This is me
This is also me :)
Working with a new coach this year was a big learning curve. (I don't believe we ever acknowledged it) but I think Coach Jonny and I had this unspoken agreement: learn how to train at an elite level, while staying healthy and injury free, and see where this season takes us. Boy oh boy did he have me digging deeper than I ever thought possible. More volume, more intensity, bigger goals. Despite a few breakdowns, panic attacks, frustrations (mostly from being impatient with my progress), I can now reflect on my tri season and say "yes, it was worth it, the hard work paid off!"
I had massive gains on the bike. When Coach Jonny and I first started working together I couldn't hold 200 watts for more than 2 minutes.
Last year's power #s (light blue, bottom line) versus this year's (dark blue, top line)
|Courtesy of TrainerRoad|
I made the podium at every IRONMAN 70.3 I raced this year. (I'm currently ranked 10th in the world in my Age Group)
I also reached a few other milestones: fastest amateur run split (women) at IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman, qualified for next year's IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in France (I didn't take my slot... I have other goals), FINALLY broke 1:30 in the half marathon leg of a half ironman, and this....
I got to be a guest on the Conversation P.A.C.E. Show in NYC
(Coach Nicole interviewed my Dad and I)
You can watch the video in it's entirety HERE
I talk about everything from how I got my start in the sport to what I use to protect my hair in the pool (hint). My Dad also shares stories about my childhood and why they decided to put me in swim lessons at a young age.
My "A" Race: IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City
Day before the race
Don't let the smile fool you. I was SOOOOOOOO NERVOUS!!! Like ...I want to cry... I might puke.... I just want to disappear... nervous. Luckily I have an amazing family who keeps me laughing.
My brother is hilarious!!! I guess I'm immune to his shenanigans because I just carried on the convo I was having with my Dad.
Apparently my Dad and Bro stayed up watching Friday, Next Friday, and The Friday After Next the night before packet pickup/bike check (I had my own room). So I pretty much had to hear them reenact Ice Cube/Chris Tucker scenes THE ENTIRE WEEKEND.
|With my Dad and Brother at the Ironman Village the day before the race|
OMG! The drive to the start felt like I was being taken in for sentencing. Like I was about to find out if I was getting life or the death penalty. I know I know. Absolutely ridiculous. But I was nervous! And this is my blog so I'm going to keep it real. If you have race day/performance anxiety, you are not alone! It's because we care A LOT. That's what I try to tell myself... (it doesn't help though)
1.2 mile Swim: 35:58
As we were herded like cattle I found the 26-35 minute swim group. I told my Dad if over 40 minutes pass and I'm still not out of the water "S.O.S., please send someone in to get me." I was serious too! I have not been swimming well lately. Earlier in the year I got to train with a Master's team with a coach on deck. Unfortunately team training takes a hiatus in the summer = I swim on my own and I'm not so good at pushing myself solo. Luckily team practice is back on!
Back to the most violent, salty swim I have ever done. Whoa! I don't know why there were so many 'bows thrown. I got punched, kicked, AND swam over. I've never wanted to get on a bike so bad in my life (and we all know how much I love cycling ;-). Luckily the swim course was pretty easy to navigate. I had no issues sighting. The hardest part was probably the last 300 or so meters. It felt like there was a pretty big current that I had to fight in order to make it to shore.
|I made it!! In under 36 minutes. Not good. Not terrible.|
|Thinking... that was almost a TKO (not in my favor)|
56 Mile Bike: 2:39:54 (21.01 mph)
I was eager to see how much progress I had made on the bike. This has always been my achilles heal. Seeing the numbers on my power meter go up over the past few months has been very encouraging. My coach thought I could average at least 10 watts higher at Atlantic City versus what I did at Eagleman. He was right!
|Isn't my bike pretty?|
I still feel like I'm a decedent of the mollusk family (i.e. snails, slugs, etc) when it comes to the bike, but guess what? I PR'd!! My first time breaking 2:40, averaging over 21 mph, and it was a 20 watt improvement from Eagleman. Shout out to Dylan Ralston for being my bike training buddy these past few weeks.
|Bike Dismount. Heading to transition.|
Half Marathon (13.1 Mile Run): 1:29:49 (6:52 min/mile pace)
By the time I got to my run gear everything was soaked and I was cold (according to my Garmin it was 64 degrees). But I heard my Mom cheering for me (she made it down after a crazy weekend). My mood immediately picked up and it was time to get to work.
One of my goals this season was to break 1:30, but not at the expense of doing poorly on the bike. I'm not sure how my coach figured this out but I think what he did was give me the bare minimum mileage, but the runs I did do were BRUTAL!!!! He literally made me do this awful tempo run every d*mn Wednesday for a month leading up to this race. We did not see eye to eye on this workout. The first time, I ended up walking. The second time was a little better. But it never got easier. I'll be happy if I never have to do it again :-)
Back to the race.... this was the first time I've ever done a half ironman and got on the run course with the top women in my vision. Having a faster bike split makes it feel like such a different race. I went out around 6:55 pace and tried to get comfortable ticking off the miles. Not sure running ever feels "comfortable" after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 miles. I seemed to have found a rhythm around mile 6 and I moved up a few places. All was great until.... Mile 9.
|After running down a few stairs we ran on the beach behind the finish line,|
then back up onto the boardwalk.
I'm convinced that I will always go through a low point at least once during a race. I mean ... you are out there for hours. It's bound to happen, right? Well, mile 9 was my lowest point. I wanted to walk!! I ate a gel, shuffled through an aid station, grabbed some Gatorade. Before I knew it I was at mile 10. "Only a 5K left. You did not suffer through all of those awful Wednesday training runs for nothin!" I think these are the moments that can make or break your race #themind. It's so easy to succumb to fatigue. I checked my watch, did some calculations, and knew I could break 1:30 if I ran 6:30s.
I did it!!! Official Time: 4:54 (and I broke 1:30)
|Excuse the hair. Always stop the Garmin ;-)|
I have the BEST family <3
|With my Brother Nile, Dad, and Mom at the finish line|
What a day! Weather conditions weren't ideal but overall it was a great race/venue. Very organized, spectator friendly, beginner friendly course, aid stations were on point, course was well marked. The bike leg was a bit scary, but I think a lot of that had to do with the rain. I'd definitely recommend this race. Especially if you are considering doing your first IRONMAN 70.3.
The rest of the day was spent holed up in our hotel room, trying to stay warm, eating pizza, and watching The Bobby Brown Story on BET. I had wine of course ;-)
More pics from the weekend...
|Award Ceremony. I missed winning my age group by 30 seconds!!|
With my girl Flaca (actress/model/triathlete)
|Before the race, our goal was to win our age groups. We both came in 2nd.|
Not too shabby ;-)
My friend Sam (from KIS Coaching) and I
|Day before the race|
|Thank you to the volunteers. You rock!!|
Where to go from here....
Luckily there is still TONS of improvement to be made. Top 10 women at IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City:
As you can see, about a minute and a half separates me from 4th place. I'm still losing quite a bit of time on the swim and bike. (Disregarding the woman that won; she's a former pro) I think I can be right there in the mix this time next year.
Some road races!!!! I will be in Baltimore next month for the National Black Marathoners Association Annual Summit and racing the Baltimore Half Marathon on October 20th. And then I will be in Tempe, AZ on November 30th for the Outspoken: Women in Triathlon Summit. I'll be on a panel with Rachel Joyce (2X Kona podium finisher), Erin Beresini (Triathlete Magazine Editor-in-Chief), and Kelly Burns Gallagher (Race Director and Lawyer). I know, I don't fit in hahaha. But I have much to say ;-)
A big thank you to the companies that supported me this tri season: Point 2 Running Company, Hoka One One, TrainerRoad, Flat Out Events, Kinetic Multisports, Zoot Sports, and Village Bicycles. And of course a big thank you to my family, coach, and friends. You know who you are. I am eternally grateful!
Follow me @SikaHenry