Triathlon: Triathlon NZ High Performance blog Mon Oct 17

By Nicky Samuels

Athlete Nicky Samuels poses for a portrait. Photo / Getty Images
Athlete Nicky Samuels poses for a portrait. Photo / Getty Images

The last ITU WTS race of the season went out with a bang. But not the bang I wanted it to be.

After the Edmonton World Series race we travelled onto Clermont in Florida where we spent just 9 days-but a pretty good 9 days training and acclimatising to the heat. We were in a camping ground full of cabins and it had everything we needed nearby which was pretty cool.

I was living with Rebecca Spence and Simone Ackermann and had a really good time with both of them. It was so horribly hot that it was just funny, all three of us in the same state in the kitchen hovering over ice and the cold water jug. Within 30minutes of running it would look like we had been swimming, we could actually wring out our clothes-it was disgusting but we knew it would be much the same in Cozumel as well so just had to try as best as we could to get used to it.

I didn't do many sessions, trying to cut down the overall hours of my training but just trying to do what I did do well. It worked fine except running on the track really, I only managed half of both my sessions I planned due to the heat but knew I still had the fitness there so just had to trust myself that I could pull it out on the day in Cozumel as long as I looked after myself in the heat.

The trip to Cozumel went rather smoothly which was a bit of a pleasant surprise. It took around 9 hours all up and went something like this; drive in van to airport, flight, shuttle to ferry terminal, walk to ferry with all gear, miss ferry by 1minute, wait 29minutes for next one, get on ferry for about 1hr, walk to find a taxi, taxi to accommodation. DONE-easy ;-). It was an awesome trip though, loved the ferry and loved being back at the beach. Cozumel was truly amazing- the swimming in the sea there was the best I have been in. It was actually like I was swimming in an aquarium, you just couldn't help but look at all the tropical fish around you instead of where you were meant to be going!

The race itself was something I was looking forward to. The grand final is always a little more special with age group athletes also competing for their medals during the week and also other Junior and U23 races going on as well so it gives the atmosphere a bit more excitement. I hadn't done a lot of harder swimming since Rio really especially after being sick prior to Edmonton and then not really having much time between Edmonton and Cozumel to pick things up-along with being in a 25-yard pool as opposed to 25m pool in Florida you never truly know how well you are swimming.

In the race it was a pontoon start where we started on the open side of the sea then swam along parallel to the shore then turned headed back then into a small harbour and towards the swim exit in there. I decided to start to the left because I thought the current coming toward us (on coming) would be stronger further out (towards the right hand side) so I thought it would be a slight advantage starting on the left. I'm not sure if it really made a difference and I was a bit off the leaders at the first buoy but close enough and in touch to stay in contact. Unfortunately, the girl in front of me let the feet go at some stage when we were coming back (with the current) so I knew I had to try get around her and bridge the gap, I was a bit late on the uptake and couldn't close the gap to the leaders but swam hard leading the main group out of the water exiting in 10th and thought once on the bike we would probably catch up.

The bike was pretty mundane, I rode into the lead group of 14 of which I was the only Kiwi but the group itself was just really going through the motions, I was trying to get people to work at the start to stay away from chasing groups and catch up to the 3 that had gone off the front of the group (containing eventual ITU world champion Flora Duffy). Things were not really happening in the group but we were maintaining a gap to the chase group and I was content to be in a good position but I was still mindful that we needed to keep things rolling otherwise we were going to be consumed with the group behind and then it would be just down to a running race.

About halfway through the bike just after a U turn I found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was behind Vicky Holland when something happened in front of her or with her bike and being directly behind her I saw it happening a split second before it happened and knew the result before I was even flying through the air over top of her. She went down in front of me so quickly that there was nowhere else to go - I couldn't bunny hop that speed bump! I managed to end up on my side and slid for a bit but jumped straight back up and thought I can still get in the group behind and finish the race. Unfortunately, I had a safety catch on my bike to prevent the chain from dropping but after that crash the chain was now completely behind that, stuck there without an allen key to move it! This was frustrating for me, and frustrating for the spectators right there that wanted to help but couldn't. Vicky got back on and rode with that group to the next wheel stop as she had a flat but then lost too much time changing it to get back on. I eventually got things working and had missed all the groups by then. I rode up to the last group but could quickly tell that they were going backwards but I thought I might be able to ride myself back up to the main chase pack so dug in for a couple of laps but I wasn't making any inroads.

My bike wasn't in great shape, well mainly my hanger was very bent but having Di2 meant that that wasn't really a problem, but my body wasn't great either, so after a few more laps I decided it was time to pull the pin to look after my body rather than make the bumps and bruises worse. Based on my post-race examinations with my new "fat arse" on one side it was the sensible choice. So I called into the medical tent and got checked out, patched up and sent off with some ice packs for the swelling.

It definitely wasn't a flash weekend for the elite kiwi team, with Dan Hoy's 4th place in the U19s being the only result of any substance along with a whole lot of DNFs. So I finished my year with a crash bang - rather than the top 8 result I was aiming for to improve my overall ranking for the year as well as earning some much needed pocket money in the Grand Final! Anyway, that's racing, it's all part of it, just a real shame when it happens especially when you can't do anything about it. To add to it I now know this crash was a rather solid one too because I ended up breaking my bike! The bumblebee is no longer, lucky I had a back-up bumblebee in the garage waiting for me at home. Thanks Deda for always being prepared!

I have now been at home for 3 weeks but time has flown by as I have been spending extra time catching up with friends, spending time with a couple of younger athletes I couch during the school holidays, visiting some sports groups and schools (good welcome from Arrowtown Primary - I got straight off the plane from Mexico and went to their school see these wonderful enthusiastic children and all their hard work on their Olympic projects - amazing!) and of course getting some training in and planning the next adventure too!

What does the next adventure entail?! Well it wasn't the bang I wanted to finish with and kind of left me feeling like "oh was that it?!". So even before the crash I was pencilling in the options of doing a couple of Australian races to finish the season off. I have done it. I am all booked in and have dusted that time trial bike off. Admittedly I have only been on it twice now, but with a few more times on it before I head away next week and I should be good to go ;-). I need to say a big thanks to the bike shop at Outside Sports Wanaka - Scotty and his team have been amazing with helping me change my broken road bike over ASAP AND then working through things with my TT bike to get that going with a little help from Wanaka Marine on the hanger modifications (thanks Daniel) without that I would still not be riding it!

So I am all signed up for the Nepean Triathlon in Penrith followed by the Noosa Triathlon the week later. These are great weekends of triathlon and in awesome locations! Often I'm really tired by this time of year but for some reason this time I'm having fun in my training back at home and I feel like I might just enjoy these races a bit more! Following Noosa I will start my break for the year. I plan to have a bit of a holiday in Australia with Steve and then head back to NZ for a long weekend in Tauranga with family. Finally I will head north to my parents to help them pack up their house for their big move before getting back to Wanaka for the MAC School Sports Blues evening presentation. Never a dull moment with me!

Thanks to everyone for your continued support, take care and see you soon.


- NZ Herald

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