Dear Friends,

Hope this update finds you all well!

It’s been a busy month of racing recently in the world of Wustar.  3 races now including a DNF, a race where I nearly melted to death, and a race where I nearly froze to death!  So without further ado, here’s a recap of them all 🙂 Perhaps grab a coffee (or 2!) as I apologise now, this is a looong post!

Port Macquarie 70.3

My last visit to Port Macquarie was back in May 2011.  I clearly remember the roads being rough and a few expletives going on in my head as I climbed Matt Flinders Drive.  Needless to say not much has changed in 3.5 years!!

I was excited to be out back there though to test myself against a small but strong field of girls.  The swim was hard work but I managed to hold on to the back of the main group of about 5.  Radka and Lisa had gotten away as expected, and I was happy to exit T1 with a small group.

Bubble, bubble, breath…..

The 2 lap 90ks starts off with some pretty decent hills to negotiate, before a long flat section along Ocean Drive, then back through the hills again.  Repeat.  With a few changes made to my bike position after Sunshine Coast 70.3, I was looking forward to see how these changes would translate in a race.  On the first lap I was riding well and kept close to the girls I exited the water with, but on the 2nd lap I lost a bit more time than I would have liked.  My stomach was also starting to feel rather uncomfortable which worried me as that’s not a good sign for the 21km run ahead!  I eventually left T2 about 4min behind.

Flying along with Izzy 🙂

Things were going well for about 6-7ks but then the dreaded tummy troubles began.  From that point, I knew that it was pretty much over 😦  Some people have asked me why I just didn’t walk/jog to the finish.  I can tell you, it is NOT an easy decision to make out there on the race course.  Of course I can walk.  That’s easy.  However, mentally, it stings.  I’ve done far too many races this year now which have been derailed by stomach issues, and to have it happen again is not only frustrating and disappointing, but also emotionally draining.  The volunteers and age groupers were cheering me on as I plodded, and I put on a brave face and said “Thanks. I’m ok” to those concerned.  Deep inside though, I was a psychological mess fighting two voices, one telling me to keep plodding and just finish, albeit with an embarrassingly slow time, the other telling me to stop, there isn’t much point in doing this to yourself.  Eventually at about 15ks I had had enough.  Yes there were tears as I pulled off the course, but at the same time a strange sense of relief as I could now stop the insane mental gibberish talk in my head!  Pros are usually known to be the most mentally tough out there, however, we are still human and not immune to mental failure and mistakes.  You may feel like a quitter, letting down family, friends, sponsors, and all those who support you, but it happens to everyone from your average Joe, to 70.3 and Kona World Champions.  Although somewhat tough to swallow, DNFs aren’t the be all end all.  Learn and move on!

Thanks Darrell Nash from NashysPix for the photos and for all your help over the weekend!

Anyway, it was a no brainer to come home from Port Mac and immediately sort out the cause of my reoccurring tummy woes in races.  I met with Alicia Edge, sports dietician at the AIS, who explained a lot of things to me and put in place a new plan.  The next test, Taiwan 70.3!!

Taiwan 70.3

Ahh….Kenting, Taiwan.  Talk about some good memories from there!  3 races, 3 wins 🙂  This was my 4th visit to Kenting for the 70.3 and as usual the place and race does not disappoint!  Like all Asian races, the experience is one you never forget.  The Taiwan experience begins once you touch down in Kaohsiung Airport.  You are welcomed by a friendly bus driver who has the task of taking you to Yoho Beach Resort, a supposedly 2hr drive.  80min later we disembark from the hair-raising, eye-opening, no-speed-limits, no rules, shuttle bus journey…..yep, you’ve gotta love Asia’s famous unorganised, chaotic, dodgem-car-like traffic!  Once you have managed to get your heart rate down, the rest of your stay is relaxing and with a fun, friendly vibe.  The resort is an amazing place to stay with cool little shops, nice swimming pools, helpful staff, and of course amazing food!  What other hotel has a buffet breakfast that goes from 7am – 1pm!!  Perfect post race indulgence!!

Whit Raymond – a very popular face in Asia!

Anyway, onto the race.  Looking at the start list, I knew it was going to be tough (ie, requiring some sort of miracle!) for me to defend my title.  American Dede Griesbauer has a world class swim/bike combo, and of course fellow Aussies Kate and Dimity, local Taiwan favourite Jenny Li, and some strong Japanese competitors were all going to make my day a tough one!  Race morning dawned with a non-wetsuit swim for the Pros.  I was pretty thankful as it was HOT and covering myself with thick black rubber was not appealing!  The Pro Females were off 1min behind the Pro Men.  The biggest thumbs up though was the 20min gap to the Age Groupers.  Yes 20MIN!!!  It ensured a clean and honest race from all the Pros.  I only wish this sort of time gap would apply to all races!  I got off to a pretty good start, swimming hard and trying to stay on the feet of one of the Japanese girls, Maki.  We caught fellow Aussie Kate Bevilaqua, and the 3 of us swam the first lap together.  Unfortunately my beach exit/entry skills are about as good as a wounded penguin….. (and I probably looked like one too!!) as I lost some serious time getting out of the water, running on the sand, and then getting back in!  This left me swimming solo for the 2nd lap and losing about 45sec to Kate and Maki by the end of the 2.4km swim.  Yes, it was a long 32min!

Focused 🙂

Out onto the 2 lap undulating bike course, I worked hard to try and catch up.  At the first U turn I saw that I was only about 1min down to Kate and Maki.  Dede was on a different planet to the rest of us and much too far ahead for me to bother!  No matter how hard I tried though I didn’t make any inroads into the gap, and by the time T2 came around, it was still 1 min!!  The upside though, I didn’t lose anytime on the very lonely solo ride 🙂  Dimity had caught up to me with about 5ks left to ride and we entered T2 together.  Onto the run.

