Saturday was a dream day! I know it sounds odd, but I misunderstood the new qualification rules of how one goes about earning a slot for Ironman World Championships at this particular race. In past years, there were more opportunities at half distance races for a Kona slot. At HI 70.3, there are slots allocated for residents of Hawaii, and for the Big Island as well as "International" slots. I didn't realize that, as US Citizen, I had a chance at one of the international slots. It was literally the day before the race that my husband happened to mention to a friend of ours that he thought I had a strong chance to qualify.
The reason I mention all this is that going into the race, thinking I had nothing riding on it, created an extremely relaxing mindset and a feeling like I just would go out and enjoy the gift of being able to race in Hawaii and have a great training day. Also, since my husband and I are racing at IM Canada in August, the plan had been to try for a slot there anyway.
The day before the race, I read an article in the local paper about how one of the professional women triathletes had had a recent skin cancer scare and that she would focus on the fact that she had a clean bill of health during the race. I thought about that a lot, and decided to dedicate my race to my mom, who has MS, who can't race. She can swim, but biking and running aren't in the picture for now.
In contrast to last year, when I raced at IM Lake Placid and felt as though my life depended on getting a Kona slot, Saturday's race was pure fun. That's what it should be! I race for fun. I'm an age group athlete who has been fortunate enough to find a sport I love, not to mention one that I share with my husband. I had the chance to race in beautiful Kona, with phenomenal weather and be hosted by such warm, friendly people. My body works. I'm healthy. What was there to stress about?
Enough said. The point is- I learned a very valuable lesson about how I want to go into races in the future and to keep my cool, and, as my coach suggested, keep playful.
I won my age group with a smile on my face and I have the amazing opportunity to come back this October to race at IM World Championships for round three.
I'm a very happy girl!