Yesterday I raced Austin 70.3 as a prep race to lead me into Ironman Arizona, which is coming up in 3 short weeks. I hadn’t raced since Tremblant, and I was keen to get a shorter race under my belt and get back into the race mentality after a relatively long break from the competition scene.
I didn’t go in with any expectations (honestly) other then to test myself and see how I was feeling and gearing up for Arizona. We took the opportunity to try a few new things in a stress free environment. I lined up for the first time ever in the middle of the swim pack (versus on the outside, out of the way of the faster swimmers) and I went out much harder than I normally do (only to then blow up and promptly move to the back of the pack!). I also tried a few new things nutrition-wise on the bike in terms of how many, when and how I took my calories.
Net net, I walked away really pleased with how the day went. While my swim time wasn’t amazing, it was a solid swim, and more importantly I felt great – and even stronger as I went along. I felt phenomenal on the bike. I was strong, controlled, and when I asked my legs to respond they did. I’ve been doing almost all my riding in aero-position lately and I think it has made a big difference for me. I ended up posting the fastest female bike split, which is always a nice little perk!!
I came off the bike in second and as I started the run I felt great. My legs felt light, my turn over was good. I felt strong, but very controlled. I kept looking at my watching at seeing 5:30, 5:45, 6:10. Ideally I wanted to try to run a 6:10-ish, pace, so I was happy with what I was seeing. For a moment I felt like I might be able to catch Bek Keat (who was leading the race). And then towards the end of the first lap (about 3.5 miles in) my right quad started cramping. Then my left quad. I slowed significantly hoping to work it out, but nothing changed. As I ran up the hill back into the stadium, Mandy McClane had caught me. I felt comfortable running with her, but then my hamstrings started cramping. I’ve never cramped before in a race so had no idea what to do! I ended up stopping at the aid station (literally stopping) and started downing cup after cup of electrolyte drink.
…..And that pretty much summarizes my last 9 miles of the run. Run, cramp (quad, hamstring, calf – some or all of the above), stop at the aid station – drink cup after cup of electrolyte drink), run, cramp, repeat….
I ended up finishing 4th, which I was thrilled with because the last 4 miles were painful and tough to get through. I was just trying to hold on. even with 1/2 mile to go I had to stop at the aid station and take in more electrolyte drink to make it to the finish.
I’ve never cramped before in a race, and in the aftermath I’ve been trying to figure out why that happened. Did I not have enough electrolytes leading INTO the race? Normally I only drink water on the bike during 70.3’s and in this race I actually added in my Clif Shot drink mix. I did take in fewer calories on the bike than I have in the past, but I never felt as though I was going to bonk, and my energy levels were good. The only thing I keep coming back to is perhaps not enough in the days/week leading up after some pretty big and hard sessions.
Anyway, most importantly, I really had fun at this race. I really enjoyed the course, It was a fun race for the women’s field with a real battle for 2nd 3rd and 4th. I gained a lot of confidence in terms of where I stand for AZ, I made a little bit of money, and I got to try out some new things in a stress free environment.
Congrats to Bek Keat, Rachel McBride, and Mandy McLane for well-fought races and for making the race interesting and fun! Well done ladies!
So….that is about it for now! A big thank you to Kara and Donny Hall, who put me up in Austin (and Eric Nepomnaschy for helping set it up).
And to my sponsors: Cervelo, Shimano, ISM, PowerTap, Helen’s Cycles – Thank you SO much for the amazing bike set up!
To Saucony, Clif Bar, Timex, AquaSphere, Game Ready, Kask – Thank you so much for your support and help.
Until next time…
don’t dream it. be it.