Ironman Canada can be a real fun sucker sometimes.

I don’t usually post race reports.  Let’s face it reading about a 5k in the spring warm-up season with full details on breakfast, split times and 20 minutes of racing really isn’t all that awe inspiring.  Heck, I bet Mo Farah’s race report at the Olympic 5000m was pretty darn boring: started, ran around a track, passed people and had the coolest photo of any racer ever taken.  Or Simon Whitfield: I swam, I hit a speed bump. At any rate, here it is for your reading pleasure.

Ironman Canada 2012: the way the Sarcastic Triathlete saw it.

My dad used to say that a marathon is a monster.  Well if a marathon is a monster then Ironman is a three headed monster that breaths fire and tries to drown you and poops on you. As I only started this blog this year, it’s probably not known that this was my second Ironman; my first being in 2011.  Why do another you ask?  Well, I had done well at my first one and couldn’t help but think I had more potential.  Potential to make it on the podium. Potential to make it to Kona.  For those of you that don’t’ feel like reading the ins and outs of the day here’s the point form version.

I did not make the podium.

I did not make it to Kona.

I did not make my goal time.

I did not set a PR.

I did have a great day and am proud of my result. 

Ahh, so you kept reading.  You either love a good narcissistic story or you have a boring desk job that leads to ADD procrastination.

Pre race:  I did the usual stuff.  Eat, sleep, eat, read, eat. I was really enjoying sitting around doing very little. The morning of the race my race-momma and friend Christine drove me and fellow competitor Kelsey to the start.  Body marking, tire pumping, porta-potty line, freak out, wetsuit on, freak out some more, warm-up swim. I found Kelsey along the front right of the swim start, we wished each other good luck and…

GO:

Ahh, there’s nothing like a mass IM swim start to get you going in the morning.  I took a few strong strokes and tried to stay in front of some clawing swimmers behind.  The plan was to swim on the right side of the buoys until the turn floats and then see where I end up.  Only a few hundred meters in I found some feet to swim on and settled into a steady pace.  After a few minutes, I realize I knew those feet! That was Kelsey! Perfect. She’s a really strong swimmer and I figured sticking with her was a good move.   I was really surprised at how much room I felt like I had out there.  I was pretty nervous of the swim from the beating I got last year.  I swam around the first turn right along the buoy and there they were again: Kelsey’s feet!  The back stretch got a bit confusing because there was a house boat trying to keep people on the outside of the course, but in the washing machine of OK lake it looked more like the buoy to head to.  At the second turn I swam under the far side of the buoy and popped out in a good position to head back towards the two towers.  I had lost Kelsey, but there were a few other feet to follow.  About here is when my right shoulder started to bug me. What the? It was my left shoulder that usually bothered me.  No fair.  I tried to use some other muscles to power that side, but I really needed to get out of the water soon.  I wasn’t enjoying myself by the end of the swim.  As I stood up to get out I told myself not to get too bummed out by your swim time.  1:07 something.  A minute SLOWER than last year, but not terrible.  I had been training for a 1:02 or so, but with 2600 other athletes it’s tough to control.  At any rate, I was done. 

T1: Wetsuit stripped, found my bag and an awesome volunteer.  Socks and shoes on, helmet, glasses, race belt. Out.

Bike:

 I was so excited to be on my bike!  I love the part where you rip through town with all the people cheering.  I hit Skaha lake road and saw some of my crew out there.  I stayed nice and relaxed out to Mclean Creek Road and I always love the backside descent on the new pavement!   I could feel the slight tail wind out the Osoyoos, but wasn’t too worried about it.  So, here’s the thing though.  I had to pee so badly and I’ll be damned if I’ll stop my bike during a race so I tried desperately to just go.  I couldn’t! What’s the trick here?  I watched about 4 dudes manage to go on the slight downs on this section. I was so jealous.   I was a little worried about getting too “blocked up” with pee, but I’m really too stubborn to stop. I had to put it behind me. I don’t think many people are upset about not being able to pee their pants.

 I was really enjoying the ride at this point and was looking forward to Richter Pass.  I love all the spectators and I love cranking past those big dudes. The rotting deer carcass near Osoyoos was a bit off-putting, but probably made me go a little faster. Singing to myself with a smile on my face I made the turn at the Husky and enjoyed my spin up the hill.  I passed a few 30something girls up here too which gave me a bit of a boost. 

