70.3 Worlds!

Ironman 70.3 Worlds

Ironman 70.3 World Championship!  Wow, still can’t quite believe I actually had the opportunity to race with the Who’s Who of triathlon!

I met Julie Moss on a brief training run

I met Julie Moss on a brief training run

Craig "Crowie" Alexander...hotter than the Vegas sun!

Craig “Crowie” Alexander…hotter than the Vegas sun!

In the days leading up to the race I was nervous but felt prepared from a training and nutrition perspective.   I’d anticipated blazing heat in the Nevada desert and did plenty of heat training.

The logistics of this race were a bit daunting since there were many unknowns–1st travel race and 1st point to point meaning two separate transition areas.  Going forward, I’ll know what to expect and Ironman managed events are SO well run that there are plenty of folks to ask and all of them were pretty darn helpful!

I shipped my Felt bike “ACE” via TriBike Transport, which worked like a charm.  20130907_155521And, I’m SO glad I rented a car versus relying on taxis.  Also, I got a Garmin GPS from the rental car company which really helped a ton…yes, I know I can use Google Maps on my phone but having the Garmin on my dashboard made things a ton smoother.  Setting up T1 and T2 on the day prior to the race was interesting and was completed without issue.

Setting up T1

Setting up T1

Learning #1…make sure IF (as I may not ever do this again) I ride with someone to the race start ensure that they are on the same page from a arrival to race venue perspective!  I hitched a ride to the race with some other athletes friends-of-friends, they were to pick me up at 4:30 a.m (transition opened at 4:00 and it was planning to close at 6:00, I was in the 1st non-pro swim wave and we were about a 25 minute drive away).  They showed up at 4:45, we got lost (they didn’t have a Garmin, which cost us 10 minutes) plus when we got close to the race venue traffic was seriously bumper to bumper for hundreds of cars.  It was 5:20 a.m, then 5:30, 5:35…I needed to load up my bike nutrition and I was starting to FREAK!  The folks I was driving with were much more seasoned triathletes and were also in later swim waves. Somehow I had previously gotten the phone number of Ironman 70.3 Worlds “command central” of the race (true).  Anyway, I called them and said “Do you realize that there are hundreds of cars waiting to find parking and are you still closing T1 at 6:00?!”  To which they answered “Yes, Mamam, our plan is to still close transition as planned at 6:00”.  OH CRAP!!! Now I was really starting to FREAK OUT!

Oh yeah and it was raining, not just a sprinkle but like we needed to build an ARK!  So, I said “Stop the Car!” and I joined the many other athletes that were running toward transition which was about 1.5 miles away…hey that’s one way to get my pre-race run warm-up in!

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Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Henderson, NV swim course

I made it to T1 and loaded up my bike with gels etc..  Guess what?!  Electrical tape doesn’t stick too well in the rain.  But, I made it work.  My bike was in an awesome spot close to bike out so I only had to run with my bike a relatively short distance although much of it was up a hill.  After getting my bike prepared I headed down to the swim start which was already lining up.  And, by the way, they did NOT close T1 at 6:00 it was likely 6:15 or so, but still I was somewhat pressed for time.  I lined up, the pros were off and going, my age group got in the water and we swam to the start line treading water (first time I’ve done that type of swim start) and we were OFF!  Once the race started I felt better.

Except it continued to RAIN!  And as I ran through swim exit toward my bike, which was about a ½ mile…I started to worry.   Until then, I hadn’t EVER ridden my TRI bike or actually my road bike in the rain.  On bad weather days I just opt for a spin class instead.  And it wasn’t just a drizzle it was really RAINING!  Water was pouring off the brim of my helmet, thankfully I have TRI bike shoes so the water was running out the bottom, I wear socks when I ride which were soaked, but somehow my prescription sunglasses (photosensitive) didn’t get completely water spotted.  Still, I was nervous and with my recent loss of biking buddy plus the fact that my son so kindly shared his nightmare dream of me dying in this race…I was more than a little cautious.

0466_06221 The bike course was tough and I did see a pretty major wipe-out of three bikes colliding and all riders down and out.  The rain stopped at around mile 40, which made a huge difference when looking at my bike splits…once the rain was over my average mph jumped from around 16 to almost 22 since I was comfortable putting the pedal to the metal…and that wasn’t a super easy part of the bike course either.  Still it helped improve a marginally effective, BUT safe, ride.

Transition bags and changing tents were a new concept for me also.  It wasn’t bad and once again, now I know the drill for future reference.  The run was a 3 looper with about 2 miles up and 2 miles down.  I did run thru a few aid stations but also walked on some hills.  Still my pace overall was similar to Boulder although the course in Henderson was much more difficult and toward the end of the run it was starting to heat up with blue skies.0466_37673

Nutrition once again worked really well.  For fear of dehydrating, I seriously drank ALL the time.  All water bottles on the bike plus one from an aid station, every run aid station I refilled my handheld water bottle plus drank coke (love that nasty stuff) after mile 8, a full water bottle at finish, 3 mini chocolate milks and two pints of Stella mid afternoon after the race.  You’d think I’d be spending a ton of time in the porta potty (or other) but nope…after all that I must have still been dehydrated.  But I felt fine.

