How on earth has Great White North snuck up on me? Is it really July already? That means that Ironman is next month!
I had a few goals that I really wanted to meet on this race. I had such stomach problems at the Chinook Olympic race that I knew I needed a positive race here to take me into IMC. So with that I decided not to focus on a time goal and instead aim for process goals:
Swim: To have a happy swim. I’ve been feeling great on the swim in my last two races this year, so I just wanted to keep that feeling!
Bike: I wanted to race the bike strong, but not to the point where it might hinder my run.
Run: Have a strong run by keeping the pace reigned in at the beginning, aiming for a strong second half. If I experienced any stomach problems at all I needed to address them right away instead of letting it manifest.
I got to transition pretty soon after it opened at 6 am. There was a lot to think about as T1 and T2 are in two different locations. Prior to the race you bag up whatever you want on the run and drop it off with the helpful volunteers. The rest of your swim stuff will get bagged up by the wonderful volunteers after everyone leaves T1 and it will be waiting for you in T2. I took my time getting my gear set up, running through the porta-potty line several times and saying hi to friends. I was even able to spot Keith! As the clock ran down to race start I ate a banana, got into my wetsuit, ate my gel, and splashed into the water to check the seal on my goggles. The water was very nice and warm, a nice change from my last race! I made a last minute decision to race with my Timex on throughout the race so I could keep track of my overall time. It was 8 am…go time!
The swim is a 2000 meter, double loop course. I did the same thing I’ve been trying on all my races this year. Lining up about 3/4 of the way back, toward the outside. The water was warm, but also pretty silty so you couldn’t see too much of anything. The ground around the edge of the lake was also pretty soft and there was a quick drop off. I was in the mix fairly well on the first lap and just stayed in the middle of the pack. I was feeling good! Things were pretty cozy on this lap as people really wanted to fight to maintain their position. As I was on my way back to the beach I figured this was a good time to try peeing. It took a lot of work…but ahhh…so rewarding! I hit the beach, ran around the buoy and looked at my watch. 23 minutes and change. If I could keep this up I’d be poised for a slightly better swim than last year. As I dove back into the water for lap two I all of a sudden felt very alone. Where was everybody? I was confident I was swimming in a straight line and just went with it. After rounding the first buoy for the second time everyone magically reappeared. From here on out I felt boxed in. There was someone on my left, someone on my right and someone in front. The person in front kept stopping to sight and I felt like I was slowing down so much, but couldn’t get away from the other people around me. Oh well, just keep swimming, try to empty the bladder again and hang in there. When I got out of the water I looked at my watch. 48 min. Wow, I really slowed down on the second lap. Oops.
2000 meter swim: 48:30
548 out of 627…still apparently not a middle of the pack swimmer yet…
I ran over to a wetsuit stripper and I was having issues! My wetsuit didn’t want to come off over my watch or over the massive new timing chips that are being used at races this year. Finally success (thanks volunteers!) and I ran over to my bike to get ready. I felt slow….why did I care whether my race belt was right side up or not? I finally made it out of there in 3:02.
I definitely biked too hard at Chinook so my goal was to dial it back here. I had set up my Garmin so that the largest display was heart rate, and distance and time were teeny tiny. Unbeknownst to me I had also adjusted the contrast of the display so everything was very faint, making it even harder to see! I wanted to keep my heart rate below 160 unless I was going up a hill or passing someone. It was a little congested through town so I was hoping the drafting officials wouldn’t be too gung ho out here as there just wasn’t enough room for everyone to space out. Right away my stomach was sore. Uh oh. I was feeling super afraid about taking in calories and how my stomach would react. I sipped a bit of Infinit and grabbed some water from an aid station but it felt like my stomach was locking up.
