Race Report: Thomas Gerlach @ Tinfoilman Triathlon

By Jaclyn A.
October 31, 2011 on 1:53 pm | In Athlete Profile, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

By Team TriSports athlete Thomas Gerlach

While most people were busy preparing their Halloween costumes, this week I got to work making myself into a real-life walking zombie.  I knew I hit the mark when I walked into TriSports on Saturday for the Tinfoilman packet pickup, and the staff actually commented on how much I looked like a zombie.  But that was the plan, and with both the Amica 19.7 Sprint Championship and Ironman Arizona fast approaching, I had little time for rest during my hardest training block ever.

The goal of the Tinfoilman was to get in a fast threshold workout and compare it to a race earlier this year on the same course.  Now to be fair, I had crashed 10 days prior to that race, but I thought it would be a wash with the extra fatigue for this one.

Swim (9:59) The Tinfoilman features an 825 yard swim in the University of Arizona pool. The race features 10 waves, with 30 athletes per wave, and 2 athletes per lane.I embraced the news as I planned for an even tougher threshold workout. My wave was up, the gun fired, and I took off down the lane. Surprisingly I had half a length gap on everyone - that is until I hit the wall - and then I found myself suddenly half a length behind. Now seeing as I don't believe in doing flip turns, and nor do I believe in pushing off the wall, I knew that I would sacrifice some time here. I can only imagine what it looks like from the pool deck, but based on the number of coaches that have watched me swim thru the years, I am pretty sure it is a horrid site - but hey it's Halloween!Bike (28:17) The bike is a relatively flat, 12-mile, 3-loop bike course around the U of A campus. The roads of this urban bike course go from smooth as glass to "hold on for dear life" rough, and they can be quite challenging with cars, dogs, and competitors to watch out for.The bike is where I expected my legs to be most fatigued and sadly they didn't disappoint. Nonetheless, I pedaled as fast as I could as I tried to close the gap on Ben. The power on the smoother sections was good at 330, but I couldn't put out any power on the bumpy sections and with all the turns the final power only came in at 279. In better news, as the laps rolled by the split differential was coming down. After the 1st lap it was at 1 minute, by the second lap it was down to 40 seconds, and when I rolled back into transition it was down to 20. This was all good, but I knew I needed a great run to win.

Run (17:17) I got back to transition, racked my bike, and swiftly put on my run shoes.  I had a GPS watch that I was going to use for data, but it served little purpose in trying to chase down a future Olympian.

I took off on the run with the mindset that I was only 20 seconds down – surprisingly the legs felt pretty good.  It always amazes me how much fresher legs feel after short races than the longer races that I am accustom to.  On the downside, fresh legs means there are no excuses but to run fast.

The run is a flat 2-loop course that offers multiple opportunities to grab splits. That first opportunity came at about 1K and I was roughly 250 meters down.  Ben looked strong, but the gap didn’t seem unreasonable so I pressed hard.  I was flying by other participants from earlier waves but my gap to Ben was growing and the signature smile was fading to a grimace.  I continued down the homestretch and could only muster a faint “on your left” as I flew by participants.  I left it all on the table, but in the end I would finish nearly a minute and a half down.

Overall (55:34) I had my best swim ever swimming 825y in 9:59.  That may not impress many – but it continues to show that my swim work is paying off, and a strong swim is key to my success at the next level.  The bike was lacking today but I knew it would be and the run was on par.  Overall my time was 55:34 and good for second place and was a good minute faster than my race back in May at 56:37.

Garmin Forerunner 910XT with HR

By Mike O.
October 28, 2011 on 6:00 am | In Announcements, Product Information | No Comments

The Garmin Forerunner 910XT is designed for the triathlete who wants the next generation of Garmin’s multi sport GPS watches.   The 910XT provides triathletes with all the metrics needed to improve your training.

