This past weekend I’ve had the chance to race my 7th half ironman. I spent the week prior to Syracuse 70.3 in Montreal with my family, seeing friends, tapering, riding and running my old routes. It was so much fun to train and relax home. I was excited to get my bike ,and see my boyfriend obviously, as he nicely drove up to Montreal from Boston to see my family and cheer at Syracuse. I’m not going to say I nailed taper week because there is always room for improvement but it’s probably the best one I’ve done so far. I listened to my body, ate the right things and got a decent amount of sleep!
A few strides on the track
We were supposed to drive to Syracuse Friday but we decided to spend one more day with my family in Montreal. So, Saturday, early after I got in a quick shakeout run and realized that my rear brake on my bike was not working… we left and drove 4hrs (and I was trying not to stress out about my bike). Thank god for Bike Loft at the Ironman Expo, who nicely fixed everything. It’s with peace that I checked-in, racked my bike and went to the hotel to prepare all my stuff for the next day.
Mandatory gear pic
Leading to this race I wasn’t feeling 100% confident in my ability as grad school, my new life in Boston and my recent trip to India had prevented me from training as much as previous years and how I wanted too. On top of that the weather called for very hot temperatures and a windy morning. But I tried hard to come into this race with less expectations. My goals for this race were too execute my coach’s program, manage my nutrition and hydration well, and then if possible beat last year’s time and finally qualify for Ironman 70.3 World’s 2017. I love sharing my experiences and my story with the world. I think through sharing our experiences, we can learn from and empower one another and it is always so much fun to meet people from all around the world in races, but sometimes I think it would be simpler if I kept everything for myself, where no one would know or care who I was or my race result. At the end of the day triathlon is my passion and I love sharing it with people so that will never happen and I just have to accept it!
Instead of thinking about that I watched a movie, went to bed early and got up at 4am to eat my pre-race white toast, cereal and banana breakfast. We then drove to the venue, where I organized my transition area before heading to the swim warmup area. I took my pre race gel with some water and off I was.
Stretching and Visualizing
The swim was a mid-water start so I started swimming as soon as the BOOM went off. The start was surprisingly very peaceful, I didn’t get hit and the first half went well, except a few encounters with the previous waves. I was at the turnaround point in about 15min. When I saw that, I was so excited, I thought I would finally get a swim in 30min… little this I know that we had a crazy tailwind on the way out, that it wasn’t the halfway point and that the wave on the way back would make it one of the hardest swim. The goal quickly shift from swimming my fastest time ever to try and not drink the entire lake while breathing and not get nauseous! I’m not the greatest swimmer so there’s always few girls in my division ahead of me but I saw one girl from my Age group in the transition her and passed her. At this point I was 2nd
Bike 3:07:43 (3min improve from last year!)
Wet suit tripper are the bomb, I got my wetsuit off in 2.5sec, ran to the transition zone and hopped on my bike!
The bike course is very hilly with half of the elevation being in the first 15miles. I started drinking immediately on the bike as it was getting warmer and warmer alternating between my energy drink bottle and my water bottle. I finished my first water bottle right before the first aid station I tossed it and replaced it with a new water bottle and did the same thing at each aid station as I also made sure to splash my neck occasionally to cool off.
With my trusted BMC
Once we turned the first corner (mile 8) we had a head wind for a good hour and a half or so making climbs harder and flat not as fun… I’ve had windy rides but never, really windy races, which made it more challenging, both physically and mentally. However, I was riding good according to how I was feeling and the legs hold up pretty well until 15miles from the end. The tail wind was great, but when you get it at the end of a race, and you’re already tired it’s not as great… but I’ll take it! I slowed down a little bit towards the end to made sure I was properly hydrated and save some energy for the run. The last part of the bike course is mostly downhill including a ½ mile speed trap of 25mph. Only problem, my bike computer is in Kilometer so I had to do some quick math 25*1.6=40 kilometer per hour, so I wouldn’t get disqualified…
I took my shoes off on the bike, something I’ve finally practice and ran to transition 2 where I put my nutrition in my suit grabbed my bib and cap and ran out for what would be the hottest half marathon I’ve ever ran.
Run 1:49:35 (3min improve from last year!)
This year they modified the run course so that we wouldn’t have to go up a really steep hill. The run profile is mostly up and down the entire time, no real flat portion to get into a rhythm, but I knew that from the get go, so I turned my watch around so I wouldn’t look at it, because I knew I would get mad at my pace. It was really hot at this point, but the only relief was the strong wind on the way out. The way back was horrible, with the wind in the back, there was not a bit of wind and I felt like I was in a sauna, or maybe like a roasting piece of meat on a bbq… The fun part about this course is that it’s 2 loops so I got to run through the spectators to get some energy before going back for the second and thank god, last loop! I also got to see my boyfriend a few times on the course which was really appreciated as let’s be honest I was suffering! He told be I was first by at least 10min, which allowed me to keep the strategy of walking the aid station to make sure I would drink a complete cup of water and Gatorade and not run and drink aka spill all of it. I also put ice in my shorts and sports bra to cool off every time. The last hill was a sign of relief and I even manage to sprint the finishing chute.
My boyfriend came to congratulate me and told me I was officially first in my Age group and thus qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 Worlds Championship in Chattanooga Tennessee this September (hit me up if you have recommendation or will be there!) This was probably the hardest half Ironman I have ever done and I’m damn proud of it!
This is my fourth time qualifying for Worlds, and if you had tell my 16 years old basketball player self that this was going to happen, I would have laugh and said, there’s no way, I hate running more than 30min straight… Things change and this year was no exception, even with less training I manage to beat my time. It’s partly due to the fact that I’m learning to train smarter and my coach knows what he’s doing! Thanks Jorge! I’ve been loving learning how to train better and smarter from you and I’m so happy to be part of the e3 team this year! I can’t wait to get even faster.
Big thank you to my parents for allowing me to pursue my dreams all the time and believing in me, for supporting my crazy adventures and believing in me! Thank you to Spencer for being the best photographer, cheer crew, driver and calming me down before the race, oh and for supporting me during my long weekends of training all the time!