Back in the pre-Bode days I tried quite a few times to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. I got “kind of” close but never met my goal. After Bode, when he was 6 months old, I qualified in my first race back for the 2016 Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Australia. I was shocked when a slot made it to me and we took it not yet realizing the race was on Bode’s first birthday. Australia was really a fabulous experience and I hoped to qualify again one day. We decided after I had done three 70.3s and Ironman Lake Placid in 2016 that 2017 would be a year of Sprints. That was until I got a Women for Tri slot for my All World Athlete ranking back in February. Hell yes I will take a slot!
I had been doing no biking or swimming and very little running (since Australia!!!) back in February and quickly got back on board with Coach Liz (Multisport Mastery). We started again April 1st with a season laid out as 70.3 Worlds as my “A” race of the year, with a few sprints and the Bay Swim in the spring race season.
The sprints and the bay swim went well. I was really enjoying my training for the fast stuff, averaging between 6 hours (hello sick baby or coaching training camps) to 11 hours. Very reasonable, I won my Age group in the 3 sprints I completed and was happy with my bay swim time.
In July it was time to get serious about my training, both Bode and I got pretty sick on top of that we had a family vacation. That month was a bust.
August 1st I was ready to GO! I had a great month and some of my most solid training post baby! 10-14 hours and my training was really focused. The highlight of that month was the training we did at Deep Creek at Nathan’s late summer training camp. I never felt so prepared for hills that I would face in Chattanooga between Deep Creek and the couple of rides we did on Skyline. My run was also going quite well for me – hitting a 100 mile month for August.
Race week came and we traveled half way down to the race on Wednesday night and the rest the next morning with a few of my athletes that were racing. When we arrived on Thursday we went straight to packet pickup, ate a bunch of pizza at Mellow Mushroom and then headed over to our house on Lookout Mountain. The house was great – we had hang gliders flying right over the house – the views were spectacular!
It was a little challenging race week as I was racing with two of my athletes on Saturday (Cindy and Denise) and 7 others were racing on Sunday (Chuck, Nathan, Trey, Jason, Kevin, Michael and Rob). I also had a few doing Ironmans all over the world as well as the big event at home, the Reston World Championships! I was a little scattered but tried to stay focused on the race.
Saturday morning I woke up pretty positive and excited to race. For maybe the first time I was excited the swim was wetsuit legal as I really have found a groove with my new Roka wetsuit. I went to the swim start, made a few friends pre-race and was happy to be in the first AG wave as we had a front line view of the Pro start! I had decided as part of my race plan to take the first half of the race like a training day. Not to overdo it in the swim or the first half.
SWIM 33:24 – 34th AG
I seeded myself right in the middle of the rolling wave start. This format was great – very little contact and the current did not seem that bad. The water temp/air temp were just perfect. One of the most enjoyable swims I can remember. Kept it easy and relaxed and came out with my heart rate not too high.
T1 – 4:56
Transitions at both of the 70.3 Worlds I have done are quite long. Lots of athletes and you do bike and run gear bags like an Ironman. There were wetsuit strippers and everything went calmly until I tried to put my bike shoes back into the bag instead of carrying them to my bike (long run, chose to run barefoot until my bike).
BIKE 3:03:31 – 94th AG
I took the first 5 miles VERY easy. I honestly didn’t feel that good. I think you want to feel perfect the whole race but it just doesn’t happen. Kept telling myself, just take it easy and it will improve. Good news is it did. I loved the climb at this race. It was not easy, but never felt hard. I had told myself that I was going to get passed a lot on the climb and it definitely happened. Combination of a speedier than average swim and a climb (not my strength from a height/weight perspective) – this was going to happen. And it did! I only got passed for the first 15 or so miles! And that’s ok – I told myself I would see some later – and I did. I wanted to keep my watts as low as possible. I was at ~75% FTP for the first 5 miles. At the top of the climb I was at 91% FTP – oops I went as easy as possible and it was still quite high. The top of the mountain was rollers. The highlight of the ride for sure was when my guys came out to the course, took off their shirts and shook them like a lasso over their heads. I could hear ladies behind me hooting and hollering. Fun!
I was really excited for the downhill – as I had driven it and the guys had given me a report when they had ridden it the day before. I knew I could go down it brake-less and that most athletes were going to be focused on the uphill and not how to optimize speed in this section. Oh and this is a place my height/weight combination is a big help! I passed a ton of Ladies here. This is when the passing started – and passing many that passed me on the uphill. Was very fun!
The rest of the ride I honestly felt better than I have ever in a 70.3 I was fueled, excited and just having fun. Oh and I was still passing as many as passed me which is a much more positive race experience! I ended up drinking 4 bottles (2 osmo, 2 GE) and eating 3/4 of a powerbar, 6 salt stick tabs and 50mg of a caffeine pill at mile 40. I was singing “Drop it Like it’s Hot” in my head. And I did – ended up at 86% FTP for the ride – way above goal.
T2 – 1:55
This one was fast. Bike catchers, got my shoes on and left. In retrospect I was quite speedy and made up a tiny bit of time here.
RUN 2:02:25 – 173 AG
My goal for this one was sub-2. Which I knew with the heat/hills was going to be a huge challenge. My 70.3 PR is 1:53 on a very flat course and this was pre-baby (aka when I used to train A TON MORE). At Australia last year I ran a 2:06 on a cooler day, much easier course. I was REALLY happy with this run. Especially with the watts I rode on the bike! From the start my legs felt fantastic.
I kept the first out and back controlled, but was hard as there was a ton of crowd there. The first big hill loomed and definitely ran it a bit too hard (my max heart rate for the entire race!). At the 4 mile mark I was still sub 9 and I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to keep that kind of pace on the relentless hills but I did my best to keep pushing. It was great to see Scott and Kevin so many times on the course! And I got another “show” from the guys when I went over the veterans bridge – SO FUN!
I sometimes find my mind wandering on the race course – especially when the run gets hard but this time I tried to focus on finding tips and things I could tell my athletes that were racing the next day. The format of the ladies getting to race first certainly helped me to focus on what I could tell the guys for the next day.
Not much to say here but the run hurt like it should and I don’t feel like I could have gotten much more time out of this race than I did. My midpack finish was actually another one of my goals for this race. I know that my racing is not 100% my priority anymore between my family and my athletes but I am glad I can still do these things and really enjoy them. I really focus on making smart execution plans/decisions and following them through. Do the little things right that are easier to implement than another 5 hours of training a week. Many thanks to Coach Liz who helps me focus the time I do have. As always thanks to Scott for not only enabling this crazy life we have but also being my number one supporter!
Coach-Spectating on Sunday:
The celebrations after the race were quite epic as well!