I’m on the plane back to Orlando after a very exciting weekend of racing and a few days of relaxing at The Island House. We arrived in Nassau on Wednesday leading into the race. It was a very easy direct flight from Orlando- the flight had multiple other IHIT participants on it. Once arriving in Nassau it’s a short 10min taxi ride to The Island House. We had our race briefing and packet pick up there before departing for the race site on Highbourne Cay the next morning. Once arriving on Highbourne we settled into our beautiful accommodations, I built my bike, did a quick interview and completed all my pre race tune up training.
Stage 1- Super Sprint Individual Time Trail- 7k bike, 2k run, 200m swim
We drew for start order at the meeting and drew start #14. We departed in 1min intervals. I had Ellie Salthouse in front of me and Ashley Gentle behind me so I was very motivated! The 7k bike course is rolling and has a couple technical sections. Since the roads are narrow you had to be careful in a few sections. I felt good during this stage and it seemed like the gap was staying very similar between the athlete in front of me and behind me. I ran into the water and swam my butt off- shortly after our finish I found out that I was in 8th with just seconds separating us.
Stage 2- Enduro- 2k run, 375m swim, 10k bike, 2k run, 375m swim, 10k bike, 1k run.
I anticipated that this was going to be the stage that would challenge me the most as a long course athlete. It was the second race in one day with only 4 hours separating the two events. It also had multiple transitions and we were starting with a run. We lined up like we would for a NASCAR race with pole positions. I could not believe how fast the first run was; I was quickly in last place. Luckily as I suspected the pace was too rich for many of the athletes and by the time we got to transition I was in 11/12th place. The swim exit was tough! We had to pull ourselves up on a dock; there were two race staff members there and each time I would pull myself up and then yell “help!” and they would pull me the rest of the way out of the water. The first bike was really fast and I just didn’t quite have the speed I needed to go with Ellie and Ashley. I passed a couple athletes but I was still hovering around that 10th place position. Andrew Hewitt caught back up to me on the 2nd run and she dove in the water just behind me- she was swimming faster than me so I gave her the space to get around me and I got right on her feet. We were half way in between the first and second buoy when a huge nurse shark swam under us; it alarmed me for a moment but I was too scared to be really scared. As I mounted my bike for the last time I knew this was going to be my last chance to move up. There were pack of girls just ahead of us! I mounted my bike and went as hard as I could, Andrew Hewitt and I worked well together and we were able to drop Emma Pallant and then nearly bridge back up to Sarah True. I gave everything I had on that final run and crossed the line in 10th place. I couldn’t even wrap my head around the fact there was still another race but I quickly started warming down and eating while watching the men’s race.
Stage 3- Sprint Pursuit- 750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
We started in order of our deficit so I started in 10th. I had Sarah True in front of me and Emma Pallant just behind me. It was a two loop swim since a couple sail boats had anchored in the middle of our swim course! Since the water was so “sharky” this year I didn’t mind being a little closer to shore! There was a current that none of us felt in swim warm up but definitely became apparent as we watched Flora and Katie head for that first buoy- watching them we saw that we would need to readjust and aim far right of the first left hand turn. I felt like I navigated the current well, but I was about 30 seconds down from a pack of women that included Ellie, Sarah and Andrea. Ellie and Sarah were riding together and each lap on the bike I slowly reeled Andrea in. I caught her and gave everything I had to gap her and it worked- I had a small time gap of 10 seconds going on to the run. Andrea caught me as we descended down the rocky path to the beach; the tide had not gone out completely so we had about a 50m section where we ran through shin deep water. It was fun and it was so “Island Housey”: of course I’m running down a beach, through waves and up down a rocky path... it’s what makes this event so unique! I did everything I could to keep Andrea in my sights and I did a pretty good job but she was far better at descending the rocky paths than I was. Coming back along the beach a second time was so painful- I was running scared with super runner Emma Pallant behind me and Rachel Joyce seemed to be getting stronger and stronger with each event. I dug deep, ran up the rocky path one last time and I was so grateful to see that finish line. I had set the goal of finishing top 10 and I had done it! I was relieved and happy. The group of women that raced here was so tough and competitive- there was a real chance that I could race well and not place top 10 so to be able to battle with the short course athletes was a real achievement and loads of fun!
Thank you so much to the entire race organization staff: Luke and Beth McKenzie, Matt Lieto, Jordan and Rich Blanco. Thank you to all the partners of those racing who helped with everything from loading bags on the ferry to pointing us in the right direction out there on the course. Thank you to the incredible staff at both The Island House and Highbourne Cay for dealing with us! But most importantly thank you to Mark Holowesko who gives so much of his time, energy and resources to make Island House IT what it is; our sport is so luky to have you.
I had told myself that if I achieved my goal of top 10 at Island House that I wouldn’t try to race IM Cozumel this weekend. However, after a lot of conversations with my team and many athletes who were at Island House I’ve decided to give it a go. I feel like I’ve got nothing to lose and as Leanda said to me this weekend, “Don’t let all that Kona fitness go to waste!”. I have no idea what to expect this weekend, but I will give my best and leave it all out there on the course in Cozumel. Thank you for reading and for your support!