To compete at a World Championship is such an amazing experience! Firstly to get selected to represent your country is a tremendous feat in itself. Whether as an elite or age group athlete, nothing quite compares to that. Standing on the start line wearing your black singlet, with the best athletes in the world (also in their national colours) is what you strive for as an athlete.
My preparation you could say started 15 years ago. I started my multisport career back in 1993; about the same time I started harriers. Years of training and racing helped me understand the mechanics of endurance sport. Analysing performance, better nutrition, talking to coaches and athletes are my keys to succeeding. Like anything in life it doesn't happen over night - if your patient, determined, prepared to listen and have a desire to succeed you can achieve anything. With a six-year absence from international racing I decided to aim for selection once again.
My build up started last summer where I developed my base fitness. This included more mileage over the summer months, which increased my strength and endurance. The intensity of these workouts was at an easy/steady pace. With a solid base behind me I was ready for the next phase of training which was speed work and racing. The harrier season provided the perfect platform for getting me race fit for the Nationals and the World Champs. Nutrition has a huge part to play in training and racing, and very important for our general well being. Over the years I've learnt a lot about nutrition and found what works for me. We're all different (to a degree), experts recommend a good balance diet is the best way to go, to a point that’s true, but if you’re an athlete you do need to know what works for you! I know this: there are certain foods I keep clear of and there are others I eat more of - following this regime has enhanced my performance and general well being. I won't list what I do because it might not work for you but what I would recommend is: straight after training (within 15 minutes) have a good protein/carbohydrate shake, some good antioxidant foods, plus a good mixture of other food sources. Athletes that do lots of training (marathon running etc) need more protein in their diets.
On the 20th September we assembled in Auckland for the ITU World Duathlon Championships. Exactly one week from race day. You could sense the eager anticipation of what would unfold over the next 7 days. Some of the team would return with medals but for others it would be a great experience and lifetime dream to represent New Zealand at a major sporting event. The trip to Rimini took a long 43 hours and I can tell you my hotel bed was a pleasing sight! The rest of the week was spent doing small amounts of training, getting familiar with the course and making sure my nutrition was back on track.
Rimini is on the Adriatic coast and considered the French Rivera of Italy. It’s a beach resort that attracts thousands of Italians and tourists every summer. The beach stretched for miles, but being the end of summer, they were pretty deserted. Temperatures were in the late teens most days, not that tropical but ideal for racing. Friday was the Parade of Nations and the Opening Ceremony. Always a very special occasion, every Nation in there national colours - its quite a sight and was definitely a highlight for me.
Race day soon appeared and I was up just before 8am. There was light rain as I looked out but that all disappeared as I headed down for the start of my race. At 11:30am we got under way, the first run was 10.8k's - I eased into it (as per race plan). Coming into transition I was in 12th place and happy with that. I had a quick transition onto the bike with 43ks of riding ahead of me. As per my plan this was where my race started (I gave it 100%). At the end of the first lap I was on target and feeling great. Then 200 meters into the 2nd lap I got a puncture. I knew my race was over at that point (gut wrenching) but I had gone all that way and trained so hard - I had to finish! 10 minutes later I was back on my bike and slotted back into my race pace. Back into transition, it was on with my running shoes - I gave it death, passed three other kiwi's (who were disgusted to hear afterwards that I had been on the side the road for 10 minutes). I recorded the 5th fastest 5k time.
It was obviously disappointing for me but there were so many positives I will take home from this. I will be back next year for sure! The New Zealand team came home with three gold medals, one bronze medal and plenty of top 10 finishes.
There are many people I wish to thank. A big THANK YOU to my club, Trentham United harriers. Especially the executive committee - thanks guys! Also a big THANK YOU to the Rimutaka Licensing Trust, and Andrew at the Upper Hutt Cycle Centre. And now...bring on the 2009 World Champs!