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
Many people have asked me why I am not racing at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships this weekend in Austria. My main goal going into 2015 was to win the HyVee triathlon. In 2013 I was 5th place in my first ever HyVee and last year I was 4th place. So naturally, I wanted to go for the big paycheck this year.
Unfortunately, around March, I found out almost all of the Olympic distance races were no longer happening for professionals and this included HyVee. I had to change my focus to 70.3/ half-distance racing and make a new schedule.
I started with a DNF at Monterrey 70.3 due to illness in March followed by an epic blow up to finish 4th at IRONMAN 70.3 New Orleans despite a huge lead off the bike. I made some adjustments in my nutrition and won IRONMAN 70.3 St Croix and the Challenge San Gil half. However, I still did not feel very strong throughout either race and I did not have confidence over the distance yet.
In early June, I raced Escape from Alcatraz and finished with a very strong run to give me a big confidence boost, only to follow up with a mediocre performance at NYC triathlon that made me question my training and recovery. By the time August 1st came, I honestly just did not have the confidence to travel to Europe for the World Championships and hope to have a good day. I really don’t believe in showing up to big races unless I am prepared to be on the podium so I made the difficult decision not to go.
I raced IRONMAN 70.3 Ecuador on Aug 9th and finally had the race I was looking for. I felt strong and in control over all three disciplines and finished with a very strong run compared to what I had been doing. This race gave me the confidence I needed to race the best in the world, but by this point my mind was exhausted and I needed to recover from recent travel and actually train. I am very motivated to see where I stand against the top 70.3 girls but Austria was not meant to be.
So what’s next? I was invited to the Beijing International Triathlon, which is an invitation-only race with 9 very strong girls. I will fly to Beijing on September 14th and race on the 20th. I then will race a 70.3 in October (Miami or Los Cabos) and I will finish the year with Challenge Bahrain on November 20th. I view Challenge Bahrain as my World Championships, as it usually draws an even more competitive field, and I will properly prepare for it. I am very hungry, healthy, and happy.
The past month has been pretty filled with traveling, racing, and a little bit of training. I first raced NYC triathlon on July 19th, a race I have always wanted to do but one that never fit my schedule. I first have to thank Katherine Kelly Lang for helping me with accommodations in the Big Apple. Whole Foods, Starbucks, and transition were about 0.5mi away from my hotel so it was pretty convenient to say the least!
I arrived on Friday in the evening, which is one day later than I usually arrive because I knew training would be limited in the city. This would be my first Olympic distance race of the year so I was not really sure how I would go. I made a mistake during the swim choosing the far left line instead of swimming far right where the current was much faster. I worked my way back over and finally caught the first woman by the end of the downstream swim. I exited T1 in 1st place and rode with Alicia Kaye for 15km before she dropped me. I then rode alone into T2. The run started off well but at mile 4 I struggled with a cramp to the finish line. I was still happy to finish 2nd place and to compete in such a well-known event. Not everyday can you run down 72nd Ave in a bathing suit. The experience was unreal and I suggest this race for everyone!
I came back to Boulder and took a few days to recover from the race and travel. I got in about 12 days of good training and then I was off to Waterloo, WI for Trek World on August 2nd. Trek dealers from around the globe were invited to Trek Factory for a few days of demoing the 2016 bikes, looking at new Bontrager gear, and getting to meet the people who make things happen at Trek. I was fortunate enough to be one of a few athletes invited to take part in the event. It was very cool to speak with the engineers designing the Speed Concept and to give face-to-face feedback. It was pretty much a surreal experience for a bike enthusiast! Also, Trek spoiled everyone with awesome dinners, great wine, and a good time. I hope to be back next year.
I flew back to Boulder on the 4th and was off to Ecuador for the 70.3 the next morning. My trip was Denver-Miami-Quito (overnight)- Manta. I arrived in Quito at 8PM local time and I thought my flight was at 6AM the next morning to Manta. I stayed at a small hotel near the airport so I could have a quick transition in Quito. A woman at the hotel informed me that 1830 was 6:30PM not AM and that I needed to book another half day at the hotel. Of course at this point I was stressed because I needed to do some training since I did not do much the week before. I assumed I would be in Manta very early and would get in everything I needed; however, I had to make a new plan. So, the next morning in Quito I unpacked my Speed Concept and hoped to find a place to ride. Around the hotel were cobblestone roads and stray dogs so that was not an option. I decided to backtrack to the airport and ride around it. Airport roads are usually pretty nice and not too busy so that was the plan. After riding I packed my bike back up again to fly to Manta and then did a short run avoiding as many dogs as possible.
I finally got to Manta around 8:30PM and immediately went to swim in the hotel pool like a crazy triathlete. Why do we all think we have to train so much!? Anyways, the pool was absolutely beautiful and immediately wiped away any stress that was lingering.
Friday and Saturday were pretty low key and I met some very welcoming folks from Quito who were racing as well. I met some excited children who were fans of the sport already!