The back side of Richter was going better than last year, less wind, fewer knobs that can’t ride.  Down the back of one of the rollers I got a shock as a wasp flew down my top and stung my left boob.  I screamed and scooped it out of my bra.  The guy behind me caught up and asked if I was ok. “A just got stung on my boob! OUCH!”  He laughed and we kept riding.

I passed and high-fived Laura and Damian on my way to Keremeos and was still having fun at that point.  My neck was getting a little tired from being in aero for so long, but I knew there were a few short hills to stretch out on soon.  Hit the out and back and forced myself to like the fact that I could see the other racers.  I got passed out here by pack of 5 or 6 girls that were all riding together and chatting.  Really? C’mon guys.  People couldn’t even pass them because they were riding a few abreast.  I wasn’t going to join in that blatant cheating.  At the turn around, they broke up a little and I managed to pass them.

 I spotted Matt and my friend Tracy on the turn around. Matt had gone to a wedding the night before so I was relieved to see that he didn’t end up clutching a toilet bowl and not making his morning flight.  I didn’t need to stop for my special needs bag as all I had in it was a tube and some gels in case I lost some.  I hadn’t so I kept riding.  About 1km down the road a familiar jersey passed me; “go Bob!”  He yelled, “Go, go, go!” and again I got a little boost with having someone to chase.  My neck was pretty tired and sore now, but my legs were feeling good and I wanted to get to Yellow Lake.  

PPPPPSSSSSSTTTTTTTTT.

I look at my rear and it was full so I kept going a bit, but the road was really rough.  Then I realized it was my front tire.  “SHIT” I slowed down and pulled off the road.  L I didn’t panic; I just took my wheel off and gathered the stuff to change it from my pouch.  I changed the tube easily and pumped it back up with one CO2.  I was about to put it back on my bike when I noticed it seemed a little low.  I was about to add another CO2 when I realized it was almost totally flat again. SHIT. I had pinched the tube putting it back in.  Get the stuff out and start again.  Luckily, I always carry two tubes.  As I tried to get the tire off again, the lever slipped and I slammed my hand into my carbon bladed spokes.  So now I’m trying to change a flat on the side of a hot road with bikes going past like semis and blood pouring out my thumb and hand. Commence slight melt down.  Speaking out loud, I told myself to stop crying and get back out there.  I took the time to put this tube in without the use of the tire levers and pumped it up.  It seemed like it was good, so back on the bike and off I went. 

There it went.  My hopes of a podium finish at Ironman Canada.  I was pretty bummed and every pedal stroke seemed really hard.  I knew I couldn’t quit, but I wasn’t happy.  I struggled through the false flat in Ollala feeling very low.  I tried to push really hard and make up some time, but my left knee wasn’t having it.  I ended up pedaling a lot of the last 40k with only my right leg.  Heading up Yellow Lake, Christine jogged next to me.  She didn’t seem to notice that I was behind where I wanted to be.  I told her about my flats and that my knee was going to explode. “For serious?” like a valley girl. She smacked my on my butt which temporarily helped my glute. Shhh, don’t tell anyone about my outside assistance.

 The rest of Yellow Lake was slow, but ok because I didn’t need to be in aero.   My neck was getting really weak by this point.  I got an aero-helmet for this race and had worn it a few times without noticing a difference.  Could the difference be that my poor neck couldn’t hold up the awesome aero-ness?

I hated the rest of the ride.  Flat, hill, scary down hoping I don’t flat at high speed, flat, struggle to hold on and keep pedaling into town.  I arrived in town feeling really low and desperately wanted to quit.  I had hoped to ride about a 5:35 and had been on track to get there.  Most of the people that were around me before I flatted rode between 5:30 and 5:35.  My ride: 6:05.  Ouch.

 T2:  I gave my bike to the volunteer guy and walked into transition feeling very defeated.  They called my number out to the bag handers and my old friend Jackie screamed as she gave me my bag.  She could see I wasn’t happy and gave me a hug.  She took my picture as I headed into the change tent.  In the change tent I felt even more low.  Last year there had been one other girl in there, this year it was really busy.  I got my shoes on and headed to the sunscreen girls and got on with my day.

Run:

I jogged out of transition tentatively to see how my knee and legs were feeling.  I was a bit worried about the marathon. A few weeks before the race, I developed an IT band issue with my left knee taking the brunt of it.  I didn’t run in the two weeks before the race as even walking was painful and that fact was weighing heavily on my mind.  Even the little tuning runs the few days before the race were giving me slight discomfort. 

