During my usual night after racing wide wake state back in August after Ironman 70.3 Maine, I was already looking at a possible fall Ironman 70.3. I felt strong and still motivated enough to put in a couple months of training before the off season. Options were North Carolina, Waco TX or Atlantic City. In the end AC made the most sense, a quick turn around from Maine but long enough to be recovered, but also drivable from Boston.

A week before the race I moved, for the second time in 2 months, so let just say that this taper week has been less than ideal, and emphasized on recovering from the move. On Friday afternoon Spencer and I drove to Atlantic City and checked-in at transition, I got in a quick 20min run, prepared my bike, went grocery shopping for the weekend and met with Antoine (who was also racing) and his girlfriend at the Airbnb. On Saturday morning Antoine and I went to the race venue, to get an open water swim on the course, which was technically not allowed, but I had to try out my new Roka wetsuit! I followed it with a quick 30 minutes bike on the windy roads of AC and then checked my bike in before resting and finalizing the last details for the race.

Race morning

I woke up at the usual inhuman hour of 4am to get my pre-race breakfast in (not chicken noddle soup, I'm not fancy like Lionel Sanders!), oatmeal, cereal, banana and coffee to get the bowel movement started! I then got ready, and listen to music until it was time to leave for transition. It was pitch black due to the bad weather but also because it was 6am… Thankfully I always have a flashlight in my triathlon bag. Knowing it was going to swim I put my running shoes in a plastic bag so that they could be at least dry when I put them on. It turned out that it didn't really matter because my socks were soaked and I ran into a deep puddle 200m in the run… (face palm!) I set up everything else, dropped my morning bag, got in line for the porta potty trip and it was time to get in the swim corrals. Side note… When will Ironman put enough toilets in transition?

Swim 33:53 (12th AG, 34th Female)

Face says it all… What a bad swim!

Face says it all… What a bad swim!

Unfortunately, I had probably my worse or second worse swim to data in an Ironman…. it ended up costing me the top 3 podium and discouraged my a little when I saw my time coming out of the water. Let me back up though. We started the race around 6:50am, however, it was still pretty dark outside, and I hadn’t planned for that, so I had my mirrored googles, which are usually awesome for sunrise… but not great when it’s still pretty dark out. It was a self seeding rolling start, I jumped into the 26-35min corral, hoping for a 31min swim time. The start was pretty messy because it was narrow and they just let everyone jump and run in, not like in Tremblant or Maine, where they let a few people every 5seconds. The goal was to go hard the first 400m, which I though I did, but I kept getting kicked and pushed on the outside. When I saw my first split (my watch gives me every 500m split) I knew I was going really slow. I tried increasing the pace, but again I almost got drown and probably almost drown a few people, it was a very violent and uncomfortable swim. At the turn around buoy I felt like giving up, I had drank way too much salt water and was over it. I tried once again to push the pace and it seemed like it worked a little, but I’m pretty sure we had a nice little current in the canal, which could explain the time difference between the way out and back. Anyway, when I finally exited the water I was pissed, almost 34min. I think that if I had swim my normal average 32min pace, I would haven seen more girls around me and I would have been able to ride with some of them or see them on the bike and run, which would have been more motivating and create some competition. That’s life, but I just can’t afford to swim that badly if I want to win or be in contention for a podium… Nutrition wise I had a gel pre-race

Bike 2:35:28 (6th AG, 20th Female)

