Category Archives: Race recap

Mile High fun & RnR Denver half marathon recap

We spent an extra long weekend in Denver full of sports and fun. It was an absolute blast, but we came back just exhausted! We went with Kelly’s family and really enjoyed spending time with them since we don’t see his sister and brother-in-law often since they moved to Vancouver.

We originally went to watch the Broncos and Rockies since it was the only weekend they were both at home. (Both teams are my husband’s favourites!) It just so happened that the RnR Denver was on, too, so we ran the half marathon.

We got there late Thursday night and spent hours on our feet on Friday shopping and exploring. We went to the expo and got some fabulous goodies, including tasty bars, a new hoody, and compression socks.

(I’ve never had a pair and don’t know if I believe the hype. But, I’ve wanted to try them for a while and have had trouble finding a popular brand. There was a CEP booth, so I got a nice, bright green pair. I ended up wearing them around the hotel room the next few nights to help with my exhausted and swollen ankles and feet!)

On Friday night we went to Coors Field to watch the Rockies vs. Diamondbacks game where we pigged out! I ate a huge veggie dog, a crazy pretzel/doughnut cinnamon and sugar delight, ice cream, and roasted almonds. (Probably not the best pre-race food!)

Although the Rockies lost, we had so much fun at the game! (I’ve only been to one MLB game before, way back in 2002 when the Yankees were at Fenway to play the Red Sox!)

We got back to the hotel late, I donned my compression socks to relieve my cankles, and then slept.

Race day arrived pretty quickly! Since it was just under four weeks since the Ironman and we hadn’t done much running, I just wanted to run it for fun. (I rarely race and am trying to make myself do it more often!)

We got to the start with about 30 minutes to go. RnR marathons are such fine-tuned events and I think they really encourage participation. This one had a bike race, a half marathon and half marathon relay, and a full marathon. (Fun fact- our first marathon was the Rock n Roll Arizona back in 2004, its inaugural year.) I also love the live music along the course!

We started in corral one and had a ton of fun in the beginning miles, running past both the ballpark and the hockey/basketball arena. After leaving the downtown area, we ran by the beautiful City Park and all these amazing character condos and homes.

Kelly stayed with me the entire time even though I was pretty tired and he could’ve motored ahead. With about 500m to go, this guy started to pass us. Kelly, being competitive and having lots of energy left, went with him. I ended up being three seconds behind so had a perfect view of the guy body checking Kelly just before the finish line! I’ve never seen anything like it and was laughing so hard! Who the heck does that in a race, especially when it’s not like they were placing?!

It was pretty amusing, and the finish line photos are hilarious! Kelly looks like he’s mid-fall and I’m laughing with my hands raised asking what happened.

I was really happy with my time (1:37:48) since I hadn’t trained much over the last month. I’m not sure if the altitude affected me, but I’d like to blame how I felt on that!

We didn’t hang around to listen to the bands, as we were both getting cold. After cleaning up and eating breakfast, we hit the town again and were on our feet until the second baseball game at 6pm.

This game was exciting, but the Rockies ended up losing in a close battle. They brought in the injured Carlos Gonzalez (Cargo) to hit at the very end, which was fun to see even though he struck out.

We slept hard on Saturday night! Sunday was another awesome, but long, day. We got to Sports Authority Field early to scope out all the crazy tailgaters and decked out vehicles and watch some players walk in.

Although the Broncos lost to the Texans, we had a blast cheering like crazy!

After a weekend with little sleep, a half marathon, tons of walking, and lots of sports excitement, I was exhausted when we got back home on Monday.

I love sports weekends, and it was fabulous to run a half marathon too!

IM Canada 2012 – the run

42.2km/26.2 mile run: 3:49:49

Going into the race and getting off the bike I had no idea how I would run. I knew I ran a 3:59:10 at Ironman Arizona, but I had no idea if I’d be anywhere close to that here.

The run for Ironman Canada is an out-and-back that goes along Skaha lake, which is a different lake than the one we swam in. The first four miles run through Penticton, but once you leave town it is pretty quiet other than runners. At 15km, you begin to climb a hill that leads into the turn around. It’s a gradual grade but enough to be a challenge. After the turnaround, there is 11km of gradual uphill to the 38km mark of the race. At that point, there are tons of spectators, you run an out and back, and then hit the finish line!

I started running and felt pretty great, considering. After a quick out and back, at about 5km, I stopped to chat with my parents and aunt and uncle. We quickly said hi, they told me how Kelly was feeling, and then I was off.

The spectators in Penticton were awesome! I was passing quite a few people and a bit worried I was taking it out to fast. On the other hand, I know running is my strength and decided to go with how I felt instead of reigning it in.

I have to thank a gentleman for mocking me loudly instead of encouraging me. When I ran by, he laughed out loud and said, “pace yourself, honey”. You better believe I thought about him later on when I was starting to hurt! There was no way I was going to slow down in case he later saw me struggling.

Although the run course was pretty quiet and mostly along the beautiful Skaha Lake, we ran by many homes on the lake. The people who lived in the area were out in full force with hoses and energy! I asked every single person who had a hose to spray me. It was H-O-T!

The aid stations and volunteers were also incredible. There were constantly aid stations and they were manned so well. I walked through every single one and switched drinking cola, water, and Gatorade Perform at every station. I think I took three salt pills throughout the marathon, too. I ate my Sport Beans, gel, and then grabbed bananas from some stations.

I started to get stomach pains in the first half so stopped at two porta-potties. I think I’m one of the only germaphobes in the world who hovers over the toilet in a squat when their legs are that tired! At the second stop, I took the time to toilet paper the seat before sitting.

Shortly after I saw Kelly! It was pretty funny. When he saw me he exclaimed, “Oh no, I’m going to get chicked by my wife”! All the people around us laughed. We stopped, hugged, had a quick chat and then kept running—me towards the turnaround and him towards the finish.

I just kept moving. It was really hot, but thankfully they had cold, wet sponges at all the aid stations. I started sticking them under my shirt straps on each shoulder, or one in the front of my top and one in the back. When I’d get really hot, I’d take them out and wring them over top of my head. It felt amazing!

I was so happy when I hit the turnaround! I was still feeling relaxed and was surprised by my quick pace (relatively speaking) but was starting to tire out. I knew I only had a half marathon to go so kept trucking.

Pretty soon, at 25km, I caught up to Kelly. It was great to chat with him! We walked together for a bit and tried to speedily catch up on each other’s day so far. Soon after we parted ways.

As this point I kept counting down the kilometres. Since aid stations were fairly close together, there were a lot of nice walking breaks. Although the closer I got to the finish, the harder it was so start running again after drinking.

My cramps were coming back and I was thankful for my triple brick training session. On my last run that day it was super hot and I cramped up. Instead of walking, I had pushed through. It gave me the confidence to keep pushing through these stomach cramps.

The run seemed like a death march at this point. It was hot, and some people I was passing looked like every walking step was torture. And the people making their way towards the turnaround looked so pained, too. No matter how long you’re out there or how fast or slow you are, it is a taxing day.

Coming back into Penticton the crowds were amazing. Everyone was cheering you on by name and it was really encouraging.

Once you get close to the finish line, you have to do an out and back. I know a lot of people didn’t like this aspect of the course, but I liked it (although it seemed to take forever)! That way you had crowds about 4km from the finish and then again for the last one.

Approaching the finish line is an amazing feeling—you’ve been working hard for (in my case) just over 12 hours, you trained hard for months, you had ups and downs in training, you struggled throughout parts of the day, and you’re finally accomplishing your goal that you’ve thought about countless times from the day you signed up for the race.

I took it all in. I smiled, I high-fived, and I absorbed all the energy. Again, I didn’t hear them say my name when I crossed the finish line, but this time I got video from Brightroom (the race photographers) so I can watch it! And I loved that at this race they held the finish line tape for each athlete.

Final time: 12:06:56

As soon as I crossed the line, they had two volunteers to walk with me to get my medal, shirt, and hat, and then get finisher photos taken. Then they walked with me to the food area and showed me where things were, ensured I felt alright, and then left.

I went and found my parents and aunt and uncle, but just stayed with my mom as the other three were strategically placed so my mom could call them when she saw us coming in! I hung out with her for a bit and tried to stretch and then she saw Kelly coming!! I ran {hobbled} back around into the finishers area to wait for him at the finish line.

It was an incredible day! We continued the fun into the night, and I’ll do one last recap about that. All I have to say for now is the finish line at midnight is beyond inspiring.

Thanks for reading. I know these are ridiculously long, but I know I’ll enjoy reading them later on.

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IM Canada 2012 – the bike

180km/112 mile bike: 6:49:12
T2: 4:59

The Ironman Canada bike ride has been touted as gorgeous with challenging terrain and one of the most spectacular bikes on the Ironman circuit.

I think I have to agree with the first point- it was stunning and the hills and rollers were breathtaking!

I was so happy to be finished one discipline and starting the second.

I realized I messed up my Garmin so spent a while with my head down trying to figure it out! I also wore my jacket, knowing I’m always super cold. I ended up taking it off quite quickly, but was still glad I had it in my back pockets in case the elevations were stormy.

I saw my aunt and uncle soon after I left transition and was so grateful they were there cheering us on!

We started riding through Penticton and I got passed by what felt like hundreds of people. I read a lot of IMCA race reports from previous years and they all said to go slow at the beginning when it’s flat and your adrenaline is pumping. Also, although my biking really improved this year, biking is still my weakest leg. And I had a long distance and lots of climbing to tackle.

The whole time I was hoping Kelly would pass me soon so I’d know he safely made it out of the lake. I got my wish soon enough when I heard him calling me! He slowed down and we talked for a couple minutes before he flew away!

The first 60km were pretty uneventful. I was passed a lot, I tried to fuel up, and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

The first major hill is Richter’s Pass, climbing 1,270 feet in elevation over seven miles with grades ranging from 5-9%. There were tons of spectators on the climb, and they were so encouraging! I had a smile on my face the whole time. I also passed quite a few people on the uphill, which was a good confidence booster. I was really happy I decided to use my road bike for this course to better ride the hills. (Most people I passed flew by me as soon as we declined, as I am too scared to go faster than 50km/hour!)

This is also where I saw my parents! I can’t stress enough how great it is to have spectators during an Ironman. It is such a boost!

The views throughout the climb and up top were a great distraction from the challenging nature of the course. There were countless vineyards and large fruit farms with their rows of trees. Luckily, it was really hot out as there have been pretty bad storms at the top of Richter’s in the past.

I didn’t mind the heat, although I was worried about how I was doing with my nurtition. I didn’t have a plan and tried to take in liquid and other fuel often, but it wasn’t easy with the constant climing.

The middle portion of the race is seven somewhat challenging hills in succession, known as the seven sisters or seven b**ches. I didn’t mind them, but I was definitely starting to tire at this point and wonder how I’d finish the bike and then run a marathon.

I broke the bike into three 60km sections to help me out mentally. I think it worked pretty well. I knew special needs was around 120km and then Yellow Lake, the final climb, was at 140km.

Before the special needs you do almost an L of two out and backs. I ended up seeing Kelly here after his second out and back just before I hit my first. (This was after he ate and drank at special needs for about 15 minutes!) We yelled a quick hi to eachother before he zoomed away again!

As you approach special needs, there’s one more tight turn. A girl in front of me bailed, but thankfully was going slow. Turns out she fell again and took another rider with her when she was grabbing her special needs bag near where I was.

In my opinion, take your time at aid stations and turns. It’s so much safer to lose a bit of time than to be careless (especially if your biking around where I am=not fast)!

I stopped completely to take my bag and grab a water from an aid station. I had rice krispie squares in my special needs that I was craving so I ate a couple while standing there! I carried all my own fuel (salted pretzels, Honey Stinger Chews, PowerBar Harvest Bar) and only took one water from them, as I had all my own liquids (Nuun), too. However, the volunteers at all the aid stations were awesome at cheering!

A little while after the special needs I stopped to use the bathroom before getting back on, ready to finish the last leg of the bike!

We had one more climb to conquer: Yellow Lake. Apparently it’s about 20km and you climb over 1,000 feet of elevation.  It’s not nearly as steep as Richter’s; however, at the late stage of the bike it was supposed to be tough.

It was the hardest part of the day for me. My lady parts were sore, I was tired, and I was ready to get off the bike. I persevered and kept pushing when I really just wanted to take it easy.

A guy and I went back and forth a few times and we both lamented how we thought we were at the top a couple times before realizing we still had climbing to finish!

After Yellow Lake, it’s a lot of downhill into Penticton. I braked a lot but still really enjoyed the rest for my legs! Once we got into Penticton, I was all smiles again knowing that once I got off the bike I only had my favourite part to go.

There’s a part near the end of the bike where you see the runners heading out. It was crazy hot at this point and the runners looked like they were pretty exhausted. Yikes- I wondered what the run had in store for me.

