Monday, August 12, 2013

That's a wrap!

That's it, that's all. I just wrapped up my last scheduled race of this year. I can't believe I'm done. I can't even begin to tell you what a crazy journey it has been.
I started the new year by signing up for my very first Ironman 70.3. I had no idea what was in store for me. Then I continued to add all sorts of firsts to my list. I competed in all sorts of race distances for both running and triathlon. On top of it all I got my first awesome PR in a 10km race. I'm still surprised over that one. 
So what were all of my firsts? I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon.
It was cold but fun.

I completed my first half marathon with a surprising time of 2 hours and 3 minutes. I went in hoping for  2 hours and 15 minutes. Another check off the bucket list, and I got to do it with my super great and very talented friend. 

I then went on to do another Olympic distance triathlon and another half marathon. These all seem like a walk in the park though now that I've done a half Ironman.
Were all of these races perfect? Nope! Was I ready for all of these races? Definitely not but I've come to learn from every good race come a lot more bad races and I have learnt more from those bad races then I will ever learn from those good races. 
You definitely experience some surprises, some disappointments, but I have to say I enjoyed every single race good and bad. Even though the results didn't show 100% speed I knew I was always giving 100% heart and 100% effort. 

So how did I finish off my season? With a bang of course! After doing my "A" race the Calgary Ironman, I did a sprint triathlon 1 week later. Was this the smartest idea ever? Probably not. After doing a half iron distance you need to take about 2 weeks to recover. However the sprint triathlon I competed in is one of my favourite races out there and I had my two very good buddies racing as well. So I went in knowing my body was not going to do much for me so it was all fun and nothing but fun.
The swim was lovely except my legs were so tired that I could barely kick. I definitely found a nice person to draft off of.

The bike was a little better. I had one guy run into me as we were mounting our bikes and then he yelled at me for passing on the right. Um, I don't think the rule applies when we are still at the mount line. Anyways, I knew to get ahead of that guy before he tried to run me over again.

After I parked my bike I headed out on the run. After a few minutes I started to question if I took the wrong path. I only saw a handful of people. I kept going. My legs were seriously screaming at me. I felt like I was running hard but not going anywhere. After I found the turnaround and started heading back that's when I saw everyone was catching me. I had nothing. I got passed and it was okay. 

I came in 3rd in my age group and 22nd overall. Even with an exhausted body, I really enjoyed the race and best of all, I had a blast.
That night after the race I was so tired that I went to bed at 9:30pm. I woke up the next day at 9am. I'm almost embarrassed to even admit that but it's true. I really was tired.

So what next? The Sea Wheeze half marathon!!!
I had the pleasure to join my sister, her good friend, and my super fabulous friend to hit the roads of Vancouver and experience the craziest half marathon I have ever done.
Lucky or unlucky I'm still not sure but Thursday night I did not have a good sleep so when the rest of the crew stir at 6am I was more then happy to hop into the shower and get my day going. Since everyone else was feeling a little less motivated I offered to head down to the Sea Wheeze expo and get in line for our package pickup. Good thing I did because by the time the rest of my crew showed up the line was so long that I believe I heard it was a 3 hour wait to get in once the doors opened. We got in within 20 minutes (after I stood in line for an hour and a half).
So what do you do when you wait in line?
You get entertained by crazy magicians.

After our fun wait we walked through the doors and it was like the gates of heaven opened for us. (Start the choir)
This went quick.

After we received our race pack then we could head into the expo and let me tell you, it was mayhem!
There were people everywhere. They are running around pulling anything and everything off of the racks and then they run to a corner of the room for little privacy and start trying on all of this fab Lululemon clothing.  
Exhibit A- She looks a lot like me doesn't she?   ; )   I'm telling you these ladies are crazy!!!
Then if you don't like something you offer it to your equally crazy friends and then to your equally crazy neighbours and everyone ends up happy... and broke.

So after our shopping needs are met we move outside to the rest of the expo.
There was airbrush tattoos.

Fruit popsicles

There was popcorn, organic cotton candy, Vega protein smoothies. You could get your hair done, your nails done, and if you were willing to wait in the enormous line up you could even get a massage. I wasn't willing to wait that long. There was so much going on that I probably even missed some things.

Race morning we got up bright and early. Luckily our hotel was only two blocks from the start/finish. I was feeling pretty sluggish but the mantra today was all about having fun.
Unfortunately we didn't bring our phones with us to take pictures because we didn't have pockets to carry them and I didn't want to hold mine the entire way. Needless too say, I missed out on a lot of great photos : (
We did document my exhaustion though...
I have never been so tired. I will be the first to admit, 3 races in less then 3 weeks is not a good idea! Moving on...

