I wrote this a while ago but created this blog after the race. So, I'm re-posting the race report, mostly so I have a copy when I am re-arranging race plans for next year. In the meantime, if you haven't read this short story yet - enjoy :)
Race Report Ironman Canada - August 29th, 2010
Here's a brief (ha...it's really long) recollection of some of the things that went on this week for me in Penticton in my attempt to put together a readable race report. I still have brain fog (happy brain fog though) but if I wait any longer I might start to forget things about this great week!
Tuesday, August 24th: To start off our trip to the Okanagan, those of you that have partners that support you or are the partners yourselves that support the athletes, can appreciate the sacrifices and patience you give to the people you are supporting. Shawn came back to BC after being away for almost 1 month for work, and left the house to drive up to the Okanagan less than 24 hours within arriving home. He has been there to support me throughout the entire year and helped let me achieve the goals I wanted to achieve this year - no easy feat as I picked a couple big ones. I'm sure I don't tell him enough how much I appreciate it and that is something to make sure I do - I have a better chance of telling him that than I do of stretching, so I'll sacrifice stretching for thankfulness. Done deal. So off we went and arrived at our host's house just a touch before midnight, exhausted and ready to sleep in our van on the street.
Wednesday, August 25th: After some sleep we get to meet our wonderful host, Ann. Ann graciously offered her house not only to myself and Shawn, but to my family as well, who were to come up later in the week to be here to cheer me on for race weekend. I could write paragraphs about how lovely Ann is, but in short, I have no doubts that I was one of the best treated athletes in this entire competition thanks to Ann. Shawn and I headed out to cycle the run course along Skaha lake and run into quite the headwind (obviously a sign of things to come), but it's sunny and hot out and it's fun to see so many people out on the course. My last day of no organization - yay. Honestly, the organization is the stressful part about triathlon - not the actual athletic part.
Thursday, August 26th: Swim the lake. Get into the water and have typical "Ah, can't breathe....again"...moments from cold water, but....thankfully with a crazy swim in the ocean earlier in the week (well, only crazy I think to me) and a sense that I just have to overcome this weak link of my triathlon, I was able to relax and start swimming (until I saw the weeds - bleck). But as Carolyn reminded me earlier this week, "You know it's all psychological, right?", in my head, I agreed, and I think at that moment got over my panic reaction to open & cold water. Not saying it will never happen again, but I had quite a mini victory against my fears of cold water swimming this week - which is a really big deal to me. So a big thank you to Carolyn and, sorry, I forgot to wear the banana tattoos for the race - but will wear them for the marathon in Victoria - promise! On both my calves! I also check in today and register for IMC next year (now that seemed crazy but had to be done). And I'm telling you - based on my age cat times this year I am HAPPY to be moving up to W30-34 next year - despite what everyone thinks about my cat - it was crazy competitive! Pretty sure I would be going to Kona if I was born in 1980 (thanks parents!....just kidding).
Friday, August 27th: As advised by Jeremy throughout the race week - this was do nothing day. So I did nothing. I didn't even feel the need to swim. I watched people wine tour (insert jealousy here) and had a beautiful lunch with Shawn and Ann at a local winery on the Bench. Then my family arrived Friday late afternoon and the house became quite full (sorry Ann!).
Saturday, August 28th: Now I wished I had actually done something on Friday because I had realized I had to drop off my gear bags with my bike - I'm sure I had been told to do this by Jeremy, but I take "do nothing" literally. So after worrying about this Friday night when I went to bed, I got up, took my coffee and started sorting out my 5 bags of gear. 2 hours later I had figured the world out (close enough anyways) and had this stuff in that bag, this junk in the other bag, etc etc. I was a little stressed at this point, not for time's sake, but just for the fact that this was the part of the race I was actually most worried about so far - organizing stuff. I am not kidding when I say it's one of the most challenging parts of the race.
I'm sure with experience it gets easier, but really, it's like running a small country and you have to divy up little parts to every state and still come out with the composure of Ghandi to be able to relax enough to run a good race. Turns out, I did this, but, it was quite the learning curve to get it all done. I checked in my bike, was once again amazed by how expensive everybody else's bike was, and got the heck outta there. Without belabouring the point, I get a little irritated by hoards of triathletes with all their swag, fancy coffees and tattoos (really they're like modern day pirates...come in in droves out of subaru's....chase each other around in circles, drink copious amounts of something, carve an i-dot or m-dot whatever into their leg and then swoop out of town - I suppose the only difference is they don't steal, they buy extremely expensive things and bolster your economy). In any case, I was happy to get away from the iron-people and get back to the solace of Ann's house.
I had a 20 min run by the track near the house on a beautifully sunny day, felt strong, and walked back home. I also went down to OK lake with my brother to do some crazy swimming (aka getting bashed by enormous waves) and actually started to feel good about the swim (yay!). My wonderful friendly cheerleading crew of Andrea, Blair, James and Shelley stopped by to say hi before they headed back to the campsite - it was so nice to know so many people were cheering for me on Sunday!!
