Monday, July 29, 2019

Ironman Canada 2019 Race Report

The only word I have to describe my feelings about this race is gratitude. Less than 24 hours out, I wasn't even sure if I'd make it to the start line. Of course I have goals and expectations for my races, but the thought of not even being able to fight for a finisher medal was heartbreaking.

Friday morning I started to get sick. I couldn't keep anything down. By Friday afternoon, I could barely get out of bed, and my routine became sleeping for a few hours then waking up only to throw up any remaining fluid I happened to have in my body. Making it to and from T1 on the shuttle to drop off my bike on Saturday was probably the hardest part of the weekend. Saturday night, I tried to force a pre-race meal of some chicken and rice into my body, but I puked that up too.

I had somehow gotten through all of the necessary pre-race setup the day before, and I certainly didn't come all this way to not at least show up and try on race morning. I wasn't sure I'd make it to the finish line, but I was damn sure I was going to make it to the start line, and that from there, I had to just believe that anything was possible. I managed to get half of my normal pre-race breakfast into my body and it actually stayed there! Those were the first calories that didn't try to escape my body in days. I couldn't even force myself to drink coffee though, and that's how you know something was still very wrong. Usually, I'd take coffee straight through an IV if I could... and also drink it because it's delicious.

Race morning. No idea how I was going to get myself up and do an Ironman.

My mantras for this race (that I had come up with weeks ago) were "I choose growth." and "I choose miracles." And I didn't mean miracles in the traditional sense. I meant them like, anything is a miracle if that's the way you choose to look at it; and also, I "choose" them, meaning I have control. I am not a product of the things that happen to me; I create my reality. Turns out I COMPLETELY overlooked the fact that some shit would have to go seriously wrong before a miracle could happen, so that will be the one and only time I use that mantra.

Swim: 1:09:00
I lined up for the swim in a slower group than usual. I wasn't there to break any speed records so I took my time trying to see how my body would handle it. Once I started getting into a groove, albeit an incredibly slow groove, I was relieved to find out that I didn't feel sick at all, I just had absolutely no strength or power. But that was fine with me! I had gone from not being sure I'd get here, to making progress through the water, and that was pretty damn exciting. I exited the water with my slowest all time swim by 6:00 (my second slowest swim was a 1:03 in Kona).

This was Ryan telling me that it was ok if I couldn't make it.

No matter how shitty I feel, this is always what starting an Ironman will feel like.

Bike: 6:13:44
The first loop of the bike course was much of the same: no strength or power, but continual forward progress. This is when I started to feel like I could finish. It might take me all damn day, and it definitely didn't help that I chose a course with 8k feet of climbing, but I really had a chance to survive this thing. I grabbed bananas at aid stations, which I don't normally do, but my body had been completely depleted of electrolytes so I figured I needed all the help I could get. Each calorie that I took in was the most I'd eaten in days, and I started to feel better and better. By the second loop, I found myself picking it up and starting to gain some momentum. Even before I got sick, I didn't think there was a chance in hell that I'd feel better on the 2nd loop of this brutal course than the first.

Run: 3:50:13
By the time I got to the run, I actually felt somewhat normal. I couldn't believe it. So I just started running, and not slowly. I had new life and I was going to use it. I had no idea where I was amongst my competition because up until that point, I didn't care. I could have been in 50th, but I now had a chance to fight for 49th and I wasn't going to take that for granted. But apparently I actually got off the bike in 9th. The best thing about an ironman is that there's a marathon at the end, which gives me plenty of time to do some work. I didn't see any girls in my age group until the last 10k, but I just kept believing I could catch them if I poured everything I had into it. I still didn't know what place I was in, but by the last 5k, I knew I had passed a few girls and my only goal was to squeeze every last ounce of life out of my body. I didn't care if it was enough to put me on the podium, I was just so incredibly grateful that not only was I going to finish Ironman #7, but that I got the opportunity to do what I love more than anything in the world: prove to myself that I don't have to have limits. I can choose growth and miracles.

I finished in 4th place in my age group, on the podium. Of course it's always my goal to qualify for Kona at an Ironman, but after this one, I don't even care to analyze my results and think about what could have happened if I had been healthy the whole time. After thinking I may not even get a finisher medal, standing up on the podium didn't seem real, and I only have gratitude in my heart for what I was able to give to this sport that gives me so much life. I'll get back to Kona one day, but in the mean time, I'm having a damn good time finding out what I'm made of.

As always, I couldn't have done this without my #ironteam. They went through the same ups and downs this weekend with me, and just kept believing in my strength and supporting whatever decision I might have to make. I can never say enough about Ryan. He prepares for an ironman just as much as I do, making sure that each strategic site that he finds me on the course has the appropriate attire and attitude to make me smile. It's impossible to put into words how much passion and love he puts into this, so hopefully these pictures tell the rest of the story:

Jorts being made in real time.

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