Victoria 70.3: Running It Back (literally)

Whew. Elliot and I are very glad to have the first big race of the year successfully behind us! This is our third time in Victoria, Canada for the half ironman triathlon: a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. We both competed in 2019, 2022 and 2023. It has been so fun to visit new places and re-visit some of our favorite spots on this quaint island. We enjoyed the company of Elliot’s Uncle Derek, who also competed in the race, and Aunt Ann! I had an athlete, Jason, racing as well.

Our wonderful AirBnB hosts celebrating with us post race 🙂
Pasta with the fam 🙂

For context, the bike course changed slightly to years past, but everything else about the course remained the same. Weather can be dramatically different year to year as well. This year was perfect conditions, while last year was overcast and cooler water/air temps. In 2019, with good conditions, I went 4 hours 55 minutes (3rd AG, 7th Overall). In 2022, I went 4:40, winning the race overall by 4 minutes and 40 seconds. This year, I went 4:28, winning the race by just over 6 minutes (but more on that, as technically I only won by 2 minutes!)

I try to be as authentic as possible when sharing race recaps. While I was prepared for this race, I had taken about 7 weeks of very light run training in March and April to heal a hip injury (impingement) before signing up last minute. I was one of the last people to register a month out from the event! I had a good 3.5 week build, but as someone who likes to be as prepared as possible, I was still a bit nervous about where my fitness was. This is normal for any race post-injury, let alone the first big event of the season – a race I had won the year prior to boot. There seemed to be an added pressure because of that, albeit self-imposed. This is also the only Ironman 70.3 I’m racing this year (usually I do at least 4), so I really wanted it to go well.

I really drug my feet signing up for races; I found out in late April that I did not make an elite team(Zwift) that I had applied for months ago, which affected my race selection. There weren’t pro fields at any of the Ironman venues I wanted to race so racing as a pro was out of the question, though I did consider it briefly. Lastly, I decided neither the Ironman World Championships nor the Half Ironman World Championships appealed to me due to location, course, timing, and travel cost/logistics, so I was able to choose races that were not qualifiers/conflicted with peaking for a World Champs. Leading into Victoria, Elliot and I both competed in a local, long-course duathlon and it went OK, but both of us felt the pressure of an A race looming days out from the event. It was particularly challenging to sleep the night before, even for somewhat seasoned athletes like myself. (this is my 6th season of racing)

With a 6 am start, I was happy we stayed near the race. Traffic lights in Victoria are notoriously frustrating, even at 4:30 am on a Sunday, so it was an early morning with butterflies in the tummy! Elliot and I seem to have perfected a race-week and race-day dance around one another… I prepare the food, Elliot takes care of the bikes, etc. We can almost communicated wordlessly, silently trodding away from our prepped bikes together to warm up, nodding solemnly at one another in the start chute, a brief kiss before parting ways for a few hours. It never gets easier, it just gets more familiar.

Elliot and I training together at our AirBnB

Elliot started about a minute in front of me. I have never started so far up front in the swim, but I know it’s time to start practicing more elite swim starts and latching onto good packs of swimmers. The swim is draft-legal, so getting in with a good group is key. The water in Elk Lake was perfect, and I knew I was finally going to get under the magic 30 minute mark. Official time: 29:52! Last year I swam a 32:18 on this course, with my best Half Ironman swim time before today at 31:03, so this was a good time drop. I swam primarily with a group of guys who were generally well-behaved, a little rough with 300 yards to go with some pushing and fighting for a good line/feet, but I can’t complain. I’ve experienced far rougher swims!

Its been a 6 year process going from a 40 minute swimmer to sub 30!

The bike course in Victoria is beautiful. It’s not the fastest course, with rolling hills and a lot of tight, technical turns. There are beautiful farmlands and ocean beach views; I remember thinking of my dad when riding by a serene field. Another female began riding with me at the 40-ish mile mark, and we paced well together. Long course triathlon is not draft legal on the bike, which means you must keep 6 bike lengths between you and the athlete in front of you at all times. When you ride with someone about your strength, you can alternate “turns” in front, which helps the time pass by and keeps the tempo up. I was very happy for the company with about 15 miles to go! We exchanged encouragement, and pedaled our way to the one prominent climb (about 1200m long) late in the course.

I rode solo most of the ride, moving through groups of men, which gave me a lot of confidence.

I saw Elliot coming down the hill when I was about halfway up and, after cheering for him, I noted the gap to him was over 3 minutes. No catching my husband today – he was ON! This brings me even more momentum when racing. With how much we race, it’s rare for both of us to have a “perfect” day. Last year it seemed like he would have a good day when I was off, and vice versa. It is the most special feeling in the world when you AND your person have a great race!

Elliot has worked hard on my fit and bike upgrades. Summer Breeze is in her prime, even if she’s over 10 years old!

After a good bike leg, with an official time of 2:30:36 (just over 4 minutes fast than last year) I came into transition just behind the girl I was riding with, careful to have a legal dismount, as she unfortunately came off her bike slightly after the dismount line and get either a stern talking to or a penalty. I was leaving transition by the time the officials got done speaking with her, so I knew I got a gap to her. Something told me I wasn’t leading the race, and the suspicion was confirmed when a good friend and fellow coach/athlete Brent Detta (who was there to spectate his athletes and friends) gave me an urgent update at the start of the run…

“You’re down by 5 minutes and 20 seconds, Becca! She started the swim just 3 seconds behind you, so all you have to do is catch her!” I breathed a thank you to him, slightly shocked by the gap. I had swam and biked significantly faster than the previous year (2+ minutes off my swim and 4+ minutes off my bike) and, while I had a feeling I was going to get out-biked on this type of course, I did not expect the gap to be so large. The last time I ran down a 5+ minute gap was at World Championships last October, when I was in peak form. Last year, I managed to get into first place by the first aid station. Looking back, it really was the race experience I crave. Being uncomfortable and forced to fight for something brings any experience a lot of value. I remember telling my dad prior to the race “I won’t count my chickens before they’re hatched,” and he got a kick out of my premonition.

I took a minute to weigh my options. I knew I couldn’t overcome a 5+ minute gap in the first 10k loop of the 2 lap run course, so I focused on what I could control. It’s easy to panic, but I told myself that all I could do was run my best, and that I would put money on me over anyone in a sprint finish. My good friend, Carolyn, had reminded me to be confident before the race and her words came to me just when I needed them. While this wasn’t the dynamic I necessarily wanted (being first off the bike is always ideal!) this was a high-pressure situation I needed to grow as an athlete. I took just one moment to acknowledge that if I did not win this race, I was not a failure, that I had done well thus far, and that it is an honor to race in an elevated women’s field. Then, I told myself to stay positive and believe in my run.

As I worked my way through the male athletes, they gave me good advice and encouragement. I distinctly remember a guy saying: “She’s not far ahead, so just chip away at her lead.” Again, I breathed a thank you and pressed on. In the first lap of the run, people can easily see who is leading. Both Elliot and I got good placement updates from spectators, which is incredibly uplifting!

The run course is not fast. It’s a trail run, with rolling hills, which can be stressful when you’re running from behind. I figured if I was going to make the catch, it would be in the final miles. The tricky part about a two-loop run course is you have no idea who is running their first loop and who is on their final lap, so I would not be able to determine if I made the catch until I literally saw the finish chute. Only one male ran past me, which encouraged me. I saw the girl I biked into transition with on the one out-and-back on the course during the first lap, meaning I was feeling pressure in front of me and behind me at mile 5.

A lot of solo effort today! Triathlon can be a lonely suffer-fest.

Brent gave me another spectacular update at the 6.5 mile half way mark, leading into the second loop. “You’ve cut it down to 1 minute 52 seconds, but you have to go NOW! You look better, but GO NOW! Look for a red kit!” Instead of pouting that I had more work to do, Brent fired me up in his firm coaching voice. People around me cheered, and I was now determined to win this race.

Every female seemed to be wearing a red kit (Canada’s colors are red after all, and so many people had on Canadian kits!) so I just pushed as hard as I could. I passed a few girls in red kits, all tucked in with men and women on their first or second lap. I encouraged all of them, not knowing who was the leader. In the final 2 miles, I didn’t see any women in front of me on the few open, flat sections of the trail. While I had a sneaking suspicion I had made the pass, it wasn’t until the finish line spectators greeted me with enthusiastic cheers that I knew I was victorious. I saw the finish line chute, the red carpet, and the glorious tape I had been dreaming of breaking for the second time. With a surge of joy, adrenaline, and overwhelming gratitude for all those who helped me, I ran through the tape and lifted it over my head.

Always an emotional finisher 🙂 Thanks for bringing me home with the announcing two years in a row, Greg Welch!
Stoke level: Max
Worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears.

Elliot (who had a fantastic time drop himself from last year, all-around amazing race) finished 8 minutes or so before me and came up to me with a huge smile on his face. There is no greater joy than knowing I made him proud. He is my husband first, coach second, fellow competitor third. Sometimes I don’t know how we balance it, but every once in a while I guess we get it right! He absolutely crushed his day, finishing in 4:21:19 – swim of 28:27, bike of 2:25:49, and a run time of 1:23:11, placing 3rd in his age group and 10th overall. This was his first triathlon representing his new team: Every Man Jack (EMJ) and I’m seriously so proud of him! To date, this race was likely the best 70.3 distance either of us has put together- ever.

My love 🙂

Annabel, the strong cyclist originally leading the race that I was chasing, finished 2 minutes 20 seconds behind me. However, she was disqualified from the race. Her partner was also racing, and had a mechanical on the bike. He DNF’d on the bike course, then jumped into the run and ran with her on course. He crossed the finish line next to her. Both actions are illegal. Once you quit a race, for whatever reason, you cannot re-enter the race or cross the finish line. Sadly, the battle is not reflected on official results, but I know how she pushed me and how much it brought out of me. I told her how much I respected her at the finish, and really good job. It is a bummer about the DQ, she certainly dictated the race! I, too, have learned the hard way that Ironman has strict rules in place. Third place went to Adele, the gal I had biked with and saw on the run course. The DQ moved her into 2nd overall, and 1st in her age group. Her time this year would have beaten the time I posted last year to win, which shows the depth and quality in this years event.

The pain!!!

Official results show I won by over 6 minutes, with the top bike and run splits, and a 22+ minute gap to second place in the 30-34 age group. I was the 21st athlete across the line with the males. While the real story played out differently than official results showed, I’m incredibly honored to have taken the course with such amazing women, fellow competitors, and amazing course supporters. Every race I’ve done, good or ugly, has taught me something and this race is no exception. Quite literally, I had to run my best to “run it back.”

30-34 Age Group Awards

I owe my run to coach, athlete, and friend Brent Detta. THANK YOU. I owe my training and preparation to my coach, Elliot. THANK YOU. I owe my recovery to my amazing physio, Chris Johnson with Zeren PT, and sports med physician, Dr. Ihm with UW Sports Medicine. I owe the post-race hangover to my Uncle Derek 😉 who was awesome to have with on this trip and super fun to see out racing! A huge shout out to athlete Jason Bishop, who posted a MASSIVE swim time drop going under 32 for the first time! He had two flats on the bike, but didn’t let that ruin his day or his attitude, which makes me the most proud. He also posted a best half marathon off the bike despite Victoria’s “slow” trail run course, so big things to come for this guy.

Jason finishing strong! So fun to cheer for my athletes at the finish. 5:28:24 finish time!
Post-Race beers and whisky flights at Twa Dogs

Well done to all.

To my fellow ladies: Keep elevating one another and the level of competition.  


Post-race exploration around the island:

Juan De Fuca Park in Victoria, BC
Lots of great breweries! This is Bad Dog Brewery
We saw sea otters, bald eagles, and beautiful beaches!

Body Image, Weight, and Athletic Performance


Everyone seems to have an opinion on weight, what it should or shouldn’t be, and what the latest trend is. Perhaps you grew up in the 80’s, when cabbage and aerobics were all the rage, or the 90’s, when “fat-free” was all the rage. Then came the Atkins era, then Whole 30, Keto, intermittent fasting, and so on. Do we eat fats? Do we eat at certain times of the day? Are carbs bad? More specifically, should endurance athletes (recreational or pro) weigh ourselves, and aim for a certain weight to perform better?

It’s no wonder this subject is popular and widely contested. People are confused, and health/fitness “experts” (myself included) have probably taken a numerous stances over the years as new information comes out. I think we’re all united in the shared struggle: at some point or another in life we’ve all looked in the mirror and wondered if we’re too fat, too skinny, too muscular here or have too much cellulite there. We’ve all experienced changes in our bodies from puberty to early adulthood, and some of us through adulthood into middle age and onward. It’s normal and healthy to question our state of being and wonder if it’s right or wrong.

I’m not writing this to offer a simple solution, push a method, or recommend favoring a macronutrient. I’m not here to tell you “I love my body, and you should too!” What I am hoping to do is create open, healthy conversations both externally – with people you trust – and internally. How you talk to yourself and perceive yourself is important and impactful. Even if you’re the world’s most reclusive introvert, I imagine you’ve felt societal pressure at some point; felt the glow of a compliment (“You look great – have you lost weight?”) and the sting of an off-handed comment (“You’re really filling out that outfit”) We make choices every day as a result of our goals, wants/needs, societal pressure, etc.

Recently, after years of working with all types of people/body types/athletes, I’ve found the simplest and most effective way to start discussions is with awareness. For example, I may ask a client: “Do you have a good understanding of how much energy your body needs to function and perform, on average, in a given day?” The response helps me gauge how well someone knows their body. Some people may spit out a calorie goal, macronutrient ratio, or have no idea. All responses are acceptable; it’s just a starting point. I invite you to ask yourself this question, perhaps as a journal prompt.

I have found this is a good segue into tricky calorie/weight/weight management discussion. Weight is relatively simple in concept:

  • Calories in < Calories expended via exercise/metabolism = weight loss 
  • Calories in > Calories expended via exercise/metabolism = weight gain 
  • Calories = expended via exercise/metabolism = weight maintenance

I should note that metabolism is the energy (or calories) your body uses at rest to keep you alive. Even if you don’t exercise, you still need calories to survive. For example, a sedentary person on bedrest probably needs less calories than a normal,  active person but their body still needs caloric intake  to continue existing. A lot of things impact metabolism (age, activity level, muscle mass, hormones  etc.) and it is normal for your metabolism to change. So, awareness of what your body needs on a basic level (metabolism) plus the impact of exercise (calorie expenditure) may help you understand what you need to consume to maintain, gain, or lose weight.

It’s my belief that some people have a good, somewhat natural awareness to what they need to maintain a healthy weight, and others need more guidance. It’s not a bad thing if energy balance doesn’t come naturally to you! Some resources for those of you who feel you may need more guidance: 

  • Resting and Active metabolic testing:
    • Like the name infers,  a resting test helps determine what your body’s baseline caloric needs are at rest, for your basic bodily functions. You lay still for the duration of the test and breath into a machine. From there, you can determine a baseline caloric intake without activity taken into account
    • An active test is done during exercise, often in a ramp – style format. You breath into a machine while performing an activity (rowing, walking, running, cycling, etc.) Additionally, it’s common to wear a heart rate monitor. The results will help you determine what you burn at various effort both in terms of carbohydrates vs fats and in calories.
  • Food journaling and weight tracking
    • A less expensive and more time consuming alternative, but often just as effective, the ritual of tracking calories (along with macro-nutrients like fats/carbs/proteins) consumed with regular weigh ins can help you find the right amount of calories consumed to maintain, gain or lose weight. This is also often coupled with exercise journaling to help understand the right amount of exercise and foot intake to achieve a weight goal.
    • Apps like MyFitnessPal sync with TrainingPeaks (a common platform for endurance athletes to track training, fitness, and race logs) so you can track both caloric intake, macronutrient balance, and training all in one place.

Now for the elephant in the room – the question I get asked so often – what weight should I strive for to perform well? I would respond to that question with a few questions to help find an appropriate answer. Here are some questions to help open dialogue up a bit more:

  1. What are your performance goals?
  2. Do you have a healthy relationship with the scale? If weight is triggering, or not a good representation of health for you, what metric could we use instead?
  3. What weight have you found to be the most sustainable with your current lifestyle?
  4. Are you happy with your current physique/weight?
  5. Have you been at a weight that makes you unhappy, dissatisfied, and lack confidence? If so what is that weight, what factors lead to it (stress, work, etc) and where are you in relationship to that weight right now?
  6. If you have a “race weight” in mind, what is it and why does that number make you feel like you can perform better?
  7. Have you tracked weight and performance in the past? If so, can you explain the relationship to me?

Let me be clear: weight is not everything. Bodyweight hardly tells the full picture of health.  It is, however, one of the most accessible and consistent tool we have, so having a healthy relationship with it is important. I don’t need to know an athlete’s weight every single day, but I would like to be able to ask them where they are with their weight as an indication of their emotional health and physical awareness in terms of basic caloric needs. That being said, different sport, or specializations within sports,  require different demands of the body. A good example is a quarterback vs. an offensive lineman. A healthy bodyweight for a QB is going to be drastically different from the lineman. The same is true for an elite 100m dash and a recreational 5k-er, a 1500m freestyler and a 10km open water swimmer, a track cyclist and a GC contender in a grand tour, a first time Ironman and a pro Olympic distance triathlete. Each distance, each sport and specialty/ability level within that sport, requires different demands, different caloric needs, different training stimulus, and different body fat/muscle mass ratios.  

This is a good time to note that the various demands of different sports/distances/positions/body types also require different macronutrient intake. Some people find a higher protein intake gives them more energy and better recovery, for example. Others may need a higher carbohydrate intake, still others higher fat intake. The demands of training may require different caloric and macronutrient intake, so is important to take note of how one feels both before, during and after training sessions/competing in regards to fueling and nutrition. Some athletes may benefit from improving their fat oxidation for long, aerobic endurance events, while others may need to focus on increasing their ability to metabolize more carbohydrates per hour to succeed. Protein intake before, in some cases during, and after training/competing should reflect the individual’s need.

It may be obvious, but being underweight or overweight each has its own risks. Being underweight, or under-fueled, can result in injuries (notably bone stress injuries)  burnout, chronic fatigue, etc. Low energy availability and injuries plague many elite athletes, particularly in individual sports and aesthetic sports where being lean is touted as “ideal.” Understanding the right weight to gain maximal performance without energy deficiency or low-energy availability is vital to longevity. A network of professionals and a myriad of resources may be needed to   help an athlete reach this point.

Being overweight poses risks as well, not just in sport but also in terms of cardiovascular health and overall wellness. Risks of being overweight, or obese, include mortality, high blood pressure, increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, overall immunity, and more. As an athlete, being overweight can place more strain on the body, resulting in injuries and limiting cardiovascular capabilities. Again, finding the right weight for an individual is key to help them achieve the right balance to safely respond to the demands of their sport while setting them up for success.

Of course, all of this to be said, how you view yourself and your happiness is really the main priority. If you’re 3-5 pounds heavier than you’d like, but performing well in training and competition, sleeping well, engaging in healthy relationships, and reporting good energy, I think that’s far more important than hitting any sort of metric on a scale. On the flip side, if you’re doing well, but feeling insecure about how you look, or struggling with something like high blood pressure, or chronic fatigue, it may be time to have a conversation about changing your diet so that you are at a more appropriate weight – be it heavier or lighter- so you can have both the quality of life you deserve and the performance you’ve earned.

I hope this has been helpful. In the past, I’ve struggled immensely with being underweight and overtrained. I’ve also experienced a chapter of competition where I was heavier and less fit, which was equally as challenging. My past isn’t perfect, but each misstep lead me to a professional resource that helped me understand what my body needs – increasing my awareness of what works for me and what doesn’t. Everyone is different, every sport is different, and every chapter of life is different. We must continually seek to better understand what it is we need, so we can live the life we want to the very fullest. Please, have conversations with those you trust in your circle. Ask yourself questions, reach out for help, utilize professional resources, and grant yourself grace when you go through times of trial and error.


Coach Becca

2022 70.3 World Championship, St. George UT

“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

… I hope you dance.”

For some reason during race week, “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack came on the radio SO MANY TIMES! I’ll take it as a theme for this year’s really exciting World Championship race, as every athlete had to overcome the fear of a very cold race on a tough course. We chose not to sit it out, but to dance!

Every season finale has a certain air of nervous anticipation; everyone wants to end the year on a high note. I certainly didn’t want to spend winter thinking about a race that could have gone better! After a really disappointing race a few months earlier in Boulder, CO (delayed start, fueling issues as a result, and getting sick on bike/not finishing)  I know how it feels to have the weight of a “bad” race on your shoulders for weeks on end. St. George always delivers tough conditions: always windy and hilly, cold water temps with warm air temps or, in this year’s case, fair water temps and cold air temps. Going into race week, I knew it would be chilly before the start and after the swim getting on the bike, but likely deliver amazing run conditions. I was also  guaranteed a wetsuit-legal swim, which favors me as an “adult-learn-to-swimmer.” The race was divided into a female-only day on Friday, and mens-only day on Saturday.

My husband, Elliot, has been coaching me for the last three seasons. This is the first BIG race where he has been solely focused on supporting me instead of both of us racing together. Three weeks prior, he absolutely crushed the full distance Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii! It’s been a very busy season of travel, training, racing and supporting one another.

Elliot is spectacular at peaking me for big races, and physically I was in great shape coming of a 13 month training cycle. World Championships in 2021 was a month and a half earlier than this year, so I felt like I had been training with this race in mind for a very long time! During this training cycle, Elliot and I accomplished the following:

  • 1:20:30 @ Seattle Half Marathon, Female Champion
  • 1:17:55 (5:57/mi ave) @ Rock N Roll Arizona, 3rd Overall Amateur
  • Victoria 70.3 Overall Female Champion
  • Coeur D’Alene 70.3 Overall Female Champion
  • Won every local race entered, and placed 2nd overall with the men at Black Diamond and Lake Meridian Olympic Triathlon
  • 1:19:20 @ Rock N Roll Seattle: Elite Female Champion
  • 5th in 30-34 Age Group at Ho’ala Ironman 2.4 Mile Open Water swim in 1:04:47
  • Elliot raced Ironman World Championship St. George in May (a “make up” World Championship from 2020), Ironman Canada in August (5th AG, 3rd American), qualified for Boston at Tunnel Vision Marathon, and placed 4th in his AG at Boulder 70.3. He also raced Victoria, Coeur D’Alene and two of the local Olympic distance races with me.

So, yes, it’s been a busy and mostly successful season! We both had some rough races, which is an important part of the journey. I overcame a painful and complex snowboarding injury early in the year and a DNF, while Elliot overcame the fatigue of several long distances races and the shift to working with a new coach.

I worked especially hard on sleep training and recovery in the lead in to Worlds. Traveling to Kona for Elliot’s race was  during the phase I needed to put in quality training, so I knew I needed both a fantastic fitness base, discipline during travel, and proper recovery protocols with the new environment and added travel stress.

We always stay 20-30 minutes away from a race venue, and I loved the quiet and quaint country AirBnB we found at the base of a beautiful red rock mountain face in Hurricane, UT. All the careful details and preparation paid off on race day: I felt fresh, calm and well-rested on race morning.

Training through Elliot’s Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI was tough but character building!
Elliot and I race morning!
Keeping warm at the start!

The air temperature was 39*F at the start with water temps at 63,* similar to the conditions a few days prior to my practice/acclimation swim. Amateur athletes are released in waves based on their age category: 10 athletes at a time, 15 seconds apart. My age group (30-34) started at 8:15am. The sun rose of the red rocks as we entered the water, and the clear cool water of Sand Hollow Reservoir was a welcome comfort after standing on the cold pier. We swam through several of the older age group women that started before us, which is annoying for us but likely terrifying for them. I felt smooth and strong in the water, especially because it was warmer than the air, and the course buoys seemed to move by quickly. I noticed at the last buoy a girl in my age group (30-34 age group wore light blue caps for identification) blew by me, which is a detail that comes into play later in the race report. I know in the future I’ll need to push myself more, as I clocked the slowest swim time by 90″- 6 minutes in the top 8 women. Typically, I try and hold a smooth tempo effort in the water, despite the short 2km distance, to avoid panicking in the water and wasting energy, but I’m at the technical ability now where I could push harder and go faster. My mindset needs to go from “relax/minimize damage” to “push/race.” I swam the 1.2 mile course in 31:28 (1:29/100y), just 25” off my best time, which I’m happy but not satisfied with considering no warm up and cold conditions.

Cold T1! Thanks for the cheers Ryan and Patty!

The air was cold coming out of the water, but I packed appropriate cold gear for the conditions. Transition 1 felt a bit clumsy with frozen, wet hands/feet and cumbersome cold gear, but I got through unscathed in a fair time (4:50).  The beginning of the bike was brutally cold, as there were fast sections that felt very uncomfortable while still wet from the swim. However, I was able to keep my legs moving and mentally focused, eventually thawing out around mile 33. The bike course is an absolute stunner, and very dynamic with punchy climbs and long ascents; one of the hilliest in North America. I was feeling confident on the final climb, as no one passed me or even rode with me during the 56 mile bike course. I biked a 2:34:55 (21.7mph), which was a little slower than I expected having done this course twice before. However, conditions are obviously always a huge factor in St. George (wind, temps, etc) and they had slightly changed the course. I held spot on my power targets! I was smiling and having tons of on the fast descent into town, where large crowds were waiting for us to begin the run.

My bike, Summer Breeze, is wicked fast!
Coming into T2

Hands and feet were a touch numb getting off the bike from the chilly bike leg, so I felt a a little clumsy again in Transition 2. Luckily, I practiced a lot and went through the motions instinctively (1:33). I had told Elliot before the race “I will just be happy to see you when I get to the run!” and I was! I was certain my swim limited enough damage, and my bike was strong enough to put me in a good spot for the run, which is my strongest discipline. However, my smile faded quickly when Elliot told me I was 9th in my age group, 7 minutes down. Last year I swam 3 minutes slower and biked 5 minutes slower, but was 3rd in my age group and only 4 minutes down to first. “That’s really bad!” I remember telling him with a frown before turning uphill to the first out and back. “Just run strong and you’ll catch them!” He responded before fading into the noise of the crowd.

Focus mode: ON. I ran really strong and took mental notes on the first loop of the 2 loop, 13 mile run course, fueling as I have in races past. I let go of the somewhat negative and unexpected position update, and paced by feel on the undulating, rolling hills terrain so that I could have a strong second lap. Every time I crossed a timing mat I felt the strength of everyone tracking me from afar, knowing they would cheer with excitement at my effort to battle into a top position.

I came back into town ready to hear where I was in the field. Due to the rolling swim starts, athletes are never sure of where they are position-wise. We have to rely on spectators who have access to a tracking app with accurate splits to let us know, which is really tough when you’re racing to win. I was told the gaps were coming down, and that I was running the best in the field, moving into the top 5. I didn’t relax, but felt encouraged. There was more work to do.

Pain face!

My stomach felt tight and sick from the stress, new stimuli of cold early on in the day, and the general digestion of gels/sports drink during an extended hard effort, but I continued on. Fatigue crept up, but I knew the other girls were feeling tired too. I got more updates from friends on the course that saw me, I was gaining on 3rd and 2nd heading into the hilly sections. With just 3 miles to go, I was told I was 14 seconds away from the podium. I began to calculate how fast I needed to run before the finish line to keep catching women. I was running out of miles!

With 2 miles to go, Elliot shouted that I have to dig deep and run hard, that I was in both age group AND top 5 contention by mere seconds. I told him my stomach hurt, but OK and just to meet me in medical tent after the race. My legs felt like lead, but I refused to let my thoughts turn negative. I knew every second mattered now. I pushed the final out and back stretch with everything in me, praying it was enough.

Elliot was the key to my success.
Thank you to all who gave me splits on the run course!
Elliot: “RUN HARD! The gap is down to a second!”
Me: “K meet me in medical!”

Elliot had sprinted over to the final timing mat to give me one last update: with 400 meters to go the gap to 2nd place was down to one second. I felt like a zombie running, leaning forward to propel my legs just one second faster than the invisible competitor I was racing. I saw the finish, leaned into it, and raised my arms in triumph after crossing. Whatever the chip times said, I gave it my absolute everything. I finished completely alone despite being neck and neck with other women “virtually,” which was such a strange feeling. I began to sob, collapsing into a volunteer who carried me to a wheelchair. Soon I was looking up at a kind medical volunteer, babbling about seconds and how I’m so tired. They assured me my finish was amazing and encouraged me to relax. Thank you volunteers! Luckily, the air was cool which prevented me from excessive overheating and I recovered moments later. I had no idea what my finishing position was, and frankly I didn’t care. It felt absolutely incredible to be so engaged in a battle that I was truly, deeply satisfied. I ran a 1:26:17, and while it was impressive on the day, I KNOW a 1:25 on that course is in me!!

Finishing completely alone despite the “neck and neck” tie!

I immediately called my dad while riding high from the experience; speaking to my dad after races is one of my favorite rituals that I don’t think words can accurately describe. Thank you for being in my corner, Dad, I love you! Elliot found me and asked if I wanted to know what happened with results, and I said no. I just wanted to enjoy how amazing the day went, and my effort all around in each swim, bike and run. We laughed in the gorgeous afternoon sunshine, and caught up with our good friend, Sascha. There is no greater feeling than the sweet relief of a hard earned  finish line after months of hard work.

Sascha and I at the finish party

Driving back from the race, Elliot told me what happened: I was in a 3 way tie for 2nd – 4th in the 30-34 age group and 4-6th overall. The race directors had to go down to the tenth, and then the hundredth of a second to determine the podium. I had gotten 3rd in my age group, 5th overall, by just .04 seconds.  CRAZY. I wish we all started together, so that we could have duked it out on the finish line stretch! Elliot confirmed I was the fastest American amateur, which meant a lot to me!

Overall Amateur Results
30-34 Age Group Results

On top of that drama, the girl who won  my age group was tactical (albeit unsportsmanlike in my opinion) by starting at the very back of our age group wave, approximately 5 minutes behind that front wave, and swam one of the best age group swim times to give herself company on the bike, and a solid  time  cushion. Usually, the fastest swimmers line up at the front of the age group; I seed myself according to my predicted swim time vs working the system, but it’s technically within the rules and a tactic other strong age-group swimmers may use. I immediately remembered the girl who blew by me as I was finishing the swim. Recently, I realized this could also mean her course spotter would have seen all of our splits come through about 3-5 minutes before she went through, do some math, and communicate what pace she had to hold run to defend first. Elliot noted I passed her during the second loop of the run, physically. The 3 way tie AND the slingshot swim tactic would be eliminated if we had mass age group starts instead of the rolling starts, just like they do at the Ironman World Championship in Kona. These are issues both Elliot and I ( and several other elite athletes) have been burned by; it’s the primary drawback in racing as an age grouper vs. professionally. I don’t want to sound negative, but these are really impactful experiences that have a profound affect on competitive athletes.

History makers! 3 way tie group at awards. Irish, American, and Polish!
30-34 Age Group Champions

Despite all that, I knew I was in the right place racing amateur instead of professionally. I absolutely loved battling my way to the front. From 58th position out of the water, to 9th position off the bike, to a 3-way tie for 2nd after the run, it was a dream come true in hard conditions on a tough course.

