Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ironman Boulder - the run

I had made it through the bike (not very cheerily) and it was now time to run.  I stuck with the same tri top and tri shorts (my favourite tri shorts from Coeur Sports), but I decided to add on a blue Sparkle Athletics skirt to my race ensemble for fun.

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That might have been one of my best decisions of the day!  As soon as I get out on the course I hear the fellow behind me say, “nice skirt!”  It was my teammate Phil who was now on his second lap of the run.  Phil and I chatted and ran together a tiny bit, but then I let him pull ahead so I could start out at my own pace.

I had my Garmin set to beep for 5:1 intervals.  I was hoping that this would give me a walk break about half way between aid stations and another walk break just in time for the aid stations.  I started grabbing Coke and water at each aid station.

A couple of miles in I came upon my cheer squad!


My mom and dad, Neil, and my friends Kelly’s and Shannon’s husbands.


My first thought when I saw them was I had no idea what my time was in the race.  I hadn’t looked to see what time I had gotten in the water at and my Garmin had been set to auto pause on the bike.  I didn’t know how much time I had lost to stopping and I wasn’t sure if the total time on my watch included those stops or not.  Luckily Neil had my tracking information handy so he was able to tell me my bike split but I still wasn’t sure what the total time on my watch meant.


Oh well, I had to keep moving!

I was having a very difficult time catching my breath while I was running.  I was really surprised as I hadn’t expected the altitude to affect me that much.  After all, Calgary is fairly high up too.  I soon left the shady part of the course by the creek and was out in the open a bit more and it was still a pretty hot day.  I had mentioned the number of people I saw lying in the ditch on the bike…it was pretty bad on the run too.  Lots of people being ill on the side of the path.  One person laying down on a big rock and having a nap.  Golf carts giving people a ride to the finish line because their day was over.  

I had to make a quick stop at a porta-potty at mile 6 and there was a girl standing outside.  She told me to watch my step because she had just been sick on the ground right in front of the toilet.  I tried to get in and out as quickly as possible but the heat in there and the sick outside was making me feel dizzy.  From there I started to feel awful.  I was still having a hard time catching my breath, I was feeling dizzy and my stomach was starting to feel like it was going to be sick.  I started walking.

At the next aid station I tried grabbing Coke and water again but it was not sitting well and I had to throw it out.  This was going to be a long race if I was going to have issues keeping nutrition down.

I saw my family around mile 9.  I managed a smile for my dad...


…but as soon as I got to Neil I broke down crying which very swiftly turned to hyperventilating.  Neil told me to keep walking and he walked a few steps with me.  I told him about the shortness of breath, the dizziness, the unhappy tummy and that I was really worried that I would have to pull out of the race.  He told me I had plenty of time to finish even if I walked.  I still had no idea what my time was in the race so I didn’t truly believe him on that, and I knew that it would be a really long night if I kept walking from here on out.

Just as Neil was trying to give me a pep talk Kelly saw me for the first time!  That poor girl…she is always so excited to see me on the run course at Ironman and I’m always having a melt down when I see her!  The same thing happened in 2012.  Both Neil and Kelly told me to get on my way so I kept on walking.

I told myself that I needed to fix this problem.  I needed to find something at the next aid station that I could stomach so I could keep fuelling.  I was initially thinking pretzels but as soon as I saw grapes I grabbed those.  They were like little bursts of heaven in my mouth.  Those, plus some more water and Coke and my stomach was feeling okay.

My number one goal for the run at Boulder was to not walk the marathon so I knew I needed to try running again.  I figured it didn’t matter how much, but any amount of running would help me get to the finish line faster than if I was just walking.  I switched up my Garmin to beep 1:1 intervals…1 minute of walking, 1 minute of running.  Okay, I could do this.  I spotted my friend Shannon running towards me.  The last time I had seen her she was in a similar boat..unhappy tummy, not feeling well and she was going to start walking.  Seeing Shannon running was my motivation that if she could turn it around so could I.

I heard someone yell my name and it was my Oiselle teammate Bret!  She ran up beside me and told me that I was looking great!  I told her I wasn’t feeling so hot, but she kept telling me that I looked awesome.  Seeing her was a huge boost!  I mean…if I looked awesome maybe I should be awesome too?

