Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ironman Canada 2012 - Race Report

[Disclaimer: much like an Ironman is a long day, this is a long flippin’ post. I was going to break it up into a few pieces, but well, I've decided I just don’t want to. You are welcome to read it in installments though. Also, it may involve a few tears on my part and I apologize if it comes across a bit sad and/or whiny in places, but it will be an honest reflection of what I felt on Sunday and what I am feeling today. So, perhaps grab a snack/drink and settle in….]

So, take 2 parts awesome, then add 1 part suck and what do you get?

My day at Ironman Canada 2012.

It's funny, I've read blog posts before from other people (age groupers, much like myself) who have written about how they were disappointed with their Ironman race and I've always wondered how you could feel disappointed when you've finished such a huge task. Doing an Ironman and completing it is no small feat, and I realize this. Hell, just putting in the training time and getting to the start line is a pretty huge accomplishment.

However, I also now realize that when you have expectations for yourself and you fall short, it kind of knocks the wind out of your sails a bit and disappointment happens.

So, before I get into it, a little background I suppose.

My ‘A’ goal for this race was to have a finishing time that started with a 12. So, more easily put – sub 13hrs. If I had hit all the times I know I am capable of, it would have been close, so it was a tough goal, but I still feel it is an attainable and realistic one.

My ‘B’ goal was to finish ahead of my previous time from IMC 2010 (13:56:16).

My ‘C’ goal – or worst case scenario – was just to finish. In all honesty, I never really considered the fact that I might have to face this “worst case scenario”. In my mind, if I didn’t hit my ‘A’ goal, I felt without a doubt, I would hit my ‘B’ goal, no question. I was confident going into this race. I felt ready.

Of course, things don’t always go as planned – especially in an Ironman.

Now, from the beginning shall we?

The week leading up to the race was great. We headed up to Penticton on Tuesday and I felt like we settled into a routine pretty easily and quickly. It was nice to not worry about work and to be able to sleep in and just do our workouts whenever it felt right, without being constrained to a schedule.

I love the atmosphere in Penticton on race week and this time around it was no different. We also had a great group of friends come up for the race, so it was nice to get to spend some time with them and go for lunch and what not.

Saturday before the race we dropped off our gear bags and checked our bikes into transition as usual and then each of us (Kirsten, Shane, me) had our last little pre-race meeting with [coach] Kelly.

I was anxious leading up to the race, but not nervous like I had been at this time in 2010. Kelly had a few tidbits to share (and I asked that he remind me to smile when he saw me out on course), but overall I felt pretty at ease and he even commented that I seemed more confident going into this race.

All was good.

Race morning went quite smooth. My Dad dropped us off just before 6am. Special needs bags were placed in the appropriate bins and race numbers were applied like brilliant sharpie tattoos to our arms and legs.

Transition seemed really busy, much busier than I remember it from 2010, but I don’t know that it actually was. The nerves hit me as we began to put our wetsuits on, but I still felt confident and ready for the day.

As we crossed the timing mats to head down to the beach a few tears welled up in my eyes. As if Kelly had instructed her to do it, a volunteer leaned over and reminded me to “smile – it is going to be a fun day!” It was perfect timing and actually made me smile and laugh (through the tears that is, haha).

Unfortunately we couldn’t see our family and friends on the edge of the beach, so we just waded into the lake, got some water in our wetsuits, did some arms swings, etc. etc. and waited. Oh, and I peed in my wetsuit. Yeah I did, haha ~ I really had to go and the lines for the porta-potties were insane!

One last group hug with Kirsten and Shane and it was nearly go time.

The start was a bit chaotic (as it should be when 2600+ bodies suddenly dive into the water and attempt to go in the same direction) but I felt somewhat comfortable and like I was swimming well. Relaxed, steady and rhythmic.

I would guess about 800m(ish) into the swim, I caught a nice left hook to the face and had my goggles knocked clear off my right eye. I panicked slightly, sucked back a tiny bit of lake water, but was able to stop and frog-kick and get my goggles resituated on my face without getting trampled or pulled under (and thankfully my contact lens stayed put in my eye).

From there, it was pretty consistent and predictable until the turn buoys. Of course, I was never alone and there was some jostling for position and banging and clawing, but I find that IM swims are much less aggressive and violent than sprint swims. In my mind, everyone in an IM just wants their own space and any contact is just because there is no space – not because they are trying to drag you under. I could be wrong, but I like to think of it that way.

