Wednesday, December 24, 2008

for a

Christmas has come early for me with my first pain free race walk today since July; only 3km and very slow but hopefully I'm on the road to recovery. Sorry I have been slack with my updates but I've been busy and will update my blog with more details after Christmas. For now I'm going to enjoy Christmas with my family and friends over the next couple of days!

Thanks for all your support this year.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I have been back in Australia for nearly three weeks and it’s great to be relaxing at home. I haven’t been race walking but I have been swimming with a squad 3-4 mornings a week and also cycling around the beautiful hills along the Sydney coast. Swimming with a squad is much more enjoyable as it’s more sociable and those who know me well understand my love of a chat! The only hitch is they start at 5am in the morning; yes it’s difficult to get up that early but worth it when training is all over at 6.30-7am and I can jump back into bed for an hour extra sleep.

The reason I’m still not race walking is because my foot isn’t 100% (yes still!) even though I have had 6 weeks of rest from race walking and weight bearing training. I had a bone scan and it was clear which means I don’t have a stress fracture then this week I had another MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which was much better quality than the Beijing MRI. It showed inflammation around my tendon at the bottom of the shin (tendonitis). So I have to rest it for a little longer and get more treatment to loosen up the muscles in my shin and foot.

I will continue to cross train so I maintain a basic fitness and it should be easier to get back fitness when I can race walk.


At least I now know what the problem is and I have a reason for the pain around my foot since July. I planned to race walk in the HBA Great Australian Run in Melbourne on 30th November for my sponsor MBF (part of the HBA group) and try and beat as many runners as possible! But after my MRI results I will hopefully still participate but only as a fun walker (i.e. not race walk).


As an ambassador for Osteoporosis Australia I participated in their promotion of World Osteoporosis Day with an appearance on the Mornings with Kerrie-Anne on Channel 9 as well as other media activities to promote the importance of physical activity for bone strength. See


Since arriving back in Australia I attended two athletic training and development days as a coach helping out younger athletes. The first was at Sydney Olympic Park on 26th October where 35 youngsters from around New South Wales attended a race walking training session as part of the Elite Schools Athletics Coaching Clinic. Anne Saville (my mum) and myself took the race walking event group. There were a huge number of young, talented athletes who attended for all the track and field disciplines. One of the race walkers who participated, Dimitra Psarianas was kind enough to let me use her photos from the clinic on my website as I didn’t have time to take any photos.

Race Walkers at the NSW Elite Schools Training Day - Homebush

Dimitra and I at the Elite Schools Training Day

I also returned to my old Little Athletics Club, South Eastern, to help out their coaching day on 1st November. The kids were a lot of fun and their race walking techniques certainly improved in the little time we had to for each age group. There is a photo of me racing on the cover of the Little Athletics Achievement Book for the 2008-09 season and every Little Athlete in Australia receives the book so some of the kids recognised me from that.

Next time I write I hope to tell you about starting race walking again!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

No IAAF Challenge Final for me.

The IAAF Race Walking Challenge Final was held on Sunday in Murcia, Spain and I was just one of the thousands of spectators. After my last cortisone injection a couple of weeks ago in Australia I have kept cross training on the bike and swimming but haven’t been able to walk more than 5km without my foot becoming inflamed again. So I decided last week that racing in Murcia certainly wasn’t going to help it only rest will do that. I’m still keeping a general fitness and hope to start race walking in mid October when I return to Australia after I get some more medical advice. It was disappointing to not participate but I have had this problem for over two months and I need to let it heal.

The Challenge Final was held in the main street, Gran Via, of Murcia in South Eastern Spain. There were some short children’s and youth races before the main events; women’s 20km then the mens 20km. There was already a large crowd along the course for the start of the women’s race at 10.45am. My good friend and competitor since we were juniors, Susana Feitor (, won convincingly. She was strong and determined from the start to make up for her disappointing DNF in Beijing; and she showed she has great form in the second half of the year. Athanasia Tsoumeleka (Greece; Athens Olympic Champ) was 2nd and Olympic Silver Medallist from Sydney and Beijing Kjersti Platzer (Norway, came in 3rd and therefore won the Challenge on points overall. Even though I didn’t race in Murcia I ended up in 8th place overall in the Challenge and picked up a handy $5,000.

