It all started when...
It still feels surreal to think that I’ve just competed at Ironman 70.3 World Championship. While the result and the race were not what I wanted or expected. It’s hard to feel bummed about it given that it was an amazing experience. I will go in the negative and the lessons later on, but let’s focus on the positive and the experience first! I haven’t thought about what I’m going to write exactly, but I can guarantee you it will be a long read! So feel free to scroll for the pictures or just the race day recap further down, if not, grab a snack and carry on!
We left for Chattanooga Thursday afternoon, the plan was to land early night in Atlanta, sleep there and build my bike at the hotel before driving to Chattanooga on Friday morning. The plane was 1h30 late, so safe to say that I crashed as soon as we got to the hotel, while my boyfriend was watching the Patriots game (because we ain’t going to miss that no matter what!) Both of us forgot to put our alarm the next morning, but thanks to me not being able to sleep past 8am we were only 45min late. I got in a massive carb-loaded breakfast and we hit the road. Traffic was heavy with all the Floridian evacuating but we made it to the expo with plenty of time to check in, meet up with some friends … oh and buy a new helmet, because yes I forgot mine… I then went back to the hotel room to build my bike. (in 15minutes!! Am I a pro yet) I went for a quick spin to test everything out. Looked like it worked well, only had a little problem shifting to my easiest gear, which was 100% needed given the cat2 climb I would have to bike up the next day. I fixed it (or thought I did) and brought my bike and gear bags to the transition before went back to the room relax for the rest of the day.
We walked a lot on Friday, going to and from the transition, getting everything ready … and my foot was definitely not liking it, so after we were all done I iced it and we went to dinner. Lights out at 9pm, it’s definitely an advantage to be a grandma/going to bed at 9:30pm in my daily life, because going to bed at 9pm and falling asleep was not a problem!
The race had a later start and as per usual, I was one of the last wave, with an 8:49am start. That mean waking up at 5:50 to get in my breakfast (instead of 4:30am in Maine two weeks prior!) Ate the usual banana, oatmeal, peanut butter breakfast, some water and then we walked to the transition zone.
Tire pressure checked, power meter checked, nutrition and hydration on the bike, all good to go. I watched the women pro start before finding a place to sit down while waiting for my start and try and enjoy the moment while my nerve were getting the best of me. The emotion kicked in as I was walking towards my start, but I held everything in and found my way to the swim corral where I got to meet Rachael and Steve who managed to get my mind off the race for a second and calm my nerves! Thank you!
Looking at the swim course and pretending to be calm…
The swim course was in the Tennessee River and obviously made harder because it’s worlds. (pretty much the theme of the day for this course) We had to swim, perpendicular to the current then up current for half the length of the swim and then back to the finish. The start was a dive start, it was pretty cool. I felt like a pro until I looked at the pictures and saw that I looked ridiculous diving… oups! (order of events below, I’m in first plan diving)
The first part was fine I kept a hard pace to warm up and catch some feet (which didn’t happen) as soon as we hit the current part I started zigzagging like never before and even though I kept a pace which was an harder effort than usual I wasn’t moving fast. I just knew by then that it was going to be a long swim and a long day in general. The sun was blinding and I could barely see the yellow buoy, thus the not so straight swim, but I kept pushing until we hit the next turn. Then it became fun and I felt like I was flying. I guess the good thing about struggling up current for 20min is going with it afterwards! I finished the swim, almost tripped on the stairs on the way out, thank god for the volunteer and ran to transition.
Somewhere out there swimming against the current
Nutrition: Pre swim, 1 gel
Again why would we go around the mountain when we can just climb it right… I jumped on my bike only to realize that my power meter was not working. I’ve never been one to actually base my race on exact number, nor am I good at it, but for the climb I wanted to have it to make sure I wasn’t burning too many matches. Well that wasn’t going to happen, second resort was heart rate, and well my watch didn’t want to give me that either… I was at around 80 beats per minute in the middle of the climb, that didn’t make any sense. Having realized that, I figure I would just go by feel, which is what I usually do. (even though I will have to learn to use those numbers in the future because they do make you race better)
After about 10-15 minutes of flat terrain we hit the first steep portion. As I was about to shift on my easiest gear my bike made a weird noise and refused to go on it. Well that’s fun I immediately told myself… Can’t go on my easiest gear and I’m about to climb for almost an hour… Let’s just say that I had to stand to pedal in certain portion because it was so steep, and I couldn’t push hard enough. The last km of the Lookout Mountain climb was really fun because the view was breathtaking and there was so many spectators cheering, playing music, and encouraging you.
Google image, but one of the view point from the climb
However, since Thursday, a week and a half ago I’ve been having pain on the bottom, exterior of my right foot when I walk, run or climb on the bike. I iced it all week, limited my walking and running and felt ok starting the race, but as soon as I started climbing I felt the pain coming back. The good thing is the pain appeared immediately but stayed consistent and did not get worse throughout the bike portion. In the first half, I mostly drank my bottle with concentrated sport nutrition in it because it was hard to get a long enough time to chew something with all that climbing. I also got in a gel and ate half of my energy bar.
