3 Dec 2012

Island travels 2012

Hamilton Triathlon has been and gone once again and it was my pleasure to be involved for my third year. I was very happy to take another win and see so many people enjoy their weekend too, with event numbers growing from last year. Steve Jackson and his team do a great job organising this event on a beautiful yet brutal course. One decent hill has to be navigated before you descend down a hill onto the airport runway and speed along 3.8km of hot mix! After enjoying the runway, you head straight up another solid climb before it flattens out slightly before you head into a steep downhill section with two rather sketchy (!!) left hand turns to negotiate before passing the transition to make 3 laps for the 20km. This makes for a very fun bike course in such an amazing location, soft sand finish and all! The open water swim at Whitehaven Beach the next day tops off a great weekend on the Island. 



The conclusion of the Hamilton Island Triathlon also marked the beginning of my end of season break, and wow, wasn’t I hanging out for it. This year I have been fortunate enough to discover some new places, increase my travels and be exposed and experience more elite racing. Eventually the season was wearing me down, although I am very pleased to have kept on top of things to finish off in Noosa and Hamo (minus a couple of brain explosions ;)) I was  physically and mentally ready to do absolutely nothing at all, so it was time for Josh and I to escape to Moreton Island once again. It was also time to catch up with my non athlete friends who always can't wait until they can keep me up past 8.30pm. 

Below are some pictures of Moreton Island. Such an incredible landscape where you can see undisturbed wildlife along your travels everyday > head for the furthermost point from the tourist resort like we did! 
















9 Nov 2012

Maiden Win in Noosa

What a weekend!! Noosa Multi Sports Festival is the biggest triathlon in Australia and if you have been fortunate enough to be a part of the festivities, it is easy to understand why so many people keep coming back. The five days incorporates fun and social events and a huge expo and also includes events that showcase some of Australia’s (and the worlds) best talent. After the 1000m swim, crit race and the Noosa Bolt, Sunday rolled around quite quickly and it was now the triathlete’s turn.

Elite race start was 6.15am, which meant for a very early wake up. I had been coming down with a little sickness during the week, although I was fortunate enough to slowly be feeling better while poor Josh just got worse! It has been a huge year for me so I was feeling tired and not my energetic self. In the swim I found myself with a French girl who had locked herself onto my hip, with a few other girls getting away only metres from my fingertips. Open water swimming skills is number one on my priority list for 2013!! As soon as I exited the water I knew that I had work to do on the bike. I felt quietly confident after some promising 40km time trials, and my increasing strength on the bike during 2012. Felicity Sheedy-Ryan and I picked up and passed quite a number of girls during the first half of the bike leg. There was a little rain coming down during the 40km, so I took caution around the roundabouts coming back into town. Fliss and I came into transition 2 with Lisa Marangon and also Mel Rollinson who had caught us in the last couple of kilometres.



Running out of transition I wasn’t too confident although within a few hundred metres I felt strong and ready to run! I kicked away from the other girls and did not look back. Liz Blatchford and Caroline Steffan had a significant gap although I never thought of giving up and ran fully determined to catch the girls. Liz and Caroline were running side by side and they were in my sights before the turnaround. When I past the ladies, I really tried to keep the pressure on and the pace high. I have never felt so good in the final stages of my run and I truly think the crowd support had something to do with it. To come away with the Noosa title this year is very special and truly an honour. I could not think of a better way to be finishing 2012. Congratulations to Felicity Sheedy-Ryan who ran into second and to Liz Blatchford who rounded out the podium.


Sunday night did not disappoint and everyone seemed to be having a very good time ;) Thank you very much to USM Events for the great weekend and congratulations to the thousands of athletes who also participated in the fantastic event. Next stop for me is Hamilton Island Triathlon. I have been to the event the past two years and it is another one of those "must do" weekends which I'm very much looking forward to. Very relaxed atmosphere, although you can’t relax too much as there's quite a brutal 20km ride! Tune back in for a little report and some cool pictures.