I did find the turns a little more hectic and unfortunately ended up having to breast stroke around them each time, as it seemed like everyone in front of me just stopped. The second turn was also the first time I’ve ever really thought to myself “just keep your head above water or you might get dragged under”.

Once around that second turn though, the homestretch went really well. Again, the usual jostling/banging/clawing, but I also felt pretty relaxed and smooth and I was able to find some feet a few times and draft for a bit.

That said, I was soo happy as I approached the shore!

The last time I swam 4km in training I did it in 1:15:47, so I hoped to be in the 1:15-1:20 range. I looked at my watch as I grabbed my swim-to-bike bag and saw a 1:18:xx. Considering the goggle incident and the ugly mess that was the turn buoys, I was pretty pleased.

The day was shaping up well!

Official Swim Time = 1:18:10

After having my wetsuit yanked off, I located my bag straight away and headed for the tent. It went by in a bit of a blur really. I had decided to put on bike shorts (comfort was the prime objective with all the crotch issues I’d been having in the final build) and a jersey, then it was time for helmet, sunglasses, shoes and I was on my way. I found my bike easily, trotted out of transition (I hate that you can’t have your shoes on your bike, but I understand why) and mounted my bike in a weird wobbly fashion that was very inefficient. Turns out, I don’t really know how to mount my bike without my shoes attached to it (go figure), so it was pretty ugly and slow. Funny though, and definitely something to work on for future IMs I suppose.

Official T1 Time = 3:48

I’ll admit, I was really worried about the bike leg after my last disastrous training ride on the IMC course in July, so I had thought about it a lot. In the end, it turned out to be one of my best rides ever on this course and I was so soo happy with it!

My goal for the bike was to keep my legs turning over, keep a smile on my face and to get through it with a positive mind-set (also, I wanted to be sub-7hrs). I allowed myself to “spin easy” up all the hills, but in exchange I told myself I had to “push the downs”.

Thinking back on it now, like a lot of the day, the bike is a bit of a blur. I know I spun out of town happy and comfortable.

McLean Creek Hill went well and I passed quite a few people, without feeling like I was grinding it out or pushing too hard. Shane passed me just after this first climb and we had a quick chat before he sped away on me.

From OK Falls to Osoyoos I just stayed within myself. I pushed a comfortable and quick (for me) pace and didn’t worry about anyone around me. For once, I actually didn’t care if I got passed. I knew what I needed to do and I felt like I did it.

Richter was Richter. It was what I expected. Kelly and Amy [Kelly's wife] passed me in their car fairly early in the climb and their cheers sucked me along up the rest of it. I knew I would see them again at the top and that helped keep me going. In my head I just kept thinking “tick, tick, tick, turn your legs over… spin easy, turn your legs over.…”

I crested the top of Richter, waved and smiled at Kelly and Amy and tucked in for the reward that is the descent. I stopped for a quick pee at the aid station just at the bottom (no lines ~ yay!) and hopped back on my bike to attack the rollers.

Now, I’ve stated before, there is no way these hills should be called rollers. They are horrendous and I hate them. That said, on Sunday, I made them my bitch. Not one negative thought entered my mind. I was happy with the deal I’d made with myself (spin easy up, push it down) and I felt like the rollers absolutely flew by. If it was hot, I didn’t notice. If it was windy, I didn’t notice. It was awesome. (However, the fact that I didn't really notice the heat would come back to haunt me later).

As I headed toward Cawston and the out and back, thinking how great the day was going, I suddenly felt like my back wheel was a little squishy. I didn’t want to believe it at first, so I bounced up and down on my seat a little and sure enough, my rim clanged on the ground. I suppose it just wouldn’t be an Ironman race for me if I didn’t get a flat.

I wasn’t too upset though, in fact, I think I laughed and thought to myself “well, at least I made it through the rollers this year before I flatted”. I glanced at my watch as I started to repair my tire and then got to work. I pulled a nice little pointy rock out of the rubber – it looked like a mini shark tooth – and had everything changed and my bike back together in about 9-10’.

Once back on my bike, I felt like I was flying. I felt great in fact. I passed a lot of people along this stretch and was excited to get to the out and back to see if I could spot Shane, Kirsten and anyone else I may know out on course.

The out and back was the out and back (meh – boring, but necessary) and then it was on to Yellow Lake!