I learned so much about myself, and clocked the best run in my age group, 2nd best of any amateur in the entire field. I am the fastest American amateur at the 70.3 distance. I’ll admit… I would have loved to win my age group and be top 3 overall. The gaps were close – only 3.5 minutes to first overall and 1 minute 50 seconds to first in my age group/second overall. I was hoping this race would offer closure on what to do next season: continue racing amateur or make the jump to professional, but the 3 way tie only left me wondering if I have more unfinished business with age group racing!

At awards the next evening, the podium girls and I finally met, gushing over the day and excitedly sharing our experiences with one another! The announcers proclaimed history was made as they called the three of us on stage. We were all over the moon as the crowd gasped in amazement over the tie. The feeling of making it to a World Championship award ceremony is just unreal, and I’m thrilled to have made it back. The field was deeper and far more internationally influenced than last year, as travel in 2021 was still fairly restricted. 2/3 of the field was from outside of the United Staes this year! (Last year I was 2nd in 30-34 AG, 8th Overall, and 3rd American). I definitely improved and raced far better, so I am truly happy with the results.

Thanks to my crew! Elliot, Sascha and I at awards.
Happy and relieved to end a busy season on a high note!
My triathlon sister, Carolyn, celebrating after the race! Love you C!

I’m thrilled with my preparation, the coach-athlete relationship that got me here, my performance, and can confirm that I absolutely love this lifestyle. I’m in no rush to think about next year, and am looking forward to down time with my dogs and husband, painting and completing DIY projects while continuing to grow my coaching business. Thank you to all those who helped me this season, on race day, and supported my mental health and emotions throughout the highs and lows of the long season. I appreciate those of you who took the time to read this report, and am happy to answer questions or discuss triathlon/lifestyle if you feel lead. Just shoot me a message on my coaching Instagram page or send me an email (



One of my idols, Craig “Crowie” Alexander, with me after awards. He was amazed by the 3-way tie! Thank you for your inspiration and commitment to the sport, Crowie!

New Video: Triathlon-Specific Total Body Workout

Join me for a 25 minute functional session that combines sport-specific lifting complexes (swim-bike-run specific) stretches and more!

You’ll need a set of light to moderate weights, and a mat.

This workout is great for all levels, but is considered an intermediate workout.

You don’t have to be a triathlete to enjoy this session! Enjoy!

Single Skillet Supper

Prep Time: 8-12 minutes

Cook Time: 25-30 minutes


  • 3-4 cups baby creamer potatoes, rinsed and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons fat of choice (butter, oil, or my choice: reserved bacon pan drippings!)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • optional: dash of Tabasco
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (or more if you ❤ garlic)
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 2-3 cups spinach
  • 2-3 cups of leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken, cubed
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce


Start by melting fat of choice in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the quartered potatoes and season with salt, pepper, and Tabasco as desired. Stir to evenly coat potatoes in salt and pepper. Cover skillet with a lid, and cook over medium-high heat for 8-12 minutes, or until one side of potatoes is crispy. Stir once, and leave uncovered for another 8-12 minutes or until potatoes are crispy. Add in garlic, onion and corn. Stir, and cook another 2-3 minutes or until onions and garlic are fragrant. Add in spinach and chicken, stir until spinach is absorbed (1-2 minutes tops) Remove from heat and sprinkle with cheese. Cover until cheese is melted or until ready to serve. Drizzle with BBQ sauce.

*Amount of potatoes and chicken used can be adapted based on pan size , how many people you are trying to serve, and what you have available.

Why Every Triathlete Should Race Locally

By Certified Triathlon Coach & All-American Athlete: Becca Kawaoka

After racing my first local triathlon of the season, Lake Whatcom Triathlon in Bellingham, WA, I feel compelled to highlight the importance of participating in local 5k’s, half marathons, and multisport events. This is my 4th year racing triathlon (5 years in the sport) and every year I am intentional to incorporate local events. Why?

Reviewing the swim course with racing buddy and local legend, David Larpenteur

The sport of triathlon has a grassroots beginning. In the early 1970’s, a group of 46 athletes decided to do a short sprint-like event with swimming, biking, and running as a way to cross train for running events. In the late 1970’s, a handful of people on the shores of Kailua-Kona attempting a self-supported, open-road event that eventually evolved into what is now known as the Ironman distance. That course is now known world-wide as the Ironman World Championships.

History aside, without local races to offer new athletes a chance to “dip their toes” (no pun intended!) into racing, the sport is unlikely to gain new participants. Large corporations like Ironman, Challenge, and the up-and-coming PTO typically only offer long distance events. This can be intimidating to youth/new athletes. Infusing young people and new participants is vital for the long-term survival of the sport, and local racing offers a variety of short to middle distance options (like the super sprint!) or even pairings, such as just the swim-bike, or team relays in case that’s more approachable / in case an injury pops up.

Pre-race shake outs and nervous laughter!

Local races have a laid-back atmosphere, which is a wonderful welcome if you have ever participated in a high-stakes race like Ironman. It’s so fun to chat candidly in transition with your local buddies. Most of my friends, and my husband’s friends, are people we have met at local triathlons. It’s a great way to get to know people who share the same interests as you and live nearby. We love racing the local competition and have developed a wonderful camaraderie with a lot of local triathletes!

