Challenge Knoxville Champion Lesley Smith – The Replay

After a slow start to the 2015 season, the win at Challenge Knoxville and podium finish at Boulder 70.3 were most definitely needed for that kick in the butt to keep on keepin’ on with triathlon.

My how time flies. To say I am a bit behind on the blogging / race recaps is an understatement. Though, let’s spin this in a positive way: if you reflect on an experience significantly after the fact, the key tidbits from said experience will stand out in your mind.

So that being said, here is a recap of that Knoxville race in May + some insights from the experience:

After crashing at the New Orleans 70.3 in April I needed to get another one on the books to stay motivated. When I did the final click to buy the overly priced plane ticket to Knoxville + bike fee, I was left with that feeling of pit-in-the-stomach anxiousness that accompanies ‘investing’ money in such an uncertain pursuit. I reminded myself that this is what I signed up for and it’s part of the game. It does not always feel the most practical, but it is what I want to be doing.

This race ended up being way up there on the ‘best I have ever felt’ list thus far – across the board. The 28min./3ish min back, non-wetsuit swim in the Blue Seventy swimskin felt smooth from the gun. Many times I blow up and slightly hyperventilate the first 200 meters, but this time I barely felt out of breath.

The 56 mi. ride on the Argon was the most mentally challenging part of the race. It was raining off and on and my skills on a hilly / technical course are sub par at best. I spent most of the ride totally alone, and just tried to focus on the fact that the legs were recovering quickly after the hills. My average watts were not out of this world, but similar to the swim, the effort did not seem to take as much out of me as I would have expected.


By the time we hit the run the air had gotten toasty and humid – typically conditions in which I excel if I race smart. Everything seemed to come together throughout this half marathon. I attribute the win not only to be ‘in shape,’ but also to keeping a calm focus. Instead of stressing out about where I was in the field and pondering all of the possible outcomes, I told myself my only goal was steady, smart pacing, sticking to my INFINIT nutrition plan, and picking it up the last 5k … be what may.

The main takeaway from this race that I would like to share: calming the mind can often be more potent than gritting the teeth and trying to force something too hard, too soon. The more you can eliminate anxious thoughts during a race, the more your mind is free to feel out your body’s capabilities in the moment.

I do not claim this to be true science, so as always, just my 2 cents.



Lesley Smith is races for INFINIT Sponsored Team, Maverick Multisport. She was born in Iowa City, IA, where she grew up trying a handful of sports, primarily competitive soccer. In high school she found success in cross country & track, which led to attending the University of Missouri. She competed on the track and cross country team for two years while earning a Bachelor of Journalism. After working in the event management industry based in Austin, TX for a few years, she joined a triathlon group and has been involved with the sport ever since.  She currently resides in Boulder, CO where she works for a local non-profit and is more focused on triathlon than ever. 

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