Practice makes better - Heather's win at Oceanside 70.3, 2014
It is always a wonderful feeling to win races. The California 70.3 in Oceanside is something special though, with the long history of triathlon in San Diego area and the deeply talented, world class fields that always seem to show up to race.
It is super duper incredibly cool for me to now be part of the "world class" bit of the race!! It definitely wasn't always so, and I've really enjoyed reflecting on how far I've come, not to mention how the bar in women's long course racing has been raised to new heights in the past several years.
Let's look at some past results. Now granted, times are always dependent on weather conditions and specific race interactions (how packs form in the swim, how the ride shakes down - if it's windy or cold or hot- if people are racing head to head on the run) but when I started, if you could race this event in around 4:25, and run at 1:23 you were in contention for the win.
At this years race I set a new course record of 4:13:12 with a 1:17:56 run and I had to fight for every second of it! Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't any less of a battle for the win in the past, but women across the board are just getting faster and faster and it is freaking awesome!!
Back in 2009 when I did this race as a new pro, I ran a 1:28 finishing 11th in a field with Mirinda Carfrae taking the win in 4:25:02 - with a tight race among the top 3. These are the top 3 women's times shown as swim|bike|run|total as they will be for the rest of the blog:
It was a pretty big goal of mine to "one day" run under 1:24, and frankly Rinnie's 1:20 run splits were unfathomable to me. When you can't do a given thing - like run a sub 1:20 half marathon at the end of a half Ironman - it can seem impossible. Like "wow, she's amazing, I'll never be able to do that". But with enough, training, comitment, and belief the day will come when you can!
In 2010, I started the race but DNF'd on the run due to a hip injury. By 2011 with a couple of years as a full-time pro triathlete starting to sink in, I was doing better. That year I was 4th.
I didn't race Oceanside in 2012 but the top three women's times were:
I was back to Oceanside in 2013, after winning the Latin American Championship 70.3 in Panama, and that race was one where I really started to believe that I could be racing for the win in any event I started. I gave it all I had but came second to Heather Jackson, still running a new 1:19 half marathon personal best. Lesley Paterson gave me new WTF?! run numbers to try not to dismiss as impossible.
And finally (appologies for all the data if you're not a numbers kind of a person :) here are the top 3 times from this year:
If you really dig into things you may notice that the 2013 swim times were fast. Many people swam 70.3 PRs... Currents? Course Layout? It's just the way it goes. They were slower across the board this year. In general it seems like like swims and rides are the most subject to variability. But if you look at the run times over the years... dropping and dropping and dropping. Same with course records in women's long course triathlon all over the world.
So why? In my view, so much of it is belief. A woman does an amazing thing - like run a full marathon- showing us all that wow, our ovaries won't actually fall out and we can exert ourselves, and paradigms start to shift. In my triathlon career, people like Rinnie and Chrissie broke records and the barriers to what I thought was possible. With every race that I do I am re-defining what I think is possible for me, and this is one of the most satisfying things about sport.
Another aspect, that I think goes hand in hand with increased competitiveness and excitment in women's racing is financial opportunity and support for women in sport. In my triathlon lifetime we have been very lucky to have equitable prize purses, if not always equal race coverage, and it seems like excitement around women's racing - hence coverage and sponsorship dollars available- is getting better.
I know that my consistent improvement would absolutely not be possible without my sponsors. This is not just an "okay I have to throw a plug in here" kind of a statment. Since working with Saucony - having brilliant range of shoes that fit, and keep me injury free - I have gotten faster at running. I look the part with rad training and race kit, I'm comfortable and I feel more confident.
First Endurance Nutrition lets me train and recover day in and day out being properly fueled and hydrated, and I never have to worry about my races derailing from GI issues. I have the best bike in the business with my Cervelo P5. I can go to races knowing that it's going to work and I can just giver! No doubt my run success is due in part to going faster with less energy on a better bike.
Same with my Aqua Sphere K180 goggles (the bomb!), Phantom wetsuit, Enve wheels, Power tap hubs, Cobb saddle, Smith Optics, UltrAspire run belts, Manitoba Harvest hemp Foods, Endurance Shield Sunscreen, Bonk Breaker. They are all tools in training and racing that enable me to get the best out of myself. It all adds up in a big way and I try never to take this for granted.
I also try to never take for granted the value of my training partners on the triathlon squad, and our coach Paulo. Being surrounded by like minded individuals with big goals in triathlon, who are commited to living excellence every day (I think we need some acronyms here! ;) in a high performance environment with a coach who is as dedicated as we are... well, it's a very good thing. Those sub 6 minute miles on race day are definitely thanks to, frequent, descending pace tempo runs with Jen (pictured above - 6th on Saturday!) around lake Miramar, while Paulo rides a bike giving form cues and splits, and the guys run even faster in front of us.
And of course, as always, my husband Trevor. The man. Supporting me every day in all sorts of important ways, and doing his own personal record breaking in racing.
Next up for me Ironman 70.3 St. George!