A Look Back at the 2018 Triathlon Season

2018 was an exciting triathlon season for me. In late 2017, I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and hire a coach. After 7 seasons of triathlon, I realized that I’d taken myself as far as I could get on my own, and if I wanted to improve as an athlete, it was time to hire a professional. I was aware of many coaches here locally in South Carolina, but one stuck out in particular – TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition. I started following their Facebook page earlier in the year, and I just had a feeling that this was the right coach for me. They expressed values that were important to me like injury prevention, longevity in the sport, laying down a foundation for success, and Marni is a vegetarian! That was a big one for me. As a newly vegan athlete, I didn’t want to hire a coach that would fuss at me about protein, and Marni is a Board Certified Sport Dietitian so I knew I would have her support if I did run into any nutrition issues. In October 2017, TriMarni opened their application process, and I was ecstatic to find out I had been accepted as an athlete the day before The Dam Tri in 2017. 2018 was going to be a great year!

November/December 2017 I transitioned from a self-coached, “hobby” triathlete to a proper, coached triathlete. My hours of training per week went from around 6 hour up to 8, 10, sometimes 12 hours a week! My new coaches eased me in well, and I didn’t experience any injuries. I loved working on form, learning about swim, bike, and run technique, and watching my body adapt.

In March 2018, I went to my first TriMarni training camp. This was 5 days of triathlon training in Greenville, SC. We work up early, ate breakfast, and completed 1 or 2 workouts in the morning. A quick break for lunch, then another workout. Usually, there was a brief mid-afternoon break to refuel and then another workout. I’d never pushed my body so hard, and it was amazing to do it under the watchful eyes of the coaches and surrounded by other athletes. I loved every minute! The first race of the season was only 2 weeks away and I was ready to go.

Ironman Florida 70.3 – this was a TriMarni team race so I was racing with around 30 other teammates. The energy within the team was great, and I was thrilled to finish with a new 70.3 PR at 5:25:07, 19th in the 35-39 year old age group, and I almost got a roll down slot for the 70.3 World Championships in South Africa. I’ll qualify one day J

Tri the Midlands – only 6 days after Florida 70.3, I raced the local sprint triathlon Tri the Midlands. Surprised by how well my body bounced back, I led the race until the last 1.5 miles and finished 2nd overall female.

Mountains to Main Street Half Ironman – I had planned to do the Lake Murray the week before this race, but I came down with a nasty sinus infection that made me skip it. It was down to the wire on this on as to whether I would be well enough to race it. Luckily, everything cleared and I was good to go on Wednesday before the Saturday race. I came out of the water as the 2nd female, took the lead around the 15 mile mark of the bike, and held the lead for the rest of the race. I was passed by 1 female at mile 10 of the run, but she was relay racer. Unfortunately, the announcer gave her the “first female finisher” accolades at the finish. I was really hoping I’d have that as I crossed the finish line. Two female age groupers had faster times than me by the end so I finished 3rd overall female, 1st open female, with an 18 minute improvement over 2016’s time.

Middle Tyger YMCA Sprint Triathlon – since I missed the Lake Murray Tri due to illness, I wanted to get another Setup Events race in for the year so that I would qualify for series awards. I performed well here and finished 2nd overall female.

Hartwell Y Olympic Triathlon – in preparation for my A race of the year, the USAT Age Group Nationals Olympic Distance, I travelled to Georgia to see how I’d do at the distance. I was pleased to finish this race as the 2nd overall female.

Tri the Parks Richard B Russell Intermediate – another warm up race for the USAT Age Group Nationals, the competition was fierce at this Georgia race. I was pleased to win my age group and finish 7th female overall. I was ready for AG Nationals!

USAT Age Group Nationals Standard/Olympic Distance, Cleveland, OH – this was the big race of the year. It was the first time I was competing on a national stage, and my goal was to qualify for the ITU Worlds in Switzerland in 2019. The top 18 in each age group automatically qualify, and spots can roll down to the 25th place. I chose to only do the Olympic distance. This allowed me to put all of my energy into one race, and enjoy spectating the sprint distance the next day. I was lucky that my age group was one of the first 10 waves in the water. Starting early meant that we had a fairly calm Lake Erie for the swim, and we avoided the majority of the heat on the run. I put it all out there and PR’ed in all three disciplines. The hard work paid off – I finished 21st in my age group and a slot for the World’s rolled down so I get to represent Team USA in Lausanne, Switzerland in Aug/Sep 2019!

Toughman South Carolina – the last long race of the season, I was looking forward to trying out my 70.3 legs again, this time in Greenwood, SC. The swim went well – I came out of the water 2 seconds behind 1st place. I quickly took the lead on the bike and held it until the last 2 miles. I was very hot getting off the bike, and unfortunately did not have a good run. There was no chance in me catching the first place girl on the run, and I was passed halfway through the run, finishing 3rd female overall. All of our races can’t be great, and this was a good learning experience. I didn’t handle my nutrition well on the bike, and the heat was unexpected. I know I’ll do better in this situation next time.

The Dam Tri – last race of the season and everyone is racing for those series points. Choppy water cancelled the swim so it turned into a bike-run. We had a time trial start. I was the 5th woman to start. I passed the other women in front of me quickly and went back and forth for first place. Off the bike, the pace was hot (too hot for me), but I held on to 3rd overall female.

SCTS Series Awards and USAT Ranking – I finished 3rd open female for the year and got to take home a nice little check. Even more exciting is to finish ranked the 2nd female 35-39 in South Carolina, behind my coach, and awarded “All American” triathlete status by USAT.

An eventful year to say the least! Training for 2019 is already underway. You’ll find my 2019 race plans here.