Ironman lady at worlds
Jennifer St. Pierre of St. Albert will compete in her first Ironman World Championships since 2003 on Saturday in Kona, Hawaii
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 09, 2013 06:00 am
Jennifer St. Pierre has unfinished business on the eve of her second Ironman World Championships.
The 34-year-old St. Albert mother of three, including four-year-old twins, gave herself one shot this year at qualifying for her first worlds since 2003 and she nailed it with a personal best time of 10 hours, 51 minutes and 58 seconds at Ironman Coeur D’Alene in Idaho on June 29.
St. Pierre finished the 3.84-kilometre swim, 180.25-mile bike and 42.2-km run as the runner-up in her 35 to 39 age division and 214th overall for a spot at the 35th annual worlds Saturday in Kona, Hawaii.
“It was a huge accomplishment for myself because I sacrificed a lot in terms of time with the family and financially to get it done,” said the occupational therapist with Alberta Health Services. “I just decided after having the kids to give it one more go. I always felt like I hadn’t quite reached my full potential when I raced years ago so I just wanted to see if I could go out and have a good race and be happy with it and then for me qualifying was kind of a bonus. I had hoped that I could but I knew it was a pretty slim shot because there were only two slots in my age group so I was pretty excited.
“I think that’s what drove me to train harder knowing that I kind of had one shot at it.”
Her goal was to finish under 11 hours.
“I thought I was capable of it if I had a good day so I wouldn’t say I was surprised by my time. I was thrilled for sure because so many things can go wrong on race day,” said St. Pierre.
Her times were 1:13:50 in the swim (29th in her division for 807th overall and 142nd among females), 5:48:29 on the bike (sixth in her division for 397th overall and 37th among females) and 3:40:07 in the run (second in her division for 214th overall and 24th among females).
It was the fifth Ironman of her career, but only the second since 2005 Ironman Canada when she was clocked at 12:30:04.
Going the distance at worlds is St. Pierre’s main objective.
“If I could finish under 11:15 I would be very happy. It’s a tough race.”
In her world debut the Queen Elizabeth High School alumna finished 10th in the U19 division at 12:09:41 after placing first in her Ironman Canada age group at 11:28:13.
“I know what to expect now. I know about the wind and the heat. I’ve been going to hot yoga and I’ve been riding my bike and running on the treadmill with the heater blowing on me. I’ve been trying to get ready that way.”
St. Pierre considers herself a better athlete after motherhood kicked in.
“Maybe something physically happens to your body after you have children, I’m not sure, but I’ve noticed I’m faster since I’ve had kids,” she said. “You have to be smarter with your time too so you make the most of all your training sessions and I think that way the quality of your training improves.”
St. Pierre averages 15 to 20 hours a week during peak training periods.
“I try and take a day off but because of the kids I often don’t take a day off because I have to schedule my workouts around them.”
Cycling is the most time consuming activity when the snow melts.
“Usually on a Saturday or Sunday you have to do a ride anywhere from four to six hours pretty much every weekend when spring hits.”
St. Pierre struggled at first to get back into Ironman shape.
“I hadn’t swam in a long time so that was the hardest,” she said. “After I had kids I didn’t have time to ride my bike so I’ve done a lot of running in the last five years and that’s improved quite a bit. The cycling I’ve done a little bit here and there so it was pretty easy to kind of get back into that.
“But my equipment was all out of date so I had to buy a new bike and a new suit. Technology changes and evolves.”
So why does St. Pierre torture her body in order to complete a grueling long-distance triathlon that has a strict time limit of 17 hours?
“I don’t know. People ask me that all the time. I guess I just like a challenge and the longer it goes the better I seem to do so it was a distance that was suited to me.”
The rush from crossing the finish line is the ultimate high for St. Pierre.
“They talk about the runner’s high and definitely after finishing one of these, and if you have a good race, you’re kind of on a high for the next week. I think that’s what makes you keep going back for more stupidity I guess.”
Meunier at worlds
Marc Meunier of St. Albert also qualified for worlds after finishing 50th overall at the 31st annual Ironman Canada in Whistler on Aug. 25.
The Paul Kane High School athletic director placed eighth in his 40 to 44 age division at 9:49:19.
Meunier, 40, posted times of 1:03:58 in the swim (43rd in his division for 237th overall and 199th among males), 5:23:30 on the bike (25th in his division for 143rd overall and 138th among males) and 3:15:09 in the run (eighth in his division for 50th overall and 47th among males).
The last time Meunier raced at worlds was 2008 as the 10th fastest Canadian at 9:54:03 (53rd in his 35 to 39 age division for 253rd overall and 236th among males).
“I really want to go 9:45 or less. Adjusting to the heat will be a big factor. I also wasn’t happy with my 3:15 run in Canada so hopefully I can improve on that,” said the two-time winner of the St. Albert Marathon and this year’s runner-up, who has also qualified for the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Age Group Championships in Edmonton.