Ironman Canada, Whistler 2017
THE race I have been training for all year has now come and gone. Just like that…. You spend months and countless hours training and prepping for one day…. Never really knowing what to expect. There are so many variables when it comes to race day… weather, nutrition flaws, mechanical problems, who shows up and how their day goes, or one that note….how you just happen to be feeling on race day. In my case on Sunday, I happened to have a near-perfect day… and so did someone else who happened to be a little faster. My whole goal this year was to win an Ironman, and IMC was the chosen race. I shaved 31 min off my 2015 time, and was 4 min faster than the previous course record… but Lindsey had a stellar day and ran away with the win. Of course I wanted the win, but I have to be happy with second place (again). There is nothing I could have done differently, we just both happened to have an awesome day.
This race gave me an awesome opportunity to work with IronWorks Productions, who took a huge amount of time to make a feature video on Thursday for the welcome banquet on Friday. It was a great opportunity for me to share my story in a different way with many more people. This great team also followed me along all day on Sunday, along with the other women, so I can’t wait to see it all put together! Now… back to the race and how my day unfolded!
I feel like the few days leading up to the race that I had some bad luck going on. They were all fairly minor hiccups, but it was enough added stress that I didn’t need. This “luck” carried forward to race day morning when I blew my front tire in transition before the race started. At this point I had to laugh about it….hoping this was the last of it. Our start was bumped to 6:40, giving up a 10 min gap on the age groupers. This was better than the 5min initially, but still not enough time in my opinion. It has nothing to do with issues on the swim, rather, issues on the bike with the faster age group men creating drafting problems. I had been feeling pretty good in the water the week leading up to the race, which was a confidence boost as I had a week or so after CDA of uncontrollable panic attacks. So I was feeling pretty positive getting into the water on race day morning. I’m not sure why I positioned myself front and center on the start line, but I did… and when the gun went off, I was quickly able to jump on some feet (I was hoping for the fast ones), and had no panic attack. I was calm and in a good state of mind. The first loop wen by pretty quickly, and then the second loop was a total mess. It was like trying to navigate through a minefield. Even with the zigzagging though the slower age group swimmers, I still managed to exit the water in 58min… 4min faster than my previous fastest IM swim, and FINALLY breaking that one hour mark!
My swim put me in an excellent mood and I whizzed through transition onto the bike. I had a very awesome surprise waiting for me as I turned out onto the highway! My family had shown up to surprise me. They did this two years ago, and I have to say, this definitely helped with my focus on what I needed to do for the next 8+ hours. I quickly settled into a zone as I headed out to Callahan. If any of you have done IMC in whistler before, you will know what I mean when I say that this is a course for patience. If you aren’t patient, this course will literally eat you up. The climb up Callahan is early in the bike, so being cautious here will pay off. I was paying close attention to my numbers, which were slightly higher than where I wanted them. I was a little nervous, but there was nothing I could do about this at this point. Trying to bring down power numbers when climbing just doesn’t work. I managed to pass most of the women ahead of me by the 30-35km mark, putting myself in a comfy 3rd place. I was VERY surprised when I caught Rachel (Joyce) at the top of Callahan, as I knew she was the favourite to win. I worried myself and second guessed my effort level, but then also thought that perhaps she just wasn’t feeling great. I just put my head down and stuck with the plan. By the time I got down to Pemberton, my numbers were still higher than the plan, but I was feeling good. I knew I could cruise this section and play it smart. The gap between myself and the two in front of me stayed relatively the same, with Rachel (McBride) pulling a little farther ahead, but I would make back this time on the climb back up to Pemberton. Lindsey surprised me as I thought I would catch her…. At least by halfway, but I never did. I came into T2 with a 5:08 bike split…. About 12min faster than my realistic goal, and 5min faster than the previous record. Rachel still had the fastest bike of the day at 5:06. These were ridiculous times for this course, so I really didn’t know what was going to happen on the run between the three of us.
When I headed out on the run, I was super relaxed, happy, breathing easy, and also cruising along a lot faster than I should have been. I had to keep holding myself back as I knew I could have a breakthrough run, BUT I was not going to be holding a 4:10km for 42km. I was getting splits from everyone, and knew I was closing in on Rachel (she had a 7+min lead on me) as I had brought this down to 3.5min by the 15km-ish mark.
I expected Lindsey to take off…and she did, lengthening her gap to 6min by the 30km mark. At this point, I was able to catch sight of Rachel… so close, but at this point in an Ironman… so far away! It took me another 3km to catch her, and when I did, I told myself that I couldn’t let her know how bad I was hurting. We exchanged some friendly words of encouragement, and I moved past her trying to look as strong as I could. Rachel is a tough girl, and I was so scared that she would stick with me. I glanced back after a couple min and I could still see her… not that far behind. I was running scared… knowing that first was now out or reach unless something bad happened, but second wasn’t fully secured. At 39km, I said it was now or never. I knew I could gut it out and pour it on for 3km. If I didn’t, there was still a chance that Rachel could get me. I made it, and wow did that finishing chute feel good to get to! I came across the line in 9:24, seven minutes off first, and 3 min ahead of third. We all had pretty amazing days out there, and I think the three of us pushed ourselves to have the best day possible. This is why I love this distance. There are so many more variables than in a half, and it always comes down to the run. Not necessarily the fastest standalone runner, but the one who played their cards right all day to get to the finish line first. Next up are ITU worlds here in Penticton and then 70.3 Worlds 2 weeks later! No break for this girl! Let’s keep that ball rolling! Thanks for following along!
A huge thank you to all me sponsors and supporters: Skechers Performance Canada, F2C nutrition, Swagman Racks, EnergyLab Wheels, Podium Imports, The Bike Barn, BlueSeventy, and Nuvista Chiropractic and Wellness.