Sunday, August 29th:
3:50am. It doesn't even phase me. Thank you marathoning. Sky looked clear. No winds. Lovely. Thank god for coffee.
5:00am. Kiss goodbye to Shawn and let the poor guy drive home and go back to bed. So happy to meet Jacqui and Courtney walking down the road to drop off the special needs bags - it was great to be able to talk to people and feel normal before getting too worked up about everyone else around me. Bodymarking and a happy face on my calf and off to organize my GUs to the high heavens. (Sort of felt like easter egg placements...a little here...a little there).
6:00am-6:40am. Bathroom line up. Not kidding. Didn't really care though because what else are you going to do. I had a purpose in that line up and I wasn't leaving. And I sort of enjoy when other people start to freak out about time and I haven't started freaking out yet. Makes me feel powerful. Not kidding. Then I quickly zipped into my wetsuit, gave away my clothing bag, and headed to the beach. Heard the "Victory song" on the speakers as we were walking down to the beach and have now had it in my head for 3 days straight. Thanks Steve King.
7:00am. Heard the national anthem but was also busy making sure I was used to cold water on my face. Which meant sticking my butt up in the air and plunging my face into the water. Not what you are supposed to do during the national anthem but honestly I don't think I really even know the anthem was playing. At least I didn't vomit during the national anthem, that would have been less classy.
7:01am. Feeling quite nervous but also very determined, had the best swim start on my triathlon career (if you call 2 previous races a career). So happy. Swim was tight, as was described to me, and only a few mini battles took place. Always with some stupid oafy armed man. Sorry guys, but really...you're big, I'm small.....it's like a hummer and a smart car. I continued to use as much courtesy as possible and found the swim pretty enjoyable. Turns were better than expected, but definitely tight as well. Did have leg cramps on both sides on occasion, I think, due to battling for position in the water and stop-starting/changing directions. But I don't really care because I could actually swim the entire race (no 800m of backstroke or breaststroke - huzzah!). Was also very happy to narrow down on the Peach and run out of the water. Had no idea of time but really didn't care as I had already started rehearsing what I had to do in transition. I swam calmly and smoothly and with most efficiency I could and it was great.
Swim time: 1:17:17 - PB! (I am shocked when someone tells me my swim time on the bike later).
I'm 1683rd overall on the swim and that is fantastic for me.
T1: 4:30. I'm slow but I also like arm warmers, so oh well. I had everything I needed and off to the bike.
Bike Leg: A little chilly but biking at a good pace to warm up - I was really happy to get to McLean Creek road where there was some sunshine. There were hoards of cyclists and no where to go - people were agro and really needed to settle down, seeing as we were into hour 2 of the race. Also I was really (and pleasantly) surprised to get passed by people on the bike - people that looked fast - I had beaten these people on the swim! I have never been so happy to be passed by people with aero helmets and disc wheels. Also I don't think I had ever been passed period (mind you....only 2 races) on the bike because I was so far back in the swim. So, another victory for me. Then I started to pass a lot more people.
I could write on and on about the course but basically I went at a comfortable pace (wanting to go faster but remembering that key phrase, "respect the run") and keeping it to 30ish km per hour. Of course I do this by feel as I don't have an odometer, and as I was reminded by one of the MC's at the Friday night banquet, "to those 0.999999% of people that do NOT have a bike computer"...so I was happy to not worry about speed and just have a good cycle.
All along the course I had my 2 cars of SUPER fans cheering me on and it was terrific and I couldn't have asked for anything better. They cheered, they yelled, they danced the Tom Cruise dance and they were awesome. Thanks to Shawn, Gordon, Andrea, Blair, James, Shelly, Penny, Bill and Anthony for all being out there and cheering me on all the way.
The turnaround is funny. Everyone says they hate it but I'm not sure why. It gives you a chance to change the pace and make some turns and see who's riding in front of you. It was starting to get a little windy but it wasn't awful. They gave me the wrong special needs bag (Courtney - I got yours and promptly handed it back asking for 2251, not 2215!), but it wasn't a big deal, all of 30 sec of time to get what I needed and off I went.
Now....the final section of the bike course was interesting. This was the only part of the course I had not really biked on, so I was looking forward to feeling it out. Hmmm....blasting cold headwinds. Check. A horizon of BLACK tunnel like cloud. Check. Onset of cold driving rain. Check. Soaking feet and soaking face from rain and puddles and obvious lack of fenders from bikes I had to pass. Check. But really, Yellow Lake was so fun to bike up (and really....not much of a hill), and I was so cold by the Twin Lakes hill that was more than happy to climb hills while rubbing my hands together (in the aero position of course) to get some feeling back in my hands before I had to descend down the backside and potentially use my brakes (visions of massive crashes danced through my head...).
Luckily there were almost no cars on the descent at this point and very spaced out cyclists so a little bit of braking action (better safe than sorry) and I was finally coming back into town. Then I realized I had to pee like nobody's business. And as much as I wanted to, I just couldn't do it on the bike. So instead I suffered for about 30 min while riding back into town. Dumb move. Will not do this again. Will either figure out how to pee on bike (which means practicing? which is just triathlon weird) or just get off and pee. This sounds stupid but I was in more pain waiting to pee on my bike than in any other point during the race.
All in all, a great bike in some final tough conditions, but that really wasn't so bad as I have had rides from hell before and this didn't touch them. Bottled suffering is a really great thing.
Bike time: 5:59:54. Now have moved from 1683 to 758. Passing 925 people always feels good.
T2: Can't feel feet - only shin bones. But it was PEE time!! I was so happy. And I timed it - 45 seconds of straight pee time. Therefore T2=5:23. It was worth it. Plus shoes on with no elastic laces - I may cave and get those eventually.
Run: Simply happy to run to get warm. Went out quickly for the first 200m and then slowed down a little when I was warming up a bit. Then I settled into a nice cruisey easy speed and checked my time out of the first couple miles - around 8:00ish min/miles so I just decided to stick with that and start getting in some calories. I saw another fan group on Main Street, Dad, Linda and Ann (who didn't like that I wasn't wearing white shorts anymore) and Dad hopped off the bench to run up the road with me for at least 100m (or a mile, as my dad said). And then it was just time to settle into a rhythm and stay focused. Fan clubs # 2 and #3 were at the end of town, and fan club #4 (Tara!) were so encouraging and motivating and really at this point the whole race seemed quite surreal. At points in time it really felt surreal that I was doing an Ironman - it seemed like it was going to be over so fast. When you break it down into it's 3 parts, and into subparts of those 3 parts, the race actually becomes quite small (at least on a good day it does....it can be a really long day as well I'm sure).
Just kept my cadence high and using almost every aid station for some type of fluid, eventually I was at the turnaround and there were tons of people cheering us on. I was tempted to pick things up at this point but really didn't want to waste all my energy into going up the big hill to get back out of OK falls. So....faced another new set of headwinds going back (while running uphill - kind of a bummer, but just lots of tiny quick steps to get up the hill and things were fine). Once I was at the top of the plateau I felt I could open up a little bit and start to get going - and going down the hills out of OK falls certainly helped that.
Saw Jeremy who was super encouraging and reminded me to continue to keep getting calories and fluid in (thanks Jeremy - definitely a good reminder as your brain isn't super sharp at this point). So I kept that up and kept a good balance of pushing as hard as I thought I could afford given we were running into a significant, but not impossible headwind. Certainly no problems with getting too hot - a positive. By about 10km to go I started to do the math and realizing I had a shot of sub-11hrs. As Tara reminded me, so I was starting to feel a little bit of pressure but pretty confident that if I hung in there I had a chance.
And then running into town you really started to feel fast because people are really slowing down at this point. Passing women became really rewarding at this point - passing men wasn't as much so (and there were a lot more of them). You run the big long straight stretch up South Main (blah....) and then you run the big straight stretch along into town where there were lots of people and tons of support. It definitely seemed crazy at this point that I was almost done (I didn't even really wanted to be done at this point - although - I'm sure my body was ok with it). Family fan club did a great job of cheering me on through this area!
Ran down to Westminster & Winnipeg and then you're on the 'victory lap'....and I met all of my wonderful friends and family and I was quite focused at this point and I was reminded after that this was the first place I didn't smile. But I still had to run all the way down to the turnaround, not knowing exactly how long that was...and the clock was at 10:50 something....so I knew I had to keep moving. The best was when I saw the final W25-29 age grouper that I was about to pass (I sped up in hopes to demoralize her so that she wouldn't chase me and make a race out of it). And then I just kept running as hard as I could to the finish line - and it was SO fun! I didn't feel any pain, anything bad, just kept going to the end. And it was done!
Run time: 3:31:11 going from 758 overall on the bike to 351 overall after the run. Passing another 407 on the run - also feels good. With a negative split on the marathon - something I haven't even done in an open marathon yet - so I was happy. Clearly. I passed 1332 people from the swim exit to the finish fine. Pretty wicked.
Total Time: 10:58:13
Finish: At this point I still don't think it's all set in. I don't have much more energy to write but will take some time to let things sink in and figure the whole thing out. I definitely had different ideas about somethings, and was quite correct about others, but as I knew I wouldn't really understand the whole thing until I did it. And I'm still absorbing it all.
All for now - we're off to relax. My feet are officially sausages if I don't wear compression socks constantly (took 48 hours to blow up) but other than that I actually feel fine - just slow.
I want to thank everyone again for all their help with everything and anything before, during and after this race. It truly was one of the more memorable moments (long moment....10hrs:58min:13sec) of my life so far. And I get to do it again next year!