Women's Race IAAF Challenge Final

The men's race was incredible, partly due to the thousands of Ecuadorian fans that had lined the course to cheer their hero Jefferson Perez in his last race. There apparently 30,000 people in Murcia of Ecuadorian descent and I think most of them were on the 1km course in Murcia on Sunday. There was a large pack early on but as it became warmer the numbers dropped until it was just Jefferson and Paquillo Fernandez (Spain) with Jared Tallent close. Paquillo was too strong and Jared overtook Jefferson in the last 2km to place second. Jared had the added bonus of winning the Challenge overall and picked up $30,000! See for full report.

It was an emotional time for Jefferson that wasn’t made any easier when the thousands of Ecuadorian stormed the course; almost causing a riot! It was an incredible scene that I have never witnessed at a race walking event. Some of them were chanting “Jefferson for President.” When I asked Jefferson later about post race “crowd crush” he said that it wasn’t too bad; “in Ecuador the are usually 100,000 pushing people like that!”

Mens 20km IAAF Challenge Final

For me the Challenge Final in Murcia was the best race walking competition that I have witnessed outside the major championship events. It had a great atmosphere, the athletes thought it was well organised and lots of fun. Hopefully there will be more Challenge events like this in the future.

As for me I’m having a holiday in Turkey with Matt before returning to Australia in early October and hopefully I can start race walking again without any more problems.

Crowd waiting for the presentation at the Challenge Final

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Beijing in writing

Well it's been nearly three weeks since my race in Beijing and it's definitely time I wrote something. Sorry for the lateness but I couldn't get my head around writing about it. To say I was disappointed is an understatement, I certainly planned to compete much better. Unfortunately my body couldn't cope and the cross training (swimming and riding) every second day wasn't enough. The race was very fast and I was really counting on hot day and slow race. Who would have bet: torrential rain and 19 degrees for the start! But it was the same conditions for all the women. I gave it my best shot and went out with the lead pack and tried to hold on for as long as possible. The second half certainly felt a lot longer! My shin/foot didn'y hurt too much during the race (thanks to a local injection). The results and times of the race were incredibly fast for the winners especially with the poor weather. I was joking afterwards that had the puddles been a little deeper I could have swam; I certainly would have it over them if that was the case! It was good to have Matt, Mum, Dad and my friends Sandra and Justin there to cheer me in the race and for company afterwards.

After my race in Beijing I supported as many other Aussie athletes; I cheered the Aussie men loudly in the the semi final the hockey against Spain (unfortunately we lost) and of course watched the athletics at the Birds Nest. The Australian Athletics Team was a fantastic group and their achievements in Beijing were great, especially the medallists Steve Hooker (Gold, Pole Vault), Jared Tallent (SIlver, 50km Walk and Bronze 20km Walk), Sally McLellan (Silver 100m Hurldes). It was an honour to captain the team.

I travelled back to Australia on the QANTAS Charter which was a lot of fun. I spent a couple of weeks in Sydney and attended two functions for my partners MBF and SALMAT. I enjoyed sharing my Beijing experience with them and catching up with theire staff.

I'm now back in Spain preparing for the IAAF Challenge Final in Murcia on 21st September. I'm currently in 8th position overall on the Challenge and I'm hoping I can move up with a decent performance in Murcia. Although my foot/shin hasn't improved a lot since Beijing. I have been training since the Games but have had to maintain cross training as part of my programme with race walking sessions. I did walk some sessions and then after consultation with the Dr I decided to have another cortisone injection. This time it was in my foot and guided by ultrasound. Fingers crossed that it won't become inflammed again and I can get some good sessions in the next 12 days here before the Final!