Thanks for reading,
Ash

26 Oct 2012

Auckland deflation- Noosa is next

2012 highlights:
Sydney WTS: 10th
San Diego WTS: 10th
Banyoles WC: 3rd
Kitzbuhel WTS: 9th
Tizzy WC: 1st
Hamburg WTS: 7th
Yokohama WTS: 6th

To finish off my World Triathlon Series with a solid performance and another top ten would have been the perfect conclusion to my 2012 campaign. No matter your preparation or level of determination to succeed, Triathlon is not an easy sport and will always throw up challenges. The Grand Final of the World Triathlon Series (WTS) was held in chilly Auckland with the Elite Women’s race being held on Saturday at 12.15pm. Many people assumed I would have been racing in the U23 race, although I was always preparing to race in the Elite category. I had being racing in the elite series for the duration of 2012 with consistent top ten’s, so I relished the opportunity to represent Australia in my first senior World Championship. I was extremely eager to finish the year on a positive note, very excited for the trip to Auckland. Unfortunately I got a puncture on the bike and the chances of me producing a decent result became impossible.


Swim start, cold waters

The smallest of the hills!
Once arriving in Auckland on the Wednesday, we experienced all four seasons, sometimes even within the hour. The bike course was a brutal 8 lap course with 3 decent hills to navigate each time around. Steep downhill’s with corners at the bottom meant that the unpredictable weather could become a factor in the race come Saturday. I was very fortunate that Auckland kept the roads dry for my race, with the rain being was one less element to contest with. The water temp was 14.6 degrees, wetsuits were most certainly mandatory... and in my case, a thermal cap plus two another lycra caps were in use :) The previous week I had been feeling a little run down and tired, although I had adequately prepared myself with some rest and a good taper. To be completely honest, I felt a little drained during the swim, there was lots of fighting going on! The first part of th bike was quite tough, although I felt very confident through some of the fast downhill sections. Unfortunately when I got my puncture I had to complete most of the lap riding on my rim. Going up and down the hills was rather difficult but I managed to get around the course unscathed to change my wheel. The race was well and truly gone for me at that point but there was no way I was going to have a DNF against my name. I got a few sympathy claps from people who thought that I had just blown up big time; I think that was the most embarrassing part!

fast decents


U-turn in front of the grand stand
 I walk away from the weekend feeling disappointed. I recognise that the puncture was out of my control although can’t help but feel like I let people down. I was so grateful my family had come to Auckland to support me and the crowd was absolutely amazing!! If you were out on course cheering I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, it was an incredible experience. Despite the puncture, I am happy that I got on with the race and made sure I finished, even though I was crossing the line far from where I would have liked. The race of the day went to the U23 men, an amazing team effort which saw Aaron Royle take out the win, it was inspiring to watch. It was also great to see Josh back on the ITU scene and driving the bike pack to finish in 11th, making the day a whole lot brighter. Congratulations also to all the Australian Age Groupers who raced on the Monday, we had a strong team of over 600 and won the medal tally!

Lonely run to finish the race
 I guess I can say that I am proud of my efforts in 2012, my first Elite series and finishing in 15th in the overall rankings. Thanks to my coach, Craig Walton, I've started doing things that I thought weren’t possible- my training load slowly increasing and remaining fairly consistent. Many times during the year I have learnt to adapt to different training when dealing with a few little injuries or misfortunes, learning to put faith in my running ability (and the power of an elliptical!). Also to my swim coach Denis Cotterell, he has been spending some extra time helping me with my stroke and I appreciate his time. He is the best in the business and for him to have faith in me and my swimming gives me confidence for the future....lots of hard work and a few more years under my belt, I am determined to not be chasing for once ;)

Lastly, a big CHEERS to Tri NZ...that was certainly a fun after party. 

Noosa is next, I hope to see you there!

6 Oct 2012

Second last WTS race- Japanese Edition

The second last World Triathlon Series race was an easy 8 hour flight from the Gold Coast. Not long after landing in Yokohama, Japan, we were treated to some strong winds and much cooler temperatures than I had anticipated. There was a typhoon further south along the coast of Japan and it created a little bit of concern amongst the organisers and athletes. The forecast for race day was clear and calm and everyone was desperately hoping that this would be the case, although it was a little hard to imagine when looking out to a bay full of crashing waves! Nevertheless, we woke early Saturday morning to mostly clear skies and calm waters, race time!

