Making the decisión to race
After my last event in 2016 in Africa, in December, as my 2016 did not participate in may events i was hungry to keep challenging me, so on December 23 I spent some time thinking about my 2017 goals.
There is the commitment to make decisions about what races to sign up for, to work for me and for my sponsors, old and new ones, but living in Michigan, USA where the Winter is very cold and long and there are not many events. I did a few half marathons with very good results achieving my goals. This and the other reasons motivated me to look for a new objective early in 2017.
PRO or Age Group category?
I decided to try this whole year as a Pro in the Ironman races, to challenge and to try the Professional category, my coach Mark Olson always says to me “In the Age Group category you would be first”
Since the opportunity to register as Age group had passed, and with a scared feeling i signed up as a Pro for 2017 for the 70.3 IM in Dubai as it was economically feasible. Even considering the obstacles of the distance, the long trip and going alone, but I felt that it would be worth it as I felt the need to compete and also for my sponsors that provide me with so much support.
On December 24 I registered for the event and started to train for the distance. In terms of the training, comparing the sprint distance (750 meters swim, 20 KM draft legal bike and 5k run to a 70.3 Half Ironman (1900 meters swim, 90 KM bike and 21 KM run) it’s a big step, I did not have a lot of time, but the desire was larger than that. The first step was to connect with my coach Mark, about the goal and to start to work. Training ion the winter indoors more hours on the bike, working with the watts on my TT and my new bike that with great pride I was provided by my sponsor Importadora RH Mejía and of course the running, etc.
Training Now for 70.3
We started to work, designed the plan, with the objective to race on 27 January so we had 4 weeks. I was very motivated and focused to work harder than ever with lots of emphasis in the details. My attitude was more positive than ever every day. The hard winter in Michigan was spent with days like Christmas and New Year’s Day training like any other day…
I was running outside most of the time with very low temperatures and during a strong snowstorm I made the mistake to run a very long session on the treadmill. The change of surface brought on a minor injury. I was careful and stopped running until I was able to get an appointment with the doctor about 10 days later, after 10 therapy sessions and about 22 days without running, the doctors ordered x-rays and other tests and told me that with rehab and all things normal I could complete the event. I already had the plane ticket and the hotel was reserved, the event registration was done and the hard work and emotion for the long training was done.
In 2016 I was not able to run a lot, which is the area that I have the most room for improvement. Non of these things were going to become obstacles so I had the attitude that was positive and concentrated in the things under my control, doing my rehab as well as possible and do my best with swimming, biking and the nutrition.
One of the advantages of triathlon is that you have options; there are no excuses not to work. I decided to be more positive than ever even with many obstacles.
I was psyched up, focused and at the same time a bit scared for the long flights and to try this new distance with these obstacles, I have to admit that some days i thought I was nuts.
The event was getting closer and I was training harder on the bike, swimming and rehab, weight training and nutrition, the things I could control. Aside from the more than 1001 things as a mother and coach.
The day was approaching, my foot still hurt, but with my faith first I concentrated on the details and put aside what was not in my control.
Pack, prepare the trip logistics, leave everything in order at home for my daughter, everything methodically and with great attitude enjoying the process and the adventure. Giving 100% with a good attitude.
I arrived 8 days before the event ready and prepared mentally to deal with the time change and the jet-lag. I arrived at 1:00 am after 23 hours of travel, dead, but at the same time not sleepy. I arrived at the hotel at 2:00am (For me was 12:00 noon) and I was able to sleep 3 hours from 6-9 am. I am very much into a routine, its hard for me to adapt to changes related to sleep habits but I have been learning as I go along.
I have learned that its good during trips to take with me as much food as possible for at least two days. For this trip, I brought from the USA my protein, spinach, basic supplements for my shakes, my bread. Some snacks, dehydrated fruits etc.
I found a very good deal on a apartment style hotel where I could cook, as it was more affordable, comfortable and I could maintain my nutrition as close to the same as at home.
First Day: Set up the bike; go to the supermarket, attention to nutrition. Some mechanical problems, I was able to find a bike shop, where could I ride, where to swim, where to run? Details…
I had to figure out where to ride legally (its not permitted to ride in certain roads), sometimes I felt bad as I was not resting enough and I started to have invasive thoughts but I kept positive and able to focus on what was under my control. Some triathlon friends took me to a pool where I was able to swim.
3 Days before race: I was to run 15 min at race pace and my foot was really hurting so I thought My God would I be able to complete the race? I felt horrible, tired, lethargic and with lots of pain. But I focused in God and to keep a positive attitude and my nutrition.
2 Days Before Race
At 5:00 pm athletes meeting. I took an Uber very relaxed and happy to be able to be there in this event with some of the best ranked in the sport in the world.
Thursday, the day before the race
It was mandatory to take the bike to the transition area, also prepare the equipment for the next day. Later prepare my dinner so that I could be in bed by 10:00 pm
RACE-DAY Alarm 4:40 AM
This race was particular because it had a divided transition, a place for the bikes and another for the items for the run. And a change area, I thought initially that this was strange but I studied the area well , visualized the transition and did not have any problems during the race.
At the start, the Pro category was not allowed to use wetsuits and it was very cold and the water was cold and as I tend to get cold easily I did not get in to warm up, we were all freezing. The men leave, 3 minutes later the women.
Ladies 2 minutes, all the women line up for the start, One of them lines up right next to me and says “Another Fucking Race!” I smiled and said “have fun” :)
I was not nervous as I had my race plan ready and of course focused on nutrition, mi mind my mantra and to enjoy the event.
On your mark!
Swim: I started slow, a small group formed, I had an easy pace and it was a really easy swim, some waves. I was able to keep the same pace throughout the swim race.
Bike: On the bike was my plan to keep up with hydration and nutrition, which I was able to do well. I had worked on the watts with coach mark to keep them at ab average of 210 watts and I was able to hold that pace without problems. I was breaking the race in micro-moments, thinking about the now and here.
Run: The initial plan was to keep a pace of 4:20 min/km keeping up with hydration I was concerned to have pain in my foot and it bothered me for the first 5 km only, someone ran in front of me and I fell down but quickly got up and kept running. I cut myself a bit and the first aid people came right away to assist me and I told them I was ok. I had my pace and at 10 km I remembered that I had forgotten to wear my socks! Right then, I had some blisters but I just said “Raquel, excuses are thousands do the best you can!”
I admit that I cried with happiness when I crossed that finish line. Just because I was able to complete it, as only God and I know how many obstacles we had to endure. The satisfaction to know that I did my best is priceless. I was able to complete in 4:32 finishing 16th overall in the Pro category. It is an honor for me to represent my flag at the highest level of international triathlons in the long distance. I believe that we all should challenge ourselves in any area we want to grow, and if we have the passion it’s a lot more fun to challenge ourselves, always having fun and with a positive mind.