Many of you know that my triathlon journey started fifteen years ago with a dream to complete Ironman Wisconsin. Like most things that we start, I had no idea if, and how, it would stick. I most certainly didn’t anticipate that it would quickly become my love, evolve into my passion, and eventually become a coaching career and platform for reaching all of you on a deeper level through my writing.
This evolution has included hundreds of personal goals with various “whys’ behind them. I have reached many, but honestly have fallen short more times than I can count. It really sucks to fail, but I now I consider my willingness to do so many times and still return as a badge of honor.
This willingness is what led me to change my perspective and outlook on racing after I completed Ironman WI 2017. I decided, for the first time as a triathlete, to intentionally set a goal to compete. I set my sights on a podium finish (top five in age group) and to earn an Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifying slot. I (technically, sort of) realized this goal at IMWI 70.3 in June of 2019, but was unable to claim my qualification since I knew I couldn’t race in New Zealand that fall.
Then… 2020. After I returned to racing post-pandemic I decided to also return to competing, rather than completing. I still craved the 70.3 World Championship experience. For my personal satisfaction I knew I desired to claim a slot in conjunction with a podium finish. I turned down the opportunity after a 10th in AG finish at my first 70.3 in Lubbock Texas in June of 2021. And I set my eyes on the Arizona 70.3 in October of 2021. There I finished fifth and was lucky to receive one roll down spot to the World Championship race in St. George Utah in 2022.
As most of you know, my path to this race was a bit rough. After basically falling apart during the run at the full Ironman St. George in May (which ended up becoming the 2021 World Championships after I signed up), I was truly shaken in my identity as an athlete. I followed that up with a post-having Covid tough experience at the Door County sprint in July. Long story short, my confidence hit quite a low.
But, I kept showing up to my training. I reflected on the fact that there have never been certainties in this sport. And having a more exposed platform to share my successes and failures didn’t protect me from having bad races. I opened up to the idea of curiosity, especially as I feel my body changing as I get older.
As you likely read over several weeks, I was intentional and honest in my emotional and mental approach and preparation for this race. Instead of dwelling on why I wished I was at the peak of my ability, I went into this race with some specific micro goals. I wanted to find feet in the swim and stay on them; stay in aero and don’t touch my breaks on the descents on the bike if if is not dangerously windy; don’t walk on any downhill sections on the run; smile and take in the day.
Check. Check. Check. Check. (With lot of out loud prayers while flying down long stretches 😉
Even though I didn’t have time “goals,” you know that I still knew the paces I was capable of on October 28, 2022 on this course in the back of my mind. Based on my training and experience I was assuming around a 40 min swim; a 3 hour ride; and a 1:55 run. I planned to be smart in transitions, taking the time I needed considering the anticipated weather changes.
Check. Check. Check.
It was a fabulous day. Rather than give you a play-by-play, I thought I would note my highlight reel thoughts and details. Enjoy 🙂
I have amazing family and friends and I love my team and my coach. I received so many sincere well wishes, texts, and other messages. I felt very known and blessed going into this race. It helped me believe that I belonged there, and that was vital to my mind shift and ultimate success. Thank you.
I love the mental and emotional lessons that this sport teaches me. Competing at this level exposes my areas of needed growth. It rips open wounds, giving them the chance to heal. I am grateful.
At his level, everyone looks “legit,” but we are all facing our own internal battles. I met a woman on race morning from the middle east who had never cycled up a hill (the elevation gain for this race is almost 4000 ft- and if you don’t ride a bike you can just call that a lot). She had also never ridden in the cold (at the start of our ride the air temp was 37 degrees F). But she was excited and ready to take on the day. I am thankful that she shared her brave approach with me.
Racing on a women’s only day was AMAZING. While we waited in the swim corral everyone danced and smiled, giving each other high fives. And although the course was quiet and focused, you could feel that it was out of mutual respect for each other and love of our sport. The level of competition pulled the best out of me, and I am beyond thankful for each athlete on the course.
I had a solid swim for me. I had decided to not focus on my time since I know I need some strength and technique work to get back to my personal best. But, I am still competitive and was honestly happy when I saw the sub-40 time.
Starting a ride soaking wet at that temp is pretty chilly. I looked like a “goon” as the kids say in my gray wool socks, my hot pink arm warmers, and my polka dotted gloves. I stuck hand warmers in my bra and in my gloves. The cold was tolerable, but going downhill fast at the beginning hurt a bit… I didn’t feel my left foot until about five miles into the run.
But I love that ride. I love Utah and feel so blessed to have racing be the catalyst for me to visit. I enjoyed every moment of it, even as so many badass women passed me. I cried with joy and gratitude while riding (very slowly) up the canyon.
When I got off my bike I felt ready to run. And that feeling alone (after the dreadful feeling in May), propelled me through the first few miles when I knew my heart rate would be high. Although it had warmed up, there was still a cool breeze. The first part of each loop on the two loop course was tough— uphill with a few really steep ones. But then we got to go into a golf course (which I know golf course running), and even got to run on the fairway, a huge relief for the legs. The loop was downhill from there. I set boundaries for myself and stuck to them. I ran well when I could and allowed myself to walk uphill the few hills on the second half. Jamie and Quinton were amazing spectators and I appreciate them so much. It was also such a highlight of my day to hear cheers in so many different languages of the 108 countries represented.
I cried when I finished because I felt sincerely happy. I wasn’t only content to “finish,” but I did so at the best of my ability on that day. I didn’t focus on my overall placement as a negative, but more in awe of the talented women I got to race alongside. My goal was to get to this race, and the day was my victory lap.
And while others carried the flag of their countries across the finish line, I wore my smile that represented all that I want to represent in this sport: believe in your worth; show up; remain curious; open up to feeling it all; and stay grateful.
It was a victory indeed.