• Holly Harris

2019 National Championships and Oceania's

National Championships is always the biggest event on the calendar for me. I dream of have the elite green and gold bands and always put a lot of pressure on myself leading into this race. This year was no different although my skills and fitness had both improved on last year.

The few weeks leading into National Championships where somewhat stressful trying to balance the usual stuff like owning and business and training (which sometimes feels like running two business’s at the same time!), then add in moving house and you have yourself a big bag of stress. I am fortunate enough to have a massive support network of people in my life who are incredible and go out of their way to help. Without them there is no way I would have been on that start line!

After a huge month of blood, sweat and tears, we finally got on the road for an 11hr road trip to Bright… and just because the Harris family loves a struggle we drove 3hrs in the right direction only to have our car breakdown, so back to Tamworth for a car swap and then back on our way at 3pm even though we left at 7am. After that it was pretty smooth sailing as we made it to beautiful Bright! One of my favourite places to race.

We where lucky enough to get a guided tour of the Champs course from the newest Bright local/ Dream boat - Kath Mac. The course was quite different to what I had expected, I was definitely hoping for more climbing and passing … but sometimes you just have to deal with the cards you’re given and the descent down Buddha Hood definitely brought a smile to my face.

After some fine tuning of the track and some serious coffee shop testing/ research it was time to do a hot lap for the team relay… Unfortunately our team had a few little mishaps, especially on my lap which was so slow I was thankful that the transponder didn’t pick up my time :’). After my failed attempt at a hot lap I let thoughts of doubt sneak into my head. Had I done the work ? Was I fit enough ? Normal thoughts for an athlete leading into a big race!

Leading up to race day the anxiety built up and was taking more of a toll on me. I realised as athletes we are taught to channel our race nerves/anxiety into positive energy but sometimes it becomes all to much before we even realise what is happening.

I had trained so hard for this race, I wanted to perform so badly that I had made myself sick to my stomach.

Finally race day came around, everything was ready. My training was done, my bike was running faultlessly thanks to Lachy from SRAM. I had just installed the brand new Eagle AXS and oh man it is incredible.

Photo - Angus Apps

I finished my warm-up and rolled down to the event village where so many lovely people wished me luck. I began to feel so overwhelmed.. tears started running down my face uncontrollably. I have definitely never lined up for a race in tears before, my heart was racing, I was shaking and my stomach was doing back flips. The gun went and my start was similar to throwing an overcooked piece of pasta at the wall .. kinda slow and floppy. After a slow start I tried to catch up to Bec’s wheel. I made up some ground up the fire road but made too many mistakes up Buddha Hood. My brain was struggling to connect with my limbs. Bec dropped me like a hot pie so I fought on in no mans land to hold second. I knew I had to try and maintain focus and keep smooth, as Kath Mac was on the hunt and she always comes home strong!

Photo- Ogaram

As I crossed the line feeling a little down until I saw some very familiar faces, Riley, Carl, Angus and my Dad. I then realised that the race was so insignificant. I had already won.

Very few people have as many incredible humans in their life as I do and there (some) of them where waiting for me to cross the line.

As my training partner Patty had told me a few weeks before: The race is just bonus, this is all about the journey. Holy Crap. I have had an incredible journey so far.

Photo - Matt Rouso Photography

Now it was time for Oceania’s. We had three days to recover for Oceania’s, which I wasn’t too concerned about as I usually race well with a little bit of fatigue. Unfortunately all the stress I had put on my body had left it in a bad way and I was suffering from severe lack of sleep and some unpleasant stomach issues.

Warming up for Oceania’s I decided to do something a little different and instead of my normal efforts I tapped up Mystic Lane and bombed down Shred Kelly’s with Tas. I can confirm this was 100 x better then any other warm up I have done previously and I will be implementing it again.

My race start this time was again, not so impressive probably even less impressive then my National Champs start.

I found myself with the two speedy Kiwi’s Samara and Josie as we sat in second, third and fourth. Bec had again used her drop everyone like a hot pie trick and was nowhere to be seen..

I was more relaxed during this race and after some battles I managed to make a gap on the Kiwi’s and ride into a rhythm. I was able to maintain my gap and roll across the line in second. Which I was very happy with considering my race a few days ago and the strong field of women.

After a few days of recovery in Bright I am finally back home after a pretty intense few weeks. I am taking a week off the bike to let my body recover. It is incredible the impact fatigue, stress and anxiety can have on the body. I am hoping after a few days bike free I can come back into the season with a fresh perspective and even fresher legs.

Overall I was disappointed that I let my head get the better of me but reflecting now, these things happen for a reason and it’s another lesson in my book! I think in the long run I will be better from this experience! So back to the drawing board !!

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