The Great White North Half Iron distance triathlon is one of my favourite races. The course is great, the volunteers are amazing and I think you get a lot for your race entry fee. This year the race had a new race director so it would be interesting to see what would be different.
I think the new race director wants to make this one of the premier races in Canada. We had the usual Friday night carbo load dinner with delicious salads, pasta and your choice of steak or grilled chicken, plus desserts. The dinner was quite tasty! We also got personalized race bibs, a tote bag and temporary tattoos with our race numbers (instead of the usual black marker for body marking the morning of the race). All pretty cool.
Probably my least favourite thing about the race was the late access to the lake the day before. In previous years we’d be able to meet at the beach at 9 am, go for a swim, and practice riding up the big hill out of T1. This year we weren’t able to access the lake until 2 pm when there would be a mandatory bike drop off.
Since we couldn’t meet at the lake our team met at T2 and took a spin around the run course on our bikes. It was a nice little toodle ride as we spun around the pathways. A short brick run and then it was time to relax, grab some food and prepare for bike drop off.
Ah, the bike drop off. You had hundreds of nervous triathletes trying to access a tiny area in a small window of time. By 2 pm I just wanted to drop my bike off and go. I didn’t want to stress myself out trying to get in to my wetsuit so I skipped the swim. I tried to get in and out of bike drop off as quickly as possible, then the Husband and I drove in to Edmonton to play some mini golf and grab dinner at Olive Garden.
The Swim (2000 m):
My ultimate goal for the swim was to have a calm swim and not develop a gas baby that would hurt me on the run. I tried to get in my wetsuit with plenty of time to get in the water. I bobbed around, tried to relax, took a few strokes, and before I knew it was time to get out and on the beach for the national anthem. Check it out, one of the bagpipers was racing!
A little nervous heading to the water…
My swim went pretty well! I was calm and smooth and I met my goal of not gulping in a bunch of air.
The Bike (90 km):
One thing to mention, it started raining just before the swim and it continued to rain throughout the morning. I didn’t want to be cold on the bike so I opted to put some arm warmers on in transition. Putting arm warmers on while wet? Pretty difficult! I was really happy with my decision.
The extra time obviously had me flustered and I was in a rush to get out of there. Unfortunately I forgot to do my shoe up properly. With it being so wet out there I didn’t feel comfortable reaching over to fix it so finally 5K in I pulled off the road to remedy the situation.
The weather really sucked that day while we were on the bike. It was monsooning and I definitely tried to play it safe out on the course. I did have a pretty good ride, leap frogging with a few people. I’d pass one lady on the hills and she’d pass me on the downhills. We gave each other encouragement each time which was pretty cool!
In previous years we’ve been gifted with an awesome tail wind on the way back to town and that was noticeably absent this year. In fact there was a rough headwind in the last few kilometers. Finally I was rolling in to transition!
The Run (21 km):
The run. The part of the race I was least looking forward to! Thanks to injuries and issues I just was not ready to run a half marathon. My longest run up until this point had been a little over 10 km so I just wasn’t ready for the distance. My main goal for the run was to not hurt myself. I’d run and just see what happened. It took bit of time to get my heart rate under control so I alternated running for a minute and walking for a minute. As I settled in I upped my run interval time. I actually felt pretty good for the first 10 km. I was seeing my teammates, plus my husband, his grandmother and his aunt were on the race course cheering me on. It was awesome! It was really nice of his family to come out and see me.
When I hit 10 km I definitely started to fade and it felt like the halfway point was taking forever to get to. On the way back I spotted a porta-potty to make a quick stop at. When I started to run after the porta-potty stop I felt a twinge in my right knee. Bugger.
Since my number one goal was to not hurt myself it was time to walk it in. I kept a smile on my face the whole time though and reminded myself that my race is in August. Keep your eye on the prize!
On the last stretch before the finish I saw my teammates and coach waiting for me and I decided to run it in (with no knee pain). I feel so lucky to have such amazing friends and teammates that were there to support me after their races had finished.
Overall 634 out of 685 finishers
93 out of 104 Females 30-39
While it wasn’t my best day out there time wise I felt happy with my race. No gas baby on the swim, I biked well, and I ran what I could and made sure to keep myself healthy. I smiled the entire time. Now time to focus on the build to Ironman!!
Sounds like a great day and what beautiful medals. So excited for you as your big race approaches…
Way to race smart and strong, Leana! Congratulations! I hope the knee cooperates in the coming weeks and doesn’t give you any trouble on the big day.
I like all the smiling photos I see. For me, smiles are sometimes (pretty much all the time) more important than race times.
Sounds like you have a great base with which to build for in the final weeks before IMC!
Great job out there! You are in IM training, it totally sucks the speed out of us. You played it smart! Can’t wait to see you in just a few weeks!!!
Lindsay Goldthorpe says
Great recap Leana. I’m doing GWN this coming weekend as my first triathlon (and practice for Calgary 70.3) and am feeling slightly more relaxed after reading your report. Sounds like a super fun race. I can’t wait.