Natalie Van Coevorden came second in the Noosa Triathlon but her year is not over just yet. Trizone caught up with Natalie to talk training, her recent Noosa preparation and a well-deserved holiday.
“I’m really pleased with how the race went. It was much better than last year… to say the least,” says Natalie brightly. The athlete has been training with Jamie Turner’s Wollongong-Vitoria Wizards group for the past six years and while she loves the squad, she really enjoyed the freedom of Noosa.
“At this time of year, it’s nice to be able to train by yourself,” she says. “We work around such a controlled schedule [that] it’s nice to have some freedom around the events at the end of the year.”
After a stress injury in her foot in mid 2016, Natalie was eager to add some more events to the end of her 2016 season, so she chatted to Jamie about including some unique races. “I’d spoken to Jamie about this year’s calendar. He urged me to do Challenge Melbourne [while] I wanted to add Noosa to the list,” Natalie adds.
She came an impressive second in the Challenge Melbourne event and will have another crack at the different race style at Western Sydney in four weeks’ time. It’s this challenge of varied event styles that keeps Natalie interested.
Training for Noosa
“Running off the TT bike is different to an ITU race. I really love the TT bike,” she continues, sounding keen for just about any sort of training that keeps her race-day ready. She trained for Noosa in Campbelltown, where she rode a 30km long stretch of road without any traffic lights – an ideal TT training scenario. “I also added longer tempo sessions every week on the bike, plus I had events in the two weekends leading up to Nepean and Noosa,” she says.
It’s no wonder a sense of being liberated from her schedule is such a novelty for the young athlete.
Natalie’s race day preparation
“I like to keep pre-race days the same every time,” she explains. “I also barely ever do a swim warm-up, which some people find a bit weird.” Weird or not, it’s actually Natalie’s race-day nutrition that’s rather unique. She has a gel 25 minutes before the race, but it’s her pre-race meal that may make other athletes’ stomachs turn. “I boiled some eggs the night before, and had eggs on toast on the day,” she says. “That works really well for me. And I always have one or two coffees.”
While Natalie’s pre-race meal may surprise the athletes out there, it’s important to remember this ITU athlete tends to race at 4pm. “Usually we race in the afternoon, so you’ve got a few meals that day to rely on during the race,” she says. “At Noosa it’s so early! I got up at 4am! You only have once chance to get it right with what you eat.”
After her substantial breakfast, it was time to head to the start line.
Natalie Van Coevorden remember her race at Noosa
“I didn’t have the best start running into the water but I’m pretty confident with my swimming at the moment,” says Natalie happily. “I got on Danielle’s feet, and just missed the wave she caught back to the beach. I was five seconds behind her and Nicky and Emma Jackson were just behind me at T1.”
The transition went smoothly and Natalie dug deep into the bike. She worked her way up into second place, then began swapping the lead spot back and forth with Nicky. “At the turnaround I saw the other girls and estimated [that] they were about one minute behind me and I got into the transition a minute ahead of Ash.”
After a fierce bike leg, Natalie’s legs were still feeling the 10km from the previous weekend’s race at Nepean as she began the run. “I worked hard, but got to a point where I could see Ash was 100 metres behind me,” she recalls.
At this point, Natalie faced the challenge every athlete is hit with during a race; whether to lose momentum while being overtaken, or use it to spur yourself on. “If you start thinking: ‘Oh, Ash is going to catch me!’ you’re out of your zone, and not thinking about what you need to do,” she says. “You have to have that ‘c’mon keep pushing’ moment.”
While Ashleigh Gentle did overtake Natalie, she continued to dig deep and finished off the race in an impressive second place. “It’s sad she beat me, but she’s a real quality athlete,” Natalie says of Ashleigh Gentle. “I’m totally respectful of her win. She’s a great girl.”
A well deserved holiday looms
Natalie van Coevorden, poster girl for true blue Aussie sportsmanship, is almost ready for a well deserved holiday. After competing in the upcoming Hamilton Island Triathlon and Western Sydney events, she’ll have a few weeks to relax. “I just like hanging out with my friends,” says the 23-year-old. “I just want to enjoy some down time. I still like doing cross training at the gym or yoga or Pilates to prevent early season injuries, but I’m ready for a break.”
The athlete who travels between Europe and Wollongong throughout the year for training does need a rest. “2016 was about getting my consistency back after my hip surgery two years ago,” says Natalie. “I’m now working into the top ten of WTS racing, not the top 20.”
With her sights set on the Commonwealth Games in 2018, it’s clear Natalie’s success is only just beginning.