Hello from Florida – SURPRISE – I raced in the 70.3 World Championships on Saturday in Clearwater, Florida and I had a blast! It was my ‘two for one’ fitness race – I used my fitness from my third place finish at the Hawaii Ironman and carried it for three more weeks through to the first ever Half Ironman (70.3) World Champs. It is so interesting how we peak for a race like the Hawaii Ironman World Championship – we are at peak fitness for that race – and then we have our off-season and don’t race again for another few months. All of that fitness gets ‘wasted’ never mind the fitness gained from that actual Hawaii Ironman race day! But with the announcement of the 70.3 World Champs, I had an opportunity to tap into this huge level of fitness twice – once for Hawaii (which was the focus) and then again for the Half-Ironman (the bonus). The key would be maximizing my recovery from the Hawaii Ironman – that would be the challenge. Three weeks is not enough recovery time after an Ironman event, but having raced 28 Ironmans, I do recover more quickly now than I used to in my early Ironman years. My physiotherapist, Steve Hill, ART guru, Dr. Mark Scapaticci and my coach, Lance Watson, all gave me the thumbs up. I love racing so much that the 70.3 World Championships was my gift to myself. There would be no performance evaluation – I was racing for me. I would be happy with any finishing position as long as I was good to myself and raced with a happy heart.
I confirmed my entry about 10 days out from race day – I had qualified earlier in the year, but I could not look beyond the Hawaii Ironman and would not make a decision until 1 week after the Ironman. So I recovered for one week just doing water runs, short easy bike rides and swimming drills. I continued this into week two adding a few short swim fartleks and some easy runs. One week out, I did a bit of intensity running, biking and swimming and then I repeated my Hawaii Ironman taper for the last 5 days. Of course, I went to physio, had massage and got a few ART treatments to get the niggly aches and pains under control. Then it was off to Clearwater!
Once in Clearwater, Florida, we were adopted by the Mad Dogs’ president Tim Hudson and we in turn, adopted his dog, Maggie as our Madison and Brunswick substitutions. The race was so well organized – the press conference, the pro meeting, the Clearwater road closures, the transition area – it was a World Championship event in every way. I felt quite relaxed – after all – I had no idea how this experiment would turn out and there was no sense worrying about it. One of the best parts of the trip was getting to visit with my Tri Dubai teammate and Kona training partner, Craig Alexander, who had been focusing his season on the 70.3 World Championships. I got to thank him in person for his huge part in my podium finish at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships. It was also amazing to spend time with my teammates Simon Lessing and Chris Legh – I think it was the first time I saw Simon all year and another great time to visit with Chris. I love racing as part of this team.
Race day was perfect – light winds, sunny skies and a flat ocean – beautiful. I knew I had to be aggressive off the start of the swim and get as close to pre-race favorites Sam McGlone and Mirinda Carfrae as possible. After a running beach start into the ocean, I just swam as hard as I could. It was the roughest swim I had ever been in! I got hit in the mouth and the goggles and I was literally moved out of the way on three separate occasions by an arm wrapped around my waist and literally moving me! It was unreal. I was sure I would exit the swim bleeding! But instead, I had the swim of my life getting out about 20 seconds behind Mirinda and Sam and with Karen Smyers and Katja Schumacher. The difference in this race is that transition is key. Even though I was within spitting distance of those women, they were off like a shot out of the water and onto their bikes. It was all pretty intense!
Onto the bike, the first 10 miles were so hard – I was completely red-lining. There was a little group of 4 about 40 meters ahead of me and I just so badly wanted to catch them, but they kept getting further ahead of me. That was a bit discouraging but I told myself that I was riding as hard as I could and at least I had them to key off of which would likely minimize my deficit to the front runners. At about 20 miles, I was still alone, but then I started to catch up to a few girls. But I was only catching them because they were pulling off into the penalty tent for a drafting call. So now I figured that that pack of 4 had been broken and that maybe I would be able to catch the other two.
