Back in August, I raced one last time before buckling down and putting my head down for the final Kona training block. It was somewhat local (no bike dismantling or flying required) Ironman 70.3 Timberman. Timberman and me go way back!
I raced and peed on a borrowed tri bike
Something was apparently falling from the sky
And I was sooooo excited to make my very first Ironman 70.3 podium (I was 5th)
This year was my 4th time doing this race, and you can say I was very much looking forward to unleashing the beast and finally having a strong race from the beginning to end. As always I wanted to win, and for the first time since 2013, I wanted to earn my spot back to the 70.3 World Championships this time in Chattanooga, Tennessee!
Why? Because having a women’s only race one day, and men’s race the next day sounds like a great time, and I am really hoping it will for a change make for a clean race!
But back to Timberman. The lead up itself has been a bit rough. I had some great sessions, but also plenty of “holy shit did I forget how to swim, push watts on the bike, or run” sessions. Although I did feel the best running, my overall confidence was a bit shaken, but I also knew deep down, that I was ready. My pre-race routine is just that – a routine, and I know it with my eyes closed.
"Flash" ready to be dropped of for the night
It was a beautiful day on Lake Winny and we really couldn’t ask for much better. It was warm, but it wasn’t sweltering hot and humid like it’s been for majority of the summer (perfect Kona prep) or like it’s been in the years past for this race.
The Swim: 33:30
One of the highlights of the day! Course PR, but most importantly I felt awesome the entire 1.2 miles. I was in control. Sure – I would have loved to be faster (that will never stop), but I have genuinely never felt happier about coming out of the water feeling like I did – fresh, and so happy that I finally executed a strong swim from start to finish. There was absolutely zero breast stroking (sadly I can’t say that about any of my other races (I tend to resort to breastroke when I really feel like I am getting of course- it’s just easier to straighten out and really see what’s up), I drafted feet, I caught feet, and I stayed with those feet the entire 1.2 miles. I swam around people from slower waves all while staying on course and perhaps maybe even swimming a bit too easy, but I was SO happy! After a few pre-race struggles in the pool, this was big for me.
I bypassed the wetsuit strippers, only to proceed to get the wetsuit stuck on my timing chip – oops! I didn’t quite fall over, but it was close.
At least there were no mishaps getting on the bike! Let's do this!
The Bike: 2:28:50
It’s been a while since my cycling legs came out to play, so I was really hoping they were going to show up! Having done this race in the past, and having ridden this very course in training many times, I knew exactly what I was in for. Bonus was the freshly repaved roads making this course almost pothole less for entire 56 miles.
One of those NEW smooth as butter roads
Just like I felt great on the swim, I felt very strong on the bike. Thank God because I almost forgot what that felt like.I was able to stick to my power targets or even higher, and I just felt really good! I reached the turnaround point and was able to increase my power even more. It was effortless. I spent the entire time yelling on your left, and that never stopped for 56 miles! (Side note: I honestly believe Ironman is overselling races, and I wish they just drew a “safer” line somewhere). The course was extremely crowded and I witnessed many athletes riding very reckless. Every downhill, every aid station, every traffic light and intersection was coned off, creating very narrow path for us athletes – you know the athletes to the right, cars to the left deal. It honestly made me feel less safe even though I am sure the purpose is otherwise and the intentions are great. Flying downhill at 40+mph while passing athletes from previous waves going much slower to all of a sudden having to squeeze into a narrow coned of section is just crazy! I watched some athletes try to weave their way in and out of the cones, some just missing cars, or some just being forced to ride their brakes and stay behind the significantly slower riders. The coned of aid station deal was even worse. People completely stopping to pick up bottles leaving those that didn’t even need to re-fuel to again navigate a very unpredictable behavior of other riders while being to again force to slow down for no reason. And we won’t even talk about the turns, it was a mess.This for me is a race and being forced to use brakes because other athletes don’t know how to take a turn or move over and ride to the right instead of left is very frustrating. (Rant over)
I kept working hard, and watched my power going up and up and up while still feeling awesome. It was around mile 40ish when I noticed that my bike was making an odd noise. It would come and go and so I just pedaled on. Once I hit the climbs in the last 10 miles of the race it became very apparent my rear brake was rubbing – now what! I had no tools to fix it and so I just rode on. The slower I went the more I felt it, so I just tried to go as fast as I could! Maybe that’s why my watts kept going up, but in the end my speed apparently not so much! (My wheel somehow became untrue during the ride - go figure)
I rolled into T2 feeling like a million bucks! I had just hit my (in mind a bit too aggressive) power target, and I felt even better than my usual self for the entirety of the ride, yet I was very disappointed with my time! Sure – it was the fastest female amateur bike split, but it was so much slower than I had anticipated (like 4+ minutes slower), and then what I have ridden on this course before. Somehow that didn’t bother me until a bit later. I was really happy with my effort and my power!
I was so happy about the power numbers I just effortlessly put out and how good my legs felt that I actually ran past my bike rack in transition – dumbass! Thankfully I realized it quickly, and didn’t lose too much time trying to find my running shoes!
The Run: 1:3828
Woof! Big big disappointment yet encouragement at the same time. How can that be? I started running and felt great! Sure it was sunny and warm, but my legs were on point! I was holding back a bit the first few miles, as I just do better that way, and was going unleash the strong running legs I have been feeling in training after the first couple of miles. Except I never did.
I knew I was running in 3rd, and had plenty of time to catch the usually fast running Team Coeur badass Amy as well as whoever was in 2nd, but mentally I wasn’t ready to go to that place. I have no idea why, it’s not like I didn’t have carrots to catch. I had essentially settled into my Ironman pace – the very same pace I have been doing for majority of my long training runs. In the end my pace was very consistent for 13.1 and I could have kept going but this wasn’t an ironman, this was a 70.3! Duh!
A little too late to try to pick up the pace!
So yes – I was disappointed because I just ran slower in a race than I have been doing in training, yet I am encouraged my running legs are and will be where they need to be to finally post a kick ass Ironman run in Kona.
Final Time: 4:44:59 (3rd AG)
One of my training partner in crimes who pushed me all season this year! Only couple more weeks till he crushes IM Louisville! Goooo Bash!
3rd this time but the maple syrup trophies have shrunk and Timberman no longer has a stage for us to get on.
In the end, looking at my overall time and placement spells a big disappointment, but when actually re-playing the race in my head and analyzing the data along with how I felt, Timberman 70.3 had given me a great dose of confidence for what is to come.
"The strongest people aren't always the people that win, but the people who don't give up when they lose!"
I failed to win, but I achieved my goal of claiming my spot for 70.3 Worlds next year, and I am excited to see and race in the home town of one of my sponsors – Quintana Roo! As always, thank you to all my sponsors/supporters as well as the amazing on course support by all my teammates, friends, and coaches! Only few more weeks till THE big one!