The 910XT swim metrics include swim distance, stroke count and length per stroke.   Bike and run metrics include an industry first barometric altimeter for highly accurate elevation data, including ascent, descent and grade.  Custom multiple training pages allows for configurable data for each sport.  Set up the vibration alerts to give a silent nudge when you hit a split, when it’s time for some nutrition or if you need a little feedback to stay within range of your training goals.

Water resistant up to 50m and is compatible with all ANT+ power meter devices.

Pre order yours today!

Carbohydrates – a Triathlete’s Best Friend

By Steve A
October 26, 2011 on 12:28 pm | In Nutrition Tips | No Comments

In the world we live in today there is an increasing talk about carbohydrates. The truth is that carbohydrates really are the endurance athlete’s best friend, without them we could not swim, bike or run with any bit of enjoyment or proficiency.  Without carbohydrates, our capacity for endurance would just about disappear. So the question on everyone’s mind is how many carbohydrates do I need? To answer this we first need to understand what carbohydrates are and what they do in our bodies.

What is a Carbohydrate?

To the endurance athlete, carbohydrates are basically either glucose, fructose or some combination of the two (there are more types of carbohydrates, but for this we are only going to talk about those two). Carbohydrates can be linked together to form different types of sugars or chemical structures such as sucrose (glucose linked with fructose), also know as table sugar. Carbohydrates can also be linked together to form more complex molecules like Amylose or Amylopectin which is basically a long string of glucose molecules linked together and are commonly found in plants.  Carbohydrates are found in foods like fruit, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, grains and sweets. Carbohydrates can be classified as either Simple, like in cookies and soda, or Complex, like in whole wheat bread or pasta.

What does it do in the body?Carbohydrates begin to break down into a digestible form once they enter the mouth. Your saliva contains an enzyme called amylase that begins to break down complex carbohydrates into a more simple form preferred by the small intestines. Next, carbohydrates are moved down into your stomach where they are further broken down into a digestible form called chyme. This mix of partially digested food is then released slowly into your small intestines where it is broken down further into the simplest form, glucose. Glucose now can be absorbed into your blood stream. Once glucose is in circulation, your muscle cells and liver can begin to uptake glucose with a little help from our friend insulin. Inside the cell, glucose is either made into glycogen for storage or used for energy in glycolysis during exercise. Once glucose has entered glycolysis, it can be used to make energy anaerobically for a short period of time or it can be used to fuel the citric acid cycle at medium to medium high aerobic efforts. Depending on your exercise intensity, your body will begin to burn a blend of fat and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are not 100% essential, but for an endurance athlete they are critical. Without carbohydrates, it would take a long time to restore glycogen levels to an acceptable range after training.

How much do I need?

Now that you have the gist of what a carbohydrate is, we can discuss how much an endurance athlete needs. Typically an endurance athlete needs 50-65% of their diet from carbohydrates, with less than 10% of those carbohydrates coming from a simple form. Here is what I recommend:

Training time                      Carbohydrate grams/pound body weight

1 hour/day                          2.7-3.2 g/lb

2 hours/day                        3.6 g/lb

3 hours/day                        4.5 g/lb

4 hours/day                        5.4-5.9 g/lb

As an example, if I am a 180lb man and I am training 2 hours per day, 180lb x 3.6g/lb=648 grams of carbohydrates. I recommend splitting these up through each meal of the day, so for 5 meals that is 129g per meal. Since there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate, that is about 520 calories per meal from carbohydrates.

The beautiful human machine is complex and there is no owner’s manual, but hopefully this helps you understand how things work a little better. Now go out there, eat carbs and train hard!