Thanks to everyone who supported me in the lead up to Beijing; your messages of support were a great help.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Beijing Photos!

Above: Me at the Olympic Village

Left: View of The Dining Hall

Above: View from my room;
South Korea and Spain in
opposite building!

Left: Matt and I outside my apartment block in the Village.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Last couple of weeks

I just arrived in Kochi, Japan on Thursday. I have joined all the other Aussie walkers here. This is our training base before travelling to Beijing. I spent a few days in Girona, Spain last week after coming down from altitude in St Moritz on 1st August. Matt is here with me in Kochi and will travelling to Beijing also.

My last ten days in St Moritz was a little disrupted as my shin flared up with tendonitis. I had a lot of treatmant and had to do mostly cross training for that time, back in the pool and cycling! Although I have been able to complete all my speed sessions race walking since coming back to sea level.

It was a little stresstful but I kept thinking of Nathan Deakes who has to sit out the Olympics after tearing his hamstring tendon from the bone whilst in St Moritz, so I made sure I worked hard every session knowing that my injury was nothing. Nathan had surgery last week to have the tendon re-attached. Nathan started at the AIS in Canberra when I was down there in 1997 and we have travelled to many training camps together over the years, especially until 2002 when we both had the same coach Ron Weigel. So it was absolutely devastating when I found out the full extent of his injury. Sport has incredible "highs" but there are also a lot of "lows" that aren't publicly displayed so it's difficult for people to understand the emotional roller coaster that athletes are on. Especially as Nathan was the World Champion last year it must be incredibly difficult time for him at the moment. But I know Nathan very well and he will be more determined than ever to get his hamstring rehabilitated and back out on the track for the 2009 World Champs in Berlin. Watch out all the 50km walkers because he will be incredibly difficult to beat!

Hopefully will write again once I arrive at the Village in Beijing on Friday!

Here are some other photos from my training at St Moritz.

Above: Yes, that's a plane landing over my head at Samedan Airport near St Moritz.

Chatting with the Cows at Samedan Airport!

Where has summer gone?

5 Degrees and Rain around St Moritz Lake with WASHING UP gloves!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I've been training in St Moritz, Switzerland for nearly two weeks and everything is progressing smoothly. I'm staying with fellow Aussie Walkers Nathan Deakes, Luke Adams, their coach Craig Hilliard and physiotherapist Toby Watson. We're in the same gorgeous house as last year, Haus Am See ( and the owners, the Rosenthaler Family have kindly rented their personal apartment for us to use. The house is divided into three apartments and one has been rented permanently for the entire year. They even placed two Aussie flags on the balcony of the house for all that pass through St Moritz to see! So I have renamed it "Australia House!"

Toby in front of Haus Am See AKA "Australia House"

I do most of my training at Samedan Airport which is 10 minutes drive from the house, but also some sessions around St Moritz Lake which is 4.3km. But is does get very busy with tourists so I prefer to do the harder sessions at the Airport which is 1707m above sea level. It's a fantastic 5.25km loop that is marked every 500metres. There are lots of athletes training in St Moritz from athletics, rowing and some winter sports also. Lots of race walkers from all over the World including, Athinasiou Tsoumelika (Greek Olympic Champ 2004) Susanna Feitor (Portugal, Bronze 2005 World Champs), Kjersti Platzer (Norway, Silver Medal 2000), Sabine Zimmer (Germany).

My body is travelling quite well; it helps when Toby is working on me every day. I usually get treatment 5 times a week in Australia and Spain, but 7 days is certainly helping my battered body cope with this hard training phase. We also use the cold water of the river that flows into the Lake from the mountains to recover from training. It's about 10 degrees Celsius and I certainly don't enjoy dipping my legs in the water. For the first two minutes it's incredibly cold and painful and I nearly jump out of the water immediately. But usually Nathan and Luke encourage me to stay and I hate to be a whimp! So I lasted five minutes the first time and then ten minutes today!!
Nathan and I recovering in the Lake
I know most people I speak to think that my life as an athlete is very exciting and glamorous, especially when I mention four weeks in St Moritz! However my days here aren't interesting at all; basically at the moment my day goes something like this: I eat, train, dip in the lake for 10 minutes, eat, receive treatment, watch Tour de France* stage finish, train, eat, sleep. So not that much fun, but the gorgeous landscape certainly makes the camp more relaxing and enjoyable. I will stay here until 1st August then I will travel back to my base in Girona, Spain until 6th August when I will travel to Kochi, Japan. All the race walkers in the Aussie team will use Kochi as their base before Beijing. I will stay there until 15th August when I will travel to Beijing!

All of use here in St Moritz were shocked and saddened when Jana Rawlinson had to withdraw from the Olympics this week. All athletes know how frustrating it is to have an injury but when it forces you to withdraw from the Olympics it makes it even more difficult. I hope Jana gets back to 100% soon and I know she will come back bigger and better than ever!

* Matt (my husband and coach, if you didn't know) is the Director of Garmin-Chipotle Pro Cycling Team at the Tour de France. They're going well in their first Tour and were winning the Teams Classification for a few days last week! So Matt is on the road each day of the Tour deciding tactics for the team as well as writing my training programme in his spare time!

LATE NEWS: Souths have just won their fifth game in a row! Go the Rabbitohs!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Great week in Sport!

Well I'm back in Girona after a couple of weeks training through the orange fields in Oliva. It was great to be back there for training and catching up with friends. I also saw some of the regular walkers and bike riders on the bike path and they all remembered me and wished me well for Beijing! Training is coming along and I've increased the kilometres as well as taking in some spinning classes at the local gym. I'm too lazy when I go for a bike ride on the road and I just look at the scenery too much and then try not to crash!

The great week in sport is reference to the "MIGHTY RABBITOHS" winning two games in a row, coming home like a steam train in the last 30 minutes today against the Cowboys (the Natioanl Rugby League in Australia) The Rabbits showed their traditional fighting spirit that we as fans love (Wish they showed it on TV over here!). Let's hope the streak continues, good luck boys!

The second big thing was the Spanish football team making the Final of Euro 2008! They play Germany tomorrow night. If they win there will be fireworks and crazy young people driving around the streets all over Spain honking horns and hanging national flags out their windows! They go mad over here; when Barcelona won the league this year there were crackers and horns going until the early hours of the morning in Girona!

I leave for St Moritz on Tuesday and Matt is leaving for the Tour de France on the same day where he will be Number one Sports Director of the newly sponsored Garmin-Chipotle presented by H30 (formerly Slipstream-Chipotle H30). The new sponsor is Garmin a GPS navigation systems so at least they won't get lost! I know it has been an interesting experience for Matt to do all the races as a Director in the car and not as a rider but he's relishing the change and I'm proud of how well he's made the transition. The entire team has worked hard to ensure the riders get to the Tour in great shape and I wish them luck. After the Tour Matt will come to St Moritz for four days before I come down from altitude. I'll put some photos of beautiful St Moritz in my next blog.

Congratulations to Ivano Brugnetti (Athens 20km Olympic Champion) and his wife, Christina on the birth of their second daughter, Frederica this week. Lucky Ivano, two daughters!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Returning to Hard Training

I'm currently back in my old base in Spain; Oliva (south of Valencia). I'm training here for a couple of weeks. It's great to be back on my old bike path in the middle of the orange farms!

I had planned on racing the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in La Coruna on 7th June, however I withdrew the week before the race. My training wasn't progressing well and I was really tired so matt and I didn't see the need to overdo it at this stage. I had a week of easy training and now I'm back into hard training for Beijing.

Although I did travel to La Coruna for the IAAF Race Walking Committee meeting which was held the day after the competition. It was my first appearance at a meeting and it was a huge learning curve. I think race walking is in great hands as there was some positive discussion about the future of our event.

