Ironman France – 4th Place

So I did it. No not 4th place, I did that too, which was awesome. But I’m talking about I finally figured out how much I can fit into my life without dying. Let me tell you I nearly died. I won’t go into the details of all the races, weddings, hotel rooms, flights, work, coaching and training that happened in the last 3 months. But it was a lot. Not to mention all the laundry piles, unpacked suitcases, empty fridge, oh and we got a cat! I have written before about balancing working full time and racing professionally, and I’ve been adamant that nothing will stand in the way of doing both. Well I think I reached my limit and I plan on never doing that again. Honestly, if you’re interested in what I did and how I did it, drop me an email. It has a lot to do with an amazing coach, tracking my sleep, and a great chiropractor.

Because things are never simple, I went to London two weeks before Ironman France for a work conference. At the time  I was thinking it would at least get me into the time zone and I could begin adjusting since this was a big issue in the days leading up to Ironman Wales 2015. I was a little London wouldn’t be conducive to training and I also wasn’t thrilled about lugging my bike, building it and breaking it down, but I just powered through. Turns out London is pretty cool. By the end of the week, I felt like I had lived there for years. I even figured out how to bike on the left side of the road. Plus I was riding laps around Regents Park with all the local bike groups and swimming at the Leisure Center. AND I got to hang out with Julie! Such a great week.

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View from Primrose Hill with Regents Park in the distance

From London, I flew to Nice and met Nate where we would stay for the ten days leading up to the race. We rented a teeny apartment near the beach and just slept and trained. Wow, sleeping is so great. We got to the point where we were sleeping 9 hours at night and then napping during the days. So wonderful. All this extra time gave us a chance to ride most of the bike course multiple times even a few repeats of the gnarly descents. It was reminiscent of the bike trips Nate and I took to France in 2012 and 2013; the entire ride felt nostalgic. I was enjoying myself so much it was hard to imagine the race would be anything but great.

Biking in the Pyrenees (France and Spain) 2012/2013

Race day finally rolled around and I was starting to feel extremely nervous. 99% of my anxieties have to do with the swim and the fear of not having the balls to swim hard to make a good pack. This is crazy and I’m still figuring out how to cope. My brother told me the easiest way to not feel anxious is to just stop feeling anxious. It’s like some kind of Chinese proverb, but thats what I did. I decided I wasn’t going to feel anxious or nervous anymore. And it seriously worked, what a concept. Gun went off, and I saw the lead pack slowly pull away, which I expected, I wasn’t panicked or exhausted or gasping for breath, I just kept swimming strong. Then a lady came up past me and I was able to hop on her feet. These weren’t easy feet either and I struggled to stay for most of the swim. Based on how hard I was trying, I knew this was going to be good and I was pleased to exit the water with Tine Deckers (the eventual winner). I knew there was no chance I would stay with her on the bike, so I didn’t go crazy through transition. This was a good call since I couldn’t get my wetsuit off anyway and spent a lot of time rolling around on the ground #fail

The bike was incredible and even though I got passed by a few women early, I was able to keep riding hard and staying positive. For those who aren’t familiar with the course, you spend the majority of the first 56 miles climbing and the rest of the ride descending off the mountain you just climbed. I pushed hard up the climb and then relied on gravity to get me back down. My legs were feeling pretty stiff and sore from the effort and the long descent without pedaling made them worse,  I did have moments where I wondered if I would have run legs.

I road into transition somewhere around 8th place. Heading out on to the run, I felt fine and was just trying to settle into a pace that felt sustainable. The first mile was fast, so I took inventory and the body felt good, breathing was relaxed, all systems checked out… the second mile was even faster. Errr, ok, check the body, legs good, stomach good, breathing good, head good…okayyyyy. So that was that, I was rolling. I just started putting miles behind me without a thought about anyone ahead. I knew this was going to be an epic run regardless. About half way I started to pass some of the ladies, but by this point I was really confused about what place I was in and who was ahead. The 4-loop run was getting crowded and on the first lap where I should have been counting and taking inventory of the women, I had kept my head down afraid of getting too excited and running too hard. I did pass a couple people I recognized from the bike and figured I was somewhere between 6 and 4. At the turn for the forth lap, I got info I was 1:40 back of Leanda Cave who I knew was in 3rd. All I could think was, “you’ve got to be kidding me” because no one wants to have to dip into the well and dig deep 9 hours into an ironman. I tried to pick it up but I wasn’t really going any faster even though I felt like I was sprinting. At the U-turn with 5k to go, I got info that I was 40 secs down and a massive wave of anxiety rolled over me picturing some kind of Ironman sprint finish with the previous world champion, but I knew I couldn’t give up. I kept looking for her in the distance but there were too many people to figure out who was who. I made it to the finish line never catching sight of her. I thought I had gotten bad info until I saw the results and was in fact  only 30 seconds down.  It’s a shame the course was so crowded and the finishing chute was so short because I wonder if seeing her would have made a difference.

Only pics from race day! I need a personal photog

In the end, 4th place, 3:05 marathon, and fastest run of the day. Totally shocking. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how I pulled that off with everything I had going on leading up to the race.

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So freaking happy! I also get a kick out of how short 4th through 6th place are…and I’m wearing heels!

Over the past 3 months, I’ve really questioned my decisions up to this point, all the hours spent on triathlon, and for what? A lot of this was my own exhaustion /depression talking. But right now, I’m taking this race as a sign that things could be really great in triathlon and I need to start making some changes so I can focus a little more on improving my quality of life. I’ve had discussions with work about cutting back my hours a little which is a start and also feels like a huge weight off my shoulders. In fact, the whole reason I can write this post right now is because I was able to take the day off work. So lets hope this is only the beginning to a great 2016 season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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