On October 13th, four Canadian women will line up on Dig Me Beach in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, to compete against the world’s best triathletes. The list includes Jen Annett, Rachel McBride, Kirsty Jahn and Angela Naeth.
The Penticton triathlete has been training at home since Ironman Lake Placid. Even though she resides in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, she has included some heat specific training sessions to get prepared for the conditions in Kona. While increasing her mileage and intensity, she’s been doing bike workouts in the washroom with the space heaters cranked up to high and going out for runs all bundled up in the heat of the day.
As a way to develop her swim, Annett took part in an 11.8K open water swim in Penticton, BC. “I didn’t treat this as a race, but more of an experience and mental strengthener. After my long open water swim, swimming 3.8K isn’t so bad, and I should be in a better place mentally as I approach the start,” says Annett.
Heading into the world championships, Annett is fully aware of the magnitude of the race. “This is definitely my biggest achievement in my professional career and the strongest field I have ever raced in.” With all the hype around the event and its headlines, the Canadian will be trying to stay in the moment. “The only thing I can do is execute my race to the best of my ability.”
Following McBride’s sixth-place finish at Ironman Frankfurt, she kept busy by doing the Red Bull 400 in Whistler, BC, and a 150K gravel bike race in Washington state. Both events challenged her mental resolve, lactate threshold, technical skill and tenacity.
Her build-up to Kona also included many sauna bike sessions, a week of training in Tucson, AZ, and two weeks in Kona.
Known on the long course circuit for her impressive bike split, McBride enlisted the help of Lisa Bentley for her run training. “We’ve only worked together a short time, but I’ve had some incredible confidence-building runs in the past few weeks,” says McBride.
McBride is trying her best to keep her expectations realistic heading into this weekends race. “I think one of my strengths is being able to approach these big events like just any other race.” Having worked with sports psychologist Jason Brooks, McBride feels she’s physically and mentally ready to tackle the challenges on race day. “My single goal in Kona is to have a beautiful race and be proud of how I tackled the day, no matter what the clock says or what place I finish.”
For the past month, Jahn has been in Maui acclimatizing to the heat and humidity. “I think a lot of people underestimate the weather conditions at Kona. It is brutal, and to be at your best you need to be acclimated,” says Jahn.
With her attention to detail and months of preparation, Jahn is feeling confident as she heads into one of the biggest races in her professional career. “As a professional, I will enter this race knowing I’m well prepared and use to the conditions.”
One of Jahn’s keys to success will be staying calm and executing her race plan. “Honestly, it is just another race. I will approach Kona with that mindset. I will be happy at the end of the day if I know I gave it my all and raced to the best of my abilities.”
This year, Jahn is one of many Kona rookies competing and is eagerly anticipating lining up on Dig Me Beach. “I have worked super hard to get here, and want to enjoy race day in Kona. I am a natural competitor that loves racing, but at the end of the day, it does become a race against yourself.”
Naeth was a late addition to the Kona start list, but she’s coming in well rested and ready to take on the course in Kona. “In a sense, she is pretty fresh. We are hitting Kona in, what I would call, a mid-cycle of her training. It is our goal to hit Kona on an upswing in her fitness, and then finish out her season with a full fall race schedule,” says Naeth’s coach Tim Snow. “I was already planning to race throughout the fall season, so to be able to head over to the big island is a celebration to me,” says Naeth.
The 2018 season has been a bit of a roller coaster for the Canuck. “In April, I got the news I had Lyme Disease,” says Naeth. The diagnosis made training and even everyday life difficult, but with some solid late-season training and racing, Naeth is grateful for the opportunity. “To be able to race at the World Championships is a blessing and an honour.”
Come October 13th, Naeth will be taking one step at a time. “My mantra will be, keep moving forward. I’ll find a quiet space in my mind and focus on that.”
After all that has happened this season, Naeth has a great appreciation for the support she has received from sponsors, loved ones, family and friends. “They saw me when I could barely walk down the stairs. So, just thinking about their effort and support, I want to do my best to honour that.”