It’s taken me a while to get around to this update, mostly because I jumped right back into Ironman training in the week after the Kingston Long Course and had a busy couple of weeks at work, so those had to take priority over the blog. But now that I’m stuck in the airport with my flight delayed by two hours, it’s finally time to get around to writing about my race.
I like to look at races from two perspectives: learning experiences and successes. I always like to have a successful race, but unfortunately I had some issues at Kingston and so I refocused on getting as much learning experience as I could.
Swim (2k in 37:39)
This was the big success story! As many of you know, I’ve been working on my swimming this year – so it was great to have a solid tactical swim at Kingston. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the other Pro/EAG athletes, but I lined up with Emma Plater and Nina Sieh and figured I would try to stay on their feet as long as possible. I didn’t even bother going near Angela Quick or the guys because there was no chance I would be able to stay with them! As expected, I stayed with the pack until the first bouy then gradually lost the draft, but it wasn’t long until the men from the next wave back caught up. A few groups went by too fast for me to catch on for more than a minute or two, but I found my sweet spot in a group of four that was swimming just a little faster than me and stayed with them for the rest of the swim.
At this point I would like to mention how absolutely EXCITING it was to finally have a proper tactical group swim in a race!!! I have always drafted randomly or spent most of the swim alone (or being passed, LOL), so to be able to work in a pack like I did at Kingston was absolutely amazing.
Bike (56km in 1:46:42)
Unfortunately, my good fortune from the swim didn’t last into the bike portion. I was working hard as I left transition, but was struggling to hold anything close to race power and my legs were aching horribly. I’ve had this happen before and have yet to figure out what causes it as it seems to be random, but when it strikes I have trouble holding anything beyond zone 1/2 power for more than a few minutes and gets quite painful if I try to push through.
Rather than worry about it, I decided to work on my aero position and just push what I could. I’m quite proud of the work I have done to make my bike and position more aerodynamic (this includes dropping my front bars, riding 3Sixty5 FAT60/disc combo and improving my flexibility to support a very aero tuck position), and I’m sure this was a significant factor in not losing too much time on the bike.
Ultimately I was able to average 31.6km/hr and maintain mental focus, which for me is a win given the conditions.
Run (15km in 1:21:48)
Okay, so I got off the bike and figured “great! I might have had a bad bike, but I will CRUSH this run!” – which wasn’t completely unreasonable given that I hold my run training quite well (I had barely run – only three times – in 2 months). Well, that didn’t quite go according to plan when my stomach started cramping horribly and slowed me down to something less than my long run pace. It took me 6km to realize that I was cramping every time I drank water at aid stations, so I switched to Coke and started to feel a little better. I wasn’t racing for a podium spot by this point in the race, but I decided I would give the last 7km everything I had and see how much I could suffer. Learning experiences, right?
I don’t remember most of the last part of the race, but I know I dug deeper than I ever have before. I stopped caring about podium spots or who I was chasing, and focused completely inwards on my own race, until my pain cave became this small part in my head that told me I had a little more to give.
I did have more to give, right up until I crossed the finish line and promptly sat down on the pavement because my legs told me they had given it all and I could go screw myself if I wanted to walk anywhere. I felt pretty much the same.
Finish: 3:48:33, 15th place
My finish may not have been quite what I was looking for, but I am just so impressed at how far my training has come when I can have a horrible race and still place 15th in the women’s field. I learned some big lessons at Kingston Long Course, and I’ve been applying them in my training since then – particularly the “how much can I suffer” question I asked myself repeatedly during the run. Mindset plays such a significant role in racing, and finding a mantra that works for me is a huge stepping stone towards improving as an athlete.