My Journey to 70.3 (preface to the race)
Having been a runner for five years, I always kinda of balked at the idea of branching out from running, feeling instead a need to focus of becoming a better, faster, runner. I signed up for this race a bit on a whim. I was inspired by some triathletes in Parry Sound called the Nachos, and thought maybe a triathlon would be a nice diversion from just running. I was pretty sure when I decided to complete my first triathlon that it would just be a fun little race to complement my running, but it turned out I absolutely LOVED my first triathlon and immediately signed up for the Muskoka 70.3 after being suckered in by one of their inspirational promo videos. So began my journey to become an Ironman 70.3....
Since I signed up for the race with less than 10 weeks to train, I began to seriously doubt my descision. My longest cycle was 16K (10 miles) at that point. I also found out that the course I had chosen was determined by the Ironman folks to be the toughest bike and run course of all of 70.3 series, and that the bike course was actually 94k (58 miles) as opposed to usual 90K (56 miles)... ***gulp***. However with the support of many great friends, and alot of training crammed into a little over two months, I somehow made it to the start line. Here is how the day unfolded....
Race weekend - Pre race
Unlike many marathons I have completed, Ironman Muskoka was an entire weekend event, culminating with the race Sunday morning. I woke up in a panicky haze Friday morning. I had taken the day off work to make it up to Huntsville for the athletes banquet so I was able to sleep in, but I could not seem to organize myself to pack. Thank goodness for Hubs, who made a packing list and helped me organize everything into the car, before he headed out to work. I was a tearful, emotional mess. In fact I think I teared up everytime I got one of many e-mails or facebook well wishes. The support really meant the world, thank-you SO MUCH! I knew I had done everything I could to prepare, but I was still unsure how the day would unfold.
We made it up to Huntsville and went straight for the expo. I have never attended such a supremely well organized event -registration and kit pick up was flawless. We hit up the expo where I purchased some awesome swag - a bike jersey and a few other items (went a tad overboard - but hey its my first 70.3).
Saturday morning after a great sleep and breakfast we headed back to Deerhurst to check in our bikes and scope out the course. It was so exciting and intimidating at the same time. So many beautiful people, and expensive bikes and gear. I felt like I was out of place amoungst so many obviously extremely fit athletic people -and I never thought I would feel that way. Humbling and inspiring at the same time.
Returning to the cottage we went for a 1K practice swim, packed our transition gear, made a great dinner, and stayed mellow. It felt like the weekend was being dragged out... I just wanted to get on with the race!!!
Sunday morning - Race morning
I actually slept really well Sat. night and woke up ready to go. From there we were kept busy - setting up gearing, helping each other into our wetsuits, checking and double checking that everything was set and ready to go. Suddenly transition area was being closed and the race would be starting. Hubs snapped a few pictures of us setting up from a distance (only athletes were allowed in transition area)
Wetsuit on, ready to go....
Once transition area closed, we were hearded down to the swim start area about a kilometer away- barefoot!! Ouch.
The race started at 8 am, I was in the seventh wave, with white caps that started at 8:33. I hated starting so late... more Sun - we were allowed a brief warm up.
And then we were off!!
The Swim - 2K - 46:56 - 2:21 per 100 meters
I tried to just use the swim as a warm up. Actually the swim felt wonderful. The water was cool and refreshing and I just relaxed and swam. The swim was a point-to-point route which I really like.
T1 - 5:56
There were volunteers that helped you out of the water which was a good thing - I always feel a little dizzy standing up from the swim. After exiting I quickly pulled my wetsuit to waist-length and was stripped by a wetsuit stripper volunteer. Let me say that wetsuit strippers RULE!!! You simply lie on the ground and stick your legs up in the air - and they peel your wetsuit off in an instant and hand in back to you!! No clumsy tripping over your wetsuit.
It was a good 700 meters up a steep hill from the water to the bike transition, but it was made easier but the many spectators lining the path and cheering us on. Hubs was there shouting out congratulations and words of encouragement.
I tried to be purposeful and not rushed in transition and double-checked that I did not forget anything. The bike course is long and I did not want to be stuck out on the course to save a few seconds. I was actually surprised at my transition time - it felt longer than the nearly six minutes posted. All in all - swim and bike transition were a great sucess!!
Heading out to the bike mounting area
The Bike - 94K (58 miles)- 3:56 (23.9 kph)
I felt a little weak heading out to the bike - the hills start right away, but within the first 10K after eating and drinking I felt fine and was having an awesome bike. My goal was to bike the course and focus on nutrition and not overdoing it for the run. I also wanted to love the hills.
For the first part of the bike I was being passed constantly by mostly strong females in the heat behind me or males that struggle with swim but are strong cyclists. But as time went on, I began to notice I was catching and passing a fair number of females, which was fun. I tried not to get sucked in though, I knew this race was about discipline and racing the bike would cost me in spades later.
I saw Hubs just after half way and he video taped me passing by (I will post later), and all and all felt great.
Just past a 65K the course I was starting to tire but still felt great! I noticed a cylist dismount on the steep hill up ahead, and pull off right, so I veared left avoid her and move around. Well at the last second she decided to pull out in front of me, and I crashed right into her. Her bike and her landed on top of me.
I saw all that I worked for to finish the race halt - and I thought I was done - I began to sob.
Anyway I started back out, and I was shaky at first, but then I felt really proud of myself - I really had a good reason to quit - but I kept going, and although I was hurting a little, I was able to manage the pain - it is wonderful what Aleve and adrenalin can do!!
The bike was hard - but beautiful - I had moments of emotion when I pulled back to Deerhurst for the run - I knew that I would finish this race - even if it meant walking the half marathon.
T2 - 2:35
Second transition went well - I forgot to take off my bike gloves, but threw them at Hubs who was cheering me on - I so wanted to tell him about my crash, but I knew he would just worry, so I smiled - I was despite everything - having fun.
The Run -21.1K -2:25:42 (6:55 per kilometer)
I started the run not knowing how much I could run. It was a really hilly course - actually the hilliest half marathon I have ever ran -and it was full Sun. I had stretched out my calf in the last part of the bike using my pedals on the downhill, so I was pleasantly surprised that I could still run. My gait was akward, but I was able to move.
As it turned out the biggest issue on the run was nausea - I felt sick when I ran for long periods so I resorted to run-walk, and power walking (as everyone was doing) up the steep inclines. My friend Michelle gave me a great mantra for the run- run when you can, walk when you have to. For the most part I ran the flats, and downhills, walked uphills, water stations or when I felt nautious.
Although my run time was really slow - even my very first half marathon was faster than this I actually was faring quite well and passed alot of people in the second half relative to the first where I was passed by a few people.
Anyway there was one final huge 2K incline followed by a 1 K decline to the Deerhurst. As I was climbing the last part of the hill, the spectators began to appear. Clapping, congratulating me! I saw Hubs at the top of the hill and began jumping up and down with excitement. I had this!
It was such a wonderful feeling and I tried to take it all in, and ofcourse as usual, cried my way to the finish line. At the final turn I saw some fellow Nacho friends and mentors (who had finished over 2 hours earlier), and they were cheering me in, and exchanged high fives.
As I approached the finish line they held up the tape - at first I was like ... um there is some mistake here, but they do this for all Ironman finishers - what a great feeling to finally cross the line and break the tape!!
At the finish line I recieved a mega swag - finish line tape, finishers hat, shirt - and the medal!!
My new favourite medal!
7:17:16 - 56 out of 72 in age group. I am really amazed that I did that well considering everything, and I know there is huge room for improvement. All in all my first Ironman 70.3 was a huge sucess.