Working hard in Taiwan

The point to point 21ks can only be described as a death march.  In my case, death march #4 for me!  By this time, the temperatures were into the 30s, and with little wind and high humidity, it was a serious sauna.  To make it even more fun, the run is about 90% uphill, with the first 7.5kms being the toughest/steepest bit.  It is truly a test of your mental strength just to keep moving forward!!  The heat hit me hard once I got off the bike and I was struggling big time as Dimity ran ahead.  I passed Maki and moved myself into 4th.  The point to point run also means you have no idea how far people are ahead or behind you.  There is also very little crowd along the course, so it’s a very lonely slog!  I kept moving forward as best as I could, although at times it felt like I was jumping up and down on the spot rather than any forward movement…..  I walked through the aid stations to grab water, sponges, coke, and anything that would help cool me down a little!  I finally reached Yoho Resort where mum yelled to me 2min down from 3rd.  This was a little boost as I honestly thought the gap was much bigger, but I only had about 5ks left to catch up!  I picked up the pace (or at least attempted to!) and gave it everything I could in the scorching heat to try and close to gap.  In the end, I missed by about 40sec.  Bummer!  No regrets though.  I did everything I could out there and despite just missing the podium, I couldn’t be happier 🙂  Congrats Dede, Dimity and Kate and thank you Taiwan for another tough but great race!  Maybe #5 next year 🙂

Smile for the camera!!

Challenge Shepparton

Post Taiwan, I had a mini holiday in Hong Kong, catching up with all my aunties, uncles, cousins and my grandma.  It was great fun and spending a day at Ocean Park was definitely the highlight!  Lots of cool rides which my brother and I made the most of!  It was hectic few days though, and I was pretty tired when I got back to Aus.  Post holiday blues were quickly vanished though as I had Challenge Shepparton to look forward to which got me back into SBR mode pretty fast!

I had never been to Shepparton, but have heard plenty of good things about the race there, so I was excited to visit the small town.  We drove down from Canberra which was nice as packing involved throwing everything into the car!  Easy peasy!

The weatherman wasn’t wrong when he predicted Saturday night and Sunday morning rain.  Not sure what was louder – my alarm going off, or the pelting rain outside!  It poured cats and dogs as I ate my pre race breakfast, but thankfully by the time I got to transition it has eased off allowing me to at least set up without having a cold shower.  The wind was also not playing nice and this combined with the rain and 11 degree temps meant a lot of huddling and cuddling before the start as everyone tried to stay warm.  The start was delayed 10min, but finally at 6:43am our small pro field of 6 girls were off!

Radka and Annabel immediately got away, as expected, and unless something went wrong with those two, it was most likely going to be a race for 3rd between the rest of us.  The swim was pretty uneventful.  I swam mostly solo and exited the water about 45sec back from Belinda and Michelle Gailey.  It was then out for the 2 lap cold, wet, and windy ride with a nasty headwind on the way out.  I caught and passed MG pretty early on, and had Belinda in my sights ahead.  For the first 30ks though I was riding stiff frozen.  I was so cold in fact, that when I went to try and grab my drink bottle, I couldn’t move!  My arms were red from the rain and wind, and I was stuck in the aerobar position!  I could only just move them enough to my base bar so I could at least turn around the corners!  Pretty scary I can tell you!!  Thankfully the course is dead flat with not too many turns to make!  On the way back with a tail wind, the rain had stopped, and I defrosted just enough to finally grab a gel.  I still struggled to open it though and more of it probably went onto Izzy rather than in my mouth, but it was better than nothing!  Onto the 2nd lap and back into the headwind which seemed even more evil than the first time.  I was in my small chain ring just trying to keep the cadence up.  Yep, SCR on a dead flat road!  It was a long slow slog, but finally I made it to the turnaround and was rewarded with a fast ride back to transition.  I shoved on my wet soggy socks and equally wet soggy shoes and headed off for the 3 lap run.  I was in 4th with Belinda 3min ahead.  My feet were still frozen from the ride so it was pretty painful for the first few Ks.  I felt pretty good though running along and ticked off the first lap in 28min.  The cheering and support from the crowd was awesome as I ran along.  I could see the gap to Belinda was closing pretty quickly and at the start of the 3rd lap, I passed her saying a quick “sorry” as I went by.  It was her last race here in Australia, and a podium finish for her would be a perfect send off.  Unfortunately (for her) I came along to crash the party!  I still had to dig deep though on the 3rd lap, as I knew BG wouldn’t give up, and it’s not over until that finish line!  The last 2ks got very ugly as I was slowing rapidly with fatigue, but at last the red carpet came and I could smile and celebrate 3rd 🙂  A podium finish at last!!  Geez it’s been far too long since!!

A little unreal with these two amazing athletes, but i’ll take it!

Thanks Challenge Shepparton for an incredibly well run inaugural event in testing conditions!  I brought home a lot of cool souvenirs from the race 🙂

Finally, if you are still reading, a huge thank you to all my amazing sponsors – Felt Bicycles, Saucony, Champion System, Compress Sport, Hammer Nutrition, Xterra Wetsuits, Profile Design, Rudy Project, Northwave Cycling, Computrainer, Scicon Bike Bags, and TLC Cycles.  Also to my manager Phil from M5 Management, coach Corey, friends from home and all over the world for the messages, the spectators cheering at the races, and of course my family for their never-ending love and support!!  One more race left for 2014 as I head back to VIC for the inaugural Mornington Half Triathlon!

Cheers to all!

Shell 🙂

Hello World!

Posted: September 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Dear Friends,

Opening http://www.shellzworld.com, please enter your username and password…..hmm…mental blank.  oh dear.  Password forgotten!!  Yes it has been THAT long since logging in to my blog.   Not that I should be surprised.  My last post was dated Feb 15th 2014…….OMG.  Ooops!  That really was many many full moons ago!!  Overdue is probably a massive understatement.  More like expired and close to being buried in the graveyard.   However, 7 months on, I have finally decided to bring “Words from Wustar” back to life 🙂  Not that I really know where to start…..I’ve only done 4 races since!   Huski Long Course, Challenge Batemans Bay, Philippines 70.3, and most recently Sunshine Coast 70.3.  All races have thrown up various challenges (expected and unexpected), and to be truthful, results are really nothing to be excited about.  Maybe that’s why I haven’t bothered to blog much.  After all who wants to read a book or list of excuses anyway?  This went wrong, that went wrong, I should have done this, or I should have done that, I pulled a heart string.…  Ok, maybe not the last one 🙂  The truth is though, I hate excuses.  Anything that happens on the race course is racing.  I should be prepared for whatever is thrown my way, and adapt under every circumstance.  Any explanation in a race report that details something negative in my racing, is simply an explanation of what I messed up or what the day threw at me (controllable or uncontrollable), and hopefully what I learnt.

