This was my second last race of the season, and was glad to escape the cold Ontario weather by heading down to sunny Miami. Heading into this race my goal was to go out and have fun, focusing not on the end result, but on each task at hand, right from doing a good taper, to executing one thing at a time during the race. I have spent far too much time this season worrying about the end result of the race before the gun even went off, which I don’t think was the best approach to racing, and the new mindset definitely paid off.
During the race briefing the day before the race we were told that the swim was in question, due to a large presence of jellyfish. I had mixed feelings about this, as I know that I do better with a swim, but I also didn’t want to swim with jellyfish or any other stinging sea creatures. The call on the swim was not going to be made until 10 minutes before race start. I didn’t let this bother me though, I was prepared for either scenario.
Due to the dwindling daylight hours, the race was not to start until 7:30, half an hour later than usual, which was great as it just meant a little bit more sleep for me. I woke up excited to race and not nervous at all. We did end up having a swim. Once the men were off the women had 4 minutes to get in the water and warm up before the gun went off. Loads of time. Literally the second I jumped in the water I got stung by a jellyfish in my armpit- perfect. Brief warm-up and time to go. While there was a large pro field at the race, there were a lot of people from European and South American countries, so I didn’t recognize a lot of names. There were 3 women who I was sure would swim faster than I would- Jen Spieldenner, Sarah Haskins, and Leanda Cave. I got right behind Jen at the start line with the intent of trying to stay on her feet as long as possible. With my incredible top end speed, I lost her feet within 10 seconds. No sweat, next task was to get to the first turn buoy quickly, as it was only 300m out- not enough time to really separate the field and I didn’t want to get in a boxing match going around it. This went as planned and as we headed out into the bay I separated myself from almost all the other swimmers, I think a couple people remained on my feet, but it felt like I was swimming alone. There weren’t thousands of jellyfish, but there were some. I punched one right on the top (dunno if that is classified as the head), and another one got me pretty good with its stingers on my arm. Finding Nemo popped into my head.
I don’t know if the swim course was short, or if the waves were helping a lot, but all the swim times are quite fast. (or maybe it was the fear of the jellyfish). Getting out of the water I had literally no idea how many people were ahead of me. (Looking at the results, I was 4th
out of the water, woot woot)
My plan for the bike ride was to hold back slightly on the way out- my power meter has gone from not working well to not working at all, so I didn’t have the option of looking at my power numbers, although this was not a problem as I have never used them in a race. Even holding back slightly I was easily able to pass a few men in the opening miles of the ride which gave me a boost of confidence. There was a woman up the road about 200-300 meters, who was neither pulling away or getting closer. I didn’t worry about it, reminded myself that it was a 90km ride and there was plenty of time to catch her, no need to burn any matches up early in the ride. At the turnaround I saw that this person was Leanda Cave- like holy shit! I was riding the same pace as a former 70.3 and Ironman world champion. Buoyed by this and sticking to my plan, I increased the effort for the ride back to T2. Leanda had obviously been told to ride harder by someone (coach/ friend?) who was at the turn around, so we remained the same distance apart until about mile 40, where I started to reel her in and was able to make the pass. Coming into T2 I felt like a) I had absolutely nailed the pacing on the bike and b) I was in third!!!
Now for the run- I was determined to keep a positive attitude during the run, despite the fact that I have not been running well this year. I actually felt pretty good heading out and pushed the pace beyond what I thought was going to be sustainable for 21km, but a) you don’t know if you don’t try (or “tri” if we go with terrible puns) and b) Leanda was hot on my heels and I knew there were other fast runners behind me. I held Leanda off for 6km but could not go with her when she passed me. No need to worry, and there were two people behind me who were running much faster than I was- I wasn’t going down without a fight. Coming from Ontario, the 30+ degree sunny weather was cooking me, especially the 2 mile section that had no aid stations and was over a bridge; a large hill to climb and no shade available. Nothing I can do about the weather, so every aid station I made sure to drink lots of water, put water on my head, and grab ice (when available) to throw down the front and back of my jersey. Literally the only good thing about wearing a bra is that it holds ice remarkably well. This was a two lap run course, so each time we had a turn-around I was able to see 5th
place getting closer. I held onto the hope that I would get to the finish line before they caught me, and was pushing myself as fast as I could go, but no dice, one caught me with 5km left, the other with 3km. But Spieldenner, who was 2nd
off the bike, had slowed down considerably. With one mile left I caught her and pushed to the finish line, ecstatic that I felt like I had a great race and my best placing at a 70.3 so far. While the final run split doesn’t have anyone thinking “gee Kristen, you’re fast” this is the closest I have been to the leaders in run splits. Progress is being made.
Next and final race is Austin 70.3 in two weeks. #lastonefastone
Special thanks to Jesus Rivero from UltrabikeX
for putting up with me for my time down in Miami.
Thanks once again to all those supporting me, Nineteen Wetsuits, Louis Garneau, Blade Carbon Wheels, Skechers, WishboneAthletics, C3, and a huge huge thanks to everyone who reads these reports and offers encouraging and supportive words- it truly means a lot.