The Road to a First Half-Ironman... and a First Place Finish!

"Getting through this race gave me confidence that I could accomplish anything."

  • Amy Gallery 1
  • Amy Gallery 2

Hi, my name is Amy. I am 19 years old and here is my story.

I am in pretty good shape, having competed for 4 years in cross-country and track in high school. I also try to do a big event every year or so. Two years ago, I completed the LA Marathon in the freezing and pouring rain. My next challenge was to compete in my first-ever triathlon. I chose a local Half Ironman. Before taking on this event, the only bicycle I had ever ridden was a beach cruiser. The bike I trained and raced on for this triathlon was a Cervélo R3, and was quite a bit different than what I was used to. Because I had never even touched a road bike before, I was a bit timid while learning to ride the Cervélo. After learning how to clip in and out of the pedals and how to use the SRAM-Red gears, I thought the hard part was over. Boy was I wrong! Hard training with my dad constantly tested my determination every bit of the way.

I didn't even know where to begin my bicycle training, so I went to my dad for advice. He races bicycles, racing and training on a Cervélo R5ca. He said that the ‘bike’ part of the Tri was really a road course. Due to the hills and climbing required in this event, it was not well suited for a full Tri bike with disk wheels. He helped with my conditioning by taking me on hill workout after hill workout around San Clemente. To say the least, those rides kicked my butt!

The hill workouts combined with interval training got me in shape really fast, and, after several of these workouts, I was ready to take on longer group rides. I started out riding only 20 miles with the group before getting dropped off the back. However, I did not let this discourage me, but instead, I used it as motivation. I made it my goal to train on my own with more interval workouts in order to stay with the group a little bit longer each time I rode. By the end of my 3 month training period, I could pull the group 60 miles! I knew at this point that I was ready for the race.

The day came when my hard work paid off. It was a hot and windy day, reaching temperatures of 95°F at the beach and well over 100°F at the top of Ortega on the bike leg.

Swim: I had a great swim, passing most of the group that started 3 minutes ahead of my wave. I was in wave 4 with all of the other females. My coach at school had me swim up to 3 miles in the pool, so I knew I would do well.

Bike: The bike course traced from Doheny State Beach along Ortega (with an added hill "La Pata"). Needless to say, it was a very hilly course going all the way to the very end of Ortega which topped out at around 2,700 feet.  Adding another 610 feet for La Pata, this half-Ironman had over 3,300 feet of climbing, an easy day after doing 4,000 feet of climbing during my dad’s training rides. The Cervélo R3 was the perfect bike for this technical and hilly course.

On the way out—all uphill—I passed many triathletes. They were on their heavy full-Tri bikes whereas I was on my light R3. On the way back—all downhill—the R3 allowed me to pedal full-speed and navigate every turn with full confidence. While others were fighting their TT bikes around Ortega's sharp turns, crashing along the way, I easily carved in and out of the ‘traffic’. The handling was awesome and I was in total control at speeds of over 30 mph through the descents. I ended up passing 60 people along the way and averaged 17 mph for the bike leg of the race.

Run: Mile 2-3 of the 13.1 mile run was in the soft beach sand. This was TOUGH to say the least. On the way back, we had to retrace our steps in the sand again from mile 12-13. There were athletes literally collapsing in the sand. In fact, to tell you how hard this race was, the guy that won the overall fell in the sand 100 meters from the finish, crawled 15 meters, got back up and finished the run.

Getting through this race gave me confidence that I could accomplish anything. Cervélo not only helped me accomplish my goal of completing a Half Ironman, but also led me to my first place finish in my age category. Thanks Cervélo!

Comments (6)
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  • Rick-R5ca

    I'm the dad and I am very proud papa! I am also very grateful to her coach, Bruce, for guiding her through all of the demanding workouts. The 'hills of San Clemente ride' can easily gain more than 4,000 feet of elevation depending on which hills you do. The first time I went on this ride was with Peter Stetina and his uncle Wayne. Talk about getting dropped big time. On a 9% grade hill, it really humbles you when you are doing all you can at 13 mph and 2 people pass you at 23 mph. This was the course Amy is referring to. She told me after the race, "I'm glad we did all of those torture hill rides, made the race easy". Amy is a great person and studying Kinesiology and eventually will be getting her DPT. She really does love the R3, although shes now eying the P2/P3 for more Tri-bike specific events.

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  • Ted

    What a great post! As a dad, I couldn't help but love his role in your journey. What Dad wouldn't love to do that for their kid! (But don't get me wrong - you put the work in.) I have your bike and have used it in similar 1/2. For those conditions it is ideally suited and can feel like an unfair advantage as you smoke people without trying on the uphills and carve the downhills to keep your edge. The R3/SL/Red edition is a beast.

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  • StanJay

    Amy, do you use Rotor rings on your bike?

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  • Rene

    Congratulations Amy. Hard work always pays off. And it doesn't hurt to have an R3 in your corner as well. Chapeau!!!

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  • Russell

    Way to go Amy!

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  • Shawn

    Great story!!!

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