CAF San Diego Triathlon Challenge

By Adam McCreight
October 25, 2011 on 11:31 am | In Community, Employee Adventures, Giving Back, Life at TriSports.com | No Comments
Cody McCasland, one of CAF’s Shining Stars
A few months back, I was given the opportunity to join a relay team for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) through TriSports Racing, TriSports.com’s charity arm. I had recently heard of this organization and thought to myself that this is a chance to participate in a triathlon that raises money for athletes with some kind of disability so they have the means to compete through grants and other assistance. What I knew beforehand about CAF were the cool running prosthetics, hand crank bicycles, and other high profile items. What this day meant to me was that I was going to San Diego for the weekend to check out some really cool hardware on amputees and get to also run beside them.
Tyler, Shari and Adam head out together on the run
On the day of the race, I was convinced this is not a race, but an event. What did that really mean? TriSports Racing had two relay teams during this “race” and I was to run on one of them. I had decided ahead of time to get a swim out of this day as well. After the opening ceremony, which had an unbelievable signer belting out the national anthem, and a parade of the challenged athletes competing, I scrambled to go to the bathroom and then put on my wetsuit. That is where I met Sean. He was in a corner with his girlfriend, trying to get on his wetsuit before the start. I was in my own world and was using this quiet corner to put down my wetsuit while I went to the bathroom. As soon as I put down the wetsuit and turned to leave, I did a 180 and asked if I could help. He replied back with “Yes, if you have the time.” That right there changed this day from a race into an event for me.
The “wheelies” prepare to start
Here is a paraplegic trying to get on a wetsuit to swim one mile in open water. Yes, I had the time. If you have ever attempted to put on a triathlon wetsuit, you know it is tough. For some people it takes 15-20 minutes, and that is with the ability to stand up and work the wetsuit up your legs and butt. Sean is a paraplegic in a wheelchair. He had to lock the wheels, use his arms to get his “trunk” off of the seat, lean forward for me to work the wetsuit up, and because he has experience in this, use his girlfriend as a stability device with his head as I jerk on the wetsuit to get it past his butt.
World Champ Chrissie Wellington accompanies some of the kids during their run
After a few attempts, the wetsuit was up far enough that he could get his arms in. A part of my job at TriSports.com is to help fit people in wetsuits. I could tell the wetsuit was not far enough up on his torso, but Sean’s swim start was in 5 minutes and he had to get from the cliffs of La Jolla Bay down to the water. As I was fretting with the fit, I realized that Sean has a lot more to overcome on this day than a wetsuit that is pulling down on his shoulders a bit. We parted ways and all I got was his name and a new understanding of what this event was really about.
Determination!

Street Level

By Tom D.
October 24, 2011 on 2:58 pm | In Community, Employee Adventures, Random Musings | 1 Comment

By Tom Demerly

He hollered through a broken smile that looked like his brown teeth had chomped down on rock.

“Hey- how much was ‘saht bike? I seen ‘em bikes ‘sat cost eight hunder dollars and weigh three pounds. You kin pick ‘em up with yer pinky finger…”

Every morning on the commute in, and again on the way home, I see the men at the corner. They live under the bridge and sell papers to people stopped at the traffic light. Most people sitting behind safety glass in temperature controlled distance ignore them. Some buy papers, mostly tan men in pick-up trucks with ladders and tool buckets.

On a bike you are connected to the world, the environment. You sit on a bike, not in it. There is a greater level of interaction, intimacy even- with your surroundings. The interaction is both beautiful and sobering.

So it was that one morning I decided to ask one of the paper men; “How did you start selling papers on the corner and living under the bridge?”

This would seem an inappropriate question. It’s none of our business. We turn up the radio, crank the air and look away. Mind our own business. How much are tinted windows? And the Nietzsche quote, “If you stare into the Abyss long enough, the Abyss stares back” came to mind just a second after I asked him the question.

“Awww…” He started. “I’s ridin’ the buses. You ‘kin stay on ‘em all night. But they threw me off. I had a bed up in Phoenix- they let ya keep it fer a month. You get all yer own stuff, a locker too…”

The light changed. I got up on the curb with him. “But ya gotta find a job, and I ain’t had a job in eight years.” Cars were turning left now, passing inches from us. No one looked at us. It was as if he and I didn’t exist.

