Ironman Canada - Triathlon

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Whistler, British Columbia
World Triathlon Corporation
29C / 84F
Total Time = 14h 46m 40s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = F40-44
Age Group Rank = 65/106
Pre-race routine:

We got to Whistler on Thursday late morning. We went straight to the lake to get a swim in. It was quite windy and choppy. I got a lungful of water at one point, I was coughing my head off... Also almost ran head on into another guy out there--we both didn't see each other, that's how choppy it was.
The out leg of our 30 min swim was at 2:18/100m; the leg back was under about 1:50/100m! We were just hoping that it was calm on race morning.

It was quite cool, as well, especially with the wind. After the swim we were getting ready to bike. Poor S, with his sleeveless wetsuit and being from Singapore, was shivering! I wasn't cold at all, but knew I would get cool on the bike, so put on my jacket. We only rode about 20 min, nothing too far. Everything felt ok.

We went to Check in, got our bags etc. Checked out the expo a bit and stayed for the race briefing. Grabbed a salad and a sandwich at the grocery store, along with some fruit, and headed to the hotel. We had this place for the one night, then were moving to another place. It was really cool, with the beds in the loft and a fairly large sitting room. Worked out well for a last minute place.

Friday was mostly just hanging out, resting. We went to the expo again for a bit, but didn't hang around too long.

Saturday was an adventure... I was stressed to begin with. K was asking me to discuss things that didn't need discussing right now, which was stressing me worse. I had a flat on our last training ride. Then, riding out to T1, on BRAND NEW TIRES, I flatted. OMG I almost shit my pants. There were a lot of people riding out to bike check in. I am pretty certain they all heard "F&*% ME" out of my mouth. Poor S. He was just as stressed and now he had to deal with me and my flat. We called V, she came with the spares in the truck. S changed the tire, I stressed, and V tried to be calm... S got it all changed out and we were on our way. We got to T1, got the bikes checked in, dropped our gear bags and went for a little run. The trail was getting a little crazy so I was glad we went as early as we did.

We headed back to the hotel. I spent most of the rest of the day, and at least part of the night, reminding myself that there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop a flat, so I may as well not worry! I was also thinking about the beer that I was going to drink at the finish line. S wanted...KFC.

Event warmup:

We were up at 4 am to head out to body marking and the shuttles by 4:45. I had some OJ and some toast, and brought along my pre workout energizer. It was cool and foggy as we walked the 5 minutes or so to T2.

The volunteers were, as usual, great. Lots of them, very energetic, we got marked chop-chop and were on the shuttle by about 5:10. 15 min bus ride to the lake, which I don't really remember at all!

We got up to the lake and into T2. I got my tires pumped up. The dew caused the tape holding my nutrition on to come off. Oh well, I will just have to shove waffles in my teeny tiny tri top pockets. (Ya gotta love alliteration!). I had to fold them in half, and was only going to be able to get in about half what I wanted to take. Thankfully, they were what was on course, so I was safe there. Double checked everything was good, and headed out to find our fans (K and the little puppy, M and V) who had all walked the 3km to the lake.

We were getting set in a gazebo-ish thing near the beach. It was FREEZING. I put my swim cap on to try and keep warm. I started getting into my wetsuit early for the sole purpose of getting warm. T, who raced last year and volunteered this year came over to say good luck. He had done a shift at Special Needs at about 4am, then came up to the lake to be a wetsuit peeler. Nice to see him there!

We headed to the swim start with about 20 minutes before the pro start. V and M found their way to the fence so we moved over to wait with them. There was a lot of fog on the water, and it was tough to see the course, at least when you weren't in the water. It looked beautiful, but it was cold and a little nerve inducing... Once the sun came up over the mountain, it cleared quite quickly and warmed up some too.

The pro men and women went off, then we (meaning all the AG'ers) had about 15 min to warm up. It was a pretty cool scene. In the water with 1500+ other athletes, all you can see is pink and green caps. Kinda surreal and I was just trying to soak it all in. I had to keep reminding myself that I was doing IRONMAN!!

S and I are just staying loose. I feel calm and ready. We ask a kayaker if we can hang off, we chat with her a bit. All of a sudden, C and R are there saying hi to us. 1500+ other people in a lake, and we run into two others that we swim train with! So weird. We all wished each other luck and then they headed off more towards the front of the pack. The next thing you know, they were counting us down, and boom goes the cannon!
  • 1h 25m 32s
  • 4200 meters
  • 02m 02s / 100 meters

So, this was water boxing. It was MAYHEM! I got punched, kicked, swum over. And that was my training partner! Ha. No just kidding. He did grab me by the ankle and pull me back at one point, the a-hole. But that's just part of his charm :)

So, S keeps me on his right so that he doesn't have to sight. He needn't have bothered, it was tough to go off course with all the bodies all over. Every so often, there would be a clear patch of water 5 or 10 meters, and then it would close up. The contact doesn't frighten me, or put me off my swim, but I had never experienced that before, it was crazy!

First lap was good. S and I were in a good rhythm (as good as it could get anyway). I was feeling good, no breathing issues, no am I gonna make it issues that I often have in the first 400m or so. Just nice and smooth. We got to the last turn buoy to start the second lap. All of a sudden right behind us, we hear a shriek and then more. It sounded so much like C, I stopped to check. A kayak was there right away and got the woman out of the fray. I have no idea what happened, but she was panicked and thank goodness the kayak was right there. It was not C after all.

Off we went on second lap. Pretty much the same as the first, lots of contact. It never really spread out. I started to lose S on the second turn. I think he got caught behind someone and couldn't get around. I kept looking back on my breathing stroke to make sure he was still there--he is super easy to pick out with his crazy stroke and his sleeveless wetsuit. He was right on me the whole way, so I kept going.

The buoys on the backside were orange, so were easy to see. Unfortunately, the Volunteers on paddle boards and kayaks were also wearing orange shirts. Tough to discern from a distance whether that is a buoy or a shirt.

I made the last turn toward the beach. Now the sun was behind me, right in my eyes and I couldn't find S. I knew he would be fine, but didn't like that I was 'leaving' him. I got to the finish and got out of the water. Got my wetsuit stripped, and by the time I got up, he was coming out of the water. I shouted at him, then took off to the change tent.

What would you do differently?:

Not too much. There was no real way to not be in the middle of the chaos.
Transition 1
  • 10m 19s

I am always dopey coming out of the water. Oh, look, a nice tent. I think I'll have a seat and wait to be waited on... Took me a minute to clear the fog. Got my socks and shoes on, glasses on, helmet on, arm warmers on. I used the portapotty on my way to my bike. Grabbed my ride, got sunscreened and out I went. V and M were at bike out. Gave a high five, and got going.
What would you do differently?:

Smelling salts in my bike bag? I dunno.
  • 7h 29m 3s
  • 180 kms
  • 24.05 km/hr

So, much of my time on the bike was spent worrying about flats. Y'know, thinking the back tire feels squishy. Hearing a rock getting shot off the side of the tire into the grass and thinking the tire is blown. Then, on the first big climb at Callaghan? Buddy goes by and says "Back tire okay?". I'm like what? Yours or mine? He was asking me if his back tire looked okay. I almost crapped my drawers. Yes, yes, yes, it looks fine buddy. Now go away and quit freaking me out!

I worried for most of the bike. Not unbearable, debilitating fear, but worry. The further along I got, the less I worried, only because I figured I could walk back to Whistler if I had to...

I came along a bike crash really early on, maybe 5km in. Poor dude was lying in the ditch. He had medical with him and looked relatively okay, but I don't think he was continuing. I felt for him; I can't imagine doing all that work, all that training, and be done so early.

I saw another bad crash at about km 20. It was on a big downhill. The cops had him all covered up in the middle of the road, his bike was on the side of the road. Didn't look good. I hope he was okay.

I made it up to the top of Callaghan with no issues. I saw S on his way back, about 500m from the turnaround. I made the turnaround myself, and then got to enjoy the downhill. It takes forever to get up to the top, and 5 minutes to get back to the highway. I am pretty sure I whee, whee, whee'd all the way down :).

Made the climb back up to Whistler and there was the cheering squad! V, M, K, S, P, T. It was awesome!

On the 35km down to Pemberton, I was simply trying to conserve energy. Tried to stay relaxed, used the downhills to build some speed and just easy up the uphills. The one big climb to Pemberton has a 180 degree switchback; it seemed harder today--I guess cause of the heat.

In Pemberton, it is a 50km out and back. It is flatty flatty flat. It is getting pretty hot by this point. The course is crowded, and there is no way to not be in anyones draft zone. I tried to avoid it as much as possible--I could see that many others were not worrying about it! I just tried to keep a decent pace, but kept conserving energy as much as possible.

The first aid station I got to, I asked for a waffle--and was told they didn't have any this year. Well, that messed with my nutrition plan. Hmmmm, what to do. I still had some waffles, but wouldn't have enough for the whole ride. It wasn't until I got to the next aid station that I realized--I had taken in a couple bananas, and hadn't taken them into account when counting my calories. Ok, I will be fine :)

I stopped at a aid station about 15km into the out and back to use the facilities, re lube and re sunscreened. This aid station was stocked. They had a rack set up with anything you would want. Even feminine hygeine products. Now that's prepared!!

The turnaround had a sign which read "Turn around here". I shouted that those were the prettiest words in the English language at this very moment. We had had a bit of a head wind out, so now had a tail wind back. The road winds, so at times it was cross, but mostly tail. I was starting to tire, feeling the heat, so I did what I normally do. I started chatting. "How's your day going? How are you feeling? You are looking strong, keep it up!" It always makes me feel better. One guy went by and said "This is awesome" and I said "which part?". "The scenery" he says. And it is so true. Pemberton is in a valley--fields of hay; cattle, horses. All surrounded by beautiful snow capped mountains. It doesn't get any better.

By this point, the roads are getting a little quiet. There aren't very many people on the out leg; I am sure the sweep vehicle is not far away. I see this one dude--his left shoulder is BRIGHT RED. It took me a minute to realize that it is brutal road rash. He must have gone down at some point. He looked like he was struggling. I shouted "Nice work" at him. I hope he made it.

Started the climb back up to Whistler. 35km, 5 major climbs, 3 of which in the first 15km. It was hot, and I had a tough time with the climbs today. Many others did too--there were a lot of people cramping, walking up the hills. Just ahead of me there are two guys riding side by side and chatting. One guy pulls off, and I end up next to the other guy. I started chatting with him. He is from England, just visiting his son in Whistler. No, he is not racing, just out for a ride. Found out the highway was going to be closed and couldn't pass up the chance to ride! He had been for a 100km ride the day before. Crazy Brit!

I had done much of my training with a 12/25. I have a triple, but for all the training rides, I didn't go into the smallest chain ring. I wanted to get as strong as possible. Didn't really help today! I had switched to a 12/28 for the race, and I still went into my granny gear chain ring. Tough, tough day.

At 160km the wind came up. Not high wind, but enough to be in my face and unpleasant. I was considering myself lucky that it hadn't been windy all day, but really? With 20 km to go? Damn you Mother Nature!

At about 170km, I realized that my feet were soooooo sore. The balls of my feet felt like they were on fire. I started standing, trying to stretch everything out, and my feet hurt so bad it felt like they were broken. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to run! I hoped that I was just dealing with re-perfusion pain, but I have never had it happen to that extent before.

During our training rides, we had turned at the southern-most main street into Whistler. Unfortunately, that was not the route. It was a few km further on. That was tough to take! But a quick right turn, an underpass, and then I saw M. Knew I was super close. I saw Vivian on the straightaway, just on the way into transition.

