad I did, not sure what happened but the next day it just seemed so much warmer! Maybe 1 degree but it was all it needed.

The Stockholm race played out well. It was a wetsuit swim and flat out fast - I was only just in touch with the lead group, and found it hard to ride up as the course was super windy and girls were getting dropped from the front group all over the show - I seemed to come across them on every corner forcing me to brake where it wasn’t necessary. Anyway just before the end of the first lap I caught on and then got into helping the front group stay away. It was really good to work with Kirsten Sweetland (CAN) and Andrea on the bike to help drive the group up, makes a difference when you have a smaller group to get working.

It was a great bike course, lots of cobble stones, really rough & windy, man holes on corners, pedestrian crossings on corners, and a nice power climb of a hill in the middle of each lap. It also started to rain in the last 2 laps of the bike which probably helped us to stay away from the chasing groups as the roads got slippery and after watching earlier some of the men crashing in their race everyone was being cautious. I exited T2 in 3rd and just paced myself of Andrea and Kirsten, I was wondering when I was going to blow but I felt so comfortable the whole way it was a bit of a shock really but love that feeling, not often you get this so have to treasure it when it happens.

We stayed running as 3 as Sarah Groff (USA) was still out in front just 5 seconds ahead most of the way and it came down to a sprint finish between Andrea, Kirsten and I - the sprint went straight up the hill which is maybe 60m long and being wet the blue carpet was so slippery and having no grip on my shoes it was like I was running on a treadmill but managed to cross the line in 3rd…. my first podium since they changed from World Cup races to WTS races, and about time too! Hats off to Kirsten though, she sick coming into that race and had an awesome day despite it, and also Andrea – out second podium together in 3 weeks!

So as the world tour continues in the way us triathletes travel - been there, raced that, onto the next one, so after drug testing I had to rush to get back, start packing things up, get a massage, have an ice bath and get some dinner in - then try to sleep a bit before the next big days travel begun.

We travelled to Canada via London Heathrow were we met the other half of the team travelling directly from Banyoles, loaded up and got on our way to Edmonton. After sleeping badly in Stockholm for several nights and then really struggling with jet lag once I got to Edmonton I was a little concerned I might get sick... Well it happened! No one told me that it was in fact circulating around the team as I would have gone into shutdown mode for sure had I known! So was rather angry when I woke up on Thursday morning with a sore throat and blocked nose!

After a day of moping and just one lap of the swim course as training I woke the next morning even worse... I talked with Jon and he talked about the only way of beating it was with the power of the mind and that many medals are won when an athlete is sick. I wanted written evidence, however I gave it a shot. A light days training, a lot of salt water gargling, a lot of vitamins and minerals and trips to the organic shop, some good food and one more sleep - broken by a few celebrations in our hotel by other guests that ended at 3am when the person above me decided to continue the party until 6am when I gave up and went for a morning jog! Never mind, time to race and feeling tired but slightly healthier..

I much prefer non wetsuit swims but I have had some great swims in my new ROKA usually finding myself just on the back of the front bunch - It was no different in this race, I actually thought I was further back than I was, so was pleasantly surprised when I jumped on the bike and rode away in the front pack. After the first lap our group got joined by some more athletes’s and became rather large early on. This wasn’t a good thing as it is often harder to get a big group working but with the likes of a very verbal Lucy Hall (GBR) (thanks Lucy! Makes a difference) and Andrea, Kate and I all wanting to keep the pressure on we managed to stay away, sometimes the gap was out to 1.30, which I thought was the minimum we needed to stay away from Gwen Jorgenson but by T2 it was back down to 68seconds, so it wasn’t a matter of IF but WHEN she was going to catch us. She is a phenomenal runner! We hit the run and for me to find my legs again in this race, (a) backing it up from last week’s podium and (b)to last the full 10km, it was just awesome. A really good feeling. To feel so comfortable at that pace again for me was really something. I knew my run was there as I have run well previously & in training but it has just been hiding for a while so I am glad Jon has helped me to find it again and truly believe just those 9 days of working closely with him in Banyoles was what made the difference, I need that constant critiquing and look what happens when I get it! I ran with Andrea for the entire 10km, Sarah was ahead of us again initially but together we bridged up to her and overtook her and it wasn’t until the last lap that Gwen caught up to us by which stage we had opened up a minute to 3rd so it was just a matter of holding it together to the finish! An amazing feeling to finish the season with a world championship podium and to share it again with Andrea and have two kiwis on the podium – amazing! The support & crowd in Edmonton was amazing and it was awesome to see and hear all the age groupers and NZ supporters cheering us on!

So, I finished the season very happy and with 3 podium finishes within a month - a third in the French GP, with a team win, a Bronze medal in the World Triathlon series race in Stockholm and finished with a Bronze medal in the World Triathlon series Grand Final here in Edmonton which also jumped me up the World Series rankings to a 5th place world ranking.

Couldn’t be more pleased with the way the year ended, I know I didn’t get the result I wanted in Glasgow but I didn’t have the ideal time frame and preparation to build up to it and well really it was worth the wait to get it here that’s for sure.

On Tuesday evening I start winging my way home - YAY! So see you all soon, and thanks for yet another week of great messages, kind words, and brilliant support I truly appreciate it.

Cheers, Nicky.


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