Jaz Hedgeland

New Year, New Season

Jaz Hedgeland
New Year, New Season

It’s 2017 and the start of a new triathlon season, and hopefully the best one yet. Since my two World Cups in Asia towards the end of last year, I had a short break and then it was straight back into training. I quite liked a good block for a few months of just training, since there were some struggles to get consistent training in last year. So it was head down and bum up until my first race for this year at Robina in the Gatorade Queensland Triathlon series.

The format was two super sprints races, a few hours apart, with the winner having the fastest combined times. It was a 400m swim, 9km bike and 2.5km run on a Saturday afternoon. It had been crazy hot and humid the week leading into the race and then on race day it decided to rain.

The Junior, Under 23 and Elite girls all lined up on the start line together as we'd been merged into one race. This meant my little sister was right next to me on the start line, that's something that always excites us. We sprinted straight out to the first buoy and then turned left and headed to shore. The swim seemed to be over just after it started, but it still managed to hurt a lot.

With a smooth first transition I was out onto the bike amongst the first group of girls, but my speedy little sister had a break on this group along with Gillian Backhouse. So on the first lap of three, the girls around me had formed a group and Kira and Gillian were up the road. In all honesty I wanted to work hard at the front of the pack to close the gap to the two up the front, but my legs were stinging.

Coming back on the first lap Kira dropped off and joined our pack. Two laps to go and Gillian was riding strong solo up ahead trying to keep us away. My legs started stinging less as we began the last lap on the bike and I knew what I had to do to give myself the best opportunity to win this first race. I lead the group into the last u turn on the last lap and then I put my head down and hammed myself into the headwind until I caught Gillian. A few hundred metres later we all dismounted together.

Holly Grice and I ran together for the first lap which was out over a small bridge, down the other side then u turning and heading back. Whilst heading out on the second lap of two Gillian came past us and I knew I had to stay with her. So I tucked in behind her, we u turned and headed back towards the finish line. There were a few corners just before the finish so I picked up the pace a couple of hundred metres before them and lead into those final corners. But before the last corner Gillian came past me and ran through the finish line just in front. I was glad to see Gillian had to sit down immediately after the race as did I, to see we were both in a whole heap of pain. This was the shortest race I've done in a long time but it still hurt just as much as the longer ones.

We both headed straight for the ground after crossing the finish line in race one

We both headed straight for the ground after crossing the finish line in race one

A cool down to flush the legs, an ice bath, some food and then I was only sitting down for half and hour or so before I had to warm up again for the next race. But I had confidence in the training I've been doing with Dan, that I wasn't going to be feeling too fatigued during this next race, maybe even feel better than the first.

Round two began and I just wanted my legs not to be aching as I swam the 400m hard. Yes they were hurting from swimming hard, but they were feeling recovered from the previous race, this was good. I got out of the swim and headed on to the bike and there was a break of three up the road including Gillian and Holly. Our bike pack worked really quick to close this and not allow them to get away. Now since we were altogether in one pack, there wasn't a need to push the pace really hard on the bike, so I could ride a bit more conservatively. Although there were a few attacks, we still all dismounted together.

Welcoming my 2017 Liv Envie to racing

Welcoming my 2017 Liv Envie to racing

Gillian was the first one out of transition this time and I pushed the pace at the start of the run to catch her. We ran the rest of the first lap together and were heading out on the second lap up the small bridge. My legs were feeling noticeably better compared to running in the first race and I didn't want this to come to another sprint finish, so I made my move. I surged up the small bridge and kept the pressure on going down the other side. Gillian didn't go with me. All that was running through my head as I rounded the u turn and ran towards the finish were three thoughts. Hold onto this pace, I've got this, and Dan is watching so relax your shoulders like he always tells you to do. And surprisingly he says that because it makes me more efficient, and efficiency is what I needed right now to hold on to this pace to the finish.

Running towards that finish line in first whilst your squad, friends and coach are cheering you on, knowing you're about to achieve what you set out to do, it's the feeling we all work hard for, because there's not much that tops it. And that was the first race for 2017 done.

Just one of the cutest cheer squads ever

Just one of the cutest cheer squads ever

Forever my partner in crime

Forever my partner in crime

From then I had six weeks until my next race, the Mooloolaba World Cup. I've raced this event the last two years but it has been sprint distance where as this year it's standard distance. I placed thirteenth and then twelfth last year so I'm looking for improvement on that. This race is selection for the Under 23 World Championships later this year, and could also lead to selection in races in the upcoming months. So on the scale of important races, Mooloolaba is pretty high. And even though it's still just over three weeks away, my excitement is building exponentially. And not only for this race but for this season! I’ve set some big goals for myself this year but I know Dan, my family, friends and support network believe in me which will give me the highest chance of getting there.

As for now, thanks needs to go to those in my corner continuing to support me for the upcoming season. Thank you to Parabellum International, Anvil Angus, Liv Cycling Australia, Instinct Nutrition, Triathlon Australia and without a second thought, Dan Atkins and my family. I go back to University at the end of this month and I must thank the Griffith Sports College for their support they are giving me with a full scholarship. I honestly love what I’m studying and I know it provides a good balance, and the Griffith Sports College allows me to do this whilst still having triathlon as my number one priority.

Thank you for reading friends, I hope to update you with lots of exciting, good news as the year unfolds. I’m pumped!