I'm staying here for another week before heading back to Girona for a week then onto St Moritz for a month of altitude training.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bad day at Krakow Town Square

Well I have been avoiding writing this blog for the last couple of days because i was trying to forget my race at the IAAF Challenge in Krakow. What started out well ended very slowly. After going through 10km in around 45.20 (not sure exact split) and sitting comfortably in about 3rd or 4th position I walked slower and slower each lap; pratically going backwards and it was a long last 10km finishing in 1.32.59 in 6th place. I'm very disappointed with the result as I usually get faster throughout the first half of the season in every race and was confident after World Cup. But who knows? The good news is that my hamstring pulled up ok and is feeling good (I hope so at that slow speed!). Ryta Turava made a great comeback to form winning in 1.28.33 (for full results see I will still race La Coruña on 7th June the last round of the IAAF Challenge before the Olympics. It will do me good to have another hard hitout and it's better than training alone here in Girona.

I'm off to Italy tomorrow to see Matt as his team competes in the last five days of the Tour of Italy and to get some treatment from physiotherapist, Karin Stephens at the AIS cycling headquarters in Varese. I will train around Lake Varese which is great for race walking but terrible for allergies at this time of the year. Hopefully I can find some good form there too!

Monday, May 19, 2008

World Cup Part 2!

It's been a week since the World Cup and my body is finally recovering. My hamstring pulled up quite sore when I tried to train around Moscow airport on Tuesday morning after the race and so I gave it a rest for two days. I have been receiving treatment all week here in Girona and it's slowly improving. I was quite tired for a few days after the race in Cheboksary (I'm getting old!) but Nat and I enjoyed a day and a half of sightseeing around Moscow before leaving Russia. Left: Nat about to board the specially decorated World Cup Bus and Below: Men's 20km walk

In my last update I didn't congratulate the Aussie Team on their overall performances at the World Cup. From the Juniors to the senior races everybody raced their guts out. A lot of personal bests were done and some overall incredible performances especially on Day 1 with Jess coming in 5th in the Junior girls and Daniel Coleman leading the Aussie Junior boys home with a PB. Luke bringing the Aussie men home in 7th place and a PB, Jared 10th and Chris with a PB in 31st and an Olympic A time. The men were awesome as a team and picked up a bronze medal for their efforts to go with the one from two years ago!

Duane was our sole representative in the 50km on day two and once again showed his determination to finish even though it was tough day at the office. The men's 50km produced a World Record by Russian Denis Nizergorodov and the local crowd went crazy about. Unfortunately it was Nathans' record that had stood since his amazing effort in Geelong in December 2006. But I have to say if the men couldn't beat the record in Cheboksary then they weren't going to break it in a long time; they had perfect conditions, no wind, not too hot, not too cold, completely flat course with only two turns and Nizergorodov was pushed hard by his compatriot, Kanaykin the World 20km record holder. Nathan had completely opposite conditions; windy, undulating course with lots of turns and he did it by himself from the gun! I know Deakesy was disappointed not to race the 20km in Cheboksary as a small injury flared up again just a week out from the race. But I know how determined and competitive he is and will be on the start line in Beijing with only GOLD on his mind!

In the women's 20km race we came away with 5th place in the teams overall!

This photo is at the party after the World Cup: Me, Eder Sanchez (3rd men's 20km Mexico), Luke Adams and Nat! We had a great night even though the organisers ended the party early we kicked on! That's one thing about the race walkers we know how to have a good time.

I will add some more photos to my gallery on my website soon. Hopefully I can locate one of me racing!

Finally Olympic Nomination!

I have just been notified today that AA has nominated me for the Olympic Games in Beijing! It certainly is a relief to have officially been nominated. I know my performances should speak for themselves but in this current selection climate who knows what will happen! So now I can relax a little and focus on Beijing. Although I'm a little sad to not have Nat competing alongside me again as we did in Athens and the last couple of Comm. Games and World Cups. But Nat's not a quitter and she is keen to get back to her best for next season.

