Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ironman Canada 2011 Race Report

Well, that was my eighth Ironman, and I have to tell you, when you have done this many, your perspective definitely changes. I am a hell of a lot fitter than I was when I first started on this IM journey, for example. I remember after my first Ironman, I could barely move any muscle for a week without experiencing pain.

I remember standing in line the next day (that was when you still had to do that for Ironman Canada) and watching other athletes move around like they hadn't even raced! I wondered how in the world was that possible when I was hurting everywhere?!?!

This year, the day after the race, my muscles were sore for sure, but the recovery is like lightening speed compared to my first race in 2005. By Wednesday, I was able to run up and down stairs and I was swimming yesterday. I still marvel at the difference. Hahaha!

Onto the race itself...

In short, this race was a massive disappointment for me. I had a time goal of 10:48 and at around mile 6 of the run, my stomach wanted to upchuck. Walking hurt, running REALLY hurt. I would run, but then the vomit feeling would come and I even brought up a little bit. As soon as this would happen, I would start walking. Part of me wonders if I had forced myself to keep running and actually puked, if I would have felt better...

I did meet many athletes who experienced the same thing I did on Sunday. Some puked and still felt terrible, so I'll never know.

What I do know, was that it was very hot on race day. So hot, that when I reached one aid station, a volunteer said, "Ok, I am going to put these cold sponges on your neck. You are going to feel a shock and inhale sharply." When he squeezed it on my neck I didn't feel anything. That scared me. The volunteer was so awesome, he went into superman mode and started squeezing water again and again until I cooled down.

Most of the marathon was spent standing, doubled over at aid station with my head hanging down. I am so grateful for the many volunteers and fellow athletes who offered help and words of encouragement/advice. Only in Ironman, will a fellow competitor stop running and walk beside you, hand on your back and ask if you are OK. To everyone who asked, I tried to respond without vomiting, "I'm Ok - you go have a good race. You look strong."

I wanted to quit so many effing times. The only relief I would feel was by doubling over and curling around my stomach. I wanted to curl up in the fetal position. There were actually only two things that kept me going:

  1. The athletes still heading out to the run turn-around. They were hurting and still moving forward, so it would be terrible if I just gave up.
  2. That damn finisher's medal, t-shirt and hat. I paid for them and I better get them.
At 9 miles to go, I was like, holy crap, I don't want to walk all frigging day. I would try jogging, have to stop, then walk. Repeat over and over again.

I had dropped my salt tabs at the beginning of the run, but had no issues with my usual dizzy, light-headed, tunnel vision experiences. It was stinking hot outside, and my mouth would become so dry instantly. I couldn't swallow -- couldn't feel my tongue. It was very odd. I knew I should keep drinking water, but every time I would, my cramps would start again. I contemplated drinking nothing else until the end of the race, but decided that maybe that wasn't too good an idea.

At about 7km left to go, I was able to *run* if I held my stomach with one hand. When that arm got tired, I'd hold it with the other one. I started making grunting noises and heaving noises once in a while and would bring up a little spittle/other stuff.

As I approached the final mile, my very good friend Susi popped out of nowhere and ran the rest with me (outside the run course, through the crowds.) She shouted out encouraging words -- OMG, I was feeling so terrible I couldn't even respond. Every time she would hear me about to puke, she would say, "Just breathe, Just breathe." Thank God for Susi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I crossed the finish line in 12:57:58 -- almost an hour slower than the last two years. For those of you who have done more than one IM and start to get time goals, you will totally understand the massive disappointment I felt. Couple that with the physical and mental depletion an IM race requires and you can just imagine how truly $hitty I felt.

But.....I got over it. :) Onwards and upwards. Had many good conversations, email chats with good friends which helped me put things in perspective.

I have another iron-distance race in Florida on Oct. 22. And I am VERY excited about it!! :) :)

And next year, is the year of the non-M-dot race. :) I am really excited about checking out other iron distance races!

In the mail yesterday, I received a card from The Great Floridian Race. A personalized card saying they hope my training is going well, that they hope the next two months of training go well, and they included a bumper sticker. Now that is pretty cool! Hee-hee! A little bit different to an IM race already! :)

Here are my times from IMC:

Swim: 1:09:28 -- fastest swim yet, pleased with this!
Bike: 6:09:55 -- fastest bike yet, I regret not changing back to my 12-27 cassette and leaving my 11-25 on, but it made me stronger! :) :)

Run (Not run, but standing around/walk): 5:33:23 -- nothing more to say here.

Yes I am happy to have finished, but for me, that is no longer good enough. I make no apology for it. I have big goals and I am on my way to achieving them. :) In my mind, the race is like a big piece of furniture with all these drawers in it. I took out the feelings of disappointment, frustration, and anger, felt them, and then put them away. I'm over it.

Now for the FUN stuff!!!!!

  • The day before I left for the race, I stood up from the couch and I couldn't stand on my foot. My ankle felt like it was broken! HOLY CRAP!!! After a tearful converstation with my coach, I headed out to Penticton the next day anyways and headed to the ART tent after I checked in. They were closed, but were soooo kind enough to take a look at my ankle anyway. It was a tight ligament! They sort of rubbed it around, pulled on my foot and presto! All done. How frigging weird is that? The foot rubbing did make me drool a little. There is something about people handling my body that makes me relax. LOL.
  • Susi. The most amazing friend in the world. My kindred spirit. How do I even list all the wonderful things about Susi? I will do my best....I stayed with Susi and her boyfriend, Marco for IM week. She bought me a book. :) She gave me all her positive energy at the end of the race. SHE UNDRESSED ME AFTER THE RACE. That's right -- when I couldn't move let alone bend over, Susi took off my pee-clothes, and my pee-shoes and put everything in The Pee Bag!!!!!!!!!! She said, "Lift your arms." And took off my top and put on a fresh one. I kept apologizng and wanting to cry that she was willing to touch the pee-clothes!!! Now that my friends, is a TRUE FRIEND. Susi --- I love you. I eagerly await the day when I can sherpa for you in any race/endeavour you choose.
  • SHE HANDLED THE PEE BAG!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • My partner Mike and my parents who support me 100% in pursuing my goals -- Mike puts up with my Taper Bitch attitude and all the green stuff in the fridge (which by the way he is actually eating and REQUESTING more of!), and my parents who mow my lawn, baby-sit my cats, pick up my crab apples (oh sweet geezus it's THAT time of year again), and make Mike spaghetti since I've gone paleo. :)
  • My friends...I have met the best, kindest, most thoughtful, generous people through triathlon. You'll see the best of humanity during the marathon portion of a hot iron-distance race.
  • Check out the video clip -- LMAO!!!! I come from the left side of the screen, body check a guy in the middle and exit the right side of the screen from 1-5 seconds of the video. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I kept watching it again and again. I didn't bump into him on purpose!! I was just scooting through! Sorry, guy!! It was not intentional!!! :) :)
  • My next race, I am using all real food -- no more gels and carbo pro for me. Yams, dates and homemade energy gels made out of chia powder, agave syrup etc. I am convinced that eating well all year and avoiding sugary shit, only to dive into piles of sugar on race day CANNOT be good for my stomach. I am very excited about trying this new way of race nutrition! During races, my teeth start to ache and hurt after a certain number of gels. And, two days after IMC, I broke out in so many zits it was disgusting. All that sugar coming out. Not for me. No more. I always thought it was weird that as triathletes, we do our best to eat well, rest, train well, be healthy, but then on race day, consume as much sucrose, dextrose, whatever-ose, and high fructose corn-syrup as we can....

My most awesome friend, Susi! Right before my stomach problems.


Keith said...

Yes it was! Totally intentional. You were a girl on a mission, willing to trample anyone in your way, grinning and apologizing as you did so.

You might be right. Everyone says to race the way you trained, and that sounds like a huge change in diet during the race. I'd found a Gu recently and nibbled it on a long run. Holy crap it tasted bad. It can't possibly have gone off, but just the thick chewy guck didn't do a thing for me. I'm so done with Gu.

I'd been watching for you and following during the day, wondering what had happened. I'm just happy you weren't carted off in an ambulance. Have fun at the Great Floridian!

Lisa Graham said...

Julie! Great report. I hear ya!! This challenging experience will add more fuel to the fire for you for the rest of 2011 and for 2012 season! You will be on a mission and I'm excited to see you achieve your iron-distance goals and dreams!

I think a lot of people (me included) had extremely tough days out there, and it definitely did not turn out at all how we were expecting. What's resulted for me is this huge dose of extra motivation to do better. So now I want to do another one next year so I can see what I can do (because I was way off what I thought I was capable of at IMC as well!). And i just signed myself up yesterday for a marathon in December! Excited to get back to training in a few weeks.

Happy training for the Florida race - you are going to kill it there, I just know it!

Unknown said...

Great story Julie! sometimes the tough ones teach us much and make us strong! I think you may be a little off base with your nutrition idea though: Switching to 'real food' is not a bad idea, but solids don't digest well under heat and stress. THAT is why we consume sugars on race day. The problem comes in when we are under race conditions like Sunday, super hot, lots of athletes, important goals etc, and our heart beats 10bpm faster, plus we release more stress hormones, because our body goes into 'fight or flight'. It doesn't know why we are going so fast, but is designed to assume something is chasing us! That response is designed to shut down or minimize digestion, so that all power and blood supply can be saved for the legs. which is a problem in a race of over 10 hours! At Ultraman, I moved to using Infinite nutrition for my sports drink - the Scott Factor 9 mix. It is BRILLIANT and I, with the MOST dodgey stomach in the WORLD, had very little issue! Here's the BOMB: When my stomach did start to bloat and ache (which would have lead to what you experienced and what I have spent nearly every race in agony over) I took a Gas-X tablet. I learned that trick from a past Ultraman champion, and it was MAGIC!! It instantly neutralized the stomach acid, my bloating ended and I could resume fueling and feel GREAT! I hope that helps you race to your potential this fall!!! And for your guts and determination, I salute you! There is nothing else you could have done at IMC, and with these tricks, I think you will be amazed! I had a client at IMC this year who was also able to 'zero out' his stomach issues by having a gas-x every hour or so of the run (3x). Peter Reid, 3 time World Champ has been quoted as saying there was only one race he can remember when he didn't have stomach issues. It's all in how you manage it. I was 6th over all at Ultraman Canada because I was actually able to RACE to my potential, instead of fight with my stomach! Hope this helps!! Hugs superstar!! Arizona forever!!

Unknown said...

"unknown" is Scott McDermott by the way!

Susi said...

am a little veklempt reading report because it reminds me how much pain you were in...

oh how i totally get what you are saying! lol. always am and always will be very proud of you for that day and all the others. you are my rockstar!! pee smell and all!! ;)

love you tons my sweet SOOKKIEEEE!

ps i could have signed this via your account because it was still logged onto marco's computer. now that would have been funny!

Julie said...

Hey Scott!! Thanks for the insightful comments!! I just got off the phone with Sara and she echoed what you said about whole foods -- I am permitted to eat yams for the first part of the bike, but then keep it simple sugar for the rest. So, I'll be able to bet my mushy yams in there still! LOL!!!

I did try two gas-x over the course, and after the second one, my body was like -- no. So....I need to listen to my body there. All in all it was a learning experience. :) :)

Julie said...

Susi -- LMAO!! I am still computer-challenged at times! LOL!!

Julie said...

Lisa -- Sorry I didn't hook up with you! You did amazing out there considering the conditions!!! You are bang on about the motivation too. :) :)

kelsey said...

I'll say it again. You showed up, you finished.

Do you know how awesome it is to do just those 2 simple things.

Mucha loves my friend. Onwards and upwards. or in SA Lekker Bru

KK said...

Oh man, Julie, I can only imagine how disappointed you felt. But, you wouldn't know it by reading this report. You have the amazing ability to admit when something hasn't gone your way but then you always find the silver lining of that situation and you radiate happiness and positivity. That is the mark of a great person and even better athlete! Congrats on finishing when every fiber of you just wanted to quit.

And thank goodness for Susi, she is just the best!!!

runningman said...

Congratz on the finish Julie, it must have taken quite a lot to finish in those type of conditions. Was that the hottest IM you've ever done? Toughest? Maybe try infinit, it has everything in it, don't need to take any tablets, electrolytes, etc with it. Gotta stick with liquid, wayyy easier on the stomach despite it being so sugary/salty. Racing while trying to digest is just plain rough no matter which way you look at it.

Julie said...

Hiya Darryl! I might try it out -- you are not the first person that has suggested that product. And that was the hottest IM I've ever done.

Theia said...

Oh no, I'm so sorry that you didn't have the race you wanted. A friend of mine did it too and had the same stomach issues you did. I guess it was the heat?? Not like you guys didn't train in heat all summer, though... ???

And your next iron-distance race is on my birthday, which means it will be AWESOME! :)

Julie said...

Thanks Theia! You are so right about the heat -- the more I talk to other athletes the more I hear that they experienced the exact same thing I did! The common factor is the heat...very strange though that it affected so many people the exact same way. To me that says a lot -- there is a way to fix that problem!

I should have worn pink on race day! LOL!!! :)

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats, you are still a rockstar and legend in my books

BTW is this your first Pukie award? Wanting to, still counts, most time its worse, because when people puke, they tend to feel better, not puking is worse in my books

Julie said...

Big Daddy -- It is!! Come to think of it -- it is the first! LOL.