Ironman 70.3 World Championship Race Report

It has been a while since I’ve shared a race report here, but considering this was my biggest race yet it needs to be documented. It’s taken me over a week to actually process and reflect on this race. In a nutshell it was my worst race in terms of finishing time and yet the best experience I’ve had in my 7 years in the sport and 4th 70.3. I didn’t come close to any of my “A” or even “B” goals, but I finished despite some hurdles (particularly on the bike) and I’m pretty darn proud of that.

I arrived to Port Elizabeth after 30 hours of travel on Thursday, less than 48 hours before the start of the race. Unfortunately there was a backlog of bikes stuck in Johannesburg and my bike didn’t arrive until the next afternoon. By the time I picked it up from the airport on Friday and returned to my hotel, I had only a couple hours to put it together and get it checked in. I wasn’t able to take it out for a test ride, which may have contributed to the issues I would have on the bike during the race.

After arriving on Thursday, I met up with some of my Betty Squad teammates for photos, athlete check in and the opening ceremony dinner.

It was pretty awesome to find my name on the wall with all the other competitors. There were 4,500 total from over 40 different countries. Pretty amazing to be among the best in the world. Friday we checked in bikes and our run bags. I had a pizza/pasta carb load dinner with my Betty sister Melissa and her daughter and the hugest brownie ever! Then it was off to bed. I was surprised how well I slept that night.

RACE DAY:

Alarm went off at 5am. Had my usual pre-race breakfast, peanut butter toast with banana. I FaceTimed with my husband and twin boys who were getting ready for bed with the 9 hour time difference and was surprised how calm I felt. My roommate for the trip, Raya, who I met through Instagram (love how I’ve made so many friendships through social media) and I headed out to catch a shuttle to the start. I did a quick tire pressure check in T1, snapped a few pics with friends and before I knew it, it was time to head to the swim start.

THE SWIM: current PR 46 minutes / goal: sub 45 / actual ~ 50 minutes. The ocean temperature was 58 race morning, a pretty big dip from 62 degrees the day before. There was no warm up allowed race morning, so it took me a little longer to get warmed up after entering the water. They sent us off in age group waves of about 10 at a time. I was stoked to find my Trek Bikes teammate Meredith in my wave. We had planned to start together. We were in the 2nd to last group to enter the water within our 35-39 (the larges) age group (wave 4). I managed to hang with the pack in front of me for the first 400 or so meters, but by the time I reached the first turn buoy at 800m I lost Meredith and the pack had thinned way out. I felt like I was swimming all alone which freaked me out. I let panic set it. For the next 300m to the next turn back to shore I stopped way too many times. It took a pack of green caps catching up to me from the next wave to calm me enough to get my rhythm back. I knew a PR wasn’t going to happen and was just happy to get out of the water before the cutoff time which is shortened to 1 hr for Worlds. The best part was the wetsuit stippers who took my wetsuit off for me in seconds.

THE BIKE: current PR = 3:04, goal: sub 3, actual ~ 3:58. There was a decent climb right out of T1 and a strong headwind that lasted for the first 25 miles. I tried not to worry about all the girls passing me. I told myself that although I usually pass more people on the bike, this was Worlds. I was racing myself. But I was struggling big time and going way slow (10-11mph) which is wayyyy slower than I usually avg even riding into headwind. I knew something was up when I heard a strange noise. I pulled over to inspect at the mile 15 aid station and sure enough my front brake was rubbing. I’m not sure how long it had been rubbing, but pretty sure it was for most of those first 15 miles. I fixed it as quickly as I could and got back out on the course. As we reached the coastline there were some scary descents I took more cautiously than I would have liked. Then on the way up a decent sized hill just before the turnaround my chain dropped. Off the bike I went once again. I tried to get it back on quickly, but still cost me a good few minutes. A couple miles later just as I made the u-turn to head back my back break got stuck and I couldn’t peddle. I jumped off the bike once again and this time I couldn’t hold in the tears. At this point I was so frustrating with all the mechanicals I was shaking. A nice volunteer noticed and came over to help. He wasn’t sur if the rules allowed him to physically assist, so he talked me through what to do to fix the issue. I seriously might have never finished that bike course if it wasn’t for him. I wish I had gotten his name. Thankfully there were no more issues after this point and we now how a nice tailwind, so I was able to make up a chunk of lost time. I decided to just take in the views and enjoy the rest of the course as much as possible, while making sure I made it to T2 well before the cutoff.

THE RUN: current PR = 2:08, goal: sub 2, actual ~ 2:15. The run was mostly flat with a moderate hill at both ends of the two loop course. I had been out on the bike course longer than anticipated (1 hour longer!) so I didn’t have enough nutrition to set myself up for a strong run. I try to take in about 300 calories per hour. I drank coke at every aid station which worked for me at Santa Rosa (my current run PR). At that point my stomach couldn’t handle gels or food. The energy from spectators, Betty Squad and instagram friends was all I needed. I just tried to take it in as much as possible and get to that finish.

The last 5k was a struggle, but thankfully my friend Conrad (who was racing in the men’s race the following day) appeared with 2 miles to go and ran with me a bit which was just what I needed to finish strong. As I rounded the corner to the red carpet I was overcome with a huge swell of emotion. I gave high fives to the line of spectators cheering, my eyes filled with tears. Crossing that finish was truly the most amazing feeling I’ve ever experienced. I did it! I was a World Championship Finisher!

Total time: 7:14:09.

This was the slowest 70.3 finish out of the 4 I have done, but without a doubt the most memorable and special.

It was amazing to have so many friends and teammates there to celebrate with after since my family didn’t travel with me.

The next day a few Betty Squad teammates and I headed out for a full day Safari. It was incredible! Bucket list item checked off!

The following day it was time to say goodbye to South Africa. I made sure to pack plenty of my favorite Stryve Biltong protein snacks for the 30 hour plane ride back home. Biltong is a favorite in South Africa and packed with protein to aide in recovery.

It was truly an amazing trip and experience that will live in my heart forever!

Special thanks to the sponsors whose support helped make this journey possible:

Stryve Biltong for fueling me with the best protein.

Scicon for the only bike bag I trust transporting my bike in.

Betty Designs for making me look badass and beautiful in my Worlds race kit!

Wahoo Fitness for the amazing KICKR that prepared me for those tough hills during long training rides conveniently at home.

Jaybird Sport for providing me with the best wireless headphones to power me through long training runs.

Rudy Project for protecting my head with the best helmet out there.

Women for Tri for the opportunity to race my first and definitely not last World Championship.

Molo XO

Christina

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