Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kelowna Apple Race Report, Ironman Canada... AND MORE!

Gosh, this post is long overdue.

I’ll start with the short version…

The past few weeks have been great! I tri-geeked out big time and have had a simply amazing end to August.

Now, grab a coffee and get comfy, because here comes the long version…

Following Sooke I had a great last block of training heading into Kelowna (Pushor Mitchell Kelowna Apple Triathlon). The week before the race I felt ready. My nerves were definitely starting to peak, but all of my workouts were feeling really good and I was feeling more and more excited about the race. I was relaxed on every run I did and my legs were feeling fresh. So, I was nervous, yes, but also really excited. Overall, I’d say I was in a state of “good and anxious” I suppose.

Now, some details about ‘The Apple’. It is a qualifier for the Age Group World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2012 – the top 10 from each age group qualify. Deep down, I knew if I had a good race, I could probably qualify, and while I never really said it out loud to anyone, it was my goal to finish in the top 10. This was my ‘big race’ for the season and I wanted everything to come together and I wanted to have a good result.

A week or so before the race I began having some very crazy and emotional dreams. Whether this was the result of some other stressors in my life, or it was my anxieties about the race, I will never know for sure, but since Kelowna has come and gone, the dreams have definitely lessened. I’m realizing now, having a good race in Kelowna meant more to me than I was willing to admit – even to myself.

But, as Kelly told me – the nerves were a good sign. They were a sign that the race actually meant something to me.

Now, time for a quick (haha) race report I suppose…

Shane and I arrived in Penticton on Friday night. We had a fairly mellow Saturday morning as I did my race prep and got my bike and gear ready for the next day. We headed up to Kelowna in the early afternoon to drop off my bike and pick up my race pack. We checked out the race site (swim start, transition area, etc.) and drove the bike course, before meeting up with Kelly for a little 'pep-talk' on Saturday afternoon just before the official race meeting. After the race meeting, we headed back to Penticton for the night and I was in bed fairly early and, thankfully, had a great sleep.

On Sunday, Shane and I were up early for the drive back to Kelowna. We got to the race site with plenty of time to spare, so I wasn't rushed at all (which was really nice). I got my transition set up and was able to get in a good warm up before getting into my wetsuit. Of course, once in my wetsuit waiting to get into the marshaling area for the swim, I was totally and completely nervous. Funny how that always happens eh?

Finally, it was time!

This race was a beach start, and from the moment the gun went off (I was in the second wave), it was a battle.

From swim start to swim finish – utter chaos – girls were banging and clawing like we were at a Louis Vuitton sample sale or something. I did manage to find feet a few times and get a bit of a draft, but it was never super consistent. That said, I still felt like I swam pretty well. Of course, if I had been in the water alone, without all the jostling and banging, I could have pulled out a quicker time, but I suppose that is not racing. Overall, by the time I hit the beach and was running to transition, I felt like I had given it my best.

Now, T1 - something I usually feel great and super happy about – well, quite frankly, it sucked!

I could not get my feet out of my wetsuit and then went to un-rack my bike before I put my helmet on!! I have never, ever done that before - ugh. What was I thinking? (Actually, the problem was that I don't think I really was thinking). It probably only ate up a few extra seconds to realize I was being an idiot, re-rack and put my helmet on, but it left me slightly frazzled. I then got a bit caught up behind someone slowly running out of the transition area (sooo frustrating when you know you can be moving faster), but I managed to have a good mount (better than some of the elite women if I do say so myself) and felt like I got my feet into my shoes and was up to speed fairly quickly.

The bike course for the sprint at ‘The Apple’ is 2 loops. There is one big climb not far into the loop and then you get a nice good descent, some flat straight stretches and a number of 90 degree turns heading back toward the end. To me, it was a fast, yet somewhat technical, course – and a really fun one at that!

Once I was actually on the bike and moving, I saw Kelly on the side of the road and got a nice big cheer from him (which always helps). I’ll admit, my botched T1 bothered me for the first few minutes of the bike, but by the time I hit Knox Mountain (the first big climb of the race), I had convinced myself to forget about it and just focus on what lay ahead. I felt like I climbed Knox pretty well and actually passed quite a few people on this stretch. I had a good rhythm going and was in a good gear, so didn't feel like I was killing my legs. The descents were awesome and I was able to overtake a few people – both on the downs and especially going into the corners. I was feeling really confident in my cornering and it seemed like a lot of other racers weren’t, so when they slammed on the brakes I was able to take advantage of them slowing way down and made some good passes. The second loop was much the same and pretty good as well. There were more people on the course with the later waves joining in which was motivating. Again I felt confident climbing up Knox and went by a number of people. I unfortunately never saw anyone in my age group, but I definitely had fun trying to catch and pick off the older ladies and men in front of me and just felt really steady and strong.

I heard both Shane and Kelly cheer me on as I was finishing up my second loop and sliding out of my shoes in preparation for my dismount.

T2 was better than T1, but still a bit slow for me (both transitions were a bit weak for me on this day). I again got caught up behind someone slowly trotting to the rack in front of me (I don’t know how you can avoid this? Is it unsportsmanlike to yell at people to move? haha) but overall, it was okay. I didn't forget any crucial parts like helmets or race belts this time around, so I guess that was a win.

Coming out on the run I was happy to see two girls in my age group right in front of me. It was good motivation to try and keep pushing. I passed the two girls maybe 600-700m into the run. One girl fell off the pace fairly quickly, but I remained pretty much shoulder to shoulder with the other one until about 2.5-3k when she just steadily picked up the pace. I tried to stay with her, but she just slowly kept pulling away. I had a bit of a mental battle at this point. Watching her pull away and not being able to respond, made me just want to stop, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself after the race if I did, so I kept trying to push. Those last two km's actually turned out to be my fastest of the run, but unfortunately they were not quite fast enough to catch the girl in front of me. That said, she was definitely good motivation to keep pushing.

As the finish line approached, I could hear someone bearing down on me. I was afraid it was the girl from the start of the run, so picked it up as much as I could and managed to stay in front of those ominous footsteps. When I crossed the line and peered over my shoulders, I saw it was actually two men who had obviously been battling it out.

I think the first thing I said to Shane was "I'm happy. Before I look at any of the results or stats or my placing - I'm happy with it and feel like it was a good race” and, you know, even after looking at the stats and whatnot, I am still happy with my race – and the results.

Of course, there is always that part of me that wishes I had gone faster, but I think I pushed as hard as I could on that day and I actually wasn't afraid to hurt during this race - which is something that had been plaguing me earlier in the season. I hurt in Kelowna and it was a really nice feeling.

At the end of the day, I finished 8th in my age group. My goal of finishing top 10 was met and I qualified for NZ!!!

Shane and I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon watching the remaining people in the age group competitions complete their races. We also hung around for the elite women’s race (but unfortunately not the men’s) before heading back to Penticton.

The week in Penticton was lots of fun. I spent some time running and biking, but also did a lot of relaxing, just soaking in the heat and the building excitement as Ironman Canada approached. Penticton is a great host for Ironman and the buzz of the race just grew and grew as the week progressed.

Friday afternoon while Shane volunteered setting up the transition area and bike lot, I checked out the race expo, did a little people watching and even got out for a quick swim in Okanagan Lake. Bliss.

Kirsten and Tyler arrived Friday night, and then Kirsten and I volunteered at bike check-in for the athletes on Saturday afternoon. It was crazy hot, and I think I probably walked about 10-15k around the transition area in the 5 hours I was there, but that was nothing compared with what the athletes would be experiencing the next day. It was just so much fun, talking with all the athletes, seeing how different people react and deal with the nerves and stress, hearing the stories of Ironman veterans, and sharing my own stories with the newbies as well. Overall, it was a really great experience, and I’m so happy that I was able to spend the day helping out.

Then finally, it was IRONMAN SUNDAY!

I had a case of Ironman Fever – and there was only one cure – more cowbell! (I don’t think Tyler ever wants to hear that damn cowbell again, haha).

Our day of cheering began nice and early as Kirsten and I headed to Okanagan Lake to watch the largest mass start in the world! (Seriously, no lie, I heard that this year’s IMC really was the largest mass start ever – and you know, it looked it).

We watched the swimmers for a bit, before moving over to the transition exit to get a good view of the pros and age groupers heading out on the bike.

After watching countless athletes zip past and begin their journey on the bike, we decided we would head back to the lake to cheer in the remaining swimmers as the swim cut off approached. The excitement as the last two people made it into transition before the cut off was absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, it was a roller coaster of emotions, as seeing those who just missed the cut off was rather heartbreaking. So, with tears in our eyes, we decided it was time to head home and pick up the boys for our trek out to Yellow Lake to watch some of the bike action.

We arrived at Yellow Lake not long after the first 20 or so racers had gone by and picked out a spot not too far up the hill to begin cheering. The heat waves were radiating off the pavement and the energy of the spectators was incredible! Soon enough, bikers started rolling by. Some people looked so happy and energized by the crowds and others had a more focused grimace on their faces. We rang the cowbell, clapped till our hands hurt and cheered as loud as we could. It was great fun! (I will admit to having a couple moments where I thought “I don’t know if I want to do this again” – as the base of Yellow Lake was definitely one of my ‘down’ moments last year while racing IMC). I’m not sure how long we were out there, but think it was around 4 hours or so. I think we probably saw the majority of the bikes go by before we decided to head back into town for some food and water (we did not plan our cheerleading nutrition very well I’m afraid, haha).

After a quick food and water break, and a dip in the pool, we headed down to Lakeshore Drive to cheer in the finishers. As the sun set behind the hills, more cowbell, clapping and yelling ensued. Our growling tummies forced us away from the finish area before midnight but we did manage to find a seat in a pub with a large video screen of the finish line and watched the smiling faces cross the line until just after 11:00.

It was a great day, and the finish line got me re-inspired and excited to take on the challenge again.

Sooo, on Monday morning, Shane, Kirsten and I all signed up for IMC 2012!

Here we go again!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

To Anticoagulate or Not To Anticoagulate?

Recently I’ve been trying to be a bit more proactive about my own health and decided it was time to review my ongoing anticoagulation. The idea of being on Warfarin for the rest of my life kind of scares me (even though I’m repeatedly told by the doctors that there are no side effects). It just seems unlikely to me that being on any sort of medication for years and years (I plan to live to a nice ripe old age) wouldn’t produce any side effects. That said, I don’t want to clot again and I’ve got some factors working against me in that department, so it really is a crap shoot.

A few weeks ago, I met with Dr. Smith at the DVT clinic to review my case and talk about my risk factors. It was very interesting and he gave me some studies to read and we discussed different statistics about who is more likely to clot, etc. etc.

Another interesting thing was, for the first time in two years, he examined my legs, and just by looking at them, pointed to my left calf (the one that is always giving me grief) and said “you’ve had a DVT in that leg. No question.” and then he pointed out all the reasons he could tell this just by looking at it. It was kind of creepy and yet, just confirmed something I’ve known in my heart for a long time.

Anyway, I think in the back of my mind I just want someone to say “yes, you 100% need to be on anticoagulants or you will die!” – or – “no, you don’t need them anymore – you will never clot again, I guarantee it!” Of course, neither of these things is going to happen. Either way, anticoagulated or not, there are risks – and it is on me to weigh these risks and decide which ones I’m more willing to take.

