Sunday, June 24, 2007

Chinook Half Ironman Race Report

The day started at 5:45am, up for breakfast. It was so nice to look outside and see the sun starting to shine- After last weekend it was a relief!

We were at the race site by 6:45, set up our transitions, checked in and were body marked. I got my wetsuit on and headed down to the lake to get warmed up. We jumped in and did a short swim. The water was not too bad at all- like a bath tub compared to Arbour Lake!

The race was an every man and woman for themselves start- meaning there were no heats and we all started together. I have to say that I really hate swimming with Men. In the first 5 seconds I was elbowed in the face by a guy. I didn't let it bother me too much and just tried to find some space to get going. The pack spread out quite quickly and by the first bouy it was all smooth. The first lap went great, and I started the second lap feeling great. I was sighting fine, but as I came nearer to the first bouy I realized I was wide. I tried to correct my line but for some reason I kept pulling left and when I got to the bouy I had to turn and swim another 15m to swim to get to it. The same thing happened with the second bouy and I was getting really frustrated with myself. I was also completely alone in the water- an eerie feeling when you are in a race with almost 200 other people! I manged to stay mostly on course for the last leg in to shore but I was feeling really ticked at myself for the extra 200m I probably swam. It was a jaunt across a playground to transition, and I made sure that I was quick to put on my gear and get going. I glanced at my watch and was surprised to see that I had finished the swim in under 35mins. A PR for me!

It felt great to be on the bike. The temperature was cool but not cold, and I was only a little chilly in my wet sleeveless jersey and tri shorts. By the time I reached the city limits I was warm. Darin and I biked the course a couple times in the past few weeks to I knew that I was in for a challenging ride. I also knew that the way out would be tougher than the way back, and it was a gradual climb punctuated by significant climbs all the way out. My plan was to play it cool on the way out- to keep my cadence high and stay in my small chain ring as much as possible. I was being passed by lots of men- but it did not bother me. I knew I would see many of them later.
I rode according to plan and about 10km from the turn around I saw the lead male. another couple kms later I saw another male and shortly thereafter spotted Darin. I called out a "woohoo baby!" and was re energized to see him riding so strong! As it turned out the second male I saw was on a team so he was actually riding in second place.
As I approached the turnaround I counted 6 or 7 women ahead of me. I was kind of surprised as I thought I was further up in the pack, but I still had time to make up ground.
Right after the turnaround there is a cattle gaurd and as I bounced over it my water bottle popped out of my cage and dropped into the abyss below. Of course it was the FULL bottle rather than the empty one, and I had just passed the aid station. D'oh.
I had grabbed a banana so I scarfed that down and hoped I would get some moisture and electrolytes from it. Luckily it was not too hot of a day, and it was not an issue. But it could have spelled disaster for my race!
After the turnaround I dropped into my big ring and began to motor. I felt like I was flying and it turned out that conserving on the way out paid off. I was cruising up the hills passing people like crazy, I felt outstanding and passed many of the same people that had blew by me on the way out.
The last 6 km into town was into a pretty strong headwind, but I was really stoked to see my bike time of 3hrs 15mins for 96km! That is better than I have done on 90km courses in the past, and this one was a challenging ride.
It felt great to get off the bike and get going on the run. I was feeling good, my legs were not too fatigued at all, and I covered the first 5km in 25mins. I tried to keep that pace, but my lungs were not cooperating. I saw Darin again and 3/4 into the first lap he passed me on his second lap. I looked at my watch and realized he was going to be well under 5hrs. He was flying and looked sooo strong! I drew on some of that good mojo and it helped me keep pushing. After the big climb out of Fish Creek park it was back through transition to start lap 2. I was a bit disappointed to see 56mins for my first lap, but I knew I just had to keep pushing and hopefully would not slow down any more. I got into a good rythym and began to pass people. I finally saw some females, but they all seemed to be far head of me. The course loops back on itself as it weaves through fish creek park, so I knew they were up there, but I had some work to do to catch them. I think I managed to pick up my pace and soon I was reeling people in, including 2 girls who were both in my age category. In the last couple of KMs before the climb out of the park I passed another woman in my AG and it was one more push up the hill and to the finish. As it turned out I was the first in my age cat to finish- so it was worth that tough push on the run!
Darin was there and I gave him a huge hug- he finished in 4:43 and was second overall. I was even happier for his finish than my own! He has worked so hard and finally had a race where everything came together.
My finish time was 5:49 which is a PR for me on this course distance.
It was a tough day, as they always are! The mental focus required to continue to push through when all I want to do is back off (or stop!) is amazing, but I feel like with every race I am getting stronger at this. I kept thinking of Lisa Bentley, who said that the difference between those who win and those who do not is who is willing and able to push through more pain. It hurts for everyone and success to me is knowing that I never gave in to the voice that is always there telling me how much better it would feel to back off, to walk or to stop all together. For me, winning is about racing from the time the gun sounds until I cross the finish line- no matter where I stand in the field. Knowing that I "left it all out there" is what winning is to me. And as long as I do that, I know that I have done my personal best.

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