What an epic day, and a great way to end the season! Of course I wanted to be higher up on the podium, but it wasn’t in the cards this race. I had some stiff competition against some girls that also had fantastic races! I also had slightly different goals for this race... Have a solid run, nail my nutrition and have fun! Don’t get me wrong. I race because I love it, but these last 5 weeks after Kona were really hard. I had a little more of a “care-free” attitude going into this race. Partly because I had really put all the hard work into Kona and there wasn’t really any fitness to gain, partly because I was just plain tired, and partly because I wanted to try to put less pressure on myself. I feel like I got wrapped up in high expectations going into Kona, and really just wanted to end the season on a “happy” note:)
It was significantly cooler this year for both air and water temps. Air temp was about 10 degrees on race day morning, and the water was 15.6 degrees…… yikes! We did a short practice swim on Saturday, and after my brain freeze went away, it seemed bearable. This was not the case race day morning. I was cold before even getting into the water, and opted out of the warm up swim. There was only 2 min between men and women start times and the gun went off before I really had a chance to seed myself properly. I ended up getting pushed out to the outside and lost the group of feet I wanted right away. The swim course was changed this year, and the buoys were next to impossible to see. I quickly found myself on my own and not being able to see where I was going. I tried to catch up to the group but it was too late. By halfway through the swim, I was frozen. My legs and my back were seized and my arms wouldn’t turn over the way I wanted them too. I exited the water freezing in 1:03. BIG disappointment. I have seen huge improvements in the last couple months in my swim and was confident that a sub 1hr was attainable.
Heading out on the bike, I almost fell over as I tried to get my feet in my shoes. My feet were so numb that I couldn’t move them, and my hands weren’t much better. My legs felt horrible as my muscles were seized from the cold. I tried to stay positive and convinced myself that I was still in the game. After one loop (60km), my legs finally warmed up and felt better. My back, on the other hand, continued to feel worse. By 100km, my feet finally thawed out, but my back was killing me. I knew it would be better on the run, so I just pushed through. I was biking faster than the year before, but wasn’t making gains on Carrie and Heather, and sat in 4th for the majority of the last loop. I still managed to bike 4:35 and broke my own course record from the year before! The plan was to bike a few watts lower than last year so I could try to hammer out the run, so I was stoked to have broken my previous record by 3 min!!
My biggest goal for this race was to have a good run. This has been a frustrating topic this year as I have seen improvements in training but haven’t been able to execute in a race due to abdominal cramping. I felt pretty good going out on the run, and had to keep speed checking myself for the first 30min. At the first turnaround, I was able to see where the other girls were. First (Carrie) was pretty far ahead, and second (Heather) was about 5.5min ahead. My coach made a bet with me the night before that I would run sub 3:09. I think my best IM marathon is 3:14, and my best stand-alone is 3:08. I would LOVE to run a sub 3:09, and is totally realistic in training, but I was doubtful in an Ironman. I concentrated on my form, keeping the turnover quick and running tall. I also tried to stay as smiley and happy as possible, reminding myself to have fun! I felt relaxed the whole run, and was able to fend off another abdominal cramp by being smart with my nutrition/hydration. I had come off the bike in 4th but thanks to a quick transition, was able to run out in 3rd. I knew Skye was right behind me and she was running strong! I was running scared until about halfway where I had gained some time on fourth, but lost a good chunk to Heather who was flying! At this point, I realized that I was easily on course for a sub 3:09. This is where I entered my “unknown zone”. Would I be able to hold this pace for another 21km? When would my body say no? My last solid training run longer than 2 hours was 8 weeks ago and I didn’t run well enough in Kona to consider that a “long run”. I broke the last half down into 5km segments, and this seemed to take some of the “unknown” stress away. While I was hurting a lot, I surprised myself at how good I felt. Catching the top 2 girls was out of the question, but I knew I wasn’t going to be caught either. I crossed the finish line in 8:51 with a 3:07 run!! While the day hadn’t started the way I wanted it to, it sure finished well! Now for some off-season time to enjoy other activities outside of swim-bike-run!!
Thank you once again to my family, friends, coach and sponsors: Felt Bicycles, F2C nutrition, Skechers Performance Canada, Swagman Racks, EnergyLab, Velofix, BlueSeventy, Pioneer, Wattie Ink, Podium Imports, ISM saddles, The Bike Barn, Nuvista Chiropractic and Wellness, Zizu Optics, and JonnyOcoaching.