Day-to-day life, Racing, Random, Triathlon

What’s in your bag?

I was thumbing through some crappy magazine in the checkout line at the grocery store the other night and read one of those “What’s in your bag” articles (and I use the term “article” very, very lightly here).

I scoffed at how totally ridiculous this list was because, mainly, it was way too perfect. I challenge anyone to upend a bag they use consistently and not find an old balled up kleenex, a wrapper of something or a pen that doesn’t work. These perfectly styled layouts? Not my reality.

Let’s start with the fact that the bag I carry most often is a GIGANTIC backpack that doubles as carryall, locker room, computer bag and mobile snack station.

IMG_7619

While it’s big enough to carry pretty much everything I own, I know that I look like a kindergardener trundling along on her first day of school when I wear it. I also realize that should I fall over backwards while wearing it when it’s fully full, it might be Game Over.

Turtle

Since I am currently training for Ironman (and stuff) and spending a few days a week out of the house away from a home base, I tend to rely on this bag more frequently than usual. So I thought I’d play the game with myself.

“Christine, what’s in your bag?”

Well, let’s see, shall we? (Dumps bag on kitchen floor).

  • Damp bathing suit + towel;
  • Swim bag with all manner of swim toys;
  • Anja’s swim goggles (huh);
  • 2 pairs of running shoes;
  • Trucker hat, running toque, favourite Planks toque;
  • Running shorts (forgotten in there from Friday’s workout. Gross.)
  • 5 socks;
  • 3 pairs of underwear: 2 of mine, 1 of Anja’s (useful!);
  • iPod. Battery dead. Typical.
  • 2 pairs of earbuds;
  • 2 shirts;
  • 1 pair of tights;
  • Sunglasses (it’s been raining for daaaaaaays);
  • Running jacket;
  • $2.85 in change;
  • A bag of training food;
  • Water bottle;
  • A ziploc bag with 2 dates;
  • Toothbrush;
  • 3 gym pass cards (so THAT’S where they were!)
  • Travel toiletry kit;
  • 2 sports bras;
  • Laptop;
  • Nok anti-chafe cream;
  • Dry shampoo;
  • Day planner + pen;
  • Watch;
  • 2 headbands, countless bobby pins and 7 elastics (and I don’t really tie my hair up).
  • 3 lip balms;
  • Lots of bits of gravel.
IMG_7620
My stylist quit moments after this dumping occurred.

I guess I’ll never get a page in Fashion magazine.  But I bet you’re all dying to know what I’d answer to the paparazzi yelling: “Christine, Christine! Who are you wearing?!”

I’ll spare you.

 

Race Report, Racing, Triathlon

Well, THAT was unexpected.

About 2 weeks ago, somewhere in middle of a long trail run up Whistler with a bunch of great girls, Liz and I decided that it would be a good idea to sign up for the Half Iron at Challenge Penticton.  Never mind that it was less than 2 weeks away, that we’d done essentially zero “formal” training or that I was running Squamish 23 the weekend before.  This sounded like a great idea.

A couple days of swim/bike/run later – and foam rolling like it was my job, post-Squamish – we got to Penticton on what has traditionally been one of the busiest weekends of the year for them.  And it was… ghost town.  Weird.

Anyway.  We checked in to our place, did all the pre-race crap you have to do and set ourselves up to have decent races by essentially deciding we were going to do so and not be so damn grumpy.  I think we were able to do just that because we were staying close enough to the start line that we knew we didn’t have to get up before 5:30.  Excellent.

So. Race day. Here’s how it went.

Swim

Goal: Sub 00:36 (look out, Michael Phelps). Actual: 00:36:56

I did something I never do. I started on the front line, right behind Liz.  I figured “What the hell.  What’s the worst that can happen?”

Editor’s note: DROWNING, that’s what.

It was fine.  A little rough at times, but I felt myself being pulled along so that was kind of neat.  I think I swam about as straight as a line as a puppy running through the forest, but at least I aimed for all the buoys.

Bike

Goal: Sub 3:00, catch Liz.  Actual: 2:52:54, no Liz.

That bike course was no joke. Some really good climbing combined with pavement that was teeth-rattling rough, it was going to be hard.  And it was, but in a good way.  A bit lonely at times but I was able to keep my head down and not lose focus too badly (“SQUIRREL!”) and enjoy the full-body shaking caused by the iffy pavement.

