This year I earned my spot for the 70.3 world championships through a slot from Women for Tri and being gold All World Athlete. They emailed me earlier this year letting me know I had a spot if I wanted and I definitely took it. Sure, I went and raced another 70.3 and got a slot for the race, but was happy to pass the slot down to another girl that really wanted it.
The 70.3 world championships rotate location every year and this year it was in Chattanooga, Tennessee. To save money, I decided to drive my Prius the 12-hour journey from Houston. Thankfully I had my faithful Sherpa, Susan, there to entertainment (and drive most of the way back). Drive was very uneventful and honestly flew by. That first night (Wednesday) an amazing couple hosted us because the house we were sharing with Air Bnb was not ready until the next day.
Thursday morning, I got up early and headed to the practice swim. It was 55 degrees air temperature at that point and then 78 in water. I swam in a swimsuit and was just fine. I noticed the current swimming out but honestly it wasn’t that bad. I did notice the sun more than anything. I scurried back to the house to get ready and off we went to the Gold AWA breakfast that Ironman was hosting. It was on a riverboat and unfortunately, I thought they would allow everyone time to eat breakfast and then cruise. But when I arrived there at 8:45am, Dave Scott had already finished speaking. ☹ Anyways, the boat departed and it was a nice way to see Chattanooga. Susan got to captain/steer the boat and we met some nice Australian blokes. When we were back and docked, we went to the Ironman Village, said hello to a few vendors and bought myself a coffee cup and a super cute tank they had this year and then registered.
|Pic by Melissa Christensen|
The house we were staying at was in Rising Fawn, GA, 35 minutes from the race. George from Tri Animals found the place and it was a beautiful retreat in the mountains. We not on purpose took our time getting there and it was so high up in the mountains that I didn’t get cell service. 😊 We had the entire basement and it was awesome. I put my bike on the trainer as those roads were not good for a TT and went through my gears to make sure everything was okay and ready to climb the mountains. Well it wasn’t. It was slipping gears and would not get into my lowest gear and I wanted that! At that point we were too far out and all bike shops were closed anyways. Got ready and went back into Chattanooga and had dinner at a nice Italian restaurant.
Friday morning I went to the Quintana Roo breakfast extended to their teams. While I don’t have a QR, I have considered getting one. Their new hot pink PRsix is sexy! Did some socializing and met some people racing. Of course I had my bike with me, so awesome Susan google and found a bike shop within walking distance (it was $8 each time I entered the parking garage and I didn’t want to drive if I didn’t have to) and I walked half of the way with her and then she dropped it off at the local Trek store. They were so great and able to squeeze me in behind a couple people. They were supper busy. There was a mechanic in the Ironman village, but the line was seriously 2 hours long and I hate lines. So Susan dropped off my bike and went for a run. Me? I went to brunch (yes I ate twice that morning) with Angela Nath which was sponsored by Red Bull. At the brunch, Angela, who started a great group called IRaceLikeAGirl, reviewed mental strategies and gave us a personal view inside what she is thinking on race day. It was pretty amazing to be able to attend and I know I learned a thing or two that I applied. So as soon as I was done, I walked to the bike shop and thankfully my bike was ready! Susan and I then walked back and got lunch and then it was time for bike and gear check in. After dropping that off, we went to the grocery store to pick up pre-race dinner and then went back to the house. Early to bed because Saturday is race day!
I have this weird skill of getting up before my alarm clock went off. Oh and somehow having my lady time on race day. ☹ Anyways up at 4am and off like a rocket. Pound down some coffee and oatmeal and get on the road around 4:50am. Was able to park in the same garage and since all my gear was dropped off the day before, all I had to bring was my bike nutrition, goggles and wetsuit. Yes, the water dropped just barely to the cutoff at 76.1. Quickly dropped off nutrition and then meandered down towards the water. My trusty Sherpa took my morning clothes and I slugged on my sleeveless Roka suit and stood in my starting corral.
|Photo by Susan Benton|
The swim start was different – they had like in a horse race, starting corrals on the dock and then you had a 5 beep countdown sound and then a high beep telling you to go. So a rolling age group start. I put myself in the middle as I am not the fastest swimmer when it comes to a national championship level race and I ran off the dock and somehow was leading the 10 of us that started when our beep went off. I lead for halfway out the first buoy and then backed off so I could draft. That was with a sideway current so not too crazy. And then you turn right and then to do the 840 against the current. Honestly, having swam in a washing machine at last year’s long course world champs and having swam in San Francisco bay, this current was not that bad. However, what was bad and I’m sure cost me a bit of time, was the sun. It was low in the sky and was right in my eyes. I struggled seeing buoys and so I just tried to draft as much as possible. But well some of these girls don’t swim that straight. That way out seemed to take forever. Of my slow 39:06 minute swim, I bet you that 25 minutes was spent on that portion of the swim. Anyways, you round the buoy to the right to start heading back and the current was pushing some people out but I did my best to stay right. And then round the last buoy to make the way back with the current at your back. The current didn’t push that strong, not as great as IM Cozumel, but I did have some sub 1:30 splits on the way back. You round the last buoy and out with the help of some awesome volunteers.
Found myself some awesome wetsuit strippers and then you grab your bag off to the left as they are all lined up on the ground by number and then round a turn to run up some ridiculously steep ramp. Seriously would have preferred stairs as they put down a carpet but everywhere the carpet was taped down was slippery as hell! It was a bit of a run to your bike but I had my shoes on there and ran all the way to the line and did my flying mount. Slipped my shoes on and quickly found my groove.