“Where you goin?” He asked me. I told him, “work”, pointing up the street to about where TriSports.com is. “You make bombs?”

“No, no, we sell triathlon stuff- bikes and shoes- mail order.”

Ahhh. Bikes. They make bombs over there for the Air Force Base.

He didn’t answer my question. What I wanted to know was, “How did you wind up here? What led to this? Do you ever dream of getting out- getting a job, getting an apartment?” and perhaps most importantly, “Are you happy this way- have you made this ‘work’?”

The light turned green and I had to get to work. I told him, “Listen Man, have a good one…”

OK Man,” he said through the broken tooth smile. “I’ll see you later buddy…

It was unrealistic to believe I could gain an understanding of why people are homeless in one conversation between stoplights. Like most issues in society it’s more complex than a four minute, two traffic light conversation. But it is a start. And that start is reflective of how riding a bike can connect us to our surroundings.

PowerTap G3 Enve Carbon Wheelset

By Mike O.
October 21, 2011 on 10:05 am | In Announcements, Tech Tips | No Comments

The new PowerTap G3 Enve Carbon Wheelset is perfect for triathletes who want to bring their training to a whole new level.   The exclusive PowerTap Enve Composite hand built wheels provides strength and speed and utilizes a patented spoke hole molding which allows tension to be maximized while avoiding weaknesses caused by drilling.

At the center of the rear Enve Carbon wheel is the all new PowerTap Gs Powermeter hub.  This is one of the lightest power meters available and features the highest grade bearings for the price.  Featuring a smaller overall hub profile with wider flanges provide for a stiffer wheel.  ANT + compatible and weighs a scantly 325grams.

The all new PowerTap G3 Enve Carbon Wheelset is now available at TriSports.com.

It’s not about Charity

By Susan M.
October 20, 2011 on 2:14 pm | In Community, Employee Adventures, Giving Back, Life at TriSports.com | No Comments

Partnering with local organizations whose sole purpose is to help individuals seek employment that might otherwise be overlooked is just one of the many things that sets TriSports.com apart.   Sustainability is one of seven Core Values defined by Trisports.com.  Our definition of Sustainability states that We make a conscious decision to be good stewards of the environment, develop and foster vendor and community relationships, provide a positive work environment for our staff and deliver an exceptional customer experience.”

Recently I had the pleasure of being introduced to San Miguel High School.  San Miguel High School is located on the South side of Tucson.  The High School opened in 2004, in order to create a learning community where students from families with limited financial means can have the opportunity to develop their full potential.  To cover the tuition costs for the students, San Miguel forms partnerships with local businesses and the students work there as interns.  In addition to covering tuition costs, the internships give students real-world work experience.   A job sharing team consists of four students working one day a week and rotating on Fridays to fill one full-time entry level position.

With our growth over the past few years, answering incoming calls on the 2nd or 3rd ring was becoming a challenge.  It has always been our belief that when you call TriSports.com you should get a live person.   To address the issue, TriSports.com created a position called “Director of 1st Impressions” and hired a team of four students from San Miguel.  Most likely the next time you call TriSports.com, one of the exceptional San Miguel students will answer your call and ask you “how can I direct your call?”  In addition to answering all of the incoming calls they can also be found helping out in our accounting department with the many mounds of filing.

The students bring to work each day a great smile and an eagerness to learn.   Having the opportunity to give back to our community by hiring the San Miguel students is one of the more rewarding experiences I have had as an HR Manager.

Professional vs. Age Group: Ian Mikelson’s Professional Kona Debut

By Jaclyn A.
October 19, 2011 on 6:00 am | In Athlete Profile, Sponsorship | 2 Comments

By Ian Mikelson

I raced the Ironman World Championships for the first time in 2009 as an amateur athlete, finishing in 9:09, which was good enough for 3rd in my age group, and 8th overall amateur. I turned pro the following season.

