IM Kansas 70.3 will go in my books as one of the best races to do! The terrain was much hillier than I expected, but beautiful, and the people cheering on racers (including 11xIronman Champion Lisa Bentley) were amazing! I am feeling stronger at this distance, and my performances continue to go in the right direction. I am excited and gaining confidence for World 70.3 this September.
Over the past 6 weeks I have been busy coaching Track & Field at Gross Catholic High School, and this race really snuck up on me: just when I was ready to focus on my training it was time to begin tapering! I was a little concerned because I had not given the focus to my training that I wanted to give, especially in the disciplines of swimming and cycling. Since New Orleans 70.3 in April, I had only been in the water a total of 4 times. It showed in my swim performance. I started off feeling strong and was with a solid group of swimmers up until the 500 to 700 meter point. I was swimming with a long, smooth stroke but found myself using a choppy, broken swing as I fell off pace. I also started swimming with my head up to track this apparent train wreck - I could see the group I was with was now a full buoy or more ahead and the wave behind was quickly catching up. I tried to stay with each swimmer that passed, but with no success. I came out of the water in a disappointing 39 minutes. I have no excuses for my weak performance, and consistency in the water will be a high priority this summer.
I also did not have the race I hoped to have on the bike. Again, no excuses but also no regrets. I chose not to do the training to achieve the results I desire, but I am moving in the direction I want to go. In a nutshell my volume and intensity has remained stagnant since mid-March. I felt powerful until the 45 mile marker, the longest ride I had done since my last 70.3 in April. I was exchanging positions with another cyclist Allison - I would pass her on the uphills and she would come along on the downhills. This back and forth kept me motivated. But I had to use every mental strategy I knew to get me through the last 11 miles. Positive self talk was key during the final stretch on the bike, to get me to the run, where I am most confident.
My run was solid, a sign of the consistent training and coaching I've been doing in the sport. My form was smooth and light, and I quickly moved passed hundreds of runners struggling on the hilly and winding course. The cheers and high-fives from kids helped, of course. Many friends and families of racers were camped out in Clinton State Park, and kept all of us motivated with music and cheers. Though I've had bibs with my name printed on them before, spectators made an effort to cheer you on by name. It was nice to hear "way to go Melanie! Looking strong" from people I have never met. Pretty incredible support crews. My husband Jeff was also out there cheering: I think he ran just as much as I did moving from various check points along the course. Even though he thinks I didn't hear him because I didn't react, I had my game face on, but it meant everything to me that he was there.
Finishing Time 5:13, 4th Place 35-39
Some important benchmarks to note, however, I am over the awkwardness of being on a bike and have now returned back to my aggressive position on my triathlon bike. It is amazing how quickly you can lose something that was second nature only 2 years ago. It's slowly coming back. Also, my body has physiologically adapted to the demands of this distance, and I feel I have a solid foundation to ramp up my intensity and volume in my training moving forward. The best part of racing is learning the finer skills necessary to race better.
All-in-all things are coming together nicely. My next triathlon race will be the Omaha Triathlon on July 20th, with a couple 5km and 10km road races here and there. I am looking forward to these races because I get to train for and race them with Jeff!