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5 Questions: Rachel McBride is Kona bound

Canada's Rachel McBride qualified for the Ironman World Championship last weekend at Ironman New Zealand.

Canada’s Rachel McBride will be racing at the world championships again this October thanks to a great fourth-place finish at Ironman New Zealand on the weekend. We caught up with the 41-year-old Vancouver-based pro after the race in Taupo.

Rachel McBride at the Challenge Roth press conference.

Triathlon Magazine Canada: Can you tell us a bit about the race and how the day played out?

Rachel McBride: Similar to a few of my other competitors, I had caught a cold leading into the race. Thankfully, I was mostly on the mend come race day. My goal for the swim was to stay with the front pack. Teresa Adam was in a league of her own right from the gun, so I was very happy to be a part of the chasing train. Four of us quickly formed a line of toe tapping swimmers. I was thrilled to exit the water among this pack, especially in light of my lung issues two weeks prior at Challenge Wanaka. Onto the bike, I immediately let (Meredith) Kessler and Jocelyn (McCauley) power away out of town. I focused on riding my own ride, hitting steady watts and keeping my heart rate in check. Instead of getting defeated about the increasing time gap up the road to Teresa, I was able to shift my mindset to celebrate her for having the ride of her life!

Coming back into town for the second loop of the course, I started to feel the impact of the notorious New Zealand chip seal and I was concerned that I had possibly over-biked the first half. It was bitter sweet to catch Jocelyn on the second loop obviously fading due to her own illness. I was happy to come into T2 only two minutes down on Kessler having closed a gap of nearly five minutes earlier in the race.

It’s no secret that I have struggled to race a marathon reflective of my potential. My goal for Ironman New Zealand was to nail a new nutrition plan and to keep a positive mindset versus focus on a specific pace. Despite spending the fall with a run injury and my longest run of only 25 km leading into this race, I ended up running my fastest marathon to date. I am proud to have stayed mentally tough to not only run well, but negative split this run. Unfortunately, I had to leave my parents at the finish line waiting for our post race celebratory burgers because it always takes me literally hours to pee for doping control. A small price to pay for clean sport.

How excited are you to be heading to Kona?

The past two years I have focused on bucket list races instead of centreing my season around Kona qualification. I always came in with the mindset that if I qualified in one of the few Ironman-branded races I had on my calendar, I would absolutely take the spot. I am over the moon excited to be heading back to the Big Island in October.

Now that Kona is on the calendar, what does the 2020 race plan look like?

The only things that I have confirmed on the race calendar are Challenge Heilbronn, Challenge Roth and some local gravel racing. I’m currently still in New Zealand celebrating early season success, and will be home soon to consult with my coaches on what’s next.

Related: Rachel McBride takes fourth at Ironman New Zealand

Last year things got started with a bit of a challenge thanks to the crash in France. Did you learn anything from going through that experience last year?

I learned how strong I can still be in the face of recent trauma and healing. I have also learned how important it is to have a support system and accept their help in times of need. At this point in my career I’ve learned to trust in my fitness and the process. While each Ironman build may look different, I’ve spent over a decade of my life developing resiliency. I know now that it is always worth toeing these start lines, even if I don’t think I’m in optimal shape – be it injury, sickness, stitches, etc.

Finally, what do you see as the key to your longevity in the pro ranks?

I’m less focused on perfection, be it during the build or on the start line. I am more committed to trusting in my own physical literacy and experience.  I can’t imagine doing anything else and I still love the daily grind. What keeps me loving the daily grind is trading out some time trial hours for gravel goodness, training in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and having loved ones and training partners who stand by me every step of the way.