Ironman Canada Whistler 2013 recap

I’m going to write this all in one post, so it’s a long one!

The days leading up to Ironman Canada were busy: 16 hours of solo driving split over two days, walking around Whistler, hanging out with family, and of course all the Pre-Ironman activities.

Practice swim in the beautiful Alta Lake

Practice swim in the beautiful Alta Lake

Meeting triathlon legend Simon Whitfield!

Meeting triathlon legend Simon Whitfield!

I was extremely nervous. I think more so than any race I’ve done in a while. My sister-in-law was racing and we had quite a few spectators including my parents, in-laws, and sister-in-law’s in-laws.

But, Kelly wasn’t racing and wasn’t in Whistler either as I was meeting him and Harold a couple days after the race. It was definitely different as he is generally really calming for me!

Race morning

I was up at 3:30 after a few hours of sleep and stuck with my morning ritual of breakfast in the room.


I was a lot more relaxed in the morning and was really looking forward to the day ahead! I went into it having no idea what to expect but knowing it would most likely be my last tri for a while so to enjoy the day.

I met my parents and sister-in-law at 4:20 to walk to T2 where they had buses to take athletes to the swim start.

We were greeted like royalty by the body markers who started cheering as we approached. Again, the volunteers were incredible all day long.

We got body marked, checked on our T2 bags, and hopped on a bus. Once we got to Alta Lake, I put my bottles with water and Nuun on my bike, added my bento full of fuel, and pumped my tires.

I had to put on my wetsuit fairly early for warmth. Soon enough, all our spectators arrived so we chilled out chatting with them.

The start came quickly. The lake looked majestic with a mist over it and the mountains as a backdrop.


We got in early for a warm up then decided to stay in the lake since it was a deep-water start. Looking back towards shore was such a cool sight with thousands of athletes and spectators.

The swim

Alicia and I wished each other luck and then we were off!


I always swim wide. I got punched twice in the head right at the beginning so moved even wider. After that, I had a lot of space for the entire swim. I popped my head up a couple times to look around and take it in. I know way more men than women participate in Ironman events, but I was shocked at how many green caps there were versus pink.

Once I turned the last buoy I was so grateful to be getting out of the lake knowing one discipline was finished! My Garmin showed 4.3 km, so 500m longer! I know I swam wide, but I didn’t think that wide!

3.8 km/2.4 mile swim – 1:19:51 

T1 – 6:36
I got out of the water, found my transition bag, and went into the tent. Thankfully a kind volunteer was there to help my put on my sports bra and arm warmers (hardest things to put on when wet)!

I unracked my bike, walked it up the long ramp, saw our spectators, and hopped on for a 180km ride!


Easy to spot in my bright orange Hawaiian jersey!

The Bike

The course basically two out and backs- Callaghan Road and Pemberton- with spectacular views, lots of ups and downs, and one flat stretch.

I’m not a strong cyclist and hills, and even more so descents, are not my forte. But I really liked the course! The constant elevation changes kept me on my toes and didn’t allow for boredom.


There were lots of fans on the ride out from the swim and along the roads in the main part of Whistler. About 20km in, I heard Kelly cheer for me. I was in complete disbelief to see Kelly and Harold on the side of the road, pumping music and ready for a day of spectating!


I was in complete shock and then completely overwhelmed. I cried for literally 3km before I forced myself to get a grip.

My smile was enormous knowing I’d see them again soon!

The ride was definitely tough, but I would say on par with the old IM Canada course in Penticton and IM Coeur d’Alene. I think the main difference is the placement of hills. There was a long stretch of them the last 30 km, so your legs were pretty fatigued at that point and even more tired heading on to the run.

I didn’t put on my aero bars for this race, and my back wasn’t sore at all and my neck was much less sore. I don’t know if there is a correlation but I was happy to not be too sore.

One thing was worrying me…I didn’t pee once. Normally I stop at least a couple times.

180km/112 mile bike – 6:53:38

T2 – 6:26

A volunteer took my bike, another took my T2 bag and followed me into the tent. I changed socks, shorts, shirts, swapped cycling shoes for runners and helmet for a visor and finally hit a porta potty. Then I got lubed up from head to toe making sure they paid extra attention to my back!

I ran out with an ear-to-ear smile knowing unless disaster struck, I would cross that finish line!

The Run

I quickly settled into a rhythm.

I loved the run course! It was two loops on softly rolling trail and on a path around a beautiful mountain lake.

Although I loved the course, the miles seemed to tick by slowly at the beginning. My body was beat but I just took it stride by stride. A lot of spectators commented I was looking strong, which was nice to hear since I felt so weak!


I stuck to my walk through aid stations method to get in enough fuel. But this race I really took my time in the aid stations! At one I was stopped eating chips at a table. It must have been a while, as a volunteer joked about getting me some dip! At a couple others I stopped to fish out my salt tabs and take them while chatting with volunteers.