My risk of a spontaneous bleed if I stay on the anticoagulants is relatively low, so long as I keep my INR in the appropriate range. My risk of a major bleed if I say, crash my bike, is a little higher than that of the average person, but this is a risk I’ve been taking for the past two years. I suppose it just means I'll never be racing any crits and my chances of making le Tour are a little less, haha ;)

If I come off the meds, my risk of another clot is definitely there. I’ve tested positive for the genetic clotting disorder Factor V Leiden. However, many people live with Factor V mutations, never knowing it, and never having any clotting issues. I’ve stopped taking oral contraceptives, so have decreased my risk of clotting in that regard.

In all honesty, as much as I would hate to have another pulmonary embolism or DVT, I am not as scared of that as I am of a clot going to my brain. I did experience a minor stroke in February 2009 (one that was never properly diagnosed, but much the same as with my leg, I know it was a stroke) and the fear of something like that messing with my brain again is paralyzing. To lose control of your vision, your ability to process your own thoughts, to not know if the words that are coming out of your mouth are making sense – it’s (excuse my language) fucking terrifying.

And so, for now, I continue with my anticoagulants. No closer now than I was before my meeting with Dr. Smith to making a decision.

To Anticoagulate or Not To Anticoagulate?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sooke Sprint – Race Report

So Sooke happened.
I think from this point forward, I will call it “the race that just kinda was.”

By that last sentence, you may guess that I'm feeling a little indifferent about the race. I would definitely not say it was a great race, but it wasn't really bad either. It just kind of happened. To the point where last night, having dinner, I didn't even feel like I had raced earlier in the day. It is a bit of a blur at this point.

So a quick recap before the details fade farther from my mind....

I actually felt like I got in a pretty good warm up (something that, admittedly, I don’t always do). It was still probably not quite long enough, but I actually felt "warmed up" which was nice.

As I met my parents on the edge of the lake to give them my backpack and get into my wetsuit I got really nervous and anxious (perhaps too much of a "hurry up and wait" feeling?) and couldn't seem to shake it.

The swim was a deep water start in two waves – men first, woman and relays second. You had to jump off a pontoon into the lake and tread water until the air horn blast. I was a bit nervous about the deep water start just because it was something new, but it really was rather uneventful. The whole swim was rather uneventful in fact. Also, while the deep water start was different, I actually found it was a lot less rough then some of the previous races I've been in, so that was nice.

Throughout the swim, I felt like I had a decent rhythm and definitely thought I was on track for a good time, however I forgot to start my watch, so really had no idea where I was at – time wise – the whole race (when I did finally look at my times after the race, my swim was actually a bit slow).

Transition was good. Calm, relaxed, but fairly speedy. This race had two transition areas, so you had to put your wetsuit and swim gear into a gear bag so it could be transported back to the finish line at the end of the day. It was a little weird, but nothing that really made any huge difference to my transition overall. As usual, I felt like transitions were one of the strongest parts of my day.

I had a good mount onto the bike and felt like I settled into a good cadence right off the bat. I was maintaining my pace fairly well and was tackling the hills (both up and down) well enough. This is an extremely hilly and tough bike course, so I didn’t want to kill myself on the first hill when I knew there would be plenty more to come. I was spinning well (or so I thought) when around 5-6k into the bike a group of about 4 or 5 girls just blew past me. I felt like I was standing still. That said, a couple of them looked like they were really struggling with the climbs, and since I felt like I was spinning them pretty well, I thought I would probably be able to reel them back in. Unfortunately, they were just too quick on the descents and I lost them. The climbs after the turn around were even uglier and harder than on the way out, but I didn't feel like I was moving too slowly. Overall, the bike wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible either. In the theme of the day, it just was.

T2 was good. I had a solid dismount, was in my runners quick enough and heading out on the run for the 5k out and back course. Most of the first half of the run was downhill, so I thought that would be good for me and that it might help to sort of get my legs moving and the blood flowing. Unfortunately that didn't really happen. I just kind of chugged along for the whole run, got a major side stitch about 2k in, but it was gone by about 3k... It was weird though, I just didn't feel motivated at all. I knew I could be going faster, but I had absolutely no desire to push.

