Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Race of the Pink Eye or Ironman Canada 2010 Race Report!

I'm one of those people who use all sorts of tricks/sayings/etc to remember things. The first one I am aware of learning was the colours of the rainbow...Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain. It was Grade 3.

And while I don't need help remembering the colours of the rainbow anymore, I still use some *cheat sheets*... like when I need to know how many days are in a month, I'll recite under my breath, "30 days has September, April, June, and November, all the rest have 31, etc." You know that one?

So.....the day after the race, I kept counting on my fingers (by year) the number of Ironman races I've done. But every time I got to the end, I couldn't believe it and would count again. Where has the time gone? I've actually done SEVEN of these things?!?!?!?!?! WHOA!!

My goal was to do an Ironman triathlon by the time I was 30 -- I never thought I would do another one!!!

Okay, onto the race itself....

The couple of weeks before Ironman is a really sketchy, dangerous time for my immune system. For some reason, the decreased training (taper) that allows the body to rest also invites germs in. Wholeheartedly. With embossed invitations even.

I've been lucky insofar as the crap I get before an Ironman is relatively benign -- just a minor annoyance. Two years ago it was crotchal area problems from riding so much and washing too vigorously. Yes -- you can wash too much....

Last year, it was Swimmer's Ear. I remember I was joking to my coach that this was proof I was a "swimmer."

This was the year of the Pink Eye. It sounds so gross and it sounds so, well, INFECTIOUS. It's like if you tell someone "I have pink eye," everyone takes a few steps backward away from you. I felt like the plague.

I'd been gargling twice a day with Listerine (just like Coach Clint told us to at camp last year!) to ward off any colds, but the ole stink-eye-pink-eye crept up on me anyways.

For the days leading up to the race, I walked around with one contact in -- trying not to go cross-eyed. I realized that I can actually ride a bike with one contact in -- not too bad, eh? LOL!!

OK - enough blather about the eyeball.

The down and dirty was that I took one minute and 17 seconds off last year's time. I crossed the line at 12:01:00 exactly. I was sort of hoping to blast WAY UNDER 12:00:00 but a PB is a PB. My swim was faster, my run was way faster, my bike was slower. BUGGAH. Like my good friend Cath pointed out, at least it was a minute and 17 seconds in the right direction! Good point!! :)

But, you gotta deal with the cards you are dealt on race day. I was delighted (whilst at the same time mortified) that my decision to take off my race wheels and use my training wheels proved to be the best decision. The winds were BRUTAL. For the last few weeks, I had trained on my race wheels in the winds of the Pass. I am not a competent enough rider (yet) to handle them when the cross winds blow me around. So, right before I left for Penticton, I made the call.

Let's see -- for the first time, my stomach felt REALLY full when I started the marathon. Too full. Like I was running on a bellyful of spaghetti. It took me until mile 15 until I let out a mighty FART at which point I felt like a new woman. Note to self -- I am taking Gas-X with me next year. Do you know how far 15 miles is with a tummy full of gas? It is TOO DAMN FAR!!!!!

It occurred to me that the most interesting part of an Ironman race isn't the swim, bike, or run. It isn't what you ate that morning, or how fast or slow you moved through transition. The REAL GOOD STUFF happens AFTER the race. Allow me to elaborate....

1. The Finisher Shirt. Ironman Canada has sunk to an ALL - TIME LOW in finisher shirt ugliness. OH MY GOD. Everything I have ever said about ugly race shirts must be retracted because this year's shirt truly takes the cake. It is a light yellow-beige colour. A colour that makes everyone look like death warmed over. EVERYONE. A colour that is so ugly and rejected it was like there was a huge cargo load of them brought over from China and the receiver said, "OH MY GOD these are so ugly I refuse this shipment!"

Oh yes -- This a BOAT LOAD of light-yellowy T-Shirts coming
to an Ironman near YOU!! LMAO!!

