Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ironman Arizona 2015 Race Report

I woke the morning of November 15, 2015 like any other race day morning -  A few minutes before the alarm, excited and ready to go.  We had arrived in Tempe three days before and I felt like I had enjoyed the IM experience, eaten well and was adequately rested.  The weather forecast was sketchy calling for rain between the hours of 3 and 5 pm, clouds all day and temperatures in the high teens (mid 60s F).  While not the heat I was used to racing in, I never though too much about the cold, I threw my sleeves into my bag for the bike, never crossed my mind that I might need something more for the run.

I ate my normal bagel and PB and started drinking Carbo Pro with Nuun. Carole and Erin were up and the suite was buzzing with activity.  We decide to head to transition shortly after 5.  It was dark and cold.

Erin, Me and Carole

Transition was very tight - annoyingly so.  I finally took my bike off the rack to an empty rack (why were were packed in like sardines while there were many empty racks I do not know.)  I got my chained lubed up, my nutrition on board (a concentrated bottle of 1000 calories of Carpo-Pro and Nuun, my aero bottle filled with 200 calories, and my bento box stuffed with 8 gels) and my tires pumped up with the help of a couple nice guys.

Pretty Bike

I felt really good, calm and collected but the time went fast.  I got body marked and made my way into my wetsuit.  Since it was a "Swim Smart, Self-seeding, rolling start" I got myself  to the line up and settled in behind the 1:10 sign. It wasn't sure of the time but it seemed like a long time standing there, getting colder and colder,  People were making small talk around me.  I couldn't believe how many people said things like "well I don't swim this fast but ...."  Have I said yet that I do not like these new starts?  Well, this one in particular does not work.

I'm in there somewhere
 See, the entrance to the water in through a set of stairs - maybe 10 feet wide (with arm rails dividing it up into sections).  The pros of course had the normal in water start with the males going off at 6:40am and the females at 6:45am.  Then at 6:50 they started the rolling start.  But unlike IMLP or IMMuskoka where there was someone at the timing mat line controlling the flow, this was just a free for all getting down the stairs and into the water.  It was more like a on land mass start!  I hit the stairs and glanced at the clock which read 6:51:xx so I knew I started sometime around that time.  It was mayhem as I looked into the dark water and saw the turbulent white water of the masses of bodies starting the swim and had no choice but to dive right into the cold waters and start my swim.  I didn't have any time to even think about the cold water, or the fact that I didn't have a warm up swim.  It was move or get crushed.  WORST SWIM START EVER!  The arms and the legs were everywhere with more bodies jumping / diving in every second.  I had  a great practice swim the day before, so I just focused on my stroke and my breathing and getting the heck out of the scrum.
Hard to see the entrance area in the bottom right

At 63F I thought the water would be too cold for me.  I don't know if it was the insane swim start, but I didn't really feel the water temperature at all.  I quickly settled into my stroke, drafting, passing, finding a bit of space, catching up to packs ahead of me....  It was dark as the sky was covered with clouds for the entire swim out.   I swam right along the buoy line and sighted well.  Yellow buoy, yellow buoy, yellow buoy,  seemed like forever before I saw the first red turn buoy.  The sun was just starting to peak it's way out as I made the turn.  I felt like I was having a great swim.  I took a very hard elbow to the the left goggle and the pain was strikingly acute and lasted for several minutes.  I was sure I was going to have a black ring around my eye.

That's me in the pink cap - Barry has a great eye!

It was a short swim across the lake to the second turn buoy marking the second half of the swim.    While swimming well, I was starting to feel like I was ready to get out of the water - my feet were starting to get cold.  I picked up my kick and continue the back half of the swim.  About 800 meters from the end my left shoulder started aching.  I was able to keep my swim stroke up, pushing through the pain but wondered what might come of it later in the race.  The memory of running with a sore left shoulder the entire run at Muskoka was definitely on my mind.

Finally I could hear the crowds at the swim exit as I came underneath the twin bridges and got my first glimpse of the final turn buoy.  Just like having 5 k left in a long run, I picked up my cadence and pushed hard to the stairs.  I looked up and there was a hand and two feet - I knew the stairs would be tricky - they always are - I grab for the hand as I tried to get my knee on the bottom step.  Honestly that is all I remember.  Next thing I know I'm running from the wetsuit strippers ready to ride!

I asked a spectator the time as I ran to transition.  It's a long run but at least it isn't up hill!  Someone yelled out 8:10 which seemed late for me - did I really swim 1:20?  Must remember not to do that.  I saw Barry as I was turning to run up to the transition bags.  He was smiling ear to ear cheering me on.  Time? I screamed.  1:12-1:13 was the reply.  Got to give him credit - as my official swim time was 1:12:45, a 10 second PB (negligible), and 13th in my Age Group.

Bike Gear Bags (photo take on Saturday)

T1 went pretty smooth.  Grabbed my bag and took the first chair inside the tent.  It wasn't crowded but my volunteer had to help someone else as well.  I didn't need help as I quickly put on my helmet, shoes, and sunglasses.  I attempted to put on my white bolero but couldn't get my wet arms in the sleeves.  So I threw it in the pile and started out the door.  Thank you to the volunteer who picked up my pile of stuff and got it all safely back into the T1 bag!

A relatively fast T1 split of 4:37.

Staying focused, I grabbed my bike and made my way to the mount line and off through the shoot to the start of the bike course.  AMAZING spectator support here.  My heart was racing.  Next thing I know I'm flying on my bike.  My beautiful bike with my fancy borrowed wheel set!  I'll go ahead and say a big thank you to Cavin for the use of his 808 front and to Kim (Two Years to Kona) for the 365 disc.  Not sure how much faster it made us but it sure did make Stella look fast!

The bike course is a bit boring.  It's a three loop course in the desert.  There are mountains on the horizon, but the landscape is barren desert.  Not even great cacti to look at.  Basically it's a false flat for the first 20 km then a steady slight climb for 10 km, then you turn around and fly back 30 km.  Rinse and repeat 2 more times.  Was a pretty uneventful ride.  My bike felt great and I was happy that my left shoulder wasn't causing me any more grief after the swim.  I stuck on my nutrition drinking approximately 200 calories of Carbo Pro Nuun every 40 minutes and take a gel every 40 mins, sometimes sooner.  I did have a bit of a tummy issue.  I finally got out of aero to have a good burp.  After 2 good burps, I had bit of vomit.  I tried to get as much up and out of me as possible.

Coming in after first loop - Still Dry!

The winds on the way out on the first two loops were noticeable but not too bad.  They were coming out of the northeast I think.  I never felt the wheel set, though there were a couple of occasions where I felt the cross wind on my front wheel.  But the 808 didn't seem anything more than my 404s I ride on all the time.  The light rain started on the tail end of my second loop.  It was wet on the turns coming back to town but I was super careful and always felt strong on top of Stella.  My bike was not failing me today.

I made the last turn around in town and I felt good.  I had been riding well and feeling good.  I was not passed by many woman, and I passed a lot of people.  Barry said I was in 5th, though now we know I was really in 7th.  As I started back out on the last boring loop, in the rain, Barry yells out "you gotta go".I knew what he meant.  My potential Kona spot depended on me getting off the bike with the lead pack.  And I was not in the lead pack.

This was the first time in the day when I started to realize my Kona spot would not be won today.  It's a sad moment in the race day and I should take a little time to reflect.  When I ran IMFL in 2012, my hope was to finish.  My goal was around 14 hours, but Barry and I both knew I was capable of much more.  I finished IMFL in 12:10:36, 33rd.  This is where my dream to Kona began. The next year I raced Cozumel and finished in 11:10:57 with a shortened swim. I was 7th in Cozumel.  2014 was a bitter-sweet year.  I ran Boston, trained hard for IMLP, tore my right soleus, and raced IMLP finishing in 11:56:05 - not competitive as I hadn't ran a step for the 8 weeks leading up to the race.

So that brought 2015 - my year to race two Ironmans.  My first serious attempt to be competitive.  My first chances at Kona.  Ironman Muskoka was my race, but the bike mechanical took it's toll.  I was thrilled to finish the race in 5th, my first IM podium, and a time of 11:23:54.  I had the best IM run of my life, and without the bike mechanical I'm pretty sure I would have broken 11 hours.

Going into IMAZ, it was go big, boom or bust!  So as I'm heading out on my 3rd loop, the rain is coming down, but the winds had shifted a bit and lightened up .  The ride out was the fastest of the day.  I kept eating and started to prepare myself for the run.  I wasn't cold on the bike.  I was working hard but keeping my power in check.  I made the final turn around and pushed myself through the rain to the finish line.  My bike split was 5:31:10, 7th in my AG.  I'm happy with my bike split, I did not bury myself on the bike, but perhaps I didn't push hard enough?  My normalized power was 148w and my goal was to be between 145 and 150.  My max 20 min was 162 w.  I felt like I rode what I should to