I arrived in Brazil on Tuesday and was greeted by a representative from Ken Glah’s group, Endurance Travel, at the airport. After a long trip it was so nice to not have to deal with the logistics of getting to my hotel. I was staying at Il Companario which is only about a mile from the start. The hotel is beautiful and the room was great complete with a little living room and kitchenette. That night Ken had organized sunset appetizers on a roof top followed by dinner for the group and they also arranged a pre-dinner massage for me. I was living the life and loving it! Endurance Travel really impressed me throughout the week, they really think through all of the details and provide exactly the types of support an athlete needs during race week. Almost just as important, they are also on top of taking care of the athlete’s support crew, really top notch.
The days leading up to the race were filled with the usual pre-race workouts made just a little bit more interesting by navigating the Brazilian roadways on bike. Lets just say I’m glad I made it home each day alive. I was definitely missing my usual “get to know people” pre-race routine because of the language barrier but I did my best to pull out my few words in Spanish when possible which got me further then English with most people. This was my first Ironman I traveled to solo and I don’t think I was prepared for how different it would feel. I was definitely missing my family and probably focusing a little too much on the heading home part after the race. Thankfully my QT2 Teammate Jacqui Gordon was also in Brazil, she has taught me a lot about balancing family and triathlon and I always love sharing race week with her. Thank you Jacqui for many of the photos in this post!
Race morning finally came, I uncovered my bike, went over my final preparations and got into the water early so I could get a nice swim warm-up in. I have been really working on my swim over the past year and one change I was planning on making for this race was to make sure I spent some time in the water before the gun went off. I am not someone who grew up swimming or really spent any time around water at all which makes it even more important for me to take the time to get the feel of the water before the gun goes off. I swam easy, did a few pick-ups, looked up at the moon and let the excitement of race day start to build.
The pro field lined up in the water just 10meters ahead of the 2,000 amateurs who were ready to charge as soon as the gun went off. I had heard the swim in Brazil could be particularly rough but I was excited, this would be my first mass start swim and I was going to use every possible person to my advantage. I thought of those 2,000 people behind me as a big wave that if I was smart I could ride throughout the whole swim. Of course I got kicked in the head, pushed under, goggles knocked off half way but it was fun! It was like body surfing as a kid and when I came up for air I was feeling strong and more comfortable in the water than I have ever felt during a race.
I ran out onto the beach and was tempted to look at the clock but I have learned that the time really means nothing, every swim is different, what matters is how far I am behind. That being said now that I know I swam a sub 1hr Ironman Swim I will admit the time does mean a little something I’ll be packing that one away in my motivation bank for all the hours to come in the pool this summer. At the first bike turn-around, about 20 miles into the course I could see that I was only 10mins back, clearly a great swim for me and I was excited about what was to come. I was feeling strong but calm, it was a long day and I had plenty of time to catch up. The bike course has a little bit of everything, a few long climbs, some really fast flat sections, some fun highway roundabouts and plenty of opportunities to see where you are at compared to others in the race with numerous out and back sections.
I got off of the bike ~9 minutes back from the lead in 3rd place and I was feeling good about where things were at. My bike effort was steady, my nutrition had gone exactly as planned, I felt hydrated and the hills on the run course would suit me well. Unfortunately about a mile into the run I could tell something was not right with my stomach. I convinced myself that maybe one quick stop at a port-a-pot would solve the problem and it did, for a few miles until I needed to stop again. I am lucky to have raced 6 IMs to date with no GI issues and I guess you’re not a real Ironman until you’ve experienced it. So now I’ve been there, done that and hoping it never happens again! I moved into 2nd despite my stops and then Sarah Gross passed me looking strong. There were a few times when I would almost close the gap and one time I even got within a few feet of Sarah with 2 miles to go before having to come to a complete stop yet again, it was just not my day. That being said I did my best to fight to the end and despite my stomach revolting it was so much fun to really be battling it out in the final stages of the marathon. Sarah is such a strong runner and competitor and Amanda Stevens did a perfect job of managing her effort throughout the day and coming out on top. Congratulations to both of them on great races!
Now I’m back home starting to think about the second half of the season. With 3 Ironman starts in just 3 months things have been busy and I seem to have been in a perpetual cycle of train/taper/race/recover/train… Of course with my personality I would love to start the cycle again right away but in order to take another step forward I need to put my head down for a serious uninterrupted block of training. IM Brazil was not a perfect day for me but they never are. That being said I am so excited about the improvement in my swim, quite a breakthrough for me which has me excited for what’s to come.
I could never be where I am today without the support of so many, first and foremost my family! Thank you Quintana Roo and Shimano for all of your support over the past few months making sure my bike was race ready. Thank you TYR for officially making me the best dressed girl at the pool each morning and for creating such an incredibly comfortable and fast wetsuit, the Freak of Nature. Thank you to Normatec for giving me new legs each day and to Rudy Project, Powerbar, Fuel Belt, and Computrainer, you all make me feel like every day is Christmas with all of the boxes that show up at the house. Thank you to Jesse Kropelnicki and QT2 Systems for always having me race ready, even if it’s sometimes a few more races than you would like