So then, someone at Ironman Canada got a smokin' deal on these rejected T-Shirts and used them to put the logo on and made off with a profit. That's what popped into my mind as soon as I saw that shirt. It fell down out of the UGLY tree and got beaten by every ugly stick on the way down. And I have my very own in size medium thank you very much. LMAO!!!!

2. The Pee Bag. This is one of the transition bags that I put my race kit in (after the race) -- my running shoes, cycling shoes, socks, everything. Because I have no problem peeing on the bike or the run, everything is covered in pee. This still horrifies Mike. The Pee Bag stinks. Bad. One year, I had the pee bag (closed up tight) in the back seat and the smell that came out of it was so strong I had to pull over and put it in the trunk.

This year, my Mom took The Pee Bag to the laundromat and washed everything for me. (Yes, I throw in running shoes and cycling shoes -- EVERYTHING. It works!) I was passed out on the motel bed with compression tights on, watching my feet swell like watermelons.

3. The Ultimate Transition Bag. This is extrememly important and I hope even one reader saves himself/herself the $199.99 expense of a triathlon transition bag. DON'T BUY ONE! DON'T DRINK THE KOOL AID!!! I did, and I will regret it for the rest of my life. Here is why:

Race morning, (and after the race for that matter) you have to carry your Swim-to-Bike bag, your Bike-to-Run bag, and your Morning Clothes bag AND your bike. Watch people as they try to do this. They have the bags looped over the handlebars, the bags are falling off their shoulders, banging into their bike. In short -- it is a big pain in the @$$!

Nobody uses a fancy schmancy tri bag because then you would have to take out all the stuff out of the bags, to fit in the fancy bag, THEN put all the different items back into your race bags once you get to the race site.

Here is what you use and they only cost $0.99 at your local hardware store:

The simple canvas bag. Fellow triathletes take note!!

Yes. A large canvas shopping bag holds ALL race day bags with plenty of room to spare for ugly finisher shirt, medal, finisher hat, water, etc. Wish I had figured this out last year before I spent that $200. Sigh.

4. Body, Heal Thyself. This is a very neat, yet odd experience. Symptoms (errr, side effects or consequences maybe -- LOL!) of doing an Ironman start to show up in various parts of the body. This happens over a succession of days too -- every day there is a new surprise. For example. after Ironman Coeur D'Alene this year, (two days afterward, to be precise) I sprouted all these zits on my chin.

So far, this year after IMC, I've had one SUPER swollen foot -- the other one not so bad. So swollen it made my friend, Tessa, laugh at me! The skin around my nose is all dry and peeling off now too. Nice.

In all seriousness, I need to thank Coach Sara profusely for empowering me with the fitness and mental strength to do this race. I went in thinking positively -- dedicating the race to my little dog, and keeping the negative, sad, and painful emotions at bay. I had two moments where I almost broke down....

One was on the bike when a guy passed me and I saw his name was Toby.

The other, was during the run, when I saw my teammate, John. He had sent me a wonderful email the night before the race -- a coping strategy I could use during the race. In the moment I saw John, he looked at me, and I looked at him, and he gave a little wave/point and it was like time stood still. I choked up and just about lost it - then got myself together again.

When I crossed the finish line however, I let it all out. I've been pretty much the same since then too. Life, eh?

Well, I am excited about next year -- yes I am doing IMC 2011 -- I know I said I would never do it again, but after talking with Coach Sara I changed my mind. I can be stubborn, but when Sara tells me to do something, I always do it. I trust her completely! And, I am excited about the plan for next year too.....



Suzanne said...

You're so awesome :) What a wicked race and an emotional one too. Holy crap you're a fast swimmer! Give me a shout and we'll get out for some long fall hikes. I'm really looking forward to it :)

Runner Leana said...

Oh my gawd, laughing my butt off about your comments regarding the finisher's shirt. It is so ugly...and apparently they didn't have any smalls??? Hellooooo? Triathletes? Oh well, I shall sleep in it and I guess it will be okay for that!

Keith said...

My mouth fell open when I saw your swim time. All that work, the video analysis, all that drill, the long drives to Pincher Creek, all that paid off. Wow!

The winds on the out and back were bad. No matter which way I was going, it was a head wind. A disc wheel would have been a nightmare.

The shirt is only semi-ugly. But then, my standards of ugly were shattered and broken by those damn people of Walmart links that Susi kept sending me. In comparison, the IMC shirt is sartorial elegance.

I love the mesh bags with the drawstring I got as swag at races a couple years ago. They hold a ton of stuff. The actual tri bag/pack with a zillion pockets is great for traveling, not so great for going to transition.

There was one spot on the bike course, I passed a guy just standing by the side of the road with his bike. I would swear up and down he looked just like Kerry Enick. Gave me the chills.

Heather said...

I can beat the ugly the time I hauled my A$$ across the line I was stuck with a large shirt ( they only had L & XL left)...& NO finisher hats. These will be mailed so I am told....I was not impressed! The good thing is at least they had bananas for this race lol!

Keith said...

And the lack of bike jackets in the swag tent on Monday morning. There was a bunch of hard feelings about that. One girl was almost cursing at the manufacturer rep, saying she'd been standing in line since whenever, for nothing. She was choked.

Lisa G said...

AWESOME race report - it was so hilarious I was laughing out loud! The pee bag description was so funny, and that was really nice of your mom to wash it for you! LOL! And the finisher's shirt - what were they thinking? That color flatters NOBODY.

Congrats on your PB, and if your swim and run was faster than last year, even better! I'm sure the wind had something to do with your bike split, as well as the wheels. Next year you will smash that sub 12 hour goal out of the park!

And of course you are more than welcome to visit here anytime for a swim lesson!

BTW, I always recite that days of the month poem to myself in order to figure out which months have 30 days! But I only know the first part of it! Haha!

Beth said...

Congrats Julie! I was looking for you but never saw you. I did however see you in a fb album that a bunch of friends/people I know were in!

And I agree about the shirts. I thought they couldn't be uglier than last years, but I was wrong. They are BAD!

Cath said...

Well done, my girl - hope you're appropriately proud. Race time includes "life" too cos we're not robots :)


Big Daddy Diesel said...

Simply amazing!!! You are a rockstar!! I am so happy for you.

Soooooooooooo, you need to post a pic of this shirt!!!

runningman said...

Good job Julie, Congratz on number 7!! You are like the energizer, IM after IM. The pee bag must reak!! lol my running shoes didn't smell too good after CDA either. Thanks for the report!

R said...

so funny how everyone is commenting on the shirt. You're right it's a colour few can pull off, and fewer still when tans fade. Good thing you got that cute orange one to wear instead!
hugs and congrats on another race done and a pb on the course!

Sarah said...

Congrats on a great race! Very nice race report, it had me smiling the whole way through.
Too bad about the finisher shirts, hopefully they will be better next year!

Susi said...

you are my sookie ironman rock star!!! i'm so proud of your accomplishment. taking time off AND you just finished an ironman 6 weeks before that. SO FREAKIN COOL!!!!

love ya tons and congrats on a fantastic race!


KK said...

Great race report, Jules! And congrats on a new PR. I know you wanted to be faster, but it sounds like those winds on the bike were crazy! Nothing breaks a person down like the wind. You showed it who's boss though and hammered an awesome run, even with a gassy belly! Nice job, my friend!

mintradz said...

According to Arizona eye care, exposure from camps and contact lens wearers particularly are vulnerable to pink eye, which can be caused by infections from poor hygiene in the handling of lenses, solutions and cases. Also, some soft contact lens wearers can develop an abnormal immune response that can cause giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC). Anyone who starts sneezing at the first sign of ragweed likely is familiar with allergy symptoms such as a pink eye, eye irritation and itchiness related to non-contagious allergic conjunctivitis.