On my way back towards my second loop, Kelly, Harold, and my brother-in-law were cheering in the trails. It was the first time I actually got to talk to them! I stopped for some hugs and chatter. Of course seeing Kelly was amazing, but seeing Harold in the middle of a race was such a boost! It’s not allowed but they ran with me for a couple minutes so we could talk.


I told Kelly how much pain I was in and that my ankles felt like they were breaking. He told me to tough it out. The sooner it’s over, the sooner the pain is over.

I ran through town again and saw our cheering squad. On the way back out, I knew it was going to be a struggle. I tried to just enjoy the lovely, soft, shaded trail and focus on the next aid station.

I hit the porta potty again and knew it would be tough to get moving! I sat there for a couple minutes rallying myself. (You know I was desperate to sit in a stinky porta-potty for a bit!)

Suddenly with 6km/4 miles left, I felt incredible…talk about runner’s high! I fed off the fans, charged up the hills, and smiled.

We took a turn, ran through Olympic Village then hit the home stretch. I heard strangers cheering, saw Kelly with my Dad and Harold, then saw my Mom and in-laws.

42.2km/26.2 mile run – 3:48:13

I crossed the finish line in 12:14:44.


I was ecstatic! I got my medal, hat, t-shirt, and finishers photo then got out of there to find my family! It was so awesome to have everyone there, especially Kelly and Harold. I could not stop smiling.

We stood around talking and I felt great. It was a huge difference compared to how I felt after Coeur d’Alene. (The next morning, I was shocked at how decent I felt. My Achilles tendon area was really sore and my knees were a bit achy but that was it!)

I went back and showered before coming back to cheer Alicia through the finish line of her first Ironman! I am so proud of her accomplishment.


I was getting pretty hungry so Kelly, Harold and I picked up a greasy pizza and I went to town on it. Harold was wiped from a day with lots of noise and people and Kelly and I were both exhausted, too, so we didn’t go back for the final finishers.

I was SO happy and more than surprised with my time. It was my slowest Ironman and swim to date, but I am truly proud of myself. It was a mental battle to get to that start line and I battled throughout the run.


The Ironman is a beast and one I always look back on with pride. This year has been a great ride!

What was your favourite race, run, or bike of the summer?

69 responses to “Ironman Canada Whistler 2013 recap

  1. Congrats on another AWESOME Ironman! You are such an inspiration! I can’t believe you cranked out a 3:48 run after such a tough bike. You do look incredibly strong throughout the race. Love all of the pics! Thank you for sharing your IM journeys with us! I’m going to use them as inspiration when I finally tackle the beast in a few years! Congrats again! Now I can’t wait to read about your week of R&R after the race!

  2. Abby! Dang….back to back Ironman races with stellar times. Unreal. Great job on the training and staying within yourself.

  3. CONGRATULATIONS!! i always look forward to your ironman recaps, im on the edge of my seat the whole time!! im so glad you felt better after this one than the last one. seriously these posts are the most inspirational and uplifting for me. its amazing what people can do. and btw- i love your bright orange duds!!

  4. What a great recap – and so awesome that Kelly and Harold surprised you (I cried reading about it!)
    And, I really needed to hear Kelly’s words to you when you told him how much pain you were in – I’m going to use that line about the sooner you finish, the sooner the pain is over!!
    Great job!!! You are incredible!

  5. Awesome job!!! You rocked it this year!! That is so fun that Kelly and Harold were there to cheer! You are such a bad-ass never quitting and pushing through the pain!! it may have been your slowest but it is still an amazing time!!! Congrats! Now you can take some much deserved rest!!!

  6. CONGRATS!!!! You are such an inspiration! I’ve been sooo looking forward to this recap. Such an incredible accomplishment yet again! You are absolutely amazing. I got so emotional when I read that Kelly and Harold were there to surprise you – ahhhh, talk about a wonderful feeling for you and I am so happy that you had so many great people cheering you on! Way to go! Time for a long break and relaxin’ for a while!

    • Thank you so much for the kind comment, Britta. Tell me about it- I was insanely emotional when I saw them!
      How was your weekend in Vancouver?

      • It was a lot of fun, thanks for asking! My friend Hailey was in Whistler to watch the Ironman and she said it was incredible! I told her all about you and how excited I was 😀

  7. wow–congrats! You are amazing with all you have done this year. How fun to have Kelly and Harold out there cheering you on, too. I’m really happy for you to finish out like this!

  8. I’ve been WAITING for this post and you did not disappoint with this recap. First of all..HOLY SHIT..I just have to say are amazing. SO FREAKING amazing. I want to be you for Halloween because this is sooo badass. YOU KILLED this, and if this is slower time for you then wow you’ve accomplished a lot in your years of Ironmanning. I AM SO proud of you, I can’t even imagine running a marathon let alone doing ALL of this before the marathon. WOWOWOW! Inspiration indeed!

  9. Great recap, Abby! I can’t believe that you can sit for long periods of time and walk through aid stations and still run a 3:48 marathon after swimming and biking so far. Incredible! Congratulations.

  10. Wow, congrats Abby! What a way to finish off the summer. Two ironmans that close is incredible.

  11. Way to go Abby! I loved reading your recap, especially hearing about Harold being there (and Kelly too!). Congratulations on your 2 Ironmans this summer, you rock!

    • Thanks so much, Beth! Ha ha- Kelly was laughing later that night saying I was probably more excited to see Harold than him 🙂
      I’m happy to hear your MS Bike Tour went so well with so much team support!

  12. Ok, impressed once again!! You are one STRONG lady! I love reading your recaps 🙂 Doing something as amazing as this really is so mental!

  13. Congratulations! What an end to the season. I love your photos of the swim start.

  14. Wow – very inspiring! You are so speedy!! I’m just gearing up for my first half-iron on Sunday and this was a great post to get in the mood. Thanks.

  15. Congrats! You are so consistent it is incredible! When was the last time you ran an open marathon!? I bet you are blazing fast if you pulled out a 3:48 during an Ironman after a hilly course AND stopped several times!!!

    • Thank you, Nicole! After I read your comment I realized how weird it is that my four times, all on different courses, are within eight minutes of each other.
      I haven’t ran a marathon since January 2011, and it was seven weeks after IMAZ 2010.
      I want to run one within the next year, but I think I might just be better at pushing through pain than having any sort of speed!

  16. Holy moly – up at 3:30 AM!? That’s crazy talk! Though congrats on an awesome race over all!! Very impressive – it’s always awesome to read out Iron Man journeys… makes me think that maybe someday I will make it happen. Congrats again!

  17. Abby, you are truly amazing! I kept waiting to hear how your race went–well done! Congrats to you- you’re such an inspiration!

  18. You’re a rockstar!
    And how awesome that Kelly showed up without you knowing. I bet that emotional boost helped shave a little bit of time off your race (not that you need any help with that – your times are already amazing!)

  19. What a great race recap! You are AMAZING! That marathon time is so impressive…I don’t think I will come anywhere near it with just my marathon : ) So fun to see Kelly and Harold waiting for you…I would have cried too! Congrats again on your impressive finish! Hope you are enjoying some quality down time!

  20. GREAT JOB ABBY! What a killer time and you CRUSHED that marathon! I have always wondered about peeing while you’re working out for so long! again, amazing job. You are SUCH an inspiration!

  21. Soooo amazing!! You really rocked it. I can’t believe you were able to do two IM’s so close together and I LOVE that Kelly & Harold surprised you!

  22. Just found your blog-congratulations on a great race!

  23. Awe!! You made me cry reading this when Kelly and Harold showed up! Such a sweet pic of Harold waiting on his mommy!! Awesome job to you. That is such an amazing distance! Way to rally at the end.

  24. Congrats on an awesome race! You crushed the run! Love all your photos, too! Wasn’t the course spectacular?! I’m tempted to sign up again 🙂

    • Thank you, Erin. Congratulations to you too! I still can’t fathom your bike split!
      The course was incredible and I was so impressed with how many volunteers and spectators there were, especially for a first year race. I’ll be watching to see if you do sign up again!

  25. Dear Abby,
    There has not been an entry nor an athletic pursuit that has not made me smile and many have made me tear up! I am honoured to say I am your mom and am always so proud of you and your accomplishments. Though your athletic gene comes from Dad, I like to think I helped you become the beautiful person inside and out that you are! Wishing you fun, fitness and fearless forever!

  26. Congrats on yet another amazing IronMan finish! You are a rock start! I hope you enjoyed you well deserved vacation.


    You’re amazing. My goodness. What an inspiring recap!! Your pictures of the beginning of the swim are awesome 🙂 I love the one of you and your medal, too!
    What would you say to someone who had only ever done a sprint tri, who was a weak swimmer, but who thought an Ironman might be something to consider?

    • I would absolutely say YES!!! I have heard so many success stories about people who didn’t know how to swim and barely rode a bike who go on to complete Ironmans!
      When we actually started training for IM Arizona in 2010, Kelly couldn’t go more than 50m in a pool without stopping.

  28. I have so much respect for you. Today I did a short tri (0.75 mile swim, 18 mile bike, 5 mile run) and the run sucked and it’s nothing of what you have done.
    Congrats on another great IronMan finish!! 🙂

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  31. Wow!! Congrats!!! That is an amazing accomplishment!!! Sorry I’m late to the party here, trying to catch up on all my bloggers! I don’t know how you do it! I am just training for a full marathon and couldn’t imagine having to worry about 2 other sports to train for. You are a machine!!

    • Thank you! I am so behind in my blog reading, too.
      You forget that we don’t have kids yet! Any mom who is active impresses me! I can’t imagine training for a marathon while trying to balance motherhood!

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