Next Races

This Thursday I will travel to Krakow for the "NA RYNEK MARSZ" IAAF Race Walking Challenge ( to be held in Krakow Market Square on Saturday afternoon. The Market Square is one of the biggest in Europe and a great place to show case and promote race walking. The meet is organised by Robert Korzeniowski's wife and is always a fantastic event.

I also plan to race in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in La Coruña, Spain on 8th June. So I just have to stay on top of my hamstring niggle and I will end my first half of the season at this event. I will also attend my first IAAF Race Walking Committee meeting in La Coruña.

Giro D'Italia

Whilst I have been competing Matt has been directing his Slipstream - Chipotle Pro Cycling Team at his first grand tour; the Giro D'Italia. The team won the first stage which was a team time trial so it was a great start for Matt as Director and also the team. The Giro finishes in Milan on 1st June and hopefully they can get a stage win or two before they hit Milan!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hello from Cheboksary!

Well it's just before 2am here in Cheboksary and the World Cup party is over! Unfortunately they ended the fun early by closing the Disco but it has continued on level 3 of Hotel Russia where the Aussie Team is celebrating a successful weekend. I'm a little tired but will just give you a brief account of my race! I competed in the last event of the World Cup on Sunday and finished in 7th after being with the eventual Bronze medallist for the first 12km. I was really happy with my race although I hurt in the last 5km and dropped off the pace. My time was 1.29.27. It was two races in one with four Russians taking off at the gun and having their own race out in front with the rest of us to fight it out. One Russian was DQed and the another in the lead pack did not finish, so that left the eventual Gold and Silver Medallist out in front. Vera Santos (Portugal) walked the race of her life to take bronze in a huge PB! Nat finished 37th in 1.36.32 and was a little disappointed but raced a smart race and was going well until about 12-14km and then she "hit the wall."See all the results at Hopefully the selectors will look kindly at my results and now nominate me for the Aussie Olympic Team. Fingers crossed. In 2 hours Nat and I will travel back to Moscow with the other athletes on a Charter Flight (quite an interesting, albeit scary experience on the way here!). We're spending a day and a half in Moscow before I head back to my base in Girona and Nat travels back to Australia. The entire Aussie Team competed extremely well here and I will talk more about that and add some photos when I get some sleep; probably when I arrive back in Girona on Wednesday! Cheers

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Training partner!!

Nat and I training at the track
in Girona.
A training partner again!

Nat arrived in Girona nearly two weeks ago so it's been great to have a training partner! For the first week she was a little tired from the 36 hour travel (love airline delays) but this week she has picked up and felt much more comfortable training. It's a shock to her system as here I don't train until 9.30am or 10 o'clock so her usual 5.30am wake ups in Australia have been discarded for training "spanish time!"

My training has also improved over the last two weeks and my hamstring is holding up quite well during training but still gives me problems sitting. But I'm continuing with lots of treatment here in Girona with some great practitioners and also my daily pilates exercises. I also found a float tank just around the corner from our apartment which I tested the other day! I used one of these recovery and relaxation salted water baths at the AIS in 2000 during my preparation for the Olympics when I was injured and found them very beneficial. I came out of my 50 minute "float" feeling much better than I was before. I will try and have another before I travel to Russia next week.

A "fun" race in Madrid!

Sonata (2nd), Kjersti (1st) and Me(3rd)

Nat and I ventured to Madrid for the XXXII Gran Premio de Marcha de Moratalaz in Madrid last weekend. It was unseasonably warm on Saturday afternoon but we only raced 5km so it didn't really have any effect on our performances. However our two red cards at 3km certainly did but we weren't the only ones in that boat! Nat and I just cruised through to the end to make sure we didn't get DQed and came away with a decent training session. Kjersti Platzer continued her superb winning form with Sonata Milusauskayte from Lithuania (competing for Barcelona FC) was 2nd with me 3rd (23.04) and Nat 5th (24.23). The mens race was fantastic with a large crowd coming to watch the main attraction Paquillo Fernandez win in 38.28, which is a fantastic time considering the course was quite tough for all the walkers. Ilya Markov (Russia), one of the most consistent race walkers in the World over the last 18 years (World Junior Champ 1990!) was second after a great battle with Juan Molina (Spain).

