Race Recap: Ironman Austin 70.3

Austin got added to my schedule late in the game; actually, after I thought my season was already over to be precise. After Whistler I felt strong physically and wasn’t satisfied ending the season on a mediocre (at best) note. I thought about IM Cozumel (THANK GOD I DIDN’T DECIDE TO DO ANOTHER FULL IM) for a few moments, but worried about having another sub par race and decided the cost – both financial and potentially emotional and physical – wasn’t worth it.

Austin was a great compromise for me. I got to extend the season by a couple of months to take advantage of the end of the mild sunny NW season, travel with some great training buddies, see a new place (Austin!), and fingers crossed close the season out feeling positive and ready for rest.

Our pre-race trip was a blast. We drove the course, checked out the lake, SBR-ed a little, laughed a LOT, and generally kept things low-key. Our rental property had tons of chickens and ducks (for eggs), and produce grows there year round to provide for 20 families that are part of the co-op. We took full advantage of the eggs and produce and had a legendary and awesome pre-race meal chef-ed up by G. And then it was race day.

(race recap vid by G – way better than photos!)

Pre-Race

I woke up 10 minutes before my alarm was set to go off race morning to a HUGE clap of thunder and lightning and sheets of water falling from the sky. Really? Ugh. I reminded myself if anyone could combat water falling from the sky it was us NW ladies and I simply ignored the fact that this day could get ugly.

Our chauffeurs (our men) drove us to the finish line, where we had to catch a shuttle to the swim/T1. Thanks (but not!) to the weather, traffic was backed up for miles, and though we’d left 3 hours to take a 35-minute drive (including the shuttle) and set up transition we only ended up with a few spare minutes to get our tires pumped and evacuate T1.

Swim // 34:47 // 1:48/100 m

I was really nervous about this swim. I always am nervous about every swim. But because of cooler temps and dwindling morning light I hadn’t gotten a solid distance OWS in over 3 weeks.

All that for nothing though, because it was pretty decent. I started out less aggressively than I probably should have, but was only 2 rows back and 5 swimmers right of the main line. The first 400 went from calm (such polite swimmers in Texas!) to a shit show, to calm again, and then I knew I’d be fine. All was smooth and well until the last stretch back in to shore, at which point our very late starting wave (3rd to last or so?) started hitting all of the floaters from earlier waves. Floaters being the people from earlier waves who were stopped to take a break, tread water, and hang on to kayaks. It got rough on the way back trying to manage them, the super speedy swimmers who were passing from the wave after us, and increasingly choppy water.

I continued to work hard and swim up to where my hand touched the ground. As I exited the lake I had no clue what my swim time was and just ran up the chute to the strippers and on to T1. In retrospect:

-I liked the swim course. The buoys were really easy to spot.  The triangle was pretty even and no turns were overly sharp. The water was murky but didn’t feel dirty or dark.

-I should have gone out harder from the start. I never got that OH SHIT I CANT BREATHE panic feeling which means I didn’t swim hard enough. But, I did enjoy having a smooth swim and not having the though of quitting cross my mind. (Yes, during every single swim I think about quitting at least once.) It felt good to be strong for the whole swim and to never fade.

-I know someone has to go last (or near it) but I’ve never encountered so many floundering swimmers. Not even in Boise! It was frustrating knowing that I could have gone faster without having quite a few small delays in getting around people.

T1 // 2:59

The transition area was much larger than I’d anticipated but luckily I knew where my bike was. Unluckily the recent rains had caused Goat Heads to grow everywhere. For those unfamiliar, these prickly bristly little vines are so sharp they rip tires and flat tubes so we were advised to carry out bikes the entire way out of transition. (Yeah yeah, if only I raced Cyclocross I’d be proficient at that).

My transition itself – meaning wetsuit off, run to bike, bike stuff on, wetsuit in bag – was very efficient, but I lost some time trying to carry my bike for sure. And I felt like an idiot. When I got to the mount line I realized I had a Goat Head in my shoe. I ripped my shoe off to get it out and hoped that was the only one.

Bike // 2:43:15 // 20.58 mph

At mile 2 I pulled up on my pedal to climb a tiny incline and my foot went FLYING. My stomach dropped as I thought I was going down, but I regained my balance and pulled over to a dead stop. Mud from the heavy morning rain was stuck in my cleats from running through T1. I did my best to dig it out with my fingernails and though frustrated I felt grateful that I hadn’t flatted like SO SO SO many people I’d already passed. A significant portion of athletes didn’t even make it to mile 2 without flatting from the Goat Heads.

The next 45?ish miles of the bike were frustrating. The pro: I felt like a pro! I was passing EVERYONE (which is what happens when hardly anyone starts later than you, regardless of how fast you actually are). The con: There were people all over the road and in some spots it was really tough to get around them. Like areas that weren’t closed to vehicle traffic or where pavement was poor (which was most of the course).

That said I enjoyed the bike more than I thought I would. The course wasn’t Texas-pretty like I’d expected, and wasn’t as flat as I had in mind either, but it was a new experience to ride hard for the whole leg, knowing that there weren’t climbs to save up for. I have never hit a goal HR for a 70.3 (always a bit low) but in Austin I exceeded it by a few bpm’s and felt strong. I KNEW I wouldn’t blow up.

T2 // 2:58

I was pretty excited to be off the bike by the end and climbed into T2 ready to run. I got a little bit disoriented finding my rack, which is no one’s fault but my own. I had practiced identifying the spot but I guess in the moment I just forgot. I probably lost 30 seconds or so; after making one mistake I slowed down a little to make sure I didn’t make another.

Run // 1:43:14 // 7:54 min/mi

The run was a 3-loop course that in a sick way I sort of looked forward to. A bit boring? Yes. But who is looking at scenery during a 70.3 run? If you are HTFU. A 3-loop course made it easy to break down: Loop 1 – adjust, Loop 2 – hold steady, Loop 3 – push to the end.

As always, the run is a bit of a blur to me. It was great to see my teammates and friends out on the course and I cheered loud every time I saw them. I felt tired the whole time, but solid. The run was quite hilly with hardly a flat section, some trail, and some mud, all quite evident from my huge range in splits from mile to mile. I know I didn’t take in nearly enough calories on the run, which perhaps contributed to my fog.  But my body felt on the borderline of rejection so I stuck to coke and other liquids at every aid station and that got me through.

I’m proud of my run not only because I PR’d it on a not easy course, but because I pushed so hard all day leading up and still stayed strong. There was a walk-worthy hill out there (that we hit 3 times, obvs) but I didn’t… I ran. I told myself all morning that THIS.WAS.IT. and that I should be grateful for being out there. And I gave it my all and really did feel grateful all day long, for a good race, a supportive husband, good friends, and a fun trip.

Overall 5:07:10 // 15th AG

In the end I PR’d by 8:45, after already knocking nearly 9 minutes off my PR on the distance earlier in July. I am thrilled. This was such a better end to the season than fading off post-Whistler and starting a 4-month off-season feeling less than stellar.

Would I recommend Austin 70.3 to others? Yes. I’ve heard mixed reviews from others, but I really enjoyed the race and the course. The more I race this distance the more I realize there is no perfect race; every course leaves more to be desired, the weather is always a factor, and you never know when your wave will start. Austin was a much flatter bike than you’d get anywhere around the NW, but I was pleasantly surprised by the rollers to keep things interesting. The run was tough – but aren’t they all?

Now… To the off-season! (Which I’m already winning at, by the way.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Ironman, Photo & Video Posts, Race Recap

Full Recap: Ironman Canada Whistler 2013

By popular demand – or, actually, just for ease of reading and research – here are all of my Ironman Canada Whistler race recap posts.

They’re written in pretty long-form, mostly because I thought that with it being a first year course there might be athletes searching the web for information about the course and event. That said, what’s written below is just my own personal opinion and experience. I’m confident that others have their own opinions and experiences to share as well.

Whistler_Ironman_Canada

Overall, as an event Ironman Whistler, couldn’t have put on a better show. The event was extremely well-organized and despite some last-minute changes things went off without a hiccup or hitch on race day. Volunteers were as well-informed as at any race I’ve been to, and the community was friendly and welcoming to athletes and their entourage. The course was truly hard, but was also truly beautiful. And who wants to do an easy Ironman, anyway?

So here is my experience and opinion about Ironman Canada Whistler 2013.

Race Recap: Ironman Canada Pre-Race Prep

The week leading up to the race was once again great! Whistler was a beautiful place to spend a few days relaxing before Ironman began.

 

Race Recap: Ironman Canada Swim and T1

The swim site was beautiful, the lake was perfect and clear and calm, and my favorite race-day surprise: a deep water swim start.

 

Race Recap: Ironman Canada Bike and T2

The bike was tough and where my challenges began, with a bloody nose, a penalty, and a flat.

 

Race Recap: Ironman Canada Run and Post-Race

How my bloody nose continued, but I stopped feeling sorry for myself and tried to turn thing around so I could feel proud of my second Ironman finish.

Leave a comment

Filed under Training

Tucker

Meet my newest training buddy.

Tucker!

image

He’s a baby, just 6 months, so he won’t be ready to run distance for a bit. But I’m pretty sure he’s gonna be a runner!

1 Comment

Filed under Photo & Video Posts

End of Season Surprise

After Ironman Canada I decided that I wasn’t really done. I obviously wasn’t super stoked to end the season on that race, but because I didn’t give it my physical all I also didn’t feel run down and exhausted. So I waited 2 weeks to make sure I wasn’t still high on endorphins and low on common sense, and then I decided to sign up for Austin 70.3.

Swim start at Austin 70.3. Photo from ironman.com.

Swim start at Austin 70.3. Photo from ironman.com.

Before I registered I also toyed with the idea of another full Ironman this year, but with limited (and very expensive) options I decided it wasn’t worth it. The cost in terms of money, time, sanity, and normal life, was too high to feel good about the commitment unless I achieved the result I wanted, that being a stellar race. But a stellar race takes more than stellar training, and as learned in Whistler those extra factors that make your day stellar aren’t always things anyone can control.

Austin is a good compromise though. It’s keeping me goal focused through this first stretch of fall, but I’ll still have 2 months for a real off-season before training ramps up again in January. I get to keep training and make some more gains, but without putting my body through another Ironman and risking injury. I get to spend my favorite season outside, but with 3 hour rides rather than 7 hour rides I have more time for my family and friends.

As summer has abruptly turned into fall – I swear our house went from 80 degrees to 57 degrees overnight – it’s been a little tough for me to stay as excited for this race as I was a month ago though. 100% of the time that I’m swimming, biking, or running, I’m thrilled to be doing it, but it’s been more challenging to get out of bed for an early morning bike or up from my desk for a lunchtime run. It’s getting darker and colder and my body knows I’m almost done.

Just one month left and then I really will be done for the year.

austin703

One month until Austin!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Training

Race Recap: Ironman Canada – The Run & Post-Race

THE RUN – 4:16:33 // 9:47min/mi average

As I ran out of T2 I saw my friends and family again, and all I could think about was whether they knew I’d had struggles on the bike. I mean, I don’t know how they would know because I certainly didn’t take time to stop and tell them! But I’d told them that I expected to come in under 6 hours with 100% certainty, and I didn’t. I worried about them worrying about me.

Running out of transition

Running out of transition

The run course is a double loop with an extra tail at the end. The loop being about 12.5 miles (each time). The first 4ish miles are on packed gravel trail has a few long gradual climbs and a few short steeper ones. It’s not extremely technical, but it does wind back and forth and up and down with more intensity than a wide and paved road would.

The gravel trail ends near Green Lake where you run along the boardwalk and then onto a paved trail for a mile or so. Next is long out and back along the highway (which was still closed to traffic) for a couple of miles. The road is slightly off camber and there are a couple long rolling ups and downs, but the view of Green Lake is worth it! After running back there’s more paved trail that winds through the trees (shade!), alongside the stream, beside a few housing developments, and right past the finish line for round 2.

Ironman Canada Whistler Run Course

The run is kind of a blur to me – all I know is that I let myself off the hook very early, and I regret it very much. I don’t think I made it 2 miles before I convinced myself that my stomach hurt and stopped for my FIRST EVER mid-race porta potty trip. The real problem was that I felt sorry for myself, so rather than try to run through it I let myself off the hook.

Shortly after this photo I turned down a high 5 from a friend "because my hands are bloody". Wonder what spectators thought about me shouting that mid-race!

Shortly after this photo I turned down a high 5 from a friend “because my hands are bloody”. Wonder what spectators thought about me shouting that mid-race!

For the entire first loop I took periodic walk breaks – they may have started as “walking through the aid station” but each one lasted longer and longer and longer. I tried to stop a couple of times to get paper towel for my nose, which was still bleeding, but some of the aid stations wanted me to stop and sit down. If they weren’t willing to give me a paper towel for the road I was off!

I hated everything. I felt disappointed in my day and angry at myself for having given in, but I couldn’t muster a real rally. I didn’t see any point in trying to kill myself now to post a time I wouldn’t be thrilled about anyway (#badchoices).

Ironman Canada Run

A brief moment when I was actually running with enough speed to have both feet off the ground

I started thinking about how much fun I usually have doing this sport; even when I hate it I’m having the time of my life! But in these moments I wasn’t. So I decided if I couldn’t have the race I had trained for and wanted, it was okay to make it more fun. I committed to getting to where I knew I’d see my friends, family, and coach next, but at that point if I still hated everything I would allow myself to stop and tell them and figure out how to proceed.

The funny thing is, as soon as I saw them I didn’t hate anything anymore (other than my bloody nose and tired legs). I waved and ran by and that was the end of feeling sorry for myself.

Soon to be starting loop 2, head down, tissue in hand!

Soon to be starting loop 2, head down, tissue in hand!

The second loop wasn’t much better pace-wise, but I could finally smile about being out there. I became grateful to be there again, and it didn’t hurt that I picked off a couple of girls in my AG in the final 6 miles.

2 seconds off from last year's time. Unbelievable!

2 seconds off from last year’s time. Unbelievable!

I ran down the finish chute and laughed out loud as I saw the clock ticking. I could speed up and beat my time from last year – or I could have an epic story about finishing 2 separate and completely different Ironmans with the exact same number on the clock. Shockingly I did have some (small amount of) pride left so I kicked for the last bit and came in at 11:35:55, 2 seconds faster than last year. But this year I did hear the announcer proclaim me an Ironman.

OVERALL – 11:35:55 // 11th AG

Obligatory step and repeat photos

Obligatory step and repeat photos

Post Race

The hours and days after the race were good. After I got out of medical for my bloody nose my people retrieved my stuff while I limped to the shower. We had good food and good wine that night, and celebrated the day, the year, and being together. I got to enjoy Whistler without worry or guilt, including champagne, oysters, and an amazing dinner that completely took my mind off of Ironman.

Amazing view from Peak 2 Peak

Amazing view from Peak 2 Peak

And since then, in recounting my race to others and putting on a smile for their sake, I’ve convinced myself that I’m okay with the day. Truly, I’m content with it.

You see, there’s really no other option. IYes, I’m disappointed, but the only thing I did wrong was have a bad attitude, and I’ve forgiven myself for that. Life’s too short.

Next time (or the next 100 times) I want to give up or give in Ironman #2 will come flooding back to me, and then I’ll keep going.

Yep. Whistler Re-do 2014!

Yep. Whistler Re-do 2014!

2 Comments

Filed under Ironman, Race Recap, Racing, Run

Race Recap: Ironman Canada – The Bike & T2

THE BIKE – 6:02:39 // 18.53mph average speed

As I made my way down the first stretch of road I tried very hard to ride conservatively. Riders were gunning it out there! But having ridden the course before I held back, wanting to stay smart.

Ironman Canada Bike

Bike time!

The bike course is extremely challenging, with about 6600 feet of climb overall. There was much debate in the months leading up to the race as IMC had posted a number in the 4k’s, but as it turns out they used a method of measurement that didn’t account for the rollers which make up a significant portion of the course. However, even with the rolling hills the vast majority of the climbing took place mile 14-22 and mile 96-112.

The course can be broken down into segments pretty easily:

  • T1 to Callaghan Valley Rd.- Mostly rolling with a couple significant ups but more significant downs (approx 14 miles)
  • Callaghan Climb + Descent – Straight up with hardly a break for 8 miles, then straight back down (approx 16 miles)
  • Climb back to Whistler – Mostly rolling but more of a climb (approx 10 miles)
  • Descent to Pemberton - Screaming downhill with a handful of short climbs and rollers (approx 20 miles)
  • Pemberton Flats (out & back) - Pancake flat farm road with some sketchy pavement (approx 30 miles)
  • Climb back to Whistler/T2 - Up, up, up with hardly any flats or downhills to spin (approx 20 miles)

Ironman Canada Whistler Bike Course

So, I’ll do mini recaps to follow that format.

The luckiest part of the entire day was the weather for the bike. Not only was it sunny and mild, but the wind stayed at bay which isn’t usually the case through the mountain pass and farm valley.

The bike was fun, when I wasn't bleeding, flatting, or serving my penalty.

The bike was fun, when I wasn’t bleeding, flatting, or serving my penalty.

T1 to Callaghan Valley Rd. - The entire time I was worried that I was working too hard. My heart rate was on the high side but not insanely so, and by the time we’d gotten to Whistler Village I felt more steady so I kept with that level of effort. The road was extremely crowded and there was lots of passing and leapfrogging with riders around me. I saw quite a few people pass on the right or hanging out on the left for extended periods of time but rather than get irritated I rode on focused on how the hills ahead would spread the field out and did what I could to ride legal. I had my first family sighting and it was great to hear their yells as I whizzed by.

Callaghan Climb + Descent – The climb up was just as tough as I remembered. I had hoped that it would feel more like the second day of camp (a slower but steadier spin) but instead I felt like I was fighting the road the whole stretch. I was still within a comfortable zone, but I felt like I was working too hard to be getting passed left and right by EVERYONE, men and women alike. It was amazing and inspiring to see people powering up with seemingly no effort, but it made me feel weak to get completely crushed so early on. I (sort of but not really) wish there had been a timing mat at the bottom and top to see how many people passed me. When we hit the turnaround at the top I was relieved to be done and check the tough part of this portion off, but I was also somewhat worried about how I’d fare for the remainder of the day with my spirits already a little low.

Climb back to Whistler - The climb back to Whistler felt strong, and was probably my best portion of the bike. I rode strong but smart, got good nutrition in, and made up some ground that I felt had been lost. This section wasn’t easy, but I was pretty familiar with how to push it to make the best of both the ups and downs. And the second family sighting was great too! At this point I felt like I’d regained some momentum, though my heart rate was still high for my perceived effort.

Descent to Pemberton – This portion was fast fast fast, just like I knew it would be. I spun out my gearing quite a few times and simply had to coast until my momentum lessened. The view was beautiful, and it felt like a perfect day to be on the bike. Some of the stretches were congested but other times I truly couldn’t see another rider on the road. This race was the first time that British Columbia has closed a highway for an event, and it was amazing to ride this section without fear of traffic, or the noise.

Pemberton Flats – I hit up special needs, switched out my bottles with the quickness, and pushed hard to get away from aid station chaos. After a couple turns I hit the flat country road slog. I felt strong, but the road was packed full with bikes. For the first while there were only riders heading out, but after some time the pro’s and elite ag-ers started heading back to Whistler and passed the opposite way. And as more people passed by the more packs I saw on both sides of the road.

I caught up to a group riding tight, and as I got closer it was more and more evident that they were purposefully riding that way, and even taking turns pulling. I passed, but a few minutes later a rider passed back, then another, then another, then another, and before I knew it I was dropping back for, no joke, 20 riders. I re-passed when I could, but the same thing happened again. And then again, with a different leader. It may be hard to ride legal on packed flat roads, but it’s not hard to not cheat!

It was challenging to get away from the group and so when we hit the turnaround I put my head down and hammered. I felt like I had made some ground but quickly realized my nose was bleeding heavily. I wiped it onto my forearm and kept working. At this point a couple of men passed and warned that the pack had chosen my wheel to suck. Crap, I thought I’d lost them!

I couldn’t work any harder without feeling worried about the climb to come so I kept my head down and kept spinning and kept sniffling my bloody nose and spitting. As we neared the town of Pemberton again I glanced left and riders had started to pass en mass, it felt like I was getting swallowed by a swarm of bees. It happened so fast that my only option was to sit up and brake and as soon as I did I saw: an official. My stomach dropped – I’d just given these guys a free ride for the entire way back, but all the officials saw was me braking. The motorcycle pulled a u-turn, rode up alongside me, and shoved a red card in my face. I was beyond angry but I made eye contact to acknowledge my suggested infraction. I rode away, and fast, full of rage. A few of my friends who’d warned me about the pack were just up the road, and when I caught up I told them what had happened they were just as angry as I was.

Bike2

Pre-penalty tent, post flat, mid-bleeding.

Climb back to Whistler/T2 – All too soon we had started the climb back to Whistler, and as soon as I started climbing my bloody nose got worse. I stayed conservative up the first mile climb trying to think about what to do. I felt considerably more tired than I wanted too, but my heart rate finally seemed under control. Was I tired because I was upset? Or was I tired because I was worried? Or was I tired because I was tired? After the first climb there was a fast decent to a short flat…which is where I flatted.

Luckily it was my front wheel, and luckily I’d had plenty of practice changing flats this summer. However with a bleeding nose and a penalty I hadn’t served yet it was tough to keep a good attitude through yet another thing. I didn’t want to give up, but I also didn’t want this day!

I got the flat fixed quickly and hopped back on my bike and spun up the rest of the hills. I felt like I got passed 100x and probably did, but I didn’t feel able to fight back and I still don’t really know whether than was a physical fitness issue or my bad attitude.

With a mile or so to go I found the penalty tent, dismounted, and served my 4 minutes. I watched rider after rider fly by and felt like my day was slipping away but I tried to stay positive. Another athlete rode in at my 1 minute mark and asked the volunteer for a tissue or towel; he must not have known they aren’t supposed to give you anything. I guess the volunteer didn’t know either because she handed him a tissue, he took it and looked at me, and handed it over. He must have noticed the blood all over my face! Lovely.

Take my freakin' bike already!

Take my freakin’ bike already!

T2 – 2:38

T2 was quick and easy. Throw the bike at whoever looks most capable of catching it. Grab your run bag, run into the tent. My volunteer wanted very much to be helpful but I’m so minimalist there wasn’t much for her to do. She straightened my race belt so I’d get it right side up, handed me socks, and did a good job cleaning up after me because all of my items – even the ones I didn’t use – were properly packed up when I got my bag back later that day. The jog out of transition was long, but on to the run!

1 Comment

Filed under Bike, Ironman, Race Recap, Racing

Race Recap: Ironman Canada – Swim and T1

THE SWIM – 1:10:55 // 1:40/100 yards

Suiting up!

Suiting up!

Making my way down to the water I wasn’t as nervous as I sometimes am for the swim portion of the day. Things that I think helped contribute to that: I had a solid plan, I had quite a few solid swims in Alta Lake prior to race day, and 2 days before the race I found out that the start was deep and in water. One of my biggest fears had been a shallow water start and having to navigate the first 90 degree turn only a couple hundred yards from shore, so learning that we wouldn’t have to turn for nearly 1/2 mi made me feel much better.

G's IMC Mugshot of the day - Alta Lake

G’s IMC Mugshot of the day – Alta Lake

So, as I mentioned, the swim was a deep water start with the start line running about 200 yards, from the first buoy all the way to shore. It was angled a bit as well, so that no matter where on that line you positioned yourself it would be the same distance to the first orange (turn) buoy. The course was 2-loop, but what made it different from a lot of other 2-loop swims is that swimmers stayed in the water for both loops and only made their way back to shore to finish the leg. Usually 2-loop IM swims have a mid-way check point on the beach where swimmers have to exit, run across a timing mat, then enter the water again for the second lap.

Ironman Canada Whislter Swim

I walked through T1 and was sure to cross the timing mat to turn my chip on. On the beach there were hundreds of athletes milling about nervously, but I got straight into the water. The more time I could just float around and acclimate the better, especially knowing that the water was the perfect temperature and there was no risk of getting cold. I got in a solid warm up with a few short hard strokes and treaded water while Oh Canada played, the pros went off, and AGers started getting into the water. I was surprised how many hung back and stayed on the beach, it was almost like athletes weren’t sure how the start was supposed to work.

Athletes getting ready

Athletes getting ready

My plan was to start a bit off of the buoy line to try to avoid the chaos but also to not get in faster swimmers’ way. Randomly I saw 2 of my teammates that I hadn’t yet spotted that day floating within 10 feet of me. We laughed and joked about how skilled we were at following our race plans; since we all have the same coach we figured she had given us similar instructions on where to start. It was great to have some familiar faces nearby though, and since both teammates are stronger swimmers than I am I felt safe positioning myself right behind them and knowing that I’d have space.

ironmancanadaswimstart

3…2…1… Go Time

The first loop of the swim wasn’t too eventful. It felt very crowded, but there were only a couple of times that I felt held up by the traffic around me. Generally I was able to work hard and keep pushing my effort and pace. The turns were pretty rough and congested, but for how many people were within arms reach (A WHOLE LOT) I feel like the experience was pretty calm.

The second loop of the swim got a little more dicey. Swimmers were much more spread out by that point so there weren’t so many people to be conscious of, but it felt like swimmers began to flail a lot more. The water got more rough and even though there was plenty of open water I got hit quite a few times trying to pass groups or when people wanted to fight over the feet I had found to draft off of. I wonder if the same thing happens in a 2-loop swim when a beach exit midway is required.

The 2nd to last stretch before the turn back to shore I started feeling tightening in my left calf, and then in my right. Cramping doesn’t usually plague me during exercise, but I’ve gotten cramps in my sleep enough to know exactly what was happening. I immediately stopped kicking and tried to keep moving forward using only my upper body in hope that my calves would chill. That did it for a couple hundred yards or so, but as soon as I started working hard again my right calf cramped up as bad as I’ve ever felt it. I tried to swim through but I couldn’t keep my lower half from sinking with how paralyzed I felt. I stopped, sat up for a second, and manually flexed my foot with my hands. The cramps came and went a few times during the rest of the swim but I was able to swim through them and before I knew it I was at the last turn buoy.

The last stretch back to shore was the worst part of the swim, in my opinion. I don’t know if people lost their form because they were tired, or if seeing the beach makes people more competitive with each other, but it was a pretty brutal fight to the finish. I tried not to shy away from faster feet and the advantage of swimming in the pack, but with plenty of space around there were too many errant arms and legs for my liking. It felt chaotic and like there was a lot of panic in peoples’ movements. But finally the water got so dark I couldn’t see a thing, which meant it was shallow enough that sand was getting kicked up. I stood up about 2 strokes too early but quickly made my way out of the water and across the timing mat on the beach.

