Coming out of the water, I was elated! My swim had been strong and my best time to date. What a way to start my race!
Coming into T1, I was quickly stripped of my wetsuit (this is the greatest thing ever, and those wetsuit strippers are incredible and efficient) I grabbed my bag and headed into the changing tent. It was busy, and this year, I had no “personal attendant” like in 2010. I took my bag in and sat on a chair. Again, since I pared my nutrition down so much, I didn’t have the bag of food rolling around like I did in 2010. I grabbed the only things in my T1 bag. Helmet, glasses, arm warmers, gloves, race belt, bike shoes. I had decided this year, I was not changing any clothes. What I had on in the swim was staying on me all day. Pearl Izumi Tri shorts, and an Ironman Canada pink tri top. Easy, swimmable, breathable, wicking. My T1 was 5:46. WAY faster than my first IM, where I honestly think I had ordered up a Mani Pedi and a pizza delivery. Wow! (I’m getting better and better at this)
I left the tent, and found a “sun-screener,” slathered up, and ran towards my bike. There she was, looking all shiny and ready to be rode hard all day on this tough Canadian bike course.
Leaving through town is like being in a parade. The streets are lined with hundreds of spectators, cheering, yelling, waving signs, ringing cowbells, horns, clappers. It is such a confidence boost, and is something you need to hold onto as you get out on to more remote parts of an IM course. Ironman, can be a lonely sport, and if you don’t have the mental toughness or the ability to store up the cheering and good thoughts from friends, family, and spectators, it can get pretty desolate, and isolated feeling.
The first part of the course after heading out of town heads along Skaha Lake, its relatively flat, and I think a very pretty part of the course. I had been told from MANY veterans of this race, to keep in control of my speed from the start until Osoyoos. It is easy to go out too hard. This part of the course is flat, with some little rollers. But I knew I needed to keep my legs fresh for what would be hitting me once I got to Osoyoos and beyond. I really tried to watch my speed. It was hard!! I just felt so great, and wanted to make up as much time as I could. I kept hearing the voices of friends who have raced here, telling me to keep it in check. The later part of this course can be brutal. I had to slow myself down more than a few times!
I was happy that I had made the trip up to ride the course a few weeks before. I knew what was coming in the passes, and even though we didn’t ride the entire course, riding the passes a few weeks before was a great confidence builder in me. I knew where I needed to conserve energy, and where I could go for it!
Making the turn in Osoyoos, I knew this meant Richter Pass lay right ahead of me. I still felt strong and really relaxed. I made sure that I was right on with my nutrition. One bottle an hour. I had my Garmin set to vibe at me every 15 minutes, but for some reason, it never did, or I was too anxious to feel/hear it. No matter, I was still checking and making sure I was taking in exactly what I had planned for. (A big mistake I had made in 2010) I stopped at an aide station right before the Richter Pass climb, and filled up one more bottle with my Infinit. I had planned 6 bottles total, but had extra powder, and filled one extra, knowing that special needs on this course was not at the half way mark (more like around 70 miles)
I started my climb up Richter Pass. This is the first major climb and about 11K long. Richter is about 2300 feet high. I knew to stay relaxed and steady. Not to push this one too hard, because this isn’t even the halfway point yet! I stayed in the saddle, and just enjoyed the climb up, staying very consistent. There were a lot of people along the way cheering/with music and that made it a lot of fun! I steadied it up and felt a tiny bit of rest at the false summit, then made the rest of the climb (the last 1.5K) to the rockin’ party at the summit! I felt great! Strong!
The next part of the course was where I knew I needed to pull some inner strength. The rollers, or as they are referred to, the seven sisters, or the seven b*tches, are a series of big rollers right after you descend Richter Pass (there are actually 10 total) They SUCK!! I’m not going to lie. They really put me to the test. The wind picked up a little along this part, which made me nervous because I had heard that the wind can get brutal towards the out and back and towards the Yellow Lake climb. I wondered if it was windy on these rollers, how would the wind be later?
I took the rollers one at a time, and just busted them out. I was happy to see that we were coming up to the out and back. I knew I was done with the b*tches, and could carry on to the out and back and Special Needs.
The out and back. I really have nothing good to say about the out and back. It was quite possibly the most brutal part of the course. The pavement in this part of the ride is horrible. Like old chip seal. It’s bumpy. It is around 20K total with a slight grade. Enough that you can feel it. It was HOT. It goes through a section of orchards, bee farms and grasslands. This is where I started to feel some fatigue. I tried to keep my mind positive. I knew that this would be the ONLY place on the course that I might see someone I knew, since this is all a one loop course. I tried to look for my friends that were racing to keep my mind off the demons that were trying to sneak in. I honestly felt like I was going to burst into tears during this part. I finally made it to Special Needs, and was refilling bottles, when FINALLY…I hear someone call my name. One of my friends was rolling into special needs. It was a nice boost. He came up and stopped as I was filling bottles, and asked how I was feeling. It was a quick chat, and off he went. Seeing him for that split second, cheered me up a bit, and gave me a little motivation having him in front of me to chase down.
Out of the out and back, I knew I had one more climb up Yellow Lake. This comes at around 90-miles, and things were starting to hurt. My butt, my feet, my neck from being in the aero position for so long. As far as energy, I felt pretty good, I was just SO ready to get off the bike. I don’t care who you are and how much time you spend on your bike, after 112 miles you are ready to get out of that saddle. Yellow Lake is a 20K climb. It feels like it may never end. I prayed a lot going up this climb. I was thankful the wind was calm (which is rare) which made it hot as Hades. I was starting to get really tired and my legs were feeling some fatigue. I kept looking for my family. I hadn’t seen them all day since I left for the swim at the start of my race. I knew they were going to try and see me come through town (they didn’t) and they said they would be up on Yellow Lake. I climbed and climbed looking for them, and could feel myself feeling a little sad. (Again, those demons try to creep in to mess with your state of mind) There were TONS of spectators lining the road. They say it gets like the Tour de France on this part, and it really was. Towards the top, the crowds grew. They had music playing, people were running along side me…this was such a nice pump!! I actually was laughing through part of this because the spectators were crazy and just off the chains! Had this crowd not been there, it would’ve drained me emotionally. It was a sweet boost, and I needed one badly. I passed another friend on the final part of the climb, and we chatted for a brief second. (Sometimes just a few seconds of a friendly face/voice makes a HUGE impact) I finally made it to the top, and knew I had to cut my nutrition at this point. Keep on water only, so the protein would digest in my stomach before the run.
I still hadn’t seen my family.
At the top, I took my last chug of Infinit. This nutrition is the BOMB!! After what happened in 2010, I was nervous about GI distress. My Infinit formula was right on! Dialed in just specifically for me and race day. I love this stuff, and cannot say enough about it!! My energy was great all day, and my stomach never suffered on the bike! And not having to take any other supplements (electrolytes, salt, calories, protein, carbs, amios etc) takes the guessing out of the day. Especially in long endurance days, when your body and mind play tricks on you. One bottle an hour…thats all I had to remember.
I knew the rest of the ride was going to be pretty fast. It’s a long downhill with one little hill, then a 20k decent into Penticton. I was back feeling pretty optimistic after the Yellow climb. I was cooling down a bit, and knew I had a lot of downhill to rest my legs for the marathon.
FINALLY….As I am making the last little climb, I see my friends and family! They were like an oasis in a desolate desert. Cheering for me! Screaming and yelling! I was so happy to have finally caught up to them!! I rode by, giving fist pumps and high fives. They yelled to me and told me our friend who had caught and passed me through Special Needs wasn’t that far ahead of me…..motivation like a cheetah!! I took off! Screaming downhill into town at 40+mph speeds. My family caught me in the car as I was almost into town, and I felt the last little pump I needed from their cheers to get me back into town! ****And yes, I did catch our friend!!