Friday, August 31, 2012

Speech, Speech!

Some of you have asked to read what I wrote for my speech for Ironman Canada 2012.  So here it is.  I think I stuck mostly to the script as I was talking, but as I was up on stage in front of quite a few people, I was nervous and undoubtably rambled a bit, but this was my message for the day.

Photography by david mccolm

Thank you!  Thank you to everyone involved in yesterday's race.  Thank you to my friends and family and everyone that has supported me leading up to this event.  Wow!

Thank you and congratulations to my inspiring competitors up on stage with me today - I couldn't have worked this hard without them pushing me all the way - so to everyone up here, a huge thanks to you.

And whatever they are putting in the water in Denver, they should probably keep on doing it.  A very special congratulations to your 2012 women’s amateur champion, Kendra Lee.  I was the amateur women’s champion last year, and although I was quite pleased to have finished 5th overall fastest time in 2011, this lady has certainly blown it out of the water this year with your overall women’s fastest time.  So, congratulations Kendra on your amazing race yesterday. 

Yesterday was the first day I felt I accomplished what it meant to be a triathlete.  This is my 3rd year in the sport so the learning curve has been steep.  I still don’t know where you buy salt pills and I refuse to have a bike computer.  In previous races, I have muddled through swims and cruised through bikes, all to end up very fresh on the run course.  As I learned more about what I could do, and what was expected of top level athletes in this sport, I realized that it is a push from start to finish in this race called triathlon.  I had tried in races past but often fell short of what I wanted, which, was to give the race everything I had.  

Knowing I was far behind the swim pack and all on my own, my brain had a lot of chatter, and some of it negative.  I learned to swim just over 3 years ago, and yesterday was the first day I was able to push all through 3.8kms of swim and I have never been more proud for doing so.  I have to say though, to the people who were cooking bacon on their houseboats out there, that was a small bit of torture.  And I’m a vegetarian.  I'm not sure we want to back on the water next year or not.....maybe we do :)

The bike course is ravishingly beautiful and just as ravishingly tough.  Whatever you give with your legs on this course, also seems to be taken away from them somewhere between the Yellow Lake climb and that sweet moment you know you’re in for the big descent.  Again, my only goal was to push from the minute I got on my bike, and man, is that tough.  I have never focused so much on keeping my legs going around in a circle.  At times, I was not convinced that I would make it up those last few hills because my legs now felt like some type of swiss cheese / cement hybrid variety.

The run is always my favourite but as I said I usually arrive feeling fresh and full of hope.  I made it out the first mile and then promptly came to a dead halt.  The dreaded multi muscle full leg cramp.  And then it started to dawn on me, this is what it means to be a triathlete.  This is one continuum of 3 different events that really are just one event.  So I stood there, bent over, stretching, thinking I might not even be able to finish this race.  My favourite race.  I had to finish.  So, I started moving forward, as many of you did yesterday, in the best way I could, but certainly not in the way I had planned.  I ran on eggshells for 40 kms, worried that one misstep would snap my legs in some Cirque du Soliel maneuver and have me rolling into the ditch on Eastside road.

But I made it.  And I made it because of the support of dedicated roadside fans, other racers, total strangers, and my friends and family.  People who are racing and suffering that still manage to scream encouragement at me as I go by - I am in awe of these people.  What you said meant the world to me.  

There is no better finish line than the finish ‘lap’ along Lakeshore Drive in Penticton.  I have raced in Hawaii and although it was wonderful, there is nothing like coming home to Penticton, and hearing Steve King’s voice on the microphone, calling you in.

And I am very proud to say I have finally figured out what it means to be a triathlete, and thankfully it feels pretty wonderful, because it is balancing out how not wonderful my body feels right now.

So Penticton, I thank you, as I have just been given one of the happiest moments of my life.  You are a gem and will always be.  

Thank you and congratulations to all competitors, volunteers and community supporters of this year’s 2012 Ironman Canada.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen, hold your horses!

I just wanted to say a race report is coming and thanks very much for your patience!  I've been completely overwhelmed by all the support and congratulations and will happily get down to writing my Ironman Canada race recap on the weekend!  You can take a peek at a pre-race interview here:

Pre race Ironman Canada interview with Shaw TV

And a quick video race recap here:

Ironman Canada 2012 Wrap video

Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

38 things you should know about Ironman Canada

Why 38 reasons?  Well, I'm number 38 this year, so it just seemed like the right thing to do!

1. Ironically, I think it was 38 C last year.  It also hailed for 38 minutes the year before.  Be prepared to not be prepared for weather.

2. The swim is straight and easy.  The water is warm.  There are two huge targets to swim to, one mountain on the out, one solitary tall hotel on the return.

3. There may be scuba divers in the water around the big buoy turns - they're friendly and might be waving.  Do not freak out these are nice people :)

4. Rumours are true - tacks are often thrown out on course in the morning in the section after Maclean Creek hill to the highway stretch to Oosoyos.  I saw a lot of age groupers with flats in this section last year, but not as much the year before, so it can vary.  This is really unfortunate but try to stick to some heads up riding and scan the road for debris and avoid it.  You shouldn't have your head down into MC Hammertime yet anyways.  This is one of the most beautiful sections of the course.

5. You need to feed yourself on the hills of the bike course.  Don't wait to eat because the hills can go on for much longer than a food/drink interval should be.

6. This out-and-back section that you do in Cawston is not the mind f#%^ everyone says it is.  It's actually a lovely place to cycle, and you get to make some turns, which is nice after riding straight for most of the course.  You get to stretch out a bit, grab your special needs, and break up the last section of the course.

7. There will be a guy with a 'smile if you peed your pants today' sign.  Always smile :)

8. Get excited for the climb up to Yellow Lake.  People surround you both sides Tour de France style.  It is such a boost.  Smile and show your thanks for all these awesome friends and family of Ironman Canada.  They love to make people happy!

9. The last 20k of the ride is all essentially downhill.  If you need anything nutrition wise, make sure you know where the last aid station is before the descent.  After that you're on your own, and I think the last 20k is a good place to get in an extra gel, and some extra fluids.

10. The race has wetsuit strippers and transition at IMC is one of the most simple, straightforward, and comfortable transitions I've seen.  Take a walk through with one of the volunteers and ask them how it works, they're always happy to help.

11.  Please wear sunscreen for this race.  It is often full sun all day and there is almost no shade on this course for the entire day.  There have always been sunscreen smotherers out of T1 in my experience.  Just shout for sunscreen and they'll come slathering :)

12. If you get a chance to meet the announcer, Steve King.  Say hi.  He is a fantastically devoted person to our sport and unbelievably positive and a true force of endurance on race day.  He is the first voice you'll hear on race morning and also your last as you cross the line.  His voice is a total comfort to me during race day.

13. The run has a great combo of flats and climbs.  The middle 'half' of the race is quite technical (in other words, hilly), but it gives you little goals to get up and over, and I think that helps.  Your last 10k is basically a gentle uphill for about half of it and then downhill all the way to the end.

14.  There have been some complaints that the back half of the run course is quiet.  It's true, it is.  But it's a good time for you to just focus on what you're doing and keep up the pace.  If you're working hard, you won't be able to do much sightseeing for fans anyways.  But don't worry, you'll get a great boost at the OK falls turnaround - plus your special needs bag - and lots of cheers!

15.  There is one exception out on the 'quiet' part of the run course - for anyone who raced last year they may remember the very attractive dancing girls on the boat?  Simply awesome!  I think a few guys were tempted to jump into the lake and go party with the girls, but I have to say, their spirit was contagious and we all loved it.  Hope you're there this year ladies!!  And maybe you can bring some dancing men as well :)  Just sayin'....

16. If it's hot (it likely will be), I have 6 words of advice: "The ice goes in your pants".

17. If you're thristy (likely you will be), I have another 4 words of advice: "Don't suck the sponges".

18. Thinking back to the bike, don't get caught up in racing towards Osooyos (the start of the first climb - Richters' Pass).  People tend to derby right out of the gate and guaranteed you will be saying hello to these people before they ever get to Keremeos. (the 2/3 mark).

19. Wave at the kids.  There are kids all over this course cheering you on.  If they are looking for high fives, give 'em some.  It's a long day and they are out there hoping to make your day better.  It is worth the extra 3 steps to the side.  And it's a good stretch for your pecs.  The kids will go crazy!

20. The creativity that goes into the signs people will hold up on the run course are priceless.  Make sure you take a look.