One person I met offered to have his personal driver sag while we previewed the course on the bike—how awesome is that? I had the opportunity to be a part of the pro panel and enjoyed that.
Race day came and I actually felt ready to go. I usually have a hard time relaxing and sleeping at races but I think I was so tired mentally coming into the race that it was easy to rest. My body was rested and I was due for a solid 70.3 performance. I ended up having one of my best races ever. I swam solo off the front, rode steady coming into T2 in second place, and then I ran strong and did not have any bonking issues or leg fatigue which is a first for me in 70.3.
I was extremely excited to cross the line first and also to be a part of the inaugural event. There were 30,000 spectators on course and the energy was something I have never experienced so far in my racing career. I loved it! I then enjoyed drinks and lunch with the other pros thanks to the Poseidon hotel. I also met some really great pros that I had never raced with before. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.
I flew back to Quito Monday morning and then explored around a bit. Then it was back to Boulder on Tuesday.
Now I am going to have a solid 5-week training block before racing again. I had a change in coaches after NYC triathlon and I am now working with Simon Lessing, Darren DeReuck and Lisa Lessing. They have a coaching business called Boulder Coaching and they all 3 work together to make the best program possible. I am really enjoying the new style of training and also having the opportunity to train with more age group athletes. My next race will be Ironman 70.3 Cozumel.
Thank you for staying up to date in my racing! And thank you to my family, friends, and sponsors for keeping me happy, healthy, and able to race consistently.
The month of June has been a very fun few weeks of racing. I was fortunate enough to be invited to compete in the 35th annual Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. This was my second time competing in the race and I was excited to use things I learned from my first attempt. The field was small with only 10 women but had a ton of talented athletes with big resumes. I love racing shorter distances. To be honest, I really miss the non draft Olympic races.
The swim in Alcatraz is so unique. We all take a boat out to Alcatraz and then jump off into very cold water. I had a pretty average swim start and got clobbered by the masses. I swam the entire swim on my own sighting a red and pink cap about 10 meters in front of me over the 1.5mile course. I managed to catch the two caps by the end of the swim and exited the water with Sara McLarty.
I had a decent run to T1 and got on to the bike in first place. My hills were strong on the bike but on the descents I struggled.Leanda Cave caught me about halfway through and I rode with her until she dropped me on the final descent into town.
Onto the run I started out pretty fast to catch Leanda. I knew ITU star Ashleigh Gentle would be charging from 15 seconds down. Ashleigh and I ran from mile 2 until mile 7 together. I put in a surge to drop her and it didn’t work! She surged right after and dropped me. I ended up crossing the line in 2nd only 13 seconds down. I was very happy with the result. Of course, I would have loved to have won but I was happy with my run effort and to run with one of the best short course runners in the world. I loved the race in San Francisco and I hope to be back next year!
After the hard effort I had a really hard time recovering. Alcatraz is a very demanding course and presents challenges that I am not normally faced with- hard ocean swim, steep hills, the sand ladder, and trail running. I got a few solid training days in before heading to Queretaro, Mexico for the Challenge San Gil half distance race.
Queretaro is at 6500ft and the bike had almost 2000ft of climbing. Before I talk about the race, I just want to thank everyone at Challenge San Gil for providing such a fantastic race experience. The swim venue was held in a calm lake on a golf course so the conditions were not the challenging part. The altitude really hurt me in the swim. I thought I would be fine coming from 5200ft but the hard anaerobic effort at the swim start really hurt me about 1k into the swim. I was able to exit the water in 1st position but then I literally slogged my way to T1 which was about 800m.
On to the bike I felt a little flat at the beginning. The bike course is 10km flat, 35km climbing, 35km descending, and then the final 10km flat. At 20km I got a 4 minute drafting penalty off of a PRO male as we were yo-yoing back and forth. I was very frustrated as I am always mixing it up with the PRO males and it is hard to pass them once they see you are a female. I served my penalty at 35km and got back on the bike. I caught the same PRO male who was hugging the left side of the lane and I was forced to pass on the right. I received a stand down penalty for passing on the right that I had to serve before entering T2. By this point I was really struggling mentally to stay in the race.
The woman in 2nd place, another ITU runner from Mexico, exited T2 with me. She started with a very fast pace and I just could not match it. I was unsure how I was going to do on the half marathon. My body did not feel great but it also was not terrible. At 10km my legs came around and I got into the lead. From there I did not look back and held a steady pace that I knew I could maintain at 6500ft. So after a very emotional 4hrs I crossed the line in first. A win is always awesome, but I think the big take away from the race was overcoming adversity. I finished the weekend with tacos, churros, beers and the company of my awesome homestay family.
I am now back in Boulder for a solid training block. I will be racing again mid July. Thank you to EVERYONE who follows my racing and supports me. I am so grateful to all my sponsors who allow me to race my best: