I had exactly 14 days before I had to be race ready again. When you race a lot you compromise on solid training blocks. In preparation for my first Ironman getting the distances and intensity of training in becomes challenging and a real push to a fine line. Coming into Anderson my body was tired but my excitement and love for the experience kicked in. Traveling by cab, bus, plane, car for 8 hours, being interviewed, doing a mini-photo shoot with Nicole, pro-panel, bike maintenance, course recon, race prep was all done in a quick 48 hours. No time to just stop, breathe, slow down. At least not until race morning when I found that my heart was pounding even before the gun went off. I found a bench through the trees by the lake and in utter quietness. The sun was just starting to rise. I just sat there, closed my eyes and meditated. I let the thoughts come in and out, felt my shoulders finally relax and felt my feet on the ground. Just in time I was ready.
Jennifer Speildenner and I raced each other in ITU “back in the day”. Both coming from a swimming background we always duked it out, sometimes worked together but always pushed to be the first out of the water. It being her first half distance I knew she would push the swim like it was an Olympic distance race forgetting that going lactic in the first 24 minutes of a much longer race is not really beneficial. I let her go. Hard but smart.
Thanks to an awesome mechanic at T1 who addressed some almost serious mechanical issues that morning, my bike worked like a dream. My legs however, were not working quite like a dream. I was working HARD out there but my power meter was not showing the numbers I am used too. No option but to listen to my body and my breathing. When Malaika passed me and then slowly pulled away, I thought “well this is going to be a good opportunity for me to push the run!” A goal this race was to show my run fitness, to work hard. Thankfully toward the final 10 miles of the bike my legs decided to wake up, my heart rate came down and I found my rhythm. According to spectators who were giving splits Malaika had pushed to 1:30+ ahead and I brought it back down to around 45s by T2. This was VERY motivating and I knew I would be good.
The run was two loops around the second transition area, different from last year. Definitely not flat but not as hard as Muskoka or Pocono 70.3. Every hill I came to I picked up my cadence, leaned forward and kept my shoulders relaxed. I had my sites on Malaika who I was quickly putting time into step by step. It was a very new experience for me. I finally passed her and thought make the move definite, no holding back. My feeling good and thinking 'hold on, not long now I am in the lead' was VERY short lived when Nicole literally flew by me. It was almost funny as I thought 'she just really interrupted a fine moment for me, I actually passed someone running!' I tried to stay with her but my body thought differently. I put in my best run time yet (course was 13.3) and although I did slow toward the end it was solid. I was thrilled.
The interview said I was looking for redemption. Today while riding with the flat irons of Boulder laid out in front of me I think that this is wrong. I was not looking to redeem myself from last year. I was proud of that race and had given it all I had. I can't ask for more. This year was no different. I know where I am at, what I have behind and ahead of me. Nicole was absolutely better on the day. What I do feel though is happy to have had such fun once again, to have raced with such a stellar group of athletes and enjoyed their effort, drive and inspiration. My work environment depends on everyone bringing the best of themselves out. This includes the race organizers, media and volunteers. If we all do this then the atmosphere is electric, charged with good-will, excitement and drive. It is exactly why I race and this race delivered 200%!
The Nitty Gritty Details:
Wetsuit swim: Nineteen Rogue
Bike: SHIV with 110PSI pressure
Nutrition: 4 GU gels on the bike (Peanut Butter, Chocolate mint, Chocolate Raspberry and Bluberry Pomegranate); 3 GU on the run (Island Nectar Roctane)
Hydration: Kangan Water 9.5! (I actually carted 4 litres of water with me across the country – yes I believe in it!)
Post-Race: Burger and Beer with AWESOME company!
Special Thanks: To Gina and Scott Brooks who once again went way out of their way to make me feel like family. Howard (Gina's dad) for picking me up and to Brittany for being such stellar post-race support! You all are so very much appreciated.