So, I’m not entirely sure why I never wrote my race report from Canada. It was an amazing experience, and I’m really proud, but I just didn’t get my act together.
…but I will now!
I decided on Ironman Canada because of the following reasons:
1. Time of year: Late August. — late enough that you don’t have to “really” start training until after ski season, but early enough that it’s still nice weather and not too far after summer.
2. Beautiful Locale: British Columbia is known for it’s beauty, and Penticton, nestled in wine country, is gorgeous.
3. Great course: According to runTri it is neither the hardest or easiest couse, but right in the middle.
4. A lot of Colorado people doing it!: My triclub, RMTC, had no less than 30 people heading up there, so it meant a lot of friends on the course and people to train with all summer.
5. Mild temps: Usually, IMCA is not too hot (like Louisville) or too cold (like St. George), but summer of 2012 was one of the hottest summers on record, and I did more hot weather training than I expected, and the temps were warm, but not too too bad.
Anyway, on to the trip.
I flew up to Spokane from Denver and picked up a rental car there. It was a quick couple hour drive up to Canada. The road up was the first part of the bike course, so I got to kill a couple birds with one stone and saw part of what I’d see later that week. I had left my bike with Wesley at ProBike Express a few days previous, so it was a pretty quick trip in a small car.
Side Note: This was the first time I had used a bike company, but after a failed Southwest Airlines experience with my bike, I wasn’t about to risk having other missing pieces and a messed up bike fit before the race. Wesley was awesome, and totally worth the money because it was door-to-door, and I didn’t have to worry about a thing!
My parents met me at our rental, and we got the lay of the land (small town, lots of fruit stands!)
The next day we checked in, and I did a quick swim in the lake… it was clear, cool (but not cold), and calm. While we were in town, we heard that there had been trouble brewing between the WTC, Graham Fraser (the organizer), and the town of Penticton. It seems that there were some financial disagreements, and a lot of anger. I still don’t completely understand what all went down other than, I realized that day, that this was my first and everyone’s last Ironman Canada… 30 years and that history was going to end in 2012. Ironman was moving Ironman Canada to Whistler and Challenge was coming to Penticton. It added a little sadness and an interesting angle to the whole experience.
The night before the race, we cooked dinner in our condo, and I finished prepping, going to bed as early as I could force myself. I played though my head all of the course, and my hopes & thoughts on my time.
Day came (too quickly), I ate some eggs and toast, and we got on the road up to the transition area. I am always nervous before a start, and we were there kinda early… I added my bottles to my bike, pumped up the tires, checked (and rechecked everything), got my wetsuit on, and sat. and sat some more. Finally, the let us into the beach area and it was time to get going!
Swim: 1:14:15 (1:57/100m)
This was a mass start, totally different than Ironman Louisville… I kept to the outside/left, hit start on my watch, and tried to not get kicked too hard when the gun went off. I tried to settle into a nice pace, and use the drafting skills I had (hopefully) picked up over the summer. I felt pretty good too… it was a big square, and the water was super clear and the perfect temp. I just tried to settle in and keep up…. when I started swimming towards shore at the end, I tried to take a straight shot, however, I saw a bunch of people over the right. I thought I didn’t need to get over to them, but as I stood up to walk to the archway, the rocks made me realize why no one was in my area. I also realized that I had never hit go on my watch, so I had NO concept of how my bike was, but I assumed it had to be under 1:20…
I eventually hobbled over the exit and made my way to the tent & the wetsuit strippers. I felt good & quick and made it to my bike and hopped on.
Bike: 6:51:53 (16.3 mph)
I had read this great description of the bike course on RunTri and felt as used it as my primary guide to the 112 miles. It broke the course into 5 sections and as expected, the first 42 miles were a fast trip past fruit stands to the base of Richter Pass. I averaged about 17.4 mph and felt good and refreshed.
The next section went up Richter Pass. I had prepped myself for this 7 miles (1200 ft elevation gain) with more than a few trips up Lookout Mountain outside of Golden, and I felt pretty solid on the trip up. The rolling hills that followed were tough, but not too bad, and as I entered section 3 (the windy section), I was feeling not too bad. Around mile 68, you take this off-shoot down Upper Bench road to the special needs section. This was rough to say the least. I hit some sort of invisible wall and each bump in the road was painful. When I got to the special needs section, I got off my bike for a second, ate a bite of chocolate, and felt much better. I also saw Heather Dokken from RMTC, and she was smiling, happy, and doing great, so that invigorated me as well.