On the way out we had a headwind but it didn’t feel that bad to me. I was going back and forth with a couple of guys. I’d pass them, then later they would pass me. One of them was a teammate, Lyle. I was thinking about passing Lyle at one point but some guy was sitting right on his back wheel. I waited for him to pass but he wasn’t moving anywhere. I decided to go for it and as I passed the this guy I turned to him and called him out for sitting right in Lyle’s draft zone. Despite the wind on the way out I was able to keep the HR down and keep my cadence high and easy. It was especially fun as soon as I started seeing my teammates coming back toward me. Everyone looked so great! The ride back went well, especially once we had a tail wind. Loved that and I felt so fast! I was still concerned about my stomach and I wound up taking in about half the calories I had intended to. Probably around 350? I was prepared to bike over 3 hours to reach my goal of taking it easy on the bike to set up a great run, but I managed to come in around 2:55, 3 minutes faster than last year. Average HR on the bike was below 160 and average cadence was about 89?
90K bike: 2:55:55
90K ride + T1 + T2: 3:00:38
358 out of 627
I had a fantastic volunteer as she ran me to my spot and opened up my run bag. She said she wasn’t supposed to, but she was helping out us TTL folks. Thank you!!!! I grabbed my other Garmin, my hat and got out of there! 1:40.
I carried two Gu with me on the run but after my sore stomach on the bike I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be interested in taking gels. OK, Coke it would be! I watched my Garmin to make a concerted effort to slow down. I was feeling great and I was super happy that it was overcast and a comfortable temperature. As soon as I hit the out and back sections around the pathways I started to see my teammates. Everyone looked great and I loved seeing them. This is definitely my favourite thing about this race. When I hit the aid station around the gazebo I grabbed a coke and a water. All of that liquid in there started to feel sloshy so it was time to address things right away and take a walk break. Anytime my stomach would start to feel sloshy, walk break. Don’t let it manifest into full on stomach shut down. I was feeling good until the 9K mark and then my legs started to get progressively more tired. Seriously? I had dialled it back in the early part of the race so I could pick it up and instead I was fading. Maybe it was calories, maybe it was just fatigue. I am not good at negative splitting, so who knows. I saw Kelly just before I hit the turnaround and I was able to catch up with her and run with her for a bit. Kelly and I try to run together during the week if we both have lunch runs so it was a nice boost to see her and say hi. When I hit 11K I picked it up as I needed to run my own race so I wished her well. Sadly I still wasn’t able to speed up like I had hoped but I kept forging on. Finally, 5K left to go and I saw Ally. She offered to run with me for a bit and I was grateful for the company and the distraction. I just listened to her talk. I turned to her at one point and said, “Ally, no matter how I look right now I just really want you to know that I’m having a great day.” And I was! I was addressing the stomach sloshing when it would come up and I was feeling positive. I just wasn’t keeping the speed up.
When I turned the corner and saw the TTL tent I heard everyone cheering for me. I felt awful. I had this knot in my stomach and I was worried I might barf, but I so appreciated the cheers even if I wasn’t smiling.
I turned the final corner to the finish and I heard my name. It was my friend Lori! I met Lori back in 2001 when we were roommates on a 3 month training course in Tulsa. I first heard about triathlon from Lori maybe 5 years ago as she started getting into the sport. She’s a super strong athlete and she raced IMC last year, IMNZ this year. She lives in Bakersfield, CA now, but she just happened to be in Edmonton for the weekend visiting a friend. Thanks to the wonders of Facebook we realized we were close and she decided to come down to the finish line to cheer me in. When I spotted her I almost started bawling I was so overwhelmed and happy.
21K run: 2:16:20
456 out of 627
Of course, silly thoughts enter your mind while you are racing and when I got off my bike I had looked at my watch and thought, hmm, if I can just run this fast a half marathon I’d be able to come in around 6 hours. When that looked like a pipe dream in the final 5K the goal became, try to beat last year’s time. I just wasn’t able to do it and came in 41 second slower than last year. 41 measly seconds on a 6 hour day. I beat myself up over that a little bit, but then I realized it didn’t matter. My bike/run combo was still 1:30 faster than last year so I can’t ask for much more. And in hindsight my lack of calories over the course of the day, not taking in as much water as I should have, and an average heart rate of 176 on the run (my max is about 182) just made it not possible. But I didn’t have the same stomach issues as past races, I still ran fairly well and didn’t hit the wall, and I did have a happy day on the course so I really did hit my goals for the day.
Final Time: 6:05:27
442 out of 627 finishers overall
Women 30-39: 59 out of 87