Surprisingly, my knee felt ok coming out of transition.  The only discomfort I felt at this point was my blasted quads and the fact that I STILL had to pee!  I ran to the first aid station looking for a porta potty, but I had to wait until the second aid station to find one.  Ahhhhh.  It’s like life suddenly got a whole lot better and I got back out on the road.  Even with my knee feeling ok, I really wanted to quit.  A whole year of training flushed away with one small hole in a piece of rubber. I guess that’s how a pregnant prom queen feels.  I kept running because I had supporters out there waiting for me and I just don’t like quitters.

Between miles 2 and 3, I reassessed my goals.  I’m really not very good at math while I’m racing (despite the diploma on my wall that says otherwise) so I had no idea how hard I would have to run to make it in under 11hrs.  I decided to just finish and do it with a smile on my face.  Looking back now, I could have probably made the 3:42 marathon to get in under 11, but with a knee that could give out at any moment and the definite hopes of a podium out of the question I wasn’t willing to push it and end up walking.  So somewhere between giving up and pushing hard is where I ended up.

With the new goal of smiling my way through a marathon in my head I carried on.  I danced with the girls with the “show us your moves poster”.  I stopped and gave Matt a hug.  I cheered on athletes and spectators alike.  I walked every aid station to sample the goodies and high fived all the kids on the course.  Really, I was having a great time. I saw the lead female car coming towards me and started to scream when I realized Gillian was the one behind it. I told you you’d know who she was soon: see.  I ran over for a high five and got a boost from her success.

I only walked the aid stations and loved all the hills out near OK Falls.  My knee was still doing fine and only my right hip was a little tight.  At some point a coach from another team rode by and said he’d been watching me for a few hours and I look great.  Another boost. On the way back to town I realized that I could push through from there on even if my knee gave out so I picked up the pace a little.  It was a bit windy so I sat behind a few people as wind breaks.  Perhaps fortunately one young big guy was pushing a good pace, but really breaking wind. I had to pass him just to get out of his foul jet wash.

In the last 10k I started passing people.  I found new targets and reeled them in.  I caught many of the people that had started near me and were fading in the last few miles.  If you were a girl in front of me, you had a target on your back.  Finally, I reached the town and started down Main Street.  My sister Laura was out on the street yelling at me. I went faster.  I turned onto Lakeshore for what is the best kilometer of the year.  My crew was on the road yelling and I felt great cruising past them.  I caught a few more people in the final stretch.  I slowed down coming into the finishing shoot and walked across the line to complete my second Ironman in 11:26:45. 

So here I sit; raw itchy left boob from the wasp, bad racer-back sun burn, tired legs and a post IM cold complete with cold sore.  Yes, IM is so very attractive.  Am I happy with my day?  YES! It was really fun and I hope my smiles and cheers helped some other people out there that were suffering.  Am I satisfied with my result? For the day, yes. Perhaps the higher powers knew that I couldn’t afford the trip to Kona.  I’m proud for continuing on even though my year long dreams had been dashed. Despite my disappointment, my result really wasn’t that bad.  There were 2119 other athletes out there that would have preferred my finishing time.

Am I satisfied for my IM career, no.  I’ll be back to race the 140.6 distance.  Probably not in 2013, but someday.

Big big thanks to my family and friends that came up to cheer and provided support all year long. You kept me going out there when I wanted to quit. 

-ST out

 

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5 thoughts on “Ironman Canada can be a real fun sucker sometimes.

  1. Bobbi Sandkuhl

    Have you ever considered a career in writing? Just wanted to say that you looked good out there …. SOAS and all… Was your SOAS because Christine hit it?

  2. I love race recaps, but I do have one of those boring desk jobs, sooo…
    Anyway, I’m totally one of the 2119 others that would happily take your finishing time. I’m totally gob-smacked as to how you move so fast. One day I hope 11:26 can be my slow race.
    Also, my favourite line in your recap: “A whole year of training flushed away with one small hole in a piece of rubber. I guess that’s how a pregnant prom queen feels.” (although, you did have many that made me chuckle out loud).
    Okay, to finish off the world’s longest comment ~ CONGRATULATIONS ON IRONMAN NUMERO TWO!

    p.s. Agreed, that it is too bad we didn’t get a chance to meet. If you’re ever on the island and want to have a really slow workout, drop me a line 😉

  3. Pingback: KONAFOMO | the sarcastic triathlete

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