Bienvenido a Miami
Yes, I had a Michelob Ultra after finishing
From the moment Miami 70.3 was put on my schedule, I'm pretty sure I've played this song daily in my mind. After a fairly aggressive early season it was time to look ahead to what goals I wanted to pursue for 2014. Coach Flanigan and I discussed various options, but ultimately my sights were set on earning my ticket to the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont-Tremblant. Miami was chosen for a few reasons:
Reasonable travel requirements. Yes, it is in the opposite corner of the nation, but being a major city made the airfare a bit more affordable.
Timing. I needed a solid block of time to build for this race after chinking my armor a little too much earlier in the season. (and I won't lie... the thought of escaping the cold, windy fall weather in exchange for palm trees and a warm breeze was definitely appealing).
Points. In order to race in the World Championships I need to earn enough points to get a slot. Miami offered higher points than Austin 70.3 (which was held the same weekend).
My new buddy Murph and I did plenty
of this the days leading up to the race
The 10 weeks of training leading up to this race went almost entirely as planned. Aside from a couple hiccups with my running at the beginning of October, everything else was executed impeccably. Very few distractions. Head down. Eye on the goal.
Wattie Ink fan and fellow RD Susan Kitchen
stopped and introduced herself. Great gal and athlete!
This was my first race traveling solo. No MFMG to act as sherpa or keep me company on the flight. No Wattie Ink contingent or other companions to provide pre-race support. And I know this isn't rocket science, but putting my bike together before the race also fell entirely on my shoulders. But as my husband reminded me, "This is, after all, an individual sport."
As race day approached, the familiar jittery excitement continued to build. Thanks to a pleasant home stay with a great local athlete, Ola Besser, stress was kept to a minimum and logistics were simple. Some ill-timed sinus congestion, a few near-death experiences with Miami drivers and one very inhospitable car rental agent were no match for the focus I had going into this race. Matt paid me a very big compliment the night before I departed Boise: "I've never seen you so prepared for a race."
The best part about a home stay is the ability to
make a customized, delicious pre-race meal.
Race reports can easily turn into rambling, detailed accounts of every moment of the very long day. So much happens the days leading up to the race and even more occurs the day of; it is nearly impossible to cover it all. What may work best is to highlight the highs and lows of each leg of the race. Here goes…
All racked and ready to go…
right next to Leanda Cave
The High: Being racked near Leanda Cave and Matty Reed in transition. Watching these two triathlon legends entertain droves of fans from around the world while obliging photos and hand-shakes was very cool. This was my first time meeting both of them, and from my brief interactions I can honestly say my admiration has only grown from the experience.
The Low: NERVES!! I kept thinking, "jeez, just get me in that water and sound the gun!" All of the announcements and pre-race briefings were translated into Spanish and Portuguese, which made it feel like the World Championships. EEK!
The High: I found feet!!! Many of you who spoke with me prior to this race know that the swim start was a source of much angst for me. I've been working hard on my swimming and I knew going in to this race my swim was stronger than ever. Setting myself up for a solid swim by staying with the group was crucial. I was determined not to swim alone (like has happened several times this season). I also wanted to prove that I'm worthy of sporting the wicked fast Blueseventy PZ3TX with the big dogs.
The Low: Alas, they were the wrong feet to follow. By the time I had reached the first turn buoy I knew the lead pack had taken off, but I was still with a few other girls and I thought, "this is fine, just hang with them, you don't want to swim alone!" Well, about halfway through the swim I suddenly found myself engulfed in seaweed, as if someone had dumped a loose bale of hay into the harbor. I had followed those feet right off course into a big, floating mass. Imagine trying to crawl your way through several partially deflated air mattresses. The seaweed was buoyant, but not so much that it would support the weight of a human body. As I struggled to slog my way through this stuff (there has to be and END somewhere, right??) I heard a kayaker yelling and pointing me toward clear water. I was literally a couple feet from escaping the straw-like cloud but it was so thick I couldn't find my way through without the help of that kayaker. Once back on course the rest of the swim was smooth sailing…and I promptly surged away from those feet that led me astray.
No, this is not me. But it's a cool shot.
Photo credit: Ironman 70.3 Miami
The High: Simple- I raced. Even with the seaweed debacle I came out of the water around the same time as 3 other women. We all left T1 together and were leap frogging our way through the first several miles of the bike. I knew the ride would be flat and fast and I was concerned about getting stuck in the draft zone of the other riders. Flanny and I had reviewed my target power the day before, and throughout the season he has encouraged me to "race" and use my power meter as a tool rather than a limiter. So I went for it, pushing the pace above my target watts several times early in the bike in order to try to get away from the other women. The confidence I had from being adequately prepared for that ride helped me push harder than I would have earlier in the season. All that time tucked in the aero position was definitely made easier by my Adamo Breakaway and Speedfil setup. In the end, my average power was about 3.5% higher than previous races this season. WIN!
The Low: The congestion that had set in the days leading up to the race came loose from all that salt water during the swim. Snot rocket does not even begin to describe what was coming out of my face. Remember the reference to shoelaces from the movie Turner and Hooch? Enough said.
The High: Finding my run legs! Flanny had warned me that because of the time-trial nature of the bike I would likely be stiff and uncomfortable starting the run. It was true. Man, that first mile felt like the longest mile I'd run in a very long time and it crossed my mind that I was too ambitious on the bike. I focused on turnover, form, fuel, hydration. Sure enough, within a few miles my legs came around and before I knew it my K-Swiss Kwicky's were ticking off the miles and I began feeling stronger as the run unfolded.
May I draw your attention to the left side of the photo. I am just starting the run and Terenzo Bozzone (the men's champion) just passed me with the grace of a cheetah, powering into his second lap. I remember thinking, "picture yourself running like HIM!" (Photo credit: Ironman 70.3 Miami)
The Low: I'm not sure what to call this "issue" I've been battling on the run, but it has been suggested that the problem originates in my lower leg and causes pain in my knee by compressing the peroneal nerve. Whatever. It sucks. Typically when my leg acts up it is only a matter of time before I'm walking. This time I managed to find a way to run through it will little issue, other than a slightly slower pace. While it is incredibly frustrating to know that I couldn't produce the run I'm capable of, it is encouraging that this "issue" continues to be less and less significant when it does rear it's ugly head. Here's to hoping it packs it's bags and leaves in 2014.
Nothing like sandy toes and
the sound of the surf in your ears.
I came in 9th, which is not the race I was hoping for and not the race I had prepared myself for. It also does not give me a great start at points accumulation for 2014. While my perfectionistic nature causes me to analyze what I could have (should have) done differently, I have been reminded by my coach and my network of supporters how far I have come this season. I have shown continual progress and consistency with my racing. I have attempted a heavier season than ever before, toeing the line with some of the best athletes in the sport to see how I measure up. And I have learned…a LOT.
Back in Boise.
From beautiful beach scenery to picturesque fall colors.
The offseason is upon me…FINALLY! I am already thinking ahead to next season and the accomplishments and challenges that lie ahead. But for now I'll happily spend a significant amount of time sleeping in, baking and kicking MFMG's tail in cribbage. I can't begin to express my gratitude for all of the support I've received this season. This year has been an extraordinary journey, and I feel like I'm just getting started.