With the new points system in place for the 2011 event, I certainly didn’t “plan” on qualifying, nor did I approach the season intent on doing so. Despite a season of performances that left me less than satisfied, I managed to squeak into the top 50 in the rankings and received an invite to the party this year.

With my move up from the age group ranks to the pro ranks, came a change in the race dynamic. Everyone is faster, and I knew where everyone was. It was less of a race against myself and the clock and more a race against my competitors. Even as a new pro, I had to change my strategy and try to respond to the race.

I had learned a great deal since I began racing pro, but coming back to the big island, and racing Kona as a pro, was a much different experience than as an age grouper. I had some preconceived notions about what the race and the experience as a whole would be, some proved to be close to the truth, others WAY off.

As the 47th “ranked” professional, and by no means a “big name” in the lineup, I came into this race thinking I would feel very little pressure. I was wrong. The energy of Kona during race week is electric, and powerful. It is hard not to get caught up in all that goes on and nearly impossible not to feel some pressure from the pulse of the town. Thursday afternoon I began to realize that notwithstanding my stature amongst the professionals, I was indeed feeling the pressure. Pressure however, is not necessarily a bad thing. It all depends how you handle it. I made a conscious effort to turn the pressure into excitement. To simply let myself be excited to race, not be fearful of what could happen, but simply take the day as it came, race hard, and see where the chips fell.

My thought was that the swim, with only 80 some-odd athletes would be a much more “friendly” event than when I started with 1,800 athletes two years prior. I was again mistaken. I lined up a little left of the middle and for the first 100-150m enjoyed a rather mellow start. I remember thinking how much nicer it was. Then we merged with the bigger group from the right and I was again enlightened. My goal was to make the first chase group and I was in that group, but never before had I been so far into a swim, and found myself still battling for position, absorbing kicks and all sorts of contact. It remained this way all the way out to the turn, where I lost the group in the surge before the buoy. Here too was found yet another morsel of education, even the smallest of gaps in this race, will open and expand in a heartbeat. I needed to stay close and concentrate all the time, or I would be dropped. I failed to do so, and met that fate. While I was glad that the mayhem had died down, I was not happy knowing I had lost that group and any hope of riding with them.

People lay it on the line in this race more than any other. I have heard some people make the observation that many of the professionals are “soft” because they fade back or drop out. This opinion is foolhardy and ignorant at best. As the saying goes, “walk a mile in their shoes…” I will not go so far as to say I have even walked a mile in the shoes of my competitors who gutted it out on the bike, pushing the envelope to a torrid pace, risking it all, only to get off the bike facing down a brutally hot marathon. I rode the vast majority of the bike leg alone. I am not sure if I could have hung on with the leading group even if I had made the swim, but I know the effort was HIGH, and many took big risks in holding that pace. I saw the carnage. I am certain that anyone saying a guy like Marino Vanhoenacker is “soft” because he DNF’d has never pushed themselves to anywhere near the level of suffering he was willing to put himself into that day. Therein lies the greatest difference between racing professional vs. age group.

While the time gaps may not seem all that significant to the observer, the level to which even the most talented of athletes must push themselves in order to finish near the top of the professional ranks is remarkable. Evidence is found in my TriSports.com teammate Leanda Cave. Undoubtedly one of the top performing female triathletes in the world, Leanda has had an amazing couple years and finally reached the podium at Kona this year. She pushed herself to great depths to do so, in her own words, putting herself in the “hurt locker.” She paid the price for it as well, to the tune of four hours in the medical tent and an additional four hours in the Kona emergency room. A price she would be willing to pay time and again to finish so high. I would dare to say there is not a professional in history that has finished on the podium in this race who has not been ready and willing to pay that same price, to risk it all on these hallowed grounds to reach to pinnacle of our sport.

I learned a great deal on Saturday. The most important lesson being that it takes much more than simply great talent and dedication in training in order to perform well at this race. It also demands that you have the courage to go “all in” and hope you come out the other side. Many of the top men and women did so on Saturday. Some found great reward, some met much more sour fates. All of them should be applauded for their willingness to do so.

