This past Sunday I competed in my 10th half Ironman 70.3 in Tempe, Arizona. (Vermont Half, Syracuse 70.3, Geelong 70.3, Arizona 70.3, Oceanside 70.3, St George 70.3, MountainMan x2, and Deuces Wild. It was my 3rd fastest ever after Arizona 70.3 from 4 years ago and Geelong in Australia. I went 4:39:03, 10min slower than 2017. But it was still a great success with 3rd A/G and 15th/1,270 Overall. Having qualified for the 70.3 World Championship 4 times before, this was the first time I took the spot.
I am one of only 10% of athletes that chose St George as their 2021 IMWC vs going to Hawaii. The decision was easy for me: I had been to Kona 2x, its easily a $10,000 trip, and I was stoked and signed up for IM STG 2020. But with Covid, I thought my shot was gone. Now I get to race this epic and historical full as a WC and now get to back it up with the half WC. So, I think that is pretty cool and with only an 8hr drive from Sahuarita, AZ… not a hard decision.
It has been 4 months since I posted. With Kona getting cancelled again from Oct to Feb and then to May, I was just so infuriated with the non-vaccinated people not doing their job to protect the vulnerble and now inpacting my passion. But, we triathletes know the only way to get through a race is to keep moving forward.
I got back to Ironman training after IMCDA and really suffered. I had some good sessions but fatigue was really high. Kona cancelled helped me recover and feel better again. Additionally, having to cancel all our Hawaii travels, we saved several $K.
In the end, Fiona still wanted the 2 weeks off so I came up with a new trip that had us take a 17day trip in our RV pulling car with 2 dogs. Vegas, Tahoe, Petaluma (Napa/Sonoma), Anaheim Disney, Knotts, Buckskin State Park, and Phoenix with 70.3 on the last day. I didnt know how cold most of those places were so didnt bike for the full 2 weeks. I did run 50.5miles week 1 and 16.5miles the week leading into the race. I only swam in Carson Valley and Carson City with one quick swim in my new Roka wetsuit in the Colorado River at Buckskin State Park too. Tues-Thurs race week were 3 days of being on the feet at Disney and Knotts. So I didn’t really put expectations on myself. I just wanted to push as hard as I could. My aerobic endurance is really strong and since a half seems so short having done 16 Ironmans and 2-50mile Ultras, my mindset on halfs has changed.
Race Day – We woke up at 4am and I ate 2 pieces of toast and a medium RedBull and bananna +1 immodium. We drove the RV to a street near transition and walked 15min to the start. I put 1 Gatorade, 2 water bottles on the bike, 3 packages of Cliff Shots, and an immodium in the Bento Box. Hit the loo and walked down to the swim start. I seeded myself in the 27-30min with maybe 20 ppl in front of me. National anthem and the cannon. 2 athletes every 5 seconds. Time to Rock.
Swim 1.2miles: 30:29, 4th A/G, 26th Overall. Its amazing how moving countries your weakness can become your strength. This would of been quite average in Australia where I lived from 2011-2017. But, you can only race who shows up. I dived down the ramp scrapping some sand on the bottom. My dark lenses made it impossible to see the first bouy so angled to the start of the bridge sighting every 10 or 20 strokes. I made the turn now in a rhythm and only a few people had passed me. I felt like I was moving quickly and my new Roka Pro Swimsuit felt amazing. I continued to sight well until I didnt, finding myself off in the wrong direction. I found some feet and continued to move on others in front of me. The rising sun over the bouys reminded me of the Giza pyramids. As I emerged out of the swim faster by 20sec, I was dissapointed because I knew I was faster than this; a sign of things to come. I ran to transition and pulled my wetsuit off there.
Bike 56miles 2:21:30 1st A/G, 5th Overall after the bike, 10th fastest bike. So I was 2min slower than 2017. I pushed as hard as I could and the goal was 300watts. I was never close to that but was mostly moving at 24.3mph. Most of the other athletes stayed right but some blocking was happening. The critirium type course with 75 turns is a pain in the ass and why I was never going to do this race again. At one point I had a quick studden stop because the road changed and it made me feel like I had a slow leak. I wanted to be sure but have had these false negatives before. It cost me 20-30sec since I was moving at 23mph when I stopped. The roads are also shit but it is a fast course with this being my 2nd fastest bike. I ate 100 calories or 3 blocks every 20 – 30min only grabbing some water bottles. I also grabbed a gel that I still have. My new RYD one piece kit felt decent and kept me cool. I also love the new Rudy Project Helmet. I wore my glasses since the Rudy lens would cause double polarization spotting. The miles really ticked by and 2hr20 really seems “easy” when compared to 5 hour Ironman rides. Near the finish I put my feet on my shoes. Coming to the dismount line my left foot goes on shoe, I stand up, right leg over bike and through leg and bike frame so I can run off bike. However, my left foot twisted, cleat came out, and I went right over the handlebars landing on my hip, head, and elbow, crashing for the first time ever in a race. I looked like Lucy Charles at Daytona. I got help to get on my feet and grabbed my bike. Volunteer got my shoe and I walked transition and then tried running it off. I didnt know my condition but was like What the hell just happened? I also thought Just keep moving and run it off. I sat down put on shoes, socks (I peed on the bike), put a 3rd immodium in my mouth and a Mission cooling cap on head. I started walking then ran out of transition. KEY NOTE: Every minute is roughly 2watts. Compared with 2017 at 2min 30slower, I was 7avg watts lower and 5watts Normalized slower. This shows 2ish watts per minute; if you want to go faster, push harder.
Run 13.1miles – 1:39:14 – 3rd division, 15th Overall: As I ran out of T2 with an immodium underneath my tongue, I saw no water. By 800m, the taste was terrible and put the pill in my hand till the first aid station; I couldnt swallow it without water while running. I had good separation and no one was really around me for a little while. Of course, I got ran down by a few people but not many. The course is good with some dirt, and paths and you can see people behind you on the out and backs. I knew the course well from 2017 and having done IMAZ 2X. The legs felt pretty yuck and took longer to come around and feel better with all the traveling. I drank coke at each aid station and ate nothing solid. I took a few salt tablets on top of the 6 from the bike. It felt cool; not warm at all but kept dowing my Mission cap with water to engage the cooling. I never had any digestive issues or cramp onset. I slowed a few times through the aid stations just to collect myself and get all the fluids. It was great seeing Fiona and some friends said I was in 1st off the bike and 2nd the next time around. With the waves, you never really know where you are but just kept moving as fast as I could. I definitely didnt have the legs this time around and was figuring I would really have to work for sub 1:40 so just kept at it. Coming to the final turn of the finishers shoot, I saw FiFi and Roxypoo.
Final Thoughts: This race is really not competitive. It could be because its 2 weeks after normal Kona time and the bike course is terrible but it is a fast course. This is my 2nd time on the podium here of which I am normally 10-20th against solid fields. Anyone serious could rock up and put 30minutes into me. But, you can only race who shows up. Next, 70.3 Worlds is generally not well saught after by the best long course athletes: we want Kona, period. Also, a half is just a half. It was set up to get more people in the sport. This is why I thought I had a good chance at again qualifying. I did earn my spot, and I did take it because I personally think its sweet to do both half and full world champs in the same year and on the same course. Its really cool. I am a good athlete, but I am not great. On the world stage I am outside of the top 100 in my a/g at both Konas. Again, there will always be someone better than you. You can’t compare yourself. You must race yourself and whoever shows up and whoever finishes on that day on that course is the winner. So, I had fun, I got what I went there for, and now its all about STRENGTH in 2022!