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I thanked her for the cheers and kept going.  The 1:1s were doing the trick.  My stomach was settling down and I wasn’t feeling so dizzy and lightheaded anymore.  I passed by special needs.  I had stashed some chips, a way too big shirt from Great White North from last year and my headlamp.  I grabbed my headlamp but left the rest behind.  I wasn’t too worried about it cooling off too much later in the evening.

I hit the halfway point at 3:09:53.

My teammate Evan caught up with me on a walk break just before he made his turn off to the finish.  We ran together for a little bit before his turn.  This was his first Ironman so I told him to enjoy the moment running to the finish line…one of the best feelings in the world!  One of my favourite things about the run course at Boulder was that I was able to see all of my teammates except for Angie and I was able to run with Phil, Chris and Evan for a short bit.  I loved having those moments out on the race course with them!

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The sun was starting to set now and that made a huge difference in how I was feeling.  I decided to change my intervals up to 2 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking.  Anything to keep me moving forward a little bit faster!  I didn’t really notice it to begin with, but the majority of people around me were all walking now.  Just as I approached a turn around at mile 16 I passed a lady.  She commented that I’d been passing her all day and that I needed to keep it up, stay in front of her and start picking off the people in front of me.  From there to the finish I passed a lot of folks but I think maybe only three people passed me?  I couldn’t believe that I was still running while everyone around me was walking.  I heard from people after the race about how they saw more people walking and from really early on than they had noticed in other races.  I think it is a testament to how tough of a day it was out there for many people.

I kept up with my 2:1 intervals and just kept moving.  I also kept grabbing Coke and ice water at every aid station, plus grapes here and there.  Once the chicken broth came out I alternated between that and Coke.  Once it got dark out and they started to hand out the glowing necklaces I put my headlamp on.  It got really dark out on the pathway so I was glad I had thought of putting my headlamp in special needs!  I was also feeling a lot of love out there on the course for my Sparkle Skirt!  I got a lot of comments from fellow racers and so many cheers from spectators.  It really helped to put a smile on my face!

I kept looking at my watch, trying to think if I would be able to make it in under 16 hours.  I estimated that if I had started at 6:30 and if I kept up the pace I was at I should be able to do it.  Finally I made the turn off course and towards the finish line.  People were cheering, yelling congratulations and that we would soon be an Ironman.  I could hear Mike Reilly announcing people in at the finish line and the emotions were catching up with me.

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The final few meters along the red carpet to the finish line were so sweet.

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I had wanted to make Boulder my best day ever.  I went from thinking I may have to pull out on the run to running a negative split on the marathon.  I had mentioned my first half of the marathon was 3:09:53.  I ran that second half in 2:55:47!  Run all done in 6:05:40.

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And I even managed to make my goal and come in under 16 hours.  15:42:23!!!

I’m proud of my race and that I was able to turn things around on that run course.  It was not an easy day out there and I feel like I really earned that finish line.  Thank you to every single one of my friends, family and team members.  Their little words of encouragement meant so much and helped pull me up when things were getting tough.  And thank you to everyone who was tracking online, tweeted me or has cheered me along on my journey to Boulder.

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And to my best teammates Kelly and Shannon, thank you for all of your love and support on this journey to another Ironman.  I’m so lucky to have you as friends!  (PS Tara…thank you for being such a great training partner and friend…I missed you in Boulder!)


The finish line…the best feeling in the world...


  1. Congratulations on your amazing accomplishment! Your finishing photos say it all.

  2. Another IM finish, every one of them is different and your journey to the finish line was a great testament to your training, your mental strength and your will to get that PR. Way to go out there girl! I have no doubt I'll be reading about your next adventures soon but until then, enjoy this EARNED IT!

  3. These were so fun to read. Amazing job!!!

  4. Awesome! Loved reading this.

  5. Congrats on finishing strong! Sounds like it was a really tough day out, so way to hang tough. Hope that you are relaxing and enjoying some down time!

  6. Congrats on your finish AND PR Leana! You look fantastic out there. I am in awe of the whole thing :)

  7. Wow. Just Wow! Congratulations on another amazing finish and PR! You look super happy in all the photos even if you weren't always feeling that way. You've been such an inspiration through my first triathlon season and I wanted to than you for that. I've nominated you for a Very Inspirational Blogger Award but no pressure to participate Congratulations again!

  8. Cheers on your negative split! And for turning things around. You came so far and didn't give up, and that is SO inspiring.