Arriving back in Hamburg for my sixth time makes me feel somewhat like a veteran of the sport, but it also means I have plenty of experience behind me to execute the demands of a hard fast course. I have never cracked the top 20 in Hamburg and I have always been left wanting more from myself. Over the past month I have done a few races in the lead up with two local races and Antwerp World Cup where I placed fifth. Training has been consistent and I knew I had the confidence, skills and race plan behind me to get the best out of my self on the day.
Having such a late start for race day is my favourite race day. The 6.40pm start time allows time for a bit of training, all the naps and chill time before its time to line up. The water was just over 20 degrees which meant no wetsuit and the air was just a little warmer. I decided I wanted to start far left to try and miss the chaos of the first can. As the better swimmers started lining up from the right I was not convinced I had made the right choice. Getting to the first can I was in a good position but I definitely lacked some good swimmers on my side to drag the pace out a little more. The dark tunnel is my worst nightmare – it gets quite physical and once you are in there you can’t move up any places which is annoying as it is so close to the end of the swim. We definitely weren’t swimming fast being six abreast when I saw the first girls get the water ahead of us.
Running out of the water I knew I needed to hustle. I have been practicing jumping straight into my shoes and I realised on the weekend the difference it made not having to do another task a kilometre down the road. The pace on the bike was on from the get go and girls were coming into corners way too hot causing some to come down. More so after that, I made sure I was always sitting up the front and following wheels that I trusted. We caught some people along the way and on the forth lap caught the front group of six. The pace was still high entering T2 and our group had plenty of high calibre runners which I knew I wanted to be a part of. I had to have a quick T2 to get into that small group from the start.
The run started fast and I put myself in the best position I could. Every 500m more I was hanging on, I was surprising myself more and more. At the end of the first lap I was still in a group of eight fighting for those top end position. At about 1.5km or so to go, the elastic band broke and I fell off the pace with two other girls. I kept fighting all the way to the end knowing anything could happen in front or behind me. I finished 8th and I couldn’t have been any happier to finally have confidence in my running again. It’s a nice feeling to carry into training and racing.
That night, I was pretty excited to get the call up to race the Mixed Team Relay for the World Championships the next day. I haven’t raced in the WC team since 2012 and now that MTR is an Olympic sport it’s even more exciting to be given an opportunity to perform and demonstrate performance. Being first I did feel that extra pressure to perform and put Australia in the best position possible for the rest of the race. I didn’t have the best of swims and I got caught up in the chaos in the tunnel which really fired me up for the first half of the bike. I jumped on my bike and rode as hard as I could until we caught some of the girls ahead of us with only two more off the front. I knew the critical moments from yesterday and where I needed to be coming into T2. I was first into T2 from our group and we caught the final two coming onto the blue carpet.
The first lap felt twice as fast as yesterday and I was hanging off the back of some really strong teams. I tagged Aaron some 10 seconds down off the first tag and knew I couldn’t have done anything more. The rest of the race was a rollercoaster and Team Australia was amazing to finish up 2nd for the day. I felt privileged to be a part of an event I have watched on the sidelines for years and learnt a lot about this new, fast and short side of triathlon. I hope to get more opportunities in the future. Next up will be WTS Edmonton in two weeks time.