The field was far from full, although the talent amongst the athletes still meant for a very competitive race with 7 of the top 10 ranked women making the trip to Japan, including many Olympians. As I had already anticipated, the swim had the potential to break up more with fewer athletes. Once the elastic band broke, it was always going to be hard for us in the chasing pack to get sucked along. Although we weren't in the ideal position, I was happy to exit the water with people like Maaike Caelers, Barbara Riveros and especially Anne Haug, as I knew all these girls were strong runners and would want to try and help reduce the deficit on the bike. Sometimes it is hard to understand the dynamics of the race unless you are in it, so although it was unnecessary, it was very nice of both Anne Haug and Maaike Caelers to acknowledge my efforts on the bike in their post race interviews. Anne and I pulled the majority of the turns to catch up the deficit in 3 laps. I then sat in for most of the ride until I made a little break on the last lap coming out of the U-turn. No one came with me and found myself with a little gap, I couldn’t help but think what I was doing was totally ridiculous and didn’t fully commit. I got myself a clear entrance into t2, but not much else.

Once I was onto the run and I had found my rhythm, I worked my way into the lead run group. I eventually went to the front and lead for most of the first 2 laps. The five others girls I was running with included Anne Haug, Lisa Norden, Emma Moffatt, Maaike Caelers and Erin Densham. I tried to break up the group but I was stuck in one gear and after sitting back when Moffy took the lead, I came to the front once more. The running was very tactical and unfortunately the group of six stuck together until about 500metres to go and I didn’t have the kick to go with the girls as everyone was trying to sprint for the line. A little disappointing to be the last one from the run group but I was satisfied by my race and that I tried to be aggressive and put myself out there. Congratulations to Lisa for the win, Anne with silver and Maaike with the bronze. Aussie chicks 4th, 5th, 6th! I have come away from the race with things (physical and mental) which I know I need to address in Auckland and for the seasons ahead. 6th is my best result in a WTS race over the Olympic distance and now have made it lucky number 7 top tens from 7 WTS starts. I had no idea how many of the WTS races I would even be getting starts for this year, so I am very pleased to have kept things consistent. I will be representing Australia at my first senior elite World Championships in Auckland in three weeks and am hoping to finish off with a solid result.
Thanks for reading.

5 Oct 2012

Product Preview- Get NIKE'd

Best running kit....goes to the brand new super light-weight peach running top with even lighter running shorts with a comfortable and adjustable thick waist band. Nike ‘Limitless Futura’ tank features on the left!

Auckland World's Warmth....The Nike ‘Legend Slim Fit Pants’- the most comfortable fitting pants paired with a very warm and snug fitting hoodie.

Stylish Nike....Nike 'Relay' tank top with ruching detail at the racerback and sides. Possibly my favourite item is the 'Uptown Epic Crew' long sleeve top with soft woven fabric being the stylish darker paneling at the back. Loose fit around the neck and shoulders with tight fitting sleeves.

I’ve got mine, now go get yours ;)

8 Sep 2012

Final travels & home sweet home!

I loved London! I woke up whenever I pleased, ate some breakfast and then went walk about throughout the streets of London, soaking up the Olympic atmosphere. I got lost all the time but always found my way back to Wholefoods, who I happily supported during my time in the city. Good food, sleep ins and some quality Olympic viewing was just what I needed. It was very exciting to be able to see the women’s Triathlon, although it wasn’t exactly what I had expected. Obviously apart from the medallists, it was far more spread out than I anticipated. I guess that is going to happen when there are far less people in the race than at a normal World Champ Series race. The atmosphere was incredible and I was very honoured to be able to be a part of it, very much hoping I might have my chance in 4 years time. Congratulations to Erin Densham for her bronze medal, a very deserving reward after her amazing year of racing to gain Olympic selection.

From London, I flew to Boulder in the US to spend some time with Josh as he prepared for HyVee. A chilled out town, with Aussies and Kiwis everywhere! It’s a very popular training hub and as I saw a few stars of the Triathlon world flog it out in the pool, I took a little more time to rest as I sunned myself in my bikinis pool side. After a week in Boulder, I headed to Austin with Josh for another 7 days before I flew back home. I got into some aerobic training, knowing quite well I would have to be semi prepared for a bit of a flogging when I returned home! After a few easy days to adjust to the time zone, training began for the Yokohama/Auckland World Series double. I hope that my body is ready to go for Yokohama, we will see, I sure am motivated. I do not regret taking a break at all; I wasn’t prepared to continue to flog myself and end up burnt out at the end of the season. Back at Miami swim squad, enjoying the Gold Coast hinterland rides and beachside runs. Only 3 weeks until Yokohama!!!