Run

Goal: Sub 1:50 Actual 1:45:15

I can’t believe I am typing this but the run was fun.  I liked the course, it was hot and my body mostly cooperated.  When I finally caught Liz – who’d lost her nutrition on the bike and was paying the price for it on the run – she told me to get a move on, I was in 4th.

Huh?

I suppose when I saw the lead bike out of transition, I should have paid a little bit more attention to what was going on.

I ended the day 3rd woman overall, and since I pretty much never look over my shoulder when I’m racing, I didn’t notice the pack of balloon-wielding kids who chased me to the line.  That’ll teach me.

All in all, a pretty fun day of racing.  I endured the usual post-race nausea and misery for a few hours, but some Gravol, beer and pizza fixed me right up.

As Liz pointed out, you’re only as good as your last race.  I guess that means it’s on for Maui, right?

Day-to-day life, Random, Triathlon

Resurfacing

I’ll be the first to get annoyed when people humble-brag about how busy they are, but holy moly… Has anyone seen July?  I blinked and it’s done!  Hot summer days, kids all over the place and 4 events back-to-back makes me just want to sit down now.

August is going to be – hopefully – all about playing!  And planning silly adventures and challenges of course.

Speaking of challenges.  Have you heard?  #FP! It’s a thing.  Flash Plank.  Do it.  Convince you friends to do it.  You know you want to.

Summer has been pretty spectacular here and the kids are both fried/having a blast.  That’s what summer should be, in my opinion.  A steady stream of hot days, sunscreen, and popsicles.

I wrapped July by working my favourite event: Ironman Canada.  Once again, it was a great experience for me, one filled with long days and great people.  At an event of this size, it’s always the little moments that make it awesome for me.

Being on the paddle boards at the swim start.  I have a WHOLE new appreciation for swim course directors.

Almost getting trampled by 450 kids at the kids fun run.

Sneaking away for an hour to cheer for runners as they ran through the woods.

Being able to help an athlete by lending her my bike when hers broke.  My bike did Ironman!

Walking an athlete back to her hotel post-race, holding her hand, listening to her experience and hearing how proud she was of herself.

Dancing at the finish line at midnight.

Seeing my friends cross the finish line and feeling so proud of them.

I would sign up for next year if I didn’t like working this event so much.

 

And finally, FINALLY… I am running again.  Hurray!  Life is back to being complete.  Next up, the Squamish 23k trail run which *GASP*… I have to do alone.  I can’t remember the last time I did a race alone.  Anja overheard me complaining about this yesterday and never even batted an eye.  “Just call Lizzie, Mama.  She’ll do it with you.”

 

 

 

 

Racing, Triathlon, Whistler

Local’s Profile

Nancy Johnston is one of those sort of dark horse competitors.  She seems so quiet and unassuming, but get to know her a little bit and you’ll find she’s a fierce competitor, with a lot of race finishes under her belt.  Quick with a smile and and modest to a fault, if you’re from Whistler, you’ve surely seen her around town.  Nancy was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some of my nosy questions.

IMC 2013
IMC 2013

Tell me a little bit about yourself, outside of sport.

Originally from Ontario, I’ve been in Whistler for nearly 23 years. I work with a great, supportive group in the Bylaw Department for the RMOW.

Tell me about your athletic background.  

I have 3 sisters, 2 brothers. We grew up in St Catharines with a pool in our back yard. I learned to swim and loved to race anyone who would jump in. But that was for fun. Growing up my sports were all team sports, ice hockey, basketball and field hockey.

What inspired you to try your hand at triathlon?  When was your first race?

A friend of mine wanted to give triathlon a go so I signed up. It was Kelowna Apple Tri in 1996. I borrowed a bike, it was really hard and I loved it. It was so much fun.

What drew you to Ironman in particular?

After sprints and Olympic distance races friends convinced me I could go longer. Victoria half Iron was my 2006 goal. On my second lap of the run I swore I would never run more than 10k again. Since then I’ve done Oliver half iron multiple times and Muskoka 70.3 IM wasn’t an easy decision I knew it was going to take a lot (time, money) but I lined up after watching IMC 2008 and with the support of family and friends and guidance of my trusted coach Christine Suter, I crossed the finish line.

(Editor’s note: In an very respectable time of 12:08:45)

What has you most excited about taking the start at Ironman Canada 2014?