*One thing Ian didn’t mention here is how he did. Despite being ranked #47 in the field, Ian finished 24th amongst the professionals and put together a solid race in all three disciplines. He proved to himself and his competitors that he can race with the “big names” in the lava fields. Don’t be surprised if you see his name climb in the rankings over the next couple of years. To read more about Ian’s race check out his blog. Congratulations Ian, we are very proud of you!

The Road to Gibraltar by George Bradbury

By Jaclyn A.
October 18, 2011 on 6:00 am | In Random Musings | 1 Comment

A couple of weeks ago while passing through the retail store a co-worker stopped me and asked me to help answer some questions for a man who was about to traveling to a swim race. We chatted for a couple of minutes and I grew more and more intrigued by where this man was headed. Finally, I got it out of him that he was headed to Spain to swim the Strait of Gibraltar. As a swimmer myself I was ecstatic to hear that a local Tucsonan and customer of our’s was under taking such an adventure. I gave him my card, and told him I would love to hear about his swim. So, without further ado here is George Bradbury’s recap on his training and swimming of the Straight of Gibraltar.

The idea to swim the Strait of Gibraltar started circulating in my head after I finished Ironman Arizona in 2009. Actually, I think that while I was swimming that day I thought to myself, “what would it be like to swim twice this distance, or longer?” I had a great race that day, but after 5 ironman triathlons I needed something else. Geoff Glaser, my masters swim coach, suggested I try a marathon swim for variety. I was intrigued, and the mystique of swimming the Strait of Gibraltar, from one continent to another, sealed the deal. With the demands of my job I find it hard to train for big events more frequently than every other year, so I set my sights on 2011. This coincided with my 50th birthday, so that seemed fitting, too.

In January of this year I started ramping up my swimming. Initially, I was swimming 6 days a week, logging about 4000-5000 yards/day. I thought that I would keep track of weekly and monthly totals, but I just lost interest after 4-6 weeks. Each month the distance would increase 1000-2000 yards per workout. By the time I was swimming 7000-8000 yards/day, it was getting tough to find enough time to get in my workouts. Around March, Geoff changed it up and gave me short and long days. This helped a good bit, and I was swimming around 40,000 yards a week. That is a lot of yards, and a lot of flip turns, in a 25yd pool. Boring. SwimP3 helped, but Prince really began to get on my nerves.

In April I started open water swims one weekend a month in San Diego, each time for progressively longer periods. During the summer months, things really picked up and I was swimming 45,000-54,000 yards a week. Because of expenses and vacations, I did a high altitude swim in Flagstaff, nearly freezing to death after 5 hours. In July I swam in Lake Mead for 6 hours. That was much warmer, but I started during a lightning storm. Not smart, but you can’t be choosy about swimming venues when you live in the desert.   Final big open water swim was in San Diego over Labor Day. That was seven hours of fun in the San Diego bay. I had hoped to swim in the open ocean but the waves were 8-11 feet that weekend. No way! That swim was tough, but I thought if I could do that I ought to be ready for the Strait.

The two weeks leading up to the trip still had a fair amount of swimming, but I did taper some. I felt a bit over-trained, so I erred on the side of rest. It is difficult to know how to work the taper since you really don’t know what day the weather will permit a crossing. Additionally, I was behind two other swimmers in the queue, but they failed to materialize and I was bumped to the front of the line.

I was blessed with perfect conditions on the appointed day. The wind had dropped and the sea was calm. The minutes and hours flew by without much notice. There were dolphins swimming around me and a seagull spent a long time hovering over me trying to decide if I was edible. The water was cold and clear and I felt great. At the halfway point, two hours in, I decided to step on the gas to see what I could do. The ocean had gotten rougher closer to Africa, making it hard to know how far I had left to go. I was working pretty hard for the last 3 km and the Moroccan Coast Guard was not helping by creating turbulence as they circled me. Finally, I cut through the current that was sweeping me to the east and made landfall after covering 18.5 km in 3 hours and 57 minutes. Would I do it again? YES! Although often lonely, it was an awesome experience, peaceful in so many ways.

Leanda Cave’s 2011 Ironman World Championship Race Report

By Jaclyn A.
October 17, 2011 on 9:40 am | In Athlete Profile, Sponsorship | 1 Comment

Press release from Katalist Multisport Management

October 14, 2011 – Leanda Cave can now claim another world championship podium finish to an already impressive career.  On Saturday, in Kailua-Kona Hawaii, Cave put together a consistent and relentless attack on the swim, bike and run to finish 3rd at the Ironman World Championship – finishing just behind the current and former world champions Chrissie Wellington and Mirinda Carfrae.  Cave, who has won both the ITU short course World Championship and Long Course World Championship, can now add a another world championship podium finish to her list of career achievements.

In her own words…

The reality of my 3rd place at the Ironman World Championships in Kona has still not quite set in.   In fact, over the past few years I knew I had it in me, but for different reasons I could never make it reality.

After a disappointing race at the 70.3 World Championship last month in Las Vegas, I have to admit, I was a little concerned about my fitness going into Kona.  I had put in such a solid block of training in Los Angeles and for some reason, I couldn’t pull of the race in Vegas that I thought I should have had.  But looking back, I hadn’t really tapered for that race, mentally or physically.  I couldn’t take my mind off Kona, so I kept digging deep, training all the way up to a few days before Vegas.

Right after Vegas I flew out to Kona, Hawaii.  This left me with four more weeks before the big day and my “A” race and I made the most of every day and minute.  I had a few days off after Vegas, but my coach  Siri started cracking the whip pretty quickly.  I spent every day out in Kona pushing my body through the tough hot and windy conditions of which the race is renowned for.  I was paying particular attention to my running and nutrition (I had some great advice from Brian Shea, which I wanted to practice).  In the past years I have raced in Kona, my run has always let me down.  I wanted to make sure it didn’t this year.

The day before the race I felt pretty crappy.   Heavy, lethargic, tired and grumpy.  However, all my great races over the years have happened the day after feeling like crap.  All my poor races on the other had have happened the day after feeling awesome (in other words, I peaked one day too early).  I was also full of nervous energy. I often get more nervous if I know I am in great shape, so on a scale of 1 to 10, I was up around 10!

Race morning came around.  I was up at 3am, well before my 4am alarm.  But those pesky little nerves had my heart racing.  I did a little run warm up.  Yeah, I was feeling pretty good.  Swim warm-up confirmed the same thing, and bit of the Black Eyed Peas put my head in the right place (I sang “I Wanna Rock Right Now” the entire race!).

6.30am…………the gun goes off.  Unlike last year, I had a great start and found myself right on the back of the lead pack.  I could see Julie Dibens just to my left.  Exactly where I wanted to be.  Unfortunately we have to start with the male athletes.  I don’t know any other professional World Championship event where the men and women are on the same start line at the same time, but that is an issue for another time.  But this did impact my race.  I’m a strong swimmer, so I was in the mix with a lot of the lead pro men, and they don’t cut a woman any slack.  Right around the halfway mark I had a guy who decided to fight me for the feet in front instead of fighting to stay on the feet in front.  I ended up having to swim over him as he had pushed me out so far that those feet in front were well and truly gone.  I put in a huge effort to catch back up to the lost feet, which I did only to find that guy had lost the feet and the lead pack in front of him.  I was spent, and I could not find that extra energy to bridge the gap.  In the end, I came out 2 minutes behind Julie (who I beat out the water in Vegas) and two other pro woman Lucie Zelenkova and Amanda Stevens).

