Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ironman Western Australia 2014 race report

It would be pretty easy to read all the comments and congratulations on my Ironman Western Australia race and misconstrue that I won the darn thing. In truth, I was 4th- 8 minutes from the win, but on so many levels, it was a win for me. First, I must congratulate the superwomen who actually DID make the podium- New Zeland's Britta Martin who set a new course record (8:56), Germany's Mareen Hufe who rode (in a good way) like a man (9:00), and Australia's own ever-solid Liz Blatchford (9:02).

Two minutes behind Liz, in 9 hours and 4 minutes, I crossed the finish line with a fist pump, a smile, and no regrets.. Ok, a few regrets, especially in that swim, but we will get to that later! All-in-all it was a huge day for me. To put things in perspective, 4th place and a 9:04 was not even (if I'm being honest) on my radar.  I was ranked 16th of 31 female professional starters coming into the race with a 'predicted' finish time of 9:47 or something. My personal "best-case-race" secret goal to "prove everyone wrong and that I still got it" was actually around 9:15 and my primary goal (that I was willing to tell people) was to break 9:30. I had no inklings that I'd post a time that would have won the race outright in 3 of the past 4 years. Just when thoughts of "maybe I should hang it up" and "wouldn't it be nice to spend all day with Wynne instead of on bike rides" crept back into my head throughout my race preparation, this had to go and happen and make me believe again, darn it. So, on I'll go into 2015 believing that I can and will one day win an Ironman and sneak onto some podiums along the way.... But first, to close out 2014- my 2nd & final race report of the year - my race year was short and sweet thanks to Wynne McKenzie's arrival 6 months ago, but I ended up accomplishing more this year than I ever thought possible. Okay, okay...THE RACE!

We arrived in Western Australia on the Tuesday prior to Sunday's race. Monday night, we boarded a red-eye in Thailand (oh yeah, forgot about Thailand...will do a post on that soon!) and woke up in Perth, Australia. True to form, Wynne slept the entire flight like a champ, allowing Luke & I to log a few hours of sleep as well. The drive to Busselton takes about 3 hours from Perth, which passed quickly as I played on my phone and Mr. Driver-man Luke soldiered on to our destination. (Quick aside- we rented a Toyota Rav 4- and if you travel with a baby & all the fixins plus two bikes- it will all fit! Definitely will be our go-to rental of choice.) When we arrived in Busselton, we checked into a lovely little studio at the Sebel hotel and went about bike-building, etc. Wednesday through Saturday, I rolled around the Busselton course with Mr. Driver-man-daddy-day-care following behind me with Wynne and kept the swim & run ticking over.
Rolling through the perfect course

This might be the biggest "hill" on the course

Checking out the swim course from above with Wynne- That's a long way around that pier!
Coach Wynne gave me a good race-week swim set at the local Busselton pool. 
The bike fairy got my Cannondale Slice RS ready to race fast. Zipp disc on for a flat fast ride.. WHOMP WHOMP! 
I must say that planning my big race to coincide with Luke's first true week of off-season was brilliant. He was all about taking care of his girls and all I had to do was focus on the race at hand.

All-in-all, race week could not have gone smoother, and I was perfectly healthy and ready to toe the line. (So often, I come down with a cold during race week and am just incredibly thankful each race-eve that I get to go to bed without a sniffle or issue). I'm glad race week was so spot-on because the week prior, well, not sure it was the best race prep as we were in Thailand for Luke's race at Challenge Phuket. I admit to doing a bit too much sightseeing, eating, drinking, and playing and not quite enough specific training. In hindsight though, maybe the "extended taper" works well for me! I did have an unfortunate crash on my bike in Thailand that I didn't tweet, etc about because I didn't want any excuses out loud in the universe. The right side of my body was a bit banged up, but nothing that really ended up impacting me on race day, just a couple scars to add to the lot that already exist. Ok- back to race week.. Summary: it went well!

I did a few pre race interviews including the Toyota Early Edition presented by First off the Bike (you can see it here

Up at 3:30 for a 5:30am start... yes 5:30 am START! It gets light crazy-early in Australian "summer" and they like to take advantage (btw. as a side note, I asked Luke today, "Everyone here goes to bed late but wakes up so early, when do they sleep?" He answered, "Winter." )
Yeah, so I ate breakfast, which my Driver-man-daddy-day-care-slash-chef cooked for me- Pamela's gluten free pancakes with extra maple syrup and lots of coffee. Also add "scavenger" to the list for Luke's roles as he located an electric skillet for me in Busselton to cook said pancakes as we had a limited "kitchenette" in our studio. Closer to race time I also had a Coconut Cashew Bonk Breaker and a bottle of MRM Hydration Factor.

At the race start, I went for my lucky/standard warm-up jog (26.2 miles isn't long enough, eh?) and put on my Zoot Prophet 2.0 (Another quick aside... this suit has changed wetsuit swimming for me. A huge upgrade in my opinion from the 1st Prophet, it is incredibly comfortable and non-restrictive. It makes me love wetsuit swimming which has traditionally been a nemesis of mine). I did a warm-up swim for about 5 minutes and then we were called out of the water.

Calm & clear - ideal race morning conditions

As we lined up to go, I was sickly nervous as usual. The 30 minutes prior to race time in an Ironman are 30 minutes I'm still working on enjoying. I try my best to channel my anxiety into excitement, but it is very difficult for me. I'm never nervous about completing the race, I'm always just nervous about letting others down or being a failure in other people's eyes.. I dread people looking at their online trackers thinking, "oh dear, shocker of a swim!" or "her bike is hopeless!" or other things along the way. I say this because it's real and hopefully one day, I won't think this way, but in case you think this way as well, just wanted to let you know you're not alone.

Anyway, often once the gun goes off, I shake the nerves and just get into it. I lined up behind Liz Lyles (2013 IMWA winner) because on my best day, I believe I can swim with her and come in a couple minutes under an hour. Clearly, that was not the case last Sunday. With 30 women on the start line, the start was actually incredibly aggressive. I got pummeled and kicked and elbowed and am guilty of doing a bit myself to keep my position. I was smack in the middle and thought I got a good start with a big, fast pack. Unfortunately, a few hundred yards in, the feet I had chosen lost the feet ahead of her and I was too late to close the gap. I did try to swim around, but was about 10 meters off of where we wanted to be when I got to the front of our splintered group. The good news was that there were 6 or 7 girls with me. The bad news was that the 6 or 7 girls I wanted to be with were just ahead of us. I know I'm not the only one in our group who thinks we should have swum a bit faster. I think we are all capable of it, but made some critical errors at some point. Anyway, I led the crew all the way to the turnaround point (which is the end of a VERY long 1.2 mile Jetty). After the turnaround, things got washing-machine-esque and I was having trouble spotting the buoys. I have had some navigational issues in the past and even though I was swimming strong, I couldn't see the buoys and honestly didn't trust myself. I breaststroked for a few meters to signal the girls to come around me and then I hopped on the feet of the new leaders (one of whom was my friend Sarah Piampiano, thanks SP! ). To my right I found Michelle Duffield and to my left was Dimity Lee-Duke, both girls who had been swim companions in IM Malaysia.. I knew that we all wanted to swim with the group ahead, but there is consolation in company and I was happy to work with these girls. At some point I also saw Kristy Hallett who always makes me smile, so that was nice too. Michelle had told me that she had never swum over an hour at Busso, so I assumed we'd squeak in there, right? WRONG! Exiting the water in 1:02, I knew I had work to do. Actually, I had no idea of my swim time, but did judge by the (small) number of bikes remaining that our pack definitely had our work cut out. The good news- I was not alone!!

One of the huge advantages of a large women's field is that throughout the day, there are races within the race. In smaller fields, I am often party-of-one for a 112 mile rolling buffet which is a feeling similar to that of poking your eyes out. Instead, today I had company! The bike course at WA is two, flat, 56-mile loops- a perfect course to pace yourself for a personal best if you ride smart. Right away, Dimity and Sarah P. motored their way towards the front of the race, but I stuck to my own race plan.  I settled into my goal watts (about 10 watts higher than IM Malaysia). I found myself "racing" Michelle and Kristy, and we pushed each other for the first lap. Kristy got away at one point, but Michelle and I continued to work to catch her- love racing wit these girls! At one point, I had to stop and take the sticker off of my Zipp disc (We had placed the sticker to cover the valve opening) because the noise was mind boggling every time I took a pedal stroke and I just couldn't stand it anymore. I lost about 30 seconds. After hopping back on, I rode hard until I caught the girls I had previously been riding with.

The most technical part of the ride are the eleven 180 degree U-turns
The second lap got very crowded as we were passed by a lot of age group men. I was pleased that there were no obvious draft packs, but there was definitely undeniable legal-slash-not quite legal pace lines of dudes. When men passed appropriately, it was easy to keep the 12-meter draft zone. However, often, even if I was what I judged to be exactly 12 meters (without pushing it) from the person in front of me, a man would pass and then slot in between us. This was incredibly frustrating because if I am at 12 meters, (per the rules) no one is supposed to come in between us until I have "opened the gap", they are supposed to keep riding and passing ahead. Unfortunately, so many age group men did this illegal slotting in and I'd be forced to sit up or drop back to avoid a penatly. It got to the point that I finally said (nicely) to a few who tried to slot in, " I'm sitting at 12 meters, please continue passing". Anyway, like it or not, there was a lot of company on the bike, but the girls around me all did a nice job of keep it legal, fast, and fun. I hope and believe that they can say the same of me. By the end of lap 2, I was actually dropping most of the age group men and found a 3rd wind... I motored home the last 40k and ended up passing a few pro women I hadn't seen all day who had ridden out a bit too hard. Into T2, I saw that I had ridden 5 hours on the dot and was pleasantly surprised.. My previous personal best was a 5:18 I believe, so that's a good chunk of time. My official ride time for the 112 miles was 5:00:25

I got to T2 and was happy to see at least 10 red run bags still on their hooks... I'm always a little pleased when I'm not dead last, (ok, that is not the remark of a "champion" but well, it's true). Anyway, I threw on my Zoot Ovwa 2.0s (love love love!), Zoot visor and Garmin and ran out of the change tent. There were SO many (possibly drunk, but very fun!) Aussie spectators cheering me on, I'm sure I had a huge smile to be off my bike and was excited to get the lay of the land and the competition on the run course. After the 1st half mile, I saw Luke (& Wynne!) and he told me I was in 12th  (I had come off the bike in 15th but passed a few in transition/the first kilometer) and told me where the girls were up the road. The 4-loop out-and-back run course is IDEAL for course support and also for spotting your competition.
Not a bad place to run a marathon

Within 10 minutes, I knew that I was within 8-ish minutes of at least 5 girls.. I didn't look at my pace as I was running and just tried to run comfortable until I settled in. If I had to guess, I'd have thought I was running about 7:15 pace. When my watched beeped signaling the first mile, I looked down and saw 6:20 for the mile.. Whoooooooops... Hold your horses, Harriett! I tried to slow down, but my legs didn't want to. I checked my heart rate for the first  time and saw that it had already settled to my special "you can run a whole marathon at this heart rate" number so I decided to just go with it. I ran the first 10k in 40min and 20 seconds, so yeah, coming in hot. BUT, I was not overexerting myself. I knew the pace would drop eventually, but I just needed to keep the "easy" feel. Spoiler: Nothing feels easy at mile 20 of an Ironman marathon. I also know that if I start out around 6:30 mi/miles and creep into low to mid 7-minute pace by the end, it balances out to around a 3-hour marathon. The first half of the run was unreal. I felt invincible and had easily moved into the top 10. After that though, the girls became harder to catch and further strung out. It took me a very long time to catch Sarah Piampiano, Dimity Lee Duke, & Asa Lundstrom. After that, I was in 6th, pretty sure that that's where I'd end up. The next girls ahead were Bree Wee, who was moving really well, and Yvonne Van Vlerken who was not moving as fast, but had a significant chunk of time on me. I don't know exactly how much time because I thought they were too far ahead to catch so I didn't take splits. Luke kept telling me I could catch Bree & Yvonne but I honestly didn't believe him. I just kept running and trying to hold my pace, but I started to feel super nauseous and really depleted/low on calories. I wanted to take in gels but I just couldn't face the gels. The thought of them made me want to vomit. So, I ran the marathon on Gatorade, Coke, and fumes. I was dying for something salty, but in Australia they only have Vegemite on toast as a salty option and that is not in my repertoire. Next time I'll pack some chips or pretzels in special needs in case I'm dying for some relief from the sweet. Anyway, the second half of the marathon was pure, painful work. I felt slow, hot, tired, sick and I just wanted to be done. I think that helped me march on to the finish line. At some point, I caught up to Bree and passed her, but that took a very long time. At the last turnaround (less than 2 miles to finish), I could see Yvonne ahead, but was happy with my 5th place. Already proud of myself, I thought I'd just make it to the finish and that was enough. But slowly, Yvonne was getting bigger in my view and then at some point I knew I had to make a move and pass her. With a little over a mile to go, I passed Yvonne, ran into 4th and knew that's where I would finish the race. At 25 miles, I finally looked at the elapsed time on my Garmin and saw 2:51:30 ...holy crap, if I just run, I will go under 3 hours?!? DONE! The last mile flew by & I crossed the line in 9:04 and couldn't believe I was seeing that number on the clock- except it was 9:07 but I knew that was the pro male time as we started 3 minutes later (my previous best is a 9:38! - but all courses I've done prior rate much higher in difficulty).

I got to hug Luke & Wynne just over the line and barely made it to the chairs before vomiting everywhere... whooooops.. But, that got me a quick ticket to medical and an IV. An hour later, good as new, I went to find my people and celebrate! Sure, it wasn't a win, but it was a bunch of little wins in my book and put the "what-ifs" and "maybes" back in my brain. What if I swam with the pack just ahead? What if I improve by 5 watts or 5 minutes on the bike? when you swim a 1:02 or bike 5:00:25 or come in at 9:04, it's hard not to dance around how to get those numbers just down below the round number zone..

Women's top 6 plus Wynne

Thanks to all who have supported me this year & beyond, especially my sponsors...On to 2015!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Catching up.....

In the Kona aftermath, I forgot to update my little space of the internet here.

The title of my blog is California Training (I remember wanting to call it California Triathlon or something but I had never done a triathlon and didn't want to be a poser.) Anyway, it's been nice to be back home and actually do a bit of California training between race travels. It was especially nice with Luke's sister Jacque here until yesterday to help us with Wynne, so business as usual was easily accomplished with her help (Thank you, Jacque! xoxox)

sunset on the way to girls night at Bestawan, our favorite hangout

When we got home from Hawaii, I buckled down for a couple big weeks of training (for Ironman Western Australia on Dec. 7th) before we jetted off to the Bahamas for the UWC Bahamas Triathlon.

This is what happens when you ask Dad to watch the baby for 10 minutes on the plane. 
The UWC Triathlon is an amazing race in paradise that is made possible by some amazing people. Race Director Barbara Ann is passionate about triathlon and raising money for scholarships for Bahamian kids. She puts on an amazing event and there is a big focus on not only our pro race, but also the kids clinic and kids tri.
Luke giving some pre-race swim tips at the kids tri clinic

Mark Holowesko sponsors the race and helps take care of the pros, showing us the amazing landscape of the Bahamas and allowing us to experience the magic of his island, Highbourne Cay.
The best way to fly to a tiny island? Sea Plane! Tim Don & Trevor Wuertele help load 'er up
Highbourne Key is so special that this years Ironman Hawaii runner-up (and fellow Zoot athlete), Ben Hoffman, proposed to the lovely Kelsey at their favorite secluded snorkel beach. I'd go more into depth about the amazing boat rides, accommodations, surf & turf by the Highbourne chef, golf cart races, etc but then you'd hate me because it's "oh so hard" to be a professional triathlete and all... Seriously though, its amazing to see pros truly taken care and appreciated for a few days, and the generosity of our Bahamas hosts is not lost on our group, who have seen our fair share of couches and wondering how long we can live on winnings from the last race.

Wynne has some well-deserved "me" time on a deserted beach at Highbourne
The highlight of the Bahamas trip was, of course, the race. I was able to race with a truly world class field, including current World Champion Gwen Jorgensen, winner of the Lifetime Series Alicia Kaye, the one and only long course superstar Heather Wuertele, and other speedsters including Lauren Brandon and Anna Cleaver. In the Olympic Distance race I came 6th (okay, last!), losing most of my time in the water to the fishies that out-swam me by many minutes. Luke came 3rd in the men's field with an equally stellar group lining up... I love to see him mixing it up (and doing well!) across distances. During our week in the Bahamas, I kept up my Ironman training and got in some solid sessions to keep the wheels turning until I got home to log the big miles.
me & Luke

Wynne kept up her 6-pack routine too... No slacking in paradise!

I think I heard (World Champ) Gwen Jorgensen's ovaries bursting every time she held Wynne. Sorry Gwen, Rio 2016 awaits you! 

Back home, I buckled down and here we are... lots of lovely (a little chilly- dipping below 60*) long bike rides, masters swims with my favorite crew at the Encinitas YMCA, and runs along the coast and through the trails. Getting in all my California training before we hit the road.

Ran a 16-mile point to point long run w/ Courtney along here on a crisp fall morning

Henshsaw loop- riding up Mesa Grande with Luke, Jess, & Mike the Bike

A favorite destination stops on our 100+ mile rides to Santa Ysabel
easy jog with Luke on the coast

Last weekend I raced the Silver Strand Half Marathon to see where I'm at and running FINALLY felt "effortless". I raced this one one other time in 2009 (thank you, blog, for being a great historian) and it was my 2nd 13.1 and the first time I broke 1:30 in a half marathon. This past Sunday, I ran 1:22:05 and won the female race. Luke had a solid race as well and came 4th.
Silver Strand Half Marathon finish line

Just one week out from our next trip across the world. First stop, Thailand for Luke to race Challenge Phuket. 2nd stop, Busselton- Ironman Western Australia, here I come!

(gratiuitous baby pic) Wynne is ready for her first trip down under!
 Thank you to all my sponsors and supporters who have helped me return to racing and keep me going... One more race for 2014!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kona 2014- Ironman World Championships

Photo by Nils Nilsen. Full gallery on a day in the life here at

I flew back to Kona, Hawaii from Ironman Malaysia...How convenient that I planned my Ironman recovery to coincide with 2 weeks on the big island as Luke tapered for Ironman Hawaii. I'd like to say I spent 2 weeks resting and relaxing, but those words don't really come into play when you have a 4 month-old baby and all your friends from around the world convene in one little town for 10 days or so. The week surrounding Ironman in Kona is quite possibly my favorite time of the year. Whether you are racing or not, if triathlon is your thing, the energy on the island is indescribably amazing. As a spectator this year, and a recovering spectator at that, I got to enjoy my fair share of fish-watching ocean flops, easy rides & coffees with friends from around the globe, happy hours ($5 piña coladas!) at the Royal Kona, sunset BBQs, great times with Luke's family and of course- the underpants run. For the first time ever, Wynne got to experience these things too...I'm pretty sure she loved her first annual Hawaii vacation. She slept like a baby the entire time (oh wait...she IS a baby)- but she slept so well that Luke even slept in the living room with her every night during pre-race week (he thought our room was too hot) and not a peep from Wynne. Pretty funny when I tell people I "made" Luke sleep out on the couch w/ our 4 month old baby the night before Ironman Hawaii.
Wynne's first Ironman Expo- so many sights & sounds! 
Queen-K-ing it on my Cannondale
Emma Snowsill (Olympic gold medalist 2008 in triathlon) recaffeinates on our ladies ride. 
Running into the Betties at the Underpants run

Daily ritual- coffee at Daylight Mind (Photo: Nils Nilsen)
Play time in the pool (Photo: Nils Nilsen)

Pro press conference... Luke looking serious
Race day was so exciting and lots of eyes were on Luke, as he placed 2nd in Kona last year. Luke's day didn't pan out exactly as he had hoped, and he finished 15th on the day. 15th isn't 2nd, but when we look at the grand scheme of things- Luke went to compete with the top 50 ranked Ironmen in the world, and even on a day that was not his day, he came 15th. To me, that is pretty impressive and I was incredibly proud. But to be honest, I would have been proud and happy even if he was last as Luke is the most kind, generous, hard-working, dedicated and genuine person I know every single day. And Ironman Hawaii is just one day of the year. Maybe next year will be his year, and hopefully I will be there racing too. If I am, please forgive me if I stop in my tracks on the Queen K to cheer him on...One day he will win and no one will be more deserving.
Running on Ali'i making up some ground

Special thanks to Steph at SOAS for Wynne's amazing custom cheering onesie... Even has pockets on the back for her gels ;) 

Hi fives for Dad w/ Auntie Jacque

We are now back in San Diego for a few much-needed weeks at home. I'm back to training for the next big one (more on this next week!) & we're having fun catching up with friends and just being home with Wynne. Next stop on this world tour is the Bahamas Triathlon on November 9th! The travel seems to never end, but we are getting "traveling-with-baby" dialed in and we still are lucky to have the help of auntie Jacuqe. I didn't quite know what I was signing up for in becoming Luke's partner, but I'm pretty sure I'll never wake up in 20 years and regret taking these opportunities to experience the world. On to the next adventure!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Ironman Malaysia: It's just like riding a bike

The thing about racing an Ironman less than 4 months after you have a baby is that no one is pegging you for the win or expecting the performance of a lifetime, so I was lucky to go into this race without mammoth expectations. Of course, in my own head, I wished for a miraculous extra 20 watts to appear on Ironman Malaysia race day, but we all know that 6 weeks of solid training isn't going to gift you that. Race day magic only works when you  have put in the work, and I just didn't have the time to put in the body of work yet.

I actually felt really good going into the race and was prepared to surprise myself. BUT, I knew my biggest limiter would be that depth of endurance that you just can't get going from ground zero to Ironman in 8 weeks. I wanted to give my best, but not be too hard on myself. When you come from a place where you want to win races, it's hard to downgrade to "I just want a respectable finish" but I knew I had to race within my means. Luckily, Malaysia is stinking hot and not only do I love hot conditions, but I know it forces all athletes to slow down a bit (or risk an epic blowup). So, my hope was that my steady eddy pace would eventually reel in a few people and I could make some KPR (Kona Points Ranking) points and earn a paycheck. When I got those "What the heck am I doing?" and "Will I even remember how to race after a year off?" feelings, I reminded myself that it's just like riding a bike. Because, well, it IS riding a bike.

check, check, check. 
Everything pre-race went as smooth as possible in a completely foreign country and I had a fun time exploring (See my Ironman Malaysia: Travelogue). I got all the Ironman gear bags to the right places, had a pre-race swim with Julie on the course, and tucked myself into bed super early the night before the race. Race morning was a little different as I had to add in extra time for pumping (yes, still exclusively breastfeeding) at my hotel and then again right before the race start. Oh, the glam life!

Pre-race swim with Julie. 

swim venue the day before- Kuah bay
The Swim- 2.4 mi/3.8k (1:03 - 1:40/100m)
First of all. HANDS DOWN my favorite Ironman swim of all time for a few reasons: 1) super warm (like bathtub!) water and non-wetsuit so I got to wear my Zoot Speedzoot which I love. 2) The most well-marked course I have ever swum- flags every 25m and large buoys marked 1-10 every 450m 3) Kayakers everywhere- this course made it simply impossible to go the wrong direction (and believe me I can often find a way!) 4) a clockwise one-loop swim. I breathe to the right so I pretty much never had to look up for sighting.

Really cool pics from - check out this "IM Swim for Dummies" course- so rad!
I cracked open a fresh pair of Aquashpere Kayenne's and headed to the swim start. The pro women started at 7:16am, one minute after the men (daylight didn't even break until about 7:00am). I had a clean start and not much of the usual anxiety I get at race start. I think the warm water and relatively small field (10 pro women) helped. I swam my own pace from the get-go and was please to find a pair of feet to trail behind for the first 1200m. By the time we rounded the far turn buoys, I was on some different feet, but always had at least one person to swim with which was refreshing. I exited the water happy and feeling good. I yelled around, "what time is it?" Someone said, "8:20" and I knew I had swum in a nice ballpark for me at this stage.

T1: Big surprise- FOUR other bikes still on the rack! That meant I was in the top half of women out of the water. My smile got a little bigger.
Transition. Bike Bling!

The Bike- 112mi/180k (5:34- 20.1mph)

up the hill....P.S. the new Smith Overtake aero road helmet is the bees knees for a hot race! 

