This race was my 4th IM, and although I had grand plans for it when I signed up, I readjusted my goals and hopes after enjoying life more and training a bit less — over the year, we got a second dog and bought a house, so while I was excited for the race, I was also ready for it to be done, freeing weekends for taking down wallpaper, painting, and family hikes. Looking at my training log, I actually did do a decent job of getting in the key workouts (long bikes and runs, mainly) and my work with MarkyV over the previous year definitely helped me all around, and especially in showing me how to train in the swim. So while I didn’t expect my original goal, I was hoping I could do the race in around 12
hours. I was ready for a tough bike course, and expected a fairly flat run, with just a couple small rollers, but a danger of heat, after hearing about the course from Mike. That heat had me a bit worried: while most years there is plenty of heat to train in here in Southern CA, this summer had been a pretty mild one, and we didn’t have the same heat training that we did other years.
My biggest worries as we left for the race were that my puppies would be ok with their support crew waiting on them, and that we’d make it to Seattle in time to get our rental car as the office closed soon after our flight was scheduled to arrive. In the airport waiting for leg two of our trip, we got a text that calmed me for our four-paws.
And then we arrived in Seattle and got the car with about 10 minutes to spare. Thankful that Britt had a place for us to crash for the night, we headed to her house and to bed. After some good sleep, and cute puppies (already missing my own) we were off on the drive to Penticton… in a car without cruise control, the rental place being out of what we had reserved (although they compensated us for the inconvenience). We made it to the border, and saw lots of triathletes in line to cross into Canada. Mike and I passed time guessing who in each car was racing, when in the car beside us Toni turned and I was able to guess right on that car!
Safely into Penticton, we got our bikes from Tri Bike Transport (happy to have been free off them at the airport), and relaxed through the days. We drove the bike course, and we did our best not to wait in lines: any time there was one, like for registration, we just left and came back later. We got to do a morning ride with Marky out of the Bike Barn, and generally felt ready to go. My heat worries were calmed when it was actually COLD the day before the race, and soon instead of heat it became a question of what to add on the bike! Getting our transition bags ready, I added a vest, gloves, and arm warmers to the Swim-to-Bike bag. Other than that, it was the basics: helmet, shoes, sunglasses, blocs (just as a bonus since our main nutrition is all liquid), and a bit of Okole Stuff. The Bike-to-Run bag was also easy to fill: Trifuel visor, run shoes & socks, some more blocs, another mini Okole, and some Tums. The bags were soon ready and dropped off, along with our bikes.
That night we prepped our nutrition (a single bottle of carbo pro in high concentration, along with some nuun for flavor) and started our sunscreen. For some reason we’ve found that the sunscreen works even better if we do an application of it the night before, as well as in the morning. Then we got to bed early with our things already laid out for race day. Around 2 or 3 am, we woke and had a Boost-type shake to get in some cals. Back to sleep easily, and it was morning.
Into our race clothes, Okole Stuff applied, nutrition and water bottles packed, some breakfast (english muffin with PB&Honey for me) and we walked ~1mi to the start. It was a cool morning, and we both decided that for the bike we’d put on arm warmers, and Mike, who gets cold easily, also planned to grab his gloves. Neither of us uses special needs, so that part of check-in went quickly, and we got body marked and to our bikes. We each put a nutrition bottle onto our bike, along with water in the aerobottle, and into our wetsuits (with more Okole), and we were ready to race!
Into the water, and a quick warm up done. The pros were off, and Mike and I kissed good-bye and good luck as we each found our place for the start, him on the line and me a bit behind and to the left.
I wandered a bit, trying to figure out where I wanted to be. Not too far to the side, as that was crazy busy the previous year, and not too far to the middle, since I didn’t want to get complete swam over. I found a spot that looked about right, chatted to a few people, and found their goal was similar to what I thought I could do. So I tried not to stress while waiting for the start. The water felt great!
Finally the national anthem played, and I teared up, and shared hugs with a few racers around me. We all wished each other the best, and it was go time.
My goal here was a 1:15 (Mike saying 1:12-1:15). But I don’t swim with a watch so couldn’t really adjust or really have any idea how it was going. So I just swam.
Now I know the swim can be crowded… but it was by far the most contact I’ve ever had in a swim! And not just at the start. The entire course I found myself relating to a sardine. I wasn’t near people on and off, but had constant people on all sides. To the one guy who pushed past me and then took a breast kick stroke right as he got to my ear, thanks, it made me stubborn and not really care who touched me instead of being jumpy. I just went with it. “Oh look, we are swimming a great line, ” and then later “huh looks like we are going off-course now. Hope the pack doesn’t go too far.” There wasn’t much choice since I was wedged in from the sides, front, and back. But I felt strong. Comfortable and strong, and just stroke stroke stroke. Focus on holding water. Hear Marky in my head, talking about the pressures on my arm. And taste the clear water. Live it up: it’s not that nice back home!
And then the rocky bottom was at my fingertips, and I got to stand and make my way up the ramp. Jogged around a few people because although it will be a long day, I want the best of myself and I know I can handle it. It was quite a change from IMAZ, my first, where I was slow and didn’t have too much company coming out of the water. Also rather different from IMKY, where it was a time trial start and being near someone didn’t mean you were at all near each other in ability. I missed the clock, and wondered how I had done, but just focused on the transition at hand.
Got my bag, into the tent, and a wonderful volunteer (I’m sorry to say I now forget her name) helped me get set for a ride. She laughed at my baggies. “Oh I won’t need that. And that can go right back in. Armwarmers would be great! Oh thanks for helping get those on, my fingers are a bit useless.” The day was definitely a bit on the cool side. But I smiled right through, out to my bike, and on at the mount line. Oh yeah, and passed almost 200 people during that transition! I really did come out with the masses and get right on throw without distraction!Â
Nice and easy to refocus as the ride started, glacing at the power numbers on a sticker on my top-tube. They became my main companions for the hours to come. Part way through town, I glanced at the time of day and was shocked to see it was 8:17! 1:17 into the race, and not only was I done swimming, I was through T1 and settled onto my bike! My goal was about a 6:30 here, but I hoped I’d be under. I knew it was hope though, as I didn’t feel I’d quite done the biking I would have liked. I knew I had done enough in comparison to other years, but I was staying realistic.
It was chilly, and I was glad for the arm warmers as I waited (and waited… as you will see) for the day to warm up. Over the steep initial climb, watching those numbers. Getting passed by a couple packs on the way to Ricter, but reminding myself that I have to be proud of who I am and just let it go. No energy to waste on them today. Got some gaterade at an aid station, trying to stick to my plan of alternating water and gatorade, only to find that the seal was still on under the sport top. I tossed the bottle, hoping it wouldn’t get too warm before the next station. I had my regular mix of 1 million calories of carbopro in a single bottle,and some water, but Gatorade was going to be important for electrolytes for me.
Up Ricter pass telling myself easy-cheesey and watching rider after rider pass me by. Another difference with having a much stronger swim was more getting passed on the bike! Hopefully I’d see at least some of them later! Climbing Ricter brought down the arm warmers, but I was too lazy to actually take them all the way off.
On the descent following Ricter there was a good amount of cat and mouse. I’d stay steady on climbs, and just relax the downhills. I guess the hills around here help my handling, because I flew by so many people using their brakes! One even told me on a later climb that I descend like a devil. It became a mantra on later descents.
With the ending of the rollers came some wind of Doom! And a bit of rain. And I was just tired of pedaling. Done with the bike. Wanted my running shoes to come play. But had a few more miles to get in… so I whined to myself while continuing to move forward. I felt like getting to Twin Lakes took forever! It was windy, and wet, and cold, and I was fairly miserable. But there were some awesome aid stations, so I made myself smile through them to help me get over it. There was even a bit of hail! And the arm warmers came back up some point before that final climb, and I realized my fears of a hot day might be able to relax.
Finally I was heading back into town, and my running shoes were calling my name.
Off the bike! Off the bike! I think T2 is one of the best parts of triathlon! I was done pedaling, and into run shoes. I loved seeing the “Gracie” on the left heel, and “Annie” on the right, complete with a little paw print for each, as I pulled on my shoes. Visor on, extra Okole Stuff into a pocket, new blocks, and time to go.
I felt pretty good coming out the arch and onto the course. Well, a bit tired, sure. And a bit cold. And for some reason my foot had started hurting near the end of the bike. Really I wanted an ankle adjustment (but as Scotty, one of my tri-heros, went by me when he had about 3 miles to go, I contained myself and just cheered instead of begging him to help me). But I thought I could hit my target of 4 – 4:15ish. A bit before this point, I, for some reason I don’t understand, decided I should try to run the whole thing. No walking. Just get it done. I knew I could: training was there, nothing major was going wrong, just suck it up. It’s easier to keep going than to try to get started again!
So I distracted myself with the racers coming toward me. I didn’t get passed by any finishing pros, which was cool (with the short out and back to both begin and end the race, a goal had been being through that before the leader was on it). But I enjoyed the fact that with an out and back course I could see how their races were unfolding. I was sad not to see Tereza, but proud of Scott. And then I started the Mike-watch, while also keeping myself from getting too excited and going too fast. Since in my brain, he should be right with Scott. Forget the different pro start time, and that their days of racing side by side were many years back… I was expecting to see him any minute. Really, I knew it would be closer to miles 6-8 that I saw him heading in for his finish.
And soon I did see him! And I was glad, because I really had to pee and I knew if I jumped into a porta-potty that would be when he went by, and I’d worry the whole rest of the race that he was in a ditch somewhere. But there was that whole “no walking” thing… and this was still pretty early in the day. My stubborn side wouldn’t give in yet, because it would break the seal. So… yes… he got a kiss as we passed. But it was a jogging kiss. He looked to be having a bit of a tough day, and sorry sweetie, but all the more reason for me to hurry and move on — his mood rubs off on my way more than mind does on him. So will love and a drive-by-kissing, we continued our days.
But nothing could slow me down! Mike had warned me about the heat, and the lack of shade, but hey, it was actually a great temperature for running. My foot hurt a bit, sure, but if there wasn’t something that wasn’t perfect it might not count as an Ironman. And then I came around a turn, and saw some hills. Now normally I wouldn’t care, but it was just a surprise. Although we’d driven most (if not all) of the course, I had listened when Mike talked about heat, heat, and more heat. And nothing about hills. In fact, he told me it was fairly flat. HA! Turns out, when it is crazy hot, the hills don’t matter. So his brain had completely forgotten them (and when he hit them, his first thought was “uh oh I’m gonna be in trouble…”). But I was able to just keep going. “Just don’t walk.” The turn around was in sight, and all the cheering crowds made me a bit lonely, since I didn’t have family on the course this time. “GOOOO KYLIEEEEEE!” Oh my gosh am I hallucinating? Is there actually anther Kylie right by me? “YAY! LOOKIN’ STRONG KYLIE!” I look around, and almost still miss her. Andy, thank you. I so needed that. Right then, and you were there. I almost teared up it felt so good! But I had to keep running, and that wouldn’t help my ability to run straight.
On the way back, the wind picked up. And as I was running near another guy for a while, I ended up tucking in behind him, glad there were no drafting rules for the run. Soon he peaked back, almost as if he’d like a turn behind. But his 6′ or more frame had to glance down to find the source of the footsteps behind him, and he laughed. “Yeah, I guess just stay back there… you won’t do me much good.” But we had some chat, and supported eachother for a couple miles, so hopefully it did help him some! And along the way, we picked up a group. I think there were about 5 of us, just keeping in stride, breathing and getting through together. A later aid station broke us apart though, and soon I was off on my own again, still not willing to break into a walk.
And a couple horrible inclines later, I was almost back in town. I could hear the announcer, and see the finish line. I was heading right at it! And then got to go left, and complete the final 1km out and back. It’s just cruel. It was also cruel to see the clock, and that I would just miss my “everything went pretty much right” goal. But there were crowds along here, and I knew Mike would cheer me in, and then I would be done! And my foot thought it would rather like that. I made it to the line, crossed happy, and smiled my way into my catcher’s arms.
Then it was food, and sitting, and an awesome massage. But a lot of it was a blur… did pass into the medical tent since my foot no longer wanted to take weight at all (it missed that friend adrenaline). The next couple days I was rather sore, but I was proud of how I did. A bit disappointed, as this was one of the first times I was very realistic of my abilities instead of underestimating myself. And as a result, I was pretty much right at my goals, instead of blowing them away how I had in the past. The final score:
Swim: 1:10:20(goal: 1:15)
Bike: 6:34:46 (goal: sub-6:30)
Run: 4:10:41 (goal: 4ish)
Total: 12:02:49 (goal: sub-12)
Yes, I know, so close to the goals. But there were so many little milestones I was so close to! Almost sub-1:10 swim, almost sub-4:10 run, almost sub-12 hour finish). But looking back, I am proud. I had a good race for my day, and played to my strengths.
And then there are the “way too many stats to even think about” numbers… I passed 179 people in T1, was passed by 580 people on the bike, and then passed another 399 people on the run. My combined transition times were ranked 252nd. I was 952 overall, 25/77 in my division. 608th fastest run.
Oh, and Mike wasn’t excluded from the “so close” list… his Ironman Canada time in 1998, with a bit of a back injury? And that he considered a tough day? 10:08:55. So he had his good things goal, ok day goal, and then the “I just have to beat the 1998 time” goal. And his time? 10:09:03. Yup, just 8 seconds off. But I’m still more than proud of him. In fact, this was oneÂ of his toughest races. He doesn’t do well with cold, and he had lost an arm warmer near Ricter. He had to use more mental strength than some of his amazing performances of the past, and to me, that says more about the strength of his person. Great job sweetie!!
And congrats to Scott, who had a great race in the pro division and took a slot for Kona!! Have a great time in Hawaii 🙂
And now to recover… and then see what is next.