Tag Archives: volunteers

Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013 – pre race and the swim

The days leading up to IMCdA were a ton of fun! The energy and atmosphere was incredible. The expo and race site were buzzing. And the people of Coeur d’Alene and other athletes were so welcoming and friendly.

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Due to cold and rain, we didn’t workout on Wednesday or Thursday. On Friday, the rain and clouds broke so we went for a run and icy dip in the beautiful lake.

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We had purchased  thermal skull caps before we left and bought booties at the expo.

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Even with those items on, I was numb in seconds! Once you swam for a bit the water wasn’t so bad.

The athlete dinner on Friday was inspiring. I love hearing the stories of incredible obstacles people have overcome and seeing the variety of participants.

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On Saturday the weather improved more and the energy around Ironman was vibrant. Kelly and I went for a bike ride to get our legs moving and ensure the bikes were in prime working order.

I’m so lucky to have an awesome bike mechanic at home and on our travels!

After our ride, we went to the hotel to get our transition bags and rode back down to drop off our bikes and bags. Whenever we do this, it fully hits me that we are doing an Ironman!!! Ahh!

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We had an early supper on Saturday and then called it a night hoping for sleep.

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Kelly woke us up before our alarms at 2:45am so we ate breakfast in the room.

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We met my parents then headed to transition to get body marked, check on our bikes and add fuel, and wait for the swim!

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Although I get ridiculously nervous, I love the anxious energy buzzing on race morning. It comes from the athletes and the thousands of spectators.

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I’m always freezing so put on my wetsuit quite early with my clothes on top. I couldn’t believe how quickly two hours went by. Before I knew it, we were moving towards the lake to get in a practice swim.

Ironman implemented the Swim Smart initiative at this race that allows access to the lake for a warm up swim and features a rolling start.

I loved being able to get into the lake early, especially after my panicky experience at the Oliver half iron a few weekends before. After a little warm up, Kelly and I seeded ourselves together and took it all in.

The Swim

  • 2.4 mile swim time: 1:15:58
  • T1 time: 6:51

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I was impressed with how smoothly the rolling start worked. Before I knew it our timing chips beeped and we were crossing the start line.

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I didn’t really allow myself to think and just started swimming. After reading Jenn’s race report, I remembered to pretend I was swimming at the pool in practice (albeit with 2,400 other people)! In practice I breathe every three swim strokes but in races I almost always breathe every two. This time, I mostly breathed every three, which kept my breath more controlled.

I also was shocked that I wasn’t cold! In Arizona I remember shaking halfway through and starting the bike numb. The thermal cap and booties really helped.

I swim wide to avoid as much contact as possible at the turn buoys. I’m glad I did swim wide, as I still got grabbed a little. The worst of the contact was nearing the beach at the end of the first lap. People were pulling me and it was plain old uncomfortable. Thankfully we got out, ran on the sand for a few steps, and did it all over again!

The second loop was pretty uneventful but I do remember smiling to myself thinking how happy I was to be doing another Ironman! I was disappointed I didn’t see Kelly since we’ve seen each other in the middle of the swim in both races we’ve done. I hoped he was swimming strong and staying crampless!

Before I knew it I was nearing the beach again. I ran out of the water so happy to be finished one of three disciplines.

2.4 mile swim time: 1:15:58
Age group placement: 28
Gender: 176
Overall: 934

My wetsuit was stripped by two wonderful ladies. Then I grabbed my T1 bag and ran into the female change tent.

I wear a bathing suit under my wetsuit so I can start off kind of dry. Another fabulous volunteer helped me put on my sports bra (so hard when you’re wet!) and arm warmers. I put on the rest of my cycling gear and she stuffed everything into my transition bag while I started eating a Clif bar.

They had gummy bears and pretzels to take on the way out, so I took one gummy bear! I stopped for sunscreen application from another volunteer then grabbed my bike and headed out on the highway for the longest ride of my life!

T1 time: 6:51

Up next…the bike and run.

What are your pre-race rituals?

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.