There were two girls close to me - they had both entered T2 before me, and I had gone out before them - one quickly passed me, and then the other overtook me about the 2.5k mark and I just kind of let her go. After that, there were no other women around, and so I think by knowing that no one was really chasing me, I just kind of maintained my position. I had absolutely no fire. (I think I need to have Kirsten chasing me down on the run – she definitely lights a fire under my ass).

When I crossed the finish line I still had no idea how fast/slow I was, as the clock was showing the Half Iron time and, as I said earlier, I forgot to start my watch. I knew I had run slow, but had no idea it was sooo slow (story of my life really). In all seriousness, it may have been the slowest 5k I have run in about 3 years - yikes!

Anyway, my conclusions about Sooke... I was slightly disappointed in myself for not pushing to my limits, but at the same time, I still felt like it was an okay race, just not a "leave it all out there" race. My age group was tough (I finished 9/21 in my age group, but still managed to be 14th female overall).

So yeah, in short: good warm up, decent swim, good transitions, hard but okay bike, capped off with a hard (in terrain, but not effort), lacklustre run.

Kelowna is up next. I’m actually pretty excited for it and also hoping that I get a bit of my spark back before then.

Oh, and after reading my race report, this is the video Kelly sent me for inspiration :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Words by Others

I came across this post today on Slowtwitch (actual posting can be found here).

It gave me chills.

So, to everyone I know heading to Penticton to tackle IMC on August 28th, this is worth a read. Enjoy the day! I can't wait to cheer you all on.

Original Post by:

"Hurricane Bob"
Aug 25, 2010 8:03

For Those of you Heading to Penticton
Fellow HTFU'ers of Slowtwitch United...

Once again, IMC has snuck up on me. Funny how that happens when you're not actively training for a late-season IM. Regardless, I hope it's not too late to dust this off and send those racing to the Okanagan ready to roll.

Brief History: This was originally written for a friend on the TRI-DRS list in 2002, when she began her mid-taper meltdown (hey, we've all been there). Since then, it's taken on a life of its own. I posted it four years ago on ST, and received a wonderful set of responses (as well as a podcast!), so I figured it couldn't hurt to bring it back.

Without further adieu, to those of you heading to Ironman Canada this week - to the IM-Virgins, the veterans, and everyone in-between...


Right now you've all entered the taper. Perhaps you've been at this a few months, perhaps you've been at this a few years. For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.

You've been following your schedule to the letter. You've been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take until November to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceeded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

You ran in the snow.
You rode in the rain.
You ran in the heat.
You ran in the cold.

You went out when others stayed home.
You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.

You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you've already covered so much ground...there's just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lays before you...and it will be a fast one.

Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, Your mind, cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won't be pretty.

It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in
January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer.

It is worth it. Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.

You are ready.

You will walk into the lagoon on August 26th with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You'll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for for so VERY long is finally here.

The bagpipers will walk across the beach. Steve King will ask you to sing along. You will.

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does.

The helicopters will roar overhead.
Maranatha will roar. The splashing will surround you.

You'll stop thinking about Ironman, because you're now racing one.

The swim will be long - it's long for everyone, but you'll make it. You'll watch as the Penticton Lakeside Hotel grows and grows, and soon you'll hear the end. You'll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers. Three people will get that sucker off before you know what's happening, then you'll head for the bike.

In the shadows on Main Street you'll spin out of town - the voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero's sendoff. You won't wipe the smile off your face for miles as you whisk along the lakeside, past fully stocked, silent aid stations for the run to come.

You'll spin up McLean Creak Road. You'll roll down towards Osoyoos, past the vineyards glowing in the morning sun. You'll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road. You'll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman.

Richter Pass will come. Everyone talks about it, but it's really nothing. You'll know this halfway up, as you're breathing easy and climbing smoothly. Look to your right. Look how high you're climbing. Look at all the bikes below, still making their way there. You're ahead of them. All of them.

