It started when I had an injury. Like all my good stories, each adventure always starts with something going wrong.
My ankle wasn’t playing gymnastics with me so i started swimming. my shoulder decided to dislocate in the surf, so i started speed skating. I did my ankle once again, but i stuck to the skating, did my knee, stuck to the skating (but started riding )then i got a slice to my ankle and skating suddenly got a little scary.
At this point my sprint times were looking pretty good, and heck, i just won div 3 at RAW. I was obviously bound to do big things.
how little did i know. This was the first time Canada had a UCI indoor velodrome, and athletes came from everywhere. My training in the lead up had been ride more get faster. it worked up to a point, but then i got slower. I found a coach, had a 3 month prep. Only to have the Championships moved to 3 months later. Good news, I get an extra 3 months. Bad news I’m now looking at a 15 month race prep. mentally i couldn’t cope. I was made redundant at work (but at the same time i had found a new job) i was doing long rides, crits, and still speed skating. i was doing too much, and the additional time before competition really took it’s toll.
That year I did a 12.4 flying 200, and didnt qualify for the keirin final. I was stoked to win my first national medal, but i was taught some harsh lessons. I left disappointed, but determined to do better.
I didn’t see the crash coming
2015 was a good year. I had just won my first national medal, I was in a new and exciting job, I was finally getting life sorted. When I got back from Canada, I instantly refocused. I got stuck into training and work with new determination. Every day I had a plan. I had something to do and I executed it with militant precision. The disappointment of not being the best at nationals hurt. I knew I could do better.
That year at RAW I raced better than ever. I was on a confidence boost after winning div 3 the year before. I was div 2 that season, and not off the back div 2 I was in the mix, making moves, winning sprints. Closer to the end of the season I even went up to Div 1 for the sprints. I was challenging myself, and life was all one big high. 2015 was a good year. I went over to Canada for my second nationals. This time boo yeah! Qualified first for the Sprint, won the keirin, can home with a medal haul to be proud of. But something wasn’t right. It just wasn’t quite what I wanted. I didn’t hit my goal of breaking 12. I didn’t hit a qualifying time for the Canadian team. I was close but no cigar.
it was coming, in hindsight it was obvious. I had 2 national championships in 1 year, and 22 months solid training/racing working towards one goal. I hit a high, missed some targets and then crashed, hard. mentally at first, then physically.
It would take nearly 2 years to get back.
Older and Wiser
The 2017 Canadian Track Nationals.
I started my journey to the Canadian track nationals 12 months ago. That day started with pumpkin pie and me making a sweat puddle on the balcony while waiting for the pie to cook. I had priorities. They involved friends, cooking, cooking for friends, volunteering at the track, and turning my legs over on the trainer to keep whatever track fitness i thought i still had. 12 months ago, i thought my journey to nationals was done. But…. ya i wasn’t done. deep down inside i knew i still had it in me to keep going. I loved the challenge. Before I went into surgery, I worked out how many weeks I had before the NSW states. I was supposed to be recovering. I was but secretly I was mashing out the trainer at home. I was turning up to training and spinning on the trainer. I had goals. But I was also giving back to the sport. I volunteered at events, I cheered at events, I promoted events. It was a very surreal time. I was still I competitor, but I wasn’t a competitor. It gave me an insight into the behind the scenes of the sport, and I realized there was so much more to competitive racing than just winning.
I made it to states, hit some goals, had some fun. From then on, it was game on. I raced the red hook in Brooklyn. Raced RAW track. Went back to America, and raced T-town. Had a ball at ITS. Originally, I landmarked 11.9999999 fricken 9 as my ‘goal’ time.
Breaking 12 has been a bit of a voodoo that I can’t mentally break. I told myself if I broke it, I would do Canadian Nationals. ITS was my last chance to do it. No Dice. But I booked flights, I had some unfinished business to attend to.
Show time. The week before Nationals I was feeling flat. Mentally I was about finished. I had worked 12 months for this event and I was calling myself under cooked. I made a deal. 1 more week. In 1 week everything will be done, and the bike will be hung up. I don’t know how long for. I just promised myself a break. 1 more week.
I fly into Toronto a few days before racing. I tapered on the flight over. Rested at my dads place, then went down to Milton. I head to open training. I cant believe how nervous I am, I’ve never raced most of these girls, and trying to find data on them online isn’t producing many results. I set my bike up. Full go faster gear. Did 3x entries to get the feel for the track but not to burn the legs. 54/16- spppiiinnnnnnnnnnnnn and all the spinnnnnzzzzzzz. The track is feeling fast. I feel like I’m at home. 54/15 YEW. I stay high on the entry, sit down, then get a second acceleration into the first apex. 130 RPM, so many fasts, so much easy. 54/14- 104 inches- race gear? You bettcha! I hit 130 RPM as I sunk into the apex. And just as fast, I shut it down. Save the legs, let the speed out tomorrow. During the second session I did a few team sprint efforts with Amy Bell. That’s the first race up. A chance to settle the nerves.
This was always a bit of a gamble. Time trial followed by team sprint. That’s 3 500m efforts. I don’t train 500m efforts, I don’t like 500m efforts, 500m sucks. BUT it does get some no pressure racing into my legs so I feel better about life. I chucked on a 96 and had a go! Basically my first laps sucked, but my second laps rocked. I consistently had the fastest second lap. I was happy with that, but my lack of Enthusiasm showed with the sluggish starts. That and I haven’t worked on my upper body most of this year and I’m feeling extremely weak in the upper body and torso.
The moment I have been waiting for all year! SPRINT, I warmed up. Pranced, put 104 on my bike, roll entry, full entry, done. Smile, that was good. My legs are fine, I didn’t cook them the day before. I was spinning fast; all signs point to a good day. I sit down, chill, and wait my turn.
200 time, I get the push, and the wind up begins. 3 to go, chill, 2 to go, fast down turn 4 hold speed turn 1, fast down turn 2, power up 3, top of the apex, ready, NOW! Go! YEEEEWWWWWW stay high, start dropping, sit down, seated acceleration. Hell yeah. Turn 3, turn 4 – “damn I look good”- I was glued to that balck line. Throw. Look up, 11.9- yuuussssss! Party time. I don’t even know how many laps I did, but I enjoyed that moment. 11.9 I’m a real sprinter now.
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. Really, I hit my main goal, and I didn’t even care what I did after that. I qualified 3rd you can see my racing here (you tube videos linked below with time bookmarks)
Top tip- Sprinting is about acting. If you act fast, you go fast, if you act fresh you are fresh. Racing is just as much mental intimidation as it skill and speed. Coming into my last 2 races I was done. There wasn’t’ enough time between races, I was lying on the floor. But then I was sitting/standing, I put on a smile talked smack, and acted fresh as a daisy. My compactor looked tired. I had this. We were both just as cooked, I just didn’t let it show. Never let your competitors know your form.
Final day- Keirins
I walked into the velodrome knowing there were 3 of us. Tegan and Lauriane at 11.6 me and 11.9, then daylight to the rest. There were no heats, which meant it was a straight final of 7. I did my usual warm up of prancercise, chucked on the 104 again, and chilled. Because it was televised the breaks between events were longer. Hmmm didn’t quite get the warm up timing right. Soooooooo much waiting. I do a rev out on some rollers. Marshalling, I draw 7 and a draw a blank. Ummmm, I ride from the front, now what. I don’t quite have the endurance to do a flier with 3 to go. Time to stop thinking and go with the flow and my instincts during the race.
The Lizanne Wilmot Recovery Nap Protocol. Essential in all racing
We line up, bang, I’m on the back. 6, 5, 4, 3…. I move up. At some point I’m 3 wide, so I drop back and down. 2 to go, wait for it, 1 to go, doors open time to go. I make it through traffic and I’m coming up the pack in the back straight. i was next to a rider when they came out of the sprinters lane. I flicked my elbow and continued to go by. Turn 3, another hit, turn 4, this time my front wheel slides out. Awwwwwwwwwww in slow motion I go down. Awwwwwwwwwwwww in slow motion I slide down the banking, awwwwwwwwwwww in slow motion I lie on the ground. Tht’s a wrap. Canadaion nationals is over. The floor feels so nice. Ummm Lizanne, you should get up now.
That was it- disappointed. But finished. Disappointed, but 12 months out from surgery, hell yeah. Some big targets were hit. One more year!
The biggest thing was I got my confidence back. I’m one of the top riders in Canada and it will carry that confidence back to Australia to have a kick ass season out here! I also have more in me. I was starting to think that 11.9 wasn’t going to happen. I’m getting older and the injuries are starting to heal slower. But I’m also training smarter, and have the resources to travel. I say 1 more year, but who knows. I’m really starting to have fun
And the Keirin… hmmmm I’m not too sure about the new rules. I don’t like my position being decided by picking a card. And I don’t like racing from the back. This is something I’m going to need to work on.
Top tip from and elite master- It’s a world of limbo. And there are many of us in this place. Too fast for masters, and too slow for elites. I chose to race elites because I love the race. Racing is supposed to be fun. Making times, teams, and winning isn’t everything. I’m the dregs of the elites (when it comes to UCI races). But I don’t see it as being at the bottom. It is an opportunity to push myself. I get to be that person that the fast guys have to beat to make it to the next round. It’s not my job to win, I’m there to make it hard for others. In doing so I get to be a part of making someone else a better racer, and receive motivation in return. Once I figured this out, it opened a world of joy, and has made me the rider I am today!
But as promised- I’m on a break. Don’t know how long for. I have penny farthings, cyclocross races, crits, Christmas carnivals, camping, an Everest, polo! So much playing bike to do. I’m saying end of February sound like a good time to get serious again. Until then play!