Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ironman Canada 2012 Race Report

Well, I finally broke the 12 hour mark and earned a 47 minute PB at this race.  (Yes I am happy, but definitely not content.  lol -- Next stop is going under step at a time!)

Here are my stats to get those out of the way:

Time:  11:13:51

Swim:  1:07:42
T1:  2:18
Bike:  5:51:56
T2:  2:37
Run:  4:09:18

After all was said and done, I have to admit that this was actually an "easy" Ironman....if such a thing exists.

Don't hit me or scream at the computer!  I am being totally honest here.  Apart from muscle pain  (I mean, it's gonna hurt somewhat, it IS an Ironman), I never went to any deep, dark place.  I had a plan, stuck with it, and bingo, bango, bucko.  :)

This was the first IM where I really noticed an improved fitness level.  (By the way, this was my 8th IMC and my 10th frigging iron-distance race!!!)

Going into the race, I knew my goal was emotional management.  Control my emotions.  Last year at IMC, when I spent most of the marathon standing on the side of the road doubled over in pain, I was so upset as I saw person after person run by me.  People who I KNEW I was faster than.

This emotional negativity added to my stomach distress...but I didn't realize that until I was in the last mile of the marathon.  My very awesome and dear friend, Susi, came running beside me and told me to "breathe deep," and "calm down."  When I started controlling my breathing, I'll be damned if my stomach problems eased up a bit!!

The realization hit me with the force of one of my crab-apples bombing me in the autumn...

"You mean I did THIS to myself?!"


Fast forward to a year later...race day.  I have learned a lot about myself and my emotions and was ready.

The swim felt pedestrian.  It felt "easy" in a I-am-fit-and-have-tapered-well kind of way.  The biggest difference I felt was my calm, low heart rate in the change tent after the swim.  After a sprint, olympic, or 1/2 iron swim, my HR always feels like it is through the roof.  (And it probably is, being you can go a lot harder in a shorter distance as opposed to an IM.)

I was sitting there on a chair putting my socks and  cycling shoes on, when I thought to myself, "Geez, my HR is so low!  I feel so relaxed and calm!"  What a feeling!

The bike was a blur...I was very focused on what I had to do and was literally in my own bubble the entire bike ride.  I had a great talk with Coach Sara before the race, and her words were in my head.  Everything was happening as it was meant to happen.

At Richter this year, I spun up and passed a lot of people.  It was so odd!  It felt very easy!  Like the change tent, I marvelled at how low my HR felt, how effortless it was.  I wish that feeling of ease lasted through the climb to Yellow Lake, but next year!! :)  :)

I ate by feel, and when I started to play the game of "Is it gas or am I hungry?" I switched to liquid nutrition.  (This was a big revelation for me this year too -- about 3:30 into a ride, I don't want to eat, even though my body wants to.  In the past, I didn't have a good strategy for dealing with this, and would often simply stop eating.  Not this year, baby!  Hahahaha!!  This year, I premixed bottles of plain Carbo-Pro.  No other flavour, because there comes a point on the bike where I don't WANT any flavour, I just need calories.  And it worked.)

I was looking forward to the run this year.  I had many goals throughout the day, and one of them was to get off the bike strong and ready to run.

My feet were frigging KILLING me when I got off the bike!!  There was a man in front of me who was obviously feeling pain too as I watched him try to run/hobble through T2.  I don't know whether it is the vibrations from the road sent through the cycling shoes and into my feet, but holy smokes my feet hurt and hurt BAD.  Anyone have insight into this?  I suspect it is the rough out-and-back section that does this, because I have never had sore feet like this at smoother-paved races.  Thoughts?

It has taken me a LOOOOOONG time to figure out a feeding/watering strategy for an IM race:
  1. How to drink out of aid station cups without stopping.
  2. How to get in the calories to keep running. 
I have finally honed my ability to drink from cups whilst running!!! YAHOO!!!!  I have spent YEARS trying to figure out how to actually drink from those little paper cups instead of spilling the contents on myself, inhaling/choking on said contents, or having to stop at aid stations so I could drink the thing!

Two things I did that totally work for me are:  carry my own water bottle, filled with just water.  (I bought two at a gas station before the race and put one in my special needs run bag), and carry my own gels in a baggy and stuff it down my sports bra.  The baggy-technique needs to be refined because the chafing that goes on in there is absolutely spectacular and the polysporin tube got squeezed a lot in the days that followed, let me tell you.

I had my salt tabs in another baggie that was already down my top from the bike portion.  I just reach in, feel for a pill and take it.

There were a few moments where I would get dizzy/light-headed, and I would ask myself, do I need to drink, eat, or take a salt tab?  At a couple of aid stations, I opted for gatorade instead of always taking a gel.

At one point during the run, I was faffing around with the lid to the water bottle (note to self, don't buy a water bottle with a pop-off lid ever again!  Buy the one where you can pull open with your teeth) and couldn't get the stupid thing open.  I was getting sort of dizzy running and looking at it.  I thought to myself, "When I look at it closely, I get dizzy."  So, of course, right away, I start looking at my bottle as closely as I can and keep feeling dizzy.  (This is the same phenomenon as when someone says, "Don't think of pink elephants."  lol!!)

I did this a couple of more times (looked at the bottle, not thought of pink elephants) until a voice in my head said, "If you get dizzy from looking at it closely, DON'T LOOK AT IT."  Wow, imagine that, eh?  lol -- and it worked. :)

Strangely enough, the voice was not that of my Bunler.  Why strange you ask?  Because ALL the way through the run, Mike's voice boomed in my head, "Calm the hell down."  LMAO!!!!

I am not kidding!!

Poor Mike, he never said anything like that to me before the race (although he has said something similar to me on other occasions when I am freaking out over the toilet seat, the crumbs on the counter or the dirty socks lying 2 inches from the laundry hamper), but as you recall, my goal was to manage my emotions, and when I needed the mental boost, my subconscious decided to call on Mike!  Hahahahaha!!!!  I heard it over and over again, "Calm the hell down."  lol. 

In the months prior to Ironman Canada, I had run a lot of my long runs on a this super hilly dirt road behind my house.  It goes up to another little housing division and there are very steep portions on it.  I would run this loop again and again -- when it was really hot out too.  I made myself hurt on those runs so the run at IMC would feel easier than what I was doing in training.  That was my plan anyways!  lol!

And it did work.  I was ready for the hilly portions, and just chugged, chugged along. My feet were killing me from the pounding of the running shoes are not good for running a marathon on pavement (they are fine up to a half-marathon, but the pounding just hurt soooo much) and the top of my right foot really hurt where the elastic lace was a bit tight.  I wasn't stopping to fix it, and it irritated me the entire 4 hours and 9 minutes, lol.

Over the finish line and whoo hoo, I am signed up for next year's race:  Challenge Penticton.

Ironman Cozumel is on November 25!  Time to start training again!! YAY!!!