Before the race…
I didn’t really get a lot of sleep the night before the race. 5 hours to be exact! I was tired when I was eating dinner, but after getting all my gear together I was wired!! Because T1 and T2 were in two different locations there was a whole lot of sorting out that was required. I crawled into bed and turned the lights off at 11:00. And then I was up at 4:00. On purpose. I jumped out of bed as soon as my alarm went off, showered, got dressed and loaded up the car. Then it was on to Tim Hortons to grab some coffee and pick Pam up in Stony Plain. We then got to T1 at Hubbles Lake just as soon as it opened at 5:45 am.
We had plenty of time to get set up in transition. Some folks had dropped their bikes off the night before and it was eerily quiet. All of our spots in transition were assigned so there were no worries about rushing to jockey for the best spot. I was happy with where I was located though, on the far row, close to the transition exit. We were given two bags – one to check at T1 with all the gear we would need for our run, and one that we would leave at T1 where volunteers would pack up all our swim stuff and leave in T2.
As for pre-race nutrition strategy…I really thought about this since I had stomach problems at Wasa. I ate a peanut butter and jam sandwich pretty well as soon as I got into transition, about 2 hours before the race. There was a handy dandy countdown clock in transition that helped me time the rest of my nutrition. An hour and a half before race start I ate a banana. Then about 20 minutes before race start I ate a gel.
Once my transition spot was set up I found teammates and friends (like Susi and Julie), then realized that the porta-potty line was getting long so I jumped in at the end. It took awhile to make it through the line and all of a sudden I had about half an hour to race start and I needed to get into my wetsuit. Once it was on I rushed into the water, got in a couple of quick strokes to check that my goggles weren’t leaking, then it was back on the beach and Oh Canada was sung. This was real…I was about to race my first half Iron!
The swim (2000 m) – 47:05
Goal: To have a fun and happy swim!
I lined up near the back of the pack and on the far left. We would swim two clockwise 1000m laps – 400m out to buoy #1, 200m across to buoy #2, then 400m back to the beach. Repeat! I got a little of course to the first buoy but I was in a happy place. Very minimal contact and I was feeling really relaxed on the swim. Things got a little crowded at the buoys, but no big deal. As I swam back toward the beach I started feeling like I had to pee again. Hmm. I hit the beach and ran around the buoys on the beach and got back into the water. The spectators cheering were amazing! Back into the water… As I swam toward the first buoy again I knew I needed to figure out this out. I stopped kicking and just concentrated…and success! Ah…relief… Towards buoy #2 I wound up going pretty well neck and neck with another guy..still in my happy place! I knew I had met my goal of having a fun swim…none of those, “what the heck am I doing” thoughts like I have had in my last two open water swim races.
2000 metres: 47:05
Overall 555 out of 672
Females 30-39 80 out of 94
When I got to my bike I snuck a peak at my Garmin and it was showing that my heart rate was in zone 5. I took my time getting ready to give my heart rate a chance to settle down. Socks and shoes, Garmin, sunglasses and helmet all on. Bike off the rack and out of T1. My swim gear tossed on top of my plastic bag.
2:32 (back calculated from my bike time as transition times weren’t measured)
The bike (90 km) – 2:58:43
Goal: To race a strong race on the bike. Icing on the cake would be coming in under 3 hours.
Ah the bike. My favourite! I had loaded my bike up with two bottles of nuun, one bag of Gu Chomps (180 calories) and a 5 serving flask of espresso Hammer Gel (450 calories). The bike course is quite a bit flatter than what I am used to riding around Calgary. Coming out towards the back of the pack from the water means that I have some passing to do on the bike. I was very keen to ride my own race, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of energy passing people. Drafting officials were out in full effect on the bike course and I was pretty paranoid about that, so passing it was! There were a few points in time when someone would pass me, then settle in and slow down, so I’d have to pass them…and this back and forth would keep going on.
Once we turned south on 770 things got a bit more interesting as we hit some rolling hills that helped to separate people out a bit more. This was also where I first started to see people coming back towards me from the out and back.
Like it or not I was going to be racing the bike without bike gloves. I’ve done without them on my shorter races this year, but was sitting on the fence for this longer ride. Well, I either lost a glove on my way to Stony or left it behind in Calgary, so no gloves on the bike for me!
There were plenty of aid stations on the bike. Each one had water, Gatorade and bananas. Even though I was carrying nuun on my bike I picked up water and Gatorade from time to time. They were filled in open top bottles meant for you to either dump in your aero bottle (which I don’t have), or you swig it and toss the bottle right away. I sipped my nuun on other occasions when I needed it. I didn’t pick up any bananas and I ate my Chomps first, then moved on to the gel flask. I thought I would want a bit of solid nutrition, but I made sure to eat it early. Chewing and riding is tough though…why is it always hard to breathe and why does it always make my nose run?
