Chattanooga 70.3. I finally got to race!!!

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Posted by: Heather Leiggi 6/1/2015 3:04 AM

What a nice way to kick off the 2015 race season! While 5th place is not my best finish ever, it was a solid race, a race where I felt strong from beginning to end, and a positive step in the right direction. Training had been pretty hit or miss in the days leading up to Chattanooga 70.3. Since getting back from IMSA, I really struggled to find the form I had leading into IMSA. I was a little surprised with the amount of fitness I had lost while away but with a steady supply of emails from my coach telling me to be patient (trust me, I needed the constant reminders), I kept my head down and just plugged away at the training. I'm not going to say it was easy. There were many days where I was completely frustrated. But despite all this, I was really looking forward to finally getting out there and racing. Usually my nerves win out on race week but this week, I just wanted to race. I arrived in Chattanooga excited, although still full of doubts and uncertainties. My swim “seemed” pretty solld. Training “seemed” to have gone well on the bike. I had had plenty of strong workouts and “thought” I was ready for a strong showing... but you never know. My run, well, ugh! Training had been pretty ugly for the most part. But with all this training, I didn't really have a good baseline for comparison. I hadn't raced since starting with a new coach and doing completely different workouts. It had also been a really long time since I raced a half ironman. The last one was Calgary 70.3 back in July. I decided on Chattanooga 70.3 partly due to timing, but also because I felt like it would be low key: easy to get to, a course I was familiar with after racing the ironman there in Sept, and a course I enjoyed racing on. The town of Chattanooga also has a surprisingly cool vibe so I was able to convince my husband to take a road trip with me.

We headed down Thursday and arrived in Chattanooga Friday night. The days leading up to the race were pretty relaxed. As I said, I knew the course, so I didn't need to do a lot of recon. I had driven down so I didn't need to build my bike. We were staying close to the race site and downtown Chattanooga so it was easy to get most places and I could ride my bike down to transition on race morning. Easy peasy! 

Why do race mornings always have to start so early?! Ugh! Anyway, a little caffeine and breakfast got me going. I arrived in transition nice and early, set up my stuff (luckily I remembered how to do it ;)) and was over to the race start with lots of time to spare. I checked out what I could see of the swim start. I made note of the fact that while we were supposed to have a fast, current assisted swim, the kayakers in the water were not moving anywhere. So much for that current! I ate a gel, downed some water and was in the water ready to go. I knew there several really fast swimmer girls in this race so I did what I could to keep contact at the start. I found some feet pretty quickly although they were not quite the fast feet I was hoping for. I stayed on the feet, feeling like I wanted to be swimming a little harder but my few attempts to break free were unsuccessful and I finally just settled in and enjoyed the pull. I came into transition with 2 other girls and my husband told me I was in 8th place. I had no idea if my swim was good or bad. I usually can tell by the way my husband cheers but he left me wondering this time!  I headed out onto the bike. While I was finding my legs, getting some hydration

and settling in, the 2 girls I swam with passed me and I rode legally behind them for them a while. Just like on the swim, I felt like I wanted to be going faster although with all 3 of us riding close (but legal!), I was a little hesitant to put in the big effort that would be require to pass both of them that early on. I hung back for a while but eventually I got antsy, noting my power was dropping and surged on ahead. It was nice to be out in front and in control of the pace. A little while later, stud cyclist Jessie Donavan came flying by me so it gave me someone to chase. I caught Nina Kraft around mile 45 and could see Sarah Cameto up the road but I ran out of time to catch her. I was pleased with how strong I had felt overall and was right on track with where I wanted to be for this race on the bike. I headed out onto the run in 7th.  I knew I was not far behind Sarah but I was not feeling super confident in my run with the inconsistent training I had going into this race. The first mile of the run was all uphill which made the pace a bit slow too. I tried to keep my eyes up the road on Sarah for mental motivation and just focused on keeping the calories/hydration up. I was pleasantly surprised with how I felt. I managed to catch Sarah around mile 3 and then
Anna Cleaver around mile 7. I was surprised to be in 5th with one lap to go but I also knew I had to keep the pressure on. Nina was hot on my heels. The last few miles were TOUGH (as they should be!) but I managed to hold on and cross the line in 5th.  Surprised and happy.  Again, it was not my best result but one of my more consistent and solid races in a long time. A good way to start the season! My husband and I enjoyed a leisurely drive home through the Smokey Mountains which included at least one Dairy Queen stop and a sasquatch sighting!   

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