On September 9th I finished 8th in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A top field of 35 pro women started the race, 34 finished, and we all came wanting the win. Here are my reflections on how my race played out and the lessons I learned.
The better you do, the higher the pressure there is to elevate your performance and results. Although the pressure I put on myself is always self imposed, I had placed a bit too much on myself leading into Worlds. After winning most of my races this year and placing second behind Holly Lawrence, the 2016 IM 70.3 World Champion, in the North American Championship in St. George, my expectations of myself were very high. I really struggled to let go of outcome-based results I demanded of myself leading into this event. I wanted to do really well. I knew I had trained harder than I ever have before. I was in in my best shape of the year but I learned a great lesson that no matter how fit you are on that start line, chances of executing your fitness on that given day become all about your mindset and your mentality has to be in the right spot.
Just another race.
The World Championship is completely different from any other 70.3 race during the year because of the strength and depth of field on this one given day. There is a group dynamic especially on the bike and tactics involved which is where experience counts a lot. The stakes are high and there is a title to be won. The top group of 10 women were all so close and tight this year and the course was one of the most honest and challenging I have ever done. But I would not like it any other way and I came to test myself against the best and see where I stack up. The strong women ahead of me, most of them with a World title, bought their A-game and bet me straight up.
I am happy to say I was in the mix and it was great to see how my biking has improved as I have been putting a lot of work in that area specifically this year. When my coach told me to treat it like any other race, I found it tough to wrap my head around that because I believed it was bigger than that. But I see now that no matter where I race or who I race, I have to do the small things right. Pacing and fueling are key things I can control and these were the two things I didn’t do perfectly on race day. It was the first time I have not nailed this since working with Jesse Kropelnicki. So in many ways I feel I let us both down, but on the flip side I am grateful to have learned a valuable lesson that I will take forward.
It was the first time I felt great riding ride from the get go and the plan was to ride really hard up the climb, which was nasty by the way! Check my Strava! I didn’t expect to ride with Holly but I came out the water with her and was able to close the gap to the chase group ahead shortly after she pulled out. A massive effort was needed in the dynamic for this specific race but instead of just being patient and taking time to recover once I closed the gap to the chase group, I got ahead of myself and was anxious to do work and kept riding hard. I have never ridden in a group like this in a 70.3 and it was my lack of experience in a championship event that led me to make some rookie errors.
The surges that I ended doing burnt some matches. That, combined with not paying attention to my hydration while riding in the group, meant that I as I got onto the run my legs were toast! My back was in spasm for the first 5 miles and I knew I just knew I was paying for the messy bike ride. It was a painful 13 mile run, mostly because it felt like I was jogging as aerobically I was fit and ready but my peripheral system wanted to call it a day. The run is usually were I make up time and I get a thrill of closing the gap on people and I love pushing my limits, going as hard as I can to the finish line. That was not the case at Worlds and I was disappointed not to be able to execute a run a know I am capable of. I learned the value in the small things and doing them right can often mean the difference between making the podium or just being top 10.
My first World Championship was in 2013 and I was almost dead last, so I have come a long way since then. I came to Worlds this year to get more experience racing at the highest level, with a completely different dynamic, and that is exactly what I got. The competition is strong, you have to bring your A game and there is no room for error. But this is the first of many Championships races for me and I am hungry to better myself and even more excited for my future.
Onward and Upward.
It took me a long time to even sit down and write some thoughts about my race as I was very emotional. I went ALL IN for 70.3 Worlds this year and invested so much into one day emotionally, physically and mentally. To give everything and not have the day you know you are capable of is tough to deal with, but I have no regrets on my race and am happy to take away so much from racing the best in the business. I have dedicated my full being into triathlon because to be the best I know that is what it is going to take. I am so grateful for the opportunity to test myself against such class and I am humbled to have raced such strong women.
I left Chattanooga with an experience that I will carry into my future racing as I build my career specifically in the 70.3 distance. The bottom line is I need to be better, I need to be stronger and I am very determined to keep elevating my racing on the World stage. The good news is a still have a lot of time! It is onwards and upwards for me as I target some end of season racing, including IRONMAN 70.3 Austin (10/29) and IRONMAN 70.3 Cabos (11/12), then I will finish up the year with the IRONMAN 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain (11/25).
THANK YOU to my partner Justin Metzler, my family, friends, and Coach Jesse Kropelnicki of QT2 Systems for their ongoing support and encouragement! I am grateful for the support of the Timex Multisport Team, First Endurance, Trek, blueseventy, bolle, Shimano, Castelli, Brooks, Stages Cycling, Cobb, Boulder Sports Chiropractic, Feeback Sports, Colorado Triathlete, Dr. Nicole Adams, and fortyninegroup.
Thank you for reading!