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
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!
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.
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 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!
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?