Julie: Season start
1.4.2018: In February Brett told me to do some early season racing. So I looked up races and when I asked him if I should race the European Cup in Gran Canaria on 18th of March or the one in Quarteira the week after, he answered easily: ‘’do both’’. Well, I was taken aback a little to say the least and I wasn’t sure how I’d go.
Obviously I did go well and the Doc was right again. Read on to see how the races unfolded.
Two weeks ago I travelled to the Canary Islands to race my first triathlon of the year. Having been to two training camps on the island, it felt very familiar arriving there and I felt comfortable.
I’d gained some confidence in my swimming over the past couple of months of training with some great swimmers and knew I could produce a good swim. However when I saw the waves on race day I wasn’t so sure anymore. It was going to be a tough swim. I’m happy that I exited the water with the first group. A quick transition saw me at the front of the group and onto the four lap bike course we went. There was a nice hill on each lap and coupled with the wind it would make for a demanding bike ride. I stayed to the front but tried not to do too much work so I wouldn’t blow my run legs. We worked together nicely and soon our front pack of 8 had established a decent gap.
I was second onto the run and expected the quicker runners to fly past me. But as they moved up I was able to stick with them and felt surprisingly comfortable. I tucked in behind the others in the headwind and let my legs roll when we had a tailwind. After 2.5km it was three of us running for the podium. I still felt good but when one of the british girls started kicking about 800m before the finish I couldn’t get my legs to move quicker and dropped of.
Nevertheless, I am delighted to have won my first medal and to be at the front from the start of the race was great! It was so much fun to be back racing and to be able to keep up for most of the run is a promising sign.
On Monday I flew back home and the next Friday it was already onto the next race: the Quarteira olympic distance european cup.
Coming into the Quarteira race one week later, I'd set myself large goals. After the race in Gran Canaria I knew what I was capable of and I was keen to back up my performance.
I knew I had to have a good swim to be right in the mix. And I was so focused on producing that front pack swim that I did anything but.
After a decent start iIwas soon hit by the first wave and was caught in the washing machine that was the ocean. I lost all focus and got distracted by all the things around me. I lost my swim and was not able to recover on the remaining swim distance. I exited the water a fair way back, rushed through transition and onto the bike.
I saw a big group up the road, so I put my head down and started to chase. After one lap of six I had caught up to the main group and there were only three girls up the road. Despite being a large group we caught the leaders after half of the bike ride. Once we did the pace dropped and no one was willing to ride at the front. It could have been a fun bunch ride were it not for the fact that a 10k foot race was looming.
Coming into transition I made the big mistake of not getting to the front of the group. I was caught in the middle of the transition chaos, nearly stumbling over my own bike and then taking what felt like an eternity to put on my shoes. I was probably last out of transition and was on the chase again.
Ahead of me I could see a string of runners with the leaders up the road. I think I didn’t think anything for the rest of the race. I just ran. I ran as quick as I could and would not slow down one bit. I was able to move through the field and was soon running with the chase group. Two girls were up the road. But I still would not stop and with 2.5k to go I joined the leaders. I was back in the mix. We were running together and I knew it would come down to a sprint finish. The question was just who would kick first. The finish came closer and still we were together. We could already see the finish line and I just thought if I want to win I have to go NOW. So I went. I was scared that they would pass me on the last meters but they didn’t. And I won. It was pretty overwhelming and as it was not easy I am really proud that I never gave in and just kept fighting until the finish.
I am happy to start the season with some of my best results and performances. However I know that there is still a lot of work to do. This is why Michelle and I have come back to Gran Canaria over our Easter Uni break to get some more focused training in.
There are bigger things to come.
But for now happy Easter and happy training.
(Pictures: Viviane Sloniewicz and Antonio Alfageme)
Australia and Nina
The first time I flew to Australia was back in 2009. I was only 16 and was about to spend one year in Hervey Bay (Queensland) as an exchange student during High School. I was a typical teenage girl, who I thought I’d have to “re-invent” myself. So, I said to myself: maybe I am not going to do triathlon during my exchange year, maybe I should do something completely different, like volleyball (that would have turned out very bad…). However, my host mum knew that I was doing triathlon in Switzerland, so she already signed me up for the local tri club. Before I really knew, I was competing in my first Hervey Bay Club race only two weeks after I had arrived (barely speaking English at the time and on a bike that must have weighed 15kg). Soon I realized that I really enjoyed training for triathlon over in Australia and I was stoked to be able to represent Queensland at the National School Championships, even though I got completely smashed in the individual race.
