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.
Michelle: Ironman Zurich
10.08.2017: With more than a week passed its time to put pen to paper (figuratively) and write about the experience that was my first ever Ironman.
I’ve been asked a couple of times whether the idea to race an Ironman was a last-minute surprise decision but no it wasn’t. I already knew in January that I would tackle the race in Zurich and still remember the Whatsapp conversation that pretty much settled my racing there:
Coach: ... so we’ll just keep getting ready for Rapperswil and Zurich.
Me: Yep, sounds like a plan.
Coach: Do you know which Zurich i mean???? ( I’m not exaggerating about the question marks)
Me: Yes, the Ironman.
Coach: Oh, there is a lion under all that spoilt softness wanting to get out.
(It didnt take a genius to figure out that he meant the Ironman as the plan for the season was to go long and I’d just ordered my first TT-bike. Also if I were to race the 5150, i would never have been told in January already)
Fast forward about 6 months, the race was only a week away and it was time to plan my nutrition. Together with Coach Susie I calculated how many calories per hour I would need to take in and how to take them. In all the half-distance races (a grand total of 3) I had done so far, I had never been thourough enough in planning and executing my nutrition so I was really glad to have Susie’s help and also consult with Ruedi Wild from Sponser.
I tend to get very nervous to the point of distructive before a race and normally wear that emotion on my face. So on Monday morning Brett told me: „If I ever see you look scared this week you are not racing!“ Here was my challenge to put on a pokerface for a week as I definitely started to get nervous but also excited. I must have done a good job as I was standing on the startline early Sunday morning where I definitely looked scared shitless.
The swim can be summed up quickly in Coach’s words: shit day. At the start I was so focused on catching Céline’s (Schärer) that I pretty much forgot to swim fast. So after about 300m and a couple of desperate surges on my part Céline was off and away for the rest of the day. (Congrats here to her amazing performance on the day and a big thanks for helping me with advice in the preparation!) After admonishing myself for that mistake I remembered the advice to „always look forward on race day and not dwell on what’s happened“ and started swimming as fast as possible. Together with another PRO women I still exited the water in 2nd.
After a quick transition I hopped onto my bike in 2nd and focused on getting into a rhythm and really enjoyed riding out of the city without having to stop at a single streetlight ;) The first lap felt quite good and not like I was overexerting myself. I tried not to get distracted by some of the other PRO women passing me as i was told that the single most important thing for the day was to focus on myself and only myself.
Riding up Heartbreak Hill the first time was awesome with the crowds cheering loudly (I had been at Heartbreak Hill as a kid watching my parents go up but riding through was a completely different story).
Heading out of the city for lap 2 was where the pain started, my lower back felt tight and riding in the TT-position became really uncomfortable. So i was shifting the position around and was glad when the 30klm of flat along the lake were over. In the hills I felt more comfortable but I am still not happy with my 2nd lap on the bike; instead of accelerating I was fading.
Happy to see transition I jumped off my bike only to be disappointed when instead of relief pain flooded my body. „Seriously, this is what I had been looking forward to during the last 70klm on the bike!?“ Not dwelling on this thought I racked my bike, got my shoes and cap and headed onto the run where I heard the soothing voice of Coach Robbie telling me to „eat, drink, relax“, a simple but much needed reminder.
With the first step on the run I realized that the pain I had felt on the bike was here to stay and with my history of broken bones in the hip area my mind started racing trying to assess whether it was a „bad pain“ or just pain from the exertion. Passing my Mum on the first aid station I put on a brave face only to start walking after the aid station as the pain just overwhelmed me. When it didnt subside while walking I was certain my sacrum was fractured. Unsure what to do I started running (or rather shuffling) again. Passing Coach I yelled out: „It hurst like hell“ but didnt stop. At the 4klm mark I walked again but it didnt give me any relief and to start running was even worse. So I told myself to start running and not stop until I wasn’t able to take it anymore. When I passed Julie at the 6klm mark I frustratedly yelled out: „It is fractured!!“ only to hear a very decisive „NO, you look good!“. So I shut my mouth but on the inside I was sulking and still unsure what to do. For the first time the thought crept up that I might not be able to finish this (before the race i was 100% certain that I would finish the race no matter what; probably only an Ironman rookie can think that way).
I pity-partied my way through the first 10klm until a thought hit me like a slap in the face: „You know what, Pistol (my Squad name)?! If your sacrum is fractured, it is fractured and you cannot do anything about it anymore anyways, so you may as well finish this race! You sure as hell won’t want a DNF next to your first Ironman!“ This thought turned everything around; the certainty that I would finish was back again and I was suddenly able to face the pain with an „I don’t care“ attitude. I now fully focused on getting my nutrition in and putting one foot in front of the other. The remaining 30 or so klm didn’t exactly fly by but apparently I was able to pick up the pace and claw back some of the time I had lost.
When seeing the sign that I had only 2klm to go the question „How am I to manage another 2klm of this?“ popped up in my head. Thinking that I only just did 40klm run and that 2klm were nothing, I laughed at myself, got some Coca Cola at the aid station and pushed myself towards the finish.
Running into the finish area I heard the speaker say: „And they are all still under 10h..“ and as I looked at the clock I saw 9:57, so I started „sprinting“ as I wanted to get in under 10h as well. My sprint was more of a wobble to the line (yes there’s a video and it looks pretty ridiculous) and a bit disappointed I later found out that I wouldnt have needed to sprint as i was already 4min over the 10h mark as these were times of the age group men with a later start. But in fact, it didnt really matter as I was just so happy to have pulled it off and to see my family and friends waiting for me.
The best thing about racing at home was to have so many people and especially some „non-triathlon“ friends out on the course cheering for me. Thank you all very much for the cheers!
On Wednesday after the race i got an MRI scan to assess whether i had done some damage to my sacrum. Turns out all my bones are still in one piece (*touch wood*) but that i had a bad inflammation on the hamstrings. After some light training the first week, i am now painfree again and back into regular training.
Happy racing you all!
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