IRONMAN CANADA. WHISTLER. JULY 30, 2017.

Wow. What a day.

They tell you it’s going to be hard: that there will be highs and there will be lows. I don’t think you truly grasp those highs and lows until you actually experience it for yourself.

Last year, July 24th 2016, I decided it was time to get back into the world of Triathlon and I competed in my 3rd 70.3 distance Ironman, in Whistler. It was a high. I loved the course, the day, the emotions…so why not revel in that high and sign up for my first full in Whistler the following year…so that’s what I did.

Commence training. 

I began picking away at some form of a training plan in September, and joined efforts with Dylan Gleeson (coach, former pro, cousins husband…and after this year a Whistler- WINNER OF IMC 2017) for a coaching plan. I picked my way through the year of training, ramping the mileage and hours starting in the spring. Minimal injuries left me feeling strong and well trained come race week.

Race week came with a wave of emotions; mainly the realization that I wasn’t THAT nervous. This emotion came with its own set of anxieties how could I not be nervous?! Naive bliss is what I am calling it. I have put in the hours. I have put in the time. Now all I can hope is that my body and mind can pull this out for me. Not knowing entirely what to expect leaves a sense of calm… it was out of my control.

Nerves really hit race morning. On the shuttle bus passing the lake that in a few short hours I was going to be lapping- twice. The sudden fear arose inside – can I do this? I continued to echo myself, yes I can. I AM doing this.

Sorted in transition, wetsuit on, I made my way to the swim coral.

I am an okay swimmer. My mantra for the swim here was slow and steady. Find a pace that I don’t peak my heart rate and I can do comfortably without panic. I seeded myself in the 70-80 minute heat.

Walking into the water I saw a familiar face, Auntie Jan. A few smiles, a camera pose 😉 and a familiar face was all I needed to take this thing- and do it!

1:12:26- nailed it. 2.4 miles: I felt great: Did not panic once: Was ready to get onto the bike.

On my way through transition I saw my dad and Ange who commented on being proud of my strong swim. Que some tears. I grabbed my bike- and just post mount line I saw my family. Ryan and the kids were standing there perfectly placed; just as I was about to embark on my 112-mile bike journey…I needed that! I heard a lot of voices yelling my name- THANK YOU as I was beyond fortunate with the amazing support crew I had out there. My mind was in a foggy blur of emotions, all I knew was I had to get from A to B!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am doing this. This was my mantra. I was told a few times over that for Ironman day it is important to find a mantra that works. This one may sound corny as hell- but it worked. I brought this out in many high and low points of the race. It reminded me not only that I can- but that I currently AM.

I am doing this. I said it right out on to the bike. And this time, it brought tears. Not often enough do we say we are proud of ourselves. This is not one of them. I was and am so frickin proud of myself. Tears crept in and out all day. At my high times of amazement and low points where I would come across family cheering me on. Emotions were high.

The bike was great. I had never biked a full 112 miles- my goal was to get around a 6:30hour… while not completely knowing if this was possible. My butt was sore about an hour into the ride- oh god….just a few more hours to go! The weather was perfect to start the bike. From transition through to the end of the Callaghan climb- there was no wind and the sun was starting to shine through. The wind really began to ramp up on the turn around of the Pemberton Meadows. This is where I had to make a conscious effort to keep cadence up, as I had to pedal harder into the wind: And then, the climbs back to Whistler. The wind was in and out: not too bad and then gusts. But my mantra kept me moving forward. Even as I could feel my legs begin to die a slow death on the return- I was doing this. Gut rot was in and out on the bike. My saving grace was the Zantac I put into my bike box. I had to pop all 3 over the course of the bike. But if staved off the severe cramping and bloat and allowed me to still fuel.

The last 4 miles as I came back in to town as Green Lake appeared in the distance, I knew I had done the bike, and that I captured my goal- 6:33:02 on the bike.

Now the realization that I had a marathon to go was setting in and my mind wanted to overtake with negatives.  How was I going to do this?

I made my way through transition, out of the tent and on to the run. Started the first 100 meters with all the familiar faces. Everyone cheering- an emotional boost that turned in to a bout of strength. Passing Ryan and Kai, I got a big hug, and I was on my way to Lost Lake. I kept telling myself to keep running: One foot in front of the other: I can do this. I ran (slowly) for the first couple of miles- hiked a few hills and then the gut rot was back…and this time was accompanied by a strong sense of vomit. I stopped fueling. I couldn’t get anything in. New mantra set in: run, walk, and toilet.

My low mindset quickly began overtaking my positive thoughts. I knew I had to fuel somehow but didn’t think I could, nor felt like it. I started grabbing sips of Pepsi and taking licks of the salt stick I had decided to throw in the day before (thank god!). But still no energy and a failing mind. I came back through town to start out on my second lap. Passing the family and friend cheer squad- I was now walking and the mind was winning. My dad walked beside me for 100 meters or so asking what I needed, what was wrong. Nothing logical was entering my mind at this point- only that, I am going to finish this thing even if I walk to the finish.

Around the lake I found the girls cheering. Jodi, Cath and Carly were on bikes and cheering me on. Cath came at the right moment. All logic needed to be told to me in simple form. What are you fueling? I’m not I can’t. She told me to just start taking some Gatorade. Every aid station just get some in. The voice of reason was all I needed. And over the course of a few aid stations the sugar and electrolytes kicked in. This was the low of all low points. I didn’t want to be left alone. I was in fear of puking, in fear of passing out. In fear of… I don’t even know! They would ride ahead and wait. I’d see them again and then they’d do the same. And then I saw Ryan. He had ridden up to meet me and he began doing the cat and mouse game with me. This was what kept me mentally strong. Knowing I had support near me. And finally, the Gatorade kicked in, the adrenaline that I WAS DOING THIS kicked in and just like that- I was down to around 16km to go. I made a race friend on the Green Lake stretch. We were both not feeling it. I made a few along the course, but it wasn’t till Melissa that I was in enough of a positive mindset to know that we could finish this. We got through the last together. Talking, taking our minds off of the pain of the current game, choosing the next point to run to until we could walk again. She was just what I needed to finish this race stronger; and she said I was the same for her. (5:46:06 run time- not the imagined time, but I did it).

The first thing I said when I crossed that finish line… “I am never doing that again.” My cousin and I both said that an Ironman may be comparable to childbirth… I guess there is one more thing similar in them both; that with time, your mind invites that “never again” back in- and it becomes a possibility… for a potential in a long distant future.

My favorite picture of the race is the one below. It is the final stretch of the run. I had done it. But the reason this picture is my fav is because it depicts exactly what this race was all about- all the people. My family, my friends- all the incredible support. They were all there with me the entire time. Triathlon, they say, is a single sport. I beg to differ. The support, strength and encouragement you need from start to finish of this sport- from training to finish line-is nothing short of a group effort. This picture captures the entirety of it all. 

THANK YOU. I am so thankful, grateful; fortunate for the village I have in my life.

 

The run wasn’t really the one I hoped for but this day taught me a lot about myself.

When you want something badly enough you get after it.

When your body says I can’t your mind shows you it CAN.

You are stronger than you think you are.

I finally made the red carpet.

I AM AN IRONMAN.

IMC Whistler 2017

13:40:53

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