I am extremely thankful to have a great team of supporters and sponsors around me who understand the roller coaster ride that professional racing is.  So despite what I said above, I’m back on the blog wagon 🙂   To all those who do follow me on here, I apologise for the lack of updates!!  Yes I am alive, and no, I have not quite frozen into Iceman here in Canberra!!  With race season just getting underway again down under, there will be a bit more action on this blog!

winter training

Riding a bike or robbing a bank??  Winter training in Canberra!!

So without further ado, here a brief summary of the said races since February:

Huski Long Course – DNF.  Yes, I know.  The 3 letters no one ever wants to see!!  A silly ankle injury on the run though ended my day there, ie, Wustar being an idiot.

Challenge Batemans Bay – 5th.  Nothing real special here.  I had a decent swim, struggled on the bike leg, but then ran my way into top 5.  Hmmm….sounds familiar for Shell hey??  Sums up quite a few of my races!  Trust me.  I know my bike is a glaringly obvious weakness, and yes, I am doing everything I can to address it!

BB

Philippines 70.3 – 6th This really was just a “fun” race for me.  I was never going to be any real “race shape” training through a Canberra winter!!  Let’s just say going from -5 degrees to 35 degrees was like throwing a polar bear into the desert…..a battle of survival!!  But OMG….the Filipino know how to put on a race!!  I honestly wasn’t bothered by the result.  I just had an absolute whale of a time in Cebu!  Without a doubt the BEST in the Asia Pacific region!

philippines

Sunshine Coast 70.3 – 10th.  I had done a bit more so called “race prep” for this with some more TT efforts on the bike in training and including a few runs off the bike, but it still felt like a bit of mad cramming through the Canberra winter.  Coming down with a head cold in the days leading into the race was also not the best of timing.  I hardly ever get a cold!  This was my first this year!!  So I was pretty bummed that it came before a race.  I started to feel better on the Saturday though (thanks to a whole lot of drugs and pills!) and was able to get through the race without digging myself a hole, ie, I didn’t get sick again afterwards!  My swim was very much a disaster (note – beach starts are not my friend!).  Gold medal to me for the most impressive face plant!  It left me goggle-less and spat out the back of the field, which is unfortunately where I pretty much stayed.  Onto the bike, I really struggled to get going over the first 20ks.  I was actually feeling a bit cold believe it or not!  Damn you QLDers with such early starts!  Those I came out of the water with disappeared into the distance as my body just felt dead and wouldn’t respond to anything I told it to do.  I had a few moments of actually feeling good during the ride, but these were pretty short lived.  I was just happy to hit T2 and get off the bike to be honest.  Out onto the run, I was very unsure of how this was going to go.  My run legs were either with me, or I had left them behind in Canberra……thankfully I had packed them!  I was last at this point of the race and already writing my race report in my head.  Something like “yet another frustrating race for Shell…..”  However, with some cheering from the crowd and mum yelling at me to run my “effing” ass off, I was determined to at least try and pull something decent out of it all. Besides, I love running hills 🙂  In fact, I run nothing but hills and trails around home, so I really didn’t find the run course in Mooloolaba that hard.  I spent about 95% of the run tucked in behind a guy called Jared (race #663).  He was running a pace that was perfect for me – not too fast, but certainly not easy!!  I focused on nothing the entire run except his back, determined not to let the rubber band snap…..I just hope my huffing and puffing didn’t annoy him too much!  I knew at this pace though I was going to catch a few girls ahead and I must say, it’s a real confidence boost knowing the gap is closing.  Oh the joys of racing!!  From the super low to feeling on a high!  I managed to run my way into 10th.  While 10th sounds pretty ordinary, there was not a single tinge of disappointment post race.  I was smiling, happy, tired, and oh so sore the next day!  Damn downhill running!  I did what my body could do, and really, you cannot ask for much more than that.

So onwards and upwards we go!!  The weather is warming up (or maybe not…I am in Canberra after all!), the magpies are coming out to play, the fluffy yellow wattles are blooming, and the spring winds are here.  Signs that off season is over and racing season is around the corner!!

Finally, thank you everyone for the support and messages!  Especially to my sponsors – Saucony Australia, Champion System, Felt Bicycles, Compress Sport, Hammer Nutrition, Profile Design, Xterra Wetsuits, Scicon Bags, Northwave Cycling, Rudy Project, Computrainer, TLC Cycles, and my manager Phil Stoneman from M5 Management.  I always think it sounds like an Oscar speech when athlete write this, but in all seriousness, I would not be here racing without the help of these amazing companies!  And of course, Corey & PTC, and my number 1 supporters, Mum and Dad!!  Can we move north pleeease???  🙂

Until next time, train safe and see you at the races!

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Shell 🙂

BLOG TIME!!!

Posted: February 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hi all!!  My goodness…..blog? what blog??  It’s been so long that I don’t even know where to start!!  Oops!  Sorry everyone!  My last report was from Challenge Forster where most know by now my day ended in the medical tent, battered and bruised, but fortunately nothing broken.  December was a race against time to recover from the crash and try to get ready for Canberra 70.3.  However, my stubborn hip took much longer than I had anticipated to heal up, and on race week I knew doing Canberra wasn’t going to be the best of ideas.  It was disappointing to not be able do my home town race, but it was the correct decision to make and wasn’t worth the risk.

Christmas and New Years then came and went.  It was a quiet one in the Wu household this festive season.  No holidays away, no big gatherings or parties.  Just a few Xmas presents and a small family dinner.  I used this time to do a lot of riding, mainly because my running was still very limited.  My next race wasn’t too far away anyway, with Auckland 70.3 Asia Pacific Champs on January 20th.

