Whistler you are amazing! British Columbia you are beautiful! This whole experience was nothing less than magical and Danny and I are incredibly blessed to be able to participate in these races and travel to these fantastic locations. It’s easy to run out of adjectives when describing the awesomeness that was this race experience, but I’ll do my best to get that point across.
Everything north of Evertt, WA (a northern suburb of Seattle) was new territory to us. The Pacific Northwest is home to some spectacular sights, but holy cow did Mother Nature kick it up a notch with everything north of Vancouver!! My best description of the Sea to Sky corridor is that it’s like a super sized Columbia River Gorge (border of OR and WA). We drove up on Thursday and were basically in awe at the beautiful scenery until we left on Tuesday.
Whistler is kind of like Vail on steroids. The Olympic village is full of shops and restaurants and its surrounded by a breathtaking mountainous landscape. The village was the hub of everything Ironman and we were fortunate to find a condo within a 5 minute walk. This made things very easy around race day.
We arrived Thursday night, got checked in, went for a quick run, and met our fellow Endurance Nation competitors for dinner. Friday we rode our bikes to Alta Lake to meet our EN teammates again. We scoped out the swim course, went for a quick swim, rode home, and got in the car to drive most of the course. Although we weren’t able to pre-ride the whole course in training, several of our teammates were, so we were pretty well versed on what to expect. What we saw from the car seemed to be on par with what everyone was saying – it’s tough. We went for a short ride when we got back, then we stated to get organized for gear check in the following day.
(Olympic Village : Part of the 7mi Callahan climb : Bike/run course views – Green Lake) (Athlete welcome ceremony)
Saturday was easy. We dropped bikes and bags off and pretty much just hung out. I thought about my nutrition plan for Sunday, all the emotions I’d feel during the race, and what I would tell myself to keep pushing on when my body didn’t want to. My goals were pretty simple: 1 – finish, 2 – go sub 12:55, and 3 – don’t give up on the run and beat a 4:50 marathon. We went to bed early and set the alarms for 2am.
2:00am – I’m up and drinking my extra large smoothie then back to bed.
3:45am – We’re up. I had a bagel craving, so I had about 1/2 toasted with cream cheese. Washed it down with some coconut water and a banana. Around 4:30 we were out the door.
We walked through the village to T2, got body marked, dropped off special needs bags, and hopped on the bus to take us to Alta Lake/T2. Thankfully, we were on one of the first busses, so transition wasn’t too crowded when we got there. I set up my bike (water bottles and food), filled up my tires, then Danny and I found a quite spot by the lake to hang out until it was wetsuit time.
(Calm before the storm : the Iron-smootch thanks to David McColm [http://www.davidmccolm.com/])
Swim: The water temp was pretty perfect, high 60′s, which was much warmer than the air temp. The pro guys started at 6:50, women at 6:53, and we were able to get into the water at 6:55ish. It was a deep water start, so we made our way out and positioned ourselves about 50 meters from the buoy line. As the announcer counted down the last few minutes, I decided to move back about 15-20 feet from Danny with the hope of putting myself in a better self seeded spot.
The gun went of and here we go, our first mass start! I actually enjoyed the swim. The water was crystal clear and of course with each breath the view was superb. We didn’t exit the water after the first lap, just kept on into the next. I felt great in the water and thought I was swimming well. When I came up to the beach I glanced at the clock and was pleased I knew I had a new PR! Official time 1:21:49 (a 2:27 min PR over CDA) 33/50 age group = great way to start the day!
T1: 4:44 (8sec PR from CDA).
Bike: The bike course was pretty extreme. It was fairly chilly for the better part of the first half. I decided against arm warmers mostly because I didn’t want to deal with them later on, but also because the climbing started right off the bat and I figured I would warm up easily. Not really the case, but it all still worked out and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Several people, including multiple pros, said this bike course is one of the hardest if not the hardest on the Ironman circuit. There was a ton of climbing and the placement of the hills could really crush you later on if you didn’t ride them properly. Thankfully several of our EN teammates trained on the course and gave us plenty of good feedback. One of the things I heard over and over again was pace yourself early on. Most of the climbing was in the first 30 and the last 20 miles, so it’s really easy to go out too hard initially then your shot for the last push into town, let alone a marathon.
I had fun in that first bit. I pushed up the mountain, but definitely had my foot off the gas some. I followed my nutrition plan and was feeling pretty good until around mile 50. My quads felt crampy and tired. I was getting concerned that it would only get worse and be disastrous by the run. Thankfully, I got my special needs bag around mile 60-65, which included a Gatorade, Kind bar, and a snickers. The extra calories were exactly what I needed! I started feeling pretty good again by mile 75-80, just in time for the last push up the hill to home!
I passed a lot of people in those last 20ish miles and it felt good. I came into town strong and ready to get off my bike and run. My bike split was 6:32:17. Not a PR but only 5 minutes off my CDA time, which I’m pretty proud of given this was IM #2 and IM #1 was only 8 weeks ago! I moved up to 15/50 age group. Oh yeah and I have a new PR top speed… I hit 45.6mph around mile 45 (beating Danny by 0.6mph!!)
T2: 6:04 – not a PR probably because it included a bathroom break!
Run: I started off feeling good, keeping a comfortable pace and only walking water stations. I knew I was capable of running a better marathon than I did in CDA and I wanted to prove it. I saw Danny around mile 5.5. We stopped for a kiss and short chat about how we were doing and feeling. I gained energy from him and kept up running fairly well for a few more miles then the legs just wouldn’t shut up. Miles 11 or 12 – 20 really sucked. There was a lot of walking, but still more running than CDA.
Then, there was “that” girl…In my age group. I caught up to her around mile 17. She was walking, but walking super fast, way faster than my walk. If I walked she would drop me, but she wouldn’t run, so when I picked up the pace I would catch her. I caught up to her around mile 21 and I told myself “that’s it I’m losing her and running the rest of this race” so I did…(nearly) only walking water stops. I finished strong and proud and so incredibly happy with what I just did! Run time was 4:40:41, a 25:11 min PR from CDA!!
Total time 12:45:35 15/50 age group a sweet Ironman PR of 21:34 min!!
I LOVED this race. Sure it was tough, but it’s supposed to be. Yes, there are areas to work on, but there always are. I’ve learned a lot from this race about myself, and although it was pretty crazy to tackle two Ironmans in my first season of long course racing, I feel very fortunate to have learned these lessons now versus next season. Triathlon is an amazing sport and I feel like I’m the luckiest girl to be able to share it all with my husband!!
Thank you Endurance Nation for guiding me over the last 10 months! I couldn’t have done it without you!! Work works for sure!!
Check out the race day video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-et2fW_TcNA