Densham’s Diary: The waiting game

Erin Densham reflects on her off-road title in Victoria, mountain lions in Arizona and patiently preparing for the Commonwealth Games

This past month can be described, at best, by the phrase ‘hurry up and wait.’ Part of the time I’ve been rushing around, working very hard, and part of the time I’ve simply been waiting for something to happen. I finally got my racing season underway in March at the Tre-X Cross Triathlon Championships. The event was very well run by the entire team at In 2 Adventure and supported by the Novotel Forest Resort in Creswick.

Off-road racing is something I really enjoy. Having the opportunity to do an event so close to my Melbourne home was too good an opportunity to pass up. I headed out to Creswick two weeks before the event and what I found was an amazing location for both training and competing for triathlon, be it on- or off-road. I fell in love with off-road racing in 2011, while competing at the Xterra World Championships in Maui. I have to say that Tre-x was equally exciting – plus winning is always nice.

The resort provided beautiful accommodation and hospitality with access to the surrounding environment. The aim of competing at this event was to just get my feel back for competition and to test myself in a low-key environment. The race went well for me. I was able to exit the 500m swim first, ahead of all the men (one up for the girls). The 23km MTB course winded its way between the fairways on the 18-hole golf course and provided a challenging route from both a technical and climbing perspective. The 8km trail run was totally off the beaten track. It was anything but pretty after such a hard bike. I managed to battle through and captured the women’s title while finishing fourth overall with a time of 1:49:33 behind race winner Aaron Dodd, 28 (1:47.23).

It felt nice to be back racing after nearly six months off. What I was able to take from this event was that I was strong… slow, but strong. I was in a good place to take the next step. So what was the next step?

I knew I wasn’t going to be ready to race at the ITU World Triathlon Series in Auckland, so the plan was to leave Melbourne and head to my familiar US base in North Scottsdale, Arizona. It was simple. Keep training, keep progressing and prepare to race at the WTS in San Diego.

This was the third year I had trained in North Scottsdale – a golfer’s paradise. There is local desert wildlife everywhere and I have had my fair share of snake, coyote, roadrunner and tortoise sightings. The most exciting was (luckily) a not so hungry mountain lion.

While training had been going well, since I arrived back in the US, I decided it was best to sit San Diego out. After my success in 2012 and the Olympics, I feel that I have a greater responsibility and greater expectations. At the end of the day, I just wasn’t ready. Whilst I have barely missed a days training since the start of the season, I’m still not where I want to be to perform at the level I demonstrated in 2012. I’m not far off, but it’s taking time. Patience is key.

It’s so easy to get anxious at the start of the season, especially when you have to sit back and watch everyone else performing. But I’ve come to realise there are still so many races in the second half of the season and I need to be patient as well as listen to my own body and support team. There is a lot of racing remaining and right now my primary focus will be the first Commonwealth Games selection race in London on Sept. 14.

Come that date – I will be ready.

Erin Densham is a professional Australian triathlete and bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics. You can read her monthly blogs at Triathlon220.com.au or follow her on Twitter @erindensham.

Photo: Element Photo & Video Productions

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