I raced Auckland last year, so I knew the course which is one of the more scenic ones around.  Last year the weather gods decided to make things extra difficult with wind and rain being the theme.  This time though we were blessed with an amazing perfect Auckland day.  Cool and calm conditions greeted us athletes and at 6:15am, the horn sounded and we were off!  I got a good quick start, and eventually exited the water with Jo Lawn and Cat Morrison.  Not bad company!  Unfortunately that’s as much excitement I had for the race.  Once on the bike, I just seemed to be stuck in one gear.  My stomach was also having a little dance party of its own…..not a very nice feeling!  I felt like throwing up and needed a loo stop on the bike.  On the run things didn’t get much better.  Perhaps the Japanese on Saturday wasn’t quite the best of ideas!  Anyway, I battled through as best as I could, eventually finishing in 7th.   Congrats to Cat, Annabel, and Jo for the podium places.  It’s inspiring (and yes, rather humbling!) to race against such talent!

With Auckland done, it was then time to focus on my next race, Geelong 70.3.  A lot has been said and written about this epic day already, but for those who have been hiding under a rock, let’s just say it was a very long morning in a furnace with turbines on full blast!  Geelong definitely tested each and every single athlete.  With temperature already 30 deg at 5:30am and strong winds blowing as I headed to transition, I knew this was going to be very very tough day.  It was declared a non-wetsuit swim for the Pros which I was actually thankful for.  Covering myself with thick rubber wasn’t too appealing at that time given that I was already sweating!  The swim was just a big washing machine.  Normally it’s a kungfu battle with the others around you, but this time, it was a fight with the waves and choppy waters.  I somehow managed to stay with two other girls and not be left in no-man’s land by myself which is always a fear of mine!  After what seemed like an eternity, I finally exit the water after taking in far too many mouthfuls of the ocean and starting to feel rather sea sick towards to the end of the swim.  I must say it was an exhausting 31/32min in the drink!

In and out of transition and up the first hill I was already struggling to ride straight!  The crosswind was blowing me well off to the right!  This was actually pretty scary as I climbed with a death grip.  The rest of the two lap ride was pretty much the same.  A tailwind on the way out, a headwind on the way back and cross winds on the out/back sections.  I actually had a pretty good first lap, not really losing too much time to the girls ahead, but by the 70k mark, I was beginning to feel the dehydration setting in and my head wanting to explode.  I was getting a headache and fading fast.  I really needed an aid station!  Mental note….know where the aid stations are on the bike!  A rookie error!  I thought (or was hoping!) that there would be one at the far turnaround before heading back into the headwind, but alas, nothing there.  I finally saw the one on the way back, but by then, it was too late.  I was pretty much done.  Cooked.  I had nothing!  No energy, zilch.  It was like I just wanted to stop and have a lie down!!  I sat up on the hoods and basically soft pedalled for quite a while.  I knew I was losing huge chunks of time to everyone and had pretty much conceded to pulling out at T2.  Yes I know…not the best of thoughts when racing!  I normally try to stay positive, but I honestly thought I was done for the day.

I finally got to the end of the bike and went through the motions, putting on my socks and run shoes, and jogged out.  Something clicked though as I started the run and I just said to myself, just finish.  Who cares how long this 21ks will take, just finish.  To be honest, I had no real reason not to.  I wasn’t injured, my stomach was fine, and there were plenty of aid stations to keep you going.  The headwind felt like I was jumping up and down on the spot, I was blasted by dust, dirt, and sand, and I was throwing water, ice and Endura over my head.  Yes, Endura drink which looked far too much like water!  Finally though I make it to the end after 5hrs of craziness.  Phew!!  Congrats to everyone who battled out there!  That will certainly be a race to remember!

Next up will be Huski Long Course this weekend 🙂  It’s always a fun time down there, so I’m looking forward to it!

Thanks everyone for the messages and to all my sponsors, coach Jared, Phil from M5 Management, and of course my loving family for their ongoing support.  Still a lot more to come this year including some new and exciting sponsors 🙂 Can I hint that I’ll have a new two-wheeled friend coming in the not too distant future?? lol! Stayed tuned!

See you at the races!

Shell 🙂

PS: Thanks Darryl Carey and Witsup for the photos!

Challenge Forster

Posted: December 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear Friends,

Hope this report finds you all happy and healthy as we near the end of 2013!  Last weekend I made my way up to beautiful Forster, a stunning little town on the North Coast of NSW, and the birth place of Ironman Australia, for the inaugural Challenge Forster half event.  I have always had a keen interest in the Challenge Family races, and with their new arrival back in Australia, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to do this race. 

With my win in Taiwan earlier this month, I was excited to keep the ball rolling and again test myself against a small but talented field.  We made the long uneventful drive up to Forster from Canberra, arriving there late Thursday night before the Saturday afternoon race.  The 1pm start was very relaxing…a bit too relaxing for my liking!  There was a lot of waiting and waiting and waiting pre race! 

The course takes in most of the original Ironman Australia course with the 1.9km swim taking place in the calm waters of Forster Keys, the 2 lap 90k ride along The Lakes Way, and the 3 lap 21km run in Forster town including the iconic Forster-Tuncurry Bridge. 

 

So 1pm finally rolls around, and I’m floating in my Blue Seventy wetsuit on the start line with 8 other girls.  The few minutes before the gun goes off always seem to take forever!!  I got off to a quick start hot on the heels of Andrea Forrest who was chasing Annabel Luxfords feet…it was a pace that I certainly wasn’t going to hold on for very long!  Surely enough the explosion came about 5 or 600m in, and I was swimming solo for a little while until Matilda came past and I drafted off her for the remainder of the swim.  I came out 4th about 2min down from Annabel.  Pretty happy with that!  