We got showered up post race, did I mention the goodies? Our neat wooden medals that also served as a photo holder, water, coconut water, aromatherapy for our sore muscles, and Skull Candy headphones! We were spoiled. There was also a breakfast after but I was so cold I walked back to the hotel to warm up in a shower.
After getting cleaned up we headed to the fabulous Raw Restaurant Gorilla Food. OMG! So good!!!
After refuelling we had a little siesta and then did some more touring. Then we got taken to the Sea Wheeze after party. 

We had yoga which was amazing

and we got to listen to some pretty great music and eat some food and just hang out with some pretty great people...
I seriously love this girl!!!!

So that's it. I'm done. Now what? REST!!!!! I was hoping to have a little holiday down to California to participate in the fabulous See Jane Run Women's Triathlon but I just can't get the time off to do so.

I highly recommend this race. My favourite races are the women's only races because as we compete together we build a great bond. My closest friend are the ones I train and compete with. We have a magical friendship that we can push each other while we train and also support them even if we have a bad race. For some reason this doesn't appear as much when we are on the course with men. If you have the opportunity to try this race do it.

Don't worry about me not racing for a while. I will still entertain you with my wit and charm because I will still be training. I will also be having knee surgery in the fall. So I can guarantee that I will have plenty of great stories to tell.

Monday, August 5, 2013

You've come a long way

Before I even begin, this is going to be a very long post. I am warning you now...

Well, it's been a few weeks since you last heard from me. I was going to take my computer with me to document every single thing on my journey to my first Ironman 70.3. Right before we left I decided against it. I figured it was best if I could just stay under the radar and limit my computer time it would be best for everyone. I think I was right in doing so but now you will be plagued with my ridiculously long post race recap. Again, I am sorry for that.

I chose Calgary Ironman because that is where I am from originaly. Well Southern Alberta but I did live in Calgary for 12 years after graduating from High School. So we figured we could tie in the race with our annual visit. This means a very long drive ahead of us.
2 days of driving to be honest. Living on the Island means to leave it we need to either fly or take a boat. We decided on the latter...
We usually take a ferry into the USA because the drive is a little more manageable. We have also planned out the perfect coffee route. Yes, you read that right. We plan our road trips around where we can stop for the best coffee! First stop is in our neighborhood. Drumroaster Coffee is amazing!!!! Then we make a stop in Seattle to the fabulous Stumptown Coffee. FYI they have locations in Portland and New York. Then after usually staying over in Spokane, Washington we make a quick pit stop in Sandpoint, Idaho for our favourite Evans Brothers. 
These coffee stops are what makes the trip worthwhile.
We arrived at my parents house to get settled in for the next 2 weeks. The kids had a blast and I got to concentrate in the last week of training before my big day. 
I got in some good pool swims, some lovely warm road rides and of course some little runs. I also had to take the plunge and get in at least 2 more open water swims.
I don't know if you can see the colour of that water but it is dirty! and cold! I regretted going in right from the start.
It was super windy when I went in and I felt like I was fighting the swim the entire time but I did it. On to other things.
So the weeks leading up to your big race or as we like to call it our "A" race. All sorts of things happen. There are nerves to cope with, little hiccups to deal with, and day to day living as well. I had all of the above plus my tires started falling apart. Or should I say unraveling. 
This is the best photo I could do but the threads started coming off but then they would wrap around my wheel and get spun onto the wheel. Probably not a good thing to have happen. Luckily my brother in law is an uber cyclist who is more then happy to help me out. Two days before the race he picked me up new tires for the bike. He assisted me on getting them all put back together. Note assisting? My husband made it very clear that I had to do it and Darren was just supposed to guide me. Nice husband eh? 
So after dealing with tires failing, family stuff, anxiety and other things (these other things have to do with the race but I'm not going to get into the dirty details)  it was time to just take it all in. The big day arrived. July 28th 4:30am the husband and I slowly peel ourselves out of the bed and get ready. I think he was as nervous as I was. He drove me to the swim start which was at Mackenzie Lake in SE Calgary. It's a nice clear, clean manmade lake. The air temp that morning was a little cool.