This didn’t deter me.  I still came out in a pretty decent position along with Rachael Joyce.  We have raced each other quite a lot and have always had similar bike splits, so I was actually excited to be with her on the bike.  Early into the ride Rachael and I started sharing the lead and soon caught Stevens and then Zelenkova.  But at 35miles in we were both overtaken by Caroline Steffen and Julie was setting a pretty good pace out front.  We had a motor bike giving us splits and at Hawi Julie was up by 8mins and Steffen was up by 4mins.  However, the gap between us and the girls in chase was growing and I still felt awesome.  I did have a rough patch as we turned right back onto the Queen K where Rachael created a significant gap over me.  But I refueled and started to feel great again with 26-miles to go, passing Rachael and sitting in 3rd place for the remainder of the bike.

Due to past runs off the bike in Kona, I felt very nervous about setting out on the run.  But within the first mile I felt amazingly strong.  So I didn’t look at my watch and just went for it.  I had Julie 16 minutes and Caroline over 4 minutes ahead of me.  According to spectators, I was gaining on both.  At mile 6, I passed Julie and I had gained 90 seconds on Steffen.  I stayed in my groove, concentrating on my nutrition.  Some big names were in chase, like Chrissie Wellington (3 time former winner) and Mirinda Carfrae (last years winner and one time runner up).  But I had to stay dialed in with my own race and not bury myself early on.  I held off Chrissie till mile 16.  I was still gaining on Steffen, but not as dramatically as earlier on.  But as we entered the Energy Lab, I could feel my gut gurgling.  This was where my race and gut fell apart in the past and I was concerned.  But I can’t do much about it.  I ploughed on and took 5 toilet stops between mile 17 and mile 21.  Somewhere in there while I was in the porta-loo, Mirinda passed me.  I was now in 4th.  I heard news that Caroline was now walking through the aid stations.  I was feeling pretty rough, but I was still running.  I knew that if I just kept on running I would pass here.   Sure enough, at mile 22, I ran past Caroline.  Now in 3rd, I didn’t want to be caught.  I just kept digging.

Running the last mile felt so exhilarating.  The crowd was phenomenal and I started crying because I was in 3rd and no one was behind me.  I enjoyed every moment and I still remember it vividly.  I crossed the line.  Still on the high, I managed to get down and do the Blazeman Roll.  But once I got back up, the lights went out for a few seconds.  I briefly saw and congratulated Chrissie and Mirinda, but the fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks.  I saw my coach Siri and my friend/manager Chris McCrary, but I had to make a b-line for the medical tent.  That is where I remained for the next 4 hours.  My vitals kept going south and I was either on the toilet or throwing up the whole time.  I was administered 3 IVs, but the head doctor saw no signs of improvement, so he sent me off to the hospital, no questions asked.  I tried to resist.  But upon nearly fainting, I agreed.

There I met Torsten who stayed with me for another few hours.   I was given another IV along with some anti-nausea medication and potassium.  Eventually, I was out and all I wanted to eat was a burger.  So Torsten and I made a drive-thru trip to McDonalds.  It’s probably the first visit to McDonalds in a year, so I didn’t feel that bad about it and the French-fries tasted sooooooooo good!

I am so happy with my race.  With my 3rd place, I have now won a World Championship medal in every triathlon distance event (ITU Olympic, ITU Long Course and 70.3).  I was also quicker than the many previous winners of the race and I shaved an amazing 24 minutes off my last years time.  And the most exciting thing about that is, I think I can shave off another 5 to 10 minutes!!  So my dream of winning one day is by no means unrealistic.

I want to thank all my wonderful and supportive sponsors.  This is a dream result for me and I hope you are all as proud of my result as I am.  I’m not quite done for the year just yet.  I don’t like to waste all this fitness that I have worked so hard for.  So I will be lining up next Miami 70.3 (30 October), ITU Long Distance World Championship (5 November and this will be my 3rd World Championship event in 3 months!), and finally Ironman Arizona (20 November).

Yours in sport,

Leanda Cave

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