Lawrence kicked off the new year right where she left things at the end of 2018 – with victory!
After battling an injury for most of the 2018 season, Lawrence won her comeback race last December, and now in her first race of 2019, she has added 70.3 Dubai to her win list.
Lawrence’s strong swim was capped by an even faster bike leg, and she was up nearly six minutes heading into the run. With last year’s winner Anne Haug (GER) – a strong runner – chasing, Holly needed the extensive margin.
Right from the start, I made an effort to gap the field and swim off the front getting into T1 with a gap to start the bike. Dubai’s course is a flat straight out and back course with a headwind on the way out. The whole way I had no idea of time gaps to Anne (Haug) behind me - she was who I felt would be my competition. I got a time split of one minute just before the turnaround from a motorbike, so I thought she must’ve been keeping pace with me, which wasn’t ideal, but I just carried on and stuck with my plan.
Once I hit the turn-around, I clocked the gap at around three minutes - so the motorbike was way off. Riding back into town I knew I had to maximize every single meter I could put between me and Anne knowing how fast she runs - usually, she out runs a lot of the men!
The deficit was too much for Haug, and Lawrence crossed the line 1 minute and 38 seconds ahead, with Sarah Lewis (GBR) finishing a distant third, over nine minutes later.
Hitting the run, I stayed calm and pressed on, with my coach’s words in my head to 'stay strong.' She did eat time into me, but I won with a margin of 1min38 with a career-best half marathon off the back of the bike. I ran even splits the whole way, saving a little extra in the tank in case it came to a fight in the closing kilometers.
The tactics paid off for Lawrence, who used her strength on the bike to build up a lead that Haug, a much stronger runner, couldn’t overcome.
For Lawrence, who has won both races – 70.3 Bahrain and 70.3 Dubai – she has entered since her return to competition, it has been sweet redemption after her struggles dealing with a lengthy recovery.
It just feels so good to be back racing after the year I had last year on the sidelines with injury! I’m happy with where my fitness is right now being so early in the season, but I have a long way to go until I’m where I want to be come September - and that gets me fired up!