First , can’t believe I did it!! I really had doubts about the run.
Thank you everyone for all the encouragement, support and kind words along the way.
Pre Race Day
Miami. Always exciting to visit. Biscayne Bay is where the swim took place. Saw some manatee in the bay and was comforted at the thought of swimming along side. Water temp warm. Will we be allowed wetsuits? Hmm.
Took a cab to Southbeach. Was going to walk on the beach but my plantar fasciaitis was acting up. Choose to put that out of my mind along with the stomach issues from all the carbs I had consumed. Trial swim for googles in ocean water. No leaks. Hurray!!
Found some great numbing ointment for a persistent sit bone bike seat issue. ( sorry if that’s too much info)
Everything seemed to be falling into place.
Great weather report. What else could go right?
Put all Race gear out. Double checked it all. Decided to give my 2 garmins an extra charge before bed. Set alarm to James Browns song “I Feel Good”, 4:30 AM. Bed at 9:00. Excited for the morning. 😀
Wake up happy and ready. A little worried for my feet. Decided to bring freezer bag filled with ice .
Oatmeal in blender and I’m good to go. Remembering my boys Last words “You got this Mom.”
Make my way to transition area. It was a bit overwhelming. Everyone looked so strong and serious. Felt like I didn’t belong. Was getting very nervous. When I saw Anna I felt better. She really knew what she was doing.
Go back to my bike for final check before leaving transition. Someone is adjusting their Garmin. Felt sick to my stomach. My Garmins were at the hotel plugged into the wall!!
20 minutes till transition closes. Should I go back? Too stressful. Decide to just get over it and concentrate on what’s ahead.
They announce no wetsuits. Ok. Not a problem.
Find Deb, Sam and Anna. Sam is nervous too. I tried to focus on the water. We were following the Pros (except Sam). Having the girls beside me helped with my nerves.
Swim was wonderful in that the water was warm and route clearly marked. Being with younger 45 and up women was more competitive. Punching,kicking, and shoving the entire swim. These girls were out to win. At one point during the swim I noticed no one was kicking me. It was a nice few minutes until I realized I was off course. All in all was a pleasant swim. On later review I thought my time was a bit slow. Looking at all the times I realized all were slower probably due to the current.
Bike was great. Flat and windy on way out. Not nearly as humid as I expected. Nothing like the Welland Long Tri this past summer. Everyone was fast. I realized there were many groups of men that followed our wave. Decided to relax and not worry about the massive amount of people passing me. I concentrated on counting gels to figure out how much time was passing. One gel took 10 minutes to dissolve. Then counted 500 peddle strokes, followed by two gulps of water. Waited a minute or two then started all over. Half way through I had finished 7 gells. That’s how I figured out I must have taken about 1 hour 45 minutes on way out. About right going against wind. I really had no idea of course how fast or slow I was going but the counting kept me busy. A very pleasant 62 year old German woman passes me. I was thinking I probably was not doing too well considering I only passed about 3 women the entire way. Anna passed me early and Deb a bit later. Sam was a later wave. Overall I could not have gone faster so I decided to be happy with my unknown progress.
Once we reached transition I realized I had a problem. My legs were finished. Barely functioning to walk my bike. I hoped for the best. Finished my water, took another few electrolyte caps and a gel with caffeine hoping to get some sort of energy to finish. Remembered what Margaret said. “Just keep moving forward.”
Walked for a while then ran, if you can call it a run. Hobbled is more like it. I really missed my garmin now because I knew I could walk fast and was thinking if I was running slow I would rather be walking.
No more pity parties for me. I had to get this done. I thought of my new outfits just purchased with Miami 70.3 Ironman written across the front. I wanted to wear those clothes proudly !!
I had given myself max 2 hours 30 minutes for this run but was hoping for 2:15. Decided to let go of that thought. Concentrated on Margaret’s many mantras.
2 very long loops seemed impossible. Everything marked in miles. Could not convert. My brain would not work. Saw Deb and Anna. They were, I think, almost finished the first loop. Considered briefly hopping over to their side. It would be so easy to cheat in this Race. Decided to make a washroom stop instead. Just wanted to stop. Probably had two more hours to go. Considered quitting again but wasn’t sure how to get back.
I saw Sam. I was confused and was not sure If she was ahead or behind me. Didn’t matter it was just nice to see her. She looked as hot and tired as I felt but was still smiling. She just had a baby. She was going to finish. I had to finish.
First loop done. Lots of walking and two bathroom breaks. First half of last loop was unbearable. Decided to count my steps (think that’s what Greg does) up to 3000 between water stations?? I kept loosing count. Darn brain wasn’t cooperating. Then somehow got some energy. I ran the last 5 K without stopping. I thought I was going fast but actually was my slowest pace. Maybe I am a faster walker??
So happy to be nearly done. I saw Deb and Anna cheering me on. My eyes welled up and a few tears were shed. Couldn’t believe I had any fluid left in me. The Ironman bridge was up ahead. I passed under in disbelief. Final time about 6:47.
Next, directly to my ice bag, sat and sunk my aching feet into the cold. Bliss.
What a great day!!!
My race and experience with the 2016 Canadian ITU Triathlon World Championship Team was nothing but amazing. With the support and love I received from family and friends throughout the season right up to my race day and after was overwhelming! The Friday before we left my thoughtful husband had booked me a pedicure and then I was to meet him at my in-laws house for dinner so they could say bye to us….well when I got to my in-laws house I was surprised by all my friends and family from near and far dressed in red and white for a Canadian themed party! It was perfect!
Travel to Cozumel went smoothly on the Monday and I successfully put my bike together that afternoon. Tuesday morning I joined the Canadian team and went for a hot and humid ride/run workout, then went into town to get my race package where I met Kevin Brady and then we did a training swim in the ocean. Cozumel has a designated bike/run path (like the beach strip in Burlington) which runs parallel to the road, it was amazing for training and riding around the island! Wednesday we road 10km down to the race site and put our bikes in the transition zone. I was not feeling well with a head-cold and sore throat that day so I missed the opening ceremonies and team dinner that afternoon/night. The next morning, Thursday, was race day! I woke up at 5:30am to my husband handing me my phone saying I could use data on my phone for the day, he asked me to check Facebook (I had created private Facebook group so people could follow my race journey)…he had made a compilation video of friends and family wishing me good luck before my race! So overwhelming and now it was time to race! I walked into the transition zone at 6am and got ready as the sun came up. My wave was at 8am so I relaxed with Christine Walsh and waited for my wave. When it was time I got in the water and it was beautiful and clear, I was nervous about swimming in salt water but I thankfully didn’t drink too much of it! My swim was good, not my fastest time but the clear water sure did distract me. The distance from the water exit to the transition zone was a long 400-500m run and up over a walkway. I got on to my bike and had a great experience riding along the ocean on the designated path that was a flat 10km out and back, it was my first time doing a draft legal race. The run was hot, very humid and lots of turns around the marina….good for spectators but hard to get into a good groove running. I don’t normally stop at the aid stations but I stopped at all of them to pour water on myself as it was so humid! I was proud that I finished strong and completed it in 1hr 13min and came 20th out of 45 in my age group. Spent the rest of the week relaxing at the resort and cheering on team mates. All in all an amazing and memorable experience. Side note, I met Sister Madonna Buder, as she stayed at the same resort, what an amazing woman!
Do I Have to do it? Ironman Mont Tremblant
Caught up with the exuberance I signed up for IM Mont Tremblant. After less than a stellar and somewhat limited season of training, I was extremely reluctant to do the race. I tried everything to abort it (boob injury- thanks Kelly) and join some of my fellow non-racers (Gail, Roger and Shawna- sorry) but Greg said ‘no’. Found myself at another start line. Last wave of the swim, if you want a tough start try joining the 40+ women- goggles dislodged within 100 meters, soon after nose kicked, checked to see if it was bleeding– t’was not. Passed some athletes in each of the swim waves, many breast strokers and some back strokers– and you think front crawl is hard. Tough swim, the winning woman pro described it as the waviest swim she had ever done in a race. Happy to reach land (1:19) and run to transition. Then off to the bike in heavy rain—no worries I have this, practiced last year at IM UK. Rained continued throughout the bike, many many crashes—ambulances and athletes down at the side of the road and Greg’s persistent ‘slow down’ (yes he can’t stop coaching even while racing). Was very tough but no crash (which is somewhat novel for me) finished (6:35). At transition a volunteer asked for my bike – somewhat dazed (last two in Europe were a do it your self affair). Off to the run—well to tell the truth, a walk—legs were broken, perhaps I had left everything on the bike—after a stern bit of self talk—‘you are a machine’ running, running, running forever (5:01). Down the shoot to an incredible celebratory finish line. 13:11 slowest IM time, tough but not toughest—see IMUK. Notable things about the season and the race—a good start with my UCTC group in Calgary—maybe next year I will attend more practices– thanks coach Mark and team mates. TCOB including the most amazing group of powerful and generous women training partners – you are so inspiring and courageous (Margaret, Helene, Kelly, Katherine, Shawna, Wendy, Francesca). I aspire to be more and more like you. Wonderful to see so many of you on the course during the race. Your courage under duress kept me going. Great to share the journey with my seasoned Runners Den mentors the Pauls, Gord and Ester and their son Dan on his inaugural IM. Thanks Eric for bike transport. I am thankful for the best support and cheering crew ever Pat, Mary, Roger, Michelle, and Robin and so many other TCOB and Pace Performers, you kept me going throughout the long long day. Thanks also to all my friends supporting from a distance. IMMT is the best race I have ever done (great venue, fabulous volunteers, fireworks, music, and more–poutine pretty good too!). Grateful to Greg Pace for always knowing the right thing to say. And as my friend Gail said, ‘Heck of a way to do a sim for the sprint race at the ITU’s in Cozumel’.
See you on the next start line, my friends.
A view from a first time racer.
I arrived in Michigan on Friday ,At ironman village, just before athlete check in opened. I had no idea what to expect, I just knew I was excited for my first race experience. After getting checked in , it was on to shop! Wow. So much to choose from!
Saturday went back to check in my bike. The village was just buzzing with people now. Got into the water and it was wavy and warm… And was hoping that the wind would stop over night so that I didn’t have to swim thru the waves.
Race morning… It was still dark but warm. Got to transition to find out that the water temp had gone up over night and now the race had become a non wetsuit race .. Now a decision had to be made. After hearing the rules about what happens if you wear one, I opted to wear mine .. After all that’s how I trained! The wind had stopped and once the sun came out it was a perfect race day . The wetsuit wave (party wave as the announcer named it) was the last wave to go and had a lot of people in it. There was a lot of splashing and kicking and hitting for the first 500 m, but after that it seemed better. The bike course was great and then the run proved to be hilly. But I told myself this is an ironman race, it’s not supposed to be easy! I finished happy and strong and ready for the next one ! Although I did shed a few happy tears too!
I arrived at the race excited and finished happy, and have my coach, Bob Crate, to thank for that. His training plan enabled me to have the confidence in myself. My indoor training this winter , and Friday mornings with Larissa , TCoB team mates and friends, and my friends standing behind me, even though I was mostly MIA while training this summer, has been a part of this journey. I will always remember this race, and the journey to get to the start line. It was a great race!
This was not only a fun race to do with the cycling leg on the closed Gardiner Expressway, but it was the first one I have done with both my daughters Tara and Kerri in the same race. And I ran across the finish line with both of them together. Absolutely thrilling and gratifying for and old Papa.
I arrived in Whistler exactly one week prior to IM Canada, to acclimatize myself with the elevation and with the course, as I had never had the opportunity to train on this course. I had never actually been out to British Columbia in the summer, so was just excited to experience a whole new adventure. This was the first race I was doing without any TCoB members, and especially without Deb and Helene there with me, my training partners for the past 2 years. I felt excited, anxious, uneasy, energetic, sad, positive…..just a whirlwind of emotions as I settled into my residence for the week.
I spent the week working each day from 5am to 2pm (BC Time which was 8am to 5pm Ontario time) and then would go out for little work outs after my day of work. I biked the Callaghan hills to understand the climb ( ran into two bears) , I ran the run course, to get a feel for that, and I swam twice in Alta lake to get use to the current and the water temperature ( again another bear sighting).
It was now Saturday, I had my race package, I had checked in my bike, and I had dropped off my transition bags (without any nutrition as there was fear that bears would get into our bags if they could smell any food). I made sure that all of Team Eric had arrived and were situated in their hotels and airbnb locations, and was listening to Zach brown band, and just getting my head ready for the day that was ahead of me.
My alarm was set for 4am, however my eyes were wide open at 335am and I was ready to go, I packed all my nutrition, double checked my bags, then triple checked my bags. Gave my legs one last shave, and headed out to the T2 to drop off my nutrition, my running shoes and my Bike and run special needs bags (peanut butter sandwiches, peaches, gum and extra socks). I then loaded onto the school bus with 35 other competitors and made our way to swim start and T1 to check on our bikes, pump the tires, add my nutrition and get ready for the day!
The swim start was based on time waves, and was a two loop swim, which meant there would be feet and bodies in front, behind and around me at all times. Very different than the other two IM’s I had done in the past, however the day was beautiful the water temp was perfect and on every other breath you would look to see the sun rising over the mountains. It was breath taking, and almost made me forget I was in a competition. As I turned the corner to start my second lap of the lake, I felt relaxed, calm and very in control, I just enjoyed every minute of the swim and eventually excited the water feeling really pumped and confident! I got ready for the bike, had some sunscreen applied and was off, to spend the majority of the day sitting on my bike.
The bike was the hardest bike course I have ever ridden, there was the 15 km bike up the Callaghan which was tough but fair and led to a great 15 km descent where I saved my legs, and really just bombed it. Now, I made my way back to whistler and then started the 30 km descent into Pemberton, the roads were freshly paved, the volunteers and fans were everywhere and the mountains set the perfect back drop to now settle into the bike. Once we arrived in Pemberton, there is a 40 K or so out and back that is flat and all around you are mountains with snowcapped glaciers, it was stunning, the winds were in our face on the way out and with our back coming back from the meadows. I felt great at this point, nutrition was on point, was in a happy place in my mind and was just enjoying the whole experience, but let me tell you that all changed when the 30Km hill back to whistler approached, literally zero breaks and relief just climb, climb, climb, but as Robin Barker always says “we love to climb”. I put myself in my easiest gear, starred at the front of my wheel and just peddled for what seemed like an eternity, but was really just 1hr and 22 minutes of straight climbing.
As I got off my bike, my legs were jello, I was soaked in sweat, but I felt accomplished, as the bike had been my biggest worry. I went into the tent, ate my peanut butter sandwich, enjoyed some Gatorade and re applied sunscreen, there was now just 42.2km between me and my 3rd Ironman.
The run started off well, I felt strong in my legs and in my mind, but I slowly started to slip into a dark place, with the heat, the wet socks from the sweating and just fatigue. I started to think about my TCoB team mates, and not wanting to quit for them, I started to think about my friends who had flown out to BC to cheer me on and I started to think about my sister who has battled a very difficult year, that I was not going to quit and I just pushed on. It was at about the 17km mark that I snapped out of the funk, found my rhythm and actually felt like a runner again. And run I did, I just started picking up speed with ever 5Km split, not great speed, but speed, and with the speed came confidence. Team Eric had also started to appear all over the course, and with that constant spurt of energy and excitement I ran as hard as I could all the way around the course one more time, and down the final stretch with such determination and energy, that I think people were caught off guard.
It was my slowest IM yet, however, the one that has left me feeling the most confident and excited about my next one (In Tremblant on August 21st of this year). So my bike has been put back together, all my laundry is done and I am back to training as hard as I can for a few weeks, before I go and compete again. In a sport that takes so much from you at some points, it is also so refreshing to feel how much it gives back to you in other points.
Thank you to all of my TCoB team mates, and I look forward to seeing you at practice…………Stay Strong and roll on!
On Becoming a “Certain Age”
Nothing is more disconcerting to an athlete than the sudden realization that we’ve reached a “Certain Age”. And it’s not gradual. One day it’s all about going faster and faster, the continual quest for personal bests. And then it’s not. It’s OMG! OMG! I‘ve become one of them.
For years we ignored it and frankly, it just didn’t interest us. When older friends of a Certain Age talked about it, we were like “Whatever…”
And we never like to admit we’ve reached a Certain Age. Certainly not to our fellow athletes. But once we’re there, we know it. Oh do we know it!
But we still like to think we can hang with everyone. And for a while we can. We just pay a bigger price. Recovery is now spelled “r-e-c-o-v-e-r-r-r-y”. We research all the science behind rest and how muscles recover. But why does it have to take so long? We know all the benefits. But it still pisses us off!
Apparently “muscle memory” is just like regular memory. We have to “jog it”. So we don’t fret when the first open water swim of the season feels like the first open water swim ever! We just go about our business and eventually it all kicks back in.
Sometimes a nerve just stops firing. Just stops. For no good reason. Other than it wants to retire and drink pina coladas by the pool. And the muscle it used to talk to? It stops working too. And we wonder why we have a certain pain. Once our team of therapists figures out the problem, we do exercises to get the scumbags back to work. And they fight us…every. step. of. the. way.
Gradually we readjust our goals. Before, we sort of tolerated injury and we healed fast enough. Now it’s a process in and of itself… with it’s own set of goals and ambitions. Getting to the start line relatively injury free is more satisfying than ever.
But even after we’ve reached that Certain Age, on occasion, we get to do a couple of things we’ve always liked to do. And they give us real joy, more so in their rarity. So when we’ve been good, and we’re feeling young and frisky, and all the conditions are right, the stars and planets are all aligned, for a few precious minutes….we get to run really fast!! As for the other thing… pretty much “ditto”.
And after a Certain Age, we develop new heroes. Like the 83 year old who was doing laps beside me when I was re-learning how to swim and going anaerobic in less than one lap. And wanting to quit. But she kicked my ego’s ass.
Or my mother’s friend who, in her eighties, still took to the streets on her rollerblades. And all the others who, even after that Certain Age, are still kicking and rocking it, pushing boundaries, refusing to go gently, and just doing it.
We remind ourselves “it’s all good”. Because it really is!!
Participating in Tcob is something I dont think i could do without. It offers a hugely supportive environment creating a team atmosphere for what most people would think is an individual sport. The feeling of community at any TCOB event is so strong I think of the group as my other family... My super fit family! I am not just a better athlete for being a member but a better version of me.