So apparently I’m on a podium roll of 2nd (three) and 3rd (four) place finishes. I can’t complain with a successful season of not finishing out of the top 3 in any of my half iron races in 2013 and leading the race into the run with the fastest bike split for all except for this last hurrah at Ironman 70.3 Austin. But not gonna lie, another international-level win would’ve been awesome. It’ll have to wait for 2014!
So apparently I’m on a podium roll of 2nd (three) and 3rd (four) place finishes. I can't complain with a successful season of not finishing out of the top 3 in any of my half iron races in 2013 and leading the race into the run with the fastest bike split for all except for this last hurrah at Ironman 70.3 Austin. But not gonna lie, another international-level win would’ve been awesome. I'll have to wait for 2014!
SWIM (27:20, 5th out of the water): After a delay in the race start (maybe due to the lightening storm?), the pro women were off on one of the best-marked swim courses I have ever seen. A small group of speedy-swimmer women pulled out ahead while a few of us almost-as-speedy swimmers made up the chase pack, which whittled down and became more strung out as we rounded the last buoy for the long line back to shore on the triangular course. I felt pretty consistent and solid throughout the swim, but my time out of the water was even a smidge slower than last year – disappointing with the sub-27 min swims I'd been pulling out all season.
BIKE (2:24, 5th fastest): T1 was smooth like a well-oiled machine, with no “little devils” (the treacherous burrs found in the grass) stuck in my feet or my tires while running through transition. I was out on the bike course to narrow the 2-minute gap between myself and the leaders. However, as I started my usual march to the front of the race on my trusty steed, the unusual heavy feeling in my legs was not sitting right with me.
I'd become very familiar with the certain level of discomfort one has to tolerate for 2-plus hours for the 88 km TT over the season, but my wattage was way lower than how hard I felt I was pushing. I tried to shut my brain down and just power through the pain, but my hopes dwindled as I saw I wasn't gaining on the racers in front of me and (gasp!) was actually being caught from behind.
In all honesty, I started suffering mentally. I was starting to feel the mental and physical strain of a long season. Having started 7 months ago in Abu Dhabi, it'd been a very successful go - 8 races, 7 podiums including 2 wins and a national title. But I came into Austin feeling a little mentally fatigued and really ready for off-season to begin. Defending my title however was really important to me. I had been excited in the days leading up to the race, enhanced by reconnecting with my amazing Austin homestay Doug Vreeland, Liz and little Claire. My teammate and travel buddy Nathan Killam was also with us, looking for redemption after suffering a mechanical while having an amazing race at Challenge Penticton a few weeks earlier. If anyone knows Nathan, you know his overflowing positive energy is infectious. By race morning I was chomping at the bit.
As I headed into T2 however, I was attempting to justify why it might be OK to stop. Whoa! VERY atypical Rachel McB. But I could find no valid excuses to DNF - I've finished races while suffering from pulmonary edema..a broken foot. Suck it up, buttercup. I just kept telling myself to keep moving forward. You had a sub-standard ride, let's make this run count at least!
RUN (1:24:26, 4th fastest): One of the awesome things about the Austin 70.3 run course is the gauntlet of club tents and crazy enthusiastic cheering fans. It just so happened that that's also where my friend Kim positioned herself to give me splits, as well as family friends Gil and Kathy who had made signs with the Canadian AND British Columbia flags (so sweet). Their cheers were deafening as I went by, and I couldn't help but grin and be fueled by the support.
On the 1st lap of three, I could see 3rd place ahead of me, but I was just not closing the gap. However, I was not losing much time either. Rounding into lap 2, Kim informed me I was only 40 seconds down. So close! OK Hokas, let's go get her, I thought. I kept my pace solid and sure enough I started getting closer! By the end of lap 2 I moved into 3rd and once again 2nd place was just another 40 seconds ahead. I reset my sights and kept pushing, despite the growing fatigue in my legs from the rolling hills and sticky mud at parts after the morning thunderstorms. With less than 3 miles to go, I finally caught Mandy and moved into 2nd. Without looking back, I just kept running solid to the finish, so happy to finally round the corner into the arena finish chute.
For the first time in a long time I had run myself onto the podium from 4th to 2nd. It was such validation to once again run a solid half marathon off the bike, after all I've been through in the past year and half - and especially after having such a hard time on the bike course on the day. Although I was unable to defend my title at Austin - despite having a faster time (4:19) than last year, I've shown this season a consistency to pull off solid podium performances.
Nathan had a pretty amazing race as well: we were some happy kids at the finish line!
Yes, I'm wearing cat ears. It was Halloween, of course - my favourite holiday!
I have to send a gigantic thanks to my incredible homestay Doug Vreeland, Liz, little Claire and the pups Kiki and Max. Their support before, during and after the race was incredible, and I believe significantly contributes to the success I've had at this race the past two years.
Of course I would not be able to do any of this without my incredible sponsors: WEST POINT MULTISPORT, WATTIE INK, HOKA ONE ONE, COMPRESSPORT, ELOAD, BLUE SEVENTY, KASK, ISM, SUMMIT SPORTS NUTRITION
We had the chance to relax and explore some of Austin in the day or so after the race. Local pro/coach Kelzie Beebe was our awesome tour guide (Thank you, Kelzie!).
Poolside post-race massage. The tough life of a pro, I know.