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I’ve probably thought about this race too much. I had a great coach once tell me “you have 24-48 hours to have a pity party and then it’s time to move on.” It’s been right about that much time so I decided to write about the race to help me move on. However, this is more of reflection than a race report.

Like I wrote about in my last blog post, I was preparing for and planning on really pushing myself to the limit in this race. I was looking forward to a good foot race and “testing” myself mentally by pushing my physical limits. I WAS tested, just not in the way I had planned.

I swam on my own and got out of the water knowing it wasn’t my best swim but that I was still in a good spot. I brushed it off and started racing through transition. When I got on my bike I noticed that my heart rate monitor wasn’t registering right. I tried to fix it a couple times in the first 10 miles but eventually gave up trying and brushed it off thinking, “This will be fun! I haven’t raced on feel and power in a while!” (I race 100% off heart rate and don’t look at anything else during the bike and run.)


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I biked my way through the field to get myself in a good position. I caught up to Alicia Kaye (2nd place) and legal drafted with her for a mile or two when a male pro passed us. Alicia went with him for a bit but then started to let him go so I passed to go with him and get a nice, fast legal draft. I had just passed and put myself in 2nd place 8 minutes behind Lauren Brandon who is a super swimmer and biker. I was excited about my position, feeling great and set myself up for a sub 4:40 bike. The joy might have been part of my undoing as I was coming down an overpass hill and hit an expansion join HARD and flatted my back tire. We were told there would be flat pack assistance at aid stations so I rolled into the aid station that was just up ahead. I figured I could easily refuel and restock my bike as well as change my flat. Long story short, there was a bit of confusion but after about 10 minutes I was back on the road. Even after this I thought, “I’ve won my last two races by over 10 minutes so this will just makes things more interesting.”

Just before the next aid station, the same thing happened. This time my front tire blew, but I thought to ask someone to call the roaming mechanic. He came after I started trying to change my flat again and ended up switching out my whole tire so it was a pretty quick stop (2-4 minutes).

I came up to special needs and called out my number but the volunteers must not have heard so I had to almost stop to get a bottle from special needs. Again, no big deal! I could see Jodie was less than a minute ahead of me so I wasn’t too worried. I was still in contention! 


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A little bit later, I hit a third expansion joint and this time my back tire went flat. This was the first time that I had a little sinking feeling. I didn’t have another tube to change my flat and I wasn’t near an aid station so I thought my race was over. I don’t know what made me do it, but I got off my bike and started taking the back wheel off to change it. A couple minutes later an age group male on his first lap called up and said “Do you need something?” WOW! I can’t believe the kindness of people!  He gave me his tube and was back on his way. Another long story short I broke my CO2 converter so couldn’t inflate the tube once I had it all ready to go. AGAIN to my utter amazement, a woman pulled off to the side without me even flagging her down and said, “I don’t know anything about bikes, but what do you need?” She let me borrow her converter and I got back on my way! I was shot down so many times but with lots of help I was able to keep trucking along.

As soon as I got back on my bike I realized that I couldn’t shift. I was in my hardest gear and couldn’t shift at all. I usually race between 90-95 RPMs, but I was down around 50 with the wind at my back and 20-40 with the wind in my face. I stopped two more times to try to fix it but just couldn’t get it working. Mentally I was still with it. I had chosen three phrases to replace any bad or negative thought. So most of the ride back into The woodlands I was saying “Believe your dreams, I am a champion, I dominate.” My legs were getting toasted by the low cadence and my calf muscles were really starting to strain.


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By the time I was in T2 I was not a happy person. I really wanted someone to tell me, “It’s ok to stop, you can do Santa Rosa in 3 weeks and still get to Kona.” I didn’t go into this race just wanting Kona Points. I went into this race to race, push, and test myself. I didn’t think I would end up coming off the bike in 16th place after fighting mechanical after mechanical on the bike. I wanted Tim, Scott, and Meredith to say “Yes, that stunk, you can stop and just fight another day.” But, no, none of them ever did. I had a mental battle in my head for most of the run.

“If I don’t finish I won’t have a marathon in my legs and I can do Santa Rosa 70.3 for more points and accomplish another goal of a podium in a 70.3 this year.”

“But what if something happens during that race? I wouldn’t have ANY other race to fall back on.”

“Well, you don’t even know if you’ll get enough points at THIS race.”

“But if I did Santa Rosa, I would have more time away from family and I don’t want that right now.”

“But I hate bad results on my ‘resume’.”

“I told myself I wanted to push myself, this is just a different type of pushing. I’m not battling physical pain, but the disappointment over how horribly wrong things have gone.”

“My legs are so, so dead from that low cadence the back half of the race.”

“I’ll keep going until I see my daughter”

“What about those people who can’t do this? I can’t quit.”

“Stop going back and forth and just decide to GO! ”

In the end I decided to finish. I ended up in 12th place and got 385 more points for Kona, which will probably get me there by the July cut off though nothing is written in stone until it is.

Honestly, somehow God always knows what we need more than we do. I wouldn’t have picked this path but with a sour taste in my mouth I have so much more motivation for Kona! I’ll be honest, this race rocked me for a couple days, but I’m back and ready to push myself to my limits and beyond during this build to Kona!


 
 
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To the limit. 

My goal for Ironman Texas this week isn't to podium or beat so-and-so. It isn't to break any time or power goals. All of this would be wonderful and I would love for it to happen, but my main goal for Ironman Texas is to walk away with greater self-knowledge and self-respect that can only be found when you push your body to the limit and hold on. 

I recently read a book by Matt Fitzgerald that said "there is a temptation to hope—perhaps not quite consciously—that your next race won’t be one of those grinding affairs. This hope is a poor coping skill." I honestly don't hope that. As much as I have to brace myself for the pain in races, that "grinding affair" is part of the reason I LOVE my job. I want to see how far I can push myself against the best. I want to find my limits, push past them, and find myself a new person on the other side. 

I went into this race last year with the goal of winning it. I know what winning feels like now and it's wonderful, but it's not nearly as wonderful as the feeling of pushing yourself hard and seeing what can happen on that journey of self-discovery. I learned so much from the race last year where I ended up finishing despite passing out .5 miles from the finish line with a little “time out”. I have felt my body completely give out under me. 

Because of my experience last year, one might think there are physical limitations to your body. While there must be a physical limitation somewhere, I don't think I found it last year at IMTX. There were other mental factors that went into the prep and execution of that race that affected me physically. I think I'll be able to eventually find that physical limit or at least push closer to it, but it will require fully embracing the idea that the greatest limitation to human performance is our mind.

I have read countless books these last few months on mental fitness, fortitude, strength, training, etc. I have continued to try to develop that inner strength to push beyond my mental limits. I think this is where the biggest gains can be had at the professional level of competition. The race, then, is often decided not by who has the best physical fitness, but who has the most mental toughness. I’m looking forward to seeing who that is in a couple days!


 
 
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If you want to know about my mental shift as we led up to this race then read my last blog post here.

I always go to international races 10 days before to adjust to the new time zone and different atmosphere. My homestay, Warwick, picked me up at the airport on Thursday. I was so so grateful to have the same amazing homestay as last year! I wasn’t sure they would want me since I was so sick last year; I couldn’t have been too pleasant to have around!