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Overall an awesome experience!  My sister in-law Melissa traveled to Vegas to support me which was FANTASTIC!  Mel and her extended family were there at the race cheering me on and I saw a few other Colorado tri friends there too.  Having folks who actually know you call out your name during the race is an amazing lift!

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With a 6:35:47 finish time, I wish I would have had a faster race but it all came down to a slower ride and if I had “do overs” I wouldn’t change a thing.  I qualified for and finished the Ironman 70.3 World Championship race and I have one of the worlds BIGGEST finisher medals to prove it!IMG_20130908_152744

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“A” race for ACE and Ali – Boulder 70.3

Ironman Boulder 70.3Ironman Boulder 70.3 was THE race of my 2013 season.  The event I had train for, dreaded, dreamed about and stressed over.

As I focused on my half Ironman training and preparation I thought back on what I had learned, both good and bad, from my other races. The infamous Harvest Moon of 2012 loomed large, at this race which is a half Ironman distance but not an Ironman branded race, I had seriously misjudged my nutritional needs.  Effectively, bonked and ended up walking much of the 13.1 mile run, missing my goal time by over an hour.  After THAT race I was demoralized and demotivated…in fact for a short period of time (OK, it was really only about 24 hours) I swore off long distances races.  Well, as anyone that is a triathlete knows this sport is HIGHLY addictive!

To ensure that I didn’t have a nutritional breakdown I practiced my hydration and nutrition on long brick training sessions and during The Peak race.  I was hyper committed to my training calendar.  I made each workout count and trained like I was heading to the World Championships.  I had even begun to jokingly tell my hubby “IF I qualify for World’s, I’m heading to Vegas…ha ha!”.    I also added more open water swimming to my repertoire including two Aquaman races—1 mile swim and 5K.  Now those, for anyone not familiar, are NASTY as in pretty darn brutal.  Until I did my first Aquaman I didn’t fully appreciate how much recovery you get after the swim when you’re on the bike during a triathlon!  PHEW, going from a swim race to a running race meant you had your heart race at close to max for the whole time…much harder in my opinion than a Sprint distance triathlon.  Thankfully I also had some great friends to train with and training with friends always makes it much more fun and you seem to push yourself harder!

Bike training with Craig, Anna and Bart

Bike training with Craig, Anna and Bart

As race day approached, I felt surprisingly calm.  I didn’t have pre-race stress, I wasn’t super bitchy…it was because I felt prepared.  I was ready to RACE!

To make Boulder 70.3 even more special we had extended family (Nessie and Kate) in town on vacation from England.   Having these super fun gals there along with my #1 fan Mr. Keith was fantastic, #2 fan was at his first sleep away camp so no one was cheering Go! Triathlon Momma Go!, but there was plenty of GO Ali, GO to be heard!

Transition area before Boulder 70.3 with Marla

Transition area before Boulder 70.3 with Marla

Race day arrived bright and sunny without issue and my unusual Zen state continued all the way thru race prep.  When I lined up in the self-seed swim corral I stood next to my triathlete buddy and fellow Masters swimmer Craig.  We wished each other a great race and before we knew it we were plowing thru the water on the 1.2 mile loop.  Soon I was racing thru T1 and out onto the ride on my bike “ACE” (doesn’t everyone name their bike?); who is seriously a streamlined speed machine!  I really tried to stay in the moment and appreciate just being there.  I thanked God for being able to do what I love.  I was racing in Ironman Boulder 70.3!  WOW!

Bike course Boulder 70.3

Bike course Boulder 70.3

Soon it was T2 and onto the run. The half marathon was two loops around Boulder Reservoir, which is notorious for having ZERO shade!  The run was hot but I continued forward and used a strategy of walking thru the aid stations.  I ultimately ended up walking a bit more than just the aid stations but mostly ran.  I also found a strange love of Coke (and I NEVER typically drink soda), cold, flat, Coca Cola is a magical thing, something like instant jet fuel!

As I neared the completion of my race, I was certainly happy to see the finish line, but not exhausted in a devastating way…I had paced myself much better than in earlier races AND my nutrition was spot on!

Run course Boulder 70.3

Run course Boulder 70.3

I waited with my family and friends to see my finish time.  A race time of 5:51:24 was better than I had hoped and placed me 9th in my age group.  I hung around for awards and soon I came to realize that I really DID have a chance to qualify for Ironman 70.3 World Championships.  A slim chance but still worth waiting for as it would all come to “roll down”.   Roll down means that if the 2 spots that were allocated to my age group were not taken by those that placed ahead of me, or those women had already qualified in another 70.3 race…the 2 slots would progressively “roll down” to the next qualifier.   Good grief, was this really going to happen?  Was I really going to legitimately qualify for the half Ironman World Championships?!!

WHAT?!  I am going to Vegas?!

WHAT?! I am going to Vegas?!

And…the answer is YES!  I did, the same girl that only two years prior who had not even run a 5K, that same girl was heading to Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Henderson, NV in early September.

I had a little pit in my stomach, was that panic or excitement?!?   I think maybe a little bit of both!