Tell us about your experience at the 2017 Memorial Hermann IRONMAN North American Championship Texas in Houston?
IRONMAN Texas was everything that I was hoping for in a race performance this season. When I first completed IRONMAN Wisconsin in 2015, I was very conservative. The distance intimidated me and my main goal was to cross the finish line with a smile on my face (I finished at 13:35:32). I accomplished that goal, but with too much “left in the tank.” At the Wisconsin finish line, I was proud to have finished my first IRONMAN event, but I knew that I didn’t race to my full potential. Going into IRONMAN Texas, I was looking not only for a personal best, but also a feeling that I raced the event to the best of my ability.
The day began with the non-wetsuit rolling start swim in Lake Woodlands. The swim is my weakest discipline and it certainly showed on race day. I was hoping to come out of the water at 1:12:00, but it took me almost 80 minutes to exit the lake. The ‘up-side’ to having the swim as my weakest discipline is that means that it is done early in the day and I have the bike and run portions next: my strengths.
Looking at the weather forecast, I knew that the wind was only going to get stronger throughout the day. This made me modify my race plan for the bike portion slightly, going out a little harder in the initial miles that I would usually do. However, I knew that I needed to take advantage of the times that the wind was at my back because the last 20 miles could get rough—and rough they were! Coming back toward the Woodlands into the headwind was a fight. I kept my wattage and heart rate in check even though I watched my average speed continually fall. I found consolation in the fact that everybody was struggling against the headwind. Despite my average speed falling, I was still passing other competitors and moving my way up in the field.
As I approached T2, I was very pleased with the improvements I had made on the bike and how it translated into the second leg of the IRONMAN event. A quick T2 had me onto the run–my favorite discipline! I felt very strong coming off the bike and had to continually remind myself that there were many miles ahead and I needed to keep my pace under control. Soon enough, I was on the third of three laps on the run course. Some stiffness in my legs and some fatigue started to creep in on those final miles, but I was able to remain mentally strong and continue to fight.
Coming into the finisher’s chute was a major adrenaline rush. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I fist-pumped the air and celebrated my personal best all the way down the IRONMAN red carpet! It was only later, while in athlete’s village starting the recovery process, that I found out just how well the race went. I finished in 10:44:51, which was nearly two hours and fifty minutes better than my IMWI finish in 2015! Additionally, I placed third within my age group.
What were your goals going into the race?
When beginning to train for IMTX, I had already set my mind to setting a big personal best at this event. As my training continued, my goals became more defined. While I didn’t share my aspirations with many, I was hoping that I could make it onto the podium (top 5 in my age group).
To what do you attribute your significantly improved results?
My athletic improvements can be attributed to two main factors: diligently following my training plan and surrounding myself with individuals who push me to be the best version of myself.
What impressed/surprised you most about your TriDot training/race preparation?
I could go on and on about how impressed I am with TriDot’s training programs. My performance is the best that it has ever been; I have been injury free; and I’m training less hours that I was before using TriDot. My workouts are efficient and effective and tailored to my needs as an athlete.
How accurate and helpful did you find TriDot’s RaceX feature?
TriDot’s RaceX feature is incredibly accurate! My RaceX prediction was “spot on” for my performance in all three disciplines! RaceX is one of my favorite TriDot features. I find it incredibly beneficial to go into a race knowing exactly what I should expect in regards to a swim split, bike wattage and heart rate zones, and heart rate and paces for the run. There is no guesswork on race day; it’s all outlined ahead of time.
What are your goals for the rest of your 2017 triathlon racing season?
That’s a great question! I was originally planning to race IMTX and then take some time to continue my 50-state marathon journey with my husband. However, with a great race performance at IMTX, I am considering building upon this early season success. My coach and I are currently discussing how the rest of my 2017 racing season will look.
ELIZABETH JAMES is an IRONMAN, a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach, and a TriDot Coach. She made the transition from running marathons to triathlon in 2012 and has completed sprint, Olympic, 70.3, and full IRONMAN distances. Her full iron PR is 10:44.51. She and her husband, Charles, live in Wylie, Texas.