Olympic Selection and World Cup

In my last blog I was waiting for the selectors to respond to my email asking about my Olympic selection. They have decided to wait until after World Cup and some of the other IAAF Race Walking Challenge events to name the third female walker even though I have the fastest time this year in my first race so it's a little disappointing. But I had to prove myself in international competition back in 1996 when I had an Olympic A qualifier (and third at the trial) so it's just another challenge!

So Nat and I depart on Tuesday for our three day journey to Cheboksary stopping off in Munich and Moscow for a night each! We will join the rest of the Aussie team in Moscow before travelling to Cheboksary on Thursday night! It;s great now because AA today reimbursed our flights so that's good news a week out from the World Cup. Should be lots of fun to race well and catch up with all our great international walking mates! I hope to be able to update you direct from Cheboksary but it might have to wait until I return to Spain. Thanks for your support.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In Europe and an Olympic A qualifier!

This is the first blog that I have actually updated myself and a new part of my website! It's all a technological learning curve and hopefully this blog site will allow me to keep you updated more frequently with my training and competition!

Well it's been a busy three weeks since arriving in Europe. I spent the first week in Oliva (Spain) our European base for the last seven years. But with Matt's new job as Director Sportif with Slipstream Pro Cycling Team we have had to move to their headquarters in Girona, Spain. I really love Oliva and was sad to leave friends, but as they say "A change is as good as a holiday." Girona is about 80km North of Barcelona and about 30km inland. So after a week in Oliva we made the trek North with two cars packed full of our gear. As my injury doesn't take too kindly to long periods of sitting we had to stop a number of times so I could stretch. After 5 1/2 hours we arrived! Matt easily adapts to changes and has been a great support for me as usual.

Matt found a bike path 200m from our apartment that is mostly compacted dirt but does have bitumen/road sections that goes for about 30km towards the coast or 60km inland! On my third day whilst out training a lady in a car stopped and spoke to me in the local language of Catalan and then realising I didn't understand spoke in Spanish. She asked if I wanted to join the local athletics club! In Oliva most locals speak the local language of Valencian but Catalan is quite different to Spanish (from my point of view anyway) and more prominent here than Spanish.

After four days in Girona I travelled to Rio Maior, Portugal for the IAAF Race Walking Challenge and my first race since September last year. I knew I had a good aerobic fitness but not a lot of specific work. But Matt and I decided to start racing and see if I could race myself into form. I planned to see how I felt and if I could only do 10km at a good pace then I would pull outat that point. I started out on Olympic A qualifying pace (93.30) and held just under that pace throughout. I finished with 92.50 and felt really strong! My hammy felt quite good and didn't give me too much grief during the race. I was so relieved to get the Olympic A and now I'm waiting for a response from AA and the selectors as to whether that was good enough to confirm my nomination for Beijing! The overall competition in Rio Maior was fantastic especially in the women's event producing fast times in an exciting race that went down to the wire with Kjersti Platzer edging out local girl, Susana Feitor in the last 100m. I finished 11th. See full results

Photo at Lisbon Airport after Rio Maior. L-R Olive Loughnane (IRL), Nikos Dimitriadis (husband & coach of Athanasia), Athens Gold Medallist; Athanasia Tsoumeleka (GRE), ME and Mikel Odriozola (ESP).

