My 60th Ironman Finish Line: 2013 Ironman Brasil Race Report

by hillarybiscay

Last Sunday I had a very special ironman finish. For 9 hours and 29 minutes, I celebrated my 60th ironman birthday at a very special race: Ironman Brasil is a race that is very close to my heart. Before I raced my first Ironman Brasil in 2006, I had spent most of the previous few months training and racing in Brasil with Brett Sutton´s squad. I fell in love with Ironman Brasil just like I had with the country and its people. Not surprisingly, racing with joy and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears under the Sutto regime made for a good race that year: my third-place finish there was my was my second ironman podium ever.

Six years and 16 podiums later, I returned to my 7th Ironman Brasil for my 60th. I´d had good, bad, and ugly races here, which had yielded everything from second to sixth place. This year ended up falling into the “good race” category. Actually, it was the best race I had ever had on this course and probably one of my best ironmans, period. Ironically, this time, I finished eighth.

The field was the deepest we had seen in Floripa and the ladies brought their A games. I truly loved mixing it up with them and because they pushed me to one of my best-ever races at the ripe old age of 60; so I could not be unhappy with my lowest-ever finish position at Ironman Brasil. In fact, I left Floripa pretty darn happy.And because I just subjected you to an, “I went hard, I got tired, I ate a bunch of gels” race report a couple of weeks ago, I would rather talk about what this finish meant to me and the long road I traveled to get here.

The morning after I won Ironman Wisconsin in 2008, I received a congratulatory email from my coach Sutto telling me that it was time to retire–that this was the pinnacle of what I could accomplish in the sport and that the sport was going to run away from me.  He had given me the three years he had promised and we had accomplished far more than he had envisioned, but he was done with this project.

I was 30 and had no intention of retiring. I share this anecdote not to put the blame on someone else but rather to provide some context for my experiences in the years since then. To this day I am forever grateful to Brett Sutton for the opportunities with which he provided me. If not for him, I would not still be racing because I never would have gotten good enough to make this sport a career in the first place.

But after Kona in 2008, I had to figure out how to make my own way in this sport, and it was not an easy road. Especially after three years of more triathlon success than I ever could have imagined–success that was achieved by by 150% trust and following to the letter Sutto´s guidance–it was hard to suddenly have to “reject” that in favor of believing in myself.

Very hard. In fact, apparently, it took me four and a half years to do so completely. And this was why my 60th ironman ended up being so significant for me. I was able to complete a race that I had done seven times and do it five minutes faster than I ever had before (9:29). Also I was able to break 3:30 on this tough run course for the second time ever (with a bonus 1/3 mile this year too) after what were for me a very solid swim and bike. Overall times aren´t something that I pay much attention to in triathlon but I think that in this context it does tell me that I have taken a step forward after four years of trying to get back to something that I once was.

Over the past few years I have had some decent races and some terrible ones, but even on my best days since 2008, there wasn´t a race during which I did not waste at least some time contemplating whether I should still be racing. On bad days more time was spent with my old coach´s parting words in my ear than others, but this conversation happened at some point during every race.

Until this past month. Ironman Brasil not only marked a step forward for me personally, performance-wise, but it also was the second ironman in three weeks in which I had spent the entire day completely engaged in the task at hand and fully confident in my own abilities. Even when there were 7 or 8 girls ahead of me on the run in Floripa, I was racing my Garmin, knowing that my best race on this course was within reach.

It took a lot longer than I expected to get to this place; and there were times when I thought my best-case-scenario would be just to get back to my previous-best level of performance. But I think finally stacking enough sessions and days and weeks and months of training that I knew were far better than anything I used to do–it all just added up. I have to thank my Coach Siri for facilitating this program. I know that gals who are 60-ironmans-old are a unique breed and she has truly respected my experience and been open to my specific needs and input while also continuing to challenge me by adding new and interesting twists to my training. And most importantly, Siri has helped me get my head on straight, which really has been life-changing. I appreciate this so much.

I also owe a huge thank-you to my sponsors for enabling me to do what I love for a living: PowerBar, SMASH, TYR, RecoveryPump, Zipp, ISM, Brooks Airbush Studio, Rudy Project, and Vega.

Who says you can´t still get faster at 60!?!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather June 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

What a great post – truly an accomplishment! It really shows that when you believe in yourself and you work hard, there is a pay off! Congrats on your 60th!


Krysten June 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Well done, Hillary!!!


Jenny June 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm



Michelle Simmons June 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I love this! Awesome. Congrats!!


Damie June 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hillary! I Absolutely love this post, and thank you so much for sharing your deeper thoughts with us. Heck yes- you are definitely moving on and getting faster. So excited to see that!