Here are a few pictures from the last month. Also congratulations to Josh for his 7th at HyVee and taking out the first swim preme. The tweet I posted as soon as he had finished is exactly what I first thought... "Self coached, self funded. Proof you can make it happen if you have the passion! Big things to come. V/ proud".


Thanks for reading


London walks

Womens Triathlon start

Start of the sprint

From the stands
Picnic at Flagstaf- Boulder

Rocky Mountain National Park



4 Aug 2012

Hamburg + London & time for some rest!

 2 weeks ago I was packing my bags and heading to Hamburg for the World Triathlon Series sprint race. It was certainly a nostalgic experience and one which I had eagerly anticipated since the beginning of the season. Very happy that I had been racing well enough to get a start, I returned to the magnificent city for the first time since 2007. 5 years ago I came to Hamburg for my first Junior World Championships as a 16 year old. I was young and naive, very new to the sport- it was the beginning of many things I treasure and still reflect on today. I met new people, experienced a different culture, I was surrounded by Australia’s elite and my love and passion for racing was sparked. 



I placed 2nd to Hollie Avil that year and I distinctly remember the crowd, the incredible atmosphere they created was overwhelming and exciting. That course has remained one of my favourites throughout all these years and it has not changed since 2007. 

The water temperature was a chilly 17, wetsuits necessary. I was happy with my swim, exiting the water at the back of the front group. YES!! Running up the ramp with Erin Densham right beside me, I knew I must have been in a pretty good position. A 47 second transition 1- struggling to get my wetsuit off meant I missed the first pack, while others who swim a little slower than me making it. Back in the chase pack once again, I did the majority of the work with Anne Haug. I have been happy with the cycling strength I have gained throughout the season, putting in the kms and hard work. Funnily enough it was training partner, Emma Moffat who was driving the front pack- not an easy task to hunt her down!


 Last lap, I was feeling the fatigue although we made big gains on the front pack, the rear of the group only about 150m away heading into T2. It was a two lap 2.5km run course and after suffering a little on the 1st lap, I started to feel much better and made greater gains the 2nd time around. Most of the girls in the front bike group were out of reach, so I was satisfied coming in 7th place. Keeping up my record, with that being my 6th top ten from 6 WTS race starts. 


After Banyoles, Kitzbuhel, Tiszy then Hamburg, I was always planning to have a rest at some stage. I kept training for about 10 days with Moffy back in Aix as she made her final preparations for the Olympic Games. I am currently in London, now on a mid-season break, discovering the city (ie getting incredibly lost) and soaking up the Olympic atmosphere. I thought it was important to take some time to let my body recover and rejuvenate, allowing myself to build back up to perfrom towards the end of the season.


Anticipating a great race from the girls on Saturday, it will be very interesting. I'll be looking to see where ladies such as Spirig, Ryf and Haug come out of the water...girls who are willing to make things happen on the bike if they are back in the swim, playing catch up, or strengthening an already motivated front group.
Thanks for reading, go the Aussies.





Light Aircraft flight with Moffy over our training base in France. Very scary but awesome experience

Some amazing views over Lac du Bourget



24 Jul 2012

Tiszy Wolrd Cup- Words with Wilson, Special Edition

I have just come back from my race in Hamburg, although reports from my previous weekend at the Tiszaujvaros World Cup have yet to be blogged, so thought I better start there. This post is a special Dan Wilson edition, my weekends proceedings written from his perspective. I am very pleased to have him guest blog or me and have defiantely come off the winner, Dan's literacy skills are far superior then mine. Thankyou for the continual support throughout the season and for all of the kind words after the race, they are always much appreciated. Enjoy the read...

Greeting friends, and may I initiate by articulating what an honor it is to have my humble ramblings here on the hallowed turf of your host’s blog. Charged with the task of chronicling quite a dominant weekend by Ash ‘Please Be’ Gentle, relax and satisfy your narrative nourishment, as we shall allow our reenactment to be as effusive as Gentles second World Cup win deserves.

