Thursday, January 1, 2015

Age is Just a Number

Its been a crazy end to 2014 thats for sure!

A not so perfect run into the 2014 World Masters Track Champs included an infection that took two months to diagnose and IV antibiotics to fix, buying a house in the Canberra region, putting our house in Kiewa on the market and Kev starting up the new Flex Out Physiotherapy in Canberra!

I thought I was never going to find the form that I took into the Australian Masters Track Champs, but a couple of weeks out things were starting to look good. The confidence that Daryl gave me also helped. In Manchester, I won a silver in the 500mTT with my fastest time I'd done in years. Janelle Smith and I teamed up for the Women's Team Sprint and we were confident we could get a good time and place. We qualified third fastest behind two UK teams but unfortunately we were relegated due to an illegal change  where Janelle's wheel overlapped mine as I was swinging up (literally only millimeters in it). This meant we were out of the finals and denied a medal. I also won a silver in the Sprint, after qualifying fastest in the flying 200m. I had a good run through the rounds, but just couldn't quite fire for the gold medal ride off. A great meet and few more lessons learnt!

When we got home from the UK, it was time to go into single mum mode, as Kev was commuting weekly to Canberra for work. In the lead up to Christmas 2014, I completed my Level One coaching course, we sold our Kiewa house, moved out, Sebastian finished school, I coached the Under 12 Div 2 school boys team to the grand final (we were runners up and I had never coached basketball before!), we changed cycling clubs and Sebastian and I moved up to Canberra.  I managed to get a few training sessions in somewhere, but was relieved to finally get to our new home, unpack and start working on some consistent training with the ANU Cycling Club crew.

I was also very honoured to not only be nominated but also be awarded the 2014 Cycling Australia Women Masters Track Cyclist of the Year again! I was in good company.The awards were held in Melbourne and as Kev was in Canberra, I decided to take Sebastian.We dressed up and it was great to catch up with so many fellow cyclists.  It was a very exciting night for a ten year old especially when you get to meet Cadel Evans and Simon Gerrans and hold the Oppie medallion! The Tour de France Australian Team of the Century was announced - such cycling royalty! A special thanks to Daryl Perkins for all his encouragement and words of wisdom and my partner in crime Kevin Laws for...everything.  Also thanks to Apres Velo, Flex Out Physio, Champion Systems, Rydges Bell City Preston, and Auto Brokers Australia for their support to help me achieve what I did in 2014.

Last week Sebastian and I attended the Sydney Xmas Carnivals. With five days of racing in a row for me (and four for Sebastian) I decided to use this for some training and strength. The carnivals were held at Dunc Grey velodrome (250m indoor wood), Tempe (333m banked outdoor), Hurstville (400m flat track with no straights), Lidcombe (440m outdoor and slighty banked but newly resurfaced) and then back at the Dunc for the last day.  If the weather was inclement there was always a backup to go indoors! There were 2 grades of women everyday and the racing was good quality with a mix of enduros and sprinters! There was an overall points system for the five days of racing and also a Madison points series. Races included a mix of endurance, wheelraces, and sprints so something for everyone! The children's races were on from 3pm every day so I was there with Sebastian first then I would race in the evenings. Sebastian rode awesome and I was so proud of him he never gave up! I certainly gained a lot from riding the whole series - I think I was getting smarter as I got more fatigued! I ended up getting 3rd overall in the series points which meant some cool prizes, but I think the training and racing was invaluable! I would highly recommend it to everyone!

2015 looks like being a promising year of opportunity and reaching new heights. A few days ago it was announced that I was selected for the ACT Elite Track team! Its been a few years since I have raced at Elite Nationals but I am quite honoured and very excited to be going back down to Melbourne in a few weeks to represent the ACT as a sprinter. I will be giving it a good hard crack!

You see, age really is just a number!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

End of the Season - Nationals, Awards and New Challenges

Its been a big few weeks so I'd thought I recap firstly on National Masters Track Champs which were help in Melbourne at DISC.

Leading up I had been feeling good, my back had been holding up and legs were freshening up. I had raced at the Austral the weekend before and although I wasn't terrible, I didn't race as well as I had hoped. Sebastian actually won more prize money than me in the junior carnival! I think I may have been thinking too much about the results and not the process, a trap many a rider can fall into. I put that behind me and looked forward, at Nationals my focus was the sprint events and I knew I could ride well and the competition tough but I was up for that challenge.

Kev and I arrived in Melbourne on the Monday 2 days before the 500m TT. Its always good to get there early and get the travel out of the legs. We had made the decision not take Sebastian this time, so that would be different as he always comes to my major races. We stayed at Rydges Bell City Preston, our home away from home in the last few months, as it close to the track and I could ride to and from DISC everyday. I have found this a great way to switch on and focus and then to unwind. I had a little hit out at DISC the day before the TT just to open up a bit and catch up with a few of the other masters cyclists.

