2013 70.3 California (Oceanside) [Race Report]

Ironman 70.3 / Race Reports

I have been waiting and planning for my first professional race since I was a little girl. I know that God has a plan for everyone and I truly believe that mine is to be a professional triathlete. It has not been an easy journey and there have been times of doubt within myself, that this is the path I should take. At points, it looked like it would never happen. However, if you stay patient, faithful, and persistent you will achieve your dreams!

I started triathlon at the age of 7 and almost 20 years later I competed in my first professional wave in triathlon. Wow, Yikes… =) This I know is only the beginning of a long journey of passion and overcoming adversity. With that being said, I am enjoying every moment of it!

I thrive when race conditions are tough; windy, cold, hilly etc. Little did I know that by signing up for Oceanside 70.3 this year the tough conditions would not be the weather (which was absolutely perfect for most professionals, cool with no wind) but the competition itself. The women’s professional field was stacked with some of the best talent in the sport, including several world champions ranging in: Ironman, 70.3 and Xterra’s distances.

Walking into the professional mandatory meeting prior to the race, I was star-struck. Wow, there is Heather Jackson, Lesley Patterson, Mirinda Carfrae, and Melanie McQuaid, plus a ton more! I was most shocked when Andy Potts a huge idol of mine came and sat next to me. The whole time I kept asking myself, “Is this really happening?”

Race Morning:

I got up and had my fantastic breakfast, Core 4 Nutrition. Then I put on my badass Bright Pink, Wattie Ink. kit! I actually slept really great the night before the race and had a sense of peace that I normally do not experience before races. Jeff and I drove to the race site, so that I could set up my transitions. It was actually pretty interesting to me how long the professional women were taking to set up their transitions. I thought that they would have everything so organized that they would place their stuff down and be out of the chaos as quickly as possible. Boy was I wrong; I was one of the last to show up and was done setting up transition before any of the professional women were out of the transition area. It made me second guess what I was doing, so I stood in transition for several minutes just going over everything in my head countless times making sure I didn’t forget to do anything before leaving. I had to just smile to myself, thinking that some things never change. Both the professionals and age group triathletes have such type A personalities that we are all obsessed about having everything just Perfect! Once I was content with my transition area, I went to find my incredible family members who came out to support me in my first professional race.

After sitting with my Father, Mother and phenomenal boyfriend by the beach for a few relaxing minutes prior to the race, I realized that this was truly happening because of the love and support of my family, friends and sponsors. With a prayer of success and safety with my family, I headed over to the dock in my Blue Seventy Wetsuit. The male professionals started 3 minutes before the women, which meant we had 3 minutes to warm up. So I did some Z-Health on the dock prior to getting into the water to warm-up. As the canon erupted for the men, all the women timidly walked into the water. Once we realized it wasn’t nearly as cold as we all expected we quickened our step. We took a few strokes to the starting buoys, where once again, we waited to be started.  The announcer, Mike Reilly, spoke into the microphone, 30 seconds… (which felt like forever) then finally the canon blasted and we were off. I was actually swimming with the very best in the sport and stayed with them for about 150 meters, =) before the lead pack started to separate themselves from the rest of us stragglers. This came to no surprise to me; I am working hard this year to improve my swim, but it is still work in progress. However, I was grateful that I was not alone. I was swimming with a group of three women and was able to stay on feet the entire swim course, which was a first ever! Not to mention the women in front of me were sighting really well so we swam a great line. I was extremely pleased with my swim time, 28:25, one of my fastest swims yet exiting the water in 23rd out of the professional women with a start list of 32 professional participants. As I ran through transition, I heard age groupers cheering for me by name, which was so inspiring to me. I quickly transitioned and passed three women before exiting transition. As I hopped on my Cervelo bike with my Smith Optics Sunglasses on, I could hear the voices of my family cheering for me and informing me that I was 6 minutes and 5 seconds behind the first group of women, wow, not bad! =)

For the bike, my coach Simon Lessing wanted me to go out conservatively so that I could have a strong run. The first section of the bike was super fun because I was close enough to some women to actually see them out on the course. When I have a target in front of me I am driven to catch them as quickly as possible. However, as I progressed throughout the course there were less people to pass with greater gaps between us. At mile 25, my family drove out to once again give me words of encouragement. The majority of the bike course I rode completely by myself without anyone in sight. This has never happened as an age grouper, I am used to always having tons of people to pass. I kept looking at my SRM Power Meter and noticed that my averages were slowly decreasing. I normally would be very concerned but since our game plan was to go conservatively on the bike, I just stayed positive. By the very end of the bike, I had made up ground on a few women and could see them just a few seconds ahead of me. I knew my bike wasn’t as great as I had hoped and that I would need to make up a ton of time on the run. I rode to Transition 2, which was jammed packed with spectators and cheering fans, including my family. I racked my bike, which rode beautifully thanks to Wheat Ridge Cyclery, and put on my shoes as quickly as possible. I took my helmet off and started running out of transition when I realized I had forgotten my Garmin on my bike.  “Crap… Do I turn around and go get it so that I have an idea of my pace or do I just run without it?” I hesitated for a second before making the decision of proceeding without my Garmin. I raced out of transition onto the run course. It was quickly apparent that I had my work cut out for me. The professional women were all running extremely strong and I would have to run a PR to be in the mix of making in into the top 15. I felt fresher on the run then I have ever felt and part of that was being conservative on the bike. I thought of all the advice both of my coaches, Simon Lessing and Darren De Reuck, had been giving me for the run including proper technique and trying to negative split the run. I went out hard for the first loop but did not give it all I had. I wanted to really prove to myself that I could pace myself correctly to negative split the run. However, I did not see a single mile marker out on the run course so I had no idea what pace I was running until I hit my second loop (halfway point) when I realized I could break 1:30 on the run for the first time in any 70.3. I was relieved on the second loop because more age groupers were crowding up the run course. I would much rather race with a lot of people out on the course then all by myself. I felt great, I only had 6.5 miles to go and I did not have any G.I. issues yet.  The perfect combination of finally dialing in my nutrition with Core 4 Nutrition and GU Products, I believe was my saving grace.  Plus, there were 4 girls ahead of me that were within reach (if I ran my butt off). With about three miles left, I was able to pass each one-by-one. I was so happy with my first professional race. I crossed the finishing line in an all out sprint taking home 12th place. Going into the race I wanted to crack the top 10 but once I saw the starting list I knew that would be a hard task to accomplish, but it was even more so then I thought. In the past two years if you finished around 4 hours and 30 minutes you would be in the running of taking home some money, placing sixth or better. This year, the sixth place finisher was 10 minutes faster with a time of 4:20:04. I crossed the line in 4:33:02 in 12th. It was a race with a ton of learning but a confidence builder as well.

I have a month of solid training ahead of me with Boulder Coaching before traveling to St George, Utah for the 70.3 U.S. Professional Championship.

Thank you again for all the support of my family, friends and sponsors, I couldn’t do it without you! Thank you to the incredible city of Oceanside for putting on such a great race. Also, thank you to the race directors and countless phenomenal volunteers who poured their heart and souls into the race so that it would be just perfect. Also, thank you to the numerous Wattie Ink. supporters, your cheers meant the world to me out on the course!

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!