Friday, October 9, 2015

How did I get here?


New race day kit (Endura) & bicycle (SCOTT Plasma 5, SRAM 1x)
How did we get here? It's the night before the Ironman World Championships and I feel like it has all been a blur, but at the same time, I know I'll have vivid memories from this period in time for the rest of my life.

Since I last wrote here, we completed our training in Noosa, Australia and raced the Sunshine Coast 70.3, where I placed 6th. The organizers told us the field was the biggest ever for a 70.3 in Ironman Asia Pacific and strong (25 professional women), so though I didn't make the podium, I had some promising moments that showed me that Kona training was going in the right direction.

I didn't have my best swim. With surf entry and some ocean swell, I slipped off the back in the early parts of the swim and struggled with navigation the entire way. I knew my swim was sub-par when I saw only a handful of bikes still on the rack in T1, but the day was about the process of the race, the problem-solving, and making the most of it.

Onto my bike I had one goal: Best watts ever in a 70.3.. I wanted to prove to myself that my Kona training was on the right track and I was indeed stronger than ever. With the small time gap between pro women and age group men, this wattage goal became increasingly difficult as droves of men started to pass us. I was absolutely not interested in drafting (i.e. riding too close to the bike in front of you which is illegal in triathlon but many try to bend or break the rules)... 1) for principal and ethical sake, it's not my thing, but 2) my goal for the race was "best watts ever" to inform how my Kona prep was going. I dodged all the men, spiked my power way too much at times, but rode in a way I can be proud about and came off with my BEST WATTS EVER on a 70.3 course. I was still far behind after that shocking swim, but no worries, that put a big smile on my face.
*note... the course was gently rolling on a big highway, which doesn't prevent drafting.. We've been advised that it will be changing to make a more clean race for Sunshine Coast 70.3 2016- The 70.3 World Champs, so don't be discouraged! There is a HUGE hill nearby that I hear may make an appearance to shatter the field).

I came off the bike, slapped on the HOKA Clifton's and set about my run. My immediate goal was to make up time and my overall goal was fastest run of the day. With girls like Caroline Steffen, Radka Vodikova, Annabel Luxford, and Britta Martin ahead of me, I knew that both goals were a tall order. On lap 1, I made some good inroads, passing a couple of girls. I noticed I was clipping off just around 6:00/mi pace with controlled effort and felt this was a good sign.
Happy to see Wynne as I came around for lap 2
On lap two, I caught a lot of girls I didn't expect to catch based on how far ahead they were.. I ended up running from 14th up to 6th place. Overall, it was just fun to compete in such a dynamic and tight field. The difference from 1st to 10th in the women's field was just 13 minutes (15 minutes in the men's field) and I'm happy to see the women once again proving that we have the strength that the men do and should be treated equally at the highest level of our sport.
I ended up running a 1:18:Xx split... First time ever 1:20 in a half (off-the bike or otherwise), so I was pleased.

post-race with the fam.. Luke had a fantastic race, finishing 2nd

From there, we recovered for a few days then hit one final training block before heading over to the Big Island. My training overall for Kona has been consistent. That is the one word that comes to mind. There aren't too many workouts that stick out to me as "breakthroughs", just an overall feeling that I did everything I could possibly do, given my circumstances. For the first time ever, the place I saw the most progress was the swim. I swam consistently and I swam A LOT. I swam with teenagers who could lap me on a 300. I swam in a 50m pool every day. I swam open water 1x/ week. I was bummed that this didn't show off at Sunshine Coast 70.3, but I am convinced it will show up on race day.

Kona has been great, but it has been busy! We completed all of our final training sessions and spent some quality time on the course, but off the course it hasn't quite been "feet up and relax".
Photo:Aimee Johnson, Australian Triathlete Magazine

It's my first time racing here as part of the pro circuit, and being Luke's other half, I can't say we've 'flown under the radar'. We have had a lot of fun video shoots and media following our training sessions and interviews and such, which is a lot of 'work', but also fun. The hardest part has been not being able to spend much time with Wynne. Luke's parents are here and they have been making sure she experiences all Hawaii has to offer with beach time and social time, but it does sting a little to be missing out on all of it. I'm looking forward to making up time in the mom department once the race is over.

Photo during my "Wahine Warriors" shoot for witsup.com Check out the <3 a="" href="http://www.witsup.com/wahine-warriors-beth-gerdes/" min="" target="_blank" video="">here
Hanging outside Lava Java with my people in their cool Good Time Trunk Co matchies
Run session at Mana road. Photo: Michael Rauschendorfer


Another thing keeping us busy has been working with my new sponsor, Gatorade Endurance. If you follow me, you'll know that I've been using Gatorade products (un-sponsored) for a couple of years, so when they came to me with an opportunity to jump on board, I was excited to say the least. It turns out, I am only the second triathlete to ever be sponsored by Gatorade (the first is Chris Legh). Working with Gatorade Endurance, I'll be tapping into their resources at Gatorade Sports Science Institute to take my racing to the next level. But more immediately, they are featuring me in a "Win From Within" online documentary following my journey to get to this start line. This meant that a full film crew from L.A. was out here in Kona following my (almost) every move for the past 5 days. It was an amazing (and sometimes awkward) experience. I can't wait to see the outcome, but it definitely added another "layer" to the already busy parenting, training, media schedule that is the pre-Kona whirlwind. All worth it though, of course! I finally have a sponsor that people outside of triathlon have actually heard of!
Sweat test with G Endurance

So, that's how we got here. 2 days to go until my first professional race at the Ironman World Championsips. At 35, I'm no "young gun", but surprisingly, this is the prime age for female Ironman competitors. What are my goals? That's hard to say. To be one of the 40 women (35 qualifiers plus  automatic qualifiers) in the world, and 9 American women to qualify this year was already a win for me. My body allowed me to finish 4 full Ironman races in the one year after I had a baby and that is pretty cool, okay, crazy. There's nothing to indicate that I could be in the top 10 or top 15 here based on the fact that every woman on the starting list is incredibly talented and accomplished. I should be "happy just to be here", but of course I want more. I think that if I have my perfect race, I could sneak into that top 15 or even top 10, but we won't know until we know.

"The Rookies" SCOTT athletes making their pro debut in Kona (Van Berkel, Luxford, Me, Naeth) Photo: Michael Rauschendorfer) 
If you're interested in following along head to ironman.com tomorrow for live streaming of the race. Given how my race plays out, I likely won't be on the actual coverage as I race from the back and they film from the front, but I'm betting Luke will be out there all day giving everyone a good show.

Peace out! #124 heading to bed. See you at the finish line!

 Shout out to all that make this possible for me:

3 comments:

Dolly said...

Gatorade?!
I can't wait to see you on the cover of a Wheaties box or Sports Illustrated magazine.
The sky is the limit for you.

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