Not sure it is excitement I am feeling. I don’t know why but I am nervous. Maybe because it is a month early?

Do you have a particular goal for this race?

My goal for the race is to really enjoy the day, smile, thank as many volunteers as I can. With a few lingering injuries I don’t want to focus on a time, I don’t want to be disappointed.

Will you complete any races prior to Ironman?

I’ve only done a few running races. With a few lingering injuries more racing just wasn’t in the cards.

How did you find training through the winter months?  

I love the training so I’m okay with the long winter in the gym, pool or on my bike in the living room. I also got up the hill once or twice a week for a bit of cross training.

How do you fit in life, work and training?  Are you able to find balance or did “something have to give”?

My coach gets me program for the week I schedule everything and it all fits in. Just trying to sort it out on the fly doesn’t work. Balance is key and overtraining is a big risk.

What do you consider your strength on race day?  What about your weakness?

Bylaw Cheer Squad!
Bylaw Cheer Squad!

My biggest strength on race day last year for sure was friends, family, colleagues cheering me over the entire day. The support was overwhelming, it gave me a lift when I needed it and that was a lot, especially on the run.

Which brings us to my weakness, the run. It’s not just running (although my hips and knees are not happy about running these days) it is usually the state of my gut by the time I’m about halfway through the run.

What sporting/athletic accomplishment are you most proud of?

I ran a pb at the UBC fall classic this past November. Getting older and faster, I was stoked.

What do you find most enjoyable about training?  Is there anything that you dread?

I love training with my friends in Whistler, and meeting new people who come here to train and race. I am not a big fan of cold water or starting my ride in the rain, it’s ok once I’m out there and it rains but starting in the rain? Doesn’t happen for me.

What are you most looking forward to once you cross that finish line?

Hugs, Hi 5s, and West Coast Float.

Worth running to the line for!
Worth running to the line for!

Any race-day superstitions?

Nothing New!

Name 3 things you can’t live without while training and racing.

Floating, Physio and Massage

If you could have your dream day – perfect racing – describe it.

Sunny, warm, no wind, lots of people on course and all the dogs on leash. ( I nearly got taken out last year by the Whistler Golf Course) 

(Editor’s note: you know what they say, you can take the girl outta Bylaw for a day…)

If you could pick 3 dream sponsors, who would they be?

West Coast Float, Whistler Village Sports and Vega

If you could pick 3 dream training partners, who would they be and why?

Greg Sandkuhl, Christine Suter and Maridee Fitch. I have had great days swimming, biking and running with all three, motivating and fun.

What’s your favourite way to recover after a hard race or workout?

Primary recovery needs to happen right away, get in cold water, Vega recovery protein, rehydrate. Then the fun begins beer, chips, pizza (gluten free please), feet up. Next day, go Float 650lbs of Epsom salts; does the trick.

Thanks Nancy, I’ll be at the finish line to give you a hug and a high 5!  You’re on your own for floating.

Family, Kids, Race Report, Racing, Triathlon

Body: 1, Ego: 0.

I haven’t DNF’d a race since I was racing mountain bikes in 1999-ish.  I broke that streak on Sunday when I pulled the pin on the run portion of the Victoria 70.3.  I wasn’t at all happy with having to make that decision, but when I got off my bike and hobbled through transition to rack my bike, looking for all the world like a human leaning Tower of Pisa, I knew that it was the decision to make.  That was me, being mature and all that.

I may or may not have shed a tear of frustration, disappointment and yes, even a little embarrassment.  I guess deep down, my heart just wasn’t into hurting myself for the sake of running around the lake twice.

Still, it sucks.

On the bright side, I had my fastest ever 1/2 iron swim (not fast by fast standards, but who cares.  Fast for me. And if you tell me the swim was short, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear you.)

For a girl who can't wait to get out of the water, you'd think I'd look a little happier.
For a girl who can’t wait to get out of the water, you’d think I’d look a little happier.

My bike was very average and the indicator that I wouldn’t be running started to become apparent to me when my leg went numb and my back flared up again.  I told myself I’d pull out of the bike after the first loop but as I rode right past the turnoff, but I guess my stubbornness kept me going.  My internal dialogue at that time went something like this:

“Ow.  Stop.”

“Hey, aren’t you turning?”

“Nah, might as well go ’round again.”

“Ok.  But still.  Ow.”

“Oh shut up.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 3.45.37 PM
You don’t expect me to buy pics from a race I DNF, do you?

Let me tell you, I’ve see suns set faster than the time it took me to ride that 2nd loop.  Sheesh.

So now, time to heal this crooked body of mine and really try to figure out what’s wrong.  Being injured just plain sucks.

My partner-in-crime and I decided on a 2 week “don’t-sign-up-for-anything” period to prevent the whole “that was awesome, let’s do it again/that sucked, I need redemption” thing.  This does not stop me from googling races and planning out adventures.  A girl needs something to look forward to, ya know?

Big, huge thanks to my brother for coming with us and holding down the fort as I rolled out of bed at 4:30am for this silly hobby… Big, huge thanks to Liz for always being up for anything… Big, huge thanks to Steph and Chrissy for the pep talks… Big, huge thanks to the kids for being exhausting humans who make me laugh/want to tear my hair out.

Anybody got any bright ideas on what to do next?

 

Kids, Racing, Triathlon, weekend

Eat all of the things.

And that folks, is my pre-race mantra.  It’s working well so far; I successfully stuffed my face today.  I think I need to have a shirt made.

It’s Ironman 70.3 Victoria tomorrow.  My morale is… meh.  I’d better get my mental act together since the alarm goes off in about 8 hours.  Frankly, I got exactly what I wished for when I said I wanted my next race to be in more moderate temps – I froze my ass off today.

Coach Suter said that I’m to swim as hard as I can (haha), bike as hard as I can (ok, sure) and then see if my foot holds up on the run.  It’s going to be a long walk if it doesn’t.

This means I’m going to take the opportunity to try all new things in this race and see how it all works out.  I mean, on the one hand I can argue that I am rested because I haven’t overtrained.  On the other, I can argue that I am severely undertrained.  So really, what have I got to lose?

FAMOUS LAST WORDS.

Speaking of trying new things, I brought these along with me.  It’s their first time at one of mum’s “big races”:

My own personal cheer squad
My own personal cheer squad

They’ve added a whole new dimension to race prep.

I wonder how this is all going to shake out tomorrow?

Pemberton, Racing, Triathlon

In the hot seat: Gary Martin

The next local athlete I’ll be introducing you to is Gary Martin.  Originally from the UK, he and his lovely wife Zoé are super involved in the Pemberton community and this will be Gary’s first IM.

A talented graphic designer, I first met him through work and often pictured him rolling his eyes at me as I sent over yet another design request/change/variation and cursing me as a client!

More recently, I’ve seen Gary zip by my house every so often, looking super-focused and intense, and have often thought to myself that we should team up for some training, but read on and you’ll know why I’ve now been convinced to zip my lip.  I guess not everyone wants/needs a blabbermouth following them around!

See?  Total eye roll.
See? Total eye roll.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, you family and your lifestyle. How long have you lived in Pemberton?

I’ve lived in Pemberton since early 2008 having moved to Canada with my wife Zoé. I’m a graphic designer so spend far too long sat in front of a computer but try to make the most of my time away from the screen by enjoying the great outdoors and exploring this fantastic valley I get to call home.

Tell me about your athletic background.

I’ve always been very athletic and competed in judo, swimming and bmx before even getting to high school. From there I made the most of all of the opportunities to be on pretty much all of the school teams. Football, rugby, basketball, field hockey, athletics, you name it, I did it. During high school I was lucky enough to learn how to ski and then snowboard, my love for winter sports was born which is one large reason why I now live where I do.

What inspired you to try your hand at triathlon? When was your first race?

Having swam and run competitively as a kid and given my love of biking, triathlons have always interested me but there was no real opportunities to try them back in the UK. A buddy of mine got me interested in running marathons a few years ago so over the winter of 2008/9 I set to work and got training. Completed my first race in 3:40:00 and then came back a year later to run it a little quicker at 3:28:00. During the summer of 2010 the same buddy that got me running was looking for a swimmer to be part of a team for the Squamish Triathlon. That sounds like fun I thought so I grabbed my surf wetsuit and headed off to the lake to start training. Really enjoyed being a part of the race so decided that I would do the whole thing myself next summer. As a result in 2011 I completed my first ever triathlon again in Squamish with a time of 2:26:00.

Sooke_Run

 

What drew you to Ironman in particular?

After my first triathlon in 2011 I decided that although it was fun it was over too quickly, my solution was to sign up for the 2012 Subaru West Coast Triathlon Series so completed my first Half Ironman Triathlon in Vancouver (4:48:00) followed by another in Sooke (5:10:00) and then an Olympic distance in Banff (2:23:00). After this busy summer I said to Zoé that she didn’t have to worry as I enjoyed the Half Ironman distance but had no desire to do a full one. This all changed however when Whistler confirmed that the race was coming to town and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to race where I live and have trained for the last few years.

What has you most excited about taking the start at Ironman Canada 2014?

Sooke_Bike

page1image25176

I’m ridiculously meticulous with my race preparation and every event I enter I like to pre ride, walk, run or drive the course. I’m so excited for the race as I know every inch of the course having trained on it over and over again. The course is so amazing and to be able to share it with other triathletes is so awesome having visited plenty of amazing places in my short triathlon career.

Do you have a particular goal for this race?

Yes, I’d love to finish in under 11 hours. Myself and three of my friends are also competing, we’re the Pan Pacific Whistler Ironmen. Two of us are married to the Pan Pacific while the other two work for the hotel brand. We’re trying to raise $10,000 for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice so also have this as a race related goal as well as trying to beat my three friends.

(Click here to find out more:  Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.)

 

Will you complete any races prior to Ironman?

Sooke_Swim

Yes, I’ve already completed the April Fools Half Marathon and have signed up for the Subaru West Coast Triathlon Series again. I’ll be competing in an Olympic distance in May over on Vancouver Island at Shawnigan Lake, a Half Ironman again on the Island in June in Victoria before a final Olympic or Sprint distance depending on how I’m feeling at the beginning of July in Vancouver.

How did you find training through the winter months? How many hours on average do you train per week?

After training through the winters for the Vancouver Marathon at the beginning of May I’ve actually learned to love winter training. Running in the winter rocks, snow, cold, -20°, awesome. Not so easy for the biking but a trainer in the garage with the iPad makes it bearable and swimming up and down, up and down makes no difference to the time of year. It’s been progressively building over the last month or two and I’m now up to about 15 hours a week.

Can you describe a typical day during a heavy training week?

They vary so much from day to day right now that there’s nothing typical about them to be honest. To give an idea of what I’ve been up to though last week I rode 250km, ran 50km and swam 10km along with a trip to the gym, the chiro and the physio!

Are you able to find balance with work, life and training or did “something have to give”?

Me_Snowboarding

So far its not been too bad although my wife did comment that she hardly ever sees my as I’m either sleeping, working or training. I’ll remind her of this in a few months time when training is over and she’s moaning about me being home all the time. I did pass on buying a season pass for Whistler Blackcomb as I really didn’t want either the distraction or risk of injury get in my way, good choice in the end after the mediocre season we had.

What do you consider your strength on race day? What about your weakness?

I consider my biggest strength to also be my biggest weakness. I love the bike and love the bike course but as a result I really need to make sure I don’t go too hard and remember that I still have a marathon to run. I got carried away at my first triathlon and had a great ride but a horrible run. This is why I love training on the course as I’m getting to know just how hard I can go and what gear I need on every kilometre.

What sporting/athletic accomplishment are you most proud of?

I was super proud when I finished my first marathon, growing up in the UK I always watched the London Marathon every year and always thought how tough it must be to run that far, I was right! I was also really proud with my result in Sooke in 2012. Given the lack of experience and the fact that I just found a training plan online and trained for six months on my own with no extra help it was so cool to see my name on the results list in 10th place.

What do you find most enjoyable about training? Is there anything that you dread?

So many people say that they find training lonely, this in fact is what I like most about both it and racing. Training with other people distracts me and stops me from focusing, a 20km run or 150km bike is a great way to clear your mind and not have to worry about anyone else. I wouldn’t have said there’s anything I really dread, I’d be lying if I said I look forward to the 4am alarm calls but I never dread them. I’ve really loved training this year and think I’ve actually only missed maybe 3 sessions this year and those have all been due to injury rather than dread.

What are you most looking forward to once you cross that finish line?

Being able to get back into the life I had before Ironman. Its a huge commitment to dedicate your life to such a big race. Having a cup of tea with my wife, taking our husky out for his bedtime walk, exploring Pemberton at the weekend with Nixon (our husky) and sharing a nice bottle of red, these are the things I’m most looking forward to getting back.

