I suppose I should probably write a race report for one Ironman before it’s time for the next, huh? About 3 weeks ago I set out to IM Chattanooga. Ed and I were able to head down there on Thursday, making the 7 hour drive bearble and plenty of time to relax and get ready for the race. I had never been to Chattanooga before so it was cool to see the city. Plenty of great spots for good food right along the river, it was great! I also had time to catch up with the DVC (Dimond Van Chris) who installed the new ICE friction chain on my Dimond Bike. Something about “6 free watts” is what goes with this chain……I’ll take that any day!
Pre-race was also fun because I was able to catch up with 3 of my TeamHPB athletes who were racing. Stephanie would be tackling her first full distance, Whiting ready to tackle one at sea level, and Leah would race her second. It’s always fun to me to have my athletes in one spot and get to really take in how amazing each person is – all at very different places in life and sport, but we’re all together cheering one another on and working towards the same goal. Such a unique thing to be a part of and for that I am quite thankful!
Race morning came early – staying about 20 minutes from transition, plus a point to point swim makes the logistics of the day a little longer. Or, at least it did for me because I get nervous never having walked through the process before, I end up being quite early for it all!! But, better early than late for a race day, that is for sure! Especially this time since I had to change a flat in the morning. Thanks to the mechanics on site who made that easy!
The swim was not only point to point, but we’d be swimming down current. The start was a bit hectic with the current at the start, but before I knew it we were off and swimming. For the first time in a swim, I felt totally in control and aware of what was going on. I’ve worked on my swim *a lot* since South Africa, and it’s beginning to pay off immensely. I saw the lead pack break, followed by a chase pack, and I worked my butt off to stay with that chase pack. We slowly broke away from the gaggle of people behind us (with over 35 women racing it was a huge field!) and I was able to settle in with 3 others to make our way down the river. While I say “settled in” let me assure you – I was swimming my butt off. Any time I took my foot off the gas I felt them pull away, and evidenced by my rosie cheeks in this pic here as I exited the water, I was working!!
We moved through T1 quite quickly as well, and were out on the roads in no time at all. Unfortunately, despite riding well out of my comfort zone I still wasn’t able to hang with the women I swam with. I settled in and ready to just ride on my own for the day. Around mile 30, I was caught by some of the other women and that made for some good help to push through the middle section. However, with 5 women in relatively close proximity, plus 2 age group men slotting in between us, it wasn’t easy riding at all as I was constantly on guard to try to keep the proper distance between bikes. Not surprisingly, with a ref that was riding alongside us for a bit, he eventually hit 4 of us with a drafting penalty. Always frustrating but arguing will get you nowhere, so I stopped at the next penalty tent. After 5 minutes it was off again, and I rode the final 36 miles in to town.
At this point I wasn’t quite sure of my position, but I did know there were quite a few women ahead and that I had work to do! Nothing about this run felt great, and certainly nothing felt smooth! But, mind over matter and luckily I had still fueled well to keep myself rational. This meant that while I felt terrible, was able to still see my paces on the watch and understand that I was doing just fine. It was just going to feel crappy for 3.5 hours.
The hills on the run course and the humidity certainly had taken a toll and I began picking people off. While I started the run feeling blah and ended feeling blah, it never actually got much worse. So I was able to run my way into 16th place, once again breaking 10 hours. For 3 in 5 weeks….yes, I’ll take it!
And the other ladies had great days as well. Whiting came out with a solid run PR, Stephanie persevered through crazy bike issues to finish strong AND with a run time that bests many of her standalone marathons, and Leah won the 18-24 age group, securing a spot to Kona next year!!
So proud of these women!!