Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Andrea "The Machine" Hopkin Talks us through her day At IM Busselton

Andrea talks us through her day At Ironman Busselton. (It might not have been the day Andrea had hoped for, but we're super impressed with the effort) Andrea had a massive year with a 4th at 70.3 Worlds and a 4th in Kona.... She's a machine. Congratulations on an amazing 12months Andrea!

Andrea's words below

Post Kona I was riding an Ironman high. In the immediate days following when the opportunity came to race IM Busso I jumped at the chance. I couldn't wait to race again and had hoped to be able to qualify again for the following year. But as the days and weeks passed for the first time all year I had many negative thoughts. I kind of knew that was not a good sign. Positive thoughts breeds positivity. And likewise for negativity. I hadn't had this before. I was tired. I was back to fitting in working 5 days a week and trying to find the motivation to train after the most amazing trip of a lifetime. Reality hit and so did the post Ironman blues - big time! I skipped a couple of sessions, something I never do. I cut a couple of sessions short. I didn't put in the effort required. I always give my all. The tomorrow I'll start eating better sort of never really came. I knew I couldn't maintain the exact race fitness and weight I had from Kona for another 8 weeks but I still hoped I was carrying enough from Kona to get me through. It was a roller coaster ride for 8 weeks. Ups and downs and tears shed.

As much as I race and do triathlon because love it, I recognise I'm a high achiever. I race to goals I set myself and I wanted to win my age group and qualify again. I'm a competitive person. Competitive with myself mostly. I like pushing my boundaries and limits.

Busselton was a tough day out there physically, but also mentally, knowing I wasn't going to achieve them.

As they say hindsight is a wonderful thing and I was probably being a bit ambitious and asking a bit much of myself to pull off another good race. I'd had an awesome 18+ months with no real "off season" since starting this triathlon caper. I think it was worth the risk and although I didn't get what I'd hoped for I'm proud to have stuck it out and not giving up. I wanted to stop - A lot! But I didn't. I had some great on course support, from family, friends and fellow competitors. My niece and nephew were there watching too, and I didn't want to have to explain why I quit and didn't get a finishers medal for my nephew to take in for news just because I wasn't winning or having a good day. During the race I was so angry/annoyed at myself for not having the race I had hoped for. But I also I know I would have been more angry at myself if I had given up. A lot of mental lessons learnt for me from this race.

Anyway to the race itself...

Swim: I started way to the right. And that's where I stayed. Way too far!! I had a lot of open water and no feet to swim on. I also had a long swim to the first turning buoy but then made the same mistake swimming back in. I always breathe to the left so could see the jetty the whole way, but for some reason it was always so far away. I just didn't put myself amongst it like I should have. I knew I wasn't haven't a great swim. I just didn't "feel it".

I exited the water in 1:09:41. Only slightly slower than my Kona non wetsuit swim. Not happy. I entered the transition tent and it was super busy!!

Bike: Out on to my bike. My favourite leg, probably because it is normally my strongest. I spent the first hour being angry at myself for having such a bad swim. The plan today was to hold back a bit and save my legs a bit for the run. I still only work to perceived effort and was trying to watch my speed a bit knowing what I've raced previously. I knew I made a bit of ground on the bike but nowhere near what I normally do. Again I just didn't "feel it" and felt something was lacking the whole ride. Although I knew I wasn't going as fast I normally did, I felt I didn't have the power. Not to worry I told myself. I've got the run to go.

So 5 hours and 24 minutes later I was in to the next transition. A few less people in the tent this time! The volunteers as always were awesome. Sunscreen applied and off I trotted on to the run.

Run: And trotting I continued..sometimes I even strolled! I struggled for the first out and back section with a pesky cough that wouldn't go away. And then a toilet stop. One of my main goals for this Ironman had been to run a time I was happy with. It's frustrating me a bit coming from the running background and a sub 3hr marathon that I still can't run in to even a 3:30 something time. Hence the idea to hold back a little on the bike. But the theme of not "feeling it" continued and I now knew this day was well and truly over for me. I started walking the aid stations early to get nutrition in and just have a bit of a break. It kept me going seeing my family each time. I stopped and had a quick chat them on one lap when my niece and nephew weren't there. My sister went and got them for when I came back from the short out and back. High fives to them and off I went again. I saw one of the girls in my age group having a great race so I just yelled out to her each lap. It was nice to see at least someone I knew having a good day!! On my last lap I caught up to fellow GK Endurance athlete Jarrad at an aid station. We ran together (and walked) the last 8km. Sharing that last stretch with him would have been the highlight of my day - thanks Jarrad! It was so awesome to see him finish his first Ironman and achieve all his goals. I finished my run in 4:13:01.

Next up....Well firstly a lot of rest and recovery for the body and mind. It's been a big year. I'm under strict instructions to take the rest. It's hard though!! The first week was easy as I was so busy in Perth catching up with friends and family. But now back in Melbourne I'm finding I'm getting itchy feet. I snuck in an easy run, then told the coach after the run. I kind of knew I shouldn't have run. And as confirmed the feedback from the coach came, more rest still to be had...oops!! Take it while I can!

It's been a great journey this year and it's probably a good time to sit back and reflect what I've done. So two weeks post race and I've done just that. 2014 you were awesome!!! One bad race in my eyes isn't too bad, and as many people have said, you've got to have the bad ones to make the good ones good.  My bike is unpacked now and I'm ready for an easy unstructured week of exercising.

I'm looking forward to 2015 now!! Thanks to CEEPO I have been afforded a great opportunity to race Strongman in Japan in April. Following that, I will race IM Cairns in June. If anything, not getting the result I'd hoped for in Busselton will give me a bit of extra motivation for my next one. I'm already pumped!!

As always..lastly but by far not least thanks to everyone - family and friends and coach Kate for your support and encouragement!!

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