Allow me first to explain what I qualified for. So, I'm a competitive triathlete. I truly enjoy competing and getting faster, it's really challenging, and I have always loved extreme physical challenges. Yes, I win a lot of local triathlons, but those are small. I come in at the top 10-20% in my age group when I compete at USA Triathlon NATIONALS for the Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40k bike, and 10k run- usually takes me around 2:16-2:20). This is within the U.S. The past 2 years, I had qualified for the ITU (International Triathlon Union) WORLD Triathlon Grand Final Championship for the Olympic distance. I enjoy the shorter triathlons because I personally think it's challenging to get faster at them. When I competed at Worlds the first time, I came in 42nd place, and last year 22nd place. That just goes to show I am competing against women in my age group that are just as fast, or much faster than I am, and that's great, again I love the challenge and am thankful I even got the chance to compete against them.
Last summer I raced my first Ironman 70.3 triathlon. Now, that was my 6th 70.3, but have never done an Ironman branded race-the other 70.3 I raced were put on by a small race company. Here at Ironman races, whether they are the full 140.6 or half 70.3 distance, the top 2-3 winners in the age group qualify for the Ironman World Championship. Last year at the Ohio Ironman 70.3 I came in 7th overall female of the whole race, but placed 3rd in my age group, and they only took the top 2 in my age group to go to Worlds, which was in the U.S. in 2017. So I was beyond frustrated. So much so that I decided to sign up for another qualifying race a friend told me about. Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga in May 2017. They only took the top 3 in the age group here. I placed 5th after having a tough race and getting pretty dehydrated and low on energy, as I was just using liquid calories (bad news for Roseann). Anyways if the top 3 people have already qualified from another race or choose not to take their spots, it rolls down to the next spot, so, boom, I got a spot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship!!
Ever since I started getting faster, I was having trouble figuring out my nutrition and hydration needs, particularly for the longer 70.3 distances. I have tried all sorts of hydration drinks and gels. I'm not going to get too much into it, but I've tried Infinit nutrition and after using it for two 70.3s I decided it wasn't for me. I got pretty hungry towards the end of the bike portion (56mi). And I just felt off. One race I ended up getting stomach cramps on the run using Infinit. (I tried 3 different types,too, not for me). So I figured it was an electrolyte thing so I used EFS hydration and gels for the May 70.3 race in Chattanooga. Well, that still left me dehydrated and low on energy. I had read Stacy T. Sims book, called Roar about how to fuel for long events. She also talked about female physiology and how it relates to training. I now consider it my sports nutrition bible. If anyone is still struggling with nutrition during endurance races I highly recommend it. Basically, hydration in your bottles and food in your pocket. I trained with a light hydration drink (called Osmo-light in calories, sugar, and carbs, but still high in electrolytes), Picky Bars (and now Cyclewerks carries them because of me haha!!) on the bike until the last 45 min)., and then transitioned to Honey Stinger chews on the last 45 min of the bike and the whole run. And what do you know, it worked extremely well with my body! Also, these things are all organic, so that helped on my tummy during racing, I believe! Oh, and Peter Sagan uses Osmo nutrition.....yep!
Ok, so onto the race!! The night before- I drank my prehydration drink to preload on electrolytes. It's called Osmo Preload for women. Then on race morning, I took in another 16 oz of my prehydration drink, like I had practiced all summer before racing. And then I also ate a honey stinger waffle, both 45 min. before the start. 3 hrs before the start my breakfast was two slices of gluten free bread with almond butter spread on them and some honey on top. Yum!
So the swim. It was wetsuit legal-darn! That meant more people would have an advantage, oh well, so I wore mine too. It was a rolling start. They only let 10 dive off the dock at once. I started near the front but not the very front. That was probably my first mistake because I swim faster when I'm around other really fast swimmers so I can chase them. So I dove off the dock, and as soon as we did, the girl next to me kicked me in the eye with her foot when she dove off. Oops. It pushed my left goggle into my eye some, which knocked my contact off and pushed it up into my eyelid. At least I was pretty sure that's what happened. I freaked and felt panic start to settle in. The girls were getting away, and I considered stopping to fix my goggle and contact. But I blinked a few times and it was uncomfortable, but bearable, and I didn't get much water inside my goggle, so I decided just to keep swimming, and fix it in transition. The whole swim I was worried I would lose it and not be able to see on the bike, which scared me because of all the descents down a mountain. I need to wear contacts or glasses to see, so I can't just swim without contacts in. I could wear prescription goggles, but then I'd need to leave them on until I got to my sunglasses, which would need to be prescription as well. It's just easier for me to wear my contacts, and I've never had this happen before in my years of swimming. Ok, so the swim- we swam in a big rectangle. We swam out to a turning buoy, turned right, and had a long stretch (860m) upstream in the TN River. I stayed as close to the buoys as I could tell- but I couldn't see a thing, really, the sun was so blinding. I could still see with my right eye, so it wasn't so much I was completely blind, but that sun! I just didn't feel fast on the swim at all. I don't know if it was the contact issue, or just not a good swim day, haha, but my arms didn't want to turnover fast. After the upstream portion, we turned right, then another slight right again to swim downstream for a short bit. At this turning buoy I got caught on the string because I was so close to the buoy- and stopped for a bit to untangle myself lol- I could definitely feel the current here! And then onto the finish. I actually didn't realize I was at the finish until I was right there. I accidently had the finishing buoy on my left, lol but oh well, I just didn't realize what I was doing at that point! My swim was 31:54. I can do better than that, but that's ok. It's tough to get all 3 disciplines fast in a triathlon. The day I do, I'll celebrate!
T1. As soon as I got upstairs out of the water, I took my goggles off and a volunteer was right there and had me stand to the left out of everyone else's way. I told her my contact was out. I dug around- sure enough the contact was up in my eyelid. That's every contact wearers worst nightmare, and it's even worse when it happens during the swim portion of a World Championship race. I found it rather quickly, thankfully. She cupped her hands under mine- and I made sure it was the right side, and put it in my eye, but then it fell out again. So I had to make sure again it was the right side, and put it back in, and wooo got it this time! Unfortunately, girls were running into T1 when it happened and passed me :(. Ah well, I had to be able to see and probably only lost a minute there. I had my wetsuit on still, so I went to the wetsuit strippers since I lost time with my contact issue-have never used them before. All I'll say is I could have done it faster lol, oh well. So my T1 was not pretty and long. The bag thing- a volunteer handed me my bag quickly but then we had to run up a huge incline to where we had to change- a waste of time, then run out of there and into transition to grab my bike. I did NOT like this stupid bag thing, I would rather have all my stuff at my bike spot in transition, but I understand why they do this with tons of people. T1 was a slow 4:57. Oh I also made sure to drink some Osmo I had in my transition bag- something I haven't done before but needed to because I sweat a lot and dehydrate easily.
I enjoyed this whole course. Loved the climb up Lookout Mountain- it was an 8-10% grade, 1,100 feet of climbing in about 3.5 miles. I just passed everyone who was on the course at this point here :). Then we descended some, and did another 1000' of climbing to mile 22. After that, we had a nice lonnnggg descent. I descended really well, and it was so much fun flying down the mountain!! Unfortunately I got caught up in some cars- but thankfully I was able to get around them ok. The second half of the race was kinda windy, but I just tried to stay between 80-85% of my max power. I ended with a solid age-group bike split in 2:48:31. My power to weight ratio shined there and I was very happy with that. It was definitely the hardest and slowest 56mi bike in a 70.3 I've ever done though, since I became faster. I'm very happy with it, though. I maintained 80% for the whole bike, and 3.1 watts/kg for the split. Would be nice to one day maintain a higher watts/kg for 56 mi (not necessarily increase my FTP, though). Another thing I'm super proud of was taking in nutrition and fluids. I drank every 10min, and took in food every 20min. I realized after the climbing portion was over that I needed more fluids than I carried ( which was 90oz already!!), so I grabbed some plain water at an aid station and poured it into my aero bottle. I ended up not drinking all the water, but drank some of it and it was there if I needed it. No, I didn't drink 90oz in 22 mi but thought I should grab extra now instead of possibly running out later on in the bike course.
T2- Now this transition was a little smoother with the bag issue than T1. Again, kinda annoying to grab the bag then go to the changing area and have to pull out your run gear, and then put your bike gear back into this bag then hand it off to a volunteer, it just takes more time. Didn't like it.
My plan was to start slower and move into a nice pace after the first mile, like I had practiced all summer. Because I used to run as fast as I could right off the bike in a half which is bad news for me, I have learned. So this worked well for me the first few miles- I was speeding up. I was even surprised that I didn't feel too sore from the bike elevation gain. Buuuutttt then the hills on the run came :). This course had about 1000feet of elevation gain in 13.1 miles. Not fun. I figured I could maintain an 8:30 pace on this course, though. The best I've been able to do was last summer maintaining an 8:20 pace at Ironman 70.3 Ohio. This summer I have gotten faster at the run. So I knew I could maintain an 8:00-8:30 pace. And I was close-an 8:38 pace. It was just brutal out there on the course. We had two loops of the run, and had to do the same hard hills twice. They were pretty steep, some of them. If you look at the elevation profile, it's just uphill, then back downhill, the whole time. It sucked. But I was here to enjoy it. I didn't walk any of those hills. Some were a slow jog haha but no walking!! As far as my hydration and nutrition went- they went pretty well. When I ran out of my 40oz of Osmo on the run, I had to grab more water at aid stations. I also carried extra nutrition and had to use it with all the hills. I had only really practiced using honey stinger chews, but carried a honey stinger gel for towards the end if I needed it, and need it I did. I took a honey stinger gel in at mile 10 because I figured even if it did make my stomach upset I would probably be fine for 3 more miles. It actually energized me more than I thought, and maybe I'll just use honey stinger gels on the run, no stomach upset! I felt a little out of it during the run but that was it, telling me I executed my nutrition and hydration really well, and will just make slight adjustments using the same nutrition and hydration in future 70.3s.
One key thing that helped was carrying extra nutrition with me on the bike and the run. I'm glad I did because climbing hills on the bike and run takes longer and more out of you than a flatter course, so you will need more fluids and calories during the race to keep your energy levels up. Nutrition and hydration can make or break your race, and I'm so glad it made my race.
I will continue to get faster on the run, I know it is my weakness, but I also improved this year which makes me so happy. I used to be REALLY slow at running :) I am very happy with my big race this year, couldn't have asked for more! Of course, I will always strive to get stronger and faster. Can't settle for anything less than your best, and I believe you always have to strive higher. This is not the end :). As far as next year, I want to train like I'm going to win my age group at USAT Nationals for the Olympic distance and see what happens. It's in my favorite city, near where I grew up, Cleveland, Ohio! So of course I have to train to race really well here :). Other than this I haven't figured out other races for next year. My IT band has been injured all summer, I've just been managing it so I can still run, so a break from running is in order to let it heal.
My final placements after all the DNFs was 57/211 in my 30-34 age group (tough, tough field, some really strong women from around the globe!!), and 281/1433 total female finishers. So, top 27% in my age group, and top 19.6% total woooo I couldn't be happier!! :) :) That course was a beast, the hardest thing I have ever done athletically before, no joke. But I think it's my favorite course ever, and will never forget it.