2016 Ironman Miami 70.3
I went to the 2016 Ironman Miami 70.3 cautiously optimistic and was satisfied by my result. I was sixth in a heavy field with a nearly pain-free run for 21 straight kilometers. For me, this is a huge breakthrough so I am absolutely stoked to know I can finally run the distance. Now, to get faster! ?
This race is so fun. The overall vibe racing with 3000 athletes in downtown Miami in electric. The strong Latin influence makes the race different. Many athletes from South and Central America make the trip so it is an international affair.
A variety of things about this race wouldn’t be my first choice including a pancake flat bike course, three hour time change, and very long travel to get there. Things that turned out to be excellent about this race were the convenience of the hotels downtown to the race site, the incredible organization, and the hordes of fans out cheering. I absolutely LOVED this race and would go back for sure!
The field at Ironman Miami 70.3 was very strong with 36 women including some European ITU girls. Ellie Salthouse won the race ahead of a strong Jen Spieldenner and Leanda Cave. I ended up 6th after a good swim in a strong group, a strong bike, and then a consistent run. I ran steady the whole race, didn’t slow down much at all, and showed good fitness for my first consecutive 21 kilometer run since March. Everyone in front of me ran super fast so nothing other than my best running would have made a dent in my position Sunday. I made the most of my current form.
The best part of the race is when Ewa Komander passed with two miles to go and I found myself back in 7th place. I have found this can be a heartbreaker- getting passed so close to the finish. Instead of nursing a broken heart and accepting it, when she caught me I put a mental bungy cord on her. I told myself I can suffer a lot for two miles. This is true but it is easier to break that suffering down into smaller chunks.
I followed her over the bridge climb about 10 meters behind, and leaned hard on the downhill. Focusing on turnover, I found myself pulling the distance back. With a mile to go I went past her. I then put on the “afterburners” (I don’t really have them yet- it was more of a turtle derby) and went as hard as I could to the line. Avoiding a sprint was my main objective as I had zero confidence in sprinting with no speed training in my legs. Holding on to that spot made me the most proud of my race. Never give up, right?
Mid-race doubts crept in on Sunday. The most difficult obstacle to overcome after injury is the negative monologue chanted by your inner critic. That voice is increasingly difficult to ignore when you let your expectations or evaluation creep into a race you are actively participating in. How do I build confidence? By training to build strong mental muscles. Every performance, training or racing, is a chance to fight those negative thoughts during execution. I started laying some groundwork in this regard in training and last weekend fought negative thoughts with positive ones. I still had some low moments, mostly on the bike, but I rallied on the run so it is coming around.
It is good to be on the way back and get a bit more reward pocketing a bit of prize money! Ratcheting my run split up to about mid-field in a big race is good improvement over four weeks. I’m going to have fun war stories from the season I took 20 minutes off my season PB run split.
Coming to Miami had a few question marks (maybe pointing to Augusta as good reason not to). Could I improve enough in four weeks to make it worth it? I am not crazy, the plan to continue my return to form with racing is calculated. I am thankful that the coach and I were right. Every time I challenge myself I get stronger and faster so more challenges are the way to go. The season isn’t over yet. I understand needing to be patient with my body and appreciating small victories like this past race. At the same time, I choose to be persistent, insistent, aggressive, and deliberate. So I’ll be on the start line at Ironman 70.3 Austin this weekend giving it another go.
Thanks for the support. Especially my sponsors who are behind me while I recover.