After a fall on the bike where I ended up partially tearing my supraspinatous, I finally got cleared to swim, weeks before my ironman. I never thought that I would actually miss my not-so-favorite triathlon discipline, but I did! My first workout back consisted of 12x25s, 6x50s, and 2x100s. I was overly optimistic before I began my swim. I thought that I had developed enough myelin from my swimming over the last five years, that everything would just come back. But I was wrong. I felt awkward – like a fish out of the water. I left the pool feeling frustrated.
Since I only injured my shoulder, I spent a lot of time just kicking in the water. Kick sets after kick sets. I did not see it that first day, but gradually I began to feel better in the water and saw how my kick sets had paid off. Before my injury, I barely used my legs when I swam! But my legs are much stronger then my upper body, so it makes sense to use them. I began to embrace my setback as I saw long term gains accelerated through the trial.
Race week quickly approached, but I felt at peace with my swim, even though I only reached 2800 yards (race is 4224 yards) of actual swimming. I felt confident that God would equip me fully for whatever came my way.
I checked the weather the day before I traveled to Whistler, and race day looked perfect: 71 degrees with only 20% chance of rain. Halfway through my travel, the weather changed drastically, now calling for 90% chance of rain with a low of 48 degrees! I did not pack appropriately. I tried to stay calm despite feeling drastically unprepared. My dear friend and client, Emily, saved the day as she let me borrow her gear. My coach emphasized the importance of staying warm so that I could grab and eat my fuel without numb fingers. He scared me into prioritizing warmth for mere survival.
Race morning finally arrived. I tried to remain calm but deep down inside I was terrified of the conditions. Nothing pleasant came to my mind. So I repeated Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” With that verse stamped in my mind, I proceeded to get into the lake for the deep water start. When the gun went off, I started too fast with the other pro female, and got dropped pretty quickly. I felt the rain pour and the wind increase. The final turn into transition seemed to take an eternity, and I felt like I was going nowhere. Finally, I made it out of the swim about 15 seconds faster then planned. It was awesome seeing Emily and my Pacific Northwest friends yelling in the MONSOON. I was in awe of the incredible crowd cheering, despite the horrific downpour.
After a quick transition putting on booties, a headband, gloves, and my winter Castelli jacket, I began the bike. The course consisted largely of climbing and descending, so I knew that I would appreciate the extra gear on the cold descents. I had trouble opening my fuel because of my frozen hands. Since my body was working harder trying to stay warm, I added more calories. Instead of just my gels and Powerbars, I grabbed a waffle at each aid station. I could not eat the waffles without taking off my gloves, but I thought my body would need the extra calories during the 20 mile climb back into town. I finally saw another pro, Cait Snow, in front of me during the last climb when the heavy ran finally subsided. During that final climb, I changed my mindset to one of gratitude as I made it safely through the rainy descents with a strong and well-fueled body.The sun began shining as I entered into transition. I saw Emily around the 6k mark, and she informed me that two girls were a few minutes ahead. I made another game time decision to fuel more because I knew I had burned more energy then normal trying to stay warm during the bike. By the 16k mark, I finished all of my gels planned for the entire run!! But I listened to my body and knew what it needed. I loved the run. It was a mixture of rolling soft surface trail and a paved trail surrounding the beautifully blue lakes and gorgeous mountains. I stayed positive throughout the run and managed to catch Laurel around the 29k mark. I focused on keeping one foot in front of the other while staying in the moment. I felt great until the 40k mark. At that point, I could hear the crowd screaming near the finish line, but the finish line seemed nowhere in sight. Thankfully, I had a guy to run with, and I asked him how much longer. He encouraged me and told me the finish was just around the bend. My legs wanted to give up, but my heart kept telling me to fight. I reached the finish line giving everything I had.
This was by far the hardest Ironman I have ever raced. I had to dig deep not to give up early in the day. My mind kept telling me how crazy it was to be outside in the conditions let alone descend mountains in the pouring rain. I battled wanting to quit while constantly adapting to the conditions. But, the harder the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.
Four days later I headed to the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley to race an Olympic Distance on Saturday and a Sprint on Sunday. Racine Multisport did an incredible job taking care of the athletes and did fun pre race pro interviews. The course was hard and made me work! It was nice to go fast after the ironman and get some good racing experience. Now it’s time to get back to work before my next Ironman!
Huge thanks to Team Timex and my support:
*T2 Growth Advisors – Amazing company, amazing support
*Dr. Bradbury – for seeing me three times a week and getting me healed with such a limited window of time
*Trek – best bike
*Shimano – fast parts, wheels, and shoes
*Challenge – tires that worked perfectly in the scary Ironman conditions & James for getting them race ready.
*Stages –perfectly paced the bike + Greg for getting me all set up
*Blue Seventy – goggles & wetsuit that gave me confidence despite my lack of swim volume
*Rudy Project Wingspan & sunglasses that enabled me to see in the monsoon
*Powerbar – could not make it through without all of my gels + bars
*Feetures! – warm wool socks with zero post race blisters
*Skins – helping me recover faster
*Castelli – super comfortable kit with no chafing + loved racing in my jacket 😉
*Brooks – hot pink Launches helped me to 2nd fastest run split (5 seconds away from first).
*Special shout out to Karel for the best bike fit and getting my bike race ready! I was super comfortable all day and he got my bike in perfect condition, which was absolutely essential on such a tough bike course in rough conditions.
*Elliot – thanks for properly preparing me for my ironman (totally would have just worn my race kit with nothing else ;)) and for preparing my body to perform.
*Emily – can I just say, life-saver/race-saver