Ironman World Championships

It’s a few days after the race, my spectacularly swollen cankles are finally starting to subside (hooray for visible ankle bones!) and I finally have enough brain energy to get some thoughts down.

I was 8th at the Ironman World Championships on Saturday, October 8th, and I am happy to say that I’ve been able to tell my analytical self – who is much better at focusing on all the little things that need improvement than patting me on the back- to shut up for once!

Well, it took awhile after the race, to be honest. It was such a hard effort and I suffered so badly on the run from the exit to the Energy Lab, I was dissapointed not to have the strong marathon performace I trained for. All my friends and family were like “whoo hoo!!! 8th in the World!!! You’re amazing!!!” And I was like, meh, I missed the pack I needed to be with in the swim, I executed my ride well, but I was falling apart at the end of the run… what can I do to fix that?

At the awards ceremony, though, there was a super cool montage of all the Ironman finishes since the first race in 1978. Seeing the champs cross the line – especially my Canadian heros Lori Bowden, Peter Reid, and Heather Fuhr – really made it sink in. I am competing, and competitive on the world stage; the same stage as those guys were on! That’s freaking awesome! I got all teary and was able to just let it go and feel satisfied with all that I’ve accomplished.

To recap the year:

4th at the Oceanside 70.3

1st at Ironman St. George – beating my course record from last year

2nd at Ironman 70.3 Boise

1st Ironman Lake Placid – new course record

7th Ironman 70.3 World Championships – Las Vegas

8th Ironman World Championships – Kona

Not too shabby. Exciting platform for improvement, and I’ve got the “she’s too big to race well at Kona” monkey off my back.

It was also a great learning experience in terms of dealing with all the pre-race hype, managing sponsor commitments, and coping with the crazy energy of Kona. I am usually pretty even-keel before races, but I had some serious wigging out moments here and I learned a lot about the importance of finding inner peace.

I also had a great time getting to know other pro athletes. Our  RV lifestyle can be isolating at times, so it was super fun to mingle with our peers, and had a blast with all the champs at the after party. It is fun for everyone to be able to let their guards down and just celebrate!

Here is how it unfolded on race day:

Swim – I felt like I had a good start but just missed closing the gap to the 2nd main group and ended up on the feet of Sam Warnier. She was holding a good pace and I decided to be smart and conserve energy. I was frustrated by a poor line on the way back in but everytime I tried to go around to pull us closer to the paddle board and buoys she’d angle back the right way and so I’d just get back on her feet. Definitely swam some extra meters, but it was what it was.

Good transition, and out on the bike. I was super happy with my ride and executed my plan well. I chilled thru town and the stretch up Kuakini and Palani. People look at you like “ride harder” when you are not standing up and givin’er up the steep hill out of town – but spiking the watts like crazy in the first 20mi of the race is probably one of the stupidest things you can do. I was happy knowing that I was in control and that girls would come back to me by Hawi.

It was surprising to see Chrissie behind me out of the water and when she went by me out by Kawaihai I was able to ride with her in my sights for the rest of the day (I still just pushed my own watts and followed my plan). I passed her, she re-passed me… we all have our ups and downs, but I felt like the ride was solid and it was cool to come into transition together. Apparently though, despite being with her for most of the ride, I got no mentions on IM Live, much to the dismay of all my supporters! It’s okay guys, I’ll get some love from the media one of these days!

I knew I was no match for Chrissie’s run speed, but my plan was just to get in a good rhythm and focus on hydration and cooling. I really loved the dorky over the shoulder arm coolers that I wore because I could put ice down the sleeves. This really helped me manage the heat load and prevented a sun burn from nuking my skin’s ability to sweat and cool properly. On the 10 mi stretch out Alii I caught Karin Thurig (who set a phenominal bike course record of 4:44) and saw Julie walking so was stoked to be 6th. This lasted briefly until Mirinda Carfrae caught me, and half way to the energy lab Karin found her stride and re-passed.

On the way back into town I really struggled with the heat and a few missed water cups at aid stations (they volunteers were pre-occupied with masses of age groupers going the other way) left me suffering because my awesome UltrAspire run belt was empty by then. Sonja Tajsich was digging super deep to catch me and she went by with a few miles to go. I was hurting and demoralized, but Trevor yelled at me to keep fighting and I really gave it all I had. I tried to just go with gravity and let it fly down Palani. The legs were screaming but I was determined not to get caught. I gave a few high fives, but thought that Virginia was breathing down my neck so didn’t even get to enjoy my finish chute experience. It was a good thing too, because about 15 seconds behind Cait Snow came screaming in with a 2:53 marathon split!

8th. In the world. BAM!

I have to give a huge shout out to all my sponsors AVIA, Blue Competition Cycles, Rolf Prima Wheels, First Endurance Nutrition, Aqua Sphere, CycleOps Power, TorHans, UltrAspire, Tifosi Optics, and Manitoba Harvest. I am so fortunate to work with such wonderful people that are passionate about making the best products out there!

Also have to thank my coach Paulo Sousa for getting me to every start line this year, fit and ready to compete and my manager Holly Bennet from Human Interest Group for all her support on so many levels.

Family and friends, you know who you are, and you know how much I love and cherish you! Thanks for being such a key element in enabiling me to achieve my dreams.


~ by trevorandheather on October 13, 2011.

12 Responses to “Ironman World Championships”

  1. you will be back many times over, and you will only get stronger and smarter each time. Congrats again on a fantastic day!!

  2. congratulations Heather!! You are an inspiration to female athletes young and old (especially those tall ones!). Sounding very wise…enjoy reflecting on an exceptional year!
    from the Mendteam (Denise, Paul, Keirsten and Logan)

  3. Great race! You should be super proud of your accomplishment. And what a great shot of you on the bike by Dave – love the camera on you ( don’t love that we never saw you on IM live…). Enjoy your recovery time!

  4. what a great race! thanks for sharing. i was also disappointed with the lack of coverage you got. you deserved way more and i’m sure you’ll get it now that you have established yourself as a triathlon super power. i hope to see you rock the stg im again.

  5. It was great to see you smiling on the course last Saturday! Way to go, hope you heard us cheer for you! I have a few great shots of you and will email them soon. Enjoy the rest and let me know when you’re back in K-town!

  6. It was a real pleasure spending time with you and Trevor in Kona. We are hugely proud of you and realize you are still getting stronger and faster. Your competition should be scared.

  7. Congratulations — I’ve so enjoyed following you this year! Rest up and we’ll see you in 2012!

  8. This has been an exciting year following your races. I was glued to the laptop for hours, texting and following. You are truly an inspiration.

  9. You are such a class act, Heather, thank you for sharing your day with all of us. I am a fellow large lady, 5’11, and was thrilled to walk by you at St. George and find you even taller!! I appreciate how you crush it out there, and do it on your own terms. By the way, we all knew how great you did to be coming out of T2 next to Chrissie, you definitely got some virtual cheers from the crew here in So Cal!

    Safe travels back to the mainland, and hopefully I will race with you again in St. George!


  10. WOO HOOOOO! Congrats Heather on a great race, great experience and the great learning and ‘quieting the mind’ that followed!

  11. Not surprisingly, you continue to be my hero. Fabulous year and race! Can’t wait until next year. Love you tons!!! xoxo

  12. OMG!!!!!!! Heather you’re AMAZING! Im so proud of you! You really are inspiring! You had an AMAZING year and you just get better and better, people are really gonna have to look out for you next year! Great race day!
    P.s. you deserve way for coverage, but im sure you’ll get more! Hope you see you and Trev soon! Love you lots!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: