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It was a short week of training this week due to my second race on this tour. Monday remained slow and “not-so-easy”, but Tuesday I tried to up the tempo a bit on the run. A short track session which included 15 x 400m to see if I still had any zip in the legs helped a little to build the confidence for the race. On Wednesday another harder cycle which included 6 x 5min intervals at race effort. These were the first sessions since Mooseman that I actually managed to push myself a bit, so hopefully I’m starting to adjust to the altitude.

Thursday was the long haul to Texas, a 10 hour drive to Lubbock, for the Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3. The initial part of the trip through Colorado was quite scenic, but once you hit Texas, well, there’s just a whole lot of nothing out here. I would have preferred to arrive the day before the race, but because of the long drive, we decided to leave on Thursday because it was a day off from training. The following few days were hot and boring with very little training and a lot of watching TV in the hotel room.

Finally, race day arrived. Thankfully, with the 6:25am start time, we would avoid most of the insane heat in this place. Unfortunately, WTC rules allow for wetsuits even if the water is 24 degrees, so there would be no avoiding overheating in the swim. So in the very early stages of the swim, I was in trouble, but tried to hang in the back of the bunch as long as I could. Problem is; being in the back is not a good place to be when the bunch splits, so when it did, I was left on my own in no man’s land trying to stay as close as possible to limit my losses. The losses...1min to the leader, 30sec to the back of the bunch...manageable.

The start of the bike course was very hilly, so I quickly wiped out the deficit to the leaders while they were still settling down and checking each other out. After a brief period of recuperation, I went into the lead to see if anyone would go away from the bunch with me, but nobody did. So, 20km into the bike ride, I was on my own once again. The winds on the course were whipping up, but with 2 out and back sections in opposite directions, there was never a really long stretch into the wind, it was just hot and dry, like riding into a giant hair dryer blowing into your face. Hydration became a very import aspect of the race, but being first on the road meant most aid stations weren’t quite ready when I got there, and after missing the last 2 aid stations, and riding the last 35km without anything to drink in 40 degree heat, meant I wasn’t feeling too frisky when I hit T2.

For the second race in a row I felt terrible on the run. The gaps to second and third were only 1 and 2 minutes respectively, and the run route was a tough one. With three big climbs, and numerous smaller ones around the lake, the howling wind, and the soaring temperatures, this became one of the hardest, longest, slowest 21km runs of my life. Every uphill was barely more than walking speed and running into the headwind didn’t feel much quicker. I used the downhill and tailwind sections to manage the gap as best as I could, and in the end held off a charging Michael Lovato by about 1 minute and another minute back to third place finisher, Jossiah Middaugh.

Naturally, it’s always nice to win a race. But these races are not much more than “training” sessions in the big scheme of things. So it would be nice to actually feel good in training again sometime, regardless of where I finish. I hope the next few weeks will be easier on this old body, and I can start finding something to feel good about.


Annah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017

After a great first year racing in the professional category in 2016, I was amped for the 2017 season. Feeling stronger and fitter and more in the "right head space" - I had done some great training over December spending many many many (and many more) hours on the bike - I loved it. My swim was starting to click, I was starting to understand the phrase "feel the water", and my running was strong

READ ONAnnah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017
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