Skip to main content

Worlds 70.3 Sunshine Coast, Australia: Race recap

Memories from yesterday's race completely overwhelm my train of thought, making it difficult to know where to begin my review. Overall, though, I feel event organizers successfully made athletes feel welcome and special on a weekend designed to showcase some of the best age group athletes of the sport. 

My Sunday morning started with me sitting on the beach, waiting for my turn as part of the last of 19 waves to begin the race. I looked out onto the calm waters and felt grateful it still looked as calm as it did when the professionals took off on their journeys. I watched Bryan exit the water and had the pleasure of cheering him onward before I headed over to join my wave. With what sounded like relief, the announcer encouraged us females 18-29 to swim out to the start line, approximately 100m from the shore. As we moved out from under the arch and into the water, the amount of shoving and jostling hardly surprised me. Just as like every other Worlds 70.3 event I've raced, we women seem to do a pretty good job of establishing ourselves among the competition. 

When the gun went off to signal the start of our race, I fought for the first 200m to stay above water. I kicked to keep girls from grasping my ankles, I swam with wide arms to protect my face, I breathed by rolling onto my side to ensure someone else's stroke didn't push water down my throat. After one gulp of sea water, I managed to find clean water and make the first turn buoy. In an effort to avoid someone in front of me who kicked at such a profound rate as to make me think she didn't have arms, I ended up swimming slightly off course and had to make up ground before finding the second turn buoy. 

I knew I swam with women far faster than me here, so it didn't surprise me to later find out I exited the water in 33rd place. My time, however, did discourage me, as I thought with an ocean swim, combined with my efforts to strengthen my upper body more this past year, I had the power to swim under 30 minutes. Not today, however. 

Transition took a long time to negotiate. We ran up some stairs, found our bike bag hanging on racks, doffed our wetsuits, put on our helmets, and put all of our swim gear in the bag. Then, we had to run the approximate quarter mile of transition to get our bikes onto the course. If I had not yet felt behind as result of my slow swim time, I certainly did when I saw the male professionals coming in off the bike, about ready to start their runs. 

Photo by Bryan Cox.
The bike ride felt harder than I imagined it would. Heading out onto Motorway 70 toward Noosa (north) felt easy because we had a tailwind. Yet my power numbers did not seem to reflect what effort I thought I pushed through the pedals. Again, my head felt slightly rattled, especially when I turned back to make the trek south to battle the headwind. I winced and swore when girls in my age group passed me in packs, looking over their shoulders as if to dare me to cheat, too. I hated the thought of losing ground to them simply because I wanted to follow the rules instead. It didn't take long for me to witness motorcycle officials handing out cards, and some group of cheaters found themselves reaping the results of their own bad decisions when apparently, they'd crashed and sat, scattered, along the shoulder. 

I used the change in terrain of the bike course coming off the motorway to find a more confident train of thought. The hills that the hinterland section of this course introduced to us certainly crippled plenty of riders who either perform best on the flat sections or reaped the benefits of the draft line on the motorway. The advice from friends back home to stay on my nutrition (so I drank) and stay concentrated on my effort (so I watched my power meter) kept me in the moment. After recalibrating my power meter, my numbers started to more accurately reflect my effort. Relief started to transform into confidence when I passed one girl (and plenty of men) after the next. The biggest hill on Rosemount road, whose grade boosted an impressive 14%, disabled some so significantly that many had to walk. It felt good to ride myself back into Mooloolaba in 19th place. 

Photo by Bryan Cox
Again, getting through transition felt like an endeavor all on its own. By the time I'd racked my bike, found my run bag on its peg, run down some stairs to change into my shoes, and dropped my bag off, my heart had already started beating at such a rate I thought it would explode from my chest. A hill greeted us immediately, like the long, grinding hill we all know in Spokane as Cemetery hill on the Bloomsday course. Up and over I ran, keeping a decent pace up until mile four. At this point, I'd turned around and started making my way back to the finish line. Here, we all felt the force of the headwind that made the hill to the turnaround for the second lap seem more challenging. Following me closely, I could hear the footsteps and see the shadow of the winner of my age group from Coeur d'Alene. She wanted to push a slightly faster pace than what I felt comfortable with, especially turning into a headwind. I backed off the pace and let her lead, but no more than 15 yards ahead of me. 

