Ironman World Championships…and then some

I have been meaning to write a race report for Kona for a while. About a month to be exact. However the words just weren’t coming to me as to how I felt about the race; before, during and after. It seems that even though I did well in others’ eyes at Kona, I feel that I still need to do better. I raced my hardest, dipped to my lowest of lows, gave it everything I had, but at the finish line I was immediately hungry for the next chance at showing myself what I can do.

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What I AM ecstatic about are the 3 months that led into the Ironman World Championships. Three of the hardest but best months of my life that showed me what hard training truly was and that I could actually succeed at it.

So that is what I will write about now that my amateur career in triathlon in over.

I started my life in the World Class Athlete Program for the Air Force at the beginning of this summer, and my coach and I took full advantage of each and every day to get the best quality and quantity of training in. We decided I should race a couple of tune-up 70.3’s to get ready for Kona, and I figured what would be cooler than to race in the 70.3 World Championships in Mont-Tremblant.

With eyes on that, we set out on a hard block of training through June to gear up for Racine 70.3. I went into it slightly untapered but with my head on straight knowing that I had trained harder than ever and I was ready to let loose a little bit.  I wasn’t banking on getting the 70.3 worlds slot without a little bit of a fight and I knew I was ready for that. Swimming with the USAFA swim team led to a smooth speedy swim, Hillary’s crazy bike sessions equaled a strong ride, and our consistent run training resulted in an easy 13 miles. Overall amateur title…wasn’t expecting that at all, but 70.3 worlds was quickly able to be added to the calendar.

Immediately following that race we got right back into it. I had a positive mindset throughout and was excited to train seeing that I could train hard through a race and still do well. Great learning experience #1.

For the 70.3 world championships in September I let my head get the best of me. I was not as tapered as these other girls, I was tired…grumpy.  My 5th place performance wasn’t what I wanted of course, but I blame that entirely on myself. The whole race I was thinking too much, making excuses, just upset that I hadn’t gone into it ready to smash it. Enough about that, I dwelled on it way too long and I have moved on : )

Learning experience #2: my head can, and will, get in the way.

Coach and I decided it was best that I spend the next month leading into Kona at her house in Tucson under her watchful eye for some serious training, Tucson heat, and low-altitude.

I don’t think I was ready for what she could throw at me.

–Coachie has been in charge of me since March of this year. I have no doubts in her and I working as a team after she brought me to an overall amateur win at Wildflower, armed forces national champion and Racine overall amateur—

…but the month at her house had me doubting her beliefs in what my body could do.

We got after it, every single day. From 140 mile rides, to 18-mile race pace runs, I was completely shot. The day we woke up to do 21x800s on the track I didn’t think I could get out of bed.

But I did.

I am so grateful that I got this opportunity because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t of learned what it meant to train “like a pro.” I also would not have learned what my body was capable of without my mind getting in the way. By having Hillary as a training partner as well as her crew of Ironman Champions running alongside us for most workouts, I literally had to shove my thoughts out of the way and just “do the damn thing.”

I would have never been able to do any of this if I was training on my own, but now I know I can…it is just a matter of doing it.

At the Ironman World Championships I knew my body was ready.  I honestly believed that anything Kona had to throw at us that day I could just think back to Tucson and know that I had trained harder than those winds, hotter than the blazing pavement, and stronger than the ocean current. This mindset got me through the race, until about mile 22.

But low and behold GUESS who showed up at mile 22 on her bike just chatty as ever acting like nothing was wrong? Yep, Coachie.

Once again, if it wasn’t for her at that point in the race I would’ve walked for sure. I have never been so low in a point of a race where I couldn’t look to one side or the other or I knew I would fall over. My legs were done, even my pinky finger had no energy left. But the Smashfest Queen was right there and cheered me on til she had to pull off and gave me that last smile and bit of energy that I needed.

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I am happy to end my amateur career with another sub-10 hour Ironman and the defending of my age group title, but those things really don’t matter to me. I know I can be better, and I want to find out how much better.

It is the experiences that keep me going in this sport. The infinite amount of different things I can do to make myself a better athlete and a better person.

As I head into my first season as a professional triathlete, I cannot wait to find out what experiences lay ahead. Hopefully they are painful, challenging, and make me grow.

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As always, I couldn’t do it without the help of my biggest supporters: Dad, Mom, USMES, Boeing, Scott, Snapple, Rudy Project, Osmo, Quarq, and all of you who keep having faith in me and get excited to track races for hours on a little tiny screen.

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