T1 – 3:21

I got to the wetsuit strippers and felt like there were 1000 of them and 1 of me! I scurried up to 2 guys and they had a hard time but after a few tugs successfully stripped my suit off.

The inside of the tent was extremely dark, and I felt like there was no one there – athletes or volunteers – so I got to work by myself. I threw my suit, cap, and goggles on the ground, dumped my bag and started putting my shoes on when a volunteer asked if I needed help. I told her I only needed help packing up and a couple of moments later I had grabbed my helmet, sunglasses, and was off to find my bike.

Tracks!

Tracks!

The transition area was a little bit clunky in terms of the set up; no fault of IMC but the park was strangely shaped so it was hard to make the best of it. I found my bike with no difficulty though (tip: always walk your race day path through transition a few times before the race!) and made my way out of transition, across train tracks, up a path, and to the main parking lot to mount. As I got on my bike I was so so so glad I had remembered to put it in the small ring, as climbing up the hill to get out of the lot was more of a b*tch than I remembered.

1 Comment

Filed under Ironman, Race Recap, Racing, Swim

Race Recap: Ironman Canada – Pre-Race Prep

I am an Ironman. An Ironman x 2, actually.

Olympic Rings in the Village

Olympic Rings in the Village

I’m happy, disappointed, content, and what’s another word for disappointed? at how everything went down on August 25. But what happened is what happened, and I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world that I got to have my day in Whistler (and SPOILER ALERT that I’ll get to do it again). The most important people in my world were there to cheer me on, and when things in my brain got ugly the only thing that kept me going was my will to not allow them be as disappointed in me as I was in my day. Their cheers and shouts and neon shirts and maps marked with the perfect spot to intersect my path made my day one that can make me smile!

The week leading up to the race was as perfect as it could be. We adjusted to Whistler, I had work to keep me distracted, the few tiny workouts I had went very well, and I figured out the logistics before the aggro triathletes who intimidate the living heck out of me arrived and took over town. Having been in Whistler for our 4-day camp helped me orient myself quickly, but before I knew it I started seeing the Mdot logo on everyone everywhere, and I got anxious. Some athletes thrive off of that competition and buzz, but seeing lean fit bodies and bikes 3x as expensive as mine everywhere I go makes me want to hide under my bed.

Me and G lunching post golf/run

Me and G lunching post golf/run

Which is why it was so awesome to have my parents and best friend and her husband roll into town in the couple of days prior to Go Time. Having non-triathletes there, normal people, if you will, brought me back down to earth. It forced me to slow down and think about what I was doing, but it also ensured that I didn’t think too much. Suddenly a moment debating the latest Selena Gomez hit (Duh. It rocks.) was just as important as 140.6 miles, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s how it should be.

The Expo

I hit up the expo early on Thursday with what felt like 99% of the athletes racing. It took me over an hour to get through all of the many lines I had to wait in, but the volunteers were great and the athletes were excited. It seemed like the majority of athletes were confused about how the check-in process worked, so along with the few veterans beside me I found myself answering a whole lot of questions pouring out from around us. It made me feel confident and secure that I really knew the answers. The expo at Whistler was much larger and more of a production than what I experienced in Penticton last year, but I think mostly that’s due to the fact that IMC is now a WTC managed race.

It was a cool experience to have all of the tents set up in the Olympic Plaza in the Village, one of the most central spots in Whistler. There was plenty of space for athletes and their families to hang out and spend a significant amount of time (and money!) there. Luckily I walked away mostly unscathed before the race minus some goggle defogger (that didn’t work, sadly) and a race poster to hang in the bike room. I tried to spend the most minimal amount of time possible amongst the chaos, but it looked like people were having a lot of fun.

T1 & T2 Bike and Bag Drop Off

As soon as I got back to the condo on Thursday I started planning and organizing my bags. I do best when I have plenty of time to think without feeling rushed, so I gave myself 2 whole days to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to race day “stuff”; the fewer decisions I have to make and the fewer things I have to remember, the better, but I sometimes worry that I could be under prepared and missing something. Come Saturday’s drop off here’s what was in my bags:

Transition bag staging area

Transition bag staging area

T1

  • Bike Shoes
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses
  • Clif Bloks

T2

  • Running Shoes (to be added race day)
  • Socks
  • Sunscreen
  • Race Belt
  • Visor
  • Body Glide
  • Clif Bloks

Special Needs Bike

  • 3x 24 ounce bottles mixed with Infinit

Special Needs Run

  • None – there’s nothing that I could possibly need or want that I couldn’t get on-course!

