If you have ever felt so nervous it was sickening then you know exactly how I was feeling the day of my first WTS race in Madrid. Leading in to the event, I convinced myself I was more excited to race than nervous and I managed to stay pretty relaxed through briefing, team dinners and pre-race sessions although five hours from race start, the butterflies came out of their cocoons! It is a very surreal feeling lining up alongside athletes you have only watched on the world stage and I had to remind myself I had earnt my position and had nothing to lose but everything to gain!
With camera crews, helicopters, commentators and big crowds buzzing about as we lined up on the pontoon, there was no backing out now. The start sound went off, my nerves diminished and I put my head down until the first buoy. There is photo evidence of me being caught up in the hustle and bustle of the first buoy although considering it was a fast paced swim, I exited the water mid-pack, which I was fairly pleased about.
To briefly describe the bike course, we exited transition; turned left then had 100-200m before we turned right to start climbing a 12% gradient hill. I remember Jamie saying the swim doesn’t finish until you are in the bike pack at the top of the hill and the first lap is always going to be one of the toughest. I spent most of the first lap working with a few other girls to catch the second chase pack (3 girls had broken away up the front). As we went through transition to start lap 2, the group had grown and it now included some very talented athletes who kept driving the pace. The second time around, the hill got the better of me and a few other girls and we popped off the back of the bike pack. Looking back at these critical seconds of the race, I often wonder if I could have pushed that little bit harder to hold a wheel but that’s racing and you can only learn from these moments. I was soon caught by the next bike pack where I slotted in and was able to hold wheels and remain here for the remaining 5 laps. I never found the ride ‘easy’ and with the dry air full off pollen I easily finished off my two bottles of fluid on the bike.
By the time I hit the 10km run, I felt like I was slightly in survival mode. To top off the tough bike course, all the fluid in my stomach was gurgling and I could feel a previously strained muscle in my calf. There was no way I was going to have a DNF beside my name in my first WTS race especially since I had worked so hard to not be lapped out (one of my biggest fears!), so I tried to hold form and get through the run as best as I could crossing the finish line in 37th place.
While I am a little embarrassed about my run time, the positives of the race outweigh the negatives and I gained so much as an athlete from the experience. It has definitely motivated me to find ways to be a better at training and racing and I am looking forward to my next opportunity to race in the World Triathlon Series.
I have to thank Triathlon Australia for their continuous support of my development as an athlete and particularly Bernard Savage who gave me this opportunity and was available all weekend to make things easier. Also to Jamie for exposing me to this level of competition and looking out for my best interests all the time. Victor Carapelho has also been working as our soft tissue masseur over the past few weeks in Spain and I am very grateful for his advice, knowledge, photos (featured in this report) and of course massage skills!
Congratulations to my fellow Aussies for gutsy performances all around and training partner Gwen Jorgenson who remains as the number one rank after her 4th place!