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My sister, Meredith, came a couple days later and we were able to enjoy some swim, bike, runs, and brunches together during our race week. She is the reason I started all this triathlon stuff and has been one of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders through these years so it’s always a treat to race with her.

I felt apprehensive the night before the race. I wasn’t nervous about things going wrong or not accomplishing a certain result, but I knew I was going to be hurting in a few hours so I was starting to brace myself.


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I woke up on race morning and didn’t have time to worry about things. Don’t tell my coach (since I’m supposed to eat 3+ hours before the race), but I got up at 4:35am and ate (2 hours before the race). This has seemed to work well for me, so I’m not messing with a good thing.

When we got to transition, in typical Jocelyn fashion, my power meter battery was low and I forgot to bring extras from the house. Oh well! I race on heart rate anyway so just didn’t have data to analyze after! No issue!

I listened to my three pump up songs for this race (Hall of Fame, Superheroes, and Bleeding Out), on my way down to the swim start. After getting pumped up, saying a prayer and my last goodbyes to my husband and sister, I got in the water for warm up. About ten strokes in I got punched right in the nose from another pro coming back out of the water. I had some blood come out my nose and thought for a second that it was broken (since your race brain always goes to the worst conclusion). The pain wore off and I finished my warm up and went to the start of the race. 

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I was focusing on getting a good start and holding my ground. I’m generally a bashful swimmer and yield to anyone wanting to swim on top of me. This race, however, I did hold my ground and had a good swim, though I didn’t really face anyone fighting me which was nice. The water was rough and it was hard to sight off the buoys so I was in a dark place starting the race! MBK’s quote “the highs will be high, and the lows will be low,” kept going through my head and I kept on trucking.

The chop in the lake was so big that it was nearly impossible to sight off the buoys so it was important to use big landmarks on the horizon. You could tell who had done the race before because Sid took off straight toward the hill you can sight off while the other group of women with Emma, Vanessa, and Yvonne weaved in and out of the buoys the whole way. We all came together at the turn buoys but I’m pretty sure that Emma and crew swam a little farther. When we came around the last turn buoy the group headed off toward the docks and I saw the finish and pulled off in the right direction. It really shows that there is an advantage to knowing the course and doing the race before.

Another focus of mine has been racing through transition so I took off running through and came out with the people who I went in with. SUCCESS!

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The biggest hill comes shortly after transition and that’s when Yvonne and Sid decided to take the lead. Yvonne led most of the first lap except for a couple times when Sid or I went to the front. The whole bike was pretty much an exhibition of my lack of bike handling skills. I would be in good position then we would hit a turn and suddenly I found myself 30 seconds behind. I would put in a little effort to bridge the gap and then get dropped again after slowing down at an aid station or another turn. I used to have more guts on the bike, but after my crash in Mallorca, I haven’t had the same confidence. I think this will be my next focus area so I don’t have to keep putting in efforts after every turn. We only made up a few seconds on the leaders and ended up about 4:30 back by the end of the first half. I wasn’t worried about that though because I knew I had a good run in me.

This is the first race that I have raced the bike with other women. I have never been fortunate or unfortunate enough to find myself in that position. It’s nice to have people to ride with but also challenging to have other people to worry about not getting into the draft zone. 

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The second lap Sid led most of the way while I took a couple pulls, but the whole way home I had to go to the bathroom so bad and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Scott told me we were less than a minute back when we had about 10k to go and I just shook my head in disbelief! I didn’t think there was any way we had made up that kind of time on the leaders!

I came into T2 to see the top five women all in the tent together! I also need to focus on racing through T2 since I was the last one out of that tent and everyone put time into me. 


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The start of the run was exciting for all the spectators since the top five were within one minute of each other. I was running in fifth. Nothing is ever sure in an Ironman especially during mile one of the run, but I knew that if I executed the run I was capable of, I was going to be giving my hubby another elated, sweaty hug at the finish line.

I came up on Yvonne around mile 3 and later Sid when I took a turn into the neighborhoods. I could tell the yo-yoing I did on the bike took a little toll on my legs, but I also knew my run was in the best place it’s been in my life.  Experience is the only way to become really good at coping with the discomforts and stresses of endurance sports and I had put myself through a great deal of discomfort and stress on my training runs leading up to this race. There was one workout I remember doing on the treadmill that included 5 X 1 mile efforts. I did the last one in 5:03 and knew that was a workout to hold in the mind bank. 

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I made the pass into second and Annabell Luxford tried to stick with me for a little bit but eventually fell back. I could see Meredith Kessler and knew that I could move into first as we started running along the waterfront. The city of Taupo has a deep love for Meredith and as we ran side by side for a couple miles along the most populated part of the course, I thought I was going to go deaf with all the cheering, yelling, and screaming for Meredith. During those miles, I heard two people cheer “Go Jocelyn” and I just laughed since they sounded so out of place! As we rounded the turn-around for the second lap I could tell Meredith was drifting further behind while I kept going at the same effort. The entire first loop I was struggling to get my heart rate up to my target but reevaluated and made a new heart rate goal for the remaining two laps. 

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One of the highlights of the day was seeing my sister on the run course for the first time. She first saw me and cheered “Go J!” and then as I came out of the aid station she saw the “lead woman” cyclist and in her excitement yelled something unprintable followed by, “Go J!!!” Her genuine excitement for me was something I held onto for the rest of the run.

That last lap I was struggling and just focused on staying hydrated and fueled for the rest of the race. I had another MBK quote “when things get tough, think of those who can’t.” I dedicated this race to a friend who was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer so she was my inspiration and drive for many hard workouts and for this race. I am overcome with gratitude instead of self-pity for the pain I am in when I think of these people.

I wasn’t getting any splits of how far ahead I was from second which was probably for the better. Spectators were saying, “wow you can run”, more than cheering at all. I stopped seeing Scott as I headed back into town for the last time and knew that he had left to go secure a spot in the finish chute.

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Around the same place I had come alongside Meredith Kessler on the first lap, a motorcycle with media came and started videoing me the last 3km. People along the waterfront were cheering that I had it in the bag or “good win”, but I don’t ever believe spectators. I was still running scared with the knowledge that the legend, MBK, and the comeback queen, Sid, were still running hard behind me.

It really hit me when I came up on the grandstands and heard Mike Riley say “Here comes your Ironman New Zealand female champion.” I knew he wouldn’t say that unless it was certain so I just soaked it in. Just like in Mallorca, there were a flood of emotions as I hit the finish chute: happiness, fulfillment, disbelief, relief. I ran through the chute, screamed, found Scott, and got the best hug in the world. My parents were there as well and got to celebrate with me along with so many others that have helped me in NZ – my homestay (Warwick and his girlfriend Julie), my massage therapist in NZ (Sandy), and some Ironman Staff who have become friends, Leanna. My dream, years in the making, had happened. I don’t know why this race became so special to me, maybe all the struggles I’ve had there, maybe because it was my first professional race, and maybe just all the magic Taupo and the people there bring, but this win will always be remembered fondly. 

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Right before Mike did my finish line interview he said to me “I think you broke 3 hours, right?” I hadn’t even stopped my watch so didn’t know what my run time was. I quickly stopped it and it read 3:00:57 so I wasn’t sure if I had broken 3 hours. I found out later that I had (2:59:40) and just didn’t believe it! Breaking 3 hours in an IM marathon is something I’ve wanted to do since I did my first one. I had set the goal and told myself I got to get a new frying pan if I did… yes, we are getting a new one. Oh the little things in life!

Many people have asked if I was surprised by my win. I think very rarely in sport can winning be a surprise to the winner. I have visualized crossing that tape first and raising it above my head in triumph since before last year’s race. Now that the dream is a reality, it’s not a surprise; it just feels like I am still dreaming.    

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My biggest thanks to my new team Big Sexy Racing for getting me everything I needed for this race in short notice! When your first race is less than 4 weeks after you join a team, miracles need to happen to get gear in time! I look forward to more fun with them the rest of the year.


Quintanaroo Bikes- I've been with QR since I started as a pro because their bikes are fast and their service is better than anyone out there. The 2016 PRfive won the triathlon innovation of the year at Interbike. 

TriSports- Like the Amazon of triathlon gear! They have the best prices on all things triathlon and great customer support! For 20% off their low prices use this link.

Big Sexy Gear - the most comfortable kit I have ever worn! They will do custom kits with NO minimum orders! No other apparel company will match their quality and support.

Ruby’s Lube - No horrible chaffing from my wetsuit this time! I usually end up with what people later think are hickeys.

F2C - I look forward to training and recovering faster with better nutrition.

Zone3 USA - I flew in my wetsuit even with the horrible water conditions. Their goggles also make open water swimming so much better with a greater range of site.

NormaTec - I loved being able to flush my legs out during my hard training days, the days leading up to the race, as well as post-race recovery.

Ice Friction - Free speed with iced chains that decrease friction. The ice on the chains last for 600 miles then you can send them back to get re-iced! Save watts and money!

Reynolds - Aero wheels for your budget! They have a range of anything from training wheels to their element disc, which I raced on at IMNZ!

Beyond Exercise - Physical therapy that is preventative as well as reactive. I owe my healthy body to them!

BioWheels - Best place to get a bike fit hands down. Mitch combines a retul and GURU fit to make the perfect and most efficient fit out there. Also best wrench you can find!

Impact - Dr. TJ has been instrumental in the overall health of my body!

Buckeye Running - Supplying me with the best shoes a runner could ask for!

Photo Credit: Darryl Carey, Scott McCauley, Meredith Gardner

Work on:
· Bike handling skills
· Race through T2
· Add Batteries to my transition packing list

Did well:
· Raced through T1
· Fueled and hydrated well
· Reevaluated heart rate expectations on the run

 
 
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As it is race week and I am in taper mode (i.e., not working out like a mad woman), I have time to sit and reflect.

Ironman New Zealand has meant a lot to me since the first year I did it in 2015. It was my first race as a professional triathlete and made me fall in love with New Zealand. I have gone into the race last year and this year with amazing fitness and high expectations for myself.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with expectations: a strong evidence-based belief that something will happen. I am a firm believer that in order for something to happen, the belief that it CAN happen must come first. The danger with having expectations for ourselves is when they turn into “MUSTS.” I can only control myself and my race by executing my plan and performing to whatever my potential is on race day. Because race outcomes are a result of complex interactions between countless factors beyond a single athlete’s control, I believe it is dangerous to set outcome expectations for a race. There are so many expectations and stresses already placed on us from other sources that there is no need to compound them ourselves.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have outcome goals. My outcome goals for IM New Zealand and the 2017 season have been critical in providing motivation through some tough days and hard workouts. Use those outcome goals as motivation to get your fitness to the level it needs to be at to accomplish them. Then when all the “hay is in the barn,” just execute your race to the best of your ability. My last three races have definitely shown that so much can go wrong but since my focus was on the process, it made missing my desired outcome a little easier to handle.

So instead of expecting a certain result…
I expect to push myself to a great starting position in the swim and hold that.
I expect to hold my goal heart rate for the bike and peak it for the last ¼ of the bike.
I expect to fuel properly on the bike.
I expect to hold my goal heart rate on the run peaking for the last 10k of the race.

Peace begins when you let go of your outcome expectations and base success on yourself instead of comparison to others.

 
 
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Honestly I don’t call these brownies because if I don’t call them Black Bean Blobs instead, they may sound less appetizing, BUT I can eat them for breakfast and not feel bad about it! Let’s be honest, this has been my breakfast for the last couple of weeks!

I used to just use a minimal amount of sugar in them, but after going to Bahrain and regaining my love of dates and the amazing natural sweetener they are, I’ve completely replaced the sugar with date paste. I make my own date paste and always keep some handy in my fridge to use as a sugar substitute in anything: oatmeal, cookies, brownies, breakfast bars, even orange chicken!


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Ingredients:

Dates (3/4 cup or more if you want to have some on hand)

Boiling water

 

Directions:

Put dates in a small bowl and lightly pack

Pour boiling water over dates until they are barely covered

Let the dates sit for 20-30 minutes then process the water and dates in a food processor until smooth


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Black Bean Blobs

Ingredients:

1 can rinsed black beans

2 eggs

2-3 tbs coconut oil or other oil

½ - ¾ cup date paste depending on taste

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking powder

½ cup cocoa powder


Directions:

Put everything in a food processor and process until smooth. You may need to stop it and scrape the sides down a time or two. Pour into 12 muffin tins.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

ENJOY!


 
 
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Summary:

1st place Female Pro
Swim: 56:02
Bike: 5:06:10
Run: 3:03:50


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I think a race is either set up for success or failure the 10-14 days before so I will start there.

I left 10 days before the race and got there 9 days beforehand. This gives me enough time to make sure my bike is in working order and not lost by the airlines, time to adjust to the time zone, and time to get oriented with my surroundings. The goodbyes to my family seem to get tougher and tougher each time; I thought it would be the other way around.    

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They didn’t have home stays for this race so I found an Airbnb-type place to stay for the month. I happened to luck into the perfect arrangement. The person who owns it works for the race hotel and knew many of the race organizers. He was so helpful with everything! The place was right on the beach and about 10km from the race site in a smaller costal town. I really enjoy being out of the hub bub of the race and big towns. 


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Because I got to the island so early, I was able to bike the climb and descent of the bike course the weekend before. I was able to bike the rest of the course on race week Monday. I was out on the course Wednesday trying to see how fast I could take a roundabout when my wheel slid out from under me and I went down hard. My speed went from 27.5 to 3mph (sliding on the road). I am truly blessed with the circumstances around the crash. A woman (who had to slam on her brakes to not run me over) got out of her car and moved my bike to the side. Eventually I got up, hobbled to the side, and called Scott (who thankfully was working late at night so he was still up). I was 20 min into a 1:20 ride and thought I’d just ride home but ended up riding the whole time so I wouldn’t stiffen up. I caught up with my coach and he said “we’ll just see how you feel tomorrow!”


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Thursday I woke up stiff and hurting in places that didn’t hurt Wednesday, but things could have been much worse. I started with an early morning swim in the sea (ouch on my road rash) then a bike ride to the physio to get released and massaged. My Airbnb owner (Miquel) set me up with some awesome bike mechanics to look at my bike and double check that things were ok. My Qbox had come off (designed that way as to not break the frame) so I contacted them for help to know how to reinstall it.


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Friday we had the pro meeting and bike/gear check in. Races outside the states are always so different. For example, there were about 1/3 the number of volunteers compared to USA races and 95% of them were school kids. You could have outside assistance hand you things at special needs on the bike and run. Transition areas were open air tents and you didn’t have volunteers helping you get undressed/dressed. I asked if they were going to have sunscreen in T2 and they said “we are very relaxed here so I’m not sure, you should pack your own.”

Scott arrived in Alcudia around 2:30 and we went to work getting my bike ready to check-in (putting my Qbox back on and replacing worn-out aero pads). After a fail the first time, we got it right and checked my bike in with 15 minutes to spare. We covered my bike with trash bags Miquel got us since it was supposed to rain that night. We went home to relax and got Scott some dinner on the beach while I ate chicken and rice. It was early bedtime for me at 8:00pm so I could wake up nice and early race morning. I woke up once in the middle of the night but went right back to sleep and was supposed to wake up at 4:00am but ended up sleeping in until 4:45. 


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Race Day

I ate my breakfast of applesauce, whey protein, a banana and some XRCEL! We got ready to go out and said a prayer for safety for me and the competitors as well as my back, arm, hip, and foot to be ok during the race.

I got to transition around 5:45am and started with a checklist of things I have developed to make sure I don’t miss anything. Each race also has some other things added depending on what it is. This race I had to get things squared away with my Qbox. My other things are: zero my power meter, pump tires, check that the brakes aren’t rubbing, make sure I’m in a good gear for leaving transition, put my nutrition/salt on the bike, and clip my shoes on the bike. I always put orange duct tape on my transition bags so I know which one is mine (especially on the handles). I was just getting done with my run transition bag when two men came and told me I couldn’t do that and had to take the tape off. I was bummed because even though it makes me look like an amateur, it really helps me spot my bag. 


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Scott and I headed down to the beach while I listened to some pump up music: Hall of Fame, Superheros, and Don’t Let Me Down. After IMTX Don’t Let Me Down became my theme song for my next race since my body had let me down in TX (or maybe I let it down). Boulder 70.3 was an embarrassing performance for me so the song stayed my theme for IMMallorca. I went out to warm up right around 7:12, came out and took a gel around 7:22 and practiced running in then back out and went to the start line. Everyone was there already since I got to the start four minutes before our start time!


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We went off at 7:32. I had planned to swim with #67 but we didn’t have any numbers on our arms or caps and even though I looked at pictures of her I couldn’t pick her out. 

We were sent off with a beach start and started running in. It stays shallow for a while so there was a mixture of people running in, porpoising, and just walking through the water. My original plan was to run/trot in, but it spikes your heart rate a lot so I ended up walking behind the other women, running, swimming, and porpoising. This kept my heart rate low but still allowed me to stayed with them. There were only 13-14 of us so it didn’t get very physical. I generally just try to stay out of the physical part of starts anyway because I feel like it uses extra energy that you don’t need to on a long race day. Being 1-2 feet to the other side of the buoy really doesn’t make a huge difference for the first buoy or two.


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It thinned out and I thought I saw 1-2 women break off the front. I stayed with a pack of four including me. We did the whole swim together although the lead shuffled around between the other three women. I stayed in the back and enjoyed my drama free draft. We did a quick Australian exit (get out and run 100yds on the beach and get back in). I heard Scott cheering and it put a smile on my face. I really never felt like we were racing hard since I was 3-stroke breathing the whole time. I usually 2-stroke breathe during my races so I know that my swim must be continuously improving. I hope to eventually get my swim time consistently down to low 50’s since I think that is where it needs to be for big races.


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T1

It was great coming out of the water not feeling spent at all! It was a fairly long transition but I was able to get through it pretty quick for me. Natasha Schmitt beat me out of transition so I should have surged to get on her and legally draft, but didn’t try hard enough.


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Bike

Theme Song: Hall of Fame

I decided to put in a little effort the first part to catch up to Natasha Schmitt, but she was with some men so there was little hope of me getting up to her. I figured there would be other pro men who would come by as well as age group men since the start times were so close together (7:30-pro men, 7:32- pro women 7:37- age-groupers). Not too long later a pro came by and I legally jumped in behind him. He was going the perfect speed for me as well! I passed a fellow female pro around 30 minutes in but around 45minutes in I shifted and my chain got lodged between my bike and chain ring. I think this was user error and not an issue with the bike because I downshifted climbing a hill when the strain on the chain was very high. I haven’t had an issue with this before, but I should avoid doing it in the future. I jumped off my bike and tried to wrestle it free as my free ride went on L. I was having flashbacks to IM Malaysia where this also happened. This has NEVER happened in workouts, only these two races. I called out to a motorcycle driving by “Ayuada me Ayuada me!” They said they couldn’t but they would call. I kept wrestling with it and eventually got it out along with two cuts on my hands. The pro woman that I had previously passed along with a bunch of age group men had gone by during this time. I hopped back on my bike and went on my way. It was a pretty lonely 30k until I had a guy pass me. I was going to go with him when another guy passed me. This went on for about 4-5 guys then I went with them. 


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It was so sad and embarrassing to see the drafting that went on during this race. I have seen people shorten the draft zone (12 meters) a little here and there but this was an utter disregard for any drafting rules! People were riding right on other’s wheels.

The first loop is fun since there are lots of longer ups and downs. You go through a little town named Muro where it gets not as fun since the roads are pretty bad for a little while combined with the steepest descent and 50 meters later steepest climb of the course. I was riding fairly fast down a hill when I hit a big bump. My bars went almost straight down and somehow I didn’t. I did, however, lose my salt and two gels. I somehow didn’t go down myself and managed to pull my bars back up, even if a little too high. I lost the people I was riding with again but put in a little surge and caught back up. 


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It was pretty uneventful riding until the mountain climb we had. Special needs was right before the mountain climb and I knew I would see Scott there with extra nutrition and a frozen bottle of water (to dump on me) to keep me cool before the climb. It was so cute to see how nervous he was about this job of handing me two bottles but he was perfect. Since I didn’t have a working power meter Jesse told me to just let my HR go up 10ish beats. So my HR on the mountain was around 160. I reached the top and started my descent. On the second switch back I got passed by a woman pro who was bombing down the mountain like she had nothing to live for! I can only hope to one day have those handling skills! The crash on Wednesday definitely took some of the confidence out of my biking skills and I was passed by the population of Mallorca, or so it felt. I didn’t pass a single person on that descent.

Scott told me to just trust God and let him direct me and all would be ok. I normally would have freaked out that what felt like half the field had passed me, but with his advice I was happy that I made it down safe and was still in 3rd. I heard that that woman who had passed me made up 6-7 minutes on that descent. 20ish km later I saw Scott and the top two women who were only two minutes ahead.

