I woke up anxious about two things on race morning. The first was the hill at the start of the bike coming out of T1. I managed to build that hill up overnight in my mind into a massive wall where I’d clip in and fall over as I started the bike leg. The second was finding parking in Whistler on race morning. I spent a good amount of time Saturday figuring out which lot we could park in that wouldn’t be impacted by road closures, and then I was worried that they would all be full.
As it turns out, both things worked out just fine. We parked at the Whistler Conference Centre, which had enough spaces that early in the morning. And, when I got to T1 I realized the hill wasn’t that bad at all.
I had a long wait in transition before the race as 70.3 athletes need to be on the shuttle to T1 before 6:45 am but 70.3 racers don’t start until 8:45 am. That gave a lot of time to chat with friends, eat breakfast and cheer the Ironman racers on.
I had so many friends from Calgary in Whistler for the race, and it was wonderful to connect with them again. The time passed quickly and soon it was time to get into my wetsuit.
Swim 1.2 mi/1900 m – 44:28
My goal for the swim was to not get lazy and to swim strong the entire time. The day before the race I put a smidge of shampoo in my goggles to prevent them from fogging, but may not have rinsed them out properly. My goggles started leaking a tiny bit and my eyes began stinging. I should have done a short warm up swim to check my goggles. Eventually the leaking and stinging bothered me enough that I had to stop swimming to try and fix the problem, but wound up stopping three times! I guess I need new goggles?
Even though the race has a rolling swim start, this was one of the most aggressive open water swims I can remember. The turns at the buoys were really crowded and I had to be careful not to get kicked in the face. People behind me were pulling my legs and I had no where else to move.
When we turned the final buoy towards shore I realized the wind had really picked up. I breathed toward the left and got hit by a huge wave. The water was incredibly rough and I felt like I was swimming way off course. The last few hundred meters felt like they took forever, but finally I was out of the water.
T1 – 6:36
I decided to wear a DeSoto Cool Wings bolero, which is really difficult to put on if you are wet! The 70.3 athletes also have access to change tents and volunteers, so you get the same amenities as a full course racer. You could have done a full costume change in T1 if you wanted to!
Bike – 56 mi/90K – 4:02:48
My goal for the bike was to ride conservatively. I knew this was going to be a hilly and difficult course, but I didn’t want to ride hard and kill my legs for the run. Whistler’s scenery is gorgeous, and riding through town three times gives a good opportunity for spectator support.
It was getting hot out there, and I did my best to stay on top of my nutrition. I carried four hours worth of Tailwind with me, plus a couple of packs of GU chews. For the first time ever I wound up drinking everything I carried with me, plus extra water I grabbed at aid stations.
With 1162 m of elevation gain over the course it feels like you are either climbing or descending the entire time. The tail end of the course with all of the climbing from Pemberton to Whistler feels especially hard. We also had a really strong headwind here that made things feel just a bit harder.
I’d say that because of all of the climbing in the last part of the course that Whistler’s bike feels harder than St. George, even though they have a comparable amount of elevation gain.
T2 – 3:50
As I sat in the chair in T2 I looked at the three gels I packed in my bike to run bag. I thought to myself that I didn’t need to take all three gels because I can never eat very many gels on the run. I grabbed two, plus a tube of Base Salt.
Run – 13.1 mi/21.1K – 2:44:35
My goal for the run was to run as consistently as possible. After talking with Coach Angie the night before she encouraged me to shorten my run/walk intervals, so my watch was set to beep at 4:30/0:30. I kept my effort in check and I kept thinking about what I’d want at the next aid station ahead. I alternated between Pepsi/water/ice/salt and Gatorade. The cooling wings were magical as I kept dumping water on them at aid stations.
Whistler’s run is beautiful, with a mix of trail around a lake, and an out and back paved section. I really loved Whistler’s run course. The out and back section was a great opportunity to look for friends, which was also a mental boost!
I felt surprisingly good for most of the run. My spirits were high and nutrition was going in. I ate my two gels and regretted the third I had left behind. Mile 11 was where it started to get tough for me. I wanted the boost of another gel and Pepsi wasn’t quite enough. I willed my legs to keep turning over, but fatigue combined with running uphill was hard. I did slow down in those last few miles, but overall I would say this was one of my best executed 70.3 runs in terms of managing effort throughout and taking in nutrition.
Final – 7:42:17
I crossed the line with my slowest 70.3 time ever, but I didn’t mind in the slightest. Considering that I only started training for this race in May I believe I had my best executed day at my current fitness level. Whistler’s course is hard…but it is also incredibly rewarding. I absolutely want to come back and race here again. I loved it.
Female 35 – 39: 75 out of 109 athletes (89 finishers)
Female Overall: 407 out of 500 finishers
Overall: 1,071 out of 1,496 athletes (1,234 finishers)