Just two weeks after a second place finish and a record setting bike split at Challenge Wanaka, purplepatch professional athlete, Laura Siddall, aka Sid, used a well paced marathon to score a second place and podium finish at IRONMAN New Zealand.
Heading into the race Laura was "actually feeling really good, which was a little nerve wracking," she says. "I felt better leading into Taupo than I did I think into Wanaka.” Laura is more than smart enough to realize that how the body feels in race week provides little indication about upcoming race performance but, as Coach Matt Dixon told her, it is much more enjoyable to feel good going into the race than to feel really rough. The pre-race sensations are magnified when trying to attempt back-to-back IRONMAN races, but the racing lesson is there for amateurs and professionals alike. Approach everything day to day and in the moment. Focus on each training session as it happening and nail the sleep and nutrition basics. From here, it about setting the right racing mindset and racing the race to best of one's abilities on that race day.
After mild conditions while racing in Wanaka two weeks earlier, Laura was excited when race day morning in Taupo presented choppy swim conditions and challenging headwinds for the bike leg. Exiting the water almost 6 minutes down on the race leaders, she used a race best split split of 5:05 to arrive in T2 in first place. With other strong riders in the field, Laura’s bike performances over the last two weeks have been highly encouraging, with both races showcasing the potential we have seen in training over the last years.
Hitting the run, Laura conceded the lead, slipping back to 5th place during the first half of the marathon as her competitors demonstrated early run speed. Most observers might assume that it would be all downhill from there, with a tough IRON distance race just two weeks prior, and heavy legs for 21 km to start this race. Not many would assume a path back to great running. In fact, during previous races, Laura admits she has entered a dark place in the middle of the run, so it was a focus for her in this race to anticipate that low point. Making a few adjustments in fueling, as well as being 'solutions oriented' during the race, provided the gateway to navigate the race optimally. While the emotional dip occurred early, Laura showed tremendous emotional grit which allowed her physical resilience to shine. Laura focused on her own race and finding rhythm in the early miles of the run. In her words, "it was just a case of keep trying to find the form, keep moving forward, drinking down the coke and having the confidence that I would come good. Knowing also that you do eventually emerge from the dark patches!"
Laura's patient pacing strategy revealed itself during the second half of the run as she slowly reeled in 3 of the women ahead of her, passing defending champion, Meredith Kessler, during the last 10km of the run to move into second place.
The race was a great step in her journey to becoming world class. Three years ago, Laura was an 4x amateur World Champion with a dream, and now she begins her 2017 professional campaign with two great races, executed well, two fastest bike splits (including smashing the previous bike course record by 9 minutes at Challenge Wanaka).
The Dirty Dixon Double is tough, and it takes a special athlete to nail it with such success. It requires a blend of exceptional physical resilience, but also emotional grit and gumption. Laura will be resting up a bit before easing back into a European summer of training and more racing.
This a wonderful stepping stone for Sid and a great story of athlete evolution.
We are very proud of her.
Photo credit: Koruptvision