Alrighty, it’s been
3 almost 4 weeks since IM 70.3 Worlds and I promised I would write about how I got there. Here’s the short version: I raced Ironman 70.3 Victoria and earned a spot.
Now for the long version. First up, the races. When my little friends qualified at Oceanside, I knew I needed a couple of races to give myself a fighting chance to get a spot considering I was coming from a baby deficit. I raced two 70.3 three weeks apart: Victoria and Coeur D’Alene.
This is basically my hometown 70.3. Victoria is a 1:40 ferry ride from just outside of Vancouver. I had done this race 3 times before solo and once as a relay. I also worked the 2016 race almost 8 months pregnant. I know this race well. That made me less excited to head over and race it, but it fit well with getting a worlds spot. I headed over with a friend the day before the race and had a mellow day getting my stuff together. This was also the first time I had left the baby for more than a few hours. A few times I thought I should pull out as baby E wasn’t happy with the bottle. With just a few days before I left, he finally drank a bottle of very expensive, German, organic, grass-fed formula. He was feeding, but it might bankrupt us.
With baby E still drinking the bank-account draining, specially ordered formula, I left for Idaho with Laurel and SMO on a chatter filled, girl’s road-trip. It’s a 8 hour drive to Coeur D’Alene from Vancouver so this was definitely more of a destination race for us. We rented an awesome Air-bnb with a rooftop deck. We sat in the heat, drank local beer and chatted with the 6 other people we were sharing the house with. It felt more like a vacation. We had been to this pre-race before, but two of us didn’t fulfill our CDA destiny. We were going to make it this time even if it was half the distance.
Race morning Victoria:
I wish I had a picture of SMO’s face when I came out of the bathroom with my sports bra on at 3:30am. Without a baby around, it was going to take some extensive pumping to get those things to behave for 6 hours. I sat in the truck and drained myself of almost 40oz of precious breastmilk. Finally, I was able to fasten my bra and squeeze into the tri top I had ambitiously purchased in my 2015 size.
Race morning CDA:
More of the same, but less extreme with the pumping. We stayed close enough in CDA that we enjoyed a stroll down to the start as the sun was coming up.
I got my warm up done and headed over to the corral to start. I was nervous. This was the first race since 2015 and I didn’t want to be left at home for worlds. I had plans to start ambitiously with the 30 min group, but when the regional director asks if you want to lead the swim, you do NOT say no. If you are reading this and you swim a 24 minute 1900m and it makes you super angry that they let little ole me start first, it’s who you know not how fast you swim. It might make you feel better to know that I ran into that water, sprinted to the first buoy and then felt like the bulls were running me down in the streets of Pamplona. I basically spent the rest of the swim trying to keep my arms moving gasping for breath.
I got my warm up done and headed over to the corral to start. I had plans to start in the 30 minute group, so I did. Right next to Laurel. I enjoyed what felt like a leisurely swim and came out of the water 30 seconds behind my time from Victoria. There has got to be some happy medium between those two starts.
For the first few kilometers I must have been riding with a stupid grin on my face. I’m riding in a half iron! It’s sunny! I’m passing people! This is so fun! It took me 30km to settle down and realize I still had a long way to go. A new course was introduced here in 2016 and it is simply amazing. You ride next to beaches and through parkland. The course gets tougher as your go with some sizable and punchy hills on the back half. I love this new course.
The first part of the CDA course is similar to Victoria with the lake views and the rolling hills. After you ride back through town and head out on the highway, however, Victoria wins hands down over this course. Long grinding hills with little scenery out to a turn around and then back. This course has 300m more climbing and I wanted to ride it harder than three weeks earlier. I figured I had nothing to lose if things blew up. I came in to T2 7 minutes sooner than in Victoria. Progress.
A flat trail half marathon was all that stood between me and my worlds spot. Ha, right, “only” a half marathon. I was most nervous about the run. In the past, this run course had been pretty lonely and a bit of a slog. With more people racing this event, it’s now quite fun out there on the lake loop. I trotted along and readied myself to feel terrible. The strangest thing happened: I enjoyed myself. I came through halfway still smiling like an idiot and running well. Things started to slow down around the 15km mark, but coming into those final 2k or so I figured I had done enough to book my trip to Tennessee. I crossed with a 5:10 total time and a 3rd place in my AG. I didn’t even need a roll down.
After my faster bike, my run felt awful. Ha. I was cramping and just trying to keep moving forward. This run was not as fun. It was also hot. But where CDA lacks a little on the bike course, it makes up in the amazing support on the run course. Thousands of spectators lined the course through the winding, rolling hills and with the two loop out and back you get to see all your people a number of times out there. It turns out I ran 1 minute slower than in Victoria, but managed a 5:07 and a new (full length) 70.3 PB.
OK, Ironman. We need to talk. How does it make any sense that even the winner of her/his age group needs to hang around for roll down to start and then fill out a handwritten form that is then manually entered by a staff member onsite? The must be a better way to handle world championship registration. In fact, my name was misspelt by the staff member and it took a few months before I discovered I wasn’t entirely registered. Do you need a hand figuring this out? I’m here for you. I’ll start writing a proposal. Or an app. Or something.
To the beer! It took a little time for my stomach to be ready for beer. With the heat, I was feeling a wee bit off after the race. Eventually, I did manage some beer and some food. We retreated to our roof top deck once more and did that annoying thing all triathletes do of telling race horror stories.
So there you go. Two races in three weeks. Would I suggest this to another non-pro long distance athlete? Probably not, but I seemed to hold up ok. Overall, choosing between these two races would be really tough. Both places offer a great race experience, but in different ways. If you are looking to travel somewhere out there to race, however, come to Victoria so we can hang out.
***amazing Victoria race photos by Dave McColm