Thanks to my roll down spot, I was able to compete at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship race in Mont-Tremblant, Canada this year. It was a special time to get to travel with my Mom as my sherpa! We had fun traveling and it was great to get to share my passion for triathlon with her. We arrived a few days early so we got to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the fun shops and restaurants in the village. We also attended the opening banquet, complete with musical and acrobatic performers! The race itself was a ton of fun and also a chance to learn again! The swim start was the most aggressive that I have been a part of as of yet. I got knocked around quite a bit and almost ended my day before it really began by swimming too hard too fast. My lungs do not really care for cold water and will revolt if I ask too much of them too quickly. I had to stop and tread water for a minute and get my breathing under control. After that I got into a good groove and tried to stay on the feet of all the crazy fast guys that came up behind us. I have to say, the bike was a bit of a surprise. There was a lot more drafting than I was expecting. So, after getting passed by folks on the swim and groups of 30+ guys and gals on the bike, I was really happy to get on my own two feet and run with no worry of my “space bubble” being invaded;) My calf was totally healed and I had a spot on nutrition plan which all led to great run. I was able to move up 35 places on the run (finally my turn to pass a few folks:), and finish in the top third of my age group. This was a wonderful experience and I am thankful to have been able to compete against the top Age Groupers in the World!
One of the many things I like about the TMS-IOS Elite team is that we are committed to supporting local races. SetUp Events Mission Man and FS Series Mayo Lake were great summer sprints for me. Mission Man is a great charity event that also supports the local church, a double bonus for me: supporting two of my passions at one time. Mission Man has a nice swim, pretty fast bike course and a cool, shaded trail run. Personal fun was having my first newspaper interview as the overall female winner 🙂 Mayo Lake was also a nice venue. I was glad I got to race there this year, FS will not be holding a race there next year. I got to drive and race with a good friend at Mayo Lake. It was her first open water swim race and it was pouring rain pretty much the whole race. She came across the finish line beaming. I told her if she could race and have fun in those conditions, she could conquer any triathlon race!
My third race of the season was Ironman 70.3 in Raleigh. It was a day of being good enough and lessons learned. I had been battling a strained calf for a few weeks and was not sure I was going to race the Tuesday before the race. I finally decided I didn’t want to completely waste the race entry fee, so I decided I would swim and bike and start the run, knowing I might have to DNF. My first lesson learned was that you should get your transition spot setup completely before going to the port-a-john! The lines were so long that I only had a few minutes to get back to my transition area and make last minute changes. One wrong change I made was to take my whole t1 bag out of the transition area with me. So, I had to have one of the volunteers put it back for me after transition had closed. My next lesson was that you should always leave your bike food nutrition on your bike. I also took that out of transition with me and had to stuff it all inside my wetsuit and swim with it! Thankfully, I stayed calm during all of these pre-race mistakes and was able to have a good swim and continue on to the bike portion of the race. I had the “home court” advantage on the first half of the bike course but had never ridden the second half. The second half was more hilly than I had expected and I eventually got to the point where I dreaded a downhill because I knew that meant I was going to have another uphill very soon! I figured out later that I did not take in enough fluid calories on the bike and was also low on sodium so that made the second half of the bike even more challenging. I was glad to see t2 but also still wondering if my calf would hold up for a mile much less 13.1. Amazingly, my calf did fine, but with my deficit in calories from the bike, it was a mental battle to keep moving. I knew I could stop and no one would fault me because of my calf issues but I kept telling myself you are not stopping unless your calf starts to hurt and it never did. The run course was 2 loops and it was again a mental battle to go out for the second loop but I was able to dig down deep and keep moving. I was so glad to see my teammate, Dan Young, with his crazy wig and cold towels cheering from the side! (TMS-IOS team members are the best!) My quads tightened up the last few miles, again faulty nutrition, and made for very uncomfortable running but I was able to cross the finish line. I finished 6th in my age group. My original goal had been to finish in the top 3 to qualify for Worlds but I knew with my calf injury that that was a long shot. What I didn’t know about was the roll down process of Ironman. It took a few more hours of waiting but I was able to get a spot to Worlds! So, it was a good enough day! Not a great day or stellar performance but good enough to meet my goal of being able to go to Worlds. Thanks to team sponsor Jason Pirigyi of Elite Chiropractic for the ART on my calf that got me to the start and finish line!!
My second race of the season was the FS Series BeaverDam Olympic race. Great competition on a fun and challenging course. I met Jeanna Chain, long time triathlon competitor and IOS employee, for the first time and did my best to try and catch her on the run but was too far back from the swim and bike! I did have a strong enough run to make the podium with a pass in the second half of the run to move from 4th place to 2nd place. One of my favorite things about the TMS-IOS team is the support and camaraderie of racing together. Everyone is encouraging and giving shout outs on the course and pushing one another to do and be our best. Thank you to FS Series folks for being a team sponsor once again. BeaverDam is one of my favorite races of the this series. It is close to the triangle making for a cozy night at home sleep;) and it is a good hilly challenge on the bike and run to get you ready for 70.3 distance racing, particularly good timing for Raleigh 70.3.
