On August 28th Jill Frank toed the line with 2,500 fellow triathletes in search of the elusive Ironman medal. We checked in with Jill after her 3rd place age group finish and a slot to the Ironman World Championships in Kona.
TN Multisports: How did you control your nerves knowing this would be a non-wetsuit swim?
Jill: Huh, I never thought about being extra nervous because it was non-wetsuit until you mentioned it just now. It all seemed about the same. (Naïve? Ignorance is bliss?) And I hate being cold, so warmer water suits me just fine.
TN: Tell us what the temperatures and humidity were like?
Jill: It was hot, but I think in my head I was preparing for worse. And I got a great tip from Mark to get a cup of ice at the aid stations on the run and hold ice cubes in my hands until they melted. That is genius!
TN: We heard you were without heart rate data on the bike and run. How did you get over this mentally?
Jill: I had trained on my long rides at my target HR and cadence so I thought I could probably be pretty close on my own. And Mark had prepared me well for handling any unexpected things that might happen. I knew that my reaction to this could affect my whole day so I had to be smart about it. “Just don’t freak out, Jilly,” I kept reminding myself.
TN: Coming off the bike, you were in a solid 12th place. Did you have any idea you could run your way to a top three spot?
Jill: I had no idea where I was at all. The run was a two loop course, so even if I passed someone in my age group, I didn’t know what loop she was on, so I quit trying to count. I just wanted to stick to my own race plan and not be disappointed at the finish, so not knowing was probably a good thing. Had I known, I might have gotten all “thinky” about what place I was in and there might have been some negative energy wrapped up in that.
Although, at one point, I kind of thought I might want to stop and use a port-a-potty but I thought that would be a waste of a minute and might allow too many people to pass me, so unless I REALLY needed to go, I’d wait. Luckily, the urge went away. So I guess I was somewhat conscious of not wanting to give up any places. (The 4th place finisher was only 30 seconds behind me, so I’m glad I didn’t need to use that minute in the porto!)
TN: We won’t dig into your training schedule…but did you think you were capable of running the fastest 35-39 age group marathon split?
Jill: I thought I was capable of running under 4 hours on the marathon. I didn’t know that would be the fastest in my age group! The run is my favorite, so it was a tiny mental boost to put away my bike and put on my running shoes.
TN: What was your favorite part of the day and why?
Jill: The start. I was SO EXCITED to be there, actually in line to start an Ironman! I was literally jumping up and down. My mom took a picture of me and I look like a total goof with the biggest smile, but that picture says exactly how I felt. And Louisville is not a mass start, so I got to watch the first athletes in line run to the end of the dock and jump into the river. It looked awesome. And hilarious, and sort of like a bunch of kids playing in the swimmin’ hole in the summertime. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the start was just pure fun.
My other favorite part was thinking about friends and family during the race. I knew that my husband, running buddies, family, and coaches were cheering me on and in my moments of doubt, it really did help to think about how much support I had.
TN: 6 weeks until Worlds, what are your thoughts?
Jill: So freaking excited!!! Eeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!! And I’m nervous about a few things too. When I think about the Louisville race now, it seems like it wasn’t really that painful, but I’m sure I’m ignoring the bad parts because I’m on such a high from finishing. I fear that the 2nd Ironman isn’t going to be quite as fun as I remember the 1st one being. (Hopefully I’m wrong about that.)
The heat and the difficulty of the course in Hawaii make me a little nervous. How to recover from this one and prepare for the next one in only six weeks is a little daunting. Luckily I can leave that to my coach to figure out!