A few more days of cross training!
As I'm still not 100% with my injury I was directed by a physio here in Spain to see a Dr in Barcelona as he believed he might be able to help. I told him my story (or saga!) and he suggested an injection near the insertion of adductors/hamstring as he and the physio thought that could be causing the problem. I was reluctant to have another injection as I have had three in the last five months but after Matt and I discussed it we decided to go ahead. So it was another couple of days of cross training, although only on the bike as I couldn't get my head around swimming without a squad (not unless I'm desperate!) and it's also a little cold here.
I eased back into training after the injection and my hamstring felt better but it's still not 100%. But it was worth trying!

Cursa 10km de Girona
Instead of training by myself I decided to enter the "Cursa 10km de Girona" which is one of the local fun runs held throughout the year. The start/finish area was 200m from our apartment and the course passed by it as well. It was a clear day, albeit cold; 10 degrees when we started! I have done a couple of half marathons (race walking) here in Spain for training over the years and I always had a little chuckle to myself when I passed the runners! A few get a burst of energy, especially the men; can't have a woman and a walker passing them, it's a dent to their manhood! Today was no different and I could hear the comments (all positive I think?) about "la machadora" (the walker) as I passed them. The only frustrating part was the last couple of hundred metres when the runners got their second wind and they all flew past me, but I definitely received the louder cheers from the crowd! Every person that finished received a gift pack (t-shirt, drink bottle etc.) some fruit, yoghurt, juice, water and a stick of "secallona tradicional" which is a long sausage of cured/dried pork and spices! Not something I wanted to munch on straight after the race, but a good promotion nonetheless. The secallona was from Turon, one of the local companies who also sponsors one of Spain's biggest Gold medal hopes in Beijing, Gemma Mengual, a synchronised swimmer who has a big profile here! The "race" was a good 10km hitout for me and now I'm looking for a solid four weeks training before the World Cup on 11th May!

Stay posted for regular updates here and hopefully good news of Beijing nomination!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Building for Beijing

I’m certainly feeling the effects of race walking again.  My legs are extremely tired but handling the increase in kilometres quite well.

I have also been busy off the road as well!  My first appearance in 2008 for my partner MBF was in Palmerston in the Northern Territory.  MBF is a sponsor for a wellness programme in this city just outside Darwin called “Palmlesstonnes” and I went t o help launches the 2008 edition.  It’s a fantastic initiative organised my the Dept. General Practitioners and Palmerston Council to encourage people to get active and they have regular organised walks and physical exercises as well as educational programmes for participants for the duration of the programme.  

I have also attended the Weet-Bix TRY-Athlon in Newcastle, Melbourne and Sydney on behalf of the MBF Foundation.  It was a great to see the smile on the kids faces when they crossed the finish line and I put a gold medal around their neck; every kid who finished received a medal and certificate.  Even though in Melbourne and Newcastle the weather wasn’t super all the kids had loads of fun. Especially Camille in Melbourne who finished even though she had a flat tyre on her bike (see photos).

On 29th February I was one of six athletes who launched the Australian Olympic Team Formal Uniform at the Boy Charlton Pool in Sydney.  Ky Hurst and I were on Channel 7’s Sunrise programme “modelling” the uniform with Sportscraft (the designers) Ambassador and real model Kristy Hines (she is stunning and of course very tall! See photos).  The uniform is very comfortable and stylish and the shoes will be great to wear for hours at the formal functions in Beijing.

I’m also an ambassador/”coach” for the Aussie Workplace Challenge. The Aussie Workplace Challenge™ is a unique 12 week corporate walking and activity challenge featuring me as the animated ‘Coach’ guiding teams of employees on a virtual adventure around Australia. It’s fully customisable to create a specific event for each team.  I’m encouraging lots of businesses to get their employees active and participate in this fun and challenging programme.  If you want more information go to or send me an email through “Ask Jane” on my website.

I have been training quite well slowly building up my kilometres and hope to race in Europe to qualify for Beijing in April, so I plan to leave in a couple of weeks.  

All going well I will be sending you my next update from Europe.  Thanks for your support.

View more photos in the GALLERY section on my website: