My quest began Thanksgiving 2013, when I decided I would take one shot to qualify for Kona by winning my age group at Eagleman 70.3. I was in the midst of my surgery rotation as a third year medical student and with residency fast approaching this would likely be my last chance to make the trip to the Big Island for an indefinite period of time. I signed-up for the race, but put training on hold for several more months of demanding rotations on the hospital wards.
Fast forward to New Year’s Eve, when after much debate over making the change, I decided to hire Brian Stover of Accelerate 3 as my coach. My structured training began early February, but before I logged a single workout I wrote down my season goals on a blank index card and tucked them away for future reference. Then day after day, week after week, and month after month I did the work.
8 hour weeks became 12 hours weeks, then 16 hours up to 18 hours of training a week. I was training more than I ever had in the time afforded to me by less intensive outpatient rotations. Things didn’t go perfectly, but I did what I needed to, so that at the end of the day I could say I had done my very best.
I opened my season at the Red Bank Olympic Triathlon on May 18, 2014. I was the first female finisher and in the top 10 overall, but my greatest accomplishment of the day was a swim PR. It was exciting to see that all the swimming I had done over the winter was paying dividends. Joining a masters team proved to be worthwhile investment. Now that the rust was busted it was time to set my sights on my next race, Eagleman 70.3, my one and only chance to Kona Qualify.
On June 8, 2014 I crossed my first goal Win AG at Eagleman=>KQ off of my list, and also qualified for my pro card by finishing 2nd overall female amateur. I continued down the five-item list, and continued ticking off my accomplished goals, which also included a top three amateur finish at Syracuse 70.3 on June 22. After racing two half Ironman races in two weeks, I stepped off the gas for a week, then completed my biggest week of training ever, tallying 27 hours, 20 of which were on the bike, while I was on vacation (train-cation) in the Adirondacks over the 4th of July.
I started my fourth year of medical school with a little bit of a training hangover, which lingered until New Jersey State Triathlon; a few easier days of light training leading up to the race were just what I needed. Without any races on the schedule until the World Championships, my focus shifted to training, and lots of it. Long runs got longer, long rides had more threshold and VO2, and with long course weekend swim practices I was putting in lots of yardage in the pool. A few weeks before Mt. Tremblant I had an awesome 30 minute power test that was a huge improvement from my previous test.
I was feeling confident, but still very anxious about the next goal on my list. Unfortunately, an asterisk was put next to the fourth item on my list, as a mechanical at the 70.3 World Championships took me out of the race and I was not able to defend my title. I mourned the disappointing finish for a couple of days, but it was onwards and upwards to Kona.
My fifth and final goal was Podium at Kona. This was my shoot for the moon goal, the goal that I felt was a longshot, but not impossible. Being my first Ironman, I had no expectations but was confident in both my physical and mental preparation for the race. Come race day I was in the best shape of my life, I was ready to go, and I executed according to plan. My performance earned me fourth place in my age group and a spot on the podium, which was unexpected but well-earned. Filled with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, I stood proudly on the podium with my Umeke bowl.
Inside the bowl was the following explanation of the significance of the Umeke.
I had reached my ultimate goal; I accomplished nearly all the goals I had set for myself for the season. It was an incredible year and I am looking forward to a new chapter in my athletic career. There is much to look forward to and more exciting news to come in the near future.