I had high hopes for a good race but also knew the level of competition would be high, with only the top 30 female pros in the world racing the 70.3 distance qualifying. My goal was to have a tactically good swim and stay in contact with a pack to get into good position on the bike, my strength, then finish with a strong run which I knew I was capable of from my training. I also knew the heat and course would be punishing- when we arrived in Vegas it was 101F out and though it was dry, felt blazingly hot! I couldn’t imagine biking, let alone running hard in those temps. Thankfully, the race day forecast was a high of just 90, so it looked like we wouldn’t have to deal with unbearable conditions
Overall, the race did not go well for me. I just didn’t have that extra gear I needed to race fast. On top of this, realizing you’re not feeling strong and falling behind despite your best effort in your A race of the season is extremely disappointing, making for a rather painful race overall.
Things started off as I had hoped with a good swim, for me (32-ish- a non-wetsuit swim PR). I got off to a fast start (again… for me) and was able to latch onto the feet of some other swimmers. I felt like I was working extremely hard to stay with them, and kept telling myself to just stay on it till the turnaround that this could make or break my race, I can do this! At the turn, I had to sprint a bit to stay on their feet, this was becoming tough. About 200m from the finish, I began to fall back a bit, and for the first time realized that several swimmers were in fact drafting off of me- always a surprise! Though I lost my pack at the end, this was the first time I had successfully stayed with a pack in a non-wetsuit swim, a setup for a successful race- or so I thought!
Coming out of the swim, I felt extremely fatigued. Not sure if it was my level of effort, the warm water, or just a sign of how I was feeling that day). I couldn’t run at my usual speed through transition, and as a result was alone coming onto the bike (until Karin Theurig, eventual second place winner, sped past). I was still feeling tired but tried to give it an even effort and let my heart rate settle. This course was no joke! Quite mountainous with 5,000 feet of climbing total. At the turnaround (mile 20-ish) I was excited to have some cometitors in sight to guage how far back I was, but to my dismay I was nearly 6 mins back of the next female pro. I tried to pick it up after the turnaround, but began to feel nausea and ankle/ lower calf cramping that was making it painful to pedal. Packs of riders started passing me, frustrating because I’d have to slow and drop back each time while the entire pack passed, which took awhile, to avoid getting caught up in the pack. As a result I felt like I was losing even more time. On such a hilly course, I would not have thought I’d see that. I was shaking my head and another competitor passing me said, “I know, ridiculous”…
I really started to lose steam toward the end of the bike. I had known the point-to-point course is net uphill, and the last 10 miles or so are a gradual climb, but I hadn’t expected to feel this bad. In the last few miles of the bike Chris passed me- he started 18 minutes behind me and we are usually somewhat similar in terms of our bike times, which showed what a good bike he had but also what an awful bike I had. Still, I tried to talk myself up for the run and decided I was going to give it as good of an effort as I could.
Jumping off the bike, my legs felt like they were filled with cement, NOT how I normally feel at the end of a 70.3 bike. It reminded me of an Ironman bike-run transition. I began running and felt a bit better, trying to maintain a good pace on the hilly-ish run. As motivation, I tried to stick with some of the male pros who were on their second or third laps who were passing me, feeling it from the heat and hills. Eventually some pro women passed me, a lap ahead (ouch!) so I did the same and used them as a pacing tool and motivation. I saw Chris and Morgan several times on the run which made things more motivating, plus saw my parents a bunch of times cheering. I had prayed for strength & managed to talk myself into staying positive all the way to the finish, but I think my true feelings came out as soon as I crossed the finish line- I felt awful, physically and emotionally. I said hi to my parents and then quickly went to just sit down by myself, waiting for Chris to finish. Perspective is a great thing, and I know there is value in having a bad race sometimes if it motivates you to get out there and have a great race next time, address nutritional, recovery, mental, or training deficiencies you might not have otherwise realized you had, and to provide humility and a reminder that we are not ultimately in control of all life’s events- nor can we boast full credit for our successes.
While the race was truly sub-par, the trip itself rocked! We had an awesome homestay in Henderson with local triathlete Pat Peterson, overlooking the mountains and desert. On our last night there, we were treated to some wonderful cedar-plank grilled salmon and grilled corn salad with avacado, with great wine. Really delicious!
Our last 1.5 days in the area were spent exploring. We rode by and swam in Lake Mead, visited Red Rock Canyon twice, which has gorgeous views and great hiking trails. We also ate at a raw café (usually my favorite, but unfortunately this one gave me mild food poisoning so I wouldn’t recommend it!)
Since the 70.3 World Champs, training gradually started to resume again and I’ve been having some great workouts gearing up for IM Cozumel in November- in fact, some of my best so far this season! I ‘m looking forward to giving it all I have at my final race & first IM of the year on November 27th.