Pro Debut: St. George 70.3, North American Championships

As much as I tried to follow my coach’s advice and outlook that I was merely “racing teddybears,” the reality of my first race in the professional field added a few nerves the mix. My goal was to be a contender in the race, and with a top 10 finish. Mission accomplished. Enjoy the read.

The Corral

 
I’ve been working hard on my swim, and it was immensely satisfying to see that work pay off! I had no idea how I was doing during the portion of the race, as the swim always feels disorienting, but I knew I was swimming with a group of 4+ athletes, so if I was at the rear of the race, at least I wasn’t alone! As it turned out, that wasn’t the case, and this group was indeed the middle of the race. I was leading my group for most of the race and dropped them at a few points (only to let them catch back up when I made a wrong turn…

The deep water start line

 
I was 11th place out of the water, which was even better placing than I hoped, but I still made a few rookie mistakes (my first Tri was still less than 2 years ago!). My goggles were fogged up the whole time and I couldn’t see a thing, which resulted in 3 wrong turns– each time I hit a red buoy I turned left only to swim a few breast-strokes and realize there were no buoys that way…
 

The Sand Hallow Reservoir, the day before the race

 
T1 was extremely short, but I had a very positive first experience with wetsuit strippers! As I ran up the boat ramp, I lowered my wetsuit down to my waist and when I approached the crew, I flopped down on my back like a dead bug and two teenage girls pulled on the sleeves/torso with all their might and whoosh, it popped right off. I made it through transition more quickly than the other girls in my swim group, so it worked! And I even took the time to put socks on…
 

Transition 1.

I was happy to see two familiar faces (Erik and Paul Buick!) just a mile into the bike course who told me that I was in 11th place and about 5min back. With the wind, hills, and rough pavement, it was hard for me to find a good rhythm on the bike, but I managed to track a few girls down. In the amateur field, I rarely had the opportunity to race anyone close to my speed on the bike, so it was a fun to challenge to chase girls who were much harder (or impossible!) to catch.

Red Rocks of Utah

 
The run was…. hard and hilly. Coming out of transition, I was pretty sluggish and gave myself some time to find my legs.
 
The course took us up a 1-2% grade out of St. George town center and then up a steep climb at mile 3, only to continue rolling over unrelenting grades under hot sun. I had a bit of trouble with fueling and only took 1 gel on the run before feeling pretty lousy around mile 8. I was only able to get another gel at the mile 10 aid station, so there’s the lesson– carry your own nutrition as you never know when you might need it!
 
 
Still hoping to find my racing legs for 13.1, a totally different ball game than a 10k, but was able to hang on for dear life to secure a top 10 finish! Luckily, I was able to really run the downhills and made up some time after shuffling up most of the hills. Looking forward to giving it a go at Chattanooga 70.3 to really run off the bike.
 
The perfect “cool down” post race πŸ™‚