I was in a very bad place when I hit Yellow Lake in 2010 and I did not want a repeat of that. I knew all of our friends and family would be there cheering and I was really excited to get there and see them.

I saw the friends crew first – all decked out in there “team Ando-Dibbs” t-shirts – and I think I threw them a hang loose sign as I approached. Then it was onto Mom, Dad and Tyler (in his white tiger onesie and sombrero – oh yeah – photos to come). It was awesome. One of the best parts of the day for sure (not the onesie, but just the energy of Yellow Lake and getting to see everyone)… and about a million times different than 2010.

From Yellow Lake it was the homestretch and the fun descents! I saw Kelly and Amy again at the turn back into Penticton (Kelly yelling “SMILE SMILE SMILE” was pretty great) and before I knew it, I was on Main Street cruising toward T2 with my ‘A’ goal within reach.

Official Bike Time = 6:55:17

Once again, total blur! I know once I got off my bike I half ran, half walked in a really weird manner on my tip toes (I was still in my bike shoes), grabbed my bag and headed into the change tent with a volunteer. I sat down for a moment while I took stock of everything. Changed from my bike jersey to a running top (I decided to wear a running shirt with sleeves this year instead of my tri top, as I have been getting some chub-rub style chafing on my inner arms when I wear my tri top for anything more than 10k). Then it was shoes and socks, sunglasses and visor. I got up to head out of transition and realized I was still wearing my bike shorts, so I quickly ripped those off (I had my tri shorts underneath, but I think I gave the volunteer a fright – I think when I started pulling my shorts down she thought I was going to be buck naked underneath, haha). I had some sunscreen applied as I headed out and then I was on my way.

Official T2 Time = 4:47

I was excited when I started the run. My ‘A’ goal was within reach and I had absolutely loved the run leg of IMC 2010. It felt so great to be off my bike. Not to mention, I feel like I have been running stronger this season than in previous seasons, so I thought for sure things were going to go well.

My body had a different game plan.

Within minutes, my legs were cramping and I was walking. This first little walk break didn’t last long and I was pretty confident I could shake it off and be okay. I started running again and was moving along at a decent pace until I got to the first aid station where I stopped to walk so I could get in some water and Perform.

My walk through the aid station lasted a little longer than it should, but I did, once again start running. I was definitely struggling, but I was still moving.

I saw my parents at Cherry Lane Mall (about 5k into the run) and actually stopped and chatted with them and got hugs. I really didn’t want to keep going, but I knew I should. At that point, I think I warned my folks that it might be a long night.

Also at that point, I knew my ‘A’ goal might be slipping away, but that things were still okay. I know you just need to be patient in Ironman, as things usually come around, and I was pretty sure I was going to bounce back.

I carried on in the same manner that I had started ~ running for a bit, walking for a bit and trying to get in some calories and fluid and you know, when I was actually running, I think I was moving at a decent pace.

I think it was around the 17 or 18k mark that I saw Shane (he was heading back, I was still heading out), who just happened to be chatting with Kelly at that same time. We stopped momentarily and Shane informed me “this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life” before we hugged it out and then each carried on our respective journeys.

Kelly caught up with me just after and we chatted briefly. I honestly can’t even remember what I told him at this point (perhaps that I had had better days) but I don’t think I really let him know how bad I was in that moment. I honestly think it was around this time that my body was starting to shut down, but I tried to deny it with everything I had.

Kirsten caught up to me as I chatted with Kelly and I was so happy to see her. Even though I was feeling depleted and my body wasn’t cooperating, I thought by running with Kirsten I’d be able to push through anything and that we'd get to finish Ironman together again.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

We walked through many of the hills as we approached the turn around and special needs. I didn’t take anything from my special needs bag, even though I really should have. My mouth and my stomach wanted nothing – even though my body desperately needed it.

Kirsten and I carried on together for another couple km’s (mainly walking at this point). In this time, I got really dizzy and every time I tried to take a deep breath, one of three things would happen: I would either start to cough, I would burp and feel as if I was going to puke, or my chest would constrict and it felt as if an asthma attack was coming on (I suffered from stress/exertion induced asthma as a teen, so I know that feeling of your throat/lungs constricting and closing up).

When she suggested we start running again, I told her to go without me. As much as I wanted to run, I couldn’t physically do it. I was bonking and bonking hard.

She reluctantly left me and so I continued to walk. I was pretty much in tunnel vision mode at this point. The only thing going through my mind was “don’t stop, whatever you do, do NOT stop.”