Minor hiccups during race preparation are the irksome olive pits that plague most of the triathlon cognoscenti from time to time. In Gentle’s case, by mid-week before Tiszy, trouble was afoot, literally it would seem. After a brief stoush with some strapping tape, Gentle’s foot had come off second best, leaving an allergic reaction causing a blister that would have had the cast of Saw gagging.

Pre-race omens were not all bad however, with amateur prognosticator Gentle having dreams involving miracle breaks on the bike, instigated by her superlative bike skills avoiding mass crashes that hindered the rest of the field, whilst leaving our protagonist riding unscathed. Fortunately for the health of the majority of the female field, these Nostradamus-esque predictions failed to materialise, however the visions were enough to have Gentle captivated by the bike primes, which we shall get to later in this account.

Thus, with no further prophecy’s expounded from the week, our departure on Thursday had come up quickly. Also, ‘Coming up quickly’ was teammate Boxy’s dinner, breakfast, and eventually stomach lining, and unfortunately for the little fella, put paid to his hopes of racing on the weekend, and was lumped with the distinctly unenviable task of traveling to Hungary whist vomiting with the regularity of a metronome. Needless to say, we kept a safe, yet empathetic distance from Boxy during transit.

Upon arrival to Tiszy, race briefing quickly revealed the intricacies of the avant-garde format being trialled this year. The women were faced with racing a sprint distance Semi-Final on the Saturday, needing a top 12 (+ 1 fastest non-qualifier) to qualify through to the final on Sunday, whilst the rest were sent home for an early shower, and presumably, cheering through somewhat gritted teeth on Sunday.

So - onto Semi-Final 1! The swim was 750m, requiring 3(!) laps in somewhat murky water. Given that the first buoy was a ‘generous’ 114 metres from the start line, most were predicting blood at the first turn, evident by the 1st aid officers, paramedics, and most unsettlingly, a priest situated by the swim course. Choosing to give the rest of the field a fighting chance, Gentle (by her own admission) had a dog’s breakfast of a start, and did everything but swim backwards from the start line. Head-start given, some strong swimming and tactical nous, saw Gentle enter T1 nothing more than a few firm pedal strokes from the front bunch, after which the bike ensued without incident, and a large pack arrived at T2.

Onto the run, and tactical smarts dictated nothing more than a canter was in order, as saving some dry tinder for tomorrow was becoming paramount, and Gentle cruised along in 3rd gear, yet still claimed the heat from teammate Charlotte McShane, along with the entire Aussie female contingent, featuring Ash Bailie, Tamsin Mona-Vale and Nat Van-Coevorden.
After a quick massage and ice bath cold enough to make a penguin shiver, the girls were then treated to be able to watch the first of the ‘proper’ races of the afternoon - the mens race (relax ladies, I’m only joking, no chauvinism here...).

Following a well earned sleep, Sunday brought the cynosure of the weekend, with the Final deciding the recipients of the hardware on offer. After some good natured sledging on the efficiency of Gentle’s start, a slightly more focussed pontoon dive saw Gentle with a start Phelps would have been proud of. Having some work to do early on the bike, the ‘Walton Polish’ (i.e. creating tough-as, super strong athletes) had clearly rubbed off on Gentle, as she towed 3 other athletes up the join the main pack. From my vantage point, high on level 3 of the Hotel Phoenix, Gentles arrival caused some drooping of shoulders and gnashing of teeth among some of the lesser credentialed runners. 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite make out some of the erratic riding and careless saliva disposal that several post race reports described, which would have made for even more entertaining viewing. Sadly despite a Sagen-like attack on the second last lap, Gentle failed to capture her coveted bike prime, getting rolled by a pair of Russians over the last few metres, and thus initiating a Wilson vs Gentle competition to be first to claim a prime this season. Or next season. Or career. These primes are hard, it could take (at least me) a while.

Once on to the run, it was a good-old-fashioned-running duel, with Gentle leading from Dutch youngster Maaike Caelers, who clung like a limpet until the final lap, where Gentle was finally able to break clear to add her second World Cup win to a rapidly expanding resume.
All that was left for Gentle was to splash some Champagne on some Hungarian locals, pocket the hardware, and take $20 euro off me by accepting my challenge to moonwalk the stage to collect her winnings, gaining arguably more cheers from the crowd than during the race.

