Friday, June 16, 2006


IRONMAN CDA Women’s Professional Championships

This was the earliest that I have arrived at an Ironman venue, but I had a dual motivation. We were blessed to meet an awesome home stay family in 2003 and have stayed with them each year since, they have become extended family Connie and Terry are awesome hosts, Terry picked me up at the airport and Connie packed the fridge will any and all necessary food for the week. I also needed to see if my legs remembered the Hills and my body "cold water."
I had not been in my Blue-Seventy Wetsuit (which I love) because the water in Florida is so warm – not like Lake CDA, this I was NOT used to!!

The first day I swam Connie took me down to the lake – the water temp was low 60’s and the air a brisk 58. After fifteen minutes my feet were numb and that was enough for me. Connie drove me straight home in my wetsuit – no way was I taking that off! Fortunately it warmed up, albeit slightly, each day leading up to Race Day.

This is a great format having an all women’s / "fair race" without any drafting issues. Plus, the women get most of the press where it is usually, or should I say almost always the other way around.

Being a past CDA Champion (won in 2003) and second in 2004 the local press was familiar with me and some fun interviews the days leading up to the race and was on the front page of the "CDA Press" on June 24th and the "Spokane Review" June 25th (see attached articles and photos) as well as a "live" TV spot for Channel 6 News in Coeur D’ Alene.

On Friday afternoon I had the distinct pleasure to speak at Ironprayer. I spoke with a very good friend JR Rosania "JR Ironbody" – he is an amazing man with a wonderful testimony of faith and friendship. I have been privileged to speak at several Ironprayer services prior to Ironman Races – without question it is one of the most satisfying events of the week. I am honored to glorify God through my racing.

The day before an Ironman is always an anxious one – you have prepared for months for this event – everything is turned in and there is nothing to do but attempt to control the nerves and wonder what you might possibly be able to eat race morning. At this point I just want to get going! The evening before the race we settled in with our host family and watched "Glory Road" very inspirational as well as a vehicle to take my mind off the race for a few short hours.

The Pro Women were given a 6:25 am start time so it was an early start to the day. I wanted to get in a real good warm-up as the water temp was a chilly 62 degrees. Thankfully however it would be the only time all day that I was cold. The swim course was a two loop course and my strategy was to stay with some of the top swimmers early. As I exited the water after my first loop I was excited to see that I had stayed with some fantastic swimmers like Dede Griesbar, Hilary Biscay and Karen Laberge – unfortunately I lost them right away on the second loop. I tried to stay positive knowing this was the beginning of a long day and ended up having a great swim time, despite losing the group.

I came out of the water in 8th place and was looking very forward to the bike. I love this course and the opportunity to ride somewhere that isn’t pancake flat like Florida. This was my 1st Ironman ride on my new "pink" Ironedge Orbea. I rode strong all day, moving from 8th to 2nd but was passed by a hard charging Kate Major at around mile 52. I did enjoy having the course to ourselves yet it was difficult with no other racers around making it a virtual time trial.

I came out of T2 in 3rd place, 3 min behind Kate Major and a bit disappointed with my bike split, but then again this was much hillier. I was hoping things would have been faster but no time to worry about that now as my attention was focused on making some time up in the run. I was looking forward to the run as I have been really focusing on improving this facet of my racing. At Ironman Arizona in April I set a new PR for myself on the run. I was on my way to setting another PR this day working hard and concentrating on my turnover. I passed Kate Major at mile 7 and worked at holding her off and making up some time on Joanna who was having a career day.

I have been working with KiroKinetics on my nutrition and supplements which fortunately led to only two bathroom stops, (a big improvement). It’s quite nerve-racking when you have to stop and Kate Major is right behind you. I would finish the day in second place with the fastest run split of the day among the professional women.

A very big congratulations to all who finished this difficult race on a hot Idaho day. Special thanks go to my sponsors for whom I am grateful for their continued support. They include; Fig Newtons, Clif Bar, Oomph Clothing, Orbea Bikes, Ironman Helmets, KiroKinetics, Radius Wellcare, Village Bikes, Katalyst Multisport Management, Profile, Blue Seventy, Right Toyota, JR Ironbody, Inside Out Sports and Zipp Wheels. Also, thanks to my husband Todd for continually supporting me.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ironman Arizona 2006

A Great PR Day!!

I was looking forward to a return to Tempe for IM Arizona 2006. What a great job I have. I get to train and race as a professional athlete. Now that I live in Florida I have had the opportunity to train outdoors for months leading up to this event. The week leading up to an Ironman is always a very busy time for me and this week was no exception. My new sponsor JR Ironbody and Right Toyota had lined up a multitude of media events during the course of the week. I had the privilege of speaking to the Tribe Multisport Club on Wednesday evening. Many athletes were saying how I motivated them but little did they know their enthusiasm and support really Motivated ME – THANKS EVERYONE!!

Friday included a morning interview with Channel 10 from the swim start, a Press Conference for Ironman North America, Television interviews, Radio (ESPN) interview, and my favorite of all speaking at the late afternoon Iron Prayer service to a packed ballroom. Thankfully, Saturday was a day to make final adjustments and get off my feet!

Race Day came and I arose with a sense of confidence that I had prepared myself to the best of my abilities, (yes, there were still nerves as usual). On Ironman morning the minutes pass by quickly and before I knew it the Pro Field was asked to hit the water. I know how important it is to get off to a fast start, so strategy dictated positioning myself correctly. The gun sounded and we were off. We swam directly into the rising sun and I felt that I was moving quickly through the water in my new Blue Seventy wetsuit! I felt strong throughout the swim and exited the water in a time of 53:38, a great start to the day. I made my way through transition, making sure I had all of my nutrition for the day and headed out to the looped bike course. My goal was to try and pick off some of the leaders. Michellie Jones was off to a quick start and the rest of us were attempting to keep up the pace. I found that now being a resident of Florida the heat really did not affect me - in fact I actually enjoyed it – the hotter the better! My position throughout the 5 hour 17 minute journey did not change and I entered the run in sixth place.

I knew that I had my work cut out for me but I had been working very hard on my run over the past few months. I could tell from the pace I was keeping through the first loop that this had the potential to be my best marathon in an Ironman to date. I kept myself well hydrated and fortunately began to make my move passing Tereza Macel, Andrea Fischer and Hillary Biscay. My daughter Jordan who has Cerebral Palsy wrote me a letter before I left telling me that “whenever my legs felt tired, to just think of her and press on”. Great advice and motivation from a nine year old! Desiree Ficker passed me but after keeping a steady pace (and thinking of Jordan) I was able to overtake her once again to move back into second place. In the end I was able to pull away and earn not only my best marathon in an Ironman (3:16), but an overall PR for the day finishing in 9:33. I came across the line feeling like I had won the race. Michellie had a flawless day and I congratulate her on an impressive win.

It was a day I will not soon forget, but no athlete gets their alone. I would like to thank God for blessing me with the ability to do something I love, my family and of course my sponsors whose support is vital to me.

Thanks Clif Bar, Oomph Sports, Fig Newtons,
JR Ironbody, Right Toyota, Inside Out Sports, Zipp Wheels, Orbea, Ironman Helmets, Profile Design, Village Bikes, Radius Wellness, and Penta.

In closing, congratulations to all the first time Ironman Finishers, may this be the first of many.
Heather Gollnick
3-time Ironman Champion