Each aid station I tried to get in as much as I could – cola, Perform, watermelon – but nothing really sat too well in my stomach and it just made me want to puke.

At one aid station a volunteer gave me a full bottle of water and I grabbed a banana. I nibbled on the banana and sipped the water until I got to the next aid station, where I took another banana and carried on in this fashion. The banana was the first thing in quite a while that actually tasted good and was sitting okay in my stomach.

I probably walked for about 12 or 13km. During this time I tried to run a couple times, but my stomach would instantly cramp and I’d feel dizzy, so I’d walk again. Thankfully, I was able to increase my walking pace as the km’s ticked by and in time (once the bananas kicked in I think) I was pretty much power-walking and, shockingly, actually passed a few people who were slow jogging along.

At about 5k to go, I forced myself to start running again. My stomach hurt intensely. The cramping was insane. I pretty much ran down Main Street squeezing my sides as it was the only thing that offered any sort of relief to the pains I had in my abdomen. (I didn’t actually realize how hard I was squeezing until the next day when I discovered bruises where my hands had been).

I saw my Mom as I turned onto Westminster. I gave her the “thumbs down” and started crying. (God, I’m such a baby). She ran with me to the corner, and then my Dad ran beside me for a bit as well (my parents really are the best people ever ~ love you guys).

It is so silly, but I felt embarrassed as I ran past all of our friends who had come out. I felt like I was so slow and that I had made them wait around “all night” while I was out on course. I know this couldn’t be farther from the truth, and that they are all immensely proud of me, but in my mind I was a loser who sucked.

I didn’t feel the same sense of accomplishment that I had the first time I did IMC. I felt let down. I was so sad and so done by the time I hit Lakeshore, I just wanted it to be over. I ran down that finishing chute in such a haze that I didn’t take it all in and try and enjoy it, and I do regret that in a huge way.

Official Run [Walk] Time = 5:42:06

Official Finishing Time = 14:04:07

No matter what, I did an Ironman on Sunday. I covered 226km (140.6 miles) under my own power and I should be proud – and in time, I know the disappointment will fade and the pride will take over.

I also learned some valuable lessons about fueling and hydration. When I looked at my bike yesterday and started to go through what I had eaten and drank, I realized I severely under fuelled on the bike. I had thought I was on top of things nutrition-wise, but I wasn’t. In a way, I think because the run went so well for me in 2010, that I just assumed it would again and I didn’t necessarily respect the fact that it is a marathon. You can will your body to do a lot of things, but if you don’t give it the fuel it needs, eventually it is going to shut down on you. Unfortunately I learned this lesson the hard way. I also learned what it is like to walk a half marathon – and let me tell you, it kinda sucks.

Of course, immediately after crossing the finish line, I think I probably said I would never do an Ironman again… then within about a half hour, I was trying to decide where I want to race next. I’ve got unfinished business to take care of and am now more determined than ever to get my 12:xx:xx.

Last but not least, I am so so very thankful to all of my friends and family that support this crazy triathlon addiction of mine and I feel so very lucky to get to take on this crazy sport with my two best friends by my side (which, Shane and Kirsten totally rocked it this weekend – so proud of you guys).

Words can’t begin to describe my gratitude and love… but this is long enough, so perhaps more on that another time.

Once again, I am an Ironman!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Team Ando-Dibbs

Spectator t-shirts are made. Race numbers are picked up. Way too much money has been spent at the expo. The final training has been completed. It's time to put the feet up and try to relax....

T minus 2 days until the final Ironman Canada ever. Both excited and nervous for Sunday.  

Follow us on race day... Karyn = #2223. Shane = # 387. Kirsten = #2287. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

TAG! You're it...

Ironman Canada is now less than 7 – SEVEN – days away! Just in case you are keeping track.

Anyway, I was recently tagged by Alli at See Alli Run to take part in this fun little blog game (aka. the Liebster Blog Award).

Since I always enjoy thinking up random things about myself and answering silly questions (not to mention the fact that Ironman is less than 7 days away and my mind needs a distraction), I figured, well, why not.

I’m always up for a good old fashioned game of [blog] tag. I think it’s kinda like “freeze tag” but without having to stand completely still until someone touches you and unfreezes you, right?

Okay, maybe not.

