World Ironman 70.3 Championships & The Last Role of the Dice in Vegas

With Ironman’s recently announcement to rotate the World 70.3 Championships globally in 2014 it would be the last time the event would be held in Las Vegas. I decided not to race it last year to focus on the Hawaii Ironman and having qualified this year and being the second leg of the triple crown (Hy-Vee 5i50, Vegas 70.3 and Hawaii Ironman) I made the 5 hour drive out into the desert for one last roll of the dice in Vegas.

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Race day we were greeted by miserable conditions with drizzling rain and unusually cold conditions for Las Vegas. Where had the 100 degree temps of only two days prior disappeared to? I know I had my heart set on a brutally hot race and I think it’s a big learning experience for me to have to deal better with expectation.

I should have realized going into the race I was tired and a little run down from a hectic few weeks of training, travel and the previous weekend Hy-Vee race but I was on the start line of the World Championships over the 70.3 distance and it was time to go to work. My swim (much like the week prior) was very off the pace and for an athlete that has been a consistent front pack swimmer my whole career I just couldn’t seem to move my body through the water with the my usual ease. Something was very off but you’re in the middle of a race right so you push on as best you can.

Running to my bike in T1 I saw a huge bunch ahead of me and with a quick transition and a little effort in the first miles of the bike I knew I could be back in contention. I mounted my bike in the pouring rain and set off up the first few climbs trying to jump across the gap. I was really struggling to breathe and I felt really depleted already. I was only 25 minutes into a 4 hour event and I was already in trouble. I continued to try and push as a few riders came past I saw each one as an opportunity to ride myself back to the leading group but it was useless. I knew I was cooked,tired and not my normal self. I sat up after only 15 miles and decided that the race was gone. It wasn’t a day to try and push myself and make matters worse. I know in the past I have always struggled to race well in the weeks leading up to an Ironman coming off heavy training blocks, and right now I was cursing myself for the decision to try take on this race.

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photoI settled into an easier pace and eventually Luke Bell caught me and we rode along together sharing stories of a day gone wrong. We had both had a great year results-wise and we were both disappointed that our day at the World 70.3 had not lived up to our own expectations. I have to thank Belly for his positivity in the situation and convincing me to run with him and get something out of the day. It was great fun running and enjoying the race and even getting a front row seat to Sebastian Kienle’s win as we ran behind him for several kilometers (a lap behind).

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Driving home from Vegas I actually appreciated the experience. When things are clicking and going well it is easy to get complacent and although I had worked hard in my Bend training camp I still had some work to do going into Kona (my main goal for the year). The work that needs to be done is not physical but mental. I realized I was going through the motions in Des Moines and Vegas and by looking ahead to Kona I didn’t give either race the credit they were due. These days you can’t just arrive at World Championship events and use them as a training day for another race. You can’t arrive tired physically and mentally and expect that you are going to be competitive. Consider it a big lesson learned.

I am really looking forward to the last few weeks leading into the Hawaii Ironman. I am glad for the wake up call in Vegas … it’s game time and it’s time to go to work!

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