Angela Naeth-Duncan had one unanswered question while struggling through her run at the Melbourne Ironman Asia-Pacific triathlon.
How do you feed your racing body with enough the fuel to survive a 9 1/2-hour torture test and not upset your digestive system?
Her stomach was leading an internal protest halfway through her 42.2-kilometre run, which was not in the race plan for the 32-year-old pro triathlete from Prince George. Not after she'd worked so hard to move up to second place while battling ocean waves and human turbulence in the Australian waters for 3.86 km, then fighting through headwinds riding alone for most of the 180 km bike ride. Naeth-Duncan still managed to finish sixth overall in the women's standings in only her second Ironman-distance triathlon in 9:21:11.
"It didn't go quite as planned but it was definitely an adventure," said Naeth-Duncan. "I had a great swim and great bike but had some nutrition issues on the run and I'm still figuring that stuff out.
"You have to really embrace the hurt and just have faith in yourself you'll get to the end."
Naeth-Duncan has plenty of time to work out the bugs in her race strategy before she tackles the grandaddy of all triathlons -- the Ironman world championship Oct. 11 in Kona, Hawaii. The daughter of Don and Kim Naeth was 10 years old and living in Prince George when she saw Ironman Hawaii race on TV, her introduction to triathlon. It's been her dream to compete at that level ever since.
"I've been there twice and watched the race and I'm ready to put myself in there and see how it goes," said Naeth-Duncan. "It's basically the Olympics of the long-distance sports. If I could get a top-five there that would be awesome, but I don't like to set a limit. I'll go for broke when I'm out there."
For the next couple months, Naeth-Duncan will be sticking close to her home in Las Vegas getting ready for her next Ironman 70.3 race May 3 in nearby St. George, Utah. The 70.3 series is named for its total distance in miles covered in each race, which includes a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim, a 56-mile (90 km) bike ride, and a 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run. She plans to enter seven other events this year, mostly on the 70.3 circuit. The 70.3 series world championship Sept. 7 in Mont-Tremblant, Que., will be her final race tuneup before she heads to Hawaii.
Naeth-Duncan won four of her seven triathlons last year. Her podium consistency the past four years has earned her sponsorship deals with Specialized, Pearl Izumi, Shimano and a yet-to-be-announced sponsor. Her second win in Panama resulted in a $15,000 payday, but she's not getting rich yet, not with a yearly travel/training schedule that costs her an average of $80,000.
Last September, right after finishing fifth in Lake Tahoe in her first Ironman race, Naeth married Paul Duncan of Las Vegas, an amateur triathlete who hopes to join the pro circuit this spring. Their three-week honeymoon in Hawaii in January served as a tropical -weather training camp and that paid off on Feb. 16 when she won the Panama Ironman 70.3 championship, becoming the first repeat champion of the event she first won in 2012.
Naeth-Duncan's coach is Mark Allen, a six-time Ironman world champion and she'll be working with him throughout the summer while based in the high-altitude environment of Boulder, Colo.
"This is my third year with Mark and it's just been awesome, he really knows what he's doing," said Naeth-Duncan. "Overall I've matured as a person and I'm more confident in myself."