Alicia Kaye: Ironman Texas

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What an insane few weeks it has been. It has always been a big task to prepare for an Ironman. With so many details involved, it can seem overwhelming at times. Couple those tasks with the fact that we moved to our summer training location in Boulder, it has been a difficult combination for sure! The past few weeks have been crazy getting settled, recovering and adapting to a new altitude. I wasn’t sure if I would have had time to write this had I not gotten food poisoning yesterday. So here it is, my take on my fourth place result at Ironman Texas.

Jarrod and I drove to from Orlando to Texas with Jarrod doing the majority of the 14-hour drive. Jarrod found us a hotel in an incredible location in the Woodlands so it was easy for us to get around and do all of our pre-race obligations. We were so fortunate that our good friend and massage therapist, Todd Plymale-Mallory, was able to join us. He helped tremendously with getting our bodies ready to race after a long drive and he was invaluable on race day.

Race morning was warm, but the forecast was showing that the temperature was going to drop and it was likely going to be an unseasonably cool day with some potential for rain. Setting up transition went pretty smoothly; as we were walking from the transition to the swim start we, fortunately, bumped into our good friends Kaitlin and Ed Donner. Ed and Kaitlin are some of my main training partners in Florida so it was awesome to be able to see them before the start.

I got to the swim start area with plenty of time. I was feeling very relaxed and ready for the day. Jarrod and Todd rolled in shortly after and we quietly prepared for the start. I gave Jarrod a big hug and we wished each other well. I got in a good swim warm up and was ready to roll by the time the gun went. Even though the swim is only 4K and we swim 4K almost every day, it still feels long on a race day. I think I swam on Lauren Brandon’s feet for maybe 200m, but she is just at another level. I don’t know if our sport has ever seen a swimmer like her! I exited the water about four minutes down. I had a smooth T1 and hopped on to my bike.

The bike was interesting for me. About 10 days before Ironman Texas I got a new SRM. They are not a sponsor of mine, so I feel I can be very transparent about what happened. It was working perfectly fine leading into race day and fine since the race, but for some reason, it was reading high in the race. I kept dialing back my effort because it was telling me I was pushing over my 70.3 effort.  It was not until the final turn with 30 miles to go that suddenly my watts dropped by 40 and I was finally seeing my accurate watts. It meant I was going a little too easy in the early parts of the bike race but that I was able to ride fairly even. I’ve had some pretty significant wattage drops in the past so it was nice to see some more consistent riding. There was a tough head wind for the final 30 miles and I was grateful that with about 15 miles to go. I was caught by Tine Deckers and Maja Stage- Nielson. It was absolutely fantastic to have some company, as I had essentially been alone for the majority of the ride. Jodie Robertson passed us with about eight miles to go and boy was she flying! The four of us dismounted fairly close together.

I was so ready to be off the bike after the tough head wind finish! I dismounted my bike and handed it off to a volunteer and then ran to the gear bag area to retrieve my “run gear bag.” I got everything situated for my run and took off and felt great. We got information pretty early that we were about six minutes down from race leader Lauren Brandon. I ran my pace on the first loop, it was a little quick but I felt awesome and decided to just roll with it after what happened on the bike. As I was finishing loop one I knew I was catching Lauren Brandon, Jodie was running just a little faster than me but Maja who was over 90 seconds ahead of me; I was feeling fantastic. I was trying to remain calm, but I got a little excited and I quickened my pace to pass Maja with assertion. At mile 10 I moved into third and can see Lauren Brandon just up the road. I settled my pace again, and around mile 13 I moved into second place; I was still feeling great! There is an out and back section around mile 16 and I suddenly became ill. It was my own fault because in my excitement to move into second place I was flying through aid stations and not getting the hydration I needed to process that calories I was exerting. I saw Maja and she was only about a minute back from me. Clearly, she had come out her rough patch and was moving smoothly again. I focused on coke, water and nursing my gel on the third loop. At nearly the identical place I had passed Maja the lap before she passed me back. Then not even 10 minutes later a flying Michaela Herlbauer came by me and I was now in fourth. The crazy part of all of this is that I was running a great marathon by most race standards, but some new names were really stepping up and throwing down very fast marathon times. I held myself together and finished in fourth place. I was absolutely thrilled with my marathon as it was more than 10 minutes faster than I have ever run before.

It was absolutely fantastic to race alongside so many talented and kind women. Nothing beats giving your competitor a smile, thumbs up or a high five out of pure respect. There is so much less strategy in Ironman racing than short course and if a competitor happens to be going faster than me there is not a whole lot I can do about it. Ironman is a battle from start to finish, mostly with yourself. I’ve really realized that these small bits of encouragement really lift me, so in the spirit of abundance, I offer these to my fellow races, pros and age groupers alike. And almost always the encouragement is reciprocated; it feels like a quiet acknowledgment that we are all out there fighting the same battle.

I’m now settled in Boulder and don’t plan to race until Escape Series Philadelphia at the end of June. I needed a break post-Texas and needed some time to adjust to the altitude. It’s great to be with the Apex crew and coach Neal Henderson and I looking forward to getting pushed hard by my new training partners and friends. Until the next update, thank you for reading and following along with my journey!

*** All photos in this race report are property of Competitive Image***

Alicia Kaye

Alicia Kaye

Alicia Beth Kaye is a Canadian / US professional triathlete and Member of the USA Triathlon Project 2012 program. Alicia Kaye started her international elite career at the age of 16, placing 14th at the World Cup in Corner Brook.
Alicia Kaye

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