Elite start with our buddies discussing tactics!

Racing locally is sort of like choosing to go to a Mom and Pop coffee shop instead of Starbucks. Local racing is really the heart of the sport, and while the field sizes are a bit smaller and the courses are not quite as elaborate as big corporate races, the local events are keeping triathlon alive. One thing I’ve noticed local races do this year is offer an elite wave, which allows anyone competing for an overall position to start in one mass group. This is EXACTLY what we want Ironman to start doing so that it’s a live race on the course versus wave starts. It is very challenging to know where you stand in the age group field at Ironman events because they do rolling wave starts, so we are thrilled that local race directors are starting to offer elite fields. There is no qualification to start with the elites, and you can much cleaner water than the wave or gender starts. Plus, it’s a true live race! For those of you who race competitively with Ironman and have felt the pain of wave starts, support local races and engage in the elite wave. Change really starts at the local level.

Lake Whatcom Triathlon offered such a start, and a handful of about 8 of us started together. My husband and coach, Elliot, started just in front of me with the local group of triathletes we know well: David, Bethany, and Jeremy to name a few! I enjoyed starting on Bethany’s feet and we all stayed together until the first buoy. Lake Whatcom is a wonderful lake, with a triangular swim course. The water was relatively calm and cool, perfect for racing.

Me exiting the water just behind my friend Bethany!

Transition was about 400 meters from the swim exit, up a shallow hill. This year, the transition set up was in the Bloedel Donovan Park’s parking lot. The set up was FAST, as transition was compact with pro-level bike racks and a very short jog out of the swim onto the bike! I was happy to get the chance to practice transitions, though mine was a bit sloppy. My friend Bethany reigned supreme in transitions, with the fastest men and women’s transitions of the day! She was just up ahead of me out of the swim and we exchanged enthusiastic encouragement to one another when I found her on the bike course.

Practicing my transitions!

The bike course is quite challenging, with a fast and beautiful rolling start into a size-able climb on quiet country roads. Unfortunately, I was alone most of the day so I didn’t bike quite as hard as I wanted too. I was also feeling under the weather, congested and weak the days before, so knowing that I was at the front of the women’s field allowed me to ease into a more sustainable effort. A few men passed me, which hasn’t happened much this year, so I was rather chuffed coming into transition.

Shoes off, ready for a quick T2!

The run course is a DOOZY here. Our buddy David, who lives near the course, coaches athletes, and owns the course record from last year, did the aqua bike vs the Olympic due to a hamstring injury. He went out onto the run course after finishing and helped direct me where to go – which is just a perfect example of class sportsmanship and why I love local races! I ran completely alone until I saw the men’s leader, our friend Jeremy. He assured me I was headed the right direction. The run path starts relatively quick on packed gravel and dirt, but quickly gets challenging with a full flight of stairs both down and uphill! I’m not talking a few steps, I’m talking 400 meters of full stairs to burn your quads and skyrocket your heart rate no matter how good of shape you’re in! I saw my husband, who was hard to miss as we were in bright polka dotted matching kits, and a few other men on the out and backs, but was otherwise alone. There was a very encouraging aid station ran by some friendly volunteers who did a great job directing me which way to go on the labyrinth, forested trail run course. Several white arrows directed racers which way to go, but you did need to look for them carefully. Elliot missed one arrow and ran a bit extra, but thankfully found his way back to the path and it did not affect his position.

The finish was flat and fast, and the arch was a welcome sight after quite a battle on the fun but challenging course! I won the women’s side and was 6th overall, a bit disappointed I didn’t make the overall podium but I accepted it, acknowledging I felt less than 100%. Elliot was 4th overall and 2nd in his age group. A few of the front age guys started in age group waves instead of the elite mass start, and it did affect the flow of the overall placements. For example, Jeremy was  only passed physically by the men’s leader, Tom Hutchinson, who won the race convincingly despite starting in the age group waves and catching everyone. If results stayed this way, it would have put Elliot third and age group winner. However, two other top age group men clocked times that put them into top 5 podium position, but were never seen physically because they started further back.

Helpful volunteers pointing me the right way!

This was hard on me as well, as usually I hold onto a podium overall position in the men’s field. In general, this could be cleared up by stating anyone who wants overall awards should start with the elite or first wave. It would have been a more dynamic race that way! This also affected the women’s podium for 2nd and 3rd overall, as my friend Bethany started with me in the elite field. She was only passed by me, so she thought she had 2nd place squared away but a gal who started well behind us clocked a time about a minute faster. This same thing is happening with Ironman races, like I mentioned, but at least there is an opportunity to solve the problem by encouraging an elite start. We just hope more people use that option in the future, and that large corporations catch on. Competitive athletes want a live race! 

The post-race food was AMAZING, and it was so fun jumping in the lake after while discussing the day with our friends and athletes. My athlete Carissa won her age group in 18-24, so we were excited about that as a start to her racing season. The weather was great, and I am so happy to see local races continue to thrive in Washington. We plan to do upcoming local races such as Black Diamond, Lake Meridian, Bonney Lake, and Lake Stevens (barring any injuries) to continue to hone our race skills for key Ironman race events.

Athlete Carissa and I after the race!

SUPPORT LOCAL RACES! If you live near Bellingham, put this one on your calendar!


Becca Kawaoka