Challenge Wanaka 2014

Hi all and sorry for the delay in getting this posted! I have been absolutely useless since race day and really need to give myself a good kick up the ass. 
Writing this took me back to that day and I think I may have a little more motivation again... maybe.

Defending my title in Wanaka had been on my mind every day for the past 364 days!
It meant more to me than anything else I can remember in my sporting career.
I wanted to win not just for myself, but for my family, friends, sponsors and supporters. 
I felt the pressure and if you had seen me on race morning, you would know that I was showing some nerves. 
When I finished it wasn’t a feeling of disbelief or amazement as it was last year, but pure and simple relief, like I had just finished a doctorate or something.

My preparation for Wanaka 2014 went about as well as I could have hoped. The plan my coach and I put in place was spot on and although at times you always question what you are doing, I also always believed that things would turn out alright. 
Having the likes of Richard Ussher, Dougal Allan, Matty White &co on the start list scared the shit out of me, but ultimately that was what got me out of bed every morning and drove me to a new level. I don’t really want to say thank you to the guys for the nightmares, but thank you!

We woke to clear dark skies, no wind, and temperatures close to 0 Celsius. 
All good though right, it will warm up as soon as the sun shows its face…?
It was cold, not just cold, but COLD and it never really turned in to a typical Wanaka summers day of wind and heat. As much as I love the wind and was disappointed we didn’t get any, the cold suited me also.

We got the 1 minute to go call and with that came the rush of thoughts and nerves that accompany those final moments before the gun goes off.
My race plan was to swim solid and try and maximise my gains there. I knew the first 50-60km on the bike would also be crucial for my own head confidence wise and for the others doubt wise. 
Like last year I had convinced myself that at some stage I would be caught out on the bike, or at least be reeled in a bit and again like last year, I was surprised to be holding what I knew was a critical time gap of around 7 minutes.

I figured Richard would run about 5 minutes in to me and to be honest I really didn’t want to see him next to me on the run, or at any moment during the race for that matter. 
Approaching the end of the bike I was still feeling good and had managed to maintain that 7 minute gap. It was a nice feeling to still be comfortable after 180km and not be worried about re-enacting my shoe dramas of last year where I didn’t know if I’d even be capable of putting them on.

Sure enough my shoes went on without a hitch and I set off on marathon number 5 of my life. 
I felt great from pretty early on and just ticked along at my pace. At about the 10km mark I got the first time gap; 7 minutes to Burgess and 9 minutes to Ussher. I missed a couple of strides at that moment and I knew then that I could hold on and defend my title.

My day was as close to perfect as I have experienced so far. Everything came together when I needed it to and my body responded to everything I asked of it. It is quite daunting knowing that I may never have as good a day as I did out there again, but it is still a great feeling to have been tested mentally and physically more than ever and risen to the occasion.

One thing on race day was perfect though and that was my support crew. My friends and family who travelled down to watch were sensational and without a doubt gave me that extra boost I needed to give them what they wanted (and maybe myself a little), a win. Thanks team! And thank you also to everyone; supporters, race crew, and volunteers who showed their support out there.