Chasing the perfect race

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Posted by: Heather Leiggi 6/28/2014 10:43 AM

One of my friends commented this weekend at Syracuse about how hard it seems to put together a complete race. It's definitely a challenge in our sport of triathlon, especially trying to balance all 3 sports. But I'm sure that is partly why we come back for more, searching for that perfect performance. Thinking back to all the races I've had, I don't know if I've ever had a race where I felt it went exactly as I'd hoped from beginning to end. That doesn't keep me from trying! That's one of the things I love about racing. Pushing myself and testing myself to be better than the last time. This comment definitely hit home as I thought about my last 2 races. Eagleman 70.3 and Syracuse 70.3, from a performance point of view, ended up being complete opposites. At Eagleman, I had a great bike (with a new PB!) but had a pathetic swim and run. At Syracuse, I managed a great swim, solid run and pathetic bike. While I can't help but be a little disappointed with the less-then-stellar parts of my races, they are great learning opportunities.

I knew racing Eagleman 3weeks post-IM might be a little risky. I am pretty new to ironman racing so I wasn't sure how my body would respond. Eagleman is one of my favorite races and close to home so I decided to take the risk. The weather turned out to be nice, for Eagleman standards anyway.  The pro field, while always strong, was much deeper than normal after Rev3 canceled the pro purse at Quassy. I was excited to race, with no expectations other than to race as hard as my body would allow. I was looking forward to having a good swim here after having some good swims in my last 2 races. To be honest, I still don't know exactly happened during my swim but I have a few theories. Whatever the case, it was not good. I felt like I might have been swimming a bit too easy during the swim but I was hoping I was just drafting really well. :)  Fortunately, I did not see my time when I came out of the water. I hopped on my bike and was pleased that my legs felt great immediately. I've had some great bike training this year so it was nice to be able to back up that training with a PB. My legs had a different idea for the run though. I could see another pro women about 20-30sec ahead of me as I headed out on the run but as much as I tried to chase her down I just couldn't get my body moving any faster. In the end, I did manage to catch her by mile 10 but I still had to settle for a sub-par run and a 12th place finish.

Two weeks later I headed up to race Syracuse 70.3. I was honored to be asked to help with the Ironkids event. It was a blast watching the little kids race their hearts out and with such big smiles on their faces. The Syracuse 70.3 course is a tough one, especially the run course which is one of the hardest around. I had raced well here the year before so I had nothing but good memories as I lined up at the start on race morning. After my pathetic swim at Eagleman, I was extra focused on this leg.  I did some recon, planned out a little strategy and then went for it. Mostly I wanted to keep the effort high, but I also wanted to give myself a chance of getting on some fast feet. The feet ended up being a little too fast for me. Still, I had a strong solo swim which was good for another sub-30 performance. I still have A LOT of work to do on my swimming but I am ever so slowly making progress.  I came out of the swim in 6th and set off to chase down some women on the bike. What a difference a race makes. Unlike Eagleman, my legs felt awful and my power was nowhere near what I wanted. The first half of the bike is all uphill and I was struggling. I got passed by twice which did nothing for my mental state. I was frustrated and thoughts of quitting definitely were crossing my mind. I convinced myself to just do damage control at this point, get through the hills and see how my legs felt when I hit the flats. Slowly my legs did come around. I began seeing a few women up the road ahead so I was able to use them as motivation to get my efforts back up. I managed to catch 4 women in the second half and got off the bike in 4th. Unfortunately there was a little too much damage done and even though my legs felt great on the run course, I wasn't able to make up much ground on the 3 women ahead. I ended the day in 4th and over 8minutes faster than last year despite a unimpressive bike. 

Progress is progress. I have learned so much this first half of my season. I've had some great training blocks, managed to execute a solid ironman race, and managed two 4th place finishes and 2 PB races. Now it's time for a little mid season R&R. Coach told me to spend the week getting fat and I plan on listening. Then it's time to start plotting the next round of racing. Onward and upward!!!!!

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