When I started racing 70.3 I never thought I would be in the mix for qualifying to race at the World Championships. A few really good races at the end of 2015 and early 2016 set me up well and I was ranked 20th going in. My main season goal was to race well at Worlds. With a few sub-par races heading into September I made a few tweaks to my training in hopes to give my body and mind the boost they needed heading into the big race. Knowing I didn’t make the time adjustment well when I raced in Europe, I planned to leave for Australia as early as possible. I arrived Tuesday morning, with the race on Sunday I had five days to adjust. Overall the adjustment went well, I was tired early evening and up around 4 am, which lined up well with my race night sleep pattern.
Race morning I woke up around 4, ate my breakfast, drank plenty of water and jumped on my bike to cycle the 5K down to the race start. Upon arrival I went through my usual setup, got my GPS tracker and headed down to the beach. All week the ocean waves were rough but on this day the ocean was more like glass. They announced the pro men and sent them off to the start line. The gun went off before some of the men even made it out to the line so I entered the water as soon as possible to make sure I didn’t have a delayed start. The gun sounded and the 30 pro women were off.
- I jumped on the feet of Leanda Cave shortly after the start and tried to maintain my position but people were quite aggressive. I decided it wasn’t worth the extra energy to battle arm to arm with a bunch of girls so I slowly dropped to the back of the pack. Being a calm wetsuit legal swim there were quite a few girls in the front pack that normally wouldn’t be. This made for a group of ten coming out of the water with 2 girls off the front. I was the 11th fastest swim but within 11 seconds of the third fastest swim, so that shows how tight this race was.
- Though it was a long run to T1, I transitioned as quick as possible, surprisingly making up a little bit of the time I lost on the run. I could see the pack off in the distance. Once we made it out to the long straight away on the highway I passed Ellie Salthouse to make my move to catch the pack. I had to go a little above my threshold to get there but it was worth it.
- I was shocked that none of the strong cyclists made a move on the straight away. Maybe they were waiting for the hills, but with Holly Lawrence and Lauren Brandon off the front someone probably should have gone after them sooner.
- After the highway portion we headed for a couple loops around the hills. Unfortunately, right as we needed to cross the road the pro men were coming around from their first loop crossing to our side of the road. We needed to zipper merge so to say, then go our separate ways. It was a mess; I can’t imagine how complicated it was for the age groupers.
- The first loop started with the steepest climb I’ve ever done in my life. We were basically not moving while climbing up the hill. Unfortunately I hadn’t gotten into my easiest gear soon enough, in fear I’d drop a chain trying to tap down a few more gears I cranked it out up the hill. The moto even looked at me and asked if I was OK. Major mistake on my part especially since I had driven the course beforehand and knew this hill was coming.
After the climb I yo-yoed off the back of the pack for the rest of the hill portion, it was a constant game of catch up. I lost sight of the group for a good while but Mel Hauschildt came flying by me, so I used her as a carrot to push on. The pack wasn’t too far in front but with the curves in the course I had no idea how close they were.
- I cruised the last K into transition trying to loosen up for the run. I had the 10th fastest bike split of the day and was within 60 seconds of the 4th fastest bike so a solid bike from my viewpoint.
- It was a long run yet again to T2 with our bikes, I lost a bit of time here but I was happy with my position at this point. I had a quick transition and ran out right behind Leanda. I tried to use her to keep a strong pace going but I didn’t want to overcook it in the first few miles so I had to let her go.
- My run felt OK so I just kept chugging along at what felt like a decent pace. After three races with horrible runs/DNF, I was OK with this. On the second lap I tried to kick it in a bit but I didn’t have much to give. Girls continued to pass me and I had no idea where I was at. Once I reached the last downhill I booked it into the finishing chute. I kept checking behind me to make sure no one was coming. I crossed the line in 20th with another pro just one second behind! Not sure how I didn’t see her but I’m glad I sprinted to the line.
- My final run time was about 5 minutes off my best so not perfect but to race my swim and bike within the top ten was a great accomplishment among some of the most experienced athletes in the world. I definitely have work to do but I’m proud of my result.
After the race Patrick and I had a couple days in Brisbane to hang out. We ventured to the Koala Sanctuary where we got to hold koalas and feed kangaroos and wallabies. Australia definitely impressed and I can’t wait to go back.
In other news, I’ve been very behind in my blogging. I don’t know that it’s completely fair but I’m going to blame it on “Wedding Planning.” Patrick and I were married November 5th at my alma mater, Macalester College. We were lucky it was a gorgeous record hot 70+ degree day. Fellow triathlete and expert photographer Steve Stenzel was there to capture some photos for us so I’ll share a few below 🙂