2012 70.3 World Championship Race Report

Ironman 70.3 / Race Reports
Sunday RACE Day
I got up at 3:45am feeling slightly fatigued but not terrible. Lee made my breakfast while I got ready for the race. We drove to Lake Las Vegas, and as I was setting up my transition I started to get pretty nervous again. Lee could tell that being around everyone was making me anxious so he suggested we just hang out in the car. The race was broken up into wave starts according to age-group and I was one of the last waves to go, wave 17 at 7:50am. Sitting in the car, I instantly fell asleep and when I got up I was feeling completely refreshed and ready to race.
We made it back to transition in time to see the professional men and women exit the water and run into transition. I was getting really excited now to race! Once I got around to the water entrance, two of the challenged athletes were exiting the water, one of whom was a double amputee and the other didn’t have use of his legs. This instantly put everything into perspective and reminded me what racing was truly about.  I looked at Lee and asked him if he had any last words of advice before I went to join the other women 29 and under. He assured me that I was completely ready for this race and I was going to have a fantastic day, telling me that he was just as excited to watch me race as I was to race!  With that, I had the words I needed in my head, I absolutely thrive on positive encouragement. I hugged Lee and thanked him for all his support, smiled and left to meet up with the other women in my age group. It was the largest competition I had ever had in my age group, 67 women.
70.3 World Championship Swim Course
Swimming to the Starting Line
As a group we walked down the ramp to the water and I was second to enter the water, it was so refreshing, actually slightly chilly. We got a few minutes to warm up in the water before having to tread at the starting line. I quickly visualized all the things I have been practicing the past few weeks to improve my swimming stroke. The announcer spoke into the microphone, “Welcome to the 70.3 World Championship 30 seconds till you start… 15… 5 … whistle.” With that we were off, I tried as hard as I could to stay with the top girls until the third buoy which were placed approximately 100 meters apart from each other.  I was greatly relieved that even knowing I had a large age group, with very fast swimmers and the fastest female in the entire field; I didn’t get clobbered to death.
Swim Start- Female 29 and Under

I stayed relaxed throughout the entire swim and continued to think about technique. When I rounded the buoy for the finish of the swim I was shocked that I was still with a pack of white caps, my age group. The swim was not wetsuit legal, last year in this race I swam a 35:07, my goal pace was a 33:00. I exited the water 15th in my age group with the time of 31:58, I was stoked!  I quickly ran up the ramp and through the long grassy shoot to transition. Since I was one of the last waves to go off my bike was positioned towards the back of transition.  I tore off my speed suit, cap and goggles and threw them into my transition bag, put on my helmet and sunglasses, grabbed my bike and quickly ran towards the bike exit. I passed several girls up the hill out of transition, yet it still took me 3 minutes and 15 seconds to complete T1. Once encountering the road, I mounted my bike, put my shoes on (which took forever, I still need practice) and then it was game face.

70.3 World Championship Bike Course

Lee shouted some encouraging words to me as I headed out on the 56 mile extremely rolling bike course. Lee and I knew that if I could maintain a certain watt output I would have a fantastic bike split. With the knowledge that I was almost seven minutes behind the first girl in my age group out of the water, I was feeling pretty anxious and for the first few minutes of the bike was well above my goal wattage. However, I was quickly able to settle into my race pace. I was amazed at how great I felt after the swim, and how relaxed and almost effortless the first few miles felt on the bike.  One of the greatest advantages about starting in a later wave is you have countless people to catch and pass on both the bike and run courses. I am a racer at heart, and thrive at the opportunity to pass as many competitors as possible and my goal is to always do so with such speed that I do not see them again, I wish I could say this always happens but it doesn’t.  A male competitor and I went back and forth for several miles and every time he would pass me he would yell, “Go girl, you got this,” in is European accent. I tried desperately to keep him in eye sight as a target but after several unsuccessful surges to maintain the lead I had to remember my own race strategy and watch him ride away. I was still feeling good and making up time fast on the girls in my age group. A Half Ironman is a long race and you have to remember to be patient and keep you mind focused on positive thoughts. I race my very best when I focus primarily on watt output on the bike and pray to God the rest of the time.  Part of the bike I actually found myself singing “Our God is an Awesome God.”  By the first major turnaround on the bike, my watt output was right on target and I could tell I was continuing to make up ground. Everything was going absolutely perfectly and according to plan!

