This is third guest post written by Stef Hanson, the Chief of witsup.com. This is the third (and for now, last) in our series on female Kona contenders on each other’s sites. (If you want my more “numbers-oriented posts”, head over to witsup.com!) Thanks, again Stef, and enjoy your time on the island!
The last time we saw Rachel ‘Joycey’ Joyce, hit the Ironman course was at Ironman Texas in May where she destroyed the field, along with some of the men’s field as well. It was her third sub-nine hour performance (after Ironman Melbourne and Challenge Roth in 2012) and she lead from start to finish. However, despite this outstanding performance in May, Joyce has been quiet on the racing scene this year due to illness and injuries.
“It’s been a frustrating year. At the end of last year I suffered almost getting tonsillitis every two months and I went into a lot of races with minimal training,” Joyce explained. “It was almost like a rush to get fit enough to be able to do the race. “ With possibly the most frustrating being when she was sick in the week leading into the Ironman World Championships, where she ended up 11th despite feeling less than ordinary.
“I got some good results, but I kind of surprised myself with what I could do with so much interrupted training,” she continued. “Then after Kona last year I got my tonsils out and so I went into 2013 thinking, I’m going to be really healthy now, I’m going to be able to race lots, you know, and then it was frustrating because I would get little niggles that would come at the wrong time and I’ve not been able to get out there and race! Racing is the fun bit of it all!”
However, come Ironman Texas time, all the hard work in training paid off with a strong race, showcasing her strength across all three disciplines and a 4:42:29 bike split that fell within 4.6% of the winning men’s time. However, she turned her ankle in the dying stages of the run in Texas. Although it hurt at the time, when the adrenalin is pumping, it sometimes doesn’t seem too bad. “I didn’t really think too much about it after the race. I put some ice on it, but that was about it, and I usually have a week off running after an Ironman anyway, so I didn’t think much more about it until I went running that week later and ended up only running for 10mins and the foot really hurt.” After a while Joyce got it checked out and it turned out she had a slight tear in her tendon, so it meant three weeks off running, and not really being able to get to a start line. The only race she was going to have a hit out at was an Olympic distance event in Boulder, but with all of the floods, the swim was cancelled, so racing seemed pointless. So the decision was made to turn her focus on getting ready for Kona, and not racing as much as she would normally like.
So back to the Kona mission – Joyce finished sixth (2009), fifth (2010) and fourth (2011), and each year her time improved also, plus her 11th last year when she was sick. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to recognise what direction she is heading towards. Her best effort yet is her 9:06:57, 2011 performance, and we’re convinced that if she is in the shape that she was at Ironman Texas in May, she will no doubt be a real contender.
“I’d say that I’m actually in slightly better shape than what I was before Texas. The irony is that I had other issues going into Texas, haha! Not long before the event, I had just been for a swim and I had a few words with Dave (Dave Scott, Joyce’s coach) and he said ‘oh Rachel, a couple of weeks ago I thought you were a sinking ship, but you managed to right yourself’, haha!” Joyce explained. “But, leading into Kona, yeah I’ve had a few issues, but it’s been a much more consistent build.”
Joyce joined up with Dave Scott early this year after being with her previous coach, Matt Dixon of Purple Patch for three years, and if anyone knows the big island, it’s this man. We’d tell you more about him, but, best you google the great man as this is a site dedicated to women in triathlon, and besides, we can’t fit in his resume in this article. So we expect that Joyce will be raring to go for many reasons – redemption from her shot at the World Champs last year, her frothiness to toe a start line, and one of the masters of the island in her ear. These of course combined with her solid work ethic could be a lethal combination for her fellow competitors.
(Photo Credit: Jay Prasuhn)