2013 Kansas 70.3 [Race Report]

Ironman 70.3 / Race Reports

My mother and I drove to Kansas last Thursday. Once we arrived in Topeka we were hosted by the very best home-stay ever! We got to stay with my 85 year old Great Aunt, Sister Mary Rosaline and Sister Marcella in the convent.  The convent was big enough to house eight nuns but currently there are only two that reside there. This allowed for plenty of room for both my mother and I. The convent was a humbling place to stay for five days; since they are nuns of the poor they truly live modestly. The beds were not even big enough to be considered a “single” size and were on metal springs that creaked and completely gave-in every time you even rotated the slightest bit on the bed. Not the best situation, for a good night’s sleep a few days before a big race. However, the generosity and spirituality of both nuns radiated throughout the convent and was contagious. I couldn’t get enough of being around them and actually had the time of my life getting to stay in the convent.

Race Morning:

I got up 20 minutes before my alarm went off and I felt wide-awake. I jumped out of bed, and went downstairs to prepare my Core4Nutrition Breakfast. Then I put on my Wattie Ink. Racing Kit and loaded up the car with my Cervelo P3 and all my gear.  As we drove to the race site, Sister Mary Rosaline suggested that we say the rosary together. This was very calming to hear her super sweet voice, say familiar prayers over and over. However, once we got to the race site, it was apparent that everyone had arrived at the same time and hundreds of cars were getting pretty backed up. What would normally be a 5-minute drive was becoming a 25-minute drive. As we inched our way forward, I noticed the minutes on the clock almost seemed to speed up right before my eyes. I was doing the math in my head, thinking to myself, “Am I going to make it on time?” I have never been late to a race, ever… Meanwhile, I could hear the calm voice of Sister repeating Hail Mary after Hail Mary. I was trying desperately to stay calm just like her, but inside I was thinking “LETS GO!!! What’s taking so long?”

Sister Mary Rosaline had never been to a triathlon before and had no idea that I was cutting it pretty short on time. She just smiled and thankfully her peace of mind was really a saving grace to me. It kept both my mother and I level headed. I just hope I can remember this in the future when I am feeling uneasy about a situation.

Finally, we got a parking spot, about 1/5 mile from T2. I rode my bike down, ran into T2, dropped off my shoes, hat and 2 Vanilla Bean GU’s. Before quickly hopping back on my bike and rushing down to T1 which was about 1.25 mile away. Once I got body marked and to my transition area, I finally could take a deep breath. I knew I was golden on time and was extremely relieved.

I positioned my bike, and laid my helmet out with my pink Smith Optics on top. Once I had everything set up how I like it, I started putting on my brand new BlueSeventy Wetsuit, which I Absolutely LOVE!!!


The announcer called over the loudspeaker that the professional men were going to be starting in 15 minutes so I told my family and best cheering support crew you could ever ask for, how much I loved them and thanked them for coming. My mom, Sister Mary Rosaline, Jeff and his parents all came to watch my race. I felt so blessed to have them all there and it made my race very special to me.

As I made my way to the water’s edge warming up with some of my Z-Health drills, they were letting the professional women in the water with the men so that we could get an extra 5-minute warm up. The water felt so refreshing, it was cool but not cold. The first few strokes of the warm up felt good and I was just so excited to be racing again.

They started the professional men and then 5-minutes later the canon went off for the professional women. I had a decent start, and stayed in a pack of women for about 200 meters before I started to drop off their pace. I was swimming hard but every time I would look up they would be just a little bit further away until I was completely dropped from their feet. When I thought I was the Lone Ranger in the back I saw a pink cap coming up next to me. The two of us ended up swimming side-by-side for almost the entire swim. Every time, I would draft off of her, I felt we were slightly off course and perhaps she felt the same when she was behind me, so side-by-side it was.

I exited the water just slightly before her and made my way into the transition area. I had a horrible T1. This was because I was super stubborn about having my socks on.  I did this because I wanted them on for the run leg of the race. So as I fumbled around with my socks, the gal I exited the water with quickly overtook me out of transition.


Jeff yelled from the mount line that I was officially in 2nd to last place out of the professional women (11th) and 5:20 back from the leader. “Great,” I was thinking to myself, “2nd to last place out of T1. Wow, I have a ton of ground to make up.” However, I swam a 28:07, which is one of my fastest swims to date. The swim is by far my weakest component of a triathlon, but I am starting to see gains in the right direction.

Once I mounted my Cervelo P3 and put on my shoes, it all started to turn around for me. I was finally in my favorite part of the race. I felt determined and buried my head down and just went for it. One by one I was starting to catch some of the women ahead of me on the bike. I was trying to keep track of what place I was in, but it is funny how when you are pushing yourself very simple kinder-garden arithmetic can become quite difficult, “…was that four or five, I can’t remember, oh well, I am still so far back, keep pushing.”


As we hit an out-and-back section of the course I could finally count the women ahead of me and estimate how many minutes I was behind. This gave me great inspiration to go even harder. I could tell that I was catching a group of three women and each pedal stroke, I was just thinking about my power. My SRM provides me with instantaneous feedback of how many Watts I was pushing and the numbers were reading pretty well. I kept telling myself, “You have this, just keep pushing.” Finally, I was able to catch and pass the group. At this point, I knew I was starting to actually become a factor in the race. This gave me great incentive to dig deeper.

Before, I knew it; we were headed back to the entrance of the state park. My P3 rode fantastically especially with my new Friction Facts chain that shifted as smooth as butter throughout the entire ride. I let up just a tad to let my legs get a brief rest before the real test would begin. I was fifth into T2 off the bike. I had a pretty decent transition time and was able to pass another gal just outside of transition.


Click to see Transition Video


Jeff was again, relaying splits to me. I was on a mission. I was nearly seven minutes behind first place. My legs responded very quickly and I was able to really push myself.  The crowds and volunteers were incredible.  There was not one section of the run course where you didn’t have someone cheering for you; this was a truly awesome experience. Within the first two miles I had moved up to third place on the run. Now the race was on for second place. I was nearly 2 minutes down coming out of transition from the gal in second but I was making up ground each mile.


On the second lap of the run I was able to move into second place right before the big hill (just before Mile 9). I tried to maintain the same pace throughout the entire run. What I couldn’t get over was how incredibly nice the other professional women were on the run course. Several were saying words of encouragement to me, as I would pass. Plus, I had the booming voices of my cheering squad dispersed all around the run course. It was absolutely perfect! With two miles to go, I pushed as hard as I could. I felt great, and I know I was going to smash my P.R. half marathon time. I ran a 1:23:02; this was my first time ever having the fastest run split of all the professional women. As I came into the finishing chute, I was absolutely elated! I finished with a time of 4:21:47. Everything truly came together and I am so thankful to my amazing coaches at Boulder Coaching, who have been such great role models and the best training partners anyone could ask for.


Once I crossed the finish line, I was asked for my first ever triathlon post race interview. Please click on the link below to view the video.


Post Race Interview


Once I was done with my interview, I got to go hug my family and truly celebrate what was a Dream Day. Plus, it was my father’s birthday so I couldn’t wait to call him and celebrate with him as well.

Thank you so much to all my sponsors for making this incredible journey possible, there is no way I could do it without you. Thank you to my family for all your love and support, and thank you to God for all the blessings in my life.

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!


  1. Shannon Mauck
    13 June 13, 12:11pm

    Way to go Danielle!
    Excellent race and wonderful race report! It is so easy to hear your enthusiasm and excitement in your writing! Congrats on the run! I hadn’t known you had the fastest pro women run of the day…excellent validation! Keep up the dedicated work and don’t be a stranger!
    You are an excellent example and role model.
    Talk soon,

  2. 14 June 13, 3:57am

    awww…congratulations!!!! I think what I like best about this is that you stayed in a convent! So special- and awesome to be able to tie racing into other things in life that matter. Congrats on such a stellar run and moving up through the field. awesome race!!!

  3. Nanci
    14 June 13, 8:54pm

    Danielle, you are so amazing! What an awesome race! Your race report was so interesting that it made me feel like I was in the race with you! We were so blessed to be able to watch you in this race. We can hardly wait to see what the next race brings you! Train hard!!
    Jeff’s mom

  4. Steve Sanders
    16 June 13, 5:03am

    Danielle – Thanks for the inspiration this morning. I have been looking for some and running into this site while creeping Facebook was just what the doctor ordered. I wish you the best of luck in the coming year and congratulations on your well-deserved success.

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