I knew that I wouldn't be able to ride "hard" on my current/limited fitness, so my goal was to ride steady and strong.The course starts with three pretty big climbs with fast descents and I was immediately passed by a couple of girls.  I knew my limit on the climbs and decided not to go above them- it was going to be a long day. The course winds its way around to the north side of the island and the Red Bull "tough zone" out to Datai Mountain. The "tough zone" was a series of 5 hills where age groupers competed for fastest segment. Also near the tough zone was the "monkey zone"- 12k of the course where eating gels and bars was not allowed due to the prevalence of local monkeys who would literally jump at the chance for an exotic treat. I feel like I rode steady and attempted to ride strong throughout the bike. My Cannondale Slice RS fits me so well and I was super comfortable the whole way (the ISM Attack saddle helps- LOVE! Also, based on the course profile, I chose a Zipp 404/808 wheelset which turned out to be perfect.)   Midway through loop one, I had just gone ahead of Michelle Duffield and then promptly decided to take a wrong turn off course where we were supposed to U-turn. I didn't see signs for a U-turn and thought the yellow barricades were blocking the road (not indicating the turnaround), so off on a solo mission down a random road I went. I figured it out soon enough and turned around, probably only losing a minute or two. My bad, though, as I didn't hear of anyone else making that mistake. Other than that, my ride was uneventful, but I was aware that I was executing a slow fade to the finish, my 2nd lap watts dropping about 5 below my first lap watts. I was happy to leapfrog with Michelle on and off throughout the day to keep the motivation high and make me feel in the mix of the race. 

Though my ride was uneventful, the actual course was far from it! Some of the race route roads must remain open to local traffic for the residents and this requires the athletes to be on their toes. Lots of families on scooters buzz by going every direction and occasionally you'd be behind a line of cars. Also, monkeys and wild dogs galore so there is always something to look out for or speed away from. Nothing felt really unsafe as the traffic was respectful and the dogs weren't too fast, but it definitely added more of a video game element to the ride- dodging obstacles on the 112 mile mission is fun! I rolled back into Kuah town just behind Michelle and heard Pete Murray (he's like the Australian Mike Reilly) announce my name of course along with "just had a baby" and "wife to Luke McKenzie" (hah- maybe one day?)... but it gave me big smiles all around.

heading to T2
T2: There were not many red run bags left on the pro female racks (only one besides Michelle's and mine) so I knew there was work to do. (Okay, I already knew that, but the lack of bags confirmed that there was work to do). I threw on my Zoot Ultra Tempo 6.0s, visor, Smith Pivlocks and ran out.

The Run- 26.2mi/42k (3:30- 4:59/k)
I know a certain heart rate where I can successfully run a marathon off-the-bike. On my best day, this gives me around a 3:00 marathon. With the Malaysian heat (someone said that the temperature at 9PM was still 100.4 degrees F! Thorsten, from analyzes the results and said IM Malaysia 2014 was the overall slowest Ironman run of all time), I decided to run at my designated heart rate, regardless of the pace, in order to successfully make it to the finish line without blowing up. Unfortunately, on Ironman Malaysia day, this heart rate didn't give me 3:00 marathon pace... It gave me 3:30 marathon pace! Some of that was due to the crazy conditions, but some was due to pure lack of that deep race fitness. BUT, I felt strong and controlled throughout (while still fading a bit at the end). I was able to pass a couple of pro women and ran into 5th place by the finish. I logged my slowest ever Ironman marathon (out of 12 Ironmans) but truly feel that I gave it what I had on the day. I think the Ironman run is where race fitness truly reveals itself and I just wasn't bike OR run fit enough to run a fast marathon. That will take another couple of months of work to get that depth. The good thing is, I've been there before and I know what I need to do to get back there. Nothing in this sport comes for free and it would be criminally unfair if I could just pop out a 3:00 marathon right after a baby, right? I've been careful in my run training to build slowly to avoid injury, and sometimes there just are no shortcuts.

My first finish over 10 hours in the past 3 years, but the time on the clock can never tell the whole story. Happy as can be. 
At the finish I headed to the ice bath, post-race massage (best post race massage i've EVER gotten) and then straight into a changing tent to take the edge of my gigantic (okay, maybe B cup instead of A) boobs that had filled up throughout the day. After catching up and telling stories, I headed back to my hotel, packed up and left early the next morning. I'm never one to miss a post-race extravaganza, but I had a baby (& Dad-in-Ironman-training) on the other side of the world to get back to....

And what a welcome home it was....

my people

Mom and Dad are out training again and I need an Acai bowl.. Can someone get the kickstand for me?
[Speaking of my people... If you ever wonder why my Instagram doesn't feature the little miss very often, it's because much of the baby love, adventures, and funny (well, we think so) captions are poured into the @wynnemckenzie account to save those of you who actually just want a race report]
Thank you to my sponsors for sticking by me through my pregnancy hiatus, to our families (espcialy Jacque!) for making my training possible, to Wynne for being the most angelic & flexible baby who has slept through the night since 5 weeks old, and most of all to Luke for coaching me, loving me, and believing in me.