Ironman 70.3 Mallorca: the year of racecations!
Travelling and exploring new cities has been delightfully routine since moving to Europe two years ago. Without knowing how long this euro adventure would last, we’ve made a pact to enjoy as much sporty wanderlust as possible. So far, it’s been a great ride!
We all race for different reasons, and after 15 years, I’m still drawn to the sport of triathlon. A movement filed lifestyle is critical for my mental and physical health, and triathlon has been the perfect therapy for me. Finding interesting race venues, while setting new race goals provides some direction and focus for my limited attention span.
With each season, and each unique race, my reasons for racing shift. Last year for example, I raced three triathlons (Rapperswil 70.3, Zug Tri, Alp D’Huez), did a few mountain runs, and spent a lot of time mindlessly climbing mountains on my bike while taking pictures of my beautiful alpine playground (posted on Strava). I did not do the focused training required for any meaningful improvement, and instead did plenty of research as part of my graduate studies internship. My less than ideal performance training did not stop me from pinning on the occasional race number, as racing provided guided opportunities to explore new areas – Racecations!!
This year however, I wanted a bit more structure and purpose with my training. I craved more from my athletic self. There’s still so much to learn and experience, and I’ve always felt that honing my own training/racing strategies helps sharpen my skills as a Coach. I’ll forever be a student of the sport. My formal master’s degree studies were coming to and end, and the timing was perfect to channel more energy back to sport.
At the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to race the 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga. Therefore, I needed to find a qualifying race, and subsequently perform well enough to earn my entry. That was the goal. Given the timing of a few other life events, Mallorca 70.3 and it’s challenging bike course fit my needs perfectly.
Training was going well leading up to the race. Three weeks out I did rust buster event in Gran Caneria which provided the reassurance that my hard work was paying off. Simply; consistent attention to the training specifics while integrating the healthy habits necessary to facilitate routine execution day in and day out.
Mallorca race details:
Our hotel was a simple 10min walk to the beach/transition area, making race morning stress free. I consumed a sodium preload drink (temps were forecasted in the 80s), salted boiled potatoes, and a beet + whey protein shake. Not quite a dreamy vacation breakfast, but it got the job done!
SWIM (26:58 )
First off, I like the rolling starts now implemented at Ironman events. Initially I was worried I’d lose a bit of competitive mojo without being side by side with my competitors, however since these events are now hosting so many participants (Mallorca had 3600+), this new system provides athletes the opportunity to self seed their starting position. As a relatively strong swimmer, this provides the luxury of a relatively traffic free bike course. This also creates a much more welcoming start for newer athletes who may have otherwise been extremely anxious and turned off due to the chaos of a mass start.
I lined up in the <30min corral - Beach running start – 5 racers every 5 seconds. Super fun! Swim was pretty routine – Loving the extremely comfortable Roka X wetsuit.
I love climbing, even on a tri bike, and the 13.5km climb up the back side of Col de Sa Batalla was so beautiful. I was a bit nervous for the technical descent, but thankfully I had the opportunity to pre-ride the descent the day before. After a little practice, the 10km of switchbacks and blind corners weren’t too bad, and it was a welcomed chance to recover before the final 35k to T2. I didn’t have a functioning power meter to provided the intensity feedback on course (or post race data analysis), but it’s also good to get back to racing by feel. During the bike, my focus was smart pacing, adequate hydrating and proper fueling to prepare my body for the half marathon. During the ride, I consumed 4-5 bottles of NBS/water, 4 gels and a lot of salt.
The run has traditionally been my achilles heel, and it’s certainly harder to fake the confidence for a half marathon. Regardless, this spring, I’ve been feeling strong on the run. Not fast, but steady and strong, and I’m gradually building more confidence there. I came out of T2 feeling pretty good. From what I could tell, I was third amateur off the bike. I tried to keep the pace in check, knowing I had three loops of 7.5km to navigate along the sunny Spanish beach. I took full advantage of the aid stations and managed to executed my pacing and fueling plan. On the third loop, the course was super busy, and I had no clue who and where I was in the field. Given the self seeding time trial start I wanted to keep pushing through the finish. Turns out that was less important in the rankings, but it certainly provided some reassurance that I can race a decent 70.3.
Overall, I’m thrilled it all came together an pleased with my preparation and execution. I’m well aware that even with the best prep, uncontrollables happen which often derail a perfectly crafted race plan. I’m grateful my body held together, and it was another confirmation that after all these years, I still find much enjoyment and satisfaction from racing.
Overall finish time- 4:49:48
Category (35-39) rank – 1
Overall Amateur rank – 2
World Championship thoughts:
Thrilled that Ironman decided to offer gender specific race days for the 70.3 WC this year. Women race on Saturday, September 9th, while the men race on Sunday, Sept 10. My hope it that this will significantly reduce the amount of drafting which has plagued championship events in the past. I’m a bit worried the RD will wimp out and have a down river swim only, but regardless I can’t wait to be there racing with my teammates and friends from all around the World.
Thanks for reading!