Year of the Panda

Summer Cook Uncategorized

Ok, so it is actually the year of the monkey. But I like pandas and Chengdu is home to the largest panda reserve in the world… so we will go with the year of the panda.  Actually, as far as I’m concerned its always the year of the panda 😉

Following my race in New Plymouth, I spent the next week training in NP before heading up to China for the Chengdu World Cup. New Plymouth is one of my favorite places that I have visited and it was a really good place to train. I was fortunate in getting a fantastic homestay – the Dingle family – for that week. The Dingles really made me feel welcome and gave a lot of great tips on places to train and eat in New Plymouth. As a side note, Belgians Claire Michel and Martin van Riel stayed with the Dingles in New Plymouth before I moved in during the week of the race and they both finished on the podium in Chengdu. Its pretty obvious which homestay is the one to hope for in NP if you want to crush your next race! I added a few more pictures of NP that I took during that week to the end of the blog – it’s so amazing there that I couldn’t resist!

China was China. I raced in Chengdu last year and I knew what to expect. I knew that as long as I treated it as an adventure I would be ok mentally. It’s really easy to let China get to you between the inefficiencies, the lack of traffic laws, and the food. I practice a strict no meat policy when I’m in China so I live mainly off of eggs, rice, and bread. It’s a pretty miserable week nutritionally, but I haven’t gotten sick there yet and I know quite a few people who have. As I sat alone eating plain bread the morning of the race I found myself wondering why I put myself through this. I was so sick of bland food that I didn’t want to eat anything at all and I had been pretty homesick for awhile at that point. I was able to refocus before the race but those thoughts made me appreciate my result even more.

Chengdu puts on a good race. The venue was made for triathlon and it is quite impressive, with tunnels to get the athletes from place to place without pushing through the massive crowds. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a race as well staffed with volunteers. As for my race, I was thrilled with the outcome but I was equally thrilled with my execution. I got to the front quickly on the swim and set a controlled pace. Eight of us came out of the water together but only three others latched on at the start of the bike. Over time, the field completely came together, just like last year. One of my biggest goals of the race was to work on positioning, which I did well until we started to head into T2, which is arguably the most important time to get out of the back of the group. It was still good progress but I’m frustrated that I wasn’t able to execute all the way through. My better positioning did help my legs for the run and I worked my way to the front and took over around the midpoint of the first lap. I worked hard to open and maintain a gap. I was so thrilled to round the final 180 and run down the blue carpet to grab the tape. I achieved one of my outcome goals for the season, and yeah, it made managing China and eating the blandest food out there totally worth it.

A huge thank you to Paulo + The Triathlon Squad, my family and friends, USA Triathlon, Off the Front Multisport, Team Psycho, Roka Sports and Alii Sport. I was proud to represent you all on the top step of the podium! My next race will be WTS Yokohama in Japan on May 14.


Finally got a low enough start number to have a prime start position


Why is the water still so deep?

Women's podium with Claire Michel and Lisa Perterer

Women’s podium with Claire Michel and Lisa Perterer

champagne fail

Champagne fail

Mt. Taranaki in the background of the cycle park in New Plymouth

Mt. Taranaki in the background of the cycle park in New Plymouth

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge (NP)

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge (NP)

Poet's Bridge in Pukekura Park (NP)

Poet’s Bridge in Pukekura Park (NP)

A waterfall in Pukekura Park (NP)

A waterfall in Pukekura Park (NP)