Any race-day superstitions?

Where do I start! When I said I’m meticulous I meant it. My superstitions and rituals begin the night before the race, haircut, shave (both my legs and face), spaghetti bolognese and layout all of my race gear. Early rise, walk the dog, roasting hot shower, breakfast, if these things don’t happen then let’s just say it messes with my mojo!

Name 3 things you can’t live without while training and racing.

Zoé pointed out her disappointed at being listed after my iPod and Glide in my 3 can’t live without things so here’s the order I think it might be best I list them in: The support of my wife, iPod and Glide.

If you could have your dream day – perfect racing – describe it.

A dream day would be a perfectly flat lake with comfortably warm water, endless kilometres of smooth black asphalt with no wind and blue skies and even more smooth black asphalt to happily run 42.2km on. The perfect day would then continue with a nice glass of wine on sunny patio with my wife and poopy dog, happy days.

If you could pick 3 dream sponsors, who would they be?

Cervelo, New Balance and Oakley. I was lucky enough to get a P3 last year and love it. NB has kept me going injury free for the last 6 years since I started running and I’m off to buy another pair this weekend after wearing another pair out. I’ve work Oakleys for years for my reading glasses and got a pair of a Race Jackets this year, so comfy, so awesome and so good being able to see and not have to stick contacts in my eyes.

If you could pick 3 dream training partners, who would they be and why?

There are athletes who I both respect and admire but like I have previously said I love to train alone so if I could stay solo for training that would be my dream.

What’s your favourite way to recover after a hard race or workout?

Smoothie, hot shower, compression tights. So many people I talk to about recovery love to eat, it takes me a while to feel hungry after a hard race or a workout so the smoothie does the important instant food and gets my through a few hours before I get my hunger on and eat like a horse. 

Race Report, Racing, Triathlon

Unremarkable.

That’s the word that circled my brain as I raced on Monday.

“Man, this is an unremarkable swim.” (Except that my goggles malfunctioned.  I suppose I mentally remarked on that.)

goodswim
This is what I like to imagine I look like when I swim.
This is pretty much what I look like to my competitors. 

“My legs feel unremarkable on this ride. I’m a little bored.”

My imaginary self.
bike
Pretty much my reality. The cat just needs to be replaced with a dog.

“Yep.  I continue to feel unremarkable.  Oh, she has her name on her bum.  I’m going to run her down. Still, kinda unremarkable.”

Surely this is what I looked like when I passed Ms. Name-on-her-bum.
Who am I kidding. This is more like it.

I couldn’t even come up with something somewhat clever to try to gloss over the fact that this race report would bore even me.

Long story short?  I don’t like sprints; totally out of my comfort zone.  That’s a lot of packing and fussing and organizing for 1 hour of effort.

I can safely say that it’s one and done for this year.

 

 

 

Race Report, Racing, Triathlon

The only flat part is the water.

The truth, as spoken by the lovely little old lady who handed me my packet at athlete check in at the Ironman 70.3 St-George.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Road trip:

Goal: Eat decently.  Hydrate. Try not to stop too often to pee.

Reality: Achieved!

Truth.
Truth.

We left Vancouver Wednesday AM and busted south, Thelma-and-Louise style (without the felonies) for St-George, Utah.  We were alternately chatty, giddy and silent.  We passed through cities, tiny towns, giant wind farms and vast expanses of nothing.  Our butts went numb. We confirmed that satellite radio is highly repetitive (first world problem).  It was so great to finally pull into our hotel to find that it had a pool and that it was a cracking 34C. I immediately started worrying about getting sunburned.  And with good reason – my pasty self burned within 10 minutes on day 1 during our shake out jog.

Race Prep:

Goal: Don’t overthink it.

Reality: Totally overthought it.

Race Morning:

Goal: Wake up perky and ready to smash it.

Reality: Woke up grumbling about how much I hate triathlon.

There’s nothing fun about a 4AM wake up call.  It doesn’t matter how early you go to bed the night before.  We choked down breakfast and hopped on the buses bound for the start line by 5:20AM.  Since my wave didn’t start until 7:45AM, this meant that I had a solid 1.5h to fret and apply 17 layers of sunscreen.  Several people felt it important to point out to me that I was pretty pale and should apply sunscreen. Thank you for stating the obvious.  However, no one offered to do my back.  Sigh.

Luckily, I had Bobby to hang out and ogle the pros with.  Finally, it was time to wander to the start at Sand Hollow and pee in my wetsuit.  Wait, what? I didn’t do that.  Pssh.

Swim:

photo 4
Me and Bob not too frozen

Goal: Avoid drowning. Swim under 40 minutes.  Aim for a straight line and good sight lines.

Reality: Didn’t Drown.  Swam 37 and change.  I think I swam a pretty straight line.  Punched some poor guy in the face.  So much for perfect sighting.

Definitely need to work on focus and tempo in the water, but considering how much I’ve been swimming and how scared I used to be of open water swimming, I’ll take it.  And my feet and hands didn’t freeze off!  I was surprised by how many people I caught and swam through and how many people were clinging to crafts and/or backstroking.

Bike:

Goal: Don’t crash. Ride 2:45. Pass everyone who swam by me. Don’t get a sunburn.

Reality: Didn’t crash.  Rode 3:02.  Passed a whole lot of people, especially on the climbs.

photo 5
Do you see now that I mean about the pasty?!

In the lead up to this race, everyone was talking about how hard this ride was, all the hills, oh my god the hills, have you seen the hills?  THE HILLS! THE HILLS!

We decided not to drive the course because hey, you don’t know what you don’t know.  As I was waiting for my swim start, I saw Keats who works for Ironman.  His tip?  Watch out for cows at mile 5.  So that’s what I did — instead of focusing on getting settled in for the ride and finding my race pace, I spent the first 5 miles looking for cows. Then I’m pretty sure I spent the next 51 miles looking at the scenery, fidgeting and contemplating my navel.  I had the focus level of a fruit fly.

I was very happy that I was able to set aside my vanity and decided that instead of racing in my fancy SOAS ambassador kit, I went all white and covered my arms.  Smartest thing I did all day as I think it prevented me from turning into a piece of bacon.

I finally zoned in around the infamous Snow Canyon – the climb everyone had been panicking about.  In all my years of racing, I’ve never seen anyone walk their bike mid-race, so this was pretty entertaining, as I spun by about a dozen people walking and another dozen drunkenly zig-zagging across the road.  That climb really wasn’t bad at all, these poor souls ought to come to Whistler!  I could have done without the bumpy pavement. Clearly, I’m a  princess.

photo 2
Somewhere pretty near the course

By mile 80, I was ready to sell my bike to whoever offered me $5 and a cold Coke.

Run:

Goal: Don’t think about my ankle.  Aim for a 1:47.  Try to look alive.  Don’t fry in the sun.

Reality: Took a while to find my legs.  Managed to nicely negative split this run.  1:52 and change.

I’ll give the race this: that was definitely the toughest half-iron run I’ve ever done. Again, I’m grateful we didn’t drive it – it was very, very hilly.  But I like hills, so I had that going for me.  It took forever though for my brain and legs to engage and acknowledge that we were racing, not just cooling down after the ride.

Mile 1: stop to help a woman who crashed her bike about 10 feet away from me in a very spectacular fashion.  Amazingly, she walked away with only stitches.  I thought she’d broken many body parts.  It was one of those scorpion crashes through the air that contort the body in a way that only Cirque du Soleil performers should attempt. I’m glad she’s ok.

Mile 2: Pee break.  Seriously? I’ve never done that before.  Guess I nailed my hydration on the bike. I contemplated just hiding out in the porta potty because at least in there it was shady.

Mile 3: stand around and re-apply sunscreen at the aid station.  The lovely volunteer told me I looked like I needed it.

Mile 6: Someone handed me a Freezie!  I love you, whoever you are.

Mile 7-13.1: No one else passed me, I ran down lots of people, cheered on competitors, ate ice, found the only tree on course and crossed the finish line feeling strong and thankful to get the hell out of the sun (are you sensing a theme here?)

End result

5:38 and change.  Not my best, not my worst.  Pleased with some parts, most parts need a lot of work.  And apparently, based on how long my transitions took, I could have spent some time doing my nails or taking a nap since I was in there for so long.

The long and short?  Tough but fair course.  Really pretty scenery.  Fun road trip.  I need more training.  Time to sharpen up.  Turns out you can’t really step away from racing for 3 years and then go on to pretend like you know what you are doing.

Here’s to the next one!  Planning started about 25 minutes after Liz , Kelsey and I reunited post-race.  That’s how we roll, I guess!