The furnace continued to blaze and I was going through my nuun and water extremely quickly. I was beyond grateful for my incredible sponsor CafeVelo for providing me with a Prevail Helmet, which has incredible ventilation and is very lightweight. Yet at mile 40, I was feeling the heat to start to take its toll on my performance and I knew I needed to get some cold water at the next aid station, to rejuvenate myself. Aid stations are the most dangerous sections of road triathlon bike courses. I try to avoid having to slow down for them as much as possible by caring a speedfill and two water bottles on the bike for this reason.  As I was riding into the aid station a few bikers were coasting through to get nutrition and water. I assumed that they would maintain the same speed throughout so I rode in very quickly and right as I was grabbing water from a volunteer the rider in front of me slammed on his breaks, I am still uncertain for what.  A rush of adrenalin ran through me as my bike instantly collided with his. In my head I thought, this is it, the end of my perfect race, I am going to crash for sure! The next few microseconds still seem to be a miracle to me. It was as if I could feel hands wrap around me, ensuring I wouldn’t fall.  Talk about a powerful moment, neither one of us crashed. I tried to regain my composure as quickly as possible and get back up to speed. Meanwhile, thanking God the entire time!  The last 10 miles of the bike a group of eight men caught up to me and sat on my wheel all the way to T2. You are not allowed to draft in 70.3 Ironman distance triathlons and so I was getting pretty frustrated and tried to drop them numerous times but trying to drop a pack of male riders who clearly worked together the entire bike is extremely hard to do!
Last year, I did a 2:40:29 and this year my goal was to complete the bike between a 2:30:00- 2:35:00. I entered T2 with a bike split of 2:33:37, the 6th fastest female time out of the professional women and the fastest age grouper bike split by 4 minutes. By pacing off of my amazing SRM Powermeter I was able to produce a stellar bike split and still have energy left for the run! As I was finishing the bike an announcer tweeted the following:

Off the bike I transitioned as quickly as I could in 1 minute and 18 seconds. I was in third place off the bike in my age group but passed a girl in transition for second place. Lee was standing right outside transitions letting me know I was just a few minutes behind first place. I ended up catching the first place girl within the first mile. The run course was a three loop course of slightly over 4 miles each loop for a total of 13.1 miles. Out of transition is a steep downhill for a little over a mile which you run back up to the other side of transition were you continue to run uphill for approximately a mile and then back down and repeat. Therefore, once in the loops you are either running uphill for ~2 miles or downhill for ~2 miles.

70.3 World Championship Run Course

I love this kind of course because it is great for spectating and Lee was able to give me updates and encourage me throughout the entire run! On the second loop when I started to head up the 2 mile uphill the girl now in second place was making up a little ground on the downhill, at which Lee informed me that I need to pick it up! The most important part of the run was to stay well hydrated and since there were so many other competitors on this crazy run course that doubled back on itself it made it hard to get all the water, Powerade and sponges necessary at each aid stations. It was 10 degrees hotter than last year at 100 degrees.  Only two males passed me throughout the entire run and by the last lap it was pretty evident that I was going to win my Age Group. Last year I ran a 1:38:12 and my goal on the run was between 1:30:00 – 1:35:00. I finished the run with a time of 1:34:45 and the overall race in 4:44:53, 13 minutes and 4 seconds faster than last year. I was the first amateur women of over a 1,000 women by over six minutes. I placed 15th out of a field of 30 professional women. It was a truly incredible experience and a great way to finish my last Ironman 70.3 as an amateur.  Now I am completely focused on performing as good or better at Kona, October 13, 2012.

70.3 World Championship Awards Ceremony
70.3 Race Results

I want to thank my incredible family, friends and sponsors! My truly phenomenal parents and boyfriend, Jeff Mack, who sat by their computers all day Sunday cheering and praying for me, which I know made a huge difference! Trismarter coach Lee Gardner who was absolutely amazing, traveling with me and making sure I had everything I needed for the race. Lee has truly taken my racing to a whole new level this year and I am beyond grateful and excited for what lies in the future! Joe Novak, for the priceless swim coaching. SRM Powermeter, has enhanced my cycling ability so that I can now ride with the top of the professional women. CafeVelo, for providing me with amazing service on my bike and for the fantastic helmet. Massage Therapist, Krista Lewis, who spent almost  three hours massaging me a week prior to the race so that I was fully recovered going into the race. Chiropractor, Dr. Grove Higgins, who makes sure I am correctly aligned for my major workouts and races. Exustar for the great pedals and shoes. Colorado Running Company for the fantastic shoes. Without  my sponsors I know I wouldn’t be where I am today, thank you a million times!

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!