I feel almost like a local popping down to race the Devonport triathlon these days – I’ve now raced down there 6 times, my first being at the National All Schools triathlon in 2008, then in the Oceania Championships in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and now 2017. I was absolutely stoked to win the race back in 2014, however the title has alluded me since then.
Consistency, both in training and in racing, is something we strive for as Athletes, however as simple as it might seem, it takes years to master.
After almost 4 years of training at the elite level, I am starting to get the hang of training consistently. Of turning up to training switched on and ready to get the job done both on days I feel great, and on days it’s an effort just to get out of bed. I’m not going to fool myself and pretend I don’t have lapses from time to time, but I’m a lot better than I used to be.
Racing consistently, it would seem, is something that I still need to work on.
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Coming back from Abu Dhabi I found it a little difficult to get back into the swing of things. I’ve always struggled to get back into training after a good race. You might think that a good result would make me more motivated, that I’d be on a high and ready to hit the ground running but I often find the opposite is true. Often the better the result of the race, the deeper I’ve dug both mentally and physically to get that result. Coupled with the resulting fatigue, I also find returning to the relative mediocrity of day to day life and training shakes me back to reality and off cloud nine.
Being the first race of the season and the first race time I believe I have raced to my ability since Edmonton in 2016, plus the accompanied nerves and pressure I felt going into the race (not to mention the jetlag!) I felt floored upon my return to training after Abu Dhabi. It took me a good week (and a kick up the backside from Mossy) to get back into the swing of training. Before I knew it I was back at the airport and headed South over Bass Straight.
With the WTS Gold Coast race a mere 3 weeks away, I was not afforded a taper for the race, and after a solid week of training, I was feeling a little flat again by the end of the week. I had been looking forward to a low-pressure, just for fun and a hit-out race in Devonport so was looking forward to racing nonetheless.
After almost dead flat conditions the day before, Devonport put on the washing machine for us on race day. Emma Jeffcoat used her surf skills to put a sizable gap on the rest of the field in the swim. I had a reasonable first lap, following Emma out through a rip to the first buoy and was only about 15 seconds behind but struggled out through the waves on the second lap, exiting the water in 2nd, 50 seconds back, with the rest of the field further behind.
The chase was on from the start in the bike – Emma by herself, followed by me, followed by the rest of the field. Slowly but surely I could see I was gaining time each lap. It was hard to judge how much as I only had a visual at the U-turn near transition, and at the top of the infamous North Street hill, with no-one taking splits, but I judged to have about halved the gap in the first 3 laps.
Then the next lap I noticed the gap stayed the same. Instead of refocusing and cranking up the speed, I started questioning myself. It was windy, the hill was hard, there was a 10km run to go. Would I cook myself if I continued to push harder? Maybe Emma would blow herself by the end of the ride, or if not, on the run. I started to feel tired and the drive was hard to maintain without being able to see who I was chasing. Lap 5 the gap extended, then a little more, and a bit more still. By the end of the bike I was 1:30 back. I was disappointed and frustrated but headed out onto the run remembering that I was there, yes to try and win of course, but by focusing on the processes, as well as to get a good hit out in preparation for the bigger WTS races coming up as the season gets further under way.
I headed out onto the run at a controlled pace as per the plan, and pushed it home in the final 5km. In retrospect I was probably a little too conservative in the first 5km, second guessing myself after losing time on the bike, but I managed to claw back 45 seconds on Emma to finish in second.
Emma raced with gusto, and deservedly won on the day, but I can’t help feeling disappointed with my efforts.
It’s all too tempting to play the blame game. To complain I was tired, that the surf conditions didn’t play into my hands, to come up with any number of excuses. But that would be to miss the most valuable part of a disappointing race – the learning experience.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had to back up from a good race. Yes, 2 weeks is hardly a difficult turn around physically, but it’s all a mental game. This weekend was a good reminder of how important it is to refocus after a race, to not take any opportunity for granted, or overlook the need to focus on the processes not matter how low key the race.
In Devonport, I was there to win, but did not bring a winners mindset.
One thing’s for sure though, I will next time!