Coming down Heartbreak Hill was so much fun…but then after the downhill there was a big uphill. It took momentum away but I really enjoyed the climb up! From there it was a bit further to the turnaround point…then back we go! When I turned around I realized that we had been blessed with a tail wind on the way out. Sigh…
Going up Heartbreak Hill was interesting. There was a group of riders slightly farther ahead. Three vehicles were looking to pass the cyclists but couldn’t give them enough room to pass so they were crawling along. One rider zoomed on past the group of riders and as soon as he was in front of the cars he pulled in front of them to keep passing bikes. Seriously! Why would you pull in front of a car like that??
On the way back I started to enter the “bite me” zone a bit on the bike. I was pedalling and trying to keep my cadence high but the wind was keeping me from riding as quickly as I would have liked. I didn’t want to push so hard through this wind and then have nothing left for the run. Plus I was starting to tense up in my shoulders and my sit bones were hurting… I knew I needed to keep going and keep a positive attitude so I just focused on riding my best ride.
At one point just up ahead there was a group of three people who somehow managed to get kind of bunched up. It didn’t seem like anyone was making a move to pass and they were most definitely in the draft zone. Where is a draft official when you need one? A few minutes later I heard a motorcycle behind me. They moved up to the group of three and pointed at two of them…most likely getting penalties. If you got sighted for drafting it was noted in the results. Your number was radioed into T2 and after you racked your bike but before you left on your run you had to run a lap of shame.
I just buckled down to get few miles over with and stretched my legs out and tried to ignore my poor sore sit bones. Then there I was…nearly at T2 and about to make my best case scenario goal time.
90K: 2:58:43 (according to Garmin)
90K + transitions: 3:02:37
Overall 384 out of 672
Females 30-39 49 out of 94
As soon as I ran across the mount line volunteers are there asking for your number. As soon as the last race participant leaves T1 all of the bike racks and gear are packed up and moved to T2. Since you don’t know where your stuff is the very helpful volunteers are pointing you in the right direction to rack your back and your gear bag that you checked earlier in the morning is there waiting for you. The girl helping me find my stuff told me not to worry, that as soon as I was out on my run she would organize all of my gear for me. Thanks! Helmet swapped out for hat, bike shoes swapped out for sneakers, three Gus in my jersey pocket and I was ready to go!!!
1:21 (according to Garmin)
The run (21.1 km) – 2:15:05
Goal: To run my best race possible, whatever happened would happen and time was somewhat irrelevant. Best case scenario would be beating my first half marathon time from the Calgary 2007 half marathon, 2:21, but I would be satisfied regardless.
I tried so hard to start out slow on the run. I thought I was taking it easy but my pace was a bit fast. I figured that as long as I was keeping my heart race in zone 3 I would just go with it and made peace with the fact that I would slow down over the course of the run.
The run course is interesting. It is an out and back, but it has a couple of loops so it gives you plenty of opportunity to see folks. Since Team Tri Life had so many folks racing this was a great chance to see everyone and cheer each other on. Seeing my friends racing and seeing those who weren’t racing but were there to cheer us on was such a huge boost for me. For the most part the run was also on nice quiet run pathways.
Even though I was carrying three Gus with me I figured I would use the aid stations as a bit of an opportunity to pick up some Hammer Gels along with way. Each aid station was stocked with water, Gatorade, flat cola, cookies, orange slices and Hammer Gels. I didn’t carry any fluids with me on the run and I alternated between grabbing water and Gatorade on the way out.
As we approached the turn around the strong sun and heat started to get to me. I was definitely slowing down. Somehow the wind I felt on the bike was nowhere to be found on the run. Funny, eh? I walked through the aid station somewhere around 7 miles and took my second gel on the run, then figured I should wash it down with some water…and hmm, some Gatorade sounded good. And so did some flat Coke! As I ran away from the aid station I realized that I had just put a lot of stuff in my stomach at once! It sat okay, but after that I was afraid to put more gel in there as I was worried it would lock up. So from there on out I continued with Coke or Gatorade. My stomach actually never complained on the race at all so my nutrition strategy was working pretty well!
I tried to encourage as many people as possible on the run, even though I was fading. I went into that same zone that I have entered on all of my marathons. Your brain is ready to be done, you aren’t moving fast, but your body just keeps moving. When I had 5K left to go I just wanted to get this race over and done with. As I moved into the final mile I started to get choked up. I was so close and I was on pace to meet my super duper best case scenario! However crying in races very swiftly turns into hyperventilating so I told myself to save it for the finish line. All of a sudden I was near the end…my teammates were cheering me on..!! Just turn the corner and there is the finish line!
I was neck and neck with two other guys and dug down for a sprint to the finish. One guy realized what was up and did not want to get passed. He edged me out by 2 seconds, and I just edged the other fellow out. Nothing like a sprint finish to the end of a half Iron distance tri!! As soon as I crossed the line I started hyperventilating. I tried to hold it together as Wade, the race director, placed my very cool medal around my neck. I was done!!!
Half Marathon: 2:15:05
Overall 438 our of 672
Females 30 to 39 57 out of 94
Stay tuned for after the race and lessons learned!!
Final finishing time: 6:04:46
Overall: 422 out of 672
Females 30 to 39: 58 out of 94