Screeched to a halt at the dismount line, a volunteer grabbed my bike, and off I went into T2
What would you do differently?:

I'm not sure if I could do anything differently. I conserved as much as possible, didn't hammer the flats (and didn't get a flat!!!!).
Transition 2
  • 06m 51s

Volunteers were great again/as usual. I sat down next to a woman and asked to borrow her tri glide for my feet. I was still not sure that I was going to be able to run. They HURT! Got my socks back on, shoes on, hat and number belt on. As I started moving, my feet were starting to feel some better. I had more sunscreen applied. Used the facilities and headed out. Just beyond the run out sign, I heard my family! My brother was yelling "That's my little sister!". I had missed my nephews, they were by the fence back by the bike racks, but SIL and niece were there. Gave hugs and high fives and got going. K was at the corner with the little puppy.
What would you do differently?:

Not have sore feet.
  • 5h 34m 55s
  • 42.2 kms
  • 07m 56s  min/km

I felt good to start. My feet were fine--it was just re-perfusion pain, but man, never had it that severe before. I held back on the start of the run, as I knew it was going to get tough.

I saw V early on, maybe mile 1. T, P also. So great to see familiar faces. The route turns down hill a bit, where we go to an underpass to start around the lake, and there was K, my student, with a great sign! I was so busy reading it, I didn't realize it was her until she shouted my name. Gave her a hug and thanked her for coming. It was so sweet that she showed up, especially considering she lives about a 3 hour drive away.

M, V, T, P were just beyond the underpass, and they walked a bit with me as I walked up a hill. I walked many of the hills, tried to keep running on the flats. I saw C and D at about 4km. D had raced last year and given me some good tips.

So I am running along, and I can hear people saying my name, way to go. And I know there are a lot of people out here cheering that I know, but not that many. WTF? Oh, right, genius. Your name is on your bib!

At about 8km, I see and hear T and R. They are set up with a microphone for heaven's sake. T gives me a huge hug and shrieks my name. Ummmm, T, are you hammered? Yep, I've had 20 beers today! OMG. He raced last year too. His volunteers shifts over at around 9ish, he has been drinking ever since! They were having a blast cheering everyone on.

I saw C around km 7, and S at about km 10. S said his usual "I am going to f'ing die!". No you are not, get going. I was starting to hurt at this point, nauseous. I just don't do well with the heat. I tried taking in some nutrition, but it wasn't happening. I tried gels. Nope. Tried Perform, fruit, chips. Nothing was sitting right. I took ice where it was available and put it in my cap. Water too cause I was wondering if dehydration was part of my nausea. Nothing was sitting right. Nothing.

I walked from km 21 to the turn around, about km 33. My body just wouldn't let me run. I was dizzy, I almost vomited and was worried that if medical saw me weaving they would pull me. I honestly wasn't sure I was going to make it. There is a photo of me walking, and I have on what S and V call my "I'll eff you up" face. Looking miserable.

At some point I decided to try some coke. That seemed okay. So, for the last 20ish km, I took in coke and water at every aid station. That seemed to do the trick. There was one moment at about km 27 that I though I might vomit. I pulled off the side of the path and bent over and was sure this was it. Thankfully it passed, and I got going.

I saw S again at km 29. He tells me again that he is going to die. I think it makes him feel better to say that and then when he doesn't it is a nice surprise for him! I am still hurting, but figure I will make it.

There is a Beer Garden set up at the golf course (km 30 on second loop). They had the tunes going, lining the path. You can hear the music from a ways away. Just before, there is a man ensuring that people coming out of the parking lot don't run into anyone. He was great. He cheered for every person that went by, telling us that we were amazing, doing great, awesome. It seemed like he had something original for each athlete. Very cool.

So, I am grumpy at this point. G-R-U-M-P-Y. But it is at this point that I have the revelation I always do. If I am that miserable, I shouldn't be doing this. Yes I am hurting. But damn it, I am going to enjoy this! All day I was trying to take everything in. And I wasn't going to stop now.

As I went through the Beer Garden crowd, I stopped and busted a move. And they ROARED! It was awesome. That was it--I was going to walk, chat with others, thank the volunteers and enjoy.

By this point, I was starting to feel better--partly due to my attitude change, but partly because it was starting to cool off. I decided that I would walk to the turnaround and then see if I could run the rest, or at least run/walk.

Got to the turnaround, chatted with a guy about I don't remember what. But he offered me Tylenol. I didn't accept, but it was nice of him to share!

I was able to start running at this point I ran the down and flat, walked the up. Did another jig at the Beer Garden and got another big cheer.

When I passed the traffic control guy just past the golf course I stopped. I asked him his name (Lee), thanked him and shook his hand. I was really struck by his sincerity in cheering. I realize that sounds weird, but it's true. It's like he knew everyone personally and was customizing his encouragement. Cool.

I ran most of the last 9km as the sun had gone down and it cooled off. I thanked and clapped for every volunteer that I saw. I knew I was going to make it now, and I was so grateful for them being out there, allowing us to race. Can't do it without 'em.

I pass the last aid station, and I am in a zone. The Valley trail is a pavement trail, road on one side, grassy area on the other. I didn't see them until I was two steps past, and only recognized my bro, SIL, niece and nephews cause I heard my SILs voice. I stopped and hugged them--it is SUCH a boost to see people you know out there. They were shrieking at me to get going. "Guys, it's 15 hours, a few minutes for a hug does not make a difference!!"

Got back going. The route now goes around T2, and you run towards the finish line, but have to make a left turn to go about 1km through the village. It's just mean! I made the turn, and saw K there. She was shouting that she loved me and was so proud of me. :)

Then you go up a bit of a hill, and over an overpass that is lined with spectators. I high fived many of them, and the cheering was awesome. I am always amazed the people will be out there cheering for complete strangers. But then, I do it too, so I don't know why it surprises me!

Came down off the overpass and see T and V at the right turn to the finish. Gave them both hugs and headed off.

OMG there it is. The finish chute. It is dark out and they have the lights shining. Like I can't really see where I am going! I feel like a rock star. The chute is lined with spectators. I have my arms raised, pumping them, and they are cheering. I don't remember high fiving anyone, but photos show I did! I had been hearing the words in my head for years, and for the last 140.5 miles. Now, as I ran the last 0.1miles, I heard it for real. "Kirsten Wilson, YouAreAnIronman!". I did it.
What would you do differently?:

I had a lot left over once the sun went down. I wish I could have run more. But, you have to take what the day gives you. I would love to say I will train in the heat more, but we just don't get the heat that often. This year has been a bit of an anomaly.
Post race
Warm down:

Got my medal, finisher hat/shirt and photo. Got out of the finish area and wandered to find everyone. I was headed down the village path when they all started toward me. I can't remember who I saw first. What I remember is S coming up and giving me a huge hug. I think he said "You did it man". It meant a lot, because he is not a demonstrative guy. Then, everyone was there, my family, T, P, V, M, K. Got some photos, then went to find some food...and have my beer! (And S got his chicken!)

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The heat mostly.

Event comments:

Great race. Volunteers were amazing, spectators awesome. Organized, lots of aid stations.

Last updated: 2013-10-17 12:00 AM
01:25:32 | 4200 meters | 02m 02s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/106
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Course: Rectangle, counter clockwise. 2 laps
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 18F / -8C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 10:19
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:29:03 | 180 kms | 24.05 km/hr
Age Group: 0/106
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: A couple km out to the highway, then 60 km out and back to Callaghan Valley Road. 35 km to Pemberton, 50km out and back in Pemby, then 35km back up to Whistler.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 06:51
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Good
05:34:55 | 42.2 kms | 07m 56s  min/km
Age Group: 0/106
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Course: Two loops. Path along parking lots, then out around Lost lake; some hills here. Along Valley Trail, back past transition. Then along Valley Trail along highway. Onto gravel trail that goes along the backside of the golf course, then past the Beer Garden, over the boardwalks, back along the highway to the turnaround.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5