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Head down – bum up…Auckland here I come.

ITU Oceania Triathlon Championships

This past weekend I raced here at home in New Zealand – the event was an ITU Continental Cup in the capital city Wellington.

I’ve not raced an ITU event since 2009, it was the Hy-Vee ITU World Championship Series. I’d broke 2 ribs a couple of week’s prior and was still living in denial and attempting to perform…despite a crushed diaphragm and not being able to see as I exited the swim during the race….

Since that day I’ve really not had any desire to race ITU events – I felt I’d achieved everything I wanted to at ITU and was happy to leave that part of my career behind me. Although I’ve always kind of felt I never had the chance to say good-bye to all the great friends I’d made during my ITU career.

So this past weekend really was a surprise in the sense I never envisaged racing ITU again until a couple of weeks ago when discussing racing options with the Doc.

We’ve had quite a stressful couple of weeks in our house. I was down in Taupo for the Ironman the weekend before Wellington, Lola-Rose had been sick with a cold the week leading into that event so sleep was a rare commodity…broken at best!

I’m the sort of person that when I go to these events I’m always rushing around cheering people on, and I had certain commitments with the key sponsors of the event too – I hosted the Pro Q&A panel, along with the VIP Sponsors Breakfast and guided tour of the course race morning.

As soon as we got back from Taupo we had to deal with another health scare – this time Stephen but as its transpired he’s on the mend now and on his way back to his normal self…. all be it rattling a little from the medication he’s on!

So leading into Wellington I was anything but relaxed and focused on the race. Maybe that worked in my favor but I know I felt tired and in need of a good sleep…for around 2 weeks prior to the event?!

I’ve won in Wellington before – but this past weekend I had no illusions of that. Since coming back to racing I really don’t care much for putting pressure on myself – I’m just loving the fact I’m racing and every race is about having fun and seeing what I can achieve.

Yet again my swim surprised – not just me but those who have followed my ITU career. I remember the last time I won the NZ National Champs was 2007 and that year I exited the swim around 30 seconds down on the pack and had to work my way up on the first lap of the bike.

This past Saturday I exited the swim on the back of the front pack. Kate McIlroy had exited T1 around 20 seconds ahead of us but a solid pack of 10 of us headed out onto the windy 6 laps of an 6.6km circuit.

I felt really strong from the get go on the bike – despite the youngsters being seemingly unaware of how to organize a chase – we’d pulled Kate back in after 2 laps of the course.

I couldn’t help but stretch my legs from time to time, but the zip I used to have before Lola is still on it’s way back and I was unable to break the pack – but it’ll come. ☺

Out onto the run and 11 of us hit the pavement together. I’d commented on Facebook the week prior that all I wanted was to leave Wellington without embarrassing myself – and that I did.

I eventually finished 8th overall in the ITU Oceania Continental Champs – and 2nd New Zealand Open Elite behind Kate McIlroy.

The result has seen good and bad things come my way….

- I’m currently sat on the couch on a Monday night that I’d hoped to catch up on some admin…waiting to Pee! The drugs testers turned up around an hour ago now…as I was getting back from a 90 minute run quite dehydrated. So 3 bottles of sports drink later I’m almost ready to produce the goods! Obviously my performance on the weekend has alerted to them that I’m back racing…as I’ve not seen them since Kona 2011!
- The flip side of that result is that I asked yesterday if I could get a start in the Auckland ITU World Championship Series opener at the beginning of April – and Triathlon NZ have agreed to it. So I’ll be back on the circuit and have my chance to introduce Lola to all the girls I used to race with which will be very special to me.

The next 4 weeks for me are about staying putt here at home and having a good block of training. Things have gone well so far, and the forms is coming back – but I know I need to really just get my head down and do some serious training now. It would be disrespectful of me to turn up to a WCS with anything but good condition in my legs – and that’s what I plan to go after.

So no distractions, no commentating at events or driving the length of the country…it’s time to take this post pregnancy form to the next level.

That’s both a scary and in fact dangerous proposition though. I’ve repeatedly asked Doc ‘why is it that I seem to be going so well – so soon after Lola?’

I’ve read about the metabolic changes that occur post birth and wondered on quite a few occasions if I were riding a wave that would suddenly dump me. But every step of the way Doc has held me back and reinforced the notion that I’m responding so well to training because of the simple fact it’s the first time in about 3 or 4 years that I’m not overtrained?! Which when I think about with my rational mind….makes perfect sense.

So the challenge over the next couple of weeks will be to go after more speed but keep myself fresh and not fall back into the old trap of more is better so I’ll do more than everyone else!

We’ve spent time working on my racing schedule the past month too – and I can now confirm that I’ll be returning to a series that I’ve previously won.

After I’ve raced Auckland ITU the focus will switch to Rev3 Knoxville. I won the Rev3 Series in its inaugural year 2010.

Originally the series included an Olympic, Half and Full Iron Distance race. And I won the series after finishing 2nd in Knoxville, 3rd in Quassy and 4th at Cedar Point in the full Iron Distance.

Fast forward to 2013 and the series is made up of more events and to qualify for the series you must race at least 3 – which I’ll be doing.

http://rev3tri.com/

So Rev3 Knoxville it is, followed by Florida 70.3 and then Rev3 Quassy. I’ll then head back to NZ and we’ll fly over to Cairns for the 70.3 there.

We’ll decide the 2nd half of my overseas campaign once we return from Cairns – but it will include London in September as Stephen has been selected for Age Group Worlds in the Sprint Race so we’re taking Lola-Rose for a holiday to England to meet her family there.

All the best for now and I’ll update again in a couple of weeks on how the preparations for Auckland are going!

Sam.

http://tvnz.co.nz/othersports-news/aussies-take-control-oceania-triathlon-champs-video-5364279

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