I live in Houston, Texas. There are no mountains here. And a few miles into this course, there is a mountain. I actually really enjoyed the climb. But there were a couple of mountain goat girls that passed me as I was trying to think of not trying to get a QOM (road racer in me wants to kill it) but overall, I passed a lot of girls on this mountain. And stayed in my power targets. Then you would think you would be awarded with a downhill, but no. This course basically was full of tons of rollers that are much more substantial than where people in Houston go to do their “hillier” long rides. I was doing great and I was keeping my prescribed heart rate and power in check but about mile 42 my
|Photo by Susan Benton|
I fully intended to do a flying dismount but I thought I would fall over if I did or my legs would buckle under me. So, I just stopped and got off and then. Ouch. Trying to remind my body how to run at this point was a struggle. I am pretty sure I looked fairly damaged and I ran along to the table with my run gear bag. I fell/sat onto the chair fairly defeated and put on my socks and shoes and off the shuffle went. I rounded onto the run start and all these people were cheering and I quiet literally stuck my tongue out at them. I was not looking forward to this run. I knew it was hilly and it was starting to get warmer at this point. Not Houston warm but not exactly 60 anymore. Like a quarter of mile in, the legs did loosen up a bit and the back did release a little so I was able to find close to my semi programmed pace, even though I was in pain. But well they say a lot of these races are for thementally strong. And no way I was walking in a world championship race. I made sure to take in plenty of fluids (thank you Red Bull station that that ridiculous/obnoxious hill) and just tried to get into a rhythm. I was doing actually fairly good, running at the slower end of my pace range (damn near impossible to get into a rhythm because when I did, I was disrupted by another hill) but at mile 10, the wheels just came off. I was on the struggle bus. Somehow still passing some ladies but getting passed by equally as many or more. I’m not used to getting passed that much. Ouch. Anyways, my pace slowed a bit towards the end and I was definitely soooo happy to round the corner and find a last little bit of adrenaline to run a respectable pace to the finish line. Run split was 1:49:24
All in all, I posted a respectable time. But nowhere near the time that I know I am capable of and I would maybe like a redo someday. :P I did 70.3 WC a couple years ago and was 95 I believe of like 120 girls in my age group. This time, the final results showed that I was 85 out of 200+ ladies, so I will take it.
So the women raced their own race on this Saturday without the guys and I have to say, it was fantastic doing a world championship women only race. No offense to the guys because not all are like this, but most guys have a serious issue with chicks passing them and just it is an entirely different atmosphere with just women out there. Not only that but the women pros tend to get the back seat to the men’s race when both are happening at the same time and it was so great to see the clips from coverage without having the announcers have to struggle between showing the men’s and women’s leaders at the same time. I honestly hope they do something like this at Kona, if the big island can handle that. But I’m sure many have mixed opinions on that…
So post race, my awesome Sherpa was there with my requested recovery shake. And then they gave us a ticket for a free beer and food item of choice. It was a little too congested in that area, to be honest. They only offered free Michelob Ultra beer (boo) and then a choice of pizza, burgers, tacos and some mac and cheese thing. I got the trusty pizza and gave half to my Sherpa. Lol. Sat there a bit to digest and then wobbled my way slowly towards bike check out and then the car and back to the house.
|Pic from Reiko Donato|
That night, we went to the Coeur Sports after party. The Coeur Sports team is great. Some of the nicest, sincerest, most amazing women you will ever meet. I have been so honored to be on the team this year and they are some of the happiest looking racers out there. (I need to work on my racing smile….) It was great to meet a lot of the in person as I have only seen them online. And then after that, we went to the Women for Tri party and talked to a Czech girl and had some well-deserved chocolate. 😊
|Pic from Jackie M David|
So because the guys and girls raced separate, I had signed up to be a volunteer on Sunday for the guy’s race. I signed up to be a sunscreen person but I didn’t get to do that all day. HA! As soon as Susan (did I mention she is the best Sherpa ever?) and I arrived, we were asked to join the wetsuit strippers station. HA! I had such a blast doing this. I have never volunteered as stripper before but I have never been able slap so many men’s asses in my life and get away with it. :P If you want to have a couple hours of volunteering fly by, that is how. It is also like being in the front row/VIP section for all of the athletes you wanted to cheer for! And so, once that slowed down, we went to where were we were supposed to be and ended up filling water at the first station just before starting the run in transition and that was hard work. I was thankfully already soaked from wetsuit stripping and was also thankful the sunscreen was right there because it got hot for the men’s race! I was able to see some pros start their run and I saw all my friends as they started their runs. (I may have even slapped another ass here….) This was hard work. Almost everyone was grabbing water because it was so hot and there were over 2,000 men racing. Anyways that went by super quick too and before we knew it, it was 2:30pm and we were done. And I looked like I was done. Defeated. Zombie. BUT I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Went back, took a well-deserved nap and then had some beers with the guys when they got back.
The next morning, we lazily got up and got on the road. Sadly, my jam-packed weekend took its toll on me and I came down with a migraine. So, Susan ended up driving. I started trying to drive and that lasted a whole hour since I literally had tears in my eyes. ☹ We were supposed to party in New Orleans, LA on the way back but that just didn’t happen. So, we trucked on home the 12 hours back to Houston
It was an interesting season this year adding in bike racing and while my FTP has gone up about 20 watts since the beginning of this year, my run has suffered a little. I am taking a break now from racing for a few months as my body deserves a break and then my next race I am signed up is for a marathon in April – the beautiful Big Sur Marathon. Thanks to all of the sponsors for their support and here’s to a bigger and better 2018!