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!

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