Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ironman 70.3 St George Race Report

I just want to start off by saying that 5 weeks before the race, I wasn't completely sure that I would even be able to compete in Ironman 70.3 St George this year. So, the fact that I did, and completed it injury free is something that I am ecstatic about! It wasn't the performance that I hoped for when I originally added this to my race calendar last year, but sometimes things happen and you have to adjust your goals. Another thing I learned from this race, was that I can't hide from my weakness on this course!

I thought I had gotten pretty used to all the pre-race nerves, as this will be my third year racing in the Pro category, but that wasn't the case before St George. Maybe it was because this race was a bit different, in that I would be racing a stellar field of athletes. On the start list, there were about 12 girls who were either Ironman or Ironman 70.3 champions. That is always a little bit intimidating. Add that to the fact that I knew my run fitness wasn't at the same level as it had been last year and had been feeling quite homesick the past 2 weeks. Perhaps all these factors combined weren't good for a strong mental state. And, despite all the well wishes family and friends, I couldn't find my usual pre-race excitement. Instead, there was just a lot of pre-race worry! That, unfortunately, led to the mindset of: "I just can't wait for it to just be over, so I can get home."

The race started out according to plan. I swam hard at the beginning to get out ahead with the girls and then hung in strong with the pack. There was a bit of confusion on the last loop of the swim, with some girls cutting inside the buoys, when we were clearly told to stay outside of them. I debated whether to follow the rules or stay with the girls and I chose to follow the rules, so perhaps lost a little bit of time on them in the final few hundred metres of the swim. Overall, I was happy with my swim that got me 10th out of the water (I was 11th last year).

It was a long run to our bikes from the swim exit, but that went relatively smoothly. I was out on my bike still in a good position. Within the first couple of km, superstars Mel McQuaid and Linsey Corbin had caught me. I had planned to stay with them, but my power numbers and heart rate were a bit outside my comfort zone so I let them get away. Then, fellow Canadian Angela Naeth, then Sarah Piampiano and Emma Kate passed me shortly after. I did try to keep them in my sight, but I didn't want to risk going out too hard. In the past, like in Florida 70.3 last year and Timberman, I have taken this risk and it turned out well. But, with my run fitness being where it was, I just couldn't do that this time. I maintained that position and biked alone for most of the rest of the race. I found myself quite intimidated by the technical parts of the course. I had never practice them at high speed in training, mostly owing to the fact that it would have been too risky when traffic wasn't being controlled for. Also, I wasn't used to the new wheels I was riding, and, although they were fast, I didn't feel comfortable going fast with them. I did a lot of the fast descents on the uprights and not in aero! I think this cost me some valuable extra minutes. All in all, I maintained a high normalized power, the highest I have ever held over that distance. But the technical nature of the course prevented me from achieving my time goals. Now, at least I know what I have to work on! I finished the bike in 17th (compared to 21st last year).

Now, it was onto the scariest part of the day...the run! I had very little expectations. My longest run had been 13.5 miles and, although I had done lots of hills in training, there was only so much preparation I could do while still ensuring I remained injury free. My knee still gets tight, so I have had to be pretty conservative in my training. I chose to only monitor my heart rate and not pace throughout the run. I kept it around 165bpm for the first half of the course, and even though it was tough, I didn't respond when I was passed. When everything was still feeling good at the 7 mile mark, I pushed the pace and my heart rate a bit. I was still feeling good near the last 3 miles, which I knew were a net downhill. That's when I took off the brakes and just gave it my everything. Unfortunately, I was still passed by 2 girls in the last mile. I held off the others though and finished in 20th. Dropping only 3 spots from last year, given the circumstances, had to be a win for me.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me while I have been away! Especially my sponsors: Turner-Tomenson Wealth Management and Raymond James Financial who made the trip possible, Fitt1st for getting me comfy and aero on my new bike, Bill Wells at Urban Athlete (who cured my injuries), Troy Davis (chiro) and Susan (RMT) in St George for keeping me healthy and able to train, all my equipment sponsors: Quintana Roo, ISM Saddles, Gray wheels, Rudy Project, Karhu Running Shoes, eLoad sports nutrition, IBB Cyclery in Utah, The Bike Zone in Toronto, Swiftwick socks, Suunto (love my multisport GPS watch!), Perfect Fuel Chocolate (best recovery food, ever!), Funkita/Funky Trunks swim wear, SRM for my power, Champion System for the most amazingly comfortable race kit, X-1 Audio for allowing me to train to music!!!

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