The third and final race of the Australian ITU Junior Series in ‘Windy Wellington’, NZ, began much the same as the previous races in the series; with natural disaster warnings from local authorities and pre-race jitters. I went into the race only one point behind the series leader and four points ahead of third so I knew that I was lining up to race for the chance at overall series victory as well as a shot at the Junior Oceania title.
The ‘balmy’ 17.5-degree water temperature greeted the athletes and provided the first opportunity to race in a wetsuit for the series. An over zealous calculation of timing on my part meant that I was unable to complete an adequate swim warm up and had to make do with dry-land exercises. This actually proved to be an indicator of how far my mental attitude and ability to deal with stress has developed, as instead of stressing and forgoing the chance for a good race before I had even started, I choose to adapt to my situation and prepare for the swim component as best as I could. It also enabled the opportunity to learn from my mistake and in future races I will remember to incorporate the time it takes to put a wetsuit on into my warm-up schedule, as well as realising that if there is another race just prior to ours, the window available to warm-up in the water will be greatly reduced.
The swim start continued to prove itself as more aggressive than years previously and within the first 100m I had managed fill both goggle lenses completely with water and thus had a thoroughly frustrating time trying to distinguish between the blurred shapes surrounding me. Never the less I tried the same tactics as Geelong by trying to make the “uncomfortable, comfortable”, but much to my pique I was well behind where I should and I believe, could, have been. Despite this, I knew that if I worked hard on the bike and ensured the front pack didn’t get an unreasonable lead I would be able to pull back several places on the run.
I think that with a more aggressive start and a better starting position I will have a far greater chance of making the front pack.
The bike leg contained a mixture of positive and negative elements but can be regarded as an achievement in terms of working together. It was the first time in the series that our pack worked together with only a few refusing to pull their weight. Despite this, we lost a large amount of time to the front pack in the second of three laps before finding an extra kick and pulling several valuable seconds back. I was much happier with my positioning in the pack as in all cases except one I was near the front and generally the second wheel coming up to U-turns. By positioning well I was able to cover most attacks and even form short break with minimal energy expense after a U-turn on the last lap.
Again the run leg proved to be the deciding factor and by focusing on form I was able to move from 11th to 3rd within the first 2.5km, pulling back all but one athlete from the front pack, with 1st place being snatched by a NZ athlete from my pack, before dropping back and finishing 4th thanks to training partner and ‘pack buddy’, Natalie Van Coveordon. I was truthfully disappointed with my run, but pleased that I did not have any pain in my shin which means I am healing nicely and will be back into full run training again shortly J !
The fourth place finish and third Australian, whilst slightly disappointing, still guaranteed enough points to finish first in the Australian National ITU Junior Series, three points clear of fellow training partner Ashlee Bailie. This coupled with a recent qualifying time in the 1km swim time trial means a much greater chance in being accepted in the 2011 Junior World team, to compete in Beijing later in the year.
My next race is the Conti Cup race in Mooloolaba and I am really excited to try out the longer distance for the first time and watch the elites race later in the day! J