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!
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.