Out on the bike though, I was feeling very ordinary for the first 20ks.  My legs just didn’t want to play and I felt flat.  Rebecca Hoschke and Michelle Bremmer passed me like I was standing still.  I started to finally find some legs after the southern turn-a-round point at Tiona, and pushed hard on the return to Forster passing Matilda along the way who unfortunately flatted twice and therefore couldn’t finish.  The rest of the ride was pretty lonely.  The heavens then opened up dumping a significant amount of water on the roads and athletes, and the wind was so strong at times, I was getting blown sideways! 3rd race in the row now in pouring rain!  Why is it I bring wet stuff with me to everywhere I go?? Anyway, I finally make it back into Forster town relieved to have stayed upright…..or so I thought….

A sharp left hand turn, about 200m from T2, I come crashing down.  Maybe it was my brain turning off as I was looking forward to getting onto the run, or just misjudging the corner completely taking it too fast.  Either way, it happened in the blink of an eye.  My front wheel flew out underneath me and my hip hit the ground hard followed by my head and shoulder.  I was in a complete state of shock.  I tried to pick myself up, but then started to see black stars, so remained on the ground for a little while longer.  I’m not sure how long I stayed there.  Maybe about 3-4min?  I finally gather myself together, gingerly mount my bike again, and slowly creep into T2.  Limping and with blood all over my left side, I’m not sure why I thought I’d be able to run…but I at least had to try, so I painfully pull on my Saucony runners, and jog out.  Ha.  Fat chance!!  I make it probably 100m before I’m walking/limping again.  At the first drink/aid station, I surrender to the pain and called it quits.  Tears filled my eyes and wow…am I a sorry sight or what!!  I was also freezing.  A lady then comes to my rescue, wraps me up with a plastic rain coat and takes me to medical which fortunately wasn’t too far away.  I lie there shivering uncontrollably, with silver space blankets and towels wrapped around me.  My body temperature was 35 degrees!  After what seemed like an eternity I finally stop shaking and when my face had gone from blue back to a more normal colour, they let me go.  I get changed into dry warm clothes and mum and I head back to our hotel. 

 

So, definitely not the way I wanted to end my race!  Congrats though to Bec Hoschke for her amazing win!  One of the nicest and most supportive girls I have met and well deserved victory!  Thank you to the volunteers and medical staff for looking after me, and to Mel Saltiel, Mark Emerton, Elite Energy, and Challenge Family for putting on a great event in testing conditions.  I will be back to finish one soon! 

 

I’m now facing an uphill battle to be ready for Canberra 70.3 in 2 weeks time.  I love racing at home, so it would be really disappointing to miss it!  I will just have to wait and see how things progress though over the coming weeks.

 

Thanks everyone again for the support and messages, and to all my sponsors, coach Jared, and manager Phil from M5 Management who keep me going in the sport!  In case you’re wondering, the little ceepo is fine…I was the one that hit the deck!

 

Hope everyone is well wherever you are!

Shell 🙂

The Taiwan Triple!

Posted: November 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear Friends,

Well, it’s been a long long time, but I can happily say that I have finally found that top step on the podium again 🙂  There must be something in the air in Taiwan that gives me a lot of luck, as I have now managed to win there 3 out of 3 times.  It’s a race that I enjoy heading back to with a tough hilly course, heat and humidity, and winds that could blow me off into the South China Sea!  This year however, threw up an extra surprise with rain (and lots of it!) welcoming athletes to Kenting National Park. 

After far too many hours sitting in planes and airports, I finally arrived Yoho Beach Resort on the Thursday night.  My brother and mum were also along for this trip which was nice.  Matt hardly gets to see me race, so it’s special when he does.  Friday morning I woke to more rain, so I opted for a run instead of a ride.  The rest of the day was filled with the usual compulsory pre-race activities.  Registration, Bike check in, Pro Press Conference, Race briefing, sponsorship signing for Ceepo and fitting in a little more panic training!  Needless to say it wasn’t ideal running around on my feet all day!  The surprise though came at the race briefing, when we were told that there was a 50/50 chance of a cancelled swim due to a typhoon nearby causing rough and dangerous water conditions.  The contingency plan was a 6k run.  I must admit, when I heard this, my heart might have done a little happy dance.  After all, the swim is always my biggest hurdle and can usually make or break my race.  Having no swim and a run instead definitely played into my favour!  However, that said, I train and prepare for all 3 and very much would have preferred a swim.  It just doesn’t feel right otherwise!  So anyway, onto race day!

3:30am alarm…..ouch.  This never gets any easier!  Breakfast forced down and it was then off to catch the 4:30am bus to the race start.  The Pros had a special shuttle to take us to T1 and thank golly gosh we did.  Leaving the hotel, it was just starting to sprinkle with the wet stuff from the sky.  Over the next 10min, a sprinkle turned into rain which then turned into a shower on full blast!  Arriving T1 at 4:45am it was seriously bucketing down cats and dogs.  The shuttle bus door opened indicating for us to get out.  Not a single one of us moved!  Pussy Pros hey!?? haha!  We then told the bus driver that we’re going to sit here for a little while and wait for the rain to ease a bit.  Hmmm….this wasn’t looking too good!  Captain Awesome (aka Guy Crawford) then came up with the idea of putting on his wetsuit before disembarking the comfort of the shuttle bus.  Hmm…not a bad idea actually!  Before we knew it, a few of us were donning the rubber including myself inside the bus!  I had my trusty Blue Seventy Helix on up to my waist.  It was now 5am and fortunately the rain had finally eased a little.  We decided it was now or never to get off.  I then heard the announcement of the cancelled swim and yes, it was now Duathlon Taiwan!  So much for the wetsuit plan!  Anyway, funny story aside, it was time to re-focus and get on with the job.  6k run, 90k ride, 21k run. 

At 6:10am, it was finally go time.  All the pros off together, it was 3k uphill, turn around, 3k downhill.  Now that’s one sure way to sting the legs first up!  I hadn’t much of a chance to do a good warm up, so the first uphill part, I just sat in with the rest of the girls.  On the return downhill though, I took the lead and pushed it a bit more, spreading us 5 girls out a bit.  I hit T1 first with Kate Bevilaqua not far behind me. 

