(WARNING: This is going to be a loooong post. You might want to grab a cuppa and put your feet up!)
What an amazing weekend! First there was the carbo dinner on Friday night – I got to meet up with a ton of people, some I get to see often, others not so often, which was wonderful. They had a performance of Japanese drumming that was brilliant. Too bad they wouldn’t be on the run course on Sunday!
Saturday was all about doing a short swim bike run, getting organized for the race then resting. When we got to the lake the wind was really gusty and the lake was choppy. Hmmm, what was it going to be like tomorrow?? Oh well, time to get in there and figure out how to swim in this just in case Sunday would have the same conditions. We got in the water and surprise, surprise – it was warmer than standing on the beach!! The buoys weren’t up, but there was one out there that was located near where the second buoy would be. I had a bit of trouble with the choppiness and had issues getting the ever so vital air into my lungs, but I stayed calm and mustered through. Pam and I did a short synchro routine at the buoy before we headed back. Fun and games with wetsuit buoyancy, haha. After that I did a short ride and run, I felt pretty good and was confident about the next day.
The rest of the day was spent hanging with friends and meeting new people. I have to say the boys from UCTC are some of the funniest people I’ve met. The laughter was great for keeping any pre race jitters at bay. For some reason though, later on in the evening I started to get a nervous stomach. I’m not sure why as I have done this race before and knew that I was well trained and prepared. Coach Angie said it just meant that I cared. This is true, I did care about this race. I did some deep breathing and tried to relax…in the end a slug of Jack Daniels and then some stretching is what did the trick!. (Kids DO NOT try that at home! Ha Ha)
Race day finally arrived – again I didn’t sleep (that’s two nights in a row, sigh) but I didn’t feel that bad. I looked outside and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky or wind - PHEW! You really can’t ask for anything better. We carpooled down to T1 and I felt surprisingly calm. I was going over in my head everything that I had with me…did I forget anything?? I realized that as long as I had the essentials I would be ok.
I lucked out big time with my transition spot, it was right in front of the tent I’d run through out of the swim. Nice. I’d left my bike there the night before and was happy to see it was still there, haha. I started putting my fuel bottles in the cages and attached my cadence and speed computer. Whoa, what’s this?? Everything is in Italian! Huh?? Does anyone know the word for cadence in Italian?? No problemo, I would adapt. It’s these teeny issues that can sometimes throw you for a loop if you are nervous about a race, but I wasn’t going to let that happen. I set my computer to what I think was the total time and the speed. I finished setting up my T1 and put my run gear in the truck for them to take it to T2. All was well.
Soon enough it was time to get my wetsuit on and go for a warm up swim. Had a little glitch getting the suit on, I noticed my left leg was turned around. Sigh. One day I would master this task! After a few of the requisite wetsuit pelvic thrusts and yanking, it was finally on. Into the water I went. I didn’t go out too far, but I felt really good. For the race I positioned myself mid pack and to the left. It was at this point I realized how calm I felt. I mean it was weird, no stomach jitters, no nerves, just a nice feeling of peacefulness and loving the fact that I was about to do this race. That’s never happened before! Soon enough the anthem was sung, the horn went off and I was running into the water. I stayed to the left and figured I’d just do a straight line to the first buoy. I was amazed that there weren’t more people near me, I mean I could see them all around when I was sighting, and I felt a few ‘taps’, but overall I had a clear path. I got into a strong stroke right away, focused on my technique and just did it. It was amazing! I have never had such a strong swim in a race before. For the first time ever I didn’t have to flip on my back for a bit!! I could breathe and I’d gone out a little faster than normal! Yay! I kept thinking, can this really be happening?? I’m having the best swim of my life. Halleluiah!! Go, Go, Go!! Before I knew it I was back at the beach and running around the buoys and back in I went. Of course I did the dolphin dives because I do love them so! The second lap was even better. At one point I wondered if I was way in back or something because I really didn’t get much contact. I came out of the water smiling and running to the strippers. I’m so thankful they have wetsuit strippers at this race, as I’m even more of a spazz getting my wetsuit OFF as I am getting it on.
T1 – Okay one event down, two to go. I sat down and started wiping my feet off. To my amazement the guy beside me offered me a water bottle to rinse my feet off. How sweet was that!! With all my gear on I was off. I saw Angie jumping up and down like mad because Nola, Jenn and I were all out and running at the same time. I had no idea how long my swim took, but she seemed excited so I guess it was good??
There is a short hill to get out of T1 and as I was going up it I looked down and noticed that the straw for my profile bottle was gone. Hmmm, that was not a good thing. Okay, these things happen. This is when one must remain calm and come up with a solution. No problem, I have two bottles on the back cages, I’ll drink those then stop and pour what’s in my profile bottle into one of my other bottles. Yes it will take time, but that’s life. With that little issue addressed I focused on my biking. My plan was to use the section to the overpass as my warmup then focus on keeping my cadence up as well as my speed. As I made my way into Stony I could feel a cramp start on my right side. What the heck was that all about? I haven’t really taken in any drink. Nothing to worry about, just ride it out. It was at this point I noticed someone lost a profile bottle…hmmm, should I grab the straw?! No, just keep pedaling. I was getting passed quite a bit, which is normal for me. I still need to work on biking a bit more, haha. I was starting to count all the Ironman tattoos going by, wow, there’s a lot of them out here! Now, some people might get discouraged by getting passed so much. Me, well now I like to put another spin on it. I kicked their butt in the swim! Had I been able to do the Snoopy Happy Dance on the bike I would have.