You'll climb over Richter, and descend to the valley below. You'll ride the rollers, one at a time. You'll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It's warmer now. Maybe it's hot. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep riding. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep moving. After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right?

You'll put the rollers behind you. You'll head into the Cawston out and back. You'll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride the wrong way for what seems like hours. 10 miles in, you reach special needs, fuel up, and head out.

By now it'll be hot. You'll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You've been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here. Not today. You'll ride on leaving Cawston behind you and head for the final showdown at Yellow Lake.

You'll grind the false flats to the climb. You'll know you're almost there. You'll fight for every inch of road. You'll make the turn towards the summit as the valley walls close in for the kill, and put your head down. The crowd will come back to you here - the cars are always waiting to cross the summit, and you'll soon be surrounded in the glorious noise that is the final climb of Ironman Canada. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter.


Just like that, you'll be descending. 12 miles to go, and no climbing left. You'll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come - soon! You'll roll back into town - you'll see people running out. You'll think to yourself, "Wasn't I just here?" The noise will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air - you're back in Penticton, with only 26.2 miles to go. You'll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.

You'll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike. You'll give it up and not look back. You'll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you'll go. You'll change. You'll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer - the one that counts.

You'll take that first step of a thousand...and you'll smile. You'll know that the bike won't let you down now - the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a Penticton summer Sunday. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you've worked for all year long.

That first mile will feel great. So will the second.
By mile 3, you probably won't feel so good.

That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You'll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You'll see the leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great - some won't. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last.

You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep eating. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry - believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon. By remote control. Blindfolded.

How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don't sit down - don't EVER sit down.

You'll make it to halfway at OK Falls. You'll load up on special needs. Some of what you packed will look good, some won't. Eat what looks good, toss the rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people you don't. You're headed in - they're not. They want to be where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into town. Share some energy - you'll get it right back.

Run if you can.
Walk if you have to.
Just keep moving.

The miles will drag on. The brilliant Penticton sunshine will yawn, and head for the mountains behind the bike course...behind that last downhill you flew down all those hours ago. You'll be coming up to those aid stations you passed when you started the bike...fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving.

You'll soon only have a few miles to go. You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you...puts a medal over your head...

...all you have to do is get there.

You'll start to hear town. People you can't see in the twilight will cheer for you. They'll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, when you left on the run, and now when you've come back.

You'll enter town. You'll start to realize that the day is almost over. You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if you're lucky), but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole day go?" You'll be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible.

You'll hit mile 25. You'll turn onto Lakeside Drive. Your Ironman Canada will have 1.2 miles - just 2KM left in it.

You'll run. You'll find your legs. You'll fly. You won't know how, but you will run. You'll make the turn in front of the Sicamous in the dark, and head for home. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you'll be able to hear the music again. This time, it'll be for keeps.

You'll listen for Steve King, or Mike Reilly, or Whit Raymond. Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You'll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the nightsun made just for you.

They'll say your name.
You'll keep running.
Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours - for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you.

You'll break the tape. The flash will go off.

You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and suddenly...be capable of nothing more.

Someone will catch you.
You'll lean into them.

It will suddenly hit you.
You will be an Ironman.

You are ready.

Hurricane Bob
* You are ready. *

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Triathlon – Race Report

As mentioned in an earlier post, this past Sunday I raced the Olympic distance event at the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Triathlon (my first ever Olympic distance event – yes, it really was my first Oly).

I wasn’t alone this weekend (not that I ever really am though), as this was truly a family affair! Kirsten joined me in the Olympic, Tyler raced the Sprint Tri and my Dad conquered the Duathlon, while Shane and my Mom cheered us all on.

In all honesty, I barely thought about the race until it hit me on Saturday afternoon - at which point I started to get really nervous and really anxious about it (which, considering I had no real expectations for this race and had planned to treat it more as a hard training day, I thought the amount and level of nerves I was experiencing was a bit odd, but what can you do eh?).

So, let’s see. Like any good triathlon, let’s start with the swim shall we?

My swim was not great. About 5-10 strokes in, my Road ID (which I wear as a medic alert bracelet) got knocked off my wrist. Luckily I saw it flying through the air (and land with a sploosh right in front of me) and was able to grab it and shove it down the front of my wetsuit before it sank to the bottom of dirty old Elk Lake. Unfortunately, the whole event kind of flustered me a bit, as I hadn’t come off my anticoagulants for this race, so I thought it was important that I didn’t go out on the bike without some sort of medic alert on my body. And so, I worried the whole swim that I was going to lose it as I stripped my wetsuit off in T1. Anyway, the few seconds of breast stroking it took to catch it and shove it in my wetsuit, plus my senseless worry, sort of knocked my rhythm out of whack a bit and I just never really felt like I found a good pace or comfortable rhythm after that. Realistically, it wasn’t a terrible swim; I just know I am capable of better.

T1 was a bit slow, mainly because I needed to fish my medic alert out of the chest of my wetsuit (it was still there – yay!) and put it back on my wrist. Other than that though, I managed a relaxed speed and was on my way fairly quickly with a decent ‘flying mount’.

The bike was definitely better than the swim (which doesn’t happen that often for me). After the Victoria Sprint at the end of June, where it felt like my legs were full of cement and hurt like hell, I had kind of decided before this race that my goal for the bike was going to be to focus on my cadence and not try to kill it or muscle up the hills, but just to spin them in hopes of feeling good for the run... and I think I accomplished that.

Admittedly, there were a few moments at the start of the bike where I was asking myself why I didn’t do the sprint and where my quads and hips were hurting pretty good, but once I got into it, I actually enjoyed it. I’ve ridden West Saanich Road enough that it is familiar, but not so much this season that I’m tired of it, so while I knew where I was going and could anticipate some of the ups and downs, it didn’t feel too predictable (if that makes any sort of rambling sense).

Another positive from the bike was my nutrition. I feel like I've been slacking on race nutrition this year, so I was glad I pulled it all together.

T2 was decent. My dismount was pretty good and I felt like I was at the rack pretty quick. I had a weird moment when I first got off the bike where I was quite dizzy and felt really nauseous, but it didn’t last too too long. I put socks on for the run (which I haven’t done in any other race this year) so that definitely slowed me down a little, but otherwise, again, I felt relaxed and quick(ish).

The run was, well, the run. My left calf was up to its usual tricks and was cramping/hurting pretty badly for the first couple km’s, but I guess I knew it was going to go away eventually so I just tried to push through it. I actually felt like I was running really slowly (like painfully slow), but I was kind of at the point mentally where I didn’t really care what my finish time was, I just wanted to finish the race and feel good (both physically and mentally)… so I just kind of plugged along.

I passed a few people and got passed by some as well and surprisingly, I just kind of enjoyed myself – on the run (weird, I know). That said, every time I heard footsteps behind me I expected to see Kirsten go whipping past (which luckily, never happened). When I finally got to the point of about 3 or 4k left I think I picked it up a little and at the end (while it was by no means fast) I was pleasantly surprised that my run time was what it was, as I thought it was going to be much much slower.

So, overall, I’d say it was a good day. I had fun, got a PB (even though that was inevitable considering this was my first Oly), got a surprise 3rd place finish in my age group, and felt really good after the race physically – to the point where I think I probably should have tried to push myself a little harder, haha.

It was also great to see my Dad cross the finish line of his first Duathlon (with a 2nd place AG finish to boot!) - even though I think he's a little crazy for choosing to Run-Bike-Run. Two run legs in one race? No thank you ;)

Most photos courtesy of: Chris Mcdonald at http://www.cjmedia.smugmug.com. One or two courtesy of Mom :)