I can’t believe 2014 has come and gone. It seems like just last week that I was planning for my first full racing season as a Professional. Living in Missoula, Montana forces me to have an extended off-season and to spend a lot of time on the bike trainer (movie time!). I was lucky to spend a few weeks in California last March, primarily training, but I also snuck in some quality family time. My boys love Sea World, Legoland and warm weather…and Thad and I don’t exactly hate those things, especially the warm weather!
In April, I participated in my first race of the season, the Grizzly Triathlon. It is a local race but has been tagged as the largest pool swim Triathlon in North America. The field normally includes a handful of strong Professionals, but without previous winner Linsey Corbin participating, I managed to secure my first Griz Tri win! It felt great and a perfect start to the racing season.
My next race was the well-known and unique Wildflower Triathlon in May. I have been told by numerous pros and amateur, alike, that Wildflower is a “must do” race, and they were right. To sum it up, grueling, hilly bike and run courses combined with hot, hot, hot temperatures does make for a memorable race. Being it was May and Montana hadn’t reached 50 degrees yet, the heat really got to me. I managed a 7th place finish, and an overall fun time with the Montana crew with whom I traveled.
Following that, Boise Ironman 70.3; what a memorable race for me! And to top off a great day, I was fortunate, and so thankful to have Thad with me for the support and to share the day. With swimming being my weakest link, I came out of the tough reservoir swim dead last in the Pro field; not fun, and it was clear I was going to have to play catch-up the rest of the race. Pounding my pedals, knowing I was in last, I slowly managed to move my way up to 6th, heading into T2. I felt good on the run and with it being a lap course along the river trail, Thad was able to keep me posted as to where the lead ladies were. I managed a final kick at the finish to sneak into third place just ahead of Kate Bevilaqua, who made me work harder than I believe I ever have to get there. My first podium finish as a Pro! As soon as I crossed the finish line, I started to cry from both happiness and exhaustion!
My next race was just outside Edmonton, Canada, in July, at a race called the Great White North Triathlon. One of the oldest triathlons in Canada, and a well-run event to say the least. My plan was to race hard, then meet Thad and boys in Winnipeg to take a mid-season break and spend time with my family. Being a smaller race, it was a mass start, this has been a challenge for me in the past as I’m not super comfortable in the water, and it proved to be again that day. After exiting the water, it was catch-up time once again. My bike training was really coming together and it was my first time racing with a disc, so I felt fast and strong coming off the bike in third position. Once I shook my legs out a bit, they were feeling good, and halfway through the run I was in first and held that right through the finish. Yah! It was the first time I won a half-ironman distance race, and it really felt like I was starting to come into my own.
I took my mid-season hiatus, and didn’t race again until September at Muskoka Ironman 70.3 in Canada. It was nice to take that break followed by a good, solid training block, but I was excited to race again. The race went pretty much according to plan, except for those pesky potty breaks☹, and unfortunately, it was one of those days we all have. I hit a wall with about two miles left of the run. The bike and run were both pretty hilly, and challenging, but I was proud that I fought through the difficulties and gave it my all for a 4th place finish.
August Ironman 70.3 was next up on the race schedule; just a few weeks after Muskoka. The swim was in a river, and I was swimming downstream, and let me tell you; I was pretty darn excited about it! I came out of the water with a group of three other Pros and just kept on motoring from there. At T2, I moved up to 4th place and around mile 7 of the run, I snuck into 2nd and was flying high. The last 5 miles were super hard and I was hurting but I managed to hold on to 2nd place! I thought Haley Chura was a swimmer, but she made me hurt on that run, and I barely managed to hold her off!
My last race of the season was Austin Ironman 70.3. Thad came with me for support but since it was the end of the season (and we love the restaurants and scene in Austin), we decided to stay a few extra days to hang out and celebrate the end of a great season. Thanks to my mom & dad, we left the boys in good hands while we were out having our fun! I was disappointed with my swim, as I felt like I was making great progress during training, but I came out of the water near the back and with a much slower time than I anticipated. Oh well, got it done, and moved on to the bike. I was in 6th heading into T2, and then had the fastest run split for a 3rd place overall finish. I was pleased with my race but I feel like I have more in me, and that I can improve not only in Austin, but my results in general.
Last season was special for so many reasons. Of course, there were times of frustration (the darn swim!), but overall, I love training and racing, and 2014 was more than I imagined it could be. And it nearly puts tears in my eyes, when I think about everyone who supports me, and allows me to do the things I love so much, and I would be remiss not to thank all of you. So, my wonderful husband and kids need to know I couldn’t do this without their amazing support and encouragement. And a big thanks to SOAS (soasracing.com) for the fashionable and functional Gear (for which I am always receiving compliments)! Thanks also to coach Elliot, Hellgate Cyclery, Mountain West Track Club and Active Physical Therapy.