Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2011 Timberman 70.3 Race Recap

So the predicted field at Timberman was a little different than who showed up. Chrissie Wellington and Caitlin Snow did show, but there was no Angela Naeth. In her place were Annie Gervais, Tamara Kozulina, and Sharon Schmidt-Mongrain. So instead of competing against three other pro women, Amber was now competing against five others. As noted, Chrissie and Caitlin have pretty good resumes, as did these ladies:

Annie Gervais's Results:
2011- Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island 2nd Place

2011- Ironman 70.3 Eagleman 4:33.43 8th Place
2011- Ironman 70.3 Mooseman 4:53.19 5th Place
2011- Ironman 70.3 Florida 4:35:21 5th Place
2010- Ironman 70.3 Timberman 4:29:04 4th Place

Tamara Kozulina's Results:
2000 – Austria Ironman – 2d Overall
2002 – Nederland Ironman (Almere) – 1st place Overall
2004 – New Zealand Ironman – 3d place Overall
2004 – Long distance WC – 1st place Overall
2005 – Zofingen Powerman WC – 3d place Overall

 Sharon Schmidt-Mongrain's Results:
2010- Tyler Arboretum 10k 1st Place Overall Female
2010 -St. Croix 70.3 Ironman 1st Place Amateur, 6th Overall Female, 5:11:52*
2010- Savageman 70.0 Ironman 2nd Place Overall Female, 5:24:02
2010- Pittsburgh Triathlon 2nd Place Overall Female, 2:11:12
2010- Philadelphia Women’s Triathlon 1st Place Overall Female

Only three weeks out from Ironman Lake Placid, Amber wasn't sure whether she would race Timberman this past week. As of the day before the race, she was considering doing just the swim and bike. Of course, everything changes once the race starts.

The gun went off and so did the women. From the shore it was hard to see who had joined Chrissie in the front pack but it was soon clear that there would be a distinct lead for that first group of three women. As the ladies pulled towards the last buoy, I was able to make out a swimmer without sleeves on her wetsuit: Amber! Amber swam the 1.2 miles with Chrissie and Cait coming out of the water less than 30 seconds after them. Not only was she with the lead pack but she also had put a nice 3 minute cushion on the next fastest pro. Coming out of transition, I could tell Amber was not going to be just doing the swim-bike today.
Amber getting out of the water.
After a much quicker transition than Providence or Lake Placid, Amber took off on the bike.
Speedy Transition
While Am took off on the bike, I was able to see some of the other triathletes that I knew getting ready for the swim as well as during their transitions. My favorite picture is Steve Soba, leisurely getting ready for his swim start:
 Relying heavily on my phone for status updates on Amber's bike performance, it appeared that while giving up a little speed to some of the other riders, she still maintained the third place position. Sure enough, as she came into T2, she was only about six minutes back on Chrissie and less than a minute back on Caitlin.
Chrissie Starting her run
Amber in third place being lead by Lisa Ransom

 Amber looked so strong but I also knew that she hadn't wanted to push it too hard so close to Lake Placid and with still several more races remaining on her 2011 calendar. Sure enough, about three miles later, Am dropped back her pace allowing herself to drop to fourth place, with Annie Gervais passing her.
About Mile 5, in 4th Place
Amber remained in fourth of another 7 or so miles but running at her steady run pace and still not feeling well and having to slow down a bit more.
Dumping water trying to cool off.
 Between the miles that I saw Amber run, I, again, saw many local triathletes:
John Rymes of S2 taking on the hill

S2's namesake, Sean Snow, on his way to another sub 5 hour 70.3

S2's Steve Smith posing for pictures

Tri Hard's Steve Reed
 With Tamara and Sharon coming in hot on her tail, Amber picked it up a little for the last few miles, but by then just didn't have it in her to hold them off. She ended up finishing in sixth 33 seconds off of fourth.

While someone looking just at her splits may say that she went out too fast and blew up, I think that this race is actually a sign of improvement, as she swam with the fastest she has this year, biked competively and actually had a negative split biking 22+mph for the last 28 miles and still was able to run a solid half marathon. In the short term, she lost out on a podium finish, but in the long-run this race makes her stronger but also more confident that she can compete with the best triathletes in the world. With more training and better preparation, I expect Amber to only see further improvements in the races and years to come. Stay tuned.

Timberman Pro Female Results:

Wellington, Chrissie 1/1/1  swim:27:08 bike: 2:27:51 run: 1:18:44 Total: 4:16:33

Snow, Caitlin 2/2/2  swim: 27:09 bike: 2:33:57 run: 1:22:52 Total: 4:26:36

Gervais, Annie 5/5/3 swim: 32:05 bike: 2:31:16  run: 1:28:33 Total: 4:34:24

Kozulina, Tamara 6/6/4  Swim: 32:09  bike: 2:34:00 run: 1:30:41 Total: 4:39:25

Schmidt-Mongrain, Sharon 4/4/5  swim: 31:36 bike: 2:31:14 run: 1:33:55 Total: 4:39:30

Ferreira, Amber 3/3/6  swim: 27:38 bike: 2:34:04 run: 1:35:12 Total: 4:39:58

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