21. Go to the carbo dinner.  The food is good, there is lots of it, they manage the line ups very well, and it is so inspiring to listen to Steve King talk about the history of the race.  Watch out for the Dickheads. You'll see what I mean.

22. If you didn't already know, this is the 30th anniversary of Ironman Canada and this is a big deal to the community that has supported it for 30 years.  It really is the community that makes this race.  It's their land, their water, their hands holding the cups of ice for you.  I feel honoured to be a part of it.  I hope you do too.

23. If you see a tall bald guy with #745 on his bib, I'm really, really trying to beat him this year.  I want a fair race, but I wouldn't be adverse to you stealing his ice cups.  His name is Carl.  He is my Ironman nemesis.

24. Be an honest racer.  Don't draft.  Even if you see other people doing it.  Don't do it.  Stay true to everything you trained for for the past year.

25. If you swim 1:05 or faster, please start as close to the front as you can take.  I was around a 1:05 swimmer last year and I made the mistake of starting in the middle.  I swam into slower people in front of me, and then got swam over (yes, literally) by people charging up from behind.  Bad scene.  I just needed to be more confident and stand up front.

26.  If you are slower or nervous, start on the sides.  There is lots of room out there to escape and take a breather if you need.  I am still uncomfortable in the water at times and a 'pro', so don't beat yourself up about feeling nervous about this swim.  It's ok.  You'll be ok too.  And you'll get a a rip roaring draft to suck you all the way around the course - you will do great!  Just be nice to your neighbours and they will likely be nice to you too.  And if you get bonked, laugh and roll on.  My best races have started with a punch to the face.

27. This is a hot and hilly course, usually with lots of wind.  So you will get sucked dry of fluids pretty quickly because sweat will evaporate quickly.  Drink early and as often as you need, and like I said, you will have to drink on some uphills and some downs.

28. Other people in the race are always ready to share a few words of commiseration with you when you need it the most.  Encourage them and they'll do the same.  You can get pretty self involved when you're hurting and focusing on yourself.  There have been a few guys out there who have made me break out into laughter and for me, it totally helps 'reset' a runner ticker of sometimes negative thoughts.

29. You have to run past the finish line before you run to it!  Some people hate it - I love it!  The road is packed full of cheer-ers, the lake is right there, it's maybe the best finish line I've run across.  And Steve King will be there, calling you home.

30. You're going to do better than you think you will.  This course is tough, but even more so, it's rewarding.  Ironman is so much more mental than physical, and this course is a gift to you in the spirit department.

31. The descents down the backsides of the climbs are fast, but they are also straight and safe.  Give your fellow bikers a little extra space when you're zooming along at 80km/h.  You don't want to be surprised by a rogue bottle launch.  Oh, and don't be the dork that passed me on the right hand side last year.

32.  This year I am putting an emergency pair of cut off tube socks that might double as arm warmers in my special needs bag for situations like said hail storm in point #1.

33.  Penticton is home to the best peaches I have ever tasted in my life.  Buy a whole box.  I am generally fuelled by race day by about 10 lbs of peaches.

34. Same goes for the wine - a little wine tasting before your race is not going to throw you off your game.  It's a lovely way to relax and spend time with the people that support you.  You should perhaps consider buying them a bottle of wine :) or two :)

35. There are some serious downhill sections on the run.  Don't brake, just lean forward, look downhill, and spin your legs quickly down the hills, it will be good for your cadence & will wake your legs up a bit.

36. If you like solid food in your special needs bag, pack a couple completely different options, you never know what you might want.  And put a CO2 cartridge and a tube in there too, just in case.

37. Once you reach the Cherry Lane Shopping centre area of the run home, it's time to give it everything you've got.  I don't know how far it is, maybe 5km, maybe less, but it's time to push.

38.  Have fun.  This will be one of the greatest races you'll ever do.  There will be patches where you'll feel desperate, a bit raw, maybe frustrated, but you'll make it through.  When I did my first Ironman, which was IMC, by the time I hit the end of the lake section of the run I teared up a bit, because I knew the race was coming to an end.  I didn't want it to be over, after dreaming about it for a year.  But then, when I stepped over the finish line, I was proud to stop and smile and throw my arms over the army of catchers at the finish line.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  After going to Kona last year, if you gave me the choice of one one Ironman to pick between the two, it would be Ironman Canada.

It will always be Ironman Canada.

I can't wait to race at home :)