Up and over the same hill I started the run course on, the second time felt harder. However, I prodded myself to take short steps and "fall up the hill." I don't know that my story mimics anyone else's, but my reputation at the tail end of these runs seems to be that I consistently hurt. The miles hurt so badly that my pace slowed tremendously. Where once I felt good at my race pace, I suddenly didn't anymore. Even sticking to my nutrition, taking a swallow of GU combined with PhD's Electro durance, didn't keep my body from wanting to croak. 

I reached the 17th kilometer with another woman whose quick steps and relaxed posture convinced me to stick with her. If nothing else, I needed someone to draft off of to get me through the last 4km of this race, especially up that hill. Sure enough, her presence and pace gave me someone to focus on and mirror. Before I knew it, I realized she had helped me gain time on the woman who beat me in CDA. Ten yards turned into 5, which turned into 2 upon entering the finisher chute. 

My kick didn't stand up to her's, though. One look over her shoulder, and upon spotting me, she apparently had just a little more juice, too. That means she beat me. Again. All it took this time was just two seconds. Sadly, I'll add this finish to a growing list of mine where merely seconds keep me from placing either at the top of my division or just short of a benchmark. In this instance, two seconds kept me out of the top ten.  


I've struggled today. Hoping to use this race to gauge whether or not I'm ready to go to the next level, I'm convinced I'm not. Essentially, I'm tired of making excuses for myself, and I refuse to settle for this outcome. Perhaps a fault of my own, my stubbornness may end up costing me more in the long run than either Bryan or I would care to know. I will persist. I am trying to accept that it's not the outcome of the race that matters so much as the memories I take away from the event afterward. I am blessed with a body that allows me to push and challenge myself to new levels. May I learn and grow from this one, and may I find patience with the process. 

Upon our return, our hosts welcomed us with these goodies.
Never has anyone taken such good care of us!


Popular posts from this blog

How strong are your feet?

Who knew my first post in 2020 would be about the work I'm doing on my feet. Not just any work, but the work required to make them strong enough to propel me to faster running paces, the work to make them durable enough to heal up some old injuries and prevent new ones from taking hold. Jay Dicharry , a Physical Therapist and researcher in Bend, OR, says that almost all ankle, foot, and lower leg injuries can be attributed to faulty foot mechanics and a weak foot core.  I listened to him speak on a podcast called Trail Runner Nation today, and all the advice he provided me during my two personal visits with him last year rushed back in a torrent of memory. It seems fitting that his reminders would hit me like a hammer over my head when I consider the nagging foot pain that has cropped up again over the past couple of weeks. I'm going back to my toe yoga, short foot exercises, and working hard to build up the strength in my foot intrinsic muscles. Meanwhile, here's a b

My opinion...For what it's worth

My first Half Ironman 70.3 turned into Boise 29.3. I may be the only one to say that I respect the officials' judgment call on this one, because apparently, a few of my triathlete comrades lack sufficient brains themselves. The comments I'm reading on Facebook leave me pretty disturbed. Let me just put this out there: I entered this sport because it looked tough and challenging. It pushes anyone who enters these races to their ultimate limits and requires a demanding amount of time to complete the training necessary to succeed. I entered this sport because of the people. Healthy, smart, fit, inspiring, motivating. I can't think of a single person who has questioned my ability to participate in this sport. I entered this sport because anyone can do it. I passed people younger and older than me, some as old as 74. I watched one woman hobble along the run course, surely just on her first lap. She looked like her knees were going to cave in. Yet she was running. I did not ent

It is finished

As with everything in life, nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable. It does not always mean it's a turn for the worst. In my case, I think this is a change for the better. As of 2021, I am closing the door on racing triathlon and rekindling my investment in the doctorate degree I worked for in Physical therapy. Thankfully, making money again has felt much more productive than losing it in the pursuit of professional triathlon. Thankfully, my body has responded positively to a slackened training schedule. Thankfully, my head is clearer for the release in pressure to perform.  I needed a new pursuit, a new challenge, a new endeavor. Raising and showing my dogs has helped me slow down, challenged me to learn and communicate differently, and taught me that physical fitness can still be achieved to a lesser, healthier extent.  It has worked so well that I'm also going back to doing what I loved to do 10 years ago. Pursuing a more simple lifestyle (outside of work, of course) a