Sunday, October 1, 2017

Ironman Chattanooga Race Report: Lee Weatherhead

Lee Weatherhead had a stellar 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, then went BACK to destroy the full Ironman Chattanooga two weeks later. Amazing stuff! We reached out to get a quick recap on his Kona Qualifying 2018 experience.

Lee at 70.3 Worlds

I was just coming off the Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2 weeks earlier and was hoping that I was completely recovered. I had a great race there but held back just a little so that I could be ready for this race. When I got to T1 race morning they announced that it was not going to be a wetsuit legal swim. This brought the nerves up a little but I knew I was going to be ok. It was a 2.4 mile swim down river so my time was going to be faster then normal anyway. When I got to the swim start I had to walk about 3/4 of a mile to the end of the line. Which meant I was going to be starting about 25-30 mins after the official start. When I finally got into the water it was really foggy and we couldn't see more then 50 feet in front of us. But it's easy to feel what way was down river. I had a great swim, finished 10 mins faster than I hoped. After getting through T1 I was told I was in 12th place. I knew I had to push it on the bike to get into the top of the leaderboard. It was a beautiful 2 loop 116 mile bike course. All country roads with lots of shade. I made sure I was on top of my nutrition so I would be ready for the run. It was starting to get hot on my second lap and I knew the run was going to be tough. I finished the bike a couple minutes faster then I was planning. Coming out of T2 I found out I was in 1st place in my age group.

This was a such a great pick me up going into the run. I knew I wouldn't stay in 1st but it gave me more of a cushion for 2nd or 3rd. I did my homework on the people in my division so I knew what I was up against. It was really hot and humid at this point. Almost 90 degrees and 50-60% humidity. I would run from aid station to aid station and slow jog the aid station to make sure that I was getting enough fluid. I made it to mile 11 before I had to start walking the aid stations and walking a couple of the hills. I would get updates every time I would see Emma so I knew I was in 2nd place most of the run but losing time to the 3rd place guy. I think he passed me around mile 23. My run ended up being 10 minutes slower then I was hoping. When I finally came to the finish line Emma was waiting there to tell me I took 3rd in my age group. 2nd was only 2 minutes ahead of me. I did it. I qualified.

There may have been a few tears. I left it all out on the course. No regrets. When I got my qualifying coin the next day I flipped it over and it read "Anything is Possible". This was so true for me. I was always the slowest kid on my teams growing up. They used to comment that they would time me with a sun dial or that I needed to lose the piano I was dragging behind me. Time for some rest and recovery. But most important is spending more time with my family.

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