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!
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!
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!
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!
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?!!
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!