Julie’s IM Canada Race Report

Ok so I wasn’t going to write this silly report but I am sitting here with two glasses of wine in me and my husband is eagerly typing away his report so here goes…….
I always begin every race with 3 goals and this one was no different:

  • Be safe, no flat tire or no mechanical issues
  • PR the race – beat Wisconsin time – 11:42
  • Make it to Kona.

It was finally race morning, I had thought about this very day for over six months…in my head I thought I had played out all the scenarios but deep down inside I knew what I thought would happen and what would happen would not be the same.

Got to transition nice and early but as luck would have it so did 3,000 other athletes. The line for the bathroom was way too long, luckily Sarah Salvades rescued us by giving us her key to her hotel room which was next to transition. Yes, Sarah you have no idea how you saved me at that point and did so two other times on this day. After our quick visit to the bathroom, Matt and I made it down to the swim start. BD convinced me to start the swim as far to the left as the officials would allow. Matt followed to a degree but eventually I left him behind and found Billy. Billy and I were beyond the swim start line and I knew this was going to be great. The start was finally here and after a short prayer the gun went off.

At first BD and I were just moving along in the water, still standing as others were trying to swim next to us. I kept thinking, “I am moving faster than they are, sweet!” Eventually we had to swim.

The water was cold but not as bad as I thought it would be. BD took off hard but I need to start out slower and build so I let him go. After a short period, I found my rhythm. What a great swim, the water is so clear I could make out the type of wetsuit for the person next to me. I really never ran into traffic until after the first turn – what a change from Wisconsin.

While I swam, missed my swimming buddy Ed but told myself I could do it as he was in Louisville swimming alone too. The first boat came really fast and I thought, “You got this.” Than the first coughing fit started. Literally had to stop swimming so I could cough a few hundred times – ok so not a hundred but it sure felt like it. Yes, I had three of these episodes during the whole swim and was totally convinced my swim time would suck…really pushed the end to make up for the coughing episodes. Stood up on rocks and looked at my watch – 1:09 – wow that is really good for me. PR by 5 minutes. Little did I know it would take me another minute or so to get out of the water – mental note for Canada – swim right to the end as it is very rocky, do not stand up too soon.

Love the wet suit stripers; I think they have the best job. Someday when I retire instead of being a Wal-Mart greater I think I will be a wet suit striper at Ironman events. Too much fun.

The bike ride out of town was amazing and was fast…. slight downhill ride all the way to Ricters Pass. Durng this section, I had Laura’s note in my head “CTFO” on the way out, so I did, maybe too much but who really knows. Ricters Pass was nothing like the climbs in Georgia and I actually liked it. I saw 48 mph on the backside – how cool was that – think it was the fastest I have ever descended. Sotir, I thought of you, thanks buddy for the tips as I used them all. You are the descend champ.

Bike was going really well until I saw the storm on the horizon…. At one point the wind became so strong I wondered if I could even move forward. On one descend, I was going maybe 10 mph where I should have been going at least 30 mph….ugh! The wind lasted for a while – hour or so and it sucked. I tried to find big guys to tug behind but none came by. At one point, what I think was Pam Reed and group of about 4 other girls from my age group came by me and I thought about hooking onto them but was afraid as race officials had been around me all day so I let them go – little did I know but at that moment I let my spot to Kona go too. Bad choice.
Oh yeah, in the middle of the wind, we had rain and yes HAIL….it actually hailed on me…great. Finally made it Yellow Lake and the long climb – well actually I am not sure exactly when Yellow Lake climb began as it is a long and gradual slow climb but somewhere in this section I figured I had to be on Yellow Lake. You knew a race is cold when they hand out space blankets at the top of yellow Lake….yikes. I declined the blanket but honestly about half way down I regretted that decision as my whole body shoke uncontrollably and I thought I was going to loose control of my bike while all at the same time I kept thinking, “GO fast, you lost way too much time with all that wind ….your bike time is going to suck ….push hard…”

The ride into town was just like the start – slight downhill and fast. Only thought, “Yes, the bike is finally over. No flat tires, not bike issues and I am safe – goal number one achieved. Time to transition and run. I know how to run.”

Had to really pee off the bike so I literally changed and transitioned in the porta- potty – you should have seen the ladies faces when I just handed them my transition bag and told them I was all set. They laughed and told me I was the easiest one all day. All I could think was, “ I am sure my bike time sucked so I had to make it up some how.” Yes, I did not look at my bike split, as I knew it would end my day if I did – finally looked at two days after the race – 6:12 – I can do better.

Felt awesome on the run, yes, my feet were frozen from all the rain and hail on the bike but I knew this was only temporary – remember pain is temporary and it does not always get worse.

My first half of the marathon was strong – kept it all under 9 minute miles and did exactly what wanted. Towards the middle I waffled a little but eventually found the strength to pick it up again. Thank you BD for letting me chase you from mile 18 – 20. Also, thank you to Iron prayer, as all I kept telling myself was make it to top of the hill at mile 22 where the church is and you are home free. Last two miles of this race are the best – slight downhill and lots of people. I was home.
As I came into the finish I finally looked at the clock, 11:34 – ok so I achieved goal number two – PR by 8 minutes…. Not bad on a tough day but would it be enough to get the third goal? I thought not but who knew.

Mark was waiting for me as I crossed the line and the look in his eyes told me he had not made his ultimate goal either…darn, I really wanted this for him. Together we waited for the others to finish. Eventually, I ended up in medical, as my core body was way too cold and who should take care of me but sister Madonna. Apparently she had wetsuit issues and had dropped out of the race. What an inspiration. She sat and talked with me for some time and reassured me that the winds were tough and that IM Canada 2010 was the coldest one she could remember. God bless her.

In the end, I finished 12th in my age group and missed Kona by 3 spots. Did not make that final goal…at least not yet…yes, I signed up for Canada again – think I have some unfinished business in Penticton.

Bonnie, I need to swim under a 1:05 – think you might be able to help me….
Bike – just keep working and maybe train in a wind tunnel – LOL
Run – I can run – Just keep running – 50 mile run this fall – early spring marathon…..

Thank you to Matt and Rich – training with the two of you was awesome. Will miss our early morning bike rides. Rick and Ingrid Murray, Rich and Michelle Williams and Gayle – it was fun hanging out with you guys. Loved our wine tour on Monday, even if we did it on bikes. BD, Mark and Sarah your support and energy were awesome. Sarah, you truly saved me when you let me use your bathroom, took my arm warmers and rescued me after the medical tent when I could not find anyone and I just wanted a warm shower. Love those Mongo “orange” jackets.

Finally, thank you to Laura Sophiea, my coach my friend. We began this journey 3 years ago and it is not over yet. We will go to Kona together. I believe in life things happen for a reason, not sure why I did not make it this year, but something tells me we will figure it out.

Canada 2011…..here I come – I guess some addictions do not need therapy. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

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