Natalie Van Coevorden is an Australian representative in Triathlon, having competed on the world stage since she left high school in 2010. The 24-year-old was born in Campbelltown, NSW and now splits her residence between Wollongong, NSW and Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain for training purposes. Van Coevorden has set her sights on representing Australia in the Commonwealth and Olympic Games and is training and competing relentlessly to achieve her goal.
October is a month I really look forward to with two consecutive weekends of hard racing at home in Australia! I was feeling good leading up to Nepean and Noosa. I had a month of consistent sessions and I could see improvement every week especially in my running speed. This time of year I can train when I want and you certainly appreciate the skill involved in coaching when you are under your own guidance. I put old fashioned pen to paper to detail my training weeks and then set about ticking off each session.
The morning of the Nepean was absolutely freezing. I had gloves, tights and headwear on just to keep warm and I was still shaking. It was a wetsuit swim for the first time in the six years that I have competed and I was glad of the added protection. The women’s field was pretty small and I led with five of us exiting the water together. I was a little disappointed with the swim based on how well I have been swimming but the cold was definitely a factor. In the first stages of the ride I took my position on the front. After about 5km Ashleigh Gentle and Nicky Samuels attacked around me; I was still frozen solid and just couldn’t go with them. Nine-degree average with crosswinds and being wet is not very ideal. I just kept riding consistently and with about 5km to go, I could see I was closing fast onto Nicky. I came into T2 one minute behind Ashleigh and with no time gaps to anyone else in the race. I wanted to give it a good crack and if I had the opportunity to back it off, I would, to save some gas for Noosa next weekend. I felt strong running and stamped a solid 2nd place finish.
The week between the two races was all about listening to my body. You aren’t going to get any fitter between the two weekends so, it was just about maintenance. I actually think I was pretty lucky that Nepean was cool because that’s one less thing my body had to recover from. I took the first few days fairly easy and added some speed later in the week. No new sessions, just lowering the amount of efforts I was doing.
I arrived in Noosa with some confidence from Nepean determined to leave a better impression this year. Last year, I made a dumb error and I went the wrong way. This year, I made sure I googled mapped everything and I made sure I knew and rode the right course. Thanks to Specialized Australia for the lovely Friday morning ride and coffee sit. Noosa has actually just become one of my favourite places to train and race. Waking up in the morning and just rolling out the door at 6am in a jersey and cycling knicks is utter bliss. At home I am surrounded by roadworks making
cycling that little bit more challenging while at Noosa there were endless bike shoulders on every road we went on. We were lucky enough to train a bit on the bike crit track and grass running track. We had a lovely Air B n B lady that was in a perfect location and lucky for us, she used to be a chef. She was so welcoming, supportive and made our pre-race environment a very relaxed setting.
I had a shocker start running into the water but I soon found good feet to follow. I put my head up after the first buoy and saw a gap starting to grow between Danielle and Nicky. I surged past Nicky and sat on Danielle feet for the rest of the swim. I could feel that we had a good gap as no one was taping on my feet. Swimming with her brought my confidence back and I felt fast. Unfortunately, I missed the wave she got in and I had to make up the five or so seconds running into transition. We were out before anyone else had run in.
I had no idea of time gaps and the first time I knew someone was behind me was when Nicky first took a turn going up Garmin hill. I was happy to be on the front as I know I am pushing as hard as I possibly can and I am making the race my own. The first time I roughly knew the gap to the rest of the field was at the end turn around point and I guessed the chase was about a minute or so down. I just kept ticking away and I had just less than a minute on Ashleigh going onto the run. I didn’t feel anywhere near was good as last weekend but I wanted to keep my cadence high, chest up and keep hydrated. At the turn around, I could see that Ash wasn’t very far behind me and I knew she was going to catch within the next km or so. Just past the 5km mark, Ash past me and I stayed focused on keeping strong until the finish. I couldn’t be happier with 2nd place and how I did everything I could to attack the race from the start.
The year isn’t over yet! I am now going to continue to maintain this end of season fitness leading into Hamilton Island Triathlon and my 2nd 70.3 race at Western Sydney later in the month. I am always excited for the unknown and giving these two new experiences a go!