70.3 Worlds Championships...Unfinished Business

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Posted by: Heather Leiggi 9/19/2013 8:34 PM

Ah, the World Championships...apparently a race that is going to go on haunting me. I have been to 4 World Championships events now as a pro and before that as amateur, many National and World Championship events. If I look back on those races, the fond memories I have of them are mostly the cool locations, grandiose atmosphere, and the post-race fun. I can honestly say that I can only remember one race which was good from a performance standpoint..and even that is a bit of a stretch. For some reason, I lose all ability to think rationally when I get to these big races. All the pressure and importance of these races take over my brain. In my defense, I was sick for a few of them but I suppose one could argue a case that my illness was stress-related. Not only does this lessen any chance of me having a good race, it also makes racing a lot less enjoyable. Obviously our minds play a BIG role in how we perform, not just in racing, and but in training as well. It's something I believe we all can improve on (and should!) and can be a big part of growing as an athlete. I am happy to say, I have come a LONG way. Not just due to my own maturity, I have learned from others as well. My husband has taught me to toughen up, my coach has helped build my confidence, my sports psychologist, Dr. Greene, has given me mental game plans prior to races and other little day-to-day words and phrases have continued to inspire me. The point of all of my rambling here is to say that this year, when I accepted my slot to Worlds this year, I knew what my goals were going to be. I was going to enjoy the day, not let my head give any excuse for a bad race , and put together a performance I was proud of. This was going to be harder than it looked on paper but I had something to prove. 2 out of 3 ain't bad right? I didn't care whether this got me 1st or last. In the weeks leading up to Vegas, I struggled a bit in training; low energy, a few little illnesses, but in the end was able to put together a solid training block and was ready to go when I hopped on the plane. I kept my own race day goals in mind, constantly reminded myself that this was “just another race” and was able to get on the start line with nothing more than the normal pre-race jitters. The swim start was a little rougher than normal but spread out pretty quickly and I was happy to find some feet to follow. Once things settled down, I realized I was in a nice little group. I felt like my effort level was a little lower than I wanted it to but I was enjoying swimming the company. I debated on whether I should pull out and try to swim a little harder or just sit in. In the end, I stayed with the group. I did try a few little times to surge off the front but in the end made the decision I was best where I was. I was able to pick it up a little toward the end of the swim and was one of the first women out of the water in my group. I made the long run through transition and was off on the bike. The first part of the bike is a few miles of steady climbing. Immediately my legs felt terrible. It always takes me a while to find my legs though so while I'm never happy about feeling this was, I wasn't too concerned. A few of the women who came out of the water behind me caught and past me and I did everything I could to stick with them. I felt like I was struggling more than usual but I told myself to be patient and just do damage control until my legs come around. I hit the 5mile mark, still no legs. The 10 mile mark, still no legs. That's when I started to worry. I knew that I had already lost more time on the women ahead than I had hoped to and my legs definitely felt strange. I tried to get my power up and put in a few efforts but it was no use. I ended up feeling worse and worse as the bike went on with power numbers way below my norm. I called it a day in T2. Initially I was happy just to be off my bike and done putting my body through the struggling but the disappointment hit me pretty quickly. The plus side was I was able to enjoy the perks of the VIP/pro lounge sooner and made to feel a little better by lamenting with my fellow pro's who had done the early walk of shame into the lounge. Misery loves company ;). Despite the disappointment of my race, the chance to compete at a World Championship as a pro athlete is still something I am proud of... and despite a DNF, at least it was not because of my head so that is a positive! As my coach said, guess you still have unfinished business?! And now it will time for a little redemption, Cozumel 70.3 up next. Keep your fingers crossed!

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EMAIL ME at heather@heatherleiggi.com