Following Ironman 70.3 Coeur D'Alene we stayed on the road for about another 7 weeks living the good ol' van-life spending some time in the Pacific Northwest. After a little downtime spent in Joseph, OR and Portland, OR we headed to Seattle where it was time to get back to serious training and build upon the fitness I had going into CDA. I adored every second of my training there as I had the chance to swim everyday in open water in Lake Washington and run in some of my favorite spots in the nice cool temps AND at sea level. The week before the race we headed out of the city and made our way over to the Olympic Peninsula which provided the perfect place to decompress before the race.
From there we headed on to Whistler for the Ironman 70.3 race. It was my first trip to Whistler and it did not disappoint! It was a beautiful place for an event and very well-organized which made for a perfect race weekend. I went into the weekend really hoping I could come away with the overall win and I succeeded in just that. There was no pro field in this race so I knew it would feel pretty special if I could actually be the first female to break the tape. That being said, you NEVER know who is going to show up at a race and since you have NO control over anyone else, my focus was only on executing the best race I could and hoping it would be enough for the win. After years of competing I have learned to focus on the "process" and making sure I am performing to the best of my ability as opposed to solely thinking about the outcome. I had placed 2nd and 3rd overall amateur in previous Ironman 70.3 events but have never been able to nab that first-place spot in an Ironman-sanctioned event. Finally getting the win at a race where I was able to break the tape made it a memorable one.
SWIM- 29:27 (1:24 per 100 yds pace) (I believe my pace was faster than this, but my watch somehow got turned off during the swim so none of my swim got recorded (probably the dumb girl that kept running into me which meant I had to continually beat on her with my left arm. Okay, I wasn't actually beating on her, but for some reason she couldn't quite figure out that my left arm was going to continue hitting her with every stroke I took as she continued to swim right into me. In the end, I had a stopped watch, she had a black eye. Who do you think got the shittier end of the stick???)
Anyway, most people after the race said the swim course measured about 100 yards long which would put me closer to the pace I was hoping for so my ego's gonna go with that story.
This race was VERY different in that there was a full ironman going on on the SAME day on the SAME course and because they had such a long day ahead they started the race before the 70.3 competitors. This meant hundreds and hundreds of bodies to swim over once our race finally started as the full Ironman swim was 2 loops with ours being just one.
I lined up pretty close to the front in hopes to find some fast feet to hang onto. Because we had a much later start than I am used to (about 1.5 hours later than usual) I spent a lot of time waiting that morning. And waiting plus race-day nerves can only mean one thing... I had to PEE!
But, I was already lined up and in my wetsuit. Why I didn't just wet myself on the beach I have no idea. The minute I got in the water and started the swim is when I actually realized I had to pee. I think I was so nervous standing on the beach waiting that I don't think I even processed that I had to pee. Trying to swim your hardest while kicking hard to stay on feet is not exactly the best time to relax your bladder. But, it was all I could think about at the start so I did my best to pee while swimming. (Sorry to those of you in my downstream). Once the bladder was empty I was able to re-focus. (Yep, I fully realize that might be TMI for a lot of you, but I like to keep it real here and when it comes to endurance sports having to pee AND/or poop during training or racing is always a reality we have to face).
Okay, enough shit talk, back to the swim.. I did my best to follow the feet in front of me which meant swimming over the top of a LOT of unlucky souls. SORRY :( It's never my intent to do this, but when your goal is to move as fast as you can in a straight line you just have to ignore the people in front of you as though they weren't there. I like to think of it as a rocky trail, but instead just some hard, rocky water.
Before the swim started I kept debating whether or not I would use the wetsuit strippers. They were lined up right near the water's edge which meant there wouldn't be much time to get the wetsuit down around my waist and that time could be better spent in forward motion. So, I went into the race thinking I wouldn't use them. But when I stood up at the end of the swim, I was able to get my wetsuit down pretty quickly and before I knew it I was on my butt letting two men pull my wetsuit off. Just as they were about to tug I realized they had not only my wetsuit, but my entire race kit as well. Yep, I was about to bare my hoohoo to the world. Okay, maybe just the race spectators, but that still would have been pretty embarrassing. I have been racing with a sleeved kit now, but because the sleeves are so tight I leave it pulled down to my waist so that I don't have restriction in the swim portion of the race. So, they had grabbed ahold of the sleeves AND the wetsuit and were SO close to stripping me NAKED!!!
Fortunately, I was able to avoid the crisis of exposing my girlie bits as I screamed "STOP", but this did add a little bump in the road to my already-slow transitions. Once my wetsuit (and NOT my race kit) was removed I ran into the change tent trying to get my sleeves up which so far has proven to not make for the fastest of transitions. I managed to get the zipper stuck (bump #2) so it took some time getting that undone and once I finally had my kit all the way up and zipped and was headed to my bike I looked down only to realize it had fully unzipped again (bump #3). Ughhh! So, yep, long story short... I'm back to "prancercising" my way through transitions losing precious seconds and in my case probably a minute plus.
Onto the bike and it was an even bigger SHIT SHOW than the swim with full course Ironman athletes ALL OVER the road. I remember thinking about 20 minutes into the bike how much more energy I was going to expend than normal because I spent almost ALL of the bike shouting "ON YOUR LEFT, STAY RIGHT!" to which I usually got no response and athletes still ALL over the road. At one point, I watched a girl ride straight SIDEWAYS. No joke! She went from our lane straight across into the oncoming bike lane.
Fortunately, there was one small portion of the bike course where I was afforded some reprieve from the crowds. We climbed up to Whistler Olympic park while the Ironman athletes turned around. At this point, thanks to some nice spectators shouting out my position to me, I knew I was in first place already having caught the faster female swimmers in front of me and I knew I needed to do everything I could to put some space between myself and the ladies behind me.
I came off the bike in first place but had no idea how much of a lead I had at this point. Matt was not able to track me on his phone as we don't get free coverage in Canada so his phone was turned off.
T2 was much smoother than T1. Because I was the first female off the bike I had the entire changing tent and ALL of the volunteers to myself which helped to make for a quick transition.
RUN- 1:35:30 (7:17 min/mi pace)
After spending several weeks in Seattle at sea level running in some of my favorite places I had a lot of confidence in my run going into this race. Although, with that confidence comes the pressure and the worry that maybe I wouldn't perform at the level that I knew I was capable of.
I knew this course would be challenging. There were a lot of rolling hills and some non-paved trail on the course (although not much) and it was an abnormally HOT day! I was given a bike lead for the run although I NEVER once saw him as he rode the entire way behind me. The entire run I was aware of his presence but not a word was ever exchanged between us. I knew I was in first place coming off the bike but I didn't know by how much so I did my best to run scared. Let's face it, on any normal day if I knew there was a man following me on a bike this would not have been hard to do.
I told myself to not get complacent. I knew I would be PISSED if I lost the lead. We did a short out and back in the beginning miles of the race and I was able to see 2nd and 3rd place and they didn't seem as far back as I would have liked them to be. Then when I passed Matt he told me I only had a 2.5 min lead coming off the bike. Now I was really running scared. It was time to drop the hammer!!!
Fortunately I was never caught, but I did everything I could to force myself to just keep firing and pushing. I knew I needed to hurt and I needed to be willing to accept that hurt if I wanted to be satisfied with my performance after the race. I focused on getting in the nutrition I needed to and water and coke at every aid station. (No, I do NOT participate in the HATORADE). Other than that, I was just constantly checking in with myself and my pace trying to push harder.
In the end, I finished 1st female overall by 11+ minutes and 14th overall including the men. I managed to do what I came there to do and was pretty pleased with the outcome.
Up next... Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz. In fact, I'm currently writing this race report from the road on my way to SC. After another solid block of training back in HOT Tucson I'm hoping I've made a few more deposits in the "toughness" bank. Time will tell...