Ironman announced the new Lima 70.3 race last year, and I got super excited at possibly adding this race to my 2017 calendar. Little known fact: right after graduating college and before racing triathlon professionally, I taught 9th Grade World History for two years (Hi past students!). We covered the early South America civilizations, followed by the Incas and Mayans (who actually came much later): their cultures, societies, and traditions. I have always found the stories of these South American cultures some of the most fascinating in ancient history, because I loved the stories of Peruvians living at 8,000 feet and running across mountain tops to deliver messages or escape from intruders. Talk about altitude training! So Peru has always been on my bucket list and I'm so glad we made it down! What with focusing on the race and limited time after, we didn't make it south to Macchu Picchu or to any other cities besides Lima, but this trip gave us a taste of Peru and I know that Wattie and I will be back!
The race itself is on the coast of Lima, featuring an ocean swim, a two-loop "M" shaped bike course (so it really felt like 4 loops), and then an out and back run along the coast/beach. The swim ended up being awesome despite the mental roller coaster of race week: when we first got to Lima, we swam the course and the water was completely flat and pretty chilly. It seemed that the race would FOR SURE be a wetsuit swim (yayyy!) and pretty calm. At the race meeting the day before the race, the swim director notified us that the water temps had risen significantly, making it a non-wetsuit swim, and that a huge storm was rolling in with predicted ten-foot waves and major swell. My heart sank. I get so nervous in those conditions. But fortunately I had a nice little kitten to keep me calm at the pro meeting!!!! hehe.
Race morning, however, the predicted storm didn't hit as bad and we only had a few waves to get through at the start and then some big rolling waves throughout the swim but nothing like, say, Escape from Alcatraz. To be honest, I was a little concerned about this bike course. Looped courses can get crowded and somewhat dangerous (IM Arizona comes to mind), but this one ended up being completely fine! I even ended up liking the out-and-backs because I could time myself on each one and try to beat my time out to the turn around.
I think my favorite part of the whole race course was the run. This was just a 10.5km out along the coast and then back but we ran along the beach path and so it was pretty crowded the entire run out with fans and spectators cheering. There was also a section where they weaved us onto this dirt trail area and we wound up a small hill on before popping back out onto the coast, so it was like a trail run for a bit (which I love!). The finish line chute was a particularly long one and it was absolutely PACKED! It was so incredible. I am trying to think of a finish line in the U.S. that is similar—maybe Oceanside 70.3. There were just tons of people out watching and cheering—a huge thank you to all of them! An especially MASSIVE thank you is owed to Herbalife, who was the title sponsor of this race. They came out in full force with support behind the event and all the Herbalife community came out to cheer. On top of that, Wattie and I are SO, so grateful to Leo Nakayama and his entire team who took such good care of us down there with meals, transportation—EVERYTHING. Thank you so much Leo and Herbalife!
It was an absolute honor to break the tape at this inaugural race, especially given the support I had received down there leading into the race (phew! haha). Reflecting on the race, I’m the most excited about how the swim went. I had a bit of a shocker of a swim at Oceanside with my goggles getting pulled off and almost losing a contact (which would have been disastrous for the bike). I was really disappointed after Oceanside, given my swim training has been getting better and better and I made some really big jumps this winter in the pool. So I really wanted to redeem myself with Peru. I was actually able to stay with Leanda (one of the top female swimmers in our sport!) for part of the first leg before a wave kind of pulled me off her feet. But I fought the entire race to keep her as close as I could and I was able to get out of the water only about 43 seconds behind her. YAYYYYY. Usually, in a 70.3, my time to Leanda's group is over two minutes. The bike and run felt pretty good (definitely better than Oceanside), so this is great progress, especially for April.
If anyone is considering putting this race on your calendar next year, I would recommend it! From the West Coast, travel wasn't that bad, as it’s only a two-hour time change. Also, there is a direct flight from LAX to Lima. An even better plan would be to race and then travel afterward. Lima is a cool city but I think a day or two as a tourist is fine. That would be just enough to try three or four of their incredible restaurants—the food in Peru is ridiculous! So good. Then I would plan for a day down to Cusco and a trip to Macchu Picchu or elsewhere in Peru. Apparently, you can also fly back from Cusco rather than coming back up to Lima. We only had a few days to stay, as I had to get back for training, but Wattie and I will be back for an extended itinerary like that.
Last Thursday, Wattie and I made it back to Tucson to dive into some bigger volume with Ironman Boulder just six weeks away now. I will break up that training block with Chattanooga 70.3, which I can't wait for! That was one of my favorite races last year. I hope everyone's training is going well and look forward to seeing some of you at Chattanooga and/or Boulder. Thanks, as always, for your continued support!