I actually felt really good going into the race and was prepared to surprise myself. BUT, I knew my biggest limiter would be that depth of endurance that you just can't get going from ground zero to Ironman in 8 weeks. I wanted to give my best, but not be too hard on myself. When you come from a place where you want to win races, it's hard to downgrade to "I just want a respectable finish" but I knew I had to race within my means. Luckily, Malaysia is stinking hot and not only do I love hot conditions, but I know it forces all athletes to slow down a bit (or risk an epic blowup). So, my hope was that my steady eddy pace would eventually reel in a few people and I could make some KPR (Kona Points Ranking) points and earn a paycheck. When I got those "What the heck am I doing?" and "Will I even remember how to race after a year off?" feelings, I reminded myself that it's just like riding a bike. Because, well, it IS riding a bike.
|check, check, check.|
|Pre-race swim with Julie.|
|swim venue the day before- Kuah bay|
First of all. HANDS DOWN my favorite Ironman swim of all time for a few reasons: 1) super warm (like bathtub!) water and non-wetsuit so I got to wear my Zoot Speedzoot which I love. 2) The most well-marked course I have ever swum- flags every 25m and large buoys marked 1-10 every 450m 3) Kayakers everywhere- this course made it simply impossible to go the wrong direction (and believe me I can often find a way!) 4) a clockwise one-loop swim. I breathe to the right so I pretty much never had to look up for sighting.
|Really cool pics from Asiatri.com - check out this "IM Swim for Dummies" course- so rad!|
T1: Big surprise- FOUR other bikes still on the rack! That meant I was in the top half of women out of the water. My smile got a little bigger.
|Transition. Bike Bling!|
The Bike- 112mi/180k (5:34- 20.1mph)
|up the hill....P.S. the new Smith Overtake aero road helmet is the bees knees for a hot race!|
I knew that I wouldn't be able to ride "hard" on my current/limited fitness, so my goal was to ride steady and strong.The course starts with three pretty big climbs with fast descents and I was immediately passed by a couple of girls. I knew my limit on the climbs and decided not to go above them- it was going to be a long day. The course winds its way around to the north side of the island and the Red Bull "tough zone" out to Datai Mountain. The "tough zone" was a series of 5 hills where age groupers competed for fastest segment. Also near the tough zone was the "monkey zone"- 12k of the course where eating gels and bars was not allowed due to the prevalence of local monkeys who would literally jump at the chance for an exotic treat. I feel like I rode steady and attempted to ride strong throughout the bike. My Cannondale Slice RS fits me so well and I was super comfortable the whole way (the ISM Attack saddle helps- LOVE! Also, based on the course profile, I chose a Zipp 404/808 wheelset which turned out to be perfect.) Midway through loop one, I had just gone ahead of Michelle Duffield and then promptly decided to take a wrong turn off course where we were supposed to U-turn. I didn't see signs for a U-turn and thought the yellow barricades were blocking the road (not indicating the turnaround), so off on a solo mission down a random road I went. I figured it out soon enough and turned around, probably only losing a minute or two. My bad, though, as I didn't hear of anyone else making that mistake. Other than that, my ride was uneventful, but I was aware that I was executing a slow fade to the finish, my 2nd lap watts dropping about 5 below my first lap watts. I was happy to leapfrog with Michelle on and off throughout the day to keep the motivation high and make me feel in the mix of the race.
Though my ride was uneventful, the actual course was far from it! Some of the race route roads must remain open to local traffic for the residents and this requires the athletes to be on their toes. Lots of families on scooters buzz by going every direction and occasionally you'd be behind a line of cars. Also, monkeys and wild dogs galore so there is always something to look out for or speed away from. Nothing felt really unsafe as the traffic was respectful and the dogs weren't too fast, but it definitely added more of a video game element to the ride- dodging obstacles on the 112 mile mission is fun! I rolled back into Kuah town just behind Michelle and heard Pete Murray (he's like the Australian Mike Reilly) announce my name of course along with "just had a baby" and "wife to Luke McKenzie" (hah- maybe one day?)... but it gave me big smiles all around.
|heading to T2|
The Run- 26.2mi/42k (3:30- 4:59/k)
I know a certain heart rate where I can successfully run a marathon off-the-bike. On my best day, this gives me around a 3:00 marathon. With the Malaysian heat (someone said that the temperature at 9PM was still 100.4 degrees F! Thorsten, from trirating.com analyzes the results and said IM Malaysia 2014 was the overall slowest Ironman run of all time), I decided to run at my designated heart rate, regardless of the pace, in order to successfully make it to the finish line without blowing up. Unfortunately, on Ironman Malaysia day, this heart rate didn't give me 3:00 marathon pace... It gave me 3:30 marathon pace! Some of that was due to the crazy conditions, but some was due to pure lack of that deep race fitness. BUT, I felt strong and controlled throughout (while still fading a bit at the end). I was able to pass a couple of pro women and ran into 5th place by the finish. I logged my slowest ever Ironman marathon (out of 12 Ironmans) but truly feel that I gave it what I had on the day. I think the Ironman run is where race fitness truly reveals itself and I just wasn't bike OR run fit enough to run a fast marathon. That will take another couple of months of work to get that depth. The good thing is, I've been there before and I know what I need to do to get back there. Nothing in this sport comes for free and it would be criminally unfair if I could just pop out a 3:00 marathon right after a baby, right? I've been careful in my run training to build slowly to avoid injury, and sometimes there just are no shortcuts.
|My first finish over 10 hours in the past 3 years, but the time on the clock can never tell the whole story. Happy as can be.|
And what a welcome home it was....
sponsors for sticking by me through my pregnancy hiatus, to our families (espcialy Jacque!) for making my training possible, to Wynne for being the most angelic & flexible baby who has slept through the night since 5 weeks old, and most of all to Luke for coaching me, loving me, and believing in me.