On August 19th I received an invitation to the Beijing International Triathlon. It is an invitational-only race for the professionals. I have been applying to this race for four years now so there was no question I would accept the slot! IMG along with the Chinese government sponsored the race. They flew the professionals over to Beijing and set us up in a beautiful hotel.
The women in the race included myself, Caroline Steffen, Magali Tisseyre, Radka Vodickova, Felicity Sheedy-Ryan, Ricarda Lisk, Laura Bennett, Yi Zhang, and Mengying Zhong. We all arrived well before the race so we had time to train a little together, catch up on some gossip and enjoy some meals. To be honest, it was so nice to get out of the Boulder bubble and just relax with some other girls and get to know them. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Gmail—the anchors of my existence these days) did not really work. Therefore, I was able to check out of any responsibility I had and really enjoy the time in Fengtai and prepare for the race. The hotel offered an extravagant breakfast buffet so we would all just load up on food and coffee and sit around and talk. I loved it!
The course they set up for us was hands down the most beautiful and challenging course I have ever experienced. The swim was pretty straightforward in the Yongding River. However, we had a 1km run to transition, which got my heart rate up. The bike course took us up climbing Quinling Mountain to a temple and then down and through a small town where tight and technical roads were created just for the race. The run course was through the botanical gardens of the Garden Expo and we climbed and descended 600 stairs each way. There was no time to think during the race as the course constantly was changing.
Fortunately, I did not have any jetlag from the travel and my body was feeling ready to go. I made a mistake and did not bring any warm clothes to the swim start and got very cold after the swim warm up during the introductions. At the start of the swim my muscles felt locked up and I was worried I was never going to catch back up to the leaders. Fortunately, I just maintained my technique, stayed calm, and slowly caught back up to Laura Bennett. We battled a bit the last 500m for the swim prime. It was really fun and I hope the cameramen got it on film. I just couldn’t shake LB and she ended up being first out of the water and I was right on her heels.
I moved into first position on the run to transition and had a very smooth T1. Onto the bike I felt pretty good but I could not really get my heart rate up. I felt like I was stuck in 70.3 mode and that was all I had. Once again, I tried to stay focused and get through the climbing portion of the bike to the turn around so I could see how much time I had on the rest of the girls. I stayed in the lead into T2 and quickly had another smooth transition.
Onto the run, I made sure not to go out too fast. My back was really tight and I was constantly trying to stretch it. My legs felt amazing though and I was able to maintain a strong pace through the entire run. The stairs were really challenging and coming down was even harder!
I was so happy to finally see the finish line after a very long last 1km. I really wanted to win this race obviously but to actually finally do it was unreal. There were so many people cheering and it was really a special moment for me. Also, to see my good friend, Radka, finish second was icing on the cake! We both have been racing together for a while and its great to both have good results.
I have to thank IMG for truly treating us all like professionals. The trip to Beijing was an experience of a lifetime and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity. If you are looking to do a destination race I highly recommend this one.
I am now back in Boulder recovering for a few days and then some more preparation for IRONMAN Silverman 70.3.
Thanks to all of my supporters and sponsors and to Boulder Coaching for making this possible!
Photos: 2015 Beijing International Triathlon, by Triathlete.com, September 20, 2015