I kept my eyes out for Kelly and ended up seeing him again!! He called out for me to come and catch him and I thought there is no way in heck.

The crowds were incredible the closer you got to transition. The energy really helped to finish strong! Into transition I saw my parents and aunt and uncle and couldn’t wait to get out onto the run.

They had so many volunteers, so one grabbed my bike to rack for me. I must have had the biggest grin on my face when I let go of my bike!!

I hobbled to get my special needs bag and went back into the female tent. I changed my shorts, emptied the pockets of my shirt, changed socks and shoes, put on a visor, and put some fuel into my shirt (salt pills, a gel, and Sport Beans).

Again, I went and got sunscreen put on me. The volunteer seemed taken aback at how burnt part of my back was. But I couldn’t feel a thing and left transition SO happy to be running.

Next up…the 42.2km/26.2mile run in the blazing sun!

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IM Canada 2012 – the swim

3.8km swim/2.4 miles: 1:14:41
T1: 8:17

After waking up super early (3:37) and trying to eat, we met my parents to walk down to the race site. Although we had taken most of our gear down the day before (bike and T1 and T2 bags) we still had our morning clothes bag with our swim gear, fuel and water bottles for the day, and under the bike bags. Thankfully my parents carried mine for me!

Once we arrived at the race site, my nerves kicked into full gear! We got body marked and then headed into the athlete zone to set up our bikes and check on our transition bags.

We had a couple hours, but we used probably an hour setting up my bike and then Kelly’s, checking on our gear bags, and checking on our bikes one last time. Again, it was so great to have Kelly with me!

Although I was wearing two sweaters and thick sweats I was pretty chilly, so I put my wetsuit on and then a sweater back on top. I sat around for a while, listening to the voice of Ironman Canada, Steve King, talk. There was pump-up music playing and athletes milling around. The energy was incredible!!

Pretty soon the pros were starting 15 minutes ahead and we were allowed on to the beach. Kelly and I went there right away and saw my parents had snagged an awesome spot right where we’d exit the lake through to the transitions.

Waiting for the start!

The views from the lake are gorgeous—dessert like mountains and beautiful blue water. Kelly went in the water and I stayed on the beach but was freezing. The temperature at the start was 13C/55F. I went into the water waist deep and warmed right up!

Just over 2,591 people started the race, with 998 Iron virgins! There were also a ton of spotters in the lake on kayaks, boats, and surfboards. The entire fencing was lined with spectators cheering.

I don’t remember much else about the start other than music playing, people cheering, and then the flags being raised for the start. I love having Kelly beside me at the start of a race. It really helps calm my nerves! Kelly and I started beside each other but were quickly separated by the masses.

The water was perfectly clear at the start and you could see the bottom, including a couple fish. I remember looking at my watch at 500m and thinking how much further I had to go! Then, in the next breath, I looked over and saw Kelly breathing right beside me!! We swam together for nearly 500m. He made me laugh so hard that I had to tell myself to stop or I’d choke. When we approached the first turn, he yelled Chaos Corner, oh yeah. We watched a funny video of the 2011 swim beforehand and the guy taping keeps saying that. Around 1:22 and 2:07 it’s really funny!

I was shocked that throughout the whole swim I never got punched or kicked. I expected it at the turns but was ok! The other thing I was surprised with was how many people were around me at all times. For the entire swim, people were constantly touching me, and I had to try and manoeuvre around people. I don’t remember that from AZ.

The last stretch is the longest at 1,800m and it felt great to head down. It was also really easy to sight this leg with two tower hotels right by where we exit.

The water gets pretty shallow for a while, and I knew that but still stood up too early. I was going to swim again but instead took my swim cap and goggles off! I stumbled on slippery rocks for a bit before hitting the beach. I waved to my parents and walked up to the wetsuit strippers after taking my arms out.


They quickly stripped me, I found my transition bag, and I headed to the female change tent. A volunteer accompanied me and was so helpful! She dumped my bag and started stuffing my wet stuff in. In my excitement I forgot to put on one sock so had to take my shoe back off and slow down! On my way out another volunteer rubbed sunscreen on me and then I went to grab my bike. I was nice and warm but decided to put on my jacket knowing how easily I get cold!

Again, too excited, I started going to the other bike area. Thankfully a kind volunteer steered me back on course.

