Well still in Abu Dhabi but a bit of a usual post-race night sleepless night so I thought I would send out an update before I begin the trip home.
Since my last update at Christmas, I got in a bit more training thankfully but it wasn’t until the 4 weeks I spent up at the SnowFarm Lodge (1600m altitude) did I actually feel like an full time athlete again. I finally got a really good 3 solid weeks followed by a lighter week and then when I came down (to Wanaka) just really a smaller 10 day block before jumping on a plane to Abu Dhabi. Obviously this was great training but I feel as though I needed just one more month to really feel like I was back. In saying that the idea was always to race in Abu Dhabi on March 5 4pm local time….or March 6 at 1am NZ time to get back into some racing.
Yes - fair to say the travel did ensure I was completely upside down racing but after a brilliant first nights’ sleep followed by a very rough night then a surprisingly good one on the eve of the race I was ready to line up, not with the fitness I wanted to have going into a race, but the sole purpose to get back on the racing scene after 1.5 years away from it and see where I was at in relation to others and note down where the focus needs to go for the next block.
I went into the race ranked dead last, it was actually a funny feeling, I had never been ranked so low in my career but with zero races to my name in the last scoring period that’s where I was, and it wasn’t all bad. One benifet was I knew where my bike was – first on the right! - although how could you miss my Dedaaccai aka “Pinky” anyway?! The other benefit was I didn’t have to worry about pontoon position - that would be selected automatically for me - the last available spot (the start at the #1 ranked and each person choses their starting position) and I didn’t have to stand on that nerve racking start line for long - they just waited for me then we were away ;-).
I actually got a great start position, yes it was in the middle but somewhere along the line they must have opened another number or just miscounted because I ended up with 2 starting spots, of course I stood in one, but I got that extra bit of space which was a pleasant surprise.
After 50m I was like whoa everyone is keeping up maybe I need to fine tune my swim too, but after that the next time I looked I was a bit like - where did everyone go?!
I had a bit of an unlucky “sparing” partner beside me most of the swim, why you don’t just swim in a straight line and with a bit of space I don’t know, surely you can swim faster not smashing the person beside you! Anyway once Sarah True (USA) moved up beside me instead it became a much nicer finish to the race, pity the other ¾ wasn’t so pleasant but all in all, I sat in 3rd or 4th the entire swim and felt in control & pleased to be there. It’s always reassuring when you know you are swimming well in the pool and then when it crosses over to the race - perfect.
So out of the water onto the bike, something I haven’t done for a year and a half, but no problems there (don’t worry Mum I still remembered how ;-) ) and I lead the first part of the bike to try and spread the field out but it was like no one in the group wanted to do anything. When you are away in a group of, what maybe 10 athletes off the front, why would they not want to work?! I just don’t understand it, all it takes is just forming two lines and putting in a little effort and this group could have been away, a small group would be much safer and much faster on this course, or should I say SHOULD BE both of those.
Anyway.. we got caught by the group behind us, and then there was some terrible forms of bunch riding going on. Because I was still tracking back to full training I didn’t plan on starting a new stimulus of accelerations until a couple of weeks prior to racing, but then my set up was changed a bit, (and why I agreed to this when everything was fine I completely question myself - but what’s 5mm?!) well 5mm is a huge jump pretty much a different horse for my precious body right now and the other knee blew out-dammit! So couldn’t get this intensity of training in. Therefore I was hanging off the back. Knowing how slowly most girls in triathlon corner I would just use them to catch back up all in all trying to minimise my accelerations / spikes in power. I knew those accelerations would take their toll on the run, and well it did even on the bike, I wasn’t feeling great to say the least, yo-yoing at the back!
So the groups all came together, which on this course isn’t so safe, the roads widen then the course narrows and makes you go back into one lane, out into 2 or 3 then back to one again - each time you change lanes you have to avoid the cateyes (they are massive in Abu Dhabi!) which was rather amusing - riding from the back of the group it was kind of funny to watch and I was just waiting for a crash and then boom half a lap later just what I was thinking happened (I hope I didn’t jinx it!). It was a horrific crash, a loud sickening clash of bikes and people and not a slow one at that, with quick reactions I went around it and sped off into transition not wanting to look back at the mess!
Off onto the run, and having only done one bike – run training last week for the first time in training (slowly progressing and carefully adding new training stimuli) it was a struggle, my legs were useless for the first 1.5km’s and then I felt ok, I would even go with good, well that lasted a lap and then I could slowly feel myself blowing… All in all, I knew the second half of the run was going to be the toughest part of the day, I held back when I felt good to hopefully run consistent km splits and work my way through the field but that wasn’t happening today. It felt like I was stuck in a jog and I jogged my way to a surprising 20th position. Not brilliant I know, but when the entire field has come together on the bike and there was 60+ of us hitting the run (well minus a few in the crash actually) I’d say it’s an ok result for where I am at with my running and specific bike – run sessions, and most importantly I’m back on the board, back into racing and I tell you I can only get better from here on in J.
So, time to pack my bike now, get to airport, get home and back into it! Can’t wait, it’s actually quite exciting! And with just under 5 weeks until round 2 of the World Series on the Gold Coast (AUS) I’m looking forward to it.
I’d also like to make mention of my team at Triathlon New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand – today marked my first day back racing after a long rehabilitation from my injured leg, there was a lot of blood sweat and tears I can tell you. But their positive frame of mind, support and knowledge has helped me get back to the start line and today placed a big tick in that box. I’d like to thank all those individuals that helped me along the way over the last year (you know who you are) and look forward to ticking the next few boxes over the coming months.
My sponsors also have been amazing over the last year, it’s great to be back out there representing them on the world stage again – I can’t wait to do it again soon!