4 days later, and I am still wearing the gigantic smile I wore during Ironman Canada on Sunday. Everyone has those days where everything just works, and those days where things just don’t come together. CDA was a perfect example of a day where many different elements did not come together. IMC, on the other hand, was a completely different day, right from the beginning:
Weather: Talk about polar opposites from CDA. With both races just 4 weeks apart, it’s hard to believe that CDA’s high was hovering around 50 degrees, while IMC was only 9 and pouring rain (My Garmin measured 6 for the first half of the bike). My T1 bag was overflowing with clothing options, as I had no idea what to wear! I was running around the Village in Whistler the day before the race, trying to find gloves and leg warmers…..In July! Ok, enough of complaining about something I have no control about, and onto what I did have control over.
Race Day morning, I arrived in T1/Swim Start via the shuttle, with enough gear to climb Mount Everest. After organizing my bike and nutrition (You can’t leave any nutrition on your bike overnight, because of the risk of your bike getting eaten by a bear is so high……I can’t imagine a bear on Espresso gels……), I headed over to the swim start. The organizers were so awesome and designated a WONDERFUL volunteer to Kayak beside me for the entire swim. For anyone who doesn’t know, I have Epilepsy, so when it comes to the swim portion of triathlon, I have to take extra safety precautions like wearing a different colored swim cap in case I have a seizure in the water, then I can be more easily spotted. Reality is, I either quit this sport, or figure out a way to take safety measures and make it workJ
As we all know, swimming is not my strength, so when I came out of the water in 1:02, I was pretty happy. Of course, never as fast as I wanted, but a solid time for me. It felt great and I was relaxed. Out of the lake and grabbed my luggage and headed into the change tent. I made the decision to take some extra time in T1 trying to wiggle my wet body into some layers of clothing. Leg sleeves, arm sleeves, jacket and gloves……I felt like I was dressing to go skiing! My decision to take an extra minute in that tent saved me out on the bike.
It was raining so hard that you couldn’t see the lines on the road, and the lakes that had accumulated were covering u and potholes and bumps in the road as well. On my way out to the highway, I got the surprise of my life (no…not a bear). My brother and parents had made a surprise trip up that morning to come and watch me. I had a choked up emotional moment as I passed them and realized the incredible support my family has for each other. I pulled my head back into the game and headed out to Callahan Valley. I passed so many athletes so early in the race that pulled out so early because of the cold. I was SO thankful I looked like a marshmallow out there! Back to the plan: I had decided to start working with Coach Jonathon Caron about three weeks ago, who gave me a VERY strict plan on the bike. Biking is my strength, and I know that is where I can make up most of my time. I am still learning how to put my power meter to work, and it KILLED me to keep those watts as low as I was told to. Either way, the voice that kept haunting me kept me in line. My hands were so cold, even with gloves on, that I had a hard time grabbing bottles to get my nutrition in. I finally started to warm up in the Pemberton meadows, which is where the rain stopped as well. I knew that I had a group of women about 4 min in front of me, but kept reminding myself that I didn’t need to chase them down in the next 5 km. On the climb back out of Pemberton, I was feeling great (obviously a result of sticking to the plan, and proper nutrition). I made up time on some of the women in this stretch, and passes man other people that were fading. An Iron distance race is never won in the first half of the race. It is a very tactical distance and requires patience, and diligence sticking to a plan. Many times we see athletes feeling great out of the swim, making up great time on the bike, and then fading later on in the day because they went too hard too early. Keeping my power steady, I completed the climb back into Whistler and into T2. I managed to get off my bike without face planting, as I didn’t realize that my feet were still numb! I ripped through transition and headed out on the run.
I was shocked at how I felt leaving transition- my legs were fresh, I was relaxed and I quickly fell into a good pace. The energy from the spectators was awesome, and I couldn’t help but smile. Why not? I had a decent swim, decent bike, I felt great now, weather had cleared up, and everyone else around me was happy. Jay’s (my husband) voice kept popping in my head “Just have fun out there. Remember why you got into this sport in the first place”. So that’s what I did. For anyone who has not done this course, the run is beautiful and so spectator friendly! My family, and other people I knew kept popping out and giving me splits. I will admit that by the time my GPS kicked in, I worried myself (there are a lot of dense treed areas on this course so my GPS was not reading accurate). I was running way faster than planned, but I didn’t feel like I was exerting that much energy. This race was a bit of a test as I really hadn’t done a long run in 6 or 7 weeks. CDA didn’t count as that was more like a walk-run. I decided just to go with it, with hopes that I wouldn’t blow up. I caught 5th place within the first 5km, and stayed in that position for the next 22km or so. Every time someone would shout a split, I was gaining on fourth, until I got a “she’s only a couple hundred meters in front of you”. “Holy Crap! Am I really running them down?!” This NEVER happens for me. I usually have to get far enough ahead on the bike, and maintain my position on the run. I passed fourth, stayed calm and just kept truckin along. When I hit the turnaround at the far end, I was surprised that third was only about 30 second in front of me. With only 7 or 8 km to go, I set my focus and passed her. The guy on the “Third place female” bike kept turning around and asking me “Are you sure you’re on your second lap?” Well unless I can’t count to 2, I was pretty sureJ. I knew I wasn’t going to catch 1st or 2nd at this point, so my focus was to maintain this position. It’s really hard not to get excited and get stupid about your pace in this situation. I was definitely hurting at this point, but I think adrenaline was a good painkiller. I knew that at least one of the girls was super close behind me, but I knew if I picked up the pace too much at this point (7km left), I had a pretty good chance of falling apart. “Steady, Steady” I kept chanting to myself (hopefully not out loud….I’m not sure though….). At 3km left, I was in the spectator heavy zone, and was feeding off the energy. I had a quick emotional “choked-up” moment as the reality of what I was doing set in, and had to pull myself back together. At this point, I decided to just go. I knew I had a bit left in the tank, and I could hear the finish line. I raced around the village, did a quick glance over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t getting run down by anyone, and into the finishing chute! Holy S*&#%, I just sealed third place. I was so excited as I ran through the finish line at 9:55:06, that I didn’t even slow down to get a good finishers pic…. Oops! There will be another chance;) When I looked at my run split on my watch, I thought I must have stopped it somewhere by accident. Apparently having “fun” out there paid off and gave me the fastest run split of the day at 3:16:03. By far my fastest marathon ever! I guess anything really is possible if you have the right mindset!
A huge thanks to all my sponsors for getting me here. Skechers (for the new shoes the day before the race!), The Bike Barn, Hammer Nutrition, and Peach City Runners.