So, without further ado, here are "The Rules"
1) Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2) Then answer the questions the tagger sent for them, plus create 11 questions for the people they’ve tagged to answer.
3) Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4) Notify the people you have tagged.
5) No tag backs.

Let's get this party started shall we?

11 Things About Me

1)  I was born and raised on one of the most beautiful islands in the Pacific Ocean (and no, I'm not talking about Hawaii). I feel very lucky to call Vancouver Island my home.

2)  I have one sister. She is older (yes, really, I'm the baby. I know no one believes this). I love her very much and would do things for her that I would not do for anyone else - which I proved this past Sunday. [more on this post-Ironman, I can't think about it anymore right now].

3)  My cousin is an Olympian (what, have I never mentioned that before?).
Another fun cousin fact: Cam's brother Jordan, (so, also my cousin) and I share a birthday - we were both born 2 days after Christmas. I am exactly 6 years older. I actually remember the day he was born quite vividly (and trust me, I have the worst memory), and I remember thinking that it was the coolest birthday present anyone could ever get. I still think it's pretty awesome - although when he turned 25, it really made me feel old.

4)  Next Sunday I will compete in my second Ironman. I'm excited, and I'm nervous. This season I have started to realize that I think I prefer short course racing. This may sound bad, but I definitely like the feeling of achievement you get with long course racing and I like the accolades and recognition you get from other people (it’s good for the ego I suppose), but I think I prefer the "trying to go as fast as possible for a short time" feeling of actually racing a shorter distance. Also, I like that I can be competitive in my age group on the shorter distances, whereas I'm not really competitive in the longer stuff. Although, I really really like the long training days that come with long course. I dunno, maybe I like both and doing a season of long, then a season of short is just gonna be the way I roll. Also, I’ve very decisive.

5)  I'm a vegetarian, a lacto-ovo vegetarian to be precise, but I don't find I usually identify myself as one. I typically tend to say "I don't eat meat". The last time I ate meat was when I was 12 or 13 years old. Everyone always asks me why I don’t eat meat. The short answer is that I don’t like it. I’m not trying to save the world or all the animals in it, but it really grosses me out to think about eating a cow or a pig or a chicken or a dog… so, well, I don’t. Also, because I never grew up eating meat, I do not know how to cook it.

6)  I don’t drink alcohol much, but I do LOVE tequila. I also enjoy red wine and a good wheat beer. A nice hefeweizen on a hot summer day is a pretty magical thing.

7)  I may be a vegetarian, but my wonderful pooch Rusty is the farthest from vegetarian that one can get. No kibble for this boxer boy - instead he enjoys a nice balanced raw meat diet. So, I may not know how to cook chicken, but push comes to shove, if you give me a butcher’s knife, I can sure hack apart a chicken carcass for the little guy to chow down on.

8)  I've never seen or had a zit that I didn't want to pop. It’s a bit of a problem.

9)  I'm slightly obsessive compulsive when it comes to wiping down my kitchen counter tops at home, but my bathroom is a bit of a mess. Ironman training does not help with the overall cleanliness of the bathroom.

10)  Whenever I see someone I know but haven't seen in a long time, I am never sure if I should say hi or not because I'm not sure if he/she will remember me... which really means - I never think anyone remembers me.

11)  And finally, as cliched as it sounds, I really truly do believe that everything happens for a reason and that at the end of the day - everything, no matter what, has a way of working out.

My Answers to Alli’s Questions

1) What's your favourite race distance?
See above. I’m a bit indecisive. Some days I would say sprint distance triathlons, other days, Ironman. Hopefully on Sunday, Ironman is my fave.

2) What's your go-to running shoe brand?
Nike. No question - always has been, always will be.

3) What's your favourite Olympic event to watch?
It is so hard to choose just one. Triathlon, track and field, swimming, cycling road race, gymnastics.

4) Who inspires you?
Both of my folks are pretty awesome. I’m lucky to have had them as role models growing up. Also, Clara Hughes.

5) What's your pre-race meal?
Cereal and coffee. Nothing more, nothing less.

6) What's your secret indulgence?
Hmmm, I don't know if this is truly secret, but whenever Shane (the husband) goes out of town I always buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked and eat the whole thing in one sitting so I don't have to share it with him. Thankfully, he doesn’t go away that often or I’d be HUGE!

7) What time of the day do you train?
Hands down, I prefer training in the morning. That said, with IM training, I usually am training at least twice daily, so I’ve got to squeeze it in where I can.

8) Where's your favourite place to train?
I like to mix it up, but the Victoria waterfront is a pretty nice place to run, oh and Elk/Beaver Lake.

9) What was your worst injury ever?
Hard to classify it as an injury I suppose, but my pulmonary embolism in May of 2009 definitely was the biggest life changer.

10) What does it take for you to retreat to a treadmill?
I haven’t encountered it yet. Living on the West Coast I’m lucky not to need a treadmill. The one day out of the year that it snows, I just don't run.

11) Do you run with music or not?
I never have. I’m paranoid about wild animals and therefore, don’t like having one of my senses taken away.

My Questions

1) What is your favourite place you have ever travelled to, and why?

2) If you could go anywhere in the world that you have never been before, where would it be?

3) Would you ever consider doing an Ironman triathlon? (That is, if you haven’t already. If you have, would you do it again??)

4) Who is your sporting hero?

5) Do you have a crazy guilty pleasure?

6) Dogs or cats?

7) Do you have any strange piercings or tattoo(s)?

8) Swim, bike or run?

9) What is your favourite race distance?

10) Do you believe in ghosts?

11) Did my questions bore you?

Tag, you’re it! [But only play along if you want, I realize this may not be for everyone]
Sidewalk Narrative
The Sarcastic Triathlete
All Things Paris - The Fabulous Adventures of CountessLV

Tagging 11 people is too hard. I give up...
Oh, and have I mentioned that Ironman Canada is less than 7 – SEVEN – days away. *gulp*

Friday, August 17, 2012


The lack of posting over the last week or so has not been intentional. Life has been busy. On top of that, tapering has begun and I feel myself starting to retreat into my own head.

The last big(ish) week of training capped off last Saturday as we crammed in one final long bike ride before heading directly to a friend’s wedding (well, we showered first, and frantically packed our suitcases, but that was about it). From the wedding, we headed to my parent’s house to sleep for a couple hours before boarding a flight at 5:30am bound for San Diego.

The reason we were in San Diego was for a conference for my work. I spent most of my days in sessions trying not to be too nerdy with the rest of the “arts and culture” geeks, while Shane got to explore the city. That said, it wasn’t all work, and I did get some free time and a chance to get in a little exploration and sightseeing of my own. (Old Town might have been my favourite, as it made me long for another visit to Mexico).

I think it is fair to say that both Shane and I were definitely out of our routine, but we did still manage to get in a bit of training to kick off our taper (thankfully the hotel had a 25 yard pool that was very quiet at 6am).

I swam a couple mornings in the warm hotel pool (it definitely wasn’t my happy place, but it was nice to be able to swim outside all the same) and enjoyed a nice sweaty run along the waterfront one evening. We also rented some road bikes and managed to get our legs spinning for a couple hours one afternoon.

During our ride we got to see a little bit more of San Diego than the Gaslamp Quarter and the stretch of marina by our hotel. The ride up to Cabrillo National Monument was very cool and offered some amazing views of the city. Oh, and we only managed to take one wrong turn, which ended in us having to back track along the freeway ~ oops. The highways on Vancouver Island are definitely a little quieter than the freeways in southern California, haha.

I think we both would have liked to have seen a little more of the beach, but with only 3.5 days in the city, it just wasn’t meant to be.

We got home early yesterday evening and quickly settled back into our routine with a great 3000m(+) swim this morning at Thetis.

The taper mind-games have definitely started to affect Shane (even if he isn’t willing to admit it) and I can tell they are starting to weigh on my mind too. I can’t believe that IMC is only 8 days away! It boggles my mind a bit.

And so, I think it is probably time to revisit this.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 2012 – Race Report

Well, what to say about this race. In short, it was a bit of a grind.

That said, while I would have liked to have done better, I’m not really too torn up about it and am still pleased with the outcome given what I was working with.

As mentioned previously, in the lead up to the race I barely thought about it. I never really experienced the usual nerves and aside from our regular race prep on Saturday morning, the day prior was definitely not very typical of “race day-eve”.

We spent the afternoon with family cheering Cam on to an 11th place finish in the 10,000m (yay!) and then headed to a friend’s house for a bbq. It was a great, relaxed day, where I barely gave any more thought to the fact that I had a race the next morning.

We headed home just after 8pm to get everything ready for the next day (something that I usually do much earlier in the day, so that felt a little weird) and headed off to sleepy time village.

