Monday, July 7, 2008

Great White North 1/2 IM Race Report

I am the worst at procrastinating my race reports. I love reading other people's reports, and I like having a written account of my own, but the task of rehashing a race always seems so arduous...and there is really no way to describe accurately everything that goes on in a race....but I will give it a shot.

Leading up to this race I was really distracted. Distracted with being sick for the first time in 2 years, with working and growing my business, teaching classes and training clients, and distracted with D, who was sick as well the week leading up.
This distraction was a good thing. I had no time or energy to get stressed out or nervous, and I was just happy to be getting out of town for a 'holiday'.

We arrived in Stoney just in time for the pre race dinner, and I am glad we went as it was a great meal and there was a group doing this Japanese drumming that was absolutely outstanding. I seriously want to do that...maybe post triathlon life.
After dinner it was to the hotel for an early bedtime. We were both exhausted and slept in the next morning longer than normal.

I had an appointment at Element Multisport for a bike fit evaluation. I have been having a lot of neck/shoulder pain on my long rides and I have never actually had my tri bike professionally fit. I thought at least I could find out if there was anything obviously wrong with my fit, or if it was all residual damage from being hit by a car 3 years ago.

Cam at Element was awesome, not only did he make time for me on very short notice (and on a Saturday of a race!) but he spent over an hour analyzing and discussing options. In the end it was a very small change we made, but something I have not tried before, and I could feel a distinct difference almost immediately. D and I spent some time restocking gear we have run out of (and trying to keep our heads from exploding with all the options!!). I WISH we had a store up here like that. They had BY FAR the best selection of triathlon gear I have ever seen. And tons of selection of women's gear- you can tell there is a woman ordering :-)

After lunch, and a nap (I love naps) we headed out to the lake for a little spin and swim. By the end of the ride it was pouring rain so we decided to call off the swim. We left our bikes in transition and headed back to the city for some grub.
We had our pre race dinner (secret weapon) of beers and fries and hit the hay.

Race morning usually sucks for me. I hate getting up that early..but an 8am start time is nice. I slept well and woke easily at 5:00am. I was still full from the night before and had a hard time getting breakfast down. I ended up only eating about 1/4 of my cereal. I had my usual race morning diarrhea, which I am now used to, so it didn't freak me out. I guess it is my body's way of lightening up ;-)

We arrived at the lake and went about getting set up and ready. I needed the porta potty again, but the line up was huge. I had visions of Ironman last year when I was in the line up while the national anthem was sung and the pro start went off. I decided to get my wetsuit on half way and get completely ready in case I ran out of time. Thankfully I made it in time to use the pot, get in a little swim and hug and kiss D prior to the gun going off.

I positioned myself on the far right, directly in line with the bouy. Everyone else seemed to be clustered on the left side of the beach and I asked one of the other 4 people around me if there was a reason we were the only ones on that side. She didn't know and I didn't either, but I was happy to be away from all those people who I knew would turn into ruthless arm flailing savages once the gun went off.

On that note was anyone else surprised when it did fire? There was no lead up, just BANG...ok time to go.

I had clear water for virtually the entire swim. My position was great and I swam a straight line to the bouy. I hardly even looked up to sight, I just swam and was able to maintain a straight line all the way. The only contact came at the bouys where everyone was bunched up. I nearly swam under the bouy I was so close to it, but avoided any damage and carried on. Once again I picked a straight line and swam. This continued past the next bouy and all the way to shore for the first lap. I glanced at my watch and saw 18:30. A bit slower than I had expected, but still in the ball park. I dove back in and noticed more people were now around me. I swam on some feet for awhile but the guy was zig zagging and I decided I preferred to be on my own.
This was the best OW swim I have had in terms of staying calm and not getting beat up. I avoided most of the chaos and was able to get through without stopping, choking or getting hit. Victory!!

I exited the water and made a decent transition. I glanced at my watch as I was rolling out of transition and it was at 40mins. So an ok swim for me. Official time 37:22.

As I began the ride, I realized it was starting to rain. The air was warm, but I had only a singlet and shorts on. It would be motivation to ride hard, just to keep warm. I felt great starting the ride and was ready to push myself. On the way out of town I went over the railroad tracks and lost one of my bottles. I contemplated going back for it, but it was a cool day so I decided I would be fine with one bottle and aid station support.

As it turns out, I was fine. About 5km out of town, the sky opened up and it began to pour. It was heavy rain and the roads were beginning to form canals of water. Once again, motivation to ride faster, I wanted to get it over with! I pushed the entire ride, passed and was passed. I enjoyed the hills, both up and down, and was stoked to see D on his way back to town, looking strong in about 20th position.

The last 10km of the ride were a bit tougher, but I wanted to break 2:45 for a bike time so I pushed all I could. Official time including both transitions was 2:48:21 so I was close.

Heading into the run I wasn't sure what to expect. I pushed hard on the bike, and took in very little nutrition wise. I also chose to get brand new shoes the day before (Zoots) which is one of those hard and fast rules I love to break :-)

Starting out, my left shin was tight, and I had to pee really bad. The first two porta stops were full and I wasn't willing to stop and wait. A few km later we entered a park where there were outhouses and I was able to stop. After that I felt great. I was running steady, short steps and fast turnover. My legs felt amazing...I was pleasantly surprised!

At around 6km I saw D. He looked like he was out for a pleasure run, smiling and relaxed. But he had run himself into 8th place as I'd counted and I gave him a high five and wayta go on the way by. Other than a stomach cramp from 8-10km, The rest of the run was uneventful. I reeled in as many people as I could see and was only passed once. With about 4km to go I tucked in behind a couple of guys who were running at a good pace. I stayed there for 2km and then after an aide station took off. They helped me up my pace a bit and with only 2km to go I pushed it one more notch and found a bit of hurt for the final stretch. I saw the clock click to 5:11 as I was approaching. D was there and I caught a high five on the way by as I pushed across the line. I was so happy. What a day!
Official run time 1:45:27.

I surpassed all of my time goals, but most importantly, I had a near perfect race. I felt good the entire day, pushed myself 100% the whole way and never ran into any issues that hindered me. I feel like I was able to race to my full potential and actually see what I could do with my level of fitness. I was mentally positive and happy the entire race, I felt grateful and enjoyed each event. The weather did not bother me, I ran through the cramp, and in the end I took about off about 30mins from my last 1/2 IM time.

Official finish time: 5:11:10 .

It was a fantastic race, well organized and set up so that people only have to worry about going fast :-)

D had an amazing day as well, finishing 7th (4:16!) overall in a competitive field. I am so proud of him for pushing through a tough week and giving it 100% on race day.

It was also great to see some friends from Calgary and Edmonton out there, congrats to everyone for "surviving!!"

We celebrated with a shower and some pizza at BPs. After grabbing a starbuck's for the road we made our way home, with a short week to get through before packing up and heading to Tour BC on Friday.

I am sooooo excited for a week of nothing but RIDING MY BIKE :-)


Naomi said...

Way to go, Amber! I responded to your kind words on my blog comments, as well. Celebrate yours and Darrin's incredible races and enjoy Tour BC!

IronHallsy said...

Hey AD - Great race girl! Nice Work! Sorry we couldn't be there - just too much on our plates right now ... Glad to hear we are not the only ones with a BP Pizza addiction. But it's our secret pre-race meal ... I guess it's not a secret anymore.

Amber Dawn said...

Thanks Ladies, I appreciate the comments.
Naomi, thanks, we will definitely enjoy le tour!

Hallsy we were really sad you guys couldn't make it, we were looking forward to seeing you. But we also understand...just a 'minor' life change you guys are dealing with!
Our next visit will have to be in Penticton- we have always wished we had friends there!!
Happy packing!

Lisa G said...

Way to go! That is awesome! I am sure it is amazing when you can say you had the perfect race and everything came together (I am still waiting for that to happen to me)!

Amber Dawn said...

Thanks Lisa :-)
Yes the elusive perfect race. This was my first. I highly recommend this 1/2 as it is the most organized and best supported race I have done.

Darin Hunter said...

You were incredible this day babe! Great race, I'm very, very proud of you. Love ya, D