In January of this year if you had asked me what my season was going to look like, I would not have described it as it has played out in the past several months – very little racing, months of working with my medical team (Coach Bjoern, Adam Janke and Dr. Mike) on a foot injury, 2 high profile long course races not going as planned…
However, I WOULD have told you that I was going to win an Ironman 70.3. As only my 2nd Ironman race in 2012 and my last race of the season, I went into Austin to win and salvage this year by accomplishing one of my athletic goals. And I did.
After a solid training block coming directly off of Leadman, I headed to Austin for my last attempt at redemption. I was really excited to come to the city as I had heard from numerous people that is was a pretty funky one. I arrived in town early in the week and proceeded to be wonderfully spoiled by my home stay family, Doug Vreeland, his wife Liz and 2 wonderful retrievers Kiki and Max. It was probably the most relaxed, non-stress pre-race week I’ve ever had! Highlights include:
- swimming with a local Masters swim group and at the Pure Austin Fitness open water swim facility…
- rides with the Flying Dutch Girl, soon-to-be pro Chris Whelchel, and the legendary James Bonney…
- enjoying the best burger I have ever had (no joke) at HopDoddy
- amazing meals compliments of Doug, followed by movies in the home movie theatre and Recovery Boot action.
Pic does not give the actual size of that projection screen justice...
SWIM: (27:08, 1.9km) The cool race morning temps were just up my Pacific Northwest alley! My biggest concern for this race was the seasonally hot temps, usually in the 30s. I was so thankful when a cold spell came in a few days before race day. The water was a lovely 21 degrees C, WAY warmer than the 6 degree morning air temperature. The race start was surprisingly ITU-styles rough, but I hung in there and battled my way into a good spot on someone’s heels. Before the 1st turn buoy I had surged past her and spent the rest of the swim trying to catch a pack that seemed just in front of me. Once again, my crazy fast TYR Freak had me 6th out of the water – close on the heels of the super swimmers ahead. Transition was a little slow, putting on a vest and arm warmers, but I was happy to have them as I raced out of T1 and onto the bike where the wind chill began!
BIKE: (2:22:07, 88km – FASTEST BIKE SPLIT!) My plan for this race was to kill it on the bike. With my run not being where it could be after months of injury, that’s where I knew I could put some time into my competitors. I went out on the course with a mission and boy did I accomplish it! Well before the halfway mark I had already pulled into 1st place. Perfect! Lots of time to continue gaining on the girls and solidify my position. I was so happy to have put some of those heat pads in my shoes, as even as I stepped off the bike and into my Hokas, my toes were still a little frozen! Yikes – I can’t imagine how meat-sicled they would’ve been without.
I came off the bike with almost a 5 minute lead. I definitely wasn’t safe, but had a good margin to work with.
RUN: (1:27:23, 21.1.km) Yes, I was wearing my little Halloween devil horns, just like last year in Miami. Lots of other costumed athletes and volunteers. Austin sure knows how to have fun!!
(c) Mario Cantu
Bjoern and I had worked on pacing a lot before heading into this race, so I knew where my comfort level lay. I just went out on course and pushed a steady, solid pace for the 3 loop course. I could see I was maintaining my lead during the first 2 loops, but then I saw Yvonne charging up from behind. Boy she was on a mission, and that mission was to catch me! As I turned for the last climb to the finish, in a headwind (oh joy), I was really starting to fatigue, and it took all my effort to just keep my cadence up and moving forward. As I passed through the final aid station I knew I had my win. It was a joyous cruise into the arena and to my first international win – a solid victory by almost 4 minutes!! Not gonna lie – big moment for me.
All smiles! With amazing homestay Doug and Liz just after the finish.
Post-race and post-awards, my homestay family as well as some long time family friends came for a celebratory fancy Mexican meal. Jalapeno margarita? Yes, please!
Gil and Kathy posing with the trophy
Massive thanks to all my sponsors and supporters who have stuck with me through thick and thin this year: WEST POINT MULTISPORT, TYR, GLOTMAN-SIMPSON, COMPRESSPORT, ELOAD, GIRO, GREENBASED, CONVOKE, THE RUN INN, TEAM OSSENBRINK and especially Team McBride!
Special thanks to the friends, new and old, who made this race possible for me – especially Jan Hanan and “proud parents” Doug and Liz Vreeland. Can’t wait to meet little “C” next year! ;)