It was a weekend of hard, fast and exciting racing over the novel format, and one sure to be a hit with triathlon fans everywhere, and clearly a format that Gentle relished. Until the next Wilson-Gentle split album, it’s been a pleasure to guest author.

Regards,
Willy. 

Very intimidating writing for 'Words with Wilson' himself, but check out Dan's blog for my take on his weekend HERE






1 Jul 2012

Kitzbuhel +

So the six day turn around from Banyoles World Cup had me worried at one point, Wednesday afternoon run after the race  was one of the worst ever! Putting that out of my mind, I left Aix le Bains once again, en route to Kitzbuhel to race in my 5th Worlds Series race on the Saturday. Having 4 top 10 performances in World Series races from 4 starts, I wanted to try and keep this track record going. Once I arrived in Kitzbuhel I was immediately blown away by this little mountain town's beauty, I've always heard great things and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to experience it myself. 
 
Coming out of the water in the second group, I knew I was going to have to do some work to get myself in the race. It was definitely not the time to have a sub-par swim, as all the strong cyclists seemed to be up in the front group, incuding the likes of Spirig, Norden, Hewitt, Samuels, Groff and Harrison. Along with a few others rolling some turns at the front we ended up about 1.30minutes down off the front group coming into T2. I felt confident and quite strong on my bike, not for one mintue wanting to give up, although the gap got out to over 2 minutes at one stage! I loved the course, it's quite challenging with some climbing, fast downhills, cobblestones and some technical sections. Coming off the bike I had nothing to lose, determined to run myself into a reasonable position after pulling lots of turns on the bike. I ended the day with the fastest run split and 10th overall. I was very fortunate to have Josh come from Zurich to support me, a very nice surprise! The next day I packed up and headed to Switzerland myself to spend a few days with him, time to relax with great company!  I really enjoyed my time in Zurich, such a beautiful place, but it was goodbye to Josh once again as I headed back to my training base in Aix. In just over 2 and a half weeks I had resided in 4 different countries!
 
Here are some pictures from the last week. Thanks for reading.

Swim Start
Cobblestone corner
start of the run


last lap



Living on the lake in Zurich

Successfully found the lolly shop from last year!




19 Jun 2012

Banyoles World Cup

I’m currently in the team van heading back to Aix le Bains after Banyoles World Cup yesterday. It was my first time visiting the country of Spain and Banyoles left me with a good impression. It's a very small town, with one of the main features being the picturesque lake which we swam in on Sunday. 22 degree water temperature made for a non-wetsuit swim around the two lap course. Once out of the water we had six laps on the bike which looped around the lake, with 3 laps on the run in front of the transition area. There was a small hill on the bike which we also ran to the top of on the run which broke things up a little- also a lot harder on foot! 

Fairly recently I have joined back swimming with Denis Cotterell at Miami Swim Club, consistantly working on my technique and conditioning in the water. Satisfied with my improvements in the pool, I was eager to convert this to the open water. Although I recognize some things I need to rectify and focus on next race, I am very pleased with my position out of the water on the weekend. After catching up to the main group only a few hundred metres up the road on the first lap, the pace definitely wasn’t on. I almost immediately got myself to the front of the pack and wanted people to roll through with me. The tri-cast may or may not include some footage of my more frustrated side. There were two well established swimmers up the road and although they are not recognized for strong running ability, it was unnecessary to let them get too far ahead or be in danger of chasing packs catching us. The two up front ended up with a 2 minute lead although were caught on the run during the start of the 2nd lap. 

I kept myself to the front of the bike pack and after a not so slick T2, I was out on to the run. Erin Densham got herself a blinder of a start, with Gwen Jorgensen sitting on my shoulder for the majority of the first portion of the run, very aware that Andrea Hewitt was trailing just behind us. After Gwen flew past me down the hill, I tried to match her pace and we found ourselves reeling in Erin. After Gwen had passed Erin and established herself a good lead into the finish, I just couldn’t quite catch on to Erin and was happy to finish on the podium behind these ladies after a hard fought run in the heat. I hope to be back to Banyoles, there is a very relaxed atmosphere and I enjoyed my stay. Next race for me is Kitzbuhel World Series race this Saturday, quick turn around but I've pulled up well and am eager to get racing again. I really appreciate all the messages of encouragement so far this year, all the little things count and its nice to feel supported. 
Thanks for reading