I kept cycling hard to the first turn around at about 25 miles and I saw the leaders on the return journey about 30-45 seconds ahead of me. I could not believe that I was that close. Now I was inspired and more motivated than ever. I rode as hard as I could and after about another 10-15 miles, I finally caught the lead women consisting of Leanda Cave, Nina Eggert, Katja Schumacher, Mirinda and Sam. I rode right past them because I knew I was I was having the ride of my life and I would be quite happy to start the run with a little time cushion. But I could not escape this group. Sam reacted to my move – she wasn’t about to let me go – which was great. A Belgium athlete was now off the front and Sam and I were working hard trying to catch her. As we approached transition, Yvonne was up about 20 seconds and then I was second and Sam was behind me. That was when I saw Dave for the first time since the swim. He had no idea that I had bridged up to the leaders. He was so happy. As we approached T2, I thought that we had broken away from the pack, but when we dismounted the bikes, I realized that all the women I had caught at 45 miles were still there. Once again, transition was key. I stopped my bike in 2nd place but got off my bike in about 5th!! It was unbelievable.
I have never raced in such a head to head battle before! We were all in the transition tent together. Sam was out first, then Mirinda, then Yvonne. I think I was next. This was going to be tough. I passed Yvonne within the first mile, but I felt pretty sore for the first 4 miles and my muscles were cramping like crazy. After that, I started to settle in and feel quite good. Sam was off the front and extending her lead – it wasn’t a matter of letting her go – it was that I could not run any faster to keep her close. At about 5 miles, I passed Mirinda and moved into 2nd place. Mirinda beat me by 8 minutes at the St. Croix 70.3 so I was quite pleased to have run past her. That said, I knew that she could easily re-pass me, so I just focused on running hard and trying to catch Sam.
On the second lap of the run, I started to make some in roads into Sam’s 70 second lead. I actually managed to get it down to about 35 seconds with 4 miles to go. I felt fantastic and I was running with all positive thoughts of me taking the lead. But then Sam’s coach told her the time gap and she just exploded and gapped me again. I ran as hard as I could over the last 4 miles, but I couldn’t make a dent. Actually, I thought that Mirinda might be close so I was trying to catch Sam and hold off Mirinda at the same time (I am, after all, a great multi-tasker!). Needless to say, I did not catch the fast running Sam McGlone but I did hold onto 2nd place – a very happy 2nd place. I was so pleased! I raced as hard as I could – I had the swim and bike ride of my life and I ran as hard as my little Ironman legs would let me. The experiment worked – train hard for the Hawaii Ironman, rest, race the Hawaii Ironman, rest, sharpen up, rest and race again! The best part was that I truly loved the day – yes it hurt, but it was wonderful to use my talents and to celebrate my fitness.
The highlight of my race though was what happened during the run. I was running up the big hill on the course at around 5.5 miles. Craig Alexander was on his 2nd lap and running toward victory. As I was running up this hill, he ran past me. I was so proud of him! You see, it was quite fitting that he passed me on this hill en route to his victory because when we were training in Kona for the Hawaii IM, we did two sessions of hill intervals on a similar hill. I would start about 10 meters ahead of Craig and he would chase me up the hill for our 3 minute hill interval. I would try to hold him off as long as I could and then, when he would pass me, I would tuck in and try to go with him for as long as I could. He would always pass me at a little sign posted for the drivers that said “Pass with Care”. This became my little cue every time we did a hill repeat. We left a lot of sweat and shared a lot of pain on those hill intervals and it just seemed really special for me to have him pass me (pass me ‘with care’) during the race on a similar hill while we were both have great races – him winning his first World Championships and me having a great day holding down 2nd place. It was one of those “heart” moments that made this a wonderful day to swimming, biking and running.
And now, it is the off season! It is time for me to become an expert dog walker and socializer. Dave and I have tickets to see the Raptors and the Maple Leafs and our great friends Joe and Sarah are coming from BC to visit us.
Thank you for your support. Please visit www.tridubai.com for photos. I wish huge congratulations to Simon for finishing 2nd and Chris Legh for finishing a hard fought 4th place. We have quite a team! Thanks to Tony and Mike for coming to Clearwater to support us and Franko who was back in Boulder cheering loud.
(sent from my new Dell XPS M1210 with Broadband so I can be connected anywhere, anytime!)