BREAKING NEW GROUND
Many are calling 2017 a breakthrough year for Penticton pro Jen Annett. The outstanding results began with Ironman 70.3 Victoria, where she took second place overall thanks to the day’s fastest bike split and breaking 1:30 for the 21-km run. “Breaking 1:30 was a huge deal for me, and a sure sign of improvement,” says Annett. Ironman 70.3 Coeur d’alene followed three weeks later, where Annett took second again and duplicated her fastest bike split and sub1:30 performances. These results set her up for a fantastic 2017 race season. At Ironman Canada, her “A” race for 2017, she had a personal-best swim, finally breaking the one-hour mark. The day included yet another runner-up finish, but she “was still superhappy with the result,” she explains, “all three podium finishers broke the course record.” By the time September rolled around, however, her body was tired and the results showed.
An eighth-place finish in her hometown at the ITU Long Distance World Championship was followed by a disappointing race at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tenn. Showing signs of mid-season burn out, she took a short break and then got back to training. She committed to Ironman Arizona only a month before the scheduled race date.
“It was still a gamble going into the race, and race day would tell the truth about how my body was really feeling,” she says. “The reason I wanted to race there was to hopefully carry over my fitness from the year and get a solid head start on points for Kona.”
After a lacklustre swim, she rode a scintillating bike leg, breaking the bike course record with a 4:38 bike split.
“The bike has always been my strength, but I have worked hard at holding back enough to have a good run. My coach and I made a few minor adjustments to my aerodynamics and I know my biking was even stronger than the previous year. I had biked a 4:43 in 2016, so was confident I could shave off a couple minutes.”
She took a 2:30 lead into T2 and, even with some fast runners behind her, managed to hold on to third place. It wasn’t until later in the day that she discovered that she had broken the bike course record.
“I put everything I had into that race, so I was still happy with third among such a strong field,” she says. “The biggest thing I learned was how important aerodynamics really are. While I am a strong biker, the slight changes that we made, such as removing the bottle cage on my frame and putting a speedfill bottle between my bars, proved to have a big impact at the end of the day. Also, I know it sounds silly, but I cut the straw super short on my speedfill bottle, and by consciously trying to keep my chin touching it, forced my head to be down in the most aero position possible.”
Annett’s results in 2017 confirmed that she is continuing to steadily improve in all areas.
“I still have a lot of work to do,” she says, “but am finally getting up there with the girls I have looked up to for so long.”
As always, training and family is a difficult thing for her to balance, but she makes it all