At this point, I didn’t know where Kelly was but thankfully he had an awesome swim too! He finished it in 1:18:24 and had ZERO cramps!!

According to my Garmin I swam 4.18km. I’m not sure if I swam nearly 400m more, but I definitely know I swam really wide to avoid chaos at the corners!

Up next…the challenging but stunning bike course.

Ironman Canada 2012: Pre-race activities

On Sunday, Aug. 26 we both crossed the finish line at Ironman Canada. It was such an incredible day! Thank you all for your kind comments and support leading up to the race.

I’m going to break down my race recap into a few parts. It’s fun to reminisce when I write the posts, and it’ll be awesome for me to go back and read later.

If you don’t want to read them all (or just can’t wait!), here are the stats:

 Total time: 12:06:56
3.8km/2.4 mile swim: 1:14:41
 T1: 8: 17
 180km/112 mile bike: 6:49:12
 T2: 4:59
 42.2km/26.2 mile run: 3:49:49

Kelly decided, with less than a week to go, to do the ironman. Although he had signed up, swim cramps and knee pains made him decide not to do it and instead spectate and cheer. As the event approached, he got wrapped up in it and decided to give it a whirl and see how his body handled it.

I was so happy we were in it together! We arrived in gorgeous Penticton Thursday morning and headed to Ironman Village to register and check out the Ironman store.

On our way there, we saw a Challenge press conference. Turns out that Ironman Canada 2012, the 30th anniversary, was the last one. The Challenge Family will host Challenge Penticton in 2013, using the same course. Ironman is looking at other venues in Western Canada to host a different Ironman Canada in late August/early September. A lot of people were upset by this, and at the athlete dinner I began to understand why (more on that later).

The vibe around town, and especially in Ironman Village, was awesome! After a little wait in line we got our numbers, five gear bags, and timing chip and strap. Then we hit up the store. The store is a dangerous place and it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the excitement! Many dollars later, we walked around the rest of the village.

Later that day we headed to the lake in our wetsuits to test the waters. It was windy and the lake was choppy. I wasn’t impressed with how I was swimming, but I loved my new Garmin 910XT tracking my distance! I knew that if the lake was choppy on Sunday I’d be able to do it, but it would be a rough go. We also started packing our transition bags.

All our gear

On Friday, we took our bikes out for a spin to stretch out the legs and ensure our bikes were working well. My (new) cables had stretched quite a bit so my bike wasn’t shifting well at all. Thankfully, Kelly the mechanic fixed it without any issues. (The same thing happened to me before IMAZ in 2010 and I was panicked!)

My parents arrived on Friday so it was fun to share in the excitement with them. We walked around the Athlete Village again and then walked around town. We headed to the Athlete Dinner on Friday night. It was held at the convention centre and I couldn’t believe how many people were there, all for the same reason.

The dinner program was so inspirational. In addition to announcing the oldest (Sister Madonna) and youngest (four 18-year-olds), they also had a beautiful three or four part video of the event history and various years and inspiring people and moments. There was footage dating back to the original race, a compelling story, and many interviews.

Other than Hawaii (the birthplace of Ironman), IM Canada was the longest running Ironman.  In 1983, the first year it was held, there were only 23 competitors. There were three gentlemen there who after finishing Sunday’s race would have finished 29 of the 30 events!

They also went over the race stats:

  • 2,977 people registered
  • 1,999 men
  • 978 women

It was a great dinner and made us even more eager to get it started!

On Saturday we went for a light jog, ate breakfast, then rode our bikes over to the drop off.

It’s getting real!

We went back to the hotel and finished packing our transition bags. I wish I had remembered to take a photo of the process, as there is a lot of thought and gear that goes into the bags.

I had made lists at home to ensure I took everything and more to Penticton. It was really nice to have the lists with me so check and recheck that I packed everything. We also packed our bento boxes for the bike so we wouldn’t have much to do later on.

After taking our T1 and T2 bags to the drop off, we walked around town a little more and tried to calm our nerves. Then we had an early, and delicious, dinner with my parents before heading back to the room to chill out.

I stayed put and read for a long time. Kelly was antsy so went down to the lake for a while!

I couldn’t believe that we both slept pretty well. Before we knew it, our alarms were going off at 3:37.  It was time to roll!

Next up…the gorgeous swim in Okanagan Lake!

Do you sleep well the night before a race?