Race Analysis: Ironman 70.3 Raleigh

Meredith Kessler on the run. Photo credit @tri_kiet

Professional triathletes are racing in North Carolina and over in Europe this weekend. However it is hard to decipher from the start lists who is actually going to be at the races. Instead of writing a woefully inaccurate “here’s what might happen” preview I will just say the following:

-Raleigh 70.3 will be hot and humid and it might rain on Sunday.
-IM France will be hilly and technical on the bike and people might crash.
-Kraichgau is in Germany and please don’t ask me to pronounce it. Kienle is CONFIRMED to be racing so he’s the favorite.
-We do know that Daniela Ryf is racing Switzerland 70.3 so she will probably win unless something goes really wrong. She won by 18 minutes last year.

Ironman 70.3 Raleigh

Lauren Bar

Lauren Barnett

Chattanooga was a solid start to the year for you but you mentioned in your race report that you suffered a bit on the run. Do you think you gained some fitness and strength from the race and can capitalize on it in Raleigh?

Chattanooga 70.3 was just 2 weeks ago, so the quick turnaround is a bit of an experiment for us. I know my body responds very well when I race 3 weeks apart, but the 2 week spread is a learning curve! One thing I’ve already grown to appreciate though is being able to come home, do laundry, and pretty much stick everything right back into the suitcase – and it’s DONE! 🙂

Chattanooga 70.3 was my first race of the season and with a stellar field it was the perfect “rust buster” – when racing amongst a world class field like we had, there just is no room for error. So it was good to get the cobwebs out and get back to a place of “oh! This is what it feels like to hurt, to push the limit, to race hard” again – sometimes those are just things you can’t quite replicate in training. It’s the longest I’d gone without racing, but it’s been a busy year with 4 household moves that have landed us in Kansas City, which has been pretty amazing! We love it here and are finally feeling a bit more settled. I did struggle on that second loop of the run after holding 3rd since pretty early on during the bike, but I’ve raced enough to realize that some days it comes so easily, and I’m just fluid and fearless, and other days, that same effort comes very very hard. Something that normally comes a lot easier to me (the run!) was a struggle that day, but it was still a good day – getting back out there is such a gift! And yes, after each race I seem to get a big boost in fitness, and I am excited to carry that over into Raleigh 70.3.

Last year in Raleigh you almost ran down Meredith Kessler (who sometimes suffers in the heat). Do you like to be chasing on the run or would you rather just get into first on the bike and then hold everyone off?

The race last year was exciting!! Meredith is an amazing athlete and was very consistent all day. A good chase fires me up, but who doesn’t like to be leading off the bike!? 🙂 I’m confident in my running abilities so that’s a position I prefer to be in! Raleigh was toasty last year so we were all pushing the limits – and I’ve checked the weather for this weekend. . . it looks like it’ll be sizzling!! We have rain in the forecast too, so I’m sure it’ll be quite humid. I’m popping salt tabs already!

Have you made any changes to your training since moving to Kansas City? How are you settling in, do you have a group to swim/bike/run with or do you do a lot of your training on your own?

With the move to Kansas City for Brandon’s job with AMC Movie Theaters, God just opened the door for me to pursue triathlon full time. I’d been balancing racing with a full time job as the Director of Marketing for Innovation360 in Dallas, so as of this year I’m dedicating myself fully to the sport. It’s been awesome! We’ve bumped the volume up a bit, but the biggest difference is the amount of recovery I can get. Sleep!! It’ll be fun to see how things unfold now that I have more energy and time to dedicate to training, recovery, and sponsors. We’ve been pretty blown away with the caliber of athletes here. I’ve got a great group to swim with and the outdoor long course pool just opened (praise God!) – they push me hard every day. And now that it’s getting nice and warm, I’ve been able to ride with a few different groups, but up until recently I’ve done most of my run/ride training solo which works well for me, too. The biggest thing is that access to training is so convenient here. I just go out my front door for all the riding and running and there are awesome country roads and endless trails in every direction. I feel like I’ve discovered a bit of a gem of a training location and don’t want to tell anyone about it! 🙂


Laura Siddall

Raleigh will probably quite the opposite in terms of weather vs. St. George (cold and rainy). What will you do to prepare for the heat and humidity?
What? Are you saying the warm heat and humidity of the San Francisco climate isn’t conducive to Raleigh?

I’ll be ensuring I’m looking after myself in the days before the race, keeping on top of fluids etc. and will be conscious on race day of my body temperature and use appropriate cooling techniques if necessary. If I go faster it’ll be over quicker right?

Are you heading straight to Europe after the race to prepare for Challenge Galway and Challenge Roth?

Raleigh was a late addition to the schedule, so it’s a quick trip over there and back. I’ll then have another couple of weeks with Matt Dixon in San Fran before heading to Europe for the Challenge events.

You wrote in your race report about St. George that you were a bit flat on race day and did not race up to your capabilities. After feeling like that do you just stay the course with your training and trust that you will have the race that showcases your abilities? Did you make any small changes after St. George related to swim, bike or run?

Having faith in the training and trust that we are on track is key. St. George was part of the process but just part of a bigger picture. So whilst on the day I didn’t fully fire, I’m still confident that the work I’m doing with Matt and Paul Buick is heading in the right direction.

Is qualifying for Kona on your radar for 2017? Will you do some late season Ironman races to get some good points up on the KPR rankings?

At the moment my schedule for the back half of 2017 has about 3 or 4 different routes I could go down, so we are keeping a few options open as to how things pan out over the next few months.

Challenge Roth hadn’t been on the agenda at the beginning of the year, and that soon changed, so lots of options moving forward which is pretty exciting. It’s hard to qualify for Kona, which is as it should be, it should be the very best of the best qualifying for sure. The process at the moment though I feel is a little imbalanced between 70.3 and IM points, and so trying to chase points can be tough. That said I would very much like to race Kona at some point, so we’ll see how things shape up.

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Zach Miller
Zach Miller is a sports enthusiast and age group triathlete living in the The Woodlands, TX. He is the Host of The Triathlon Preview Show. Follow @trifantasy The Triathlon Preview Show: iTunes Podcast
Emily is a professional triathlete and swim coach living in Napa, CA. Emily swam for the University of Michigan and completed her first tri in 2004 at the Chicago Triathlon. She worked for seven years as a paralegal, followed by three years as an Assistant Swim Coach for the University of Illinois-Chicago. Presently, she lives and trains in Napa, California while working for the Napa Valley Swim Team and coaching several age group triathletes.