Having a split T1 and T2 made things a little more confusing than Ironman Canada was in Penticton, but after the rain subsided on Saturday morning it actually wasn’t too bad. I rode my bike with my T1 bag to the lake, and it only took me about 10 minutes to get there. I made sure to walk my race day route (lake – wetsuit strip station – grab my bag – changing tent – bike – bike out) and identify sights to remember, and then I hopped on a bus that took me right back to our condo.

T2 (and the finish line) was only a block from our front door, so a bit later in the day I dropped my T2 bag off and did the same walk through to help visualize my race day path, however it was much easier to do in a wide open parking lot than in the T1 park with trees and barriers.

Pretty soon I was done for the day and spent the afternoon eating pasta, tracking all of my friends running Hood to Coast, and making sure that things were set to go for race day morning. I got in bed around 8pm feeling dead tired and ready to close my eyes, but the rest of the night produced very little and very light sleep, which is unusual for me. I willed myself to not worry; if there’s anything I did well the 3 weeks leading up to race day it was sleep!

Race Day Morning

I woke up at 3:30 on race day and tip toed around trying to get ready. I made coffee and downed it along with a bagel, 24 ounces of Nuun, and a banana. At 4:30 I put on my running shoes and went for a 10 minute jog with intermittent strides to warm up and get my heart going, something I’ve found really helpful in managing potential panic during swim starts. By 5am I had all of my stuff packed up and ready to go, so I kissed Garth goodbye, turned off the lights, and walked to T2 to catch a bus to the lake.

I got all the way to the check in and got marked with my number and everything, when I realized I had forgotten my Imodium (a race day ritual): mistake #1. I walked back to the condo, grabbed it, and hurried back. I dropped my special needs bag, did one more walk through from bike in all the way to run out and started stepping onto the bus when I realized I was still holding my running shoes IN.MY.HAND.: mistake #2. I scurried off the bus, back to my run bag, dropped them, and caught the next bus 5 minutes later feeling like an amateur.

The bus ride to the lake was dark and quiet and I tried to close my eyes for a few minutes, but before I knew it we were outside the park and my seatmate was shuffling into the aisle to disembark. I was really glad I knew my way around the park, and knew enough to hang out by the entrance for a while to use the real bathrooms! I cycled through that line a couple of times until it got light enough to see the bike set up well and moved onward. So far I’m 0 for 0 in bringing my bike pump to a start line this year, but a lovely girl in the row behind me actually offered hers up without me having to ask.

Alta Lake. Photo from earlier in the week.

Alta Lake. Photo from earlier in the week.

Then I met my bike rack neighbor Erin in person (who is now an Ironman!), hung out by my bike taking it all in, said ‘hi’ to my coach and a few other teammates, and before I knew it that “extra” 45 minutes had turned into 10 minutes and it was time to go get in the water.

2 Comments

Filed under Ironman, Race Recap, Racing

Ironman Canada (Whistler) Video

As a preview to my upcoming race report, here’s a video my #1 fan put together of the day.

2 Comments

Filed under Photo & Video Posts, Race Recap, Racing

Are You Ready

In the last 3 weeks I’ve been asked So are you ready? more times than I could possibly count.

Am I ready? Well. I’m as ready as I’m going to be.

This year I haven’t done a great job of tracking things here on the blog, but Training Peaks (where I log my workouts) doesn’t lie. My year in training started out similarly to how last year did, but the last 3 or 4 months were not similar at all. The summer months brought much longer long days, more two-a-days, and more overall hours, but also more rest days too. There were a lot of days when I thought I don’t know if I can do this. And then I did.

For a moment I thought about pulling number of miles swam, ridden, and run, feet climbed, and calories burned, but those numbers don’t really mean anything to you or to me. What means something to me is that I completed every single workout as well as I could. I gave every session my all. Sometimes I wished I had more to give, and a lot of times I wished I was fitter and faster, but all you can give it what you have. And there is nothing more certain in this world to me than that I did just that.

So when I say I’m as ready as I’m going to be, what I mean is that the cards can fall as they may on Sunday and I will have no regrets about my preparation for the day. There are no should have’s, could have’s, or would have’s that I feel leading up to that start line. I do have hopes, dreams, wishes, and some anxiety about what will happen on that day itself, but I am as ready as anyone possibly could be for a day when anything could happen.

1 Comment

Filed under Ironman, Racing