Of course, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, the nerves finally hit.

When I awoke Sunday morning I felt like I had barely slept and for some reason, I was still feeling really nervous. I don’t know why, but my tummy was full of butterflies. The usual routine followed: breakfast, coffee, bathroom, yadda, yadda... and then we were out the door and on our way to the race site.

Set up transition, walk transition, porta-potty stop, lube of various body parts, wetsuit on, nerves, nerves, nerves… and it was go time!

I was in the first of two waves for the Olympic distance race, which started 2mins after the sprint wave. There were A LOT of breast-strokers and back-strokers in that sprint wave, which added a few little obstacles once my wave was finally underway, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked like it could be while we were standing on shore waiting to start.

What to say about the swim. It didn’t feel terrible, but I also didn’t feel like I had much to give. There was a bit of bumping and banging and jostling in the first 400-500m, but it spread out pretty quickly and I thought I settled into a rhythm okay. Unfortunately, I was much much slower than I should have been (and that I know I am capable of).

The swim just felt long and it seemed like I was in the water for a pretty significant period of time. My thoughts drifted at times and my tummy started growling pretty badly with (I would guess) about 400m to go. Never a good sign.

Out of the water and up to T1 I was shocked by how wet I was. That probably sounds a bit weird - like duh, you were just in a lake - but as I tore my wetsuit down it felt like half the contents of Elk Lake spilled out of it. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much water dripping off of me ~ I was absolutely drenched! I even had to wipe my face with my hand to be able to see anything through the water dripping from my hair as I neared my bike. This didn't really affect me negatively, but it stood out to me, as it was kind of unusual.

Anyway, T1 felt like it was in slow motion. There was nothing wrong with it or crazy or comical, it was just slow and methodical.

I had a decent mount, and as I started riding I heard [coach] Kelly say something from the side of the road. I’m pretty sure I looked at him and said something like “that wasn’t a great swim” in the most monotone and unenthusiastic voice ever. I think his response was something along the lines of “that’s okay, you need to keep going”.

What to say about the bike. Well, it didn’t feel terrible, but I also didn’t feel like I had much to give (sound familiar, haha). My tummy was still feeling quite hungry, but I just couldn’t seem to bring myself to get anything into it. I knew I had to take a gel and some fluid, but it was the last thing I wanted to do and so I just kept turning over my legs and trying to push as much as I could.

Shane passed me with a smack on the butt much sooner than I would have liked (or was expecting) and so I grumbled about my bad swim as he passed. Later he would tell me that he thought I said "that was a fucking fast swim!" Haha, how completely opposite my dear. Opposite.

Just before the turn around I finally sucked it up and got a gel in and tried to make a better effort to drink.

Now, for all my grumbling, I do quite enjoy the out and back style course. It was fun (and also a good distraction) to see my Dad, Shane and Kirsten at different points on the road… and you know, even though I was failing hard at my nutrition and felt a little lethargic, I actually was enjoying myself and was in a fairly good head space.

Coming into T2 I had a decent dismount and racked my bike easily. I again felt a bit dazed and like I was moving in slo-mo while at the rack, but I got my race belt, socks and shoes on and was out in a somewhat respectable time (not fast, but not terribly slow either).

As I left transition I heard my Mom yell at me that my Dad was just up ahead. I don’t know if that was good motivation or what, but I felt like I came out of transition running well. My calves were kind of tight, but nothing horrible, and I actually had a bit of a spring to my step.

I think I probably caught my Dad about 1km in and slowed down for a few moments to chat (and also contemplate whether I should just run with him or actually try and push on). He was also experiencing some crampy and uncomfortable calves, and so I decided to forge ahead.

I felt like I was running pretty strong for the first 2.5-3km when all of a sudden I got the worst cramps in both sides of my abdomen and in both of my calves simultaneously (that’ll teach me to only eat one gel and maybe half a bottle of fluid on the bike). The cramping was bad enough that I pretty much stopped dead. I walked for a few moments (it felt like forever, but probably wasn’t much more than 45seconds to a minute - although I never actually looked at my watch) and then started running again.

I tried to focus on staying relaxed and calm and just pushing through. Telling myself just to run at Ironman race pace and see how that felt. After another km or two I started to loosen up and feel a bit better. The stomach cramps passed and my calves began to release. I think my pace picked up slightly, but not too too much.

