After my first 70.3 at Oceanside, it was a rocky for 6 weeks leading up to Chattanooga 70.3. Looking back, I don’t think I took my recovery week easy enough because I was super inspired by the race and wanted to get back to work! I usually take recovery very seriously so… lesson learned! The week after that my husband brought home a nasty cold that I caught, and it really wiped me out. I didn’t train for a whole weekend that should’ve been big important workouts, and then the following week I had a nagging cough and lethargy from the cold. It not only took a toll on me physically but mentally as well. By the third week after O’side I was now in a training funk.. thrown off whack by being sick and feeling incredibly unmotivated. So there was half of my training gone to the wind!!! I knew I had to get it together with such little time left, so I took the weekend to regroup and gave it a solid effort for the 2 weeks leading up to my taper week and resolved that 1) No, not all of my fitness was gone, 2) I still held on to some of the fitness gained at O’side, 3) Chattanooga was going to be what it was going to be, and that was OK! I needed to remove just a tiny bit of the huge amount of pressure I put on myself.
My husband and I flew out Thursday and after a long 15 hour day of travel arrived in Atlanta. We spent the night there and then headed out to Chatt the next morning. After settling in the hotel, we headed over to the venue to get checked in, cruise through the Village, and got my bike put together so I could take it for a spin. Shout-out and big thanks to the guys at Quintana Roo for the bike tune-up!! So I got my bike from QR, and was going to meet my husband back at the hotel after about a 30-45 minute ride…. Well, I got 8 minutes into my ride, hit a rock in a construction zone and had an instant flat. I cannot tell you how unnerving it is to get a flat before race day!! I didn’t want to use my flat supplies so I just called my husband to come pick me up and decided to just do a ride the next day. Took it easy the rest of the day, noticed I was feeling dehydrated so started up with the electrolytes (Magnak Speed Sauce), dinner with Mike, and early to bed to try to adjust to the 2 hr time difference.
Saturday I woke up early and went for a 40 minute spin on the bike on the front part of the course with some power pick-ups to get the legs going, followed by a quick 20 minute jog. I had been noting in my Training Peaks earlier in the week that I was actually feeling really good.. and wondering if it was a fluke! I knew after these 2 workouts that indeed I WAS feeling that good, and became more excited about the race. Even though you never quite know what you’ll wake up feeling like on race day, it was a good sign! My coach and his wife drove in for the race that evening and we met up for dinner. If you’re curious: I had 2 vegan sushi rolls, a seaweed salad, and then a bagel when we got back to the room 🙂 Made my water bottles for the race and it was off to bed by 9:30pm.
**Important note about this race. As I’ve mentioned, even though I am not a professional, I do take my racing seriously. As with most other things in my life that I am passionate about, I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to perform well. When Mike asked me on Saturday evening how I was feeling, I told him that my body felt REALLY good, but that I tend to get myself in a tizzy and get stressed out on race morning. He said, “Hey, do you want to try something tomorrow? Let’s try to keep it really light and fun in the morning. Don’t let yourself get so wound up, and remember to have fun.” I thought it was a super idea…..and it proved to workout QUITE well for me!
RACE DAY!! I’m so proud of myself for finally NOT being late to a race! I got up at 4:30am, had a breakfast of a cinnamon raisin bagel with mixed nut butter and coffee. Headed out the door at 5am, Mike and I walked the 1 mile to Transition. The race start was a mile up stream and across a bridge, so they were loading us onto school buses and taking us across. Hopped on a bus around 6:15 to get
across for the 6:50 start – I thought he logistics surrounding all of that were well done by Ironman. It was supposed to be a slight upstream swim, followed by all downstream after making the turn and quite honestly, the water looked very calm and smooth that morning. BUT, after the pros went they still decided to cut the swim short and just have us hop in and swim downstream. Not ideal for me as a strong swimmer, but what can you do! Nothing much to report about my swim; it was a quick and easy swim down the river… I found sighting to be quite easy, the water was a perfect 71 degrees, and there was no blinding sun in our faces! I surprised myself with a 4th out of the water! And again… I LOOOOOVVVVE those wetsuit strippers! Good job Ironman!!
BIKE – The course was absolutely beautiful! Rolling hills, cows, little farm houses.. so cute! I had 3 water bottles (2 with electrolyte, 1 plain water), and early in the course after a train track, my plain water bottle up top jumped out of it’s cage (into a pile of about 50 other lost bottles!). So I only had the 2 electrolyte
bottles. I finished most of them, but not all.. and didn’t grab anything extra because I was feeling good, which would turn out to be a mistake on the run. Note to self – always stick to your, especially when you’re feeling good (because that’s probably why!). After having a hell of a painful rain in O’side, I was a little nervous to go just totally ballistic on this bike course since I didn’t know it and I’m still getting to know myself and my body over this distance of race. My approach was to try to ride that line between pushing it just hard enough while not blowing up my legs for the run. I’d say I did a fairly good job, because I still had energy to power in the last couple flat miles, and I came into T2 feeling confident.
RUN – Headed out onto the run with legs feeling significantly better than Oceanside, so I was excited about that. The temperature was starting to rise but I was still feeling good, so I wasn’t too worried about it. Early on the course there were a couple long slow climbs, but I still just tried to keep composed, go with my plan, not power up the hills but them the way I’d practiced. Passed by my coach and got some advice, everything was going well. A couple miles into the course I started to get hotter, more tired, started slowing down, and realized that I just wasn’t feeling that strong. It was a 2 loop course and by time I saw my coach again, I told him I had the chills. He said to eat a gel immediately and at the next aid station I needed to have coke. Luckily it was a close aid station so I did the gel and coke, and within probably a minute I was starting to feel better and I was able to focus and pick the pace back up. The back half of the run was pretty much like that the entire way, just trying to survive between aid stations. I poured water on myself, ate ice and put it in my sports bra, and grabbed sponges at each aid station and walked when I had to to get the fluids in. There was a woman in front of me that I used as a rabbit for probably over half the run, and I did tell her thank you but wish I’d found her afterwards to really tell her thank you! I consider myself a pretty tough person mentally when it comes to those tough moments in training and racing, but this race was definitely one of the harder ones to get through those last couple miles. Not that I was going to have to quit, but to keep pushing hard because I knew my body would do it if I could get my mind to agree to allow us to suffer a little bit more and push a little bit harder. I was so happy to finish!!!
With a 16th place finish at Oceanside, I couldn’t believe that I had pulled off a 6th place finish! We decided to stay for the awards on the off chance that I might get the roll down spot to qualify for 70.3 Worlds. When it came time for my AG, the announcer asked if anyone in the top 5 finishers wanted to go to Worlds, and only the 4th place girl took the spot… I knew I was 6th and just could not believe that I was going to get a spot! Qualifying for worlds in my first season of 70.3, let alone only my 2nd race, was not even on my radar for the season, but I’m eager to get to experience my first Worlds and hopefully have a healthy and solid race, no matter what the outcome.