I tried my best to keep my nerves under control. These races are funny because you get all sorts. The pro's who have done this a million times. The age groupers who think they are hot stuff and have the gear to prove it but they really are no better then myself (which by the way I think I was parked in between those types. They had super fancy Cervelo's and were less then friendly at set up and I never did see them again. Their bikes were still there when I came out of the water).
There are the newbies like me who wander around not really knowing what to do with themselves. There also the weekenders who don't really train for this but show up with whatever bike they can find and they still do awesome. It is definitely an interesting mix.
The much needed stop at the porta potty before donning the wetsuit. 
Then it's time. I have no more pictures after this. The husband left me to do my thing. I caught up with my new friends that live close to me on the Island and they were doing the race too. We had a brief chat and pep talk before we got ready for the swim. It was a beach start which I had never done nor practiced for. So when the horn went off I ran and dove in. The goggles leaked and I discovered we were still shallow. Stood up, fixed my goggles and dove back in and swam my little heart out. I went in the newbie group so I was in the last wave. So when I caught up to the men (who started 10 min before us) I knew I was in good shape. I got out of the water and they had wetsuit strippers but it was looking busy so I just kept running to my T1. Wetsuit came off better then ever. Swim time: 35:17
 Got my helmut and bike shoes on and hit the road. It was cold out. I briefly thought that I should have actually worn a jacket or at least arm warmers but after being on the for a few minutes I din't notice it much. 
The bike course in my eyes was pretty flat. Although most would say it was challenging with a few tough hills. Now in Alberta this is true. However coming from the Island the bike course really wasn't that tough. 
I caught up to my cousin about 20-30km into the bike. I think he was a little surprised and shocked to see me this early on (Remember he had a 10 min head start). So I of course had to  tease him a bit. 
I met a new friend on the bike course. A guy named Ryan. We were cycling pretty much the same speed for 2/3 of the course and got to know each other. I think he lost steam though because I never saw home again after Brag Creek.
the family was parked along the last 1/3rd of the bike course. Again, no pictures because my husband forgot the camera in the car : (
They did have a great sign that the girls made.
Notice the swimmer, cyclist and runner? My niece insisted my oldest add those guys.
It really is great to have support along the bike course. It can get a little lonely out there.
Right after I saw the family there was a big crash on the course. It happened minutes in front of me because by the time I went through they were all still laying on the pavement and the ambulances had not arrived yet.  My brother in law is a paramedic and my sister in law is an ER nurse. Because they were just watching me they were also tight there at the crash sight so they ended up helping out, they did not make it to T2 to cheer me on but I was glad to hear that they helped out with the crash. There were 3 cyclists involved and all I know is 1 swerved to avoid something and the other 2 got caught up in it. Scary stuff. 
The bike course was a little sketchy. It was hard not to draft since every time I passed someone there would be another person right in front of them. On one part they had signs to notify motorists of the race but they place them in the shoulder right where we had to ride so we had to swerve around them either onto rumble strips or into traffic. At one point I had to back off because I got caught up in a group of 7 or 8 of us. It was fast, scary and very dangerous. I just let them get ahead.
Came into T2 very happy and thrilled with my 87km ride at 2:52
Running is definitely my worst sport of the 3 disciplines. After having my knee issue I was still nervous that I wasn't going to be able to run. So once I got off my bike and into my running shoes I hoped for the best. My feet were numb from the bike. It was a lot colder then I thought. It took a good 3 km before they started to thaw out. Funny thing was my right foot still felt funny. So I decided to stop and take my shoe off to investigate. Turns our I had a Gu Gel in my shoe...ooops!
Once that was dealt with I was good to go. 
My knee was a little achy so I didn't push too hard on the first half of the run course. There were two massive hills and I did walk those. I took my time at the aid stations taking in a gel and a few sips of water. I felt pretty good up until around 14km. My knee was starting to hurt more and more, I was feeling tired. 17km was even tougher. I knew I was close and kept chanting my mantra. Push through it, the pain will pass. The family made it to the end of the race to catch me go by the last 3 km. 
Again, so nice to see them cheering me on. The last 2km was pure hell. I was exhausted, my legs were seizing up. I felt like everyone was passing me at this point. I was neck and neck with another lady holding a decent pace. We looked at each other about 500m from the finish and couldn't help but laugh at our pain and suffering. 

Then you start seeing all of the spectators. Total strangers cheering you on. The music is blaring and the announcer calls out your name. The feeling is vey emotional. It's a feeling I have never had before. It's at that moment that you realize all that hard work has paid off. 
I did it! Not only did I do it but I killed my goal time!
5hours, 37 minutes and 21 seconds!
Just barely holding on to the railing after.
The crazy large medal/belt buckle. I swear this thing weighed 20lbs.

My cousin and I after he crossed the line.

I had a fantastic race. I could not have done this race without all of the fabulous support from my friends and family, my training buddies, my treatment providers and of course my coach. 
All those training rides and runs with Steph, Dale, Rikst, Johny. 
My bike builder Al, my bike fitter Steve, My "guy" Rob who kept my knee under control. All of my friends who had faith in me that yes I can do this and yes I will do it well. 
My wonderful coach Wade has stood by me over the last 7 months and guided me through everything. He believed in my goal and knew I was able to do it. He gave me the support I needed when I got injured, reassured me when I wasn't feeling confident. I could not have asked for anything more.

My husband deserves the biggest shout out of them all. From the first day I signed up for this race and even today a week after the race he supported me. He believed in me and did whatever it took to help me get here. He never complained when I was out late doing my swims or gone all weekend fitting in my long training hours.  

So what does a gluten free vegan do after completing her first Ironman 70.3?
Yup! She has a Tim Hortens doughnut. Unfortunately post race food was scarce and this girl needed something glutenous. Heck I think I deserved it!