The day of the 500m TT was cooler than hoped and my event would be on later in the session, which meant a roller warm-up and the track would be a little warmer too. I have done many off the track warm-ups and I know how to mentally prepare, so everything went smoothly. Daryl and I had discussed my gearing the day before so we knew we were on the same page. I went out for my event confident I could ride well. When I finished I had ridden a seasons best and I was happy and relieved. Perhaps not quite as fast as I would have liked, but I know its there. I was happy to win gold in this event and knowing I was riding faster made me more confident in my flying 200m time.  That afternoon, I was fortunate enough to ride the Team Sprint with Gabrielle Belz. We both rode well and was able to qualify fastest for the final. In the final we rode faster again and came away with gold! Well done Gabrielle!

After chatting with my coach and my husband and I had decided to not ride in the pursuit. I hadn't trained at all for this and my focus was to try and break the worked record for the flying 200m which would be on the next day. We had noticed the program for the sprint was not consistent with the entries and regulations, so the evening prior to the sprint day, Kev went to DISC and talked to the Commissaires, with a final resolution. It meant that out qualifying would be put on near the end of the morning session so we had to work out timings for arrival at the track and warm-ups etc. I feel better being at the track instead of waiting in the hotel room and there was plenty of men's sprinting to be watched. I was able to get on the track for 5 minutes prior to the 200m so I had a chance to get a jump out. When I lined up to go I was fully ready. Once again I did a season's best and I knew the time was close to the world record. As I was getting off, Kev called out to me and said I broken the record - by 9 1000ths of a second! 

That's where the fun really started! I had to have a chaperone - thanks to Catt Hooton for babysitting me until the ASADA people arrived. I had to race the quarter finals and then get off the bike and go to drug testing. When I go back I had to try and get some food in and refocus for the semis, perhaps not as focussed as I would have like. Needless to say I made it hard for myself. I knew the top four ladies would be tough competitors and I wasn't disappointed. Renee Covington won the first of our heats and so I had to work hard to reorganise myself. I was one loss away from the bronze medal ride off or two wins away from the gold medal ride off - I preferred the second option.  I was able to win the next two and so went through to the gold race. I knew Janelle was a great sprinter and that her form was good, but for some reason I didn't ride my race, my timing was off and in the first heat she was able to hold me off. Ok no panic stations, just a sit down and have a think about what I needed to do. I was faster in the 200m. I had to use this and the track to my advantage. Needless to say after an epic battle I won the next race and it went to a third heat. I focussed on my strengths & lined up on the track with a plan. I was tired, my legs and back hurt, but I only had to win one more. It was another battle but I was able to ride well tactically and come through with the win. Relief and fatigue- more mental than physical set in. Thanks to Daryl and Kev for keeping me going!

After the gold medal presentation, I had to scoot upstairs to the function centre where I was awarded the 2013 Victorian Female Masters Cyclist of the Year. It was lovely to be recognised for all my hard work in 2013, although a shame I had to accept the award in my skinsuit and not 'frock up' like I had planned! The next day Kev and I drove home to our nine year old son. It was Sebastian's 10th birthday the following day and we had a party to set-up! That's the life of a Master's Cyclist!

Last week I had the privilege to be awarded the Vic Sport Victorian Masters Athlete of the Year for 2013.  Many thanks to Cycling Victoria for nominating me. The awards ceremony was held at the MCG, it was so 'cool'. Unfortunately Kev and Sebastian couldn't come as it was on a Wednesday, but luckily my mum could and it was lovely to have her share this experience with me. I met some other worthy Masters athletes from different sports and so when my name was announced as the recipient I was a little shocked, and overwhelmed. My presentation can be found here:

Unfortunately I was unable to stay and celebrate with the celebrities, I had to drive back home that night. The next day I was up and ready to drive Sebastian to school - back to normality!

As the 2013-14 track season comes to an end I look back fondly of some wonderful experiences and challenges I have had. I To say I was happy with my racing season would be an understatement but to say it was easy and that I loved very minute would also be an understatement. There were times when I was training and my mind would drift off to school lunches, shopping, cleaning, appointments, feet (I am a podiatrist remember!), and think I could make my life easier but not doing this track cycling thing. But then I think about how it feels to ride fast, race well and see the overwhelming proudness in my family's eyes when I achieve certain goals and its all worth the pain: getting out of bed stiffer than when I got in, planning how I can get a track session in with 43 degree heat or pouring rain, getting that perfect effort out in the track and in the gym, knowing that every good session I do is in the bank for the next event and the next chance to achieve my goals.