The next section was a tough climb to Yellow lake; A much bigger slog than Richter pass, and not necessarily what they had talked up as much… it was warm at this point, and I started to dump water on my arm sleeves and self a lot at this point. After FINALLY getting to the top, I was hoping for a FAST downhill back into town. I got some of it, but the wind had picked up, and I don’t think it was as fast as I had expected. I was hoping to be closer to a 17 mph average, but it wasn’t happening, and I was glad to get back town in one piece in under 7 hours.
Super uneventful, I just tried to get some sunscreen on myself and my shoes on.
Run: 5:22:12 (12:17 avg)
This was were I was hoping to make up a bit of time vs. IMLousville… and I started off pretty strong with the first mile about 10:15 & feeling good because it was flat/slightly downhill. It was pretty close after this that I saw Matt Smith from the RMTC. He had just crushed the race and come in 2nd in his division and 12th overall. Wow. His awesome, and equally speedy wife was cheering for him and she cheered me on and I felt pepped up and ready to go!
The run followed the lake all the way down to the town my family was staying in, where it turned around and went back. I saw most everyone I knew because of the out-and-back nature of the course including Charley & his wife on-and-off for much of this first stretch. Everyone looked fast and great and it definitely invigorated me. A few miles in, you go up a slight hill, but then it’s pretty steady down. It was sunny, but not overly hot, and there were people, but not much of a crowd until you got closer to the turnaround. I knew as I was heading down into town that it was going to be a rough return trip, but I tried to just take it one mile at a time.
I made it to the turnaround in about 2:36. I had finally figured out what the race time was (more or less) and realized that if I could get back in about the same amount of time, I’d be under 13:30 (which was my “A” goal), so I worked on a walk the aid stations, run system that more or less worked for about 1 mile. Then it was more of a 5min run/1min walk, then it was just run what I could and walk only 1 min at a stretch. My stomach was starting to get rough, and all I could really eat was gel & soda, so that’s what I did. (Note to self: really figure out a better plan next time). It was hot, so I was putting a lot of water on my head and arms sleeves. Even as bad as I felt, I was 1000 times better than last time because the humidity situation was half (if that) from Louisville, so it really was a “dry heat.” I just kept plodding and eventually the empty miles along the lake made way to the more populated outskirts and parts of town.
My parents had accidentally missed my finish in Louisville, so this time they were determined not to… they stuck to just the turnaround and the finish, which worked out well as I saw them about a half-mile or so from the finish (as you turn left PAST THE FINISH) and head out to the semi-most-painful half mile ever. It’s flat and there are a ton of people, but at that point, it’s really tough to run away from where you really really want to be. I had to dig deep to get that last bit, but as I crossed the finish line, I was so so happy!
I got my medal, saw my folks, and started making my way to the athlete’s post-race area. I grabbed a piece of pizza (post IMLV it was all I wanted, so I thought it’d be good again) & a cookie, and sat down. All of a sudden, I felt AWFUL… kinda weak, kinda sick, kinda unable to eat anything. All in all, just bad. Luckily the volunteers were amazing… someone got me some soda, and I sat and tried to collect myself and feel better. I barely touched my food, made it through about 1/3 of the soda, and tried to not lay down on the ground. My parents couldn’t come in (and I didn’t feel up to walking out), so they stood on the other side of the fence from me and kept making me drink/eat more and try to get to a point where I felt like I could walk. It took a bit, but I finally mustered enough energy to get to my family. We got to the car, and started the 15mile drive back to the hotel. We had to take a slight detour at a Denny’s (my stomach was still super messed up and I needed a pitstop… I still feel bad for whomever followed me into the bathroom).
At this point, I really wanted to get down to the condo, shower, and get back to final finisher. It was getting colder, but the energy at the finish was already picking up, and it’s such a cool experience… but when we made it to the room, I settled on the couch for a few moments, my mom got me some toast (I was finally a little hungry), and I chatted with Alyssa (who was sharing the place & had been back for an hour), and we turned on the TV where they were filming from the finish. Somehow that felt as good (lame, I know) and we watched people finish. One of the most inspiring was Sister Madonna Buder, the Iron Nun. At 82, she is still running marathons (she started at 48!) and is the oldest woman to compete an Ironman. Amazing!
All in all, I am really pleased with my race. I was faster in each discipline than in 2010, and had a great time.
I can’t wait to start training again for 2014 (just need to pick a race destination first!).