When I was back home reality hit me hard when I saw my two younger sisters being very successful in their junior years. I wanted that for myself, so I started training very hard and a year later I got into the Junior National Team. Though it was not a smooth road from there on…
In early 2013 I travelled to Australia a second time. Before that I had been dealing with a back injury for over 9 months and I so desperately wanted to get back into shape and into racing. I decided to join a high performance triathlon squad in Brisbane. Unfortunately, I was still in a lot of pain and when the coach said to me: “we gotta break you before we make you” I knew this was not the right time or place for me to come back. This period of injury was probably the most difficult time of my life and I am very grateful for the people helping me get through it. Not being able to train properly, I travelled to New Zealand instead, which was amazingly beautiful. However, somewhere deep down I was still holding onto that triathlon dream of mine. So back home after about 2 years of this back injury I was able to start training again and decided to do my first 70.3 race in Rapperswil “just for fun”. ;)
Then in 2016 I had a two month break from university and decided to join my babysister Julie, who always wanted to go to Australia herself. Being partly self-coached at the time, I was ready to jump into a new adventure and started working with Susie Langley from Trisutto. Julie had just started training under the guidance of Brett (Sutton) at the time. This change of coaching was still the best decision I have made. Julie and I stayed at the Sunshine Coast with Susie and Robbie, training hard. Due to another “gut-based” decision I entered the “Hell Of The West” middle distance race in a place called Goondawindi. Surprising myself I was the fastest girl on the day. Basically because of this race I, together with my coach, thought I could start my journey as a PRO triathlete.
A ton of swim, bike and run later, and just about 6 weeks ago I flew to Australia for a fourth time and…then I came home with my first 70.3 victory. When I was injured for so long nearly 5 years ago, I never ever thought this would be possible. Now I am even happier I did not give up and that I found a way to believe in myself again.
Going full circle, here is a little article the local newspaper in Hervey Bay wrote about my race at the 70.3 Ironman Geelong. *Little misunderstanding/sidenote: My big dream is a podium at the World Championships in Hawaii, however at 25 I will give myself a couple more years to work towards this goal. ;)
Thank you all for following the triathlon journey of the Derron Sisters!
February: Gran Canaria Camp
2.3.2018: Already one week ago Julie and I flew home from a great 3 week camp in Gran Canaria, and so I thought it is time to write a little bit about Camp Life.
After the first short 10day Camp in January and a couple of weeks at home it was time to board the plane again at the end of January to find some warmer weather. In the beginning we were a bit displeased by the weather that welcomed us as it was around 15 degrees celcius and cloudy with some rain. I know that sounds rather ironic as at the moment we are experiencing a freezing -10 degrees celcius in Zurich.
Being my 6th time (7th if you count a family holiday at the age of 17) on the island, we were settled with pool passes and groceries in no time and were ready to get training.
The first week was rather quiet with only 4 of us there just working along.
But then Coach arrived and the next day Camp really started with a bang. It was time for the famous or rather infamous 100x100 Birthday swim to celebrate both Nicola’s (Spirig) and Céline’s (Schärer) birthday. A quick hello and off we went, after 10x100 easing in, we were down to 1‘20s and blasting away. Still a bit proud of how we did it and really glad for Florin (Salvisberg) stepping it up to lead 60 of them. It’s a great session to look back on and give us a pat on the back. We’re not getting complacent though, the goal is to lead them ourselves, but I can still remember a time when I didn’t even make 40x100 on 1’40 (with all the gear), so I think we did come a fair bit already…
Another favourite session at Camp were the Saturday morning bricks on a 3klm bike loop and 1klm run loop. The number of laps and reps would differ every week and so would the groups zipping round. The last time we did the bricks Julie and I teamed up and were making each other suffer quite a bit. It was a great session and that day we must have made quite an impression as a whole as there were an additional 15 Age Group Campers tackling the bricks.