 

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It was then off for the wet, wild, hilly, and slippery 2 lap 90k ride.  Leading the race at the start of the bike leg was a novelty!  I’m far too used to chasing out of T1!!  It wasn’t long though before biking machine Belinda Granger caught me and flew past like I was standing still.  My initial thought was ok, there she goes, not going to see her now until the run.  But then I flicked the switch in my head and said “come on Shell, you’ve been biking your ass off all winter!!  Pull your s#%t together and stay with her!”  Mental gibberish talk hey?  Seems to work!  I turned it up a gear and rode solidly keeping her in sight.  I must say, I was pretty surprised that she wasn’t getting away like I thought.  I was then pinching myself even more when I found myself re-passing her again!  Whoa!  Now this really is a novelty!!  I did a check with myself.  Yes, of course I was riding hard, but I was still feeling in control, breathing ok, and not blowing myself to bits.  It was very wet and slippery out there so I was also being careful, especially around the corners.  At about 40ks I hit an almighty bump and my front Profile Design bullet bottle decided to launch itself at Belinda who was behind me…oops.  Luckily it was only water in there so I picked up another bottle at the next aid station.  The devastating part though, attached to that lost bottle was my Garmin 😦   Poo.  Goodbye garmin edge 500 computer!  Anyway, BG and I pretty much stayed together for the rest of the ride and hit T2 together.  I was just relieved to have stayed upright! 

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It was then out for the long 21k slog back to Yoho Hotel and the Finish.  The run here is one of the most brutal I have done.  It’s uphill for a good majority of it, usually very hot, humid and into a headwind.  The rain had pretty much stopped by now and the sun was starting to peak out, making humidity like 100+%!!  It was seriously sauna like and just a battle of survival to the finish.  One foot in front of the other.  The point to point run means you have no idea of where other competitors are behind you.  Very nerve wracking I tell you!  Despite being in the lead, I never felt safe and was just waiting for one of the other girls to catch me.  I certainly wasn’t moving very fast!  Aid stations were every 2.5ks and I was just counting each one down.  At one of them I stopped and dipped my entire head into the bucket of cold water!  I think this was at like 15ks or so, and I was just praying that my legs and body would hold up for another 6ks.  The one and only turn around is at the 18.5km mark.  This was where I finally got to see the other girls.  I had a pretty decent gap (6-7min or so) and finally allowed myself to think whoa!  I think I’m actually going to win!!  The last few ks though still seemed to go on and on forever, but at long last the finish chute came and it was celebration time!!  WOOT!!  Happy as a hippo in mud!!  And yes, I was pretty dirty myself! 

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Congrats to Kate and BG for 2nd and 3rd making it an Aussie sweep of the podium, and to all the other competitors for completing such a crazy race.  It was a real test out there in those conditions!

 

Finally thanks to my sponsors, Ceepo, Saucony, Profile Design, Compress Sport, Champion System, Hammer Nutrition, Ryders Eyewear, HED Wheels, Blue Seventy, Computrainer and TLC Cycles.  You all mean the world to me and this win is for all of you too!  Thanks for the amazing support!!  Of course I can’t forget coach Jared for putting me through so much hurt day after day, week after week.  Especially on the bike over the past few months!  The sweat, the tears, the pain.  Sometimes you just wonder why?  what for?  where’s the light at the end of this tunnel?  I wake up on most mornings, legs feeling like they’ve been run over by a truck, but I push on each day as best as I can.  Some days are great, some are definitely not!  It’s a cliché I know but hard work really does pay off….eventually!!  To my manager Phil Stoneman from M5 Management – thank you for your constant, unwavering belief in me!  I wouldn’t be doing this without all your help!  Lastly, to my amazing family, mum, dad and my brother, and to all my friends back home and around the globe!  I love reading messages pre and post race!  Always makes me smile!  Thanks a bunch!

Onwards now to the next stop – Challenge Forster!  Looking forward to doing my first ever Challenge race! 

Thanks for reading!

Shell 🙂

 

IRONMAN JAPAN!!

Posted: September 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

Minasan Konnichiwa!!

Ironman Japan.  Wow.  Where do I even start!!  I could write a whole blog on the travel, the cultural experience, and the weird wacky and wonderful Japanese way of life, but I’ll skip all that and just get straight to the race itself to save you all from reading a multi-page essay on Japan!

Ironman made a return to Japan this year after a brief hiatus, and the picturesque town of Lake Toya, Hokkaido was the new venue.  Known for its natural Onsen (Hot Springs), the small ski town of Toya was a stunning location booting a course certainly fitting for an Ironman battle!  A swim in a crystal clear lake, a challenging bike ride with impressive views of imposing mountains, volcanoes, forests, and lush farmland, and all ending with a spectacular two lap run alongside Lake Toya.  It was just simply spectacular scenery from race start to end!

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The ever popular Whit Raymond getting the Pre Race Carbo Party started!

 I went into this race with absolutely zero expectations and no pressure whatsoever on myself.  Ironman Cairns this year was a steep learning experience, and when the dust had settled from that race, I quickly started looking around for another IM to do.  Without having to travel to the other side of the earth, Japan and Metaman Bintan were the only two options I had.  I picked Japan for a host of reasons.  1) Being stuck training in a Canberra winter meant a cooler/colder race would suit me far better.  2)  I wanted a low key race without too much hype/fanfare about it.  Japan was definitely that!  and 3) a P2000 points race would come in handy in case I wanted to chase Kona points for 2014.  Anyway, so onto race day!

 There’s no question that the female pro field was thin and not particularly strong.  With just 5 on the start list and 4 actual starters, I knew it was just going to be a pretty long lonely day out there!  6am start meant a ridiculously early wake up, but I seemed to be getting up at stupid o’clock everyday in Japan anyway because of such an early sunrise!  I led the entire 3.8k swim, somehow navigating around the funny 1 and 2/3 lap course solo without getting lost….not sure how I managed that as I’m not particularly great at sighting or swimming straight!  After 57min of splashing around I was out first with a Japanese girl not far behind me.  T1 here in Japan was also quite different from Cairns.  Here, you do everything yourself!  No wetsuit strippers, no one handing you you’re Bike Bag, no one in the change tent offering sun cream or help with your helmet/sunnies/etc.  Not that it bothered me anyway.  It’s not like I needed that much assistance!

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Finally out through the muddy wet mosh pit of transition and it was off for the 180k journey through the hills. 

Ironman.com had a preview of the bike course, describing it as “rolling hills and some long straight flats – perfect if you’re looking for a fast bike split”.  Umm…hello??  Did you guys actually ride the course??  The only flat part was the first and last 25ks around Toya Lake.  The rest of it – a technical hilly sufferfest!  I honestly don’t remember too much of the ride other than the fact that I was either a) climbing at snails pace or b) flying down a hill at breakneck speed or c) cornering one of the million 90 degree turns on the course!  Often a big downhill was followed by a sharp 90 degree turn, so it was pretty dangerous on some parts.  But kudos to the Japanese volunteers, race staff, police and locals who lined the entire 180ks and marked out every corner/turn/intersection with cones and big massive arrows and signs.  It was actually impossible to get lost!  Anyway, at about 60ks I gave up my lead and a Japanese girl went past me.  She flew by me on one of the downhills and I thought whoa!  Maybe I should actually pedal hard down these hills too!  Although I was already in my biggest gear!  At around the 120k mark, the rain began to fall and the wind picked up significantly.  They say when it rains in Asia, it pours, and this was no different!  In the blink of an eye I was soaked head to toe!  The temperature plummeted and it now became a battle of just staying upright!  The wind was just insane blowing me around like a feather.  Here is where being 49kgs does not help!  I was also getting cold wearing nothing but my tri suit.  The rain was hitting so hard that it stung my skin.  At around 130ks I took a tumble around one of the sharp turns in the wet.  Thankfully I was not going very fast, but my right hip was pretty sore from then on.  My bike also decided it wasn’t going to behave in the 25 or 23 tooth so the rest of the climbing from there was one hell of a grind!  The Taiwanese girl (and eventual winner) went past me at 145ks and by that point I was just about over it!  I was really mentally starting to struggle and even though it was only 35ks left of the ride, it just felt like the longest 35ks of my life.  Finally I get back to T2.  Cold, wet, tired, sore and feeling very much like a dead dog!  And now I have to run a marathon???  Oh lord…

T2 again was much like T1.  No assistance whatsoever.  You had to rack your bike on a special “free rack” AND you had to take your bike shoes with you to the change tent!!  Yes, your bike shoes!  You weren’t allowed to leave them attached to the bike!  I don’t remember this being in the briefing or anywhere in the race notes, so I spent a fair bit of time running around! 

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Finally though I was out of the there and onto the run.  Strangely I felt surprisingly good running and quickly settled into a pace that coach Jared had given me.  It was very conservative I can tell you that!  I finally see and hear from my mum that I am 12min down from the leader.  That was quite a surprise.  I was expecting a lot more than that after my heinously slow ride!  12min is definitely doable over a marathon!  I had to be patient though…no point trying to make up all that time over the first half!  That would definitely lead to explosions at the end!  Slowly but surely the Ks ticked over.  I was making up ground and closing the gap, but my gosh it was slow!  Half way done and my Garmin reads 1hr 33min.  Maybe a bit quick but still feeling semi decent! 

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I keep ticking off the Ks, remembering that the race doesn’t start until the 30-32k mark.  The Taiwan girl was running pretty strong and I can see that the gap to her wasn’t really changing much throughout the run.  2nd place though was still very realistic and I was ever so determined to take that spot!  I hit the 32k mark and think ok, it’s all now all your head and heart.  Go Shell Go!  I’m sure it wasn’t pretty but I finally see 2nd place just ahead and make the pass at 36ks.  6ks left to hang on!  The last 4ks though I was really starting to slow big time and struggle.  It was all just mental gibberish talk (which had been pretty much going on all day anyway!) and just putting one foot in front of the other, that FINALLY got me to the finish chute!  Whit the commentator yells out “MICHELLE! YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!”.  Priceless.  I was over the moon, grinning from ear to ear.  I can’t even find words to describe the feeling.  The pictures below say it all.  It was just a wave of emotion, relief, and happiness.  I had done it at last.  I had finished an Ironman.  HIP HIP HOORAY!!  2nd place was just the icing on the cake!  Congrats to Shaio Yu Li and Emi Sakai for 1st and 3rd.  Although the field was small it was still a battle out there of guts and determination and I’m glad the three of us tried to make the race at least a little bit exciting to watch unfold! 

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A picture says a thousand words 🙂

Last but not least, all the thank yous!  To all my sponsors Ceepo, Saucony, Compress Sport, Profile Design, Champion System, Hammer Nutrition, Ryders Eyewear, HED Wheels, Blue Seventy, Computrainer, and TLC Cycles.  The gear and equipment I have access to is truly world class and I am ever so grateful for all your support!  To coach Jared and manager Phil Stoneman from M5 Management – thanks for believing in me through thick and thin and for all your words of encouragement!  I don’t think I would have started IM Japan if it weren’t for you two!  To swim coach Corey Bacon – swim prime hey??  Haha!  We’ll take that!  Finally to my family (especially mum and dad!), and to all my wonderful friends – the messages post race was pretty overwhelming and even nearly brought tears to me!  I had a lot of FB and Twitter to catch up on!  Lol!  Thanks guys for all those kind words!

A week off for some R and R and it’s time to get ready for the rest of the 2013 year J.  I have decided on 4 more races for 2013 and they will be Port Macquarie 70.3, Taiwan 70.3, Challenge Forster, and Canberra 70.3. 

Minasan Arigatoo Gozaimasu!

Thank you everyone!  See u at the races!

Shell 🙂

Yeppoon 70.3

Posted: August 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear Friends,

Last weekend I took the opportunity to escape Canberra’s seemingly endless winter and ventured up north to Yeppoon, QLD, for the last ever Ironman 70.3 race there.  Nick Munting has done a great job with this event and it’s sad to see it disappear from the Australian calendar.  I have done Yeppoon a few times now and I love the whole relaxing vibe of the race, centred around the Mecure Capricorn Resort.  Everything is so convenient with transition literally on your door step, a lazy 8am race start, and of course the amazing ice cream and swimming pool at the finish line to cool off hot tired bodies! 

I didn’t have the best lead up into the race coming down with cold/flu like symptoms on the Monday of race week.  The usual sore throat, runny nose, stuffy head and generally feeling “blah” meant a forced 3 days off.  Tues, Wed, and Thursday was spent sleeping lots, and overdosing on the garlic, echinacea, and olive leaf extract.  I highly recommend these 3 products to anyone with the cold/flu.  I swear by them every time I start feeling like I’m coming down with something!  By Friday I was feeling much more human and managed a little jog before heading to the airport.  I was pretty confident that by Sunday all would be ok.  I may be a little flat, but oh well.  I was looking forward to the warmer weather, sun, beach, and wearing shorts and tees! 

Race day greeted us with a perfect morning.  Little/no wind meant the beach looked more like a huge swimming pool.  A big difference to what I swam in the day before where I was tossed around by the waves and choppy water!  It was only a small field of 5 girls, and it was no surprise to see superfish swimmers Lisa and Gina take off and immediately gap the rest of us.  I’m not usually the best at beach starts, but I got off to an ok one this time.  At least I didn’t face plant into the water!  I sat comfortably on the feet of Maddie Oldfield as we made our way through the 1.9k swim.  It seemed to take a very long time though as I began to wonder where on earth that last buoy was!  The run up the sand dune to transition sent the HR into overdrive.  Not that I was moving very quickly either!  Finally out on the 5 lap ride, 3min down from the leading 2 girls.

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I’ve been working hard on my riding over the winter and was confident of putting in a solid bike ride in Yeppoon.  For a lot of my past races I’ve lost a huge chunk of time over the bike leg of a race.  Sometimes as much as 10min!  It was something that I definitely needed to address so I set my focus this winter on pushing those pedals.  I must admit, my Computrainer has taken some pounding over the past few months!! As many know winter here in Canberra is not particularly a pleasant time!  I’ve spent more hours than I care to count staring at the wall in my garage!!  Many leg burning, lung busting, and tear inducing trainer sessions has seen some improvements in my previously non-existent, feeble power/wattage.  While I know I still have a long way to go before even considering myself a cyclist, it’s nice to know that all those painful intervals is doing something!

Anyway, back to the race.  I went out hard on the bike, with the goal of keeping the time gap to Lisa/Gina to as minimal as possible.  With the course layout of 5 laps, it was easy to spot the other competitors and Gina’s bright green helmet was easy to pick out!  Although I think my red Compress Sport calf sleeves were even more obvious!  I was holding the gap for the first 3 laps or so but from there, the hard effort came back to bite me as I started to lose several minutes over the 4th and 5th lap.  The bone rattling, bumpy rough road was also starting to take its toll and the heat and wind was starting to pick up.  As much as I love my Ceepo, by the end of 90ks I was ever so happy to get off my two wheeled friend! 

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The run is one of my favourites here in Yeppoon.  3 laps with a fun off-road, twisty dirt trail section on each lap.  The heat though hit me immediately.  My legs felt like 100 year old tree stumps!  I honestly had nothing!!  It was clear that my tired legs were having trouble holding me up as I managed to roll my ankle on the first lap in the trail section.  I could keep on running, but it was pretty painful for the rest of the run.  Simply put, it was a hot death march for 21ks!  Doing my run sessions dressed like an eskimo in zero degree temperatures probably didn’t help either!  It was like throwing a polar bear into the desert, and yep.  I definitely felt as heavy as one!  I thought I might come good after the first lap, but nope.  Still nothing!  Plod plod plod.  Sunday long run anyone??  I was going so slow that I was sure the girls behind me would catch me as I knew they were pretty decent runners too.  But I guess the heat was slowing everyone down this year and I managed to hang on and finish 3rd.  

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A big thanks to Nic Munting and the X-Tri team for putting on another great race in Yeppoon.  Hopefully it will be replaced next year with another event as it really is a great location!

So what’s next for me?  Well, after my disappointment at IM Cairns, I am having another crack at the craziness.  Next stop for me is IM Japan!  And yes….it is exactly 1 week away as I type this report!  EEEKK!!!  To say I’m excited, scared and nervous is a massive understatement!  I have deliberately kept away from making any social media announcement about it, as I didn’t want to create any hype/fuss like there was before IM Cairns.  Those closest to me though have known for a while that I would be doing this race.  My goal for Japan is simple.  To finish.  Honestly, nothing more. 

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In other news (and probably not a huge surprise for some), I am no longer with the D-Squad anymore.  Darren and I parted ways just after Cairns this year.  I knew well before Cairns though that this was going to be the case, so it wasn’t an all of a sudden change.  There is no doubt that my time with the squad was valuable.  I definitely learnt a lot in 1 year and I want to thank Darren for teaching me so much.  It’s a pity that things didn’t work out, but I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason.  There are no harsh feelings whatsoever and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to work with him.  I’m sure that the success of his squad will continue! 

Anyway, so for the past few months I’ve been working with Jared Hauschildt – partner of my good friend Mel Hauschildt for those wondering.  It was a change that my manager Phil Stoneman recommended and one that I have really enjoyed.  I also know how to say their surname now…AND I even know how to spell it!  LOL!  While Jared looks after my bike and run and other things, I do my swimming with coach Corey Bacon and the Performance Tri Club here in Canberra.  Basically a group of talented youngsters focusing on ITU and draft legal racing.  In other words, superfish swimmers! 

Finally, special thanks to my sponsors; Ceepo, Saucony, Profile Design, Compress Sport, Champion System, Hammer Nutrition, Ryders Eyewear, HED Wheels, Blue Seventy, Computrainer and TLC Cycles for all your support.  And of course to all my friends, family, coach Jared and manager Phil.  Hope everyone is going well, training hard, and looking forward to the Australian season!

so now, onwards now to the land of the rising sun, sushi, and sashimi!

Shell 🙂