Now I won’t go into all the deets of my bike ride, cause then we’d all be here forever reading this thing – even more so than we are! Lets just say the cramping didn’t get better…in fact, it got worse. I had my coach’s voice in the back of my head saying ‘No matter what take in calories!’. So even with the cramping and discomfort I keep drinking the Perpeteum and taking water at the aid stations. The things I made sure of was that I stayed positive no matter what and that I pedaled as fast as I could. I could get through this. I have a Dutch/Scottish heritage. What does that have to do with triathlon?? I’m friggin stubborn! There was no way I was going to let this get me down! I kept pedaling and trying to keep my speed up. (I didn’t actually know what speed I was going, I was afraid if I looked at the computer that I’d see a slow speed and it might have a negative effect. So I went with feel.) I had some great moments on the bike passing some on the hills, and FLYING down into the valley! It was after the turnaround point I had one very short teary moment as the pain was getting acute and I felt like someone was stabbing me in my abdomen and low back. I was also having an issue with ‘mini-pukes’. Not enough to hurl, just enough to get into throat, ugh. At that point I must admit, I had a fleeting moment of doubt about finishing. But it was only fleeting because I realized if I didn’t finish I wouldn’t be able to wear the ‘Survivor 2007’ shirt. Big deal some would say…but this years shirt was special….it was PURPLE! My ultimate favourite colour!!! There was NO WAY I was going to stop. So I tossed any time goals I had and said to myself, just ride. This is not about time anymore it’s about finishing. Do your best and DO NOT GIVE UP! So I rode. I smiled. I tried my best. At one point one of the gals from Cochrane went by and asked how I was – I told her and she actually passed me Tums on the bike! Haha. I took them, but unfortunately they didn’t help. I was grateful for her kindness though. Finally I was back in town, I had no idea what time it was and I didn’t care. I needed to get myself prepared for the run. I was going to try it and see what happens.
I really wasn’t sure if I had enough ‘fuel in the tank’ for the run. I was only able to get down one and a half bottles of Perpetuem and I should have had three. I tried a bit of gel at the start, but it didn’t go down very well. Bummer. Time to dig really deep and just do it. I put on my smile and started running. I thought to myself, just run between aid stations and drink water. Just do your best. My stomach still didn’t feel great, but thankfully the sharp pains were subsiding a bit. Ken, my coaches hubby, was at the 5 km mark he asked how I was and I told him. He said just to keep running and take in Coke and water at the aid stations. So that’s what I did. Instantly the mantra ‘one by one, the job will get done’, popped into my head. I was going to do this. This is what racing and pushing yourself was all about!! For most of the run I did better than I expected. I kept my goals small, just aid station to aid station. I smiled at everyone I saw and kept a positive mindset. I love the out and back runs because you see so many of your friends out there. Seeing them gave me energy and kept me going. All went well till about the 17 km mark. It was then I could feel the dreaded bonk coming on. I had anticipated it happening because of not being able to take in enough nutrition. The last 4km were very hard for me, physically and mentally. My smile faded some and I just kept thinking ‘You aren’t that far from the finish, just keep going, one foot in front of the other’. At this point I hadn’t walked except through the aid stations, but I did decide to walk a very short bit, just enough to regroup. Then it was go time. Lets get this thing finished. I was counting off the kilometers. With 1.5 km I saw Ken and Doug. Ken asked how I was, all I could say was ‘Bonk’. He smiled and said only 1.5 km to go – just keep running!
The last few hundred meters were very emotional for me. Annie ran down to meet me and cheer me on, I was ready to burst into tears because I was almost finished and I couldn’t believe I did it with how I had been feeling. Leslie and Angie started running with me too. Leslie kept going with me around the corner, that’s when we both saw the time clock. I was just under 6:20 hrs. Leslie just started hollering to run and so I could get under 6:20 – so with what little I had left in me I ran - hard.
My finishing time was 6:19:37. HOLY CRAP!! I took over 30 minutes off my time from last year!!!! Had I been able to jump up and down I would, but I was having troubles just standing so instead, with Leslie’s help, I walked and tried to let it all sink in.
My official times were as follows: Swim: 40:25, Bike: 3:16:51, Run: 2:22:23. PRs in every event.
My goal this year was to push myself physically and to race a half Ironman. I feel I accomplished that goal. Not only did I push myself physically, but I pushed myself mentally. No matter how much discomfort I felt I maintained a positive attitude and it’s that attitude that’s going to get me through IMC!!