The plan was to make my last 28 miles have the highest heart rate of the whole bike. This plan was soon shattered when it started raining like a good Texas summer rain storm. There are ditches on the sides of the road that are 4-5ft deep that were turned into rivers. The water flowed over the road and in places, was deeper than the depth of my back wheel. The lightning and thunder were concurrent and on top of us. It was by far the worst weather I have ever biked in.


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I was taking the turns extremely carefully because in the words of the bike store associate I talked to “When Mallorca roads get wet, they are death traps. They actually will not allow you to ride out in the rain.” Even with my conservative riding, I passed Natasha and moved back into 2nd place. It was getting extremely windy and she was riding a disc wheel and looked a little unstable. I saw two people go down on turns but I was fortunate to avoid them and make it to transition safely. Scott was there and all I could say was “I thought I was going to die! That was crazy! I was going to die!” He said “well, you didn’t so focus on the run, one mile at a time!” I had a quick transition where I grabbed some sunscreen and slathered it on me as I was running out.


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Run
Theme song: Don’t Let Me Down

The run course is a 4.5 loop course that really is more like 4.75 loops. I had the 2nd place bike escort with me, which is the 3rd time I’ve had an escort coming out of transition. I will never get tired of the feeling I get seeing the person waiting outside transition for me. 


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There were a couple of places that were little out and backs where you could check your progress compared to the other competitors. I knew I came out of transition 2.5 minutes down and could tell I was already making up time. This was also one of the two times I checked to see how far back the next woman was, 2-3minutes. I saw Scott a couple times and he kept letting me know I was closing in until I saw her. It was an awesome moment (around 10-12k) when I made the pass into 1st place and Scott happened to be right there as well! It was unbelievable and also the highest HR of the run. I was still feeling good and had a smile on my face. When I passed by the finish line for the 2nd time I heard Paul say “Jocelyn McCauley leading the race! If you keep running like that you will be an Ironman Champion!” I could tell I was running well but wasn’t looking at my pace. I also knew I would possibly break the course record of 9:24.


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The two most challenging spots in an Ironman race (for me) always come the last 20 miles of the bike and the last 6-13 miles of the run. It’s in these moments that I draw strength from other things and people then myself. I think of all my friends, family, fans, etc. tracking the race. I think of my daughter at home giving me “leg powers.” I think of all the time, sweat, and tears that I put into this race and that my husband has. I think of everything my sponsors have done for me to support me to get here. I think how God has blessed me to be here. I envision the finish line that I have envisioned in every one of my hard workouts. I envision that sweaty hug that is waiting for me at the finish line from my husband.


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Then when I can’t even think about those things anymore I start counting. This happened after I saw I had won the race if I just kept up an ok pace. This was the second and only other time I looked to see how far back the next woman was. She was 5+ minutes back with about 4 miles to go.

I didn’t grab enough nutrition at the last aid station three miles before the finish and that’s when I just started counting my steps. I would count 100 steps with my right foot and then 100 with my left. I told myself I had to do that five times each foot before I could look at a km marker. You have to play those games with yourself. At about 2 km, I knew I had the race and eased up slightly just because I didn’t want to “let me down” and have a repeat of passing out.    

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The bike escort said goodbye and I started down the finishing chute! I have always heard to soak in the moment so I tried to see everything, feel everything, and hear everything, much like I try to do with those final hugs I get from Emi when I leave on a trip. There were so many people in the grandstands, there were kids sticking out their hands for high-fives, there was so much noise that it all ran together as white noise except for Paul announcing me across the finish line. To be honest I didn’t see, hear, or take in any of that. The most important thing for me crossing that finish line wasn’t getting a “good picture” or hearing all the screaming people or giving high fives. The most important thing was what I did as soon as I grabbed that banner and crossed the line. It was finding Scott and giving him the biggest, best hug ever! He was standing on the side but really deserves to have crossed that finish line with me hand in hand. Without his love, support, and unwavering dedication to my crazy dreams, none of this would have been possible. So, while most people would be able to tell you about crossing that line, I honestly don’t remember it or realize what happened except for the video that Scott took. I remember the most important and rewarding part of the whole day, which was finishing in the arms of my Forever Love. 


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I had several interviews with news stations, radio stations and newspapers. I informed the race director that I couldn’t do a Champaign celebration because of my religion. He was very understanding and nice about it. The next two women finished and we did the podium celebrations. I got cleaned up and we headed to the press conference.

We headed home and relaxed for a bit before going back to the “hero hour” which is from 11:00 to midnight. It was fun to hand out medals and dance in the finishing chute while the last people finished.

This was a truly amazing experience but I also know that the competition here, while great, wasn’t anything compared to what I want to go against and best in future races. I will enjoy this experience and appreciate it while also knowing that there is more fitness to be gained, more strategy to appreciate, and much, much more to learn and experience before I can accomplish all the goals I have in this sport! It was one of the many stepping-stones I need to be able to get where I want in this sport!


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Thanks to all my sponsors Quintana Roo Bikes, XRCEL, AudioFlood, TriSports, Cantu Cycling Wheels, Beyond Exercise, Blueseventy, Bonk Breaker, Kiwami, Blueseventy, Buckeye running Company, Reser Bicycle, Impact Health and Spin Centers. Thanks to all my supporters. Thanks especially to all my friends and family who have done so much to make this dream a reality. Thank you Brooke, Diane, Vanessa, and Emily for taking care of Emi while I’ve been gone, this really wouldn’t have happened without having amazing friends that we know we can trust with Emi. Thanks so much to my sister Meredith who came up to Cincinnati to take care of Emi a full week while Scott was here (without having kids of her own).  Thanks so much to my new Coach, Jesse, who taught me what some of my limiters were and helped me fix them (as much as I could in 6 weeks) before this race. Thanks to my daughter, Emi, who gives me more purpose, giggles, and love in my life. Thanks especially to my husband; Scott who makes so many sacrifices so I can do this. He is the reason this has happened. Thank you to all who have cheered and encouraged me along the way, you are all part of my TEAM and share in this win! Lastly I want to publically thank God for his hand in my life and the blessings he has given me to be able to do what I love.  


Start:

·      Get my power meter working/get a new one.
·      Traveling with Scissors- so, so many times I’ve needed them!
·      Travel with a small first aid kit- why I don’t do this when I hurt myself so much is beyond me!
·      Travel with a small tape measure to double check bike measurements
·      Get a sponsor shirt to wear to press conferences
·      Travel with two large garbage bags to cover your bike in case of rain.
·      Travel with your bike seat and pedals and shoes in case your bike gets lost
·      Learn how to do a flying mount to get on my bike quicker and not get left in the dust
·      Prep like I have to leave for a race 1 week before I have to leave- to realize what I need to go buy

Stop:

·      Flying the day or two after a race
·      Crash 3 days before the race

Continue:

·      Visualize the PERFECT race happening at least 15 times before race day
·      Sunscreen before the race AND in T2
·      Know all the baggage rules for your flights- I was able to coherently discuss the fact that I didn’t have to pay for my bike because of my research before.
·      Know the custom regulations for the country you are going to so you know what you can take- Spain=Almost anything, New Zealand=almost nothing

 
 
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Reflection is sometimes the best way to truly learn. Without looking back on what has happened, we don’t always realize what we have learned. While this is really for my benefit, it may also prove helpful to age-group athletes (especially those with pro aspirations) or just give insight into my first year as a professional triathlete.