Kevin Koresky June 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Hillary you always have the best Blog posts. Congrats on #60…


Dawn June 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm

In Awe! You are such an incredible athlete and I am so proud to call you Coach! Love that you not only set the example to continue reaching even when the “voices” would say otherwise, but that you continue to raise the bar for us as to what is actually possible! This sport is better because you are in it!


Amber Ferreira June 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Happy 60th=) Congrats!


Amy June 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm

That was a great report! So enjoyed reading it!!!! It was motivating and ispirational!!!!


Nathalie June 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Love, love this report. Congrats on your IM birthday once again!
This experience should be proof that when you let go of what doesn’t serve you, you are rewarded with what does. 🙂
Race on … and more importantly, race on Happy!


Kerri June 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

You have always been one of a kind lady and I for one have always believed in you!! Happy 60th and I’m looking forward to 75!! xoxo


April June 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Hillary! This blog post gave me very big chills! I have followed your blog for many years and your outlook on life and passion to suffer and complete have had a huge impact on my athletic journey as well as many others. I solely peeled off your wetsuit as a volunteer at Madison in 2008 when you won the race. I then finished my first ironman the following yearin Madison the following year. In 2011 when I raced CDA you responded to a comment of mine regarding whether or not to double up on the swim cap. (it was frigid!) It worked and I had my best Ironman time at CDA! I’ve since sold my tri bike and am giving mountain biking a serious shot at age 30, however I still follow your blog weekly because each time I read it it makes me excited to race. Race on chica…the impact you have is so much greater than you know! Congrats on turning 60!


Taryn Spates June 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Congratulations on #60, wow, and for sharing your journey with all of us. I remember following IM Wisconsin 2008 online all day, and after you won I was so excited to hear what would be next for you, and to think that race may have been it, is just ridiculous. For example, would Directors stop directing films after they won an Academy award? No, that is silly, just ask Steven Spielberg. True genius’s keep raising the bar because they have faith in their work, and we all know you put in the work. Thank you for being an ongoing inspiration to so many of us triathletes, and for being an incredible human being.


P.S. I can’t wait to re-unite your ’08 “Winning Wheels” with the hills of Wisconsin this September:)


Kendra June 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm

So stoked for you, Hillary. Happy 60th…and what a great one it was! –Kendra


Beth June 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I really appreciate this post and your honesty. It makes me really so happy for you and encouraged to read that even though it took some time, you’ve found a belief in yourself that lead to a new level of performance! Now your races are an open slate! Can’t wait to see what’s next for you! Congrats!!!


Kari June 3, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Was sooo excited to see your finish time. And so impressed by your revelatory race report. Ride the wave on back here – your Wisco family is revving up one helluva cheering section for 2013. Love ya!


marian June 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm

thank you for teaching us that most important is to believe in ourselves -no matter what other people say. you are a great inspiration.


coco June 3, 2013 at 6:02 pm

woo hoo! you have been an inspiration to me since we were 8 years old! xoxoxo


Kris June 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Awesome Hillary, just awesome. Thank you for sharing this, and congratulations on 60!!!


Kelly June 3, 2013 at 6:59 pm

you are AWESOME. love this! love you and your hard work, positive outlook and amazing talent!! can’t wait to see you in madison!


lucy francis June 4, 2013 at 12:38 am

Hillary that means I still have a further 53 Ironman races in which to get faster? 🙂 Phew!
Your report just goes to show that when you want something so much and when you believe in it with every fiber of your body & mind, things start to happen. Almost like making your own fate, and I think it can be applied in all areas in life, I once read that “the cosmos conspires to help you”.
I’m so pleased for your result in Brazil and no doubt there will be many more to come.:-)


Nancy June 4, 2013 at 5:41 am

So awesome Coachie!!!!! Happy 60th! Some great lessons here and total inspiration. Such a solid person and athlete. We are so lucky to have you!! Congrats!!


Michelle June 4, 2013 at 6:58 am

Great post Hillary!! You inspire so many, including me. Perseverance prevails! Thank you for sharing your story with us 🙂


Jaclyn June 4, 2013 at 7:11 am

Happy 60th to you Hillary! Truly inspiring and totally bad ass!


Krista June 4, 2013 at 9:16 am

this blog made me smile 🙂 awesome.


Malaika June 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Way to go Hillary! Nice to see you put together a good one on a special day. Congrats!


Tracy June 5, 2013 at 9:08 am

Congrats on your 60th Hillary! Great blog post! One of my favorites. You really are an inspiration to so many. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I am finally living in Tucson again! Yeah!!! I know why you love it here


Sally June 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Way to go, Hillary! Love following your journey through Taryn and your folks. Lots of us are super proud of you. Love, Sal


Victoria June 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Congrats on #60, and more importantly, on being such a strong, determined athlete. I was already in awe of your accomplishments, and reading through what you wrote makes it that much more impressive.


Dan Seluk June 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Congratulations. Awesome. What a journey!


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