Monday, August 6, 2012

Calgary 70.3~ My First Half Ironman



I crossed yet another race off my "race bucket list" last weekend.
A Half Ironman which I started and finished...
all 70.3 miles of it!

Out of all the race events I have ever done...this has been the farthest, longest, and most fun.
Maybe it was because I feel I trained forever and I was glad to finally put it to use.
Maybe it was because after crossing the finish line I felt I could do it all over again.
Or maybe...I was just glad to accomplish something I was determined to do. And I actually smiled almost the entire way through it!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ironman Calgary 70.3....
was a Point to Point race....meaning a very long Saturday of sitting in on the race meeting, package pickup, packing up transition and dry bags, and then making my way out to Ghost Lake to drop off T1 bag and my bike.
All of it was so new to me, my longest triathlon being an Olympic distance...and being an Ironman sanctioned event didn't help calm my nerves any.
As long as the day was...and for how nervous I felt, it was calming to know I was doing this race with 2 good friends ...and the scenery which surrounded this event was absolutely amazing.

I actually was able to sleep a bit before my alarm went off at 3:45am, and except for a bit of panic when I realized what I was about to do in a few hours, I felt okay...and was able to choke down half a bagel with peanut butter and a bit of banana with some coffee. Body marking and bus pickup was across the city, so by 4:50 I was driving..in the dark...wondering what was to come of the day.
Riding out to the lake with a bus load of athletes who all looked fitter than I, caused me a bit of panic as well....but I tried to focus on where we were driving and where the bike route would be.

Once we arrived at the lake, it seemed there was hardly enough time to fill my bottles on my bike, stock it with my nutrition, pump the tires, stand in line for the washroom, don my wet suit, and get into the lake for the in-water Start. I felt extremely panicked thinking they would blow the horn before I finished all I had to do, but looking back- I'm thrilled I didn't have time to think!
I was in the water maybe a minute before Start time...and before I knew it there I was, beginning my first Half Ironman event in the middle of over 200 other women in my age group. I can happily say my fear of getting kicked or swam over never occurred.

The swim segment is always unnerving to me.
I know I can swim.
I love to swim.
But the unknown takes over my brain and I let my thoughts win out.
Every time.
So for the first 600m my main goal seemed to be just to stay above water and calm my beating heart.
I talked to myself more in that few minutes than I ever have before.
My head was yelling to just go!! while my body wanted to stop and yell HELP!
All negative thoughts crowded out the excitement and for that short bit of time I called myself stupid for even thinking I could do this.
But....I conquered the monster called irrational fear...and within  minutes I found my rhythm and started to breathe like a normal person.
At one point I do remember wondering where my cheer squad was, and actually stopped to look up along the bridge before I swam under it just to see if my kiddos were there. Of course when I saw them I had to make sure they knew just which one of these swimmers in the pink swim caps I was.
So unlike me it was to stop and wave- but I had to. For some reason I needed the comfort of knowing they knew that  I knew -they were there.
(Besides that...my goggles needed to be cleared;)

GHOST LAKE- WATER TEMP. 15+ Celsius

Molly-girl took a picture of me as I swam under the bridge.
I'm glad I stopped to wave;)


After I found my swim legs and arms...I just went. And I actually enjoyed the swim.
There was one point at about the halfway mark when I heard a lady choking beside me and stopped to make sure she was okay.
I remember thinking that if she couldn't catch her breath...how in the world would I manage to call a kayaker over in time for help?!
When she quit sputtering and found her voice, I carried on and came out of the swim:

1.2 mile swim  in 43:40
~~~~

Wet suit stripping.
I had heard of it, but had never seen it occur.
I have always wondered why one would need help taking a wet suit off.
Now I know.

I felt a tad dizzy from the lake swim, legs felt like jello, and I was trying to catch my breath.
Before I knew it I was sitting down on a mat looking up at 2 people who grabbed arms, legs, and peeled that thing right off of me in seconds. 
My only thought as I looked up at them was how the heck I was going to get up.
But they even did that for me;) 


(Yes. I DID feel as stunned as I look here;))



I took off to my  bag for my bike gear, ate half a banana, got on my bike, 
and started the 94km cycle into Calgary.  
Transition took a little too long, but under 5 minutes was fine with me for a first time.
(I am planning to knock off a few next time around.)





The bike was amazing. 
I felt invincible...as long as I didn't think of the potential of a flat tire. Or 2.
And the scenery was absolutely incredible.
At times I almost forgot I was supposed to be racing. 
Almost.

My greatest worry- aside from a flat tire- was taking in enough nutrition to get through the bike, and then have it carry over into the 21km run.
I have played with nutrition before while training, and even the weekend before during my 175km bike tour. 
But nothing has ever seemed to work for me. 
I always end up drained before the bike is even over .
This time...whether it was adrenaline or just luck, I managed to do it right.
Over the  3 hours I was out on the bike route I consumed something every half hour. 

Nutrition included:
granola bars,
gels,
and fruit snacks.
I also consumed an entire bottle of water, and a bottle of Perform.

My average speed was 29.54km/hr, and for a 94km distance which included some very "sweet" inclines, I was happy with this.



94 km in 3:10:56
 ...and I smiled the entire time:D
(TRANSITION TIME (bike to run):  2:50 min)
~~~~

Getting off the bike- I felt amazing.
I didn't even feel like I had "brick legs", and I'm crediting that to my fruit gummy snacks on the bike:)

If anything, it was more of a mental struggle to think that I now I had to run a Half Marathon...but I pushed it out of my head and pretended I hadn't just swam or biked.
This was merely me taking off for my Sunday long run!

It was encouraging to see my greatest fans along the run course. All 4 of my kiddos were there, and it seemed every time I turned a corner at the start and end of the run route, they were there cheering me on.

It was warm. Really warm.
No, it was hot.

And here is where I have to pull out an 
Amazing Gigantic 
THANK YOU 
to all the volunteers!
There was a total of 8 aid stations along the route, and it's at each one where I was blessed with volunteers handing me water, coke, ice, and cold sponges.
And best of all, they all encouraged us on by name.

I came up with a routine after the first 3 aid stations..
Grab 2 waters, dump one over my head,
drink one,
grab and drink the cola,
grab and dump ice into the front of my tri top,
and 2 sponges got stuffed into the front and back of my top.
I was a running water barrel!

And I felt amazing.
I still think it is due to the calories I continued to take in on the bike route.

Along with the water and coke during the run, I consumed a gel every 40 minutes.
By the end, 
I vowed to never consume another gel 
Ever 
Again.

The last kilometer was the longest kilometer in all my days of running.
I remember halfway through it, a spectator yelled out...

"If you give'er...you'll finish with a sub 6:30!"

That was enough to make me forget that my legs were cramping and I was already feeling thirsty enough to grab ice out of the front of my top!
I "sprinted" as hard as my wooden legs would sprint, and finished the run:

21.1km in 2:26:56
~~~


My goal, which I didn't share with anyone less I miss it by any amount of time,
 was to complete these 70.3 miles in 6 hours and 30 minutes.
My final time:

6:29:02
WOOT!
~~~~~~~~~

This race was amazing. 
From start to finish it was a beautiful course,
I never quit smiling (once I got past the first part of the swim!),
I got to run it with 2 amazing friends,
and I already want to try my swim/bike/running at another one.

A full Ironman is on my race bucket list after all...

~My inspirational race buddies~


~My AMAZING Cheer Squad~
Thanks guys!


6 comments:

Mike said...

Loved the race report Dawn!! Congrats on racing your first 70.3, smiling the whole way, feeling great at the end, racing with friends, and having an awesome cheering squad. Loved all the race pics too!

Interesting a strong swimmer like you gets the same anxious feeling as a weak swimmer like me. You could just start throwing elbows :-). The look on your face getting your wet suit stripped is perfect! You are on auto-pilot trying to process something foreign or someone talking to you. Totally know the feeling.

Awesome ride! Sounds like your nutrition worked great.

Nice run in that heat! Very cool you had your kids there to cheer you on so much.

Sorry for the long comment, but I can really relate to your race having had all those same feelings myself recently :-).

Julie Arts said...

AMAZING race!!! You KILLED it, Dwan!! I haven't been checking out blogs much this summer, but I'm so glad I found my way over here today!! I would have hated to have missed this super awesome race report. You must still be on cloud 9 :-)

Jim said...

How cool is this achievement!! You made it sound so easy but I know that it wasn't! All the preparation and discipline needed took you to the finish line. Congratulations! Great story-telling too!

Pierre BOYER said...

Great performance !
Best regards from France...

Pierre

Luke Radke, CMA said...

I know I'm late to the game on commenting, but first of all Congratatuons!! :). I am training for the 2015 Calgary 70.3 and reading this makes me very excited. I appreciate the honesty in the post and just everything you included.

Once again,Congrats!!

Luke Radke, CMA said...

I know I'm late to the game on commenting, but first of all Congratatuons!! :). I am training for the 2015 Calgary 70.3 and reading this makes me very excited. I appreciate the honesty in the post and just everything you included.

Once again,Congrats!!