Here are 10 lessons I learned during my first year as a pro (in no particular order):


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1. The little things really do matter. During my 6 months as an amateur triathlete, I was not concerned about what I thought were the little things:

·      The exact amount of cals/hour to take in during the race (+/-200 cals doesn’t matter right;))

·      Changing my nutrition setup in transition the morning of the race (yes this happened in Kona)

·      Core workouts

·      Fueling correctly before, during, and after workouts

·      Aero…what’s that? I’ll just stick a water bottle in my loose jersey. 


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2. The professional race is much different than the amateur race. It’s the same course but an entirely different race. This has been debated widely in many forums, but I believe I have some first hand experience here. In 2014, I was the first female amateur across the finish line at the World Championships. Many people commented about how close I was to so-and-so pro triathlete or how I was the 25th female overall. While I would love to say that I would have placed the same had I started in the professional field, I know that would not have been the case. As a pro you generally face a much more tactical race with fewer people around you on the course. I remember that during my first race as a professional I didn’t see another competitor for several miles on the bike course. Finally, professionals are not racing simply to finish another IM. They are racing to earn money and/or points to Kona (world championships) so they may be more likely to not complete a race as it becomes apparent over the course of the race that they are out of contention for prize money or significant Kona points.


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3. How to pack a bike. You can learn anything on YouTube. My first time I packing my bike took me an hour, but now I can get everything done in less than 15 minutes. Also, if you don’t put your CO2 in an obvious spot, you can usually get away with traveling with them.

Here’s a short video that should help out some! 


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4. Liquid nutrition is a great idea. When I raced as an amateur, I was racing at a lower same intensity than I am now. At a lower intensity, your body can process solid food better. When you are racing at a higher intensity liquid nutrition is a must!

I use XRCEL for my liquid nutrition. It’s great because its formulated to not cause GI distress and your body will absorb more of it so you can race harder, longer. If you would like to try some or have any questions about it just contact me!

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5. Make your slow workouts/rest intervals slow. The key to doing this is to make your fast workouts/intervals so fast that you HAVE to do your slow workouts slow. If you are pushing yourself like you should during your hard workouts, you should cherish the time you get to go easy.

To give an example of what my recovery in my intervals is versus my HARD intervals it would be under 100 watts compared to over 300 watts or around 5 minute/mile pace versus 10-11 min/mile pace. 

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6. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is stupid. Change things up every now and then. Learn something new and make some more progress. There are so many experts in this sport; learn from all of them, but don’t believe anyone 100%. 


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7. Recovery IS as important as your workouts, almost. Obviously if I only had time for a workout or a recovery boot session, I would workout, but when I am building up for a big race and have high training volume, I make sure that I am just as diligent at scheduling recovery as I am workouts. If you don’t recognize the importance of reovery, you won’t set aside time for it and it won’t happen.  

Some of my favorite recovery techniques are: go to my PT and get some muscle releases done and sit in his recovery boots for 30-60 minutes, go to my chiropractor and get my body back in sync and alignment, go to my massage therapist, read book with Emi or other family activity, roll out with a foam roller, and take one day OFF a week. HERE are some other pro’s recovery ideas: 

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8. Strength conditioning is a very important component of training. I have seen the benefits of strength conditioning in helping me hit challenging workouts, manage the overall health of my body, and prevent/mitigate injury. Check out my post on strength conditioning for more details HERE.

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9. Maybe I should have waited to go pro for another year. I don’t regret getting my pro card (I qualified for it in both the IM races I did as an amateur), but I now realize that some things may have been easier had I waited a year. At the awards ceremony in Kona all the women were chatting with each other like best friends. Almost all of them had competed at Kona in previous years. Many of them had a couple sponsors and were known in the sport. Because I was so new to triathlon, I didn’t have any of those things, which made an already steep learning curve even more challenging. Having another year in the sport would have made the pro transition a little smoother.


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10. Long-distance triathlon racing IS a team sport. If I didn’t have my family, coach, friends, sponsors, physical therapist, chiropractor, massage therapist helping me and supporting me on this wild adventure, I couldn’t even get to the start line. 

 
 
Swim: 57:31
Bike: 4:02:20-shortened
Run:3:41:32
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I’ve put off writing this report too long. Now that I’m writing it, nothing is coming to me!

I am so blessed to have a family of friends in The Woodlands so going down early for IMTX was seamless and made a lot of sense. I had a couple of stressful family situations in the first week while there but after that it was business as usual. I’ve been so blessed to work with Tim Floyd of Magnolia Masters when I’m down in the Woodlands and always see a good improvement in my swim when I get to swim with the group. It’s amazing what both swimming with people and swimming constant stroke correction can do for your swim. 

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Leading up to the race my Coach, David Tilbury-Davis, took a lot of time to help me with various things: cornering, wheels, bike maintenance, fit changes, flying mounts (which I failed miserably), more bike maintenance, etc. I felt a little high need (in all aspects of my life) leading up to this race so thanks to all who put up with me leading into it, most of all my loving husband, patient coach and AMAZING homestay.

I actually slept well the night before the race thanks to a non-drowsy supplement that chiropractor Dr. Stephen Clouthier recommended during one of our visits. Thanks so much for that as well as the NET session. I felt much calmer going into this race than I was expecting. 4am wake up call to be able to get some calories in me before the race which started at 6:30. I had my new usual which was 4 blueberry muffins. I was able to eat ok which was a good sign of my nerves being at bay. 

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Race morning my two sisters, husband, and I drove down to the swim start. It was so fun to see so many people that I know at this race. I got everything set on my bike and even got pro treatment with my coach being in the transition area (thanks to sharing a coach with last year’s winner, Matt Hansen). My PT from Cincinnati, Eric Oliver, was even there and I got to chat with him before the race (thanks so much for coming down!). My husband and sisters and I said a prayer together before I had to run down to the race start. Thanks to my sis who put my morning clothes bag where it belonged as well as my transition bag. 

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Swim:
The water temp was 81 so I didn’t feel the need for a super long warm up. I got in and did a couple of fast pickups and went back to shore to watch the guys start. I got the position in the water I wanted next to Bree Wee who I had planned to swim behind. I got a good start and we got into one long pace line. After a couple hundred yards I saw Alicia Kaye swimming next to me. A little bit later I looked up and saw that Bree had let the front pack go. They were too far away for me to surge and bridge the gap so I resigned myself to swimming on Bree’s feet. When we turned to go back she started following the buoy line, which went in then out so if you sighted off the last buoy it was a shorter distance. It is completely legal to go as far to the outside of buoys as you want, you just can’t cut inside them. My coach said that I better leave feet and go off the last buoy if someone decided to go the long way and follow the buoys. I usually don’t have the confidence to leave feet once I’m on them but I had him in my head telling me I had better do it. I ended up coming out of the water 15 seconds in front of Bree, someone I use to only dream of being able to swim with. 

