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Ironman 70.3 Xi'an

I have put off writing this report long enough. What actually bothers me so much to keep me from writing about this race, I do not know. It wasn't until I read Michelle Vesterby's Instagram post after her recent 4th place finish at Ironman Italy this past week that I finally decided to start compiling my thoughts for this report. She said,

"...As long as you’re enjoying the process there’s nothing called a ‘bad result’ or a waste of time... and sharing the journey with others makes it 💯 % more enjoyable."

My first time in China, I only had the experiences and accounts of others to prepare me for what I witnessed. Getting through airport security likely contributed the most to my anxiety. Upon landing, the air quality came in second. Bryan and I arrived in Xi'an just after midnight on Thursday morning. We waited so long for our checked baggage to arrive that we probably could have eaten an entire meal while we waited. Neither of us really expected any less, though, considering the 15 minutes we spent on the shuttle bus to bring us out from the tarmac into the terminal. It seems Sea-tac is not the only airport struggling to accommodate the world's growing numbers of travelers.

Our bags and bikes did arrive, but our transport to the Jing Jiang International Hotel did not. After many attempts at explaining our predicament to airport personnel using Google translate, after too many nasty looks from Bryan, and eventually, after making contact with my really helpful liaison from Ironman, Sally, we loaded our bikes and luggage on two separate taxis and managed to race ourselves safely to our destination. Bryan's driver apparently took more risks, swerving to miss a manhole in the middle of the road, to beat my driver and me to the hotel.

Muslim Quarter - street food
We spent the next few days adjusting to the time change, watching the rain fall, and analyzing our weather app in the hopes the 100% chance of rain and 63-degree temperatures might improve. They did not. In fact, they worsened. Even so, we ventured out on Friday to experience the thrill of using a taxi for commuting through the city and then, explored the sights, smells, and sounds of the Muslim Quarter.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience with fellow professional triathlete, Laurel Wassner, and Bryan (of course). If you don't know of Laurel yet, go check out her story and follow her on Instagram. She and her twin sister, Rebecah, are currently the only twin professional triathletes on the circuit, and they also work to deliver cycling and running socks through a company called Federmut. Currently, I admire the ones with avocados and bananas, and if I successfully nip this knee pain in the bud and subsequently improve my running form by the end of the year, I plan to treat myself to a few pairs.

Bike and Run gear check-in felt just as wet as
race day.
By the end of the week, we felt pretty confident our chances of racing in anything but rain were pretty slim to none. We checked in our run and bike gear wearing ponchos and rain jackets, still soaked to the skin regardless. Gigantic puddles had developed in the walkways of the Expo park, the grounds on which the run course was marked with green tape peeling away from the ground. The river in which we were to swim grew more muddied, brown, and swollen with each hour, and when Ironman officials cancelled the practice swim on Saturday, we had a gnawing feeling we would not be swimming on race morning. (At least in the river, anyway.)

Professionals were made aware of the cancelled swim on Saturday night, and after meeting to determine our positions for a time trial start, I went to bed preparing for a very cold, wet day the next morning. I never thought I would find myself contemplating riding in the clothes in which I normally wear into transition. Yet the thought of wearing anything less than my thermal jacket seemed slightly stupid.

Pre-race ceremony
Volunteers went so far out of their way to try to make our race morning tolerable. No one should have felt unattended to or unsafe. After slipping out from under the umbrellas volunteers held out overhead in transition, I approached the mount line, fourth of six women to start, and braced myself for a very wet ride.

Standing water covered the entirety of the course almost as much as the volunteers. Intersections were completely blockaded and someone stood at attention about every 500 meters along the road. Even though the standing water made for some difficult riding at times, the road surfaces still were some of the smoothest I have had the opportunity to ride. At one point, a pond had formed under an overpass that spanned the entire width of the road. No way around it, we all road through it. Four times. With each pass, I seemed to ride my BMC Time Machine with a little more confidence. However, if you can hydroplane in a car, I figured you can do the same on a bike, so I chose to slow with each pass and admire the way my bike handled the obstacle while my shoes filled with water.

Just starting the bike ride.
Off the bike and onto the run, the race continued much like the rain. Fingers frozen, I slowly managed to put on my shoes and escape from the tent despite the heavy curtains that sealed the exit. I quickly realized the time I had saved in not washing my Topo Magnifly shoes before this race, as within two minutes they were as wet as they would have been in the washing machine. (#winning?)

Three loops of what was a beautiful course was compromised severely by the weather conditions. I wish I had made the time the day after the race to walk back through the gardens, because knowing my intense interest in plants and trees (side hobby, you might say), I think I really would have enjoyed it more. Nevertheless, this run transpired like the ones before it this year. Still, I cannot seem to shake the feeling of just trying to hold on for dear life. Still, I'm reminded of the consequence for pushing through an injury last year. Still, I'm determined to find strength and eventually, speed this year and next, so that instead of surviving, I feel like I am competing.
That was freaking cold.
Still cold.
I met some really incredible people. The ladies against whom I competed inspired me as a result of their strong, fierce, and competitive personalities. There exists so much more to this sport as a professional than the race itself, and these little details intrigue me like the small embellishments on an intricate piece of handiwork. It would be inaccurate if I said I didn't feel out of place, and perhaps it seemed more pronounced at this race when, if not for some really shitty cards some of the ladies were dealt, I should have occupied the last position in the final race results. I am still uncomfortable racing against these ladies, and I admit to feeling ashamed of the feeling itself.

Michelle Vesterby said it best, however. No bad result. Enjoy the process. So, I plan to do it again October 20th in Shanghai. #keepshowingup

Congratulations to Kinsey Laine (1) for taking the win. Following L to R:
Anna Eberhardt, Laurel Wassner, Mary Robbins, me, and not pictured,
Kirralee Seidel, who sadly broke her leg about 2km from the finish line.


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