Ironman Canada 2015

The day started early. The alarm went off at 4:30am but I’d already been tossing and turning for a couple of hours. The idea is to get a good night’s sleep on Friday because the night before the event is always dodgey; there are way too many things weighing on your mind.

The process of moving athletes from the Whistler Village to the start at Alta Lake was very efficient and I arrived in T1 relaxed and ready to face the day. I saw a ton of people I knew and shared lots of hugs and encouragement. I did not however see my trusty training partner Brenda. Somehow it didn’t seem right not to share a pre-race hug. I did think about her during the mosh pit of a swim and in fact possibly collided with her at one point, she thinks. I took a few hits to the head and thought I might have broken a finger but it was just bruised, thankfully. Needless to say, I was happy to come out of the water in 1:13:50.

In the change tent I was told it was pouring rain. It was actually hard to tell when we were swimming in the water. So I went with my plan to ride with full riding gloves, arm warmers, wool socks and my rain jacket, all of which I literally threw into my bag just before leaving Vancouver. After training for months in 30C+ (90F) temperatures, I thought it was better to have it on hand given the drastic change in forecast and it had  been months since I’d last looked at those items.

The first part of the bike was so cold I quickly lost feeling in my hands and feet. Going up Callaghan I lost one of my nutrition bars because my hands were so numb I couldn’t hold onto it and try to open it at the same time. I’m told it was 6C (~40F). The descent, instead of being a opportunity to knock off “a few free clicks” as my friend Karen likes to refer to fast descents, were cautious and slow. The conditions were downright nasty.

Unfortunately, after Callaghan, my training partner Brenda was suffering from hypothermia and pulled out of the race. But she was in good company as our local pro triathlete, Jeff Symonds also withdrew at the same time. Along with several other they shared a bus back to the village, .

The cold, wet weather persisted for the next 60K until we were entering Pemberton at the 100K mark. Fortunately I met my pal Tammy along the way and we went back and forth for ages – it was soooo good to have company with which to commiserate and conquer the crazy conditions! I kept having to ask the volunteers at the aid stations for open bars and peeled bananas because I just couldn’t do it on my own. Normally I don’t even stop at aid stations, I just pick up what I need and ride through but I couldn’t even get my water bottle out of the cage without fear of dropping it.

During the long stretch of flat roads in the Pemberton Meadows, it finally stopped raining and I regained the feeling in my hands. Having the ability to grab my own food was a welcome relief! Through it all, I somehow managed to eat more than I’ve ever been able to in previous Ironman events but it might be a while before I even look at another Honey Stinger Waffle!

The long climb back to Whistler was just what I expected but I have to say the last 20K seemed to last forever. I was growing increasingly uncomfortable on my bike and couldn’t be aero for more than a few minutes. I think all the time spent being hunched over braving the cold did a number on my neck and shoulders and I couldn’t get off my bike fast enough!

After 7hours and 2 minutes on the bike (I was so hoping for a sub 7hr split), I was faced with the marathon. Since I’ve run this distance 35 times before, I knew what was ahead. I always tell people that in Ironman it’s not really about running a marathon, it’s about covering 26.2 miles anyway, anyhow. Just keep moving forward and the finish line will eventually appear.

My first goal in doing Ironman is always getting to the start line uninjured. Mission accomplished.

My second goal is being off my bike before the winners cross the finish line. Kristina informed me on the run course that I had also accomplished that – yeah! From the outset I wanted to come off my bike and just be able to run. The Whistler bike course literally has the ability to chew you up and spit you out. I didn’t want to be walking the entire run course.

My conservative approach on the bike course and the cool conditions on the run paid off hugely as I felt really, really good for most of the marathon. As always there are highs and lows, but the two loop run course is so filled with spectators that it’s hard to feel lonely. Since I also knew quite a few other competitors it was easy to share a cheer and word of encouragement as we passed each other on the out and back course. After another downpour late in the run, a rainbow appeared over Green Lake making me smile and giving me the boost I needed to bring it home. Well, the three cups of pepsi probably didn’t hurt either.

Even though I had my second slowest bike split, I ran my fastest Ironman marathon yet, coming in under 4:30!! I was so excited to finish under 13 hours . That was my third and final goal of the day accomplished with a total time of 12:52:55!

I’m not sure what is next on the agenda, but I’m sure I’ll find something to challenge myself. In the meantime, I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone for their support and encouragement on the journey to my 6th Ironman.

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