After taking a bit of a hiatus from training and really anything to do with triathlon, I want to revisit my last race of the season: Challenge Kanchanaburi!
Thailand in mourning
It is noteworthy to mention what happened in Thailand just a week before the race. The Thai king passed away October 13th at the age of 88 after ruling for 70 years. He was well liked by many in the country, especially the countryside. There are different mourning periods: The first is 30 days, then there is a 100 day period, and finally a full year when the burial and coronation occur. Due to all of this most sporting events (and other events) were canceled throughout the country; however, the Challenge Kanchanaburi staff worked very hard to make this race happen. As part of the mourning period, the government mandated that everything be black and white. So everyone was wearing black/white/gray shirts, TV channels were in black and white, and many websites switched to black and white. The race needed to get all of their red Challenge banners reprinted to be black and white in order to hold the race. So many last minute changes and behind-the-scene logistics were dealt with that we didn’t see. I was super impressed with the race staff for delivering a phenomenal race but also for showing full respect for the king.
Onto the race!
The Mida resort we stayed at was absolutely beautiful. It was fun to just hang out with the racers and organizers prior to the event and meet the athletes as they came in throughout the week since most athletes were staying here. It got busier and busier and you could feel the race was coming. I had to switch from my relaxing vacation mode to preparing my mind to suffer!
Race-day didn’t bring cooler weather despite what we all hoped for ;). It was hot: 90-degrees and 90% humidity, and one of the toughest courses I have done. It is definitely on par with Wildflower with nearly 4500 feet of climbing on the bike and 1500 feet of climbing on the run. It was a race of attrition and you against the environment. I have never done well in these conditions previously, so I tried to get myself over-prepared for them. I was ready for the heat, rested from the previous week’s race, and just ready to put a solid foot forward for my last race of the year.
The swim was warm (about 85-degrees) and we swam slower than normal, but it was good to not overexert ourselves before heading into the long day. It was important to race smart today and be patient. We had a nice long set of steep stairs to run up when getting out of the water. Thankfully there was water for us at the top and lots of encouraging spectators!
The bike was hilly. We had a few 20-30 minute climbs at a decent grade
and I loved this. I have been training in the hills and I love this type of challenge. It was a matter of pacing and being smart on the bike – managing the heat, staying on top of nutrition and hydration. I felt better the last third of the bike, which is a bit unusual. I was excited to be feeling good, but made sure I did not go too hard because of the heat.
Run was brutal. 3 laps of fairly steep hills with an out and back along the dam. It was hot and we just all suffered out there. It was a matter of pacing properly and being patient. I managed my heat well on the bike so went into the run less depleted than other races I have done in these conditions. I didn’t over-exert at the beginning so my 3 laps were consistent. My stomach didn’t want any food but I forced a few honey stinger chews down and soaked myself in water at every aid station. I carried a bottle of Osmo with me which was smart but it was quite warm. But I knew it was important to keep getting in the electrolytes. I finished well and upright – a victory in itself ;). I placed 2nd to Amelia Watkinson, elated that my training and effort matched my result today!
Training and Traveling
I borrowed a friend’s older Feedback Sports Omnium trainer (SportsCrafter trainer), which was amazing. 13 pounds and very small – it was perfect for both China and Thailand. I wasn’t sure where I would be able to get good rides in at these locations before coming, and this ended up being the perfect training tool.
End of season transition
Challenge Kanchanaburi was a milestone for me. I capped off a great season, finishing up the best race of my career. I learned that my previous attitude of “I don’t race well in the heat and humidity” is wrong. I was properly prepared, had my nutrition dialed in, and had the right attitude. Just goes to show that you can do well in something that you previously haven’t! I would say that I am now fully recovered from this race and am excited to be in the off-season so I can rebuild for next year.