I started racing as a pro 4 years ago; the challenge of racing against the best in the world takes an inordinate amount of work, dedication, focus, sacrifice and commitment in the face of the usual daily life, temptations and excuses. But I love it. It keeps me focused and energized and in many ways makes me a better person in life, work, business and family.
Last year I was the first of the pro women to not qualify for Kona, but my results were becoming consistently better so I looked toward 2014. I also started looking to get an Ironman win along the road to Kona.
2014 has been my best season yet; I'm so happy to be a member of the Timex Multisport Team as well as PowerBar Elite squad and have been top 5 at my 4 Ironman races this year. (Los Cabos, Brazil, France & Lake Placid). I was not expecting to go to Lake Placid, even though it has been on my list of races to do for awhile. But after a disappointing race at IM Brazil, I saw the KPR and knew it had to be done for the July cutoff.
At the pro press conference
Ready for race day
Ironman Lake Placid did not let me down. I went there knowing I needed at least 4th place for enough points to qualify, but never letting the thought of an IM win leave my mind. It's a tough mental and physical balancing act to have 3 IMs in the body within the last few months, prepping for the 4th AND not losing sight of the ultimate race I want to do in October! So, I went into Lake Placid rested and ready to do what was needed while allowing myself to launch for the win if it presented itself.
My home for the weekend
Handing out medals to the IronKids finishers
I had one of my slowest swims in recent races (come to find out the course was long), but I didn't know how slow it was until after the race. I didn't look at my watch out of the water and my bike was pulled off the rack and ready for me in transition so I didn't know if it was the last one on the pro rack. I just kept moving. Thunderstorms, lighting and multiple downpours occured during the bike, and I couldn't quite make out what spectators were saying about the place I was in. (Yes, there were still die-hards out there cheering in the rain!) How great is that?
I rode conservatively the first lap and pushed it a bit more on the second. As long as I was still passing other people and pro women, I was happy. Toward the end of the bike I was trading places in 3rd-4th and with about 20k to ride, I held steady and calm in 4th going into the run. The bike course is challenging and will test your ability to pace yourself and judge when to make a move. But the run can zap your legs too and I wasn't about to sacrifice my run split just to say I came off the bike in 3rd. I can also tell how my running legs are going to be by standing and working them a bit up the last few hills - they weren't arguing with me, so I remained patient.
Off the bike in 4th, 3rd place in sight, 2nd in "range". A win unlikely unless major carnage happens. These are my thoughts in the first mile as I get the blood flowing and settle into marathon mode. I overtake 3rd around mile 8 and am in cruise mode. She held on for a few miles, but dropped on the first big climb back into town. I've now got my bike escort and continue to click off the miles. I'm closing on 2nd and constantly assessing my effort and legs. They are fine cruising at this pace and as the final few miles close in, I decide to save the effort to push to 2nd. I feel this was a professional decision to make, weighing the fact that an effort like that is not for a win and I have bigger fish to fry in October. So I decided to take the time to show support for the masses of people on the course in the last miles of the run. The cheering was deafening and I enjoyed encouraging them to yell louder! Taking the time to slap hands as you run down the finishing chute, especially the kids, is a great feeling. Across the line for 3rd, Kona slot secured - I'm happy!
We get to finish on the Olympic Oval!
The Lake Placid area, setting and atmosphere is one if the best; the history of not one, but two Olympics hosted there and the support of the entire town makes this a must-do race. The race just celebrated it's 16th anniversary and I can see why it's been around so long.
Many thanks to the organizers, my friends and family, the town of Lake Placid and my Timex family for their support at this and all of my races!
Time for a little bit of rest, planning and prep for Kona now.