I began my 2014 racing season with a return to my southern roots. Columbia, SC hosts the Downtown Tri every year in and around the University of SC campus. It is a very spectator friendly venue: the swim is in the USC natatorium, the bike is a 3 loop course and the run basically has 2 out and back sections. It was fun to get to have my 3 children to get see me race for the first time. My favorite part of the swim is that they let you dive start into the pool! The bike has some good ups and downs and lots of turns making for almost a criterium style feel. And the run is great for seeing everyone in front and behind you. This was my second time competing on the course and it was just as fun this time as the last. Thanks SetUp Events South Carolina for a great race!
I’ve said this before and I say it again. Lake Lure Triathlon is one of the best races in North Carolina and it’s quickly becoming my favorite race of the year. I did my first triathlon in 1985, and have been racing ever since. So I’ve done more races than I can remember, long and short, near and far. It’s been a great run but unfortunately I’m also a little jaded. Not many races get me that excited these days. So it’s actually very rewarding when I find one that does…a race that gets my blood pumping and makes me look forward to toe the line, especially after having raced it before. Lake Lure Triathlon is such a race.
Located at the base of Chimney Rock, Lake Lure is a beautiful lake and town. Its claim to fame is that it was where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed. Wyndam Hotels has a resort called Rumblin Bald, which is the site of the Lake Lure Triathlon. The golfing community is extremely well kept and surprisingly welcoming of athletes. As we all know, triathletes can be self centered and not always aware that riding in the middle of the road with aero helmets and tight bright Lycra is not the norm in other communities. Plus, a triathlon can be an inconvenience to the residents trying to get around on a Saturday morning. Yet, the community embraces the event and the residents come out in force to volunteer and cheer the competitors.
In addition to three events in three days (10K Friday, Triathlon on Saturday and 25 mile bike ride/race on Sunday), the resort and area offers a wide variety of family activities. The Kids’ Olympiad entertains kids with competitions such as 100 yard dash, basketball hoop shooting, balloon toss, etc while the resort includes golf and mini golf courses, a lazy river swimming pool, as well as a pristine beach. In addition, within a short drive there are zip line parks, horse stables and water sports opportunities.
I first raced in Lake Lure in 2009, when I finished second behind my good friend and always fast triathlete Jay Curwen. I then went back last year, when I finished fourth behind Patrick Farwell, our own racing machine Robert Van Graafeiland and Michael Mauhar from SC. The field for this race is generally not very deep but as you can see, it always attracts a few fast guys.
After a good first half of the season that culminated with a strong race at the Ironman 70.3 Raleigh, I took some time off in June to go to the World Cup in Brazil with the family. By mid August though, my fitness was coming back around as I got ready for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant. As usual, I went to Lake Lure with the family so my pre race prep was a little chaotic. Race morning was a beautiful, cool sunny day. In other words, perfect race conditions with the exception of the water being 80 degree…to warm for wetsuits.
My swim was better than expected and put me out of the water in 4th or 5th overall. The bike course was a lung burner with constant ups and downs, but certainly one of the most scenic in the Carolinas. Forgetting constant power output, I attacked the hills to make up time. My strategy for sprints seemed to work once again as I made up some ground on the athletes ahead. I rode into second place as Michael Mauhar dropped his chain on a hill. This was the first time I raced with Di2 and I have to say it was simply awesome: the shifting back and forth from little ring to big ring was flawless and easy. The Enve 8.9 wheels were also the right choice for the course: stiff, aero and light, and yet stable enough for the steep downhills. By the time I made it to T2 I was in first. Not a common place for me these days and with younger ripped looking guys not far behind I was not an entirely comfortable position. As I ran the steep uphill out of transition though, I felt like I still had pretty good legs. As the steepness of the grade decreased, I was able to pick speed. I tried not to look back. I figured I would either get passed or I would see them at the turnaround of the out and back run course. Dan Young said I had about a 45 second lead off the bike. At the turn around my lead was a little over 30 seconds. With 1.5 miles of downhill, my confidence grew as the pain in my legs and lungs also increased. I normally don’t notice the beauty of the run course during races but once again this place surprised me. At the one mile marker, a deer watched as dozen of triathletes ran by, under a canopy of trees. At the end of the day, I was able to pull off the win. Not only first masters but first overall. Yes, that is still important to me as I still haven’t fully accepted the idea that I just can’t race against the young guys anymore. My wife says I should just get over it, but I can at least go down fighting.