Much like the bike, even though I felt a bit flat, I was still having a good time and did try to smile and thank all the volunteers at the aid stations.

With about 800m to go I tried to pick it up a little more, but also had the thought of “well, if Kirsten catches me now, she deserves it.” A true competitor I am, haha.

I rolled across the finish line in 2:48:29. About a minute slower than last year at this race, but still good enough for 2nd in my age group (which honestly, was a bit of a shock, but I'll take it!).

Initially I was a bit disappointed in myself and the race that I had, but then I cut myself some slack.

I’m in no way trying to make excuses for my performance, but I started to think about the fact that I had just finished the biggest part of the build to Ironman. I had a very unusual week (for me) leading up to this race, and had been on antibiotics for the previous 6 days. Of course I felt a little sluggish.

When I put it all in perspective, it definitely made me feel better about the day, and I was really pleased with my mental game and the fact that I pushed through even when I wasn’t really feeling it. In the end, it wasn't meant to be an "A" race, but it definitely turned out to be a good "race effort" training day.

Oh, and winning a sweet draw prize basket full of cycling goodies also helped!

Friday, August 3, 2012


I haven’t really thought much about putting pen to paper, err, I guess, fingers to keyboard, lately.

It has been a crazy busy week at work with the opening of Mamma Mia! on Tuesday night. Opening night was a wonderfully cheesy, ABBA-filled good time spent with my lovely friend Kelly (first night away from the new baby ~ wooo!), but meant I did not get to bed until nearly midnight. Having to be up at 5am to head to the lake for swim practice threw me off a little (I definitely don’t function well on only 5hrs of sleep), couple that with a dose of antibiotics due to a saddle sore gone wrong (let’s just say something very similar to this happened after last Saturday’s long ride, causing me to look like I was growing a testicle on Sunday) and my body has been, well, just a little off this week. Thankfully, the antibiotics are clearing things up, and well, also, very thankfully, it happened now and not 2 weeks from now.

Anyway, this has probably been one of my lower volume training weeks in the whole build to Ironman. It wasn’t intentional (see above: crazy work, abscessed crotch, also an unexpected pool closure due to some kid’s poop, etc. etc.) but I haven’t really been too stressed about it. Actually, I’m feeling very ‘Zen’ about everything right now. At the time of writing this sentence, Ironman Canada is 22 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes and 14 seconds away. I’m excited and nervous, but also feeling strong and ready. I think my belief in myself and my abilities continues to grow.

Sappy self-motivational sh*t aside, this weekend includes the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Triathlon at Elk Lake. I’m racing the Olympic distance. I’m hopeful I will pull together a good race (although, didn’t Simon recently say “hope is not a strategy” ~ hmmm), but more than anything I just want to go out and have a good time. Fun is definitely on the agenda for this weekend.

Man, in writing that last paragraph, I’ve just realized that this is probably the most I’ve even thought about this race at all, haha.

Maybe the reason I haven’t given it much thought is for some of the reasons above (work, crotch, etc.), but probably more so due to the fact that tomorrow is Cam’s first race at the Olympics!!!!

Have I mentioned that I LOVE THE OLYMPICS??!!
Have I mentioned that my cousin ~ Cam Levins ~ is racing??!!

So yeah, general Olympic love + a family member racing = Olympic excitement overload!

Anyway, tune in tomorrow at 1:15pm PST (on CTV I think) to cheer Cam on. The family is all getting together to cheer, and we will all be wearing our new “Stop Cam” shirts that the guys at Frontrunners so awesomely gave to us. I know I speak for absolutely everyone in our crew when I say we could not be more proud of Cam.

I tried to get a photo of Rusty and I in our Olympic shirts, but well, he wasn’t really cooperating. So this is as good as it gets for now.

Also, if anyone is reading this and is like “why would you wear ‘Stop Cam’ shirts?”

Well, it comes from the American runner, Steve Prefontaine.

When he was racing at the 1972 Olympic Trials one of his competitors took off his jacket and had a 'Stop Pre' shirt on. A big group of his competitor's spectators in the stands did the same thing.

Prefontaine won the race and broke the American record in the process. He then jogged over to the stands and grabbed one of the 'Stop Pre' shirts and did his victory lap in it. As soon as he did that, it ended up symbolizing the 'try to stop me' attitude that he had. It has since been a legendary moment in track and field.

Here is a picture of Pre with the shirt.

Oh Canada ~ GO CAM GO!!!!