Most of our runs we would be doing in a park in Maspalomas. The park has all you need for a good workout: a 1.2klm gravel loop, a hill, a 300m loop and stairs. In the 3 weeks I was there I only did 3 runs outside the park and never got bored, that’s how great it is.
When it comes to the riding, there is nothing to complain about either. There is a loop for intervals, a steep hill for hillreps and a time trial valley right in town and when you get out for a longer ride, there’s a stunning coastal road and great climbs into the hinterland.
So what did our daily Camp routine look like? If you are familiar with the Trisutto ways you’ll know that every day is different and you don’t know the program several days in advance. So one day it would be big swim and a long ride, another might be two runs and a little splash, still another would be swim and double bike. However, a daily routine of Julie and I were several hours of uni work in between sessions and cooking dinner together, everything else would depend on the schedule on the day. Another thing that couldn’t be missed were the frequent coffee dates after hard swims and longer rides.
When returning home, I was hit hard by the cold, the price for a coffee and, most importantly, uni work. 5 days after arriving home I had to hand in a 10 page essay, so it was time to bury my head in the books and focus. A lot of work and the occasional meltdown later, I was done and quite pleased, as I’d finally managed to even do the table of contents all by myself, as normally I am rather hopeless when it comes to the most basic things of modern technology.
For now we are back into uni and training but already planning our next Camp when we get a uni break over Easter…
We will keep you posted,
2017: An eventful year
30.12.2017: In the quiet time after the busy christmas festivities we are taking time to look back on an exciting year.
The year started on a high with a four week camp in Cyprus. A place we fell in love with both because of its beautiful landscape but also because of its great training facilities. We were glad to get away from the icy cold and get in some quality training.
Unfortunately, most highs are followed by lows and Julie travelled home from Cyprus with a long lasting injury, putting her on a swim program for a couple of months.
Nina and Michelle, however, built great form early in the season and could not wait until the start of the racing season. Nina kicked hers of at Challenge Rimini with a chocolate medal. At a local race in Frauenfeld, Nina was hit with a shocker: after winning the race in great fashion her new TREK Speed Concept Time Trial bike was stolen. A shock and sadly the bike has never reappeared. This is a good reminder to everyone: never leave your precious bikes out of sight for a moment!
So we needed to organise a new bike as quickly as possible, as the next races were just around the corner. Thanks to the help of the team at Cycling Lounge Zug, Nina was set up with a new bike in no time.
Only a few weeks later she earned her first ever 70.3 Ironman podium finish at Ironman Rapperswil. A performance we are all very proud of.
Michelle competed in Rapperswil too but only as a warm up to her big season goal: Ironman Switzerland ( the full distance!)
However, first we faced some more challenges: Michelle had to focus on her Uni exams at the beginning of June and for Nina and Julie a two-month study period started. Luckily, we could escape to our second home in St. Moritz where we could “simply” focus on training, studying, eating and sleeping, while working with the Trisutto Pro Squad.
The training in St. Moritz was great! We had an excellent training environment, Nina and Michelle could work on all three disciplines and Julie was slowly getting back on the bike and most importantly back to running.
At the end of July another big week was upon us. Nina and Julie travelled to Alpe d’Huez in France. Nina took on the tough long distance race, showing a great performance only to miss the podium in fourth. However, she moved up one step since last year so we believe she’ll have to go back next year to step onto the podium. Julie was back on the start line for the first time in eight months. Needless to say she was sceptical how it would turn out. However she needn’t have worried: the hilly course suited her perfectly and Julie could take the tape on top of the 21 switchback curves of the Alpe.
Only two days later Michelle took on her biggest challenge yet: IRONMAN ZURICH. Our whole family is still in awe of how Michelle managed to overcome all the obstacles leading to standing on the start line and of how well she managed the race with so little experience. Michelle prepared so well for the race and never gave up. Finishing 6th in the PRO category! A great highlight of the summer and something that made her stronger for all that is yet to come. Scroll down if you want to relive her experience.
The year was far from over though. In August Nina and Julie could finally get their exams over with and were then free to focus on swim, bike and run for a while. Nina finished in the Top 5 at Ironman Zell am See and Julie managed a 10th place at the Karlovy Vary ITU World Cup, qualifying for u23 worlds only two weeks later.
Nina and Michelle then took on the chilly XL Triathlon de Gerardmer. Another challenging race, it being freezing cold and containing 1800m elevation within 90km on the bike.
