If it were not for a flat tire, Windsor’s Brooke Brown quite likely could have taken home the Ironman Louisville women’s title in her professional debut. Despite that setback, Brown ran the top women’s marathon (3:15:39) to capture second (9:33:46) behind Australia’s Kate Bevilaqua (9:29:02). Fellow Australian Chris McDonald claimed his third Ironman Louisville title with a new course record (8:21:34). Canadian age groupers Pierre-Marc Doyon of Levis, Quebec, finished 8th overall (9:17:04) and won the Men18-24 category. Diane Hankee finished 11th overall (10:21:03) and won the women’s 35-39 age group. Brown comments about her pro debut and more below:
TMC: You seem to be in quite the zone out there, how were things going for you on the day up to that flat tire?
Brooke Brown: With a late start to my 2013 season and racing my way back to fitness, I have become mentally well-trained to having a late start in the race. Sunday was no different. Being a weak swimmer, I knew that my race would only begin after the first 90 km on the bike. Despite swimming a pb (59:59), I was dead last out of the water. This didn’t bring me down though, as I believed in where my bike and specifically run training has gone this summer. In reality I was ecstatic about the swim, and eager to get down to work. Unlike the training for 70.3 races I did earlier this year, my legs felt fresh and alive for once. Without training fatigue, I knew I was on-track for a solid bike performance. I had no idea how far ahead my competition was, but working my way from tenth to sixth place at the 30 mile mark before the flat was a great indicator of my race day potential.
TMC: Did you alter your race plan once you got going again? Or did you just get back on your pan and happen to make your way back through the field?
BB: I didn’t alter my plan per se. My goal was to continue to ride hard and nail the run. Barrie (Shepley) and I have had some great running breakthroughs which in ideal race conditions would have me running a sub 3:05 off the bike. This summer, I didn’t put as much of a focus as I have in previous years on the bike, but was confident in my riding abilities and that I had done the necessary training for a good showing. Back on my bike it took a bit of time, to get my heart rate and effort back in the zone, but once it did I was sailing. A fire lit inside of me around 70 miles. Adrenaline was pumping and I was hungry to do this. While disappointed about the flat and not hitting my bike split target, I forged forward. Instead of having these obstacles weigh me down, I used them to dig deeper. I maintained focused and calm throughout the race, chasing what I was after, my first Ironman Champion title.
TMC: Once you got onto the run, what was your mindset? Track down as many women as possible or maybe even go for the win?
BB: Initially, the number one thing on my mind was to run sub 3:10 in the heat and humidity. I was certain that if I could accomplish this there would be few women between me and the Ironman Louisville title despite my set-backs. In my head, I was going for the win. The spectators were great at giving me instant feedback. For the most part I was blind as to how far each girl was ahead of me, until I could see them either directly in front of me or at the turn around point. The day got really exciting in the last six miles as I was nearing second place.
TMC: How was racing in that heat? Do you enjoy those conditions?
BB: I live for the heat. I may have appreciated a few degrees less on the run, but in the end I am a south-western Ontario girl. Hot and humid days make up the better half of our summer. The day was freaky hot although not by Kentucky standards. I focused on stating cool and on my hydration. The excitement of catching the girls ahead and the countless cheers from spectators and athletes kept me going. I think the biggest motivator was seeing my mom, aunt and boyfriend at the turn around. I have never seen my mom so excited. I was fading and she made me come back to life.
TMC: How satisfied were you with your pro debut?
BB: I am 99% happy with the day and new pb and about 1% disappointed about not winning.
TMC: What has led you up to making the transition to professional triathlete? What’s next?
BB: My support crew in Ontario, specifically C3 and the Windsor Tri Club, are major proponents to my success. Both clubs provide me with training partners, facilities and emotional support all which are important in helping me become a world-class athlete. Despite an injury prior to Kona last fall, life changes this winter and a late start to the season, Barrie (Shepley) never lost confidence in me. I needed a break to get myself back up on my feet, but never lost sight of the goal or my abilities. I believe in my training. Earlier this season, I raced in several 70.3’s, we decided to not change the initial 2013 plans, but rather use them as training days. The plan has always been to have a late season, with Ironman Arizona being my big race.