Monday, September 2, 2013

Ironman Canada - Whistler 2013


British Colombia is a stand out beautiful part of this world and my eyes could not gulp fast enough driving from Vancouver to Whistler.   I live every summer near the Tahoe mountains which line the lake's edge however, the tall pointy mountains of Western Canada hug you close and tight from all sides.  The glacier run off is sparkle white and the lakes are emerald jewel green. Complementing this beauty are the people in the community who are NICE....really nice, may I help you, thank you for coming nice.  As an American it is quite shocking at first and very easy to welcome the open arm kindness from Canadians.  
Long ago, I ran a brand new marathon in San Diego and after sucking water from the garden hose of a generous homeowner on the race course I decided that it was my first and last brand new race.   Well, never say last or at least put your trust in Ironman to pull off a "first time" race in a brand new location with few glitches.   Ironman Canada in Whistler is a DO.  Sure there are some race, course and event logistics to flush out but, in my opinion Ironman did a very good job executing a race in a brand new location. 
Whistler was Ironman #2 so, I had only been around the block once before.   The nerves were singing but, at a different tune because this time I knew what I had gotten myself into.  I had studied hard for the exam, had taken the exam before and passed however, never take anything for granted when racing an Ironman.   I gained perspective of where I was just 6 years ago standing in line to pick up my race number.  I was standing behind two women, one with a stroller and cute snoozing five month old.  My thought was, oh how nice the new mom is standing in line with her friend to get her race number... WRONG.  They were both in line to get both their race numbers!!!  So surprised a Mom of a five month old was embarking on what I had taken 8 months to prepare for!  She had the whole thing figured out even how to pack her Madela on the bike for 112 miles!  The next day I met a guy on the bus who had completed Ironman Sweden and Denmark the previous weekend then flew to Canada to race Whistler and the next day was flying to Japan for another Ironman race!  If you lost track that is 4 Ironman's in three weeks!   Crazy Town!   
My pre race preparation was beginning to match my ease of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Everything was organized and the reality of what  #691 was going to do the following day was sinking in.   In Ironman terms I had great sleep the night before.  This is falling asleep by 10:00pm and waking up at 3:40am before the 4:00am alarm.    After getting ready and making my way to the start line I saw my parents and soaked up their smiles and everlasting positive energy.  Then made my way to the lake.
The swim in Alta Lake is FANTASTIC!  This is coming from a surfer who learned a swim stroke in her twenties.  The lake is crystal clear and a perfect temperature of 66 degrees (19 degrees Celsius.... sounds colder in C.. eh?). The layout is very easy to navigate and every breath you get a peek of the mountains.   The off shore swim start enabled me to warm up and get into perfect position and AVOID the rush hour traffic jam.  Ambrosia.  The swim course is two loops, 1.2 miles each and lined with multi colored buoys for turns and straights.  This made for very easy navigation and visibility. The steam coming off the lake combed our caps as we waited for the gun... KAPOW, the gun rattled our ears and we were off!  Warming up in the water for me is K-E-Y!  Funny how you can learn what works best on the biggest race of the year!   If you can believe it, I did not want to stop swimming after lap two !  1:24:21  2.4 Mile Swim... Check!

Exiting the water, I ran toward two volunteers who in no time had my wetsuit ripped off like a candy wrapper!  I quickly changed and was off to my bike, hopped on and thought..hmmm something feels weird... oh!  I forgot my gloves!  My Coach, Chris Hauth told me to place my gloves on the end of the aero bars and put them on once riding... Did I do that?  NO... (game show buzzer wrong sound insert here).  So, I decided it was no big deal and rode 112 miles without gloves which I had never done before and what did I learn ?.... I liked it better!   The ride is SPECTACULAR. Good challenging climbs from 4 - 10% grade and downhill rewards with jaw dropping beauty the entire route.  The first section to Callaghan Valley was a good climb and then we rode back through Whistler to soak up cheers before heading out to Pemberton.  The town of Pemberton greeted us with a flat section of pure aero bar joy through a valley lined with more gorgeous mountains.
Surprisingly to me this was one of the most challenging parts of the course... really?  The flat part!  After returning back to Pemberton the course climbs UP to Whistler to the bike finish.  At mile 90 while climbing the last 1,000' of elevation gain my legs were screaming at me that marathons were not meant to be run today.  Oh can whine but, you can't decide.  I only had two major issues on the bike, first my chain derailed at mile 5 and without gloves made for a very black hand.  (Leslie's official rule book states that any derailed chain requires a mandatory follow up Mani Pedi).  Second, the roads were bumpy in spots and athletes were loosing bottles, air, tubes and food from their bikes.  At one point I lost one canister of air but, did not realize it in time.  Then I lost the second canister of air and tube so, stopped to pick that up. Thankfully I did not need to use tubes and air!  6:10:43    112 Mile Bike... Check!
Rolling into T2 I hopped off the bike and ran into the tent to get ready for the marathon.  A good tip from Chris was to run in what feels good and my fav is a running skirt!  I had been battling a leg injury three weeks prior and it was not healed.  I was concerned about the run.  I did not know what to expect, except pain.  I took a good dose of Advil and put Sombra Cold Therapy on my leg. This combination is a WINNER!  

I ran the first 5 miles and then walked 5 minutes to assess any pain... none.  Just do what Chris tells you to do...cha..ching!  So, I continued running on a tree lined, dirt and paved bike trail that wound itself around rivers, emerald lakes and a golf course.  I uncovered my love for running when I was 5 years old.  I would wake up early and get dressed then lay down on the brown shag carpet at the base of the stairs often falling back to sleep waiting for my Dad to join him on his morning run.  He left every morning before work and would take me out with him for a loop around the neighborhood before his "real" run.  To this day I remember feeling the endorphins and the joy of running with my Dad.  So, for me the run is my happy place and this course was fun with trails and windy up and downs.  The last few miles of the two loop course consists of many turns with pockets of cheering so it moves along very quick.   My leg did not hurt but, the strength was not there so after the first loop I put another coat of Sombra (my beloved new beauty sport product) on my leg.  Ahhhh.. Felt so good.  I did better at eating this race however, something hit me hard at mile 18 and I found myself racing for the Port a Pottie.  I had been in this situation before but, I was in Mexico and drinking margaritas, dancing and well you know the story.  I have no idea what disagreed with me because everything I ate was my own except for the bananas on the course.   It slowed me down but, it was over by mile 22 and thankfully it was short lived andIronman has aid stations every mile!  Lucky!  Safe!   Over the Pemberton meadows and through the Whistler woods to the finish line we go...  As I ran toward the finish my mind stopped to a clear space and my heart started beating faster in disbelief that I found it, I did it!, the finish line was right in front of me.  4:04:13  Marathon... Check!

Ironman requires so much mental game play throughout the day that when you do look up and see the finish line and hear your name being called out it is astonishing, surprising and above all welcoming!  How had the day flown by so fast?!   They say time flies when you are having fun but, there are moments that are not so fun... My inner voice reminds me that time flies when you are living in the moment.   Finish Line... Check: 11:51:17   Age Division: 25/121  Women: 107/622
Back in San Francisco, I pull open the front door of my home and walk out onto the porch, inhale the ocean breeze and feel the length of this journey to Ironman Canada.  Grabbing the mail out of the mailbox the time stamp of August 2013 goes from a blur to clarity...  Eight months of the year has flown by and I feel the end of the commitment that was made, the sacrifices and mental focus.  Time to rest, time to hug my boys a little more, time to balance life again.  

THANK YOU for supporting me in this endeavor.  I hope that I can support you in your future endeavors whatever they may be and wherever they may take you...

Racing Ironman requires a posse of support !   


Chris Hauth - AIMP Coaching  -  Thank you for your enduring patience, attention, thorough guidance and telling me what I needed to hear even when I did not want to hear it.   

Craig Upton - Performance Labs  -  Thank you for testing, education and most of all perspective of the goal.

Andy Tubbs - Sports Massage Therapy - Thank you for your down right most painful in a good way massage, attention, calm and care.

Olympic Club -  Provider of the cleanest most loveliest pool in all of San Francisco

The O'Neil Boys - Your eternal support, patience and love is remarkable.  Thank you my loves.  Kisses, Hugs, Kisses, Hugs  and Repeat.

The Girls - Thank you for taking me out, having fun, keeping my heels in use and the girl inside awake!

My Family - Your cheering and support are the sound bites running through my head...  

ChocoLOVE -  Dark Chocolate Power!  ok... And a lot of Honey Stinger Waffles, Bonk Breakers, bananas, Honey Stinger Chews and OSMO!