Tag Archives: Ironman Canada bike course

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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