2012 Ironman 70.3 Boulder Race Report

Ironman 70.3 / Race Reports
 I had three main objectives for this race.
1. Improve all three legs of the triathlon from last year but especially, my nemeses, the swim
 2. Qualify for 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas by winning my age group
 3. Of Course as always, HAVE FUN!
Last year, I went into the 70.3 Boulder race completely spent. The weekend before 70.3 Boulder I had completed my first ever 36 Hour Adventure Race with Jason Michalak, one of the most gifted athletes and best teammates I have ever met. The race was at Lake Tahoe and right after we crossed the finish line we packed up all our gear and headed to the airport where I flew to Arizona for a week of Z Health. I got back the day before Boulder 70.3 and was suffering with major digestive issues.  All things considered I had an outstanding race last year, winning my age group and qualifying for 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas. 
This year, was a completely different story! I was by no means tapered, but, I also was in an extremely better state then last year.  I went into the race feeling pretty good, my coach (Lee Gardner) and I had set specific goals for each segment of the triathlon, knowing that if I had a great race I would hit these standards.
First was the swim; Lee wanted me breaking 35 minutes in the swim which would be 50 seconds faster than last year’s time. It was the first time all year that I could actually reach the bottom of the reservoir at the starting line. This made a huge difference because I was able to push off and get an excellent start staying up with the top girls in my age group. I went as hard as I could to the first turn in the swim course then told myself to relax and think about pulling the water with my arms. I have always struggled in the swim and get through by kicking as hard as I can. This time I truly focused on my upper body’s technique and staying calm.  I exited the water with a 31:35, fourth in my age group. Lee and I were both elated, 4:15 faster than last year and with less effort!
In T1 all the age group athletes had designated spots; I was in and out in 1:56, 8 seconds faster than last year’s time. 
By far my favorite part of the race is the bike portion. Here Lee and I wanted to hit 2:20:00. From the second I jumped on the bike it was “game face”, until I saw my amazing family cheering for me on the side of the road, after a quick smile and wave it was back to business. I caught the three girls in my age group very quickly out of transition and then set my sights on the age groups whose waves started before mine. All year my cycling has drastically improved and I know a big part of that is due to my SRM power meter. When I am racing, I rely very heavily on my power meter to keep me in check. Lee and I pick a target power range for my race and if I am above it, significantly, I know I need to back off. However, if I am below it, it helps to remind me to focus on every pedal stroke and maximizing each one as much as possible to bring my average power back into proper range.  I was feeling fantastic and unstoppable as I passed age grouper after age grouper. However, this confidence was quickly stalled when I got my doors blown off by another age grouper female, Mara Abbott.  She was incredibly fast and oddly enough, I was actually really excited to have someone push me on the bike. After waiting till she was three bike lengths ahead of me I re-passed her but had to push a huge power number to do so. Who was this girl? After a few seconds she took off again, we went back and forth for about 10 miles. At which point, I looked down at my power meter and saw I was going extremely hard to stay in contact with her and I wasn’t even half way done with the bike at this point. I quickly had to readjust my race strategy of trying to race her race and refocus on my own goals. It is always a humbling moment when you have to watch another athlete ride off into the distance while you swallow your pride and zone back into your own race. There is a 50 meter out-and-back section at the end of both laps on the bike. I told myself that if I could see her coming “out” of the out-and-back section on my second loop I could catch her on the run. On my second loop I couldn’t push the same power numbers as the first but with my family cheering from the side of the rode I knew I had to just stay focused on the present moment! The second loop was spent thinking about each pedal stroke and praying to God. When I am racing is when I feel closest to God and I truly believe that is why I have such a passion and love for racing. I get into deep prayer and know that if I do the race with him by my side anything is possible.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
-Philippians 4:13
By the end of the second bike loop, I was ecstatic to see her coming out of the out-and-back section which meant I was only a few minutes behind. I finished up the bike in a time of 2:20:25, very close to my goal time and 3:12 faster than last year. I was in the sixth wave to start the race out of about twenty, which meant I got to beat some of the heat of the day which allowed for me to be the second age group female to hit T2. T2 took a little longer then I would have liked at exactly 60 seconds. 6 seconds slower than last year.
The start of the run I felt really strong, within a mile and half I had caught Mara. I congratulated her on such a solid bike spilt, and she was extremely sweet telling me that she used to be a professional cyclist and won the Tour De France (for the women). Instantly, I was feeling better about my bike split and this insight helped me throughout the run. Lee and my father were both key roles in encouraging me on the run. Goal time for the run was a 1:30:00 (6:52 per mile pace), as great as I felt on the run I was well off pace with a 1:34:49 (7:14 per mile pace). I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:29:45, almost 17 minutes faster than last year.
Overall, it was a great race! I met my three main goals for the race, winning my age group by over 12 minutes and qualifying for 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas which will be held September 9, 2012. I cannot wait to compete on the grand stage!  
Again, I could never have done it without my fantastic support team of my parents, sister, boyfriend and coach. My sponsors, Trismarter, SRM, Cafe Velo, Wheat Ridge Cyclery, Colorado Running Company, Dr. Grove Higgins, Transformation Massage Therapy, Exustar, and LifeQuest Military Transitions. Most of all, God who races by my side the entire way giving me strength and courage!
Danielle Mack is professional Triathlete residing in Boulder, Colorado. She found her passion for triathlons at a young age. However, it wasn’t until she turned sixteen did she really start training strictly for triathlons. Through various paths God has lead her through the years including Xterra’s and Adventure Racing she discovered her ultimate love, long course triathlons, especially Ironman’s!