Julie headed to Rotterdam mid-September for the World Championships. Also a freezing race where she surprised herself with a 5th place finish. A promising result considering how the year started out for her.
The racing wasn’t quite done yet. Julie travelled to Japan to compete in another World Cup and to gain valuable travel experience. Nina took on a half Marathon race in Luzern, surprising her with a PB.
Since September Michelle and Julie are back to University and Nina spent three month doing a research internship. We are training with dedication preparing for the next season and enjoying the process: Mixing up the swim, bike, run routine with some cross country skiing from time to time and enjoying Christmas with lots of family time and fun. We are set to start the new year like the last one: in a new warm location doing what we love: we are off to camp in Gran Canaria on the 4th of January. Yay!
Now it is time to say thank you to everyone that has supported us throughout the last year and we cannot wait for 2018 to come with lots of triathlon adventures!
Happy New Year!
The Derron Sisters
Julie: the Journey to World Champs
22.09.17: When i got injured at the end of January this year, the doctors told me it would take three month until I’d be back healthy and running. I started doing the maths and figured I’d be back racing by May, latest June. In the end it was end of July when I did my first race back at Alpe d’Huez. I was pretty devastated to miss such a big junk of the season and many races I would have loved to do and chances to qualify for the European and World championships. I had to accept that probably I would not be racing the races I was planning to do at the beginning of the year but was happy to be back racing nevertheless.
At the beginning of September I raced my first World Cup of the year in Karlovy Vary. This was also the last chance to qualify for U23 worlds in Rotterdam. I came 10th, missing the selection criteria by 25 seconds (including a 15second penalty). Despite not actually making the criteria, the Swiss federation still selected me for Rotterdam, only two weeks later. I am very thankful to have been given the chance to race. Also I was thrilled to still have made it to the start line that I thought I’d have to write off completely at the beginning of the year.
Only a week after having been selected I travelled to Rotterdam and race day came around quickly. I didn’t get a lot of time to get nervous as there was so much to think of for race day.
On race day the weather was everything we did not wish for: heavy rain and 12 degrees air temperature. The cold became my biggest concern. I was afraid I would be frozen by the time the race started. But luckily I’d done a couple of cold races this summer and learned a thing or two.
The preparation went as always and it was time to get onto the pontoon. I jumped in with the gun and started swimming as fast as I could. It was a chaotic swim to say the least and the 1500m felt like they went on forever. I knew I wasn’t as close to the front as I would have liked to be so I sprinted the couple hundred meters to my bike, had a quick transition and started the chase. The bike was technical and started off with a connecting section before you got into town to complete seven laps. After the first kilometre I heard my team mate yell that the first pack was only 10 seconds up the road. I rode as hard as I could, passing athletes and taking quite a few risks around the corners, knowing I just had to make the first pack. This paid off as I caught the group just as we entered T2 to start the first lap. The bike was tough but not as dangerous as I’d expected yet technical enough for our group of 13 to put more than two minutes into the chasers by the time we finished the 40km.
Entering T2 my feet and hands were pretty much frozen. I managed to get my helmet off fairly quickly but struggled when putting on my shoes. I had a little sit down as a matter of fact (see the video at the bottom). Starting the run I couldn’t feel my feet. I knew I was running but it didn’t feel like it were my legs that I was running on. Starting the run in about 8th I started working my way to the front. A British girl passed me and I hung on to her back, moving into fifth. I kept remembering Brett’s words “be brave on the run”, as I had not expected to be in this position and just kept ticking over. On the last lap I was glad to be done soon, when my coach told me a girl behind was picking up the pace. Remembering how I had been passed in the finish in Karlvoy Vary, I thought to myself I will not let her steal my top 5 spot. So I sprinted the last few hundred meters down the finish line, finishing 5th in the world.
I think it is fair to say that I’ve surprised myself with that outcome. I knew I was getting fitter with every session but had not expected to be running this well on race day. I am very happy to be back racing and can’t wait to put in more work to see what more I’ve got to show.
Sometimes you need a little help getting back up, so a big thank you to everybody that has helped me get here: family, coach, friends and sponsers!
All pictures taken by Andrea Rudin.
Next up the European Cup Final in Melilla on October 8th.
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