I knew that it was supposed to rain and get pretty windy at some point during the bike, but I crossed my finger that I would be running by the time to weather turned bad. The bike was 2.5 loops, mostly flat, I had a really fun time on the course, getting my best ever bike time. I tried being as aero as possible, like my coach though me and I think it works. I felt like I was flying on some of the flat expressway sections. Unfortunately, my powermeter never connected to my watch so I biked based on HR the entire time, and it seemed like it work pretty well averaging around 161bpm. I was pretty happy to keep my concentration and focus for the entire 2h35, which I have been struggling with. It started raining 2/3 of the way in, the roads and turned started to get very slippery and as I was passing more and more people on the loops, I tried to be as safe as possible, while still maintaining my pace. It got hard because the course was really crowded and less conformable cyclist weren't riding very well on the slippery road. I finished my ride soaked but pretty pleased, however I have a feeling that I had more in me, to bike faster and push harder, but I’m still learning to be uncomfortable on the bike and be more confident. I finished the bike in 12th an 6th in my AG, but 13min behind #1 and 7min behind the girl in front of me. Side note I only finished 8min behind the first one and within 2min of the 3rd… One day I’ll learn how to bike! I probably didn't drink enough on the bike but I had a full water bottle, half of my concentrated scratch lab mix, 3 gel and 1 sports bar, around 500-550 calories.

Run 1:36:15 (3rd AG, 6th Female)

Already soaked I just put my running shoes on. I was pleased to feel that the legs were responding well, even after spending 2h30 in aero bars. Lately I have been practicing riding on flat roads, and my legs haven’t liked it too much of the bike. Your legs don’t get any relief, like you would in downhills. Today seemed different and I just went for it. I knew I was well behind the first few girls so I decided to chase them and go a little harder than my last race and usual pace, all or nothing mindset. I figured that if I blew up at least I had tried. The course is a long out and back (4mile each way) then back to the finish line for another small out and back (2.5mile each way). I got to see the first girls, they were far ahead, which did discouraged me a little but I kept pushing the pace until the first turn around around mile 4, at that point I was still feeling pretty good and going fast. I kept eating, but hydrating not so much, as drinking when you are soaked from the rain isn’t the first thing that you feel like doing! At this first turn around I realized that I had been running with a nice tail wind, but I still felt strong, until about mile 7, and thus begun the longest 4mile of my life! ok exaggerating a little, but it was really hard. I felt like crap. I saw Spencer around mile 9 and just wanted to give up, my paced dropped by almost 1 min per mile and I was miserable…. I grabbed a gel from an aid station it gave me a little boost. I told myself I had to push until the last turn around, I would then have a tail wind again and only 2.5 miles to go. I finally grabbed some coke… which I never do, but thankfully felt awesome and gave me that last little boost of energy I desperately needed to finish the race. My pace accelerated back to what it was at the beginning of the race and I crossed the finish line in 4:55 relieved, soaked and tanked! I finished 5th in my AG, 8th female overall and had the 6th fastest run time.

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This is my best ever run split in an Ironman 70.3 and had I started a little more conservative maybe it would have been a little better but I was really pleased with myself for pushing through and putting my best ever combined bike and run split. All and all I’m still sour about my swim time which cost me a lot on top of mentally bringing me down in transition, but I'm happy with this third and last Half Ironman of the season. Plus, I QUALIFIED FOR WORLDS!! I mean how can I not me ecstatic, while there is some things to improve I’ll write more about it in my post season recap. For now lets focus on the positive!

I came into this race ready to show one more time that this season was a breakthrough for me and that I can compete with the older ladies (F25-29) and overall females, even if I’m only 24. I also came with the goal of maybe qualifying for Worlds in Nice in September 2019. Had the bike course been the right length 56miles instead of 57.2miles, I probably would have PR’ed again so that’s pretty cool!

Now it’s been 4 days since the race, I’ve been doing absolutely nothing except eating and chilling, but I’m getting restless and might go for a run later. I’ll be doing a few weeks of unstructured exercise (not training) until I sit down with my coach to figure out what’s next!

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Thank you Spencer for allowing me to race another Ironman 70.3 and driving with me all the way down to Atlantic City, taking awesome pictures, and once again keeping me calm and collected this weekend. You could have easily gone to the casino instead of standing in the cold and rain! Thank you to my coach Jorge for providing me the right training to kill it once again and to everyone else who either has messaged me, encourage me an supported me again and again this season! I’ll be doing a triathlon season recap soon! In the meantime you can find me in the kitchen or on the couch!

Cheers

Steph