My 70.3 World Championships Story
With so many interesting race and travel options these days, serious consideration is warranted before committing to any racecation. I love challenging (fair) courses, which seems to be harder and harder to find these days. When Ironman initially announced the 70.3 World Championship race course in Chattanooga, they said it would include ~5000ft of climbing. I was drooling at this set-up and immediately set my sights on earning a qualifying spot. Although unsurprisingly, the bike course did eventually get dialed back from it’s original design, thankfully it still included a meaningful climb with a total of 3000ft climbing over 56miles. The swim and run were also designed to be a legit challenge for all. This race was also appealing due to the number of friends and Coeur Sports teammates planning to race. Although I love the variety of courses available in Europe, I really miss the camaraderie and vibe of racing in the USA.
I earned my championship qualification by winning my AG in Mallorca earlier this year, then spent the summer specifically training and racing shorter distance events to prepare. After three strong olympic distance races and a consistent stimulus of specific training, I was feeling strong and ready to give it a good effort in Chattanooga. Aside from the obvious enthusiasm associated with World Championship races, I was thrilled to be racing back in the USA. So many wonderful people to see!
It was a long flight from Zurich, but what a wonderful week it was in the U.S.A!
Even though this was a championship race, and I had big performance goals, my week assumed a wonderful racecation vibe. It’s been almost three yrs since my previous race in the US, and I couldn’t wait to toe the line with Coeur Sports teammates and friends from all over (especially the Minnesota contingent). Thankfully my preparation and yrs of experience created a certain confidence and calmness leading into the race. I was feeling good with my preparation and ready to GO! The day before the race, I woke-up to a WhatsApp/FB message flurry of support from caring and supportive friends showcasing a custom designed T-shirt. What a boost! It was clear I had already “won” before even starting. So much love and gratitude.
Overall Time: 4:54:19. 3rd 35-39AG, 10th amateur OA
The Play by Play:
SWIM (28:31)– Time to get the party started! They started 10 athletes every 10”, and I started in the 4th round (40” from the front). I appreciated the dive off the dock option, and I launched myself into the Tennessee River in a true sprinter fashion. While catching the group in front within a few strokes, I was felling strong and never felt the need to waste energy finding feet to draft. Instead, I focused on swimming straight and steady. Although I loved my ROKA Maverick X wetsuit, this should NOT have been wetsuit legal, and the “upstream” portion of the swim was a tad overblown. My swim time was aligned with most of my recent 70.3 swim efforts.
BIKE (2:39) Felt awesome, until it didn’t. I LOVE MY ARGON E-119+. The 35-39 AG started ~15 min behind the first AG wave. This provided enough people on the course to chase and make it feel like a race, but no bothersome traffic. My Argon E-119+ Enve 4.5 combo felt very fast. “THE CLIMB” started roughly 5miles into the race as a 3mile/6% avg grade. This was pretty routine climbing for me (living in the Swiss Alps has serious training advantages), and I was so happy to be going up – The steeper, the better! I was in race mode, and I wanted that climb to last for the entire 56miles! The descent was not technical, so it was easy to fly down in aero position. That also presented a great opportunity to empty the bladder Then at mile 30, my bike stopped shifting – Maybe it didn’t appreciate being pee’d on. DANG IT, um, Mega F’bomb. I knew it wasn’t the battery since that would have dropped me into my small chain ring by default. It was certainly an unfortunate situation, but by some grace of God, I ended up being stuck with the one gear (52-17) I’d choose if single speed was my only option for those final 26miles. (diagnosis -the cable which attaches to the battery in the seat post came undone. UGH – My mistake since it wasn’t locked perfectly in place when I put my bike together and it must have come loose after hitting a bump). Anyhow, the next 26 miles was me focusing on doing the best I could with inefficient pedal stokes. I had to grind up any climb (people around me must have thought I was crazy), then spinning out on any downward grade with a serious loss of power and 120+rpms. My VI was 1.08 for that final section – Not ideal to set up a good run. Nor was the fact that this distraction led to a major fail on my fueling plan. I unwillingly fell way behind in that dept. Dumb and dumber– I’d pay for that!!
RUN (1:41) I felt relatively ok for the first 1-2miles but that was likely just enthusiasm and joy brought on by my fantastic support crew. I kept reminding myself that I needed to be calm on the first loop. I did not have GPS pace or heart rate data for the run as I felt the undulating terrain would just make the data as distraction. I knew by this point, I’d just need to race. Unfortunately, I felt like a tank climbing the hills, but I tried to stay positive assuming it was that way for everyone. I was eager to hit the 2nd loop, and try to pick up the pace as planned, but that never happened. People were passing me like I was standing still and I’m sad to report that I had nothing in response. Mini Bonkville. I wasn’t certain which place I was in at that point, but I hoped I was still Top 5AG. I worked hard to hold it together, and managed to will myself to the finish. With the time trial start, I “sprinted’ to the finish line, knowing every second cold matter. I was ecstatic when I discovered I’d finished 3rd AG. Celebratory smiles were abundant, however, after looking at the results the next day, and seeing just how rough my run was in comparison to my competitors, I was admittedly a bit disappointed in myself. Running has always been my Achilles’ heel of triathlon, but in my mind I was trained for a 1:32-133ish on a flat course (similar to my Mallorca run in the heat) and would have expected closer to 1:36-1:38 for a course like this. I know better than to focus on this negative since there were many more positives from this day, but at the same time, it’s important to learn as much as possible in order to be better next time.
So what did I learn?
- You can’t fake fueling in 70.3, especially one with a VERY demanding profile. When in doubt – EAT MORE!
- Double check the bike build. Every time!
- Don’t forget to celebrate the finish line (even when in the hurt locker).
Overall, it was such a positive experience. If you had asked me pre-race if 3rd AG would make be happy, it would have been a firm YES. In the end, the mechanical COULD have cost me SO MUCH more had it forced me into a different gear, or had it occurred earlier in the race. I absolutely LOVED the split race format with women racing on Saturday and Men racing on Sunday. I believe this significantly reduced the amount of drafting on the bike-HUGE WIN!
The post race festivities were fabulous as well. It was so fun to hang around the venue and support other racers from later waves. We had a Coeur team happy hour, so I could finally meet more teammates in a casual and festive atmosphere. I love this group of ladies and everything this team represents. #strongertogether . Huge thanks and love to my friends and teammates for the support. I’m so grateful. It was especially lovely to share the race course and pre/post race festivities with my dear friend Julie. Racing brought us together 10+ yrs ago, and although the friendship is now about so much more, is great fun to be back racing together. xox
I traded one stage for another that weekend. I did miss my University of Lucerne graduation, but having the opportunity to wear my Coeur themed dress in Chattanooga was a fair trade. The US celebration was off to a great start, and it showed no signs of slowing down. I had several athletes racing Ironman Wisconsin on Sunday, so the excitement and race day energy was still high.
Then it was off to a friend’s Tennessee lake house for great food and no shortage of Jack Daniels. Even an impromptu visit to Nashville for serious BBQ and lively Honky tonk.
So much love and gratitude goes out to my tribe:
- Team Coeur Sports, for designing the best women’s tri apparel, and more importantly for bringing together a community of strong, inspiring and supportive women.
- Best gear in the tool box: Argon bikes, Enve Wheels, Roka Wetsuit, NBS Nutrition.
- The great coaching team of Jen and Liz for their guidance and support.
- My easy going sidekick – 15yrs together and he still keeps me around!
- My friends scattered all over the world, esp my crew in Zug and MN. Love you so much!
As I reflect on my tribe, I’m extremely humbled to be a surrounded with such a group. Thank-you, Thank-you!