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Transition was pretty good. I think it was one of the fastest transitions even with running past my bike and having to go back for it…that hasn’t happened since I was an amateur! I got to hear my hubby cheering along with one of my best friends from college! It was so fun and inspiring! 

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Bike:

It was so humid my glasses kept fogging so I just pulled them away from my face a bit and put them back on every now and then. I knew that the first 20 miles had a ton of turns and I didn’t want to kill my legs. Before I hit the first long straightaway, my power was 13 watts under my target but I didn’t worry because we planned to push higher than goal during the “long” straight stretches. I will never know for sure how that all shaped out since I lost my Garmin somewhere between mile 25-30. I caught other women along my way and legally sat on their wheels before passing them. I caught Keat somewhere and legally drafted with her until an age-group male passed us. She didn’t go with him so I passed her and told her we should work together and go get a free ride off this guy! She didn’t end up going with me but the guy slowed down about 15 miles up the road and Keat and 3 other age group men caught back up. This was another learning experience. I could feel the guy was slowing down and I’m sure my power was much lower than it should have been (by 50ish watts) and I should have passed him but lacked the confidence.  I am slowly gaining that confidence which will help in future races. I was in a group of 6-7 going through the last aid station and I learned quickly that I am very grateful that women generally don’t ride in huge packs. We caught up to Alicia Kaye (3rd) towards the end of the bike so I set myself up in a great position for the run. My legs were so fresh since I got to legally draft the last 20-30 miles of the race. I also got to have my own course marshal (draft buster) go with me for the last 30+ miles of the course. I’m grateful that they are out there to catch people who are trying to gain an unfair advantage, but they always make me so nervous that I’m going to be doing something wrong! It’s like driving with a police car behind you the whole time. I also learned a hard lesson that haunted me for the rest of the race. I love my XRCEL nutrition and have never felt better with any other nutrition but, I was behind in nutrition since I am not used to being in a legal pace line and I wanted to be really careful about drafting, so I decided to down a whole bunch the last 10 miles. This was, I think, my downfall. I usually drink plenty of water between taking in nutrition but didn’t at the end of the bike since I was trying to get as much down as I could. I think the carb/sodium concentration was just too high and so this delayed gastric emptying. I believe the sodium I added to my liquid nutrition was the main problem as the extra sodium encouraged the fluid to stay in my GI system. 

Transition

Somehow I entered the tent after Keat but left before her. I NEVER gain time in transitions but I guess I have my system down now. 

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Run

I started out with an escort (3rd place). I told myself, my coach, and my husband I was not going to ever let my bike escort go again! The escort was the best ever! He called ahead and told the crowd “third place female coming through! Let’s hear it for her!” Keat came along side me and passed me. I didn’t realize at the time (more learning) but she definitely was trying to “break the rubber band.” She put in a surge to drop me and leave me thinking there was no way to go with her. I’ve done this plenty of times in running races and recently on the bike in triathlons. I don’t know why I didn’t see this happening to me! From the beginning of the run, my stomach was off and didn’t feel so great because of my massive nutrition intake on the bike. I felt so bloated and egh. On the second lap I had an emergency stop in the port-a-potty. The last lap I heard reports of many of the pros slowing down and that Keat had dropped at mile 13. I had been passed several times and was frustrated at myself but kept pushing as hard as I could in spite of how I felt. I passed a pro back at mile 6 so I ran myself back into 6th. Zach (from fantasytriathlon) told me that I could catch one more, “they’re slowing down!” so I put in a “surge” (you can’t call many things a surge during the last 3 miles of an Ironman). There are two spots on the course where you double back on yourself before the finish line so I was keeping my eye out for Alicia Kaye (5th). On the first turn around I saw that I could catch her if I just kept it up. I called for water at the aid station but didn’t get any. Just past the aid station my sister sprinted up to me with a cup of water! Oh how amazing that was! I saw my mom cheering for me one last time. Everyone kept telling me “Emi (my daughter) is waiting for you at the finish line for a hug!” I really could only see the path in front of me and nothing else was registering.  The second turnaround was a hairpin turn, which was my downfall. If it had just been a straightaway to the finish I wouldn’t have collapsed. As it was, I went down. I don’t remember going down, I just remember sitting with a lot of people around me. Apparently my sister was looking for me then saw me collapsed with 8 medical personnel around me. She told me later that they asked her “does she usually talk like this?” Meredith “oh yes! She’s fine!” Med people “so she usually slurs her words?” Meredith “she’s fine, she can just run with me to the finish.” I remember that I kept trying to stand up and when I tried to take a step, I would collapse and they would catch me. I remember yelling at them “stop catching me! If you wouldn’t I could keep going! You’re catching me too early!” Somehow that made sense to me at the time. They had me sit there and gave me some water and Gatorade that just came back up. They poured water on me and stuffed ice in my trikit. After some time, I finally said “I have to go and finish NOW.” It took all the will power I had, plus some heavenly power for me to stand and not collapse. I started going and they sent a medical guy on a bike with me (I got a bike escort again, just not the kind I ever want again). I saw Amy, one of my best friends from college, again. Thank goodness for seeing her and having her cheer me in! I did hear later that Scott had gone out to find me since everyone was waiting at the finish line and didn’t know what was happening. I got to the finishing chute and the crowd carried me the rest of the way until I absolutely collapsed at the finish line. 

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I have a lot of mixed emotions about my finish. People have told me it was inspirational, full of grit, showed determination, “epitome” of Ironman, etc. I don’t see it like that. To be honest, when I was incapacitated on the side of the path I could only think of Alicia Kaye, the points that I was going to get that were now slowly running by, and I prayed. When I started running again I thought about all my family waiting for me at the finish. People ask me why I compete and my reasons include that I want see what the best I can be is so need to compete against the best there is and I feel as though God wants me to use my talents to the best of my abilities and show my family that dreams and goals are possible.

Even though I view this race, especially collapsing on the run, as a failure to execute my race plan, it is nice to know that I truly know why I am doing this and what keeps me going. Even though this race didn’t go as planned, I still have a plan in place to try to qualify for the world championships this year. I will be doing Boulder 70.3 on June 11th and then IM Vineman on July 30th. We will reevaluate after that and if I am close with points I will do IM Sweden on August 20th. 

I am truly so blessed and lucky to be doing what I love! I had so much help getting to the start line of this race and truly appreciate everyone that was involved in that. I would have to go on forever with everyone involved but have to thank my amazing husband who came down to The Woodlands early to keep my sanity during this stressful time, my sisters who did the race with me and even helped me on the course, my parents who brought Emi to cheer and did a lot of cheering themselves, my homestay who is a family away from home (I love you guys!), my coach David Tilbury-Davis, Amy, Chiropractor Steven Cloither, Eric Oliver, Tim Floyd of Magnolia Masters, Bryanna at QR and so many others!

Thanks as well to my sponsors, with out them I wouldn’t be able to do this and chase my dreams! Still hope to showcase you guys in Kona this year! XRCEL, Quintana Roo, AudioFlood, TriSports, Beyond Exercise, Blueseventy, Bonk Breaker, Buckeye Running Company, Reser Bicycle Outfitters, Impact Health and Spine Center.