Then the descent came and it was the best part of the ride, for obvious reasons. I love going fast downhill on my bike and it was a long descent with no sharp turns, as oppose to the Austria Worlds course in 2015 where they had to put gigantic gymnastic mat to prevent people from going over the guard rail and fall hundreds of feet… The rest of the bike portion was eventless apart from a car or two that where stuck in the middle of us. Some girls took advantage of it and drafted behind them for a minute or two… I mean why not! That’s not against the rules. At around mile 45 my legs started to hurt and were lacking power and energy, I was starting to feel the Ironman 70.3 I had done 13 days ago. I knew by then it was going to be a struggle to push. I got another gel down with some Gatorade, water and base salt, as it was also getting hot. I tried my best to keep it consistent until I hit the dismount line at the transition zone. And, as I put my right foot down the pain radiated through my entire leg and from then until the end of the run it got progressively worse with pain from the foot all the way to the ankle and calf.
Nutrition: 2.5 bottles of water, 1 bottle of concentrated Gatorade, 3 gels, 1 Fastbar and a few base salt licks.
T2: I had such scary expectations about the bike and swim portion. Worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it or do very poorly, so when I reach the transition zone, it was such a relief. Plus running (even when it’s not going well) is my favorite part!
Right out of Transition
The run portion was a two loop course with plenty of aid station, hills, shade, spectators and change in terrain to make it interesting. It started with long uphill past the transition zone, the finish line and under the 2 bridges we would later run on. Then we ran in an isolated and shady wooden bike path, which was nice and quiet, something I need and crave when I’m racing and suffering. We then had to run up onto a bridge to cross the river and finally come back to start the second loop. I loved the loop and even though it was challenging it was great. I wish my right foot and ankle hadn’t been in so much pain and that my body had been fully recovered from Ironman 70.3 Maine so that I could have ran the run up to my standards and fitness level, but nevertheless it was fun (Type II fun obviously).
The first loop started well I was going at the prescribed heart rate. (Yes my watch decided to work once I started running…who knows) I was drinking one cup of water and 1 cup of Gatorade at each aid station, throwing a few on my head, and eating one cliff block every 2 miles or so. After the first long uphill out of transition, I got into a good rhythm and slowly caught up on girls in my age group one by one. I always get passed on the bike and do the passing on the run, which is what happened again. (Just another reminder that I need to work on my bike this off season) My boyfriend managed to be on each of the bridges for both loops which was a nice little relief every time. As I started the second loop my foot got progressively worst and I started feeling pain in my ankle and the nerve in my calf, I slowed down a little more but tried to keep my running form as relaxed and good as possible. The hills on the second loop felt steeper and longer but I couldn’t stop smiling (ok I was probably grimacing, but smiling inside) because I was about to finish my third Ironman 70.3 World Championship, and no matter the results, the pain, I had worked hard to be there and was doing something I love.
Some well needed distraction from the speedo sandwich throughout the run!
The pain, as it always does subsided for those few moments where I could hear the spectators at the finish line. I accelerated the pace on the last bridge and turn to the finish line. The crowd lining the chute helped me “sprint” on the red carpet and I finished the race happy, tired and ready to improve and work hard for next season.
Nutrition: As much water as I could get, 1 bottle of Gatorade (approx.), 4 clif blocks
A few numbers:
Swim: Time: 36:39 Elevation: 0 Rank: 45th
Bike: Time: 3:02:54 Elevation: 3442ft (1049m) Rank: 41st
Run: Time: 1:48:32 Elevation: 975ft (297m) Rank: 25th
Total race time: 5:33:45 Rank: 33th/80 in AG and 1st F18-24 Canadian
The volunteer at the finish line were amazing, they were immediately in your face trying to judge if I was OK, while wasn’t even sure myself. After gathering my thoughts I managed to moan an “I’m OK”. Then a reporter with a camera twice as large as my head asked me a few questions, and to be perfectly honest I don’t even remember what they were and what I said. Apparently I was in the closing video at the banquet so let’s hope I didn’t sound or look stupid and I can get my hands on this video to be the judge of that…!
Now that I’ve had a few days to think about the race and recover, (haven’t done anything in 3 days and I’m going crazy, I don’t like off season much, but my body and head need it) a few things came to my mind. This year, Worlds was my season “A” goal and race, and I wanted to be competitive in my age group in a stack field. Even though that didn’t happen it was worth every single training day, early morning, nonalcoholic beverages at the bar and missed party.
Looking back maybe I should not have raced Maine 13 days before, I know I wasn’t fully recovered when I stepped on the dock waiting for the horn. But racing with my parents and my brother meant more to me than anything and I don’t regret it. I also didn’t run to my potential due to my foot. Finally, the last months as been really hard mentally, with every workout grueling and requiring my entire motivation to get it done. It was a long season. With my move to Boston, grad school and the start of a new job, my triathlon training and races tested me in every possible way, but I will come back to that in my end of season blog post. In the meantime I’m going to rest and make a plan for fall and the off-season, because I really want to run another marathon.
It’s a wrap
A huge thanks to:
My parents. Although they were not able to be at this race, because they were racing (valid reason) they are always behind me 100% in anything I do. I cannot begin to tell you how lucky I am to have them and share my passion with them. And I probably will never tell them enough how thankful I am.
All of my friends who support me and encourage me in triathlon and life! The one that train with me and the one that force me to do other thing than just train.
Spencer for encouraging me each day to be my best, coming with me at my races and being the best photographer. Keeping me grounded and bringing me back to reality once in a while.
E3coaching/team and Jorge for the great year of coaching, the advice, listening to me complain about my poor workouts and helping me get better.
Thank you to everyone who makes my journey possible and for taking a minute (OK maybe 10..) to read about my journey.