“Why do I do this?" the thought that runs through my head before the start of a race. It’s a fleeting thought but it happens in every race. The last few hours pre race is an uncomfortable time.  You have to manage nerves, manage excitement, all the training is done. You're not getting any fitter and the only thing that can change the outcome of the race is your mental state.

After being out of racing so long I was looking forward to racing and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was unsure of my fitness but I wanted to be sure when I stood on the start line why I was doing this, why I wanted to put myself through it again? As I was preparing to race again I have been thinking about the reasons why I wanted to race. What drives me to battle through 18 months of injury to get back on the start line. There were lots of reasons but the biggest one was the feeling of racing, the feeling of crossing the finish line. It's hard to put into words for me, but it’s a feeling of satisfaction, the satisfaction of having worked hard for something, the sense of accomplishment that comes from having worked hard for something and to achieve it. So in my build up to the last two races whenever I was nervous, questioning myself, I referred to this ‘satisfaction feeling’ and how I wanted to feel like this again.

The first race of the year in New Zealand was a World cup sprint race.  Half the usual distance, not my preferred distance, but it was a good starting point to the season. As soon as the race started I loved it! It was great to be back in the race. The course was solid after an average swim and I ended up in the front group and we worked hard on the bike to build up a gap to the chase pack. The 5k run was three laps with a hill in each lap. I started the run a bit down on the leaders after a slow transition (oops). I felt better as the run went on and was happy to start passing some girls and I ended up 4th! I was so happy to have finished a race, and to have ended up with a decent position was a bonus.

I spent two weeks in New Plymouth training with the British team before heading to Auckland World Champs Series. The training camp was great. Good company and good training environment. The people in New Plymouth were friendly and made our stay easy. Heading on to Auckland I was a little bit more nervous for the race. I had a great start, got some clear water and then I don’t know what happened. I spent most of the first lap fighting around the buoys. The second lap I felt like I started swimming a bit better and moved up the group. Heading out onto the bike I felt terrible for the first few laps, but hung in with the front group. As the laps went on I felt better but missed the break of the two strong Kiwi girls and Jodie Stimpson. When we hit the run our chase group was about 45 seconds down on the lead three. After feeling a bit average on the bike I wasn’t sure how I would feel running. I got into a rhythm and ended up running with about 6 or 7 other girls. I was pretty happy thinking ‘this is great, a top ten first WCS race, cool’. On the last lap we hadn’t made up hardly any time on Jodie, so when Anne Haug put in a big surge I responded the best I could. I couldn’t go with her pace so ended up fighting it out for bronze with Sarah Anne Brault from Canada. My sprint finish isn’t the best so in the last kilometer I put my head down and went for it. I wasn’t sure if Sarah Anne was on my shoulder so I didn’t look back until I hit the blue carpet of the finish. I had opened up a small gap and crossed the line in third. I was so happy!

I have to thank the team who got me back to the start line. I wouldn’t have made it there without them and my sponsors for their support. Thank you! Next stop Cape Town World Champs series race.

The look on my face in this photo to me sums up the feelings I was talking about earlier. The satisfaction of racing again!

Photo from ScottieT Photography