Ironman 70.3 Champion!

October 31, 2012

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. 

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 Pump action.

Pic does not give the actual size of that projection screen justice...

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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!! 

Mario Cantu Longhorn-Ironman_12MC103 (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.

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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.

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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! ;)

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