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Lessons learned or relearned:
1. Have the confidence to leave feet/wheel when you need to.
2. It’s ok to key off people, it’s not ok to base your race and success on others. 
3. The will of the mind can overcome so much.
4. Don't down a bottle of nutrition, that was supposed to be over 1 hr, in less than 30 minutes; especially when salt is dissolved in it. 


If nothing else you should listen to this song... Theme song for 70.3 Boulder!
Crashin, hit a wall, right now I need a miracle! 

 
 
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When I landed on my shoulder 3.5 weeks before Ironman New Zealand I was scared right when it happened. There wasn’t a crunch or a pop, just a flood of pain and a pit in my stomach. I was an hour into my run but still finished the last 30 minutes. I think it was all the adrenaline that got me through the rest of the workout. I had the thought before the run, “I should probably just run inside on the treadmill.” One of my goals was to run outside more so I was blind to good reason and disregarded the prompting I had to stay inside. Lesson number one: listen to your gut and don’t make stupid decisions.

The first phone calls/texts that I made were to my Physical Therapist, Dr. Eric Oliver and my chiropractor, Dr. TJ Lonergan. I made it into Eric’s that afternoon where he did an assessment and said that we would have to wait for the acute trauma to wear off before we could fully know the damage with out imaging. I also had him watch me run to make sure I wasn’t compensating too much since I literally couldn’t move my right shoulder at all without shooting pain. We did a few adjustments so I wouldn’t cause more problems as I tried to recover. The next day I went to my chiropractor and he did a few gentle adjustments and we did cold laser therapy. 

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I also got a Priesthood blessing later that night from my husband. In the blessing, I was promised a miracle and that my shoulder wouldn’t affect my race in New Zealand. I asked all my family and friends for prayers and Scott and some family fasted on Sunday for my shoulder.

The following week I made sure to get into my chiropractor and/or PT everyday. Each time I went in I would have more and more range of motion. I only had 2 weeks with my treatment team in Cincinnati before I left for New Zealand so I wanted to take full advantage of every day. I also did plenty of daily or hourly recovery myself (with the direction of my PT and Chiropractor) with passive range of motion, active range of motion, massage, heat, and Epsom salt baths.

When I left for New Zealand 1.5 weeks before the race, I had only been in the pool a couple times to do kicking drills. I had to have help with my luggage in the airport and on the airplane. 

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All the pros had free access to a beautiful pool facility so I ran into several of them in the pool and felt so slow next to people like Lauren Brandon (fastest woman swimmer in long distance triathlon) and Amanda Stevens (another exceptional swimmer). I kept my mind on all the work that my team in Cincinnati had done as well as the Priesthood promise I was given that my shoulder wouldn’t affect my race. I was also able to see a massage therapist in New Zealand three times. If you are ever in Taupo for the race, make sure you contact Sandy for your pre and post race massage - simply amazing hands.

Race morning came and I still had pain in my shoulder but my swimming was progressing and I was hoping my wetsuit would help support my shoulder in the swim as well. I warmed up briefly (5 minutes) since the water was pretty cold and I had little endurance strength in my shoulder. 

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We all lined up in the water for the swim start and before we knew it 20+ of us pro women were off. I don’t know who was to the right of me, I wish I did so I knew who to never line up next to again, but I think she though there was a shark behind us and she kept grabbing my bad shoulder and using me as a nice little push off. After 3-4 times of this, I got pretty sick of being pushed backwards so I went out to the left. If it weren’t for this evil villain swimmer, I wouldn’t have gone out to the left. I found some great feet to swim behind (Laura Siddall). She pulled me and another woman (Lucy Gossage) who was on my feet around the whole course. It was a hard effort, but manageable. It was a big PR IM swim for me in 55:46. I unfortunately got sick on Thursday before the race so I ended up pulling out during the bike portion. So even though the race didn’t go to plan, I was able to PR in the swim despite my set back with my shoulder. I attribute this to my awesome team that I have in Cincinnati as well as help from God. God uses people in our lives to help bless us; I am just so grateful and blessed to have Dr. Eric Oliver and Dr. TJ Lonergan as healing hands in my life. He always guides us in all things and will help with anything we ask. Sometimes it’s not exactly to our plan but his plan is always better. Onwards and upwards!

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Race morning I pulled up the scriptures on my phone and it was opened to this passage. I know that as I rely on the Lord and continue to press on, together, we will achieve success.  

D&C 58:4-5

4 For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.

5 Remember this, which I tell you before, that you may lay it to heart, and receive that which is to follow.    

 
 
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Swimming has been my weakest link since I started triathlons. I swam in a summer league growing up, but that was my only formal swimming experience. My whole family was involved in the weekly Saturday morning fun. I even did a few two-a-days back then so I had some experience with that. 

A couple weeks prior to driving down to swim camp I pulled an intercostal and oblique on my left side that kept me dry for 1.5 weeks. I was scared jumping into two-a-days with high intensity, but your body can cope with much more than you think it can. 

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Tim Floyd puts this camp on every year for 3-4 weeks in January. He is an amazing swim coach and the improvements his athletes show speak for his knowledge and abilities as a coach. I was fortunate enough to meet Tim in September during a camp he was doing for some pros building up for the IM World Championships. I saw the value of his on-deck corrective coaching and knew I had to come down in January. 

The workouts are all outlined on his blog here so if you are wondering about all the crazy workouts we did, go ahead and have a look. He also writes a lot about technique that even seasoned swimmers will find helpful. 

We had two workouts on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and single workouts on the rest of the days. I also had intense bike and run sessions on top of all the swimming. It’s always important to keep properly fueled, yet it was super hard with the busy schedule we had to keep. Swim from 7-8:30 bike or run around 10/11 and then swim again at 3pm. It left little time to be able to get proper meals in without having issues with the next workout. For breakfast I had 2 muffins and then to keep me going during the 1.5-hour swim in the morning I brought a bottle of XRCEL. I would get to my home stay and have oatmeal with some eggs. After the next workout depending on the time I would have a banana with almond butter and a granola bar or more of a “real” meal. After the final swim I’d have a snack and then head to where ever I was going to eat dinner. I was hard to get enough fuel in, but the training was worth it!    

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Since the details of swim camp are already posted there, I thought I would just give the top 5 things Tim changed in my swimming that resulted in me dropping from 1:12 to 1:07 on 1:30 100 yd repeats as well as drop my hold pace 25yd repeats from 15 to 13/14 seconds.



Thank you BlueSeventy for the swim gear!



1.    Keep your arms wider, ie don’t cross over

2.     Finish the stroke all the way through

3.     Don’t chop the stroke short in the front, reach long

4.     Hips up (bum up), head down

5.     Time in the pool i.e., feel of the water


Thanks so much to Tim Floyd of Magnolia Masters for allowing me to join the camp this year! He's is opening the camp to a few elite age groupers next year as well as one coach a week to be on deck with him. If you are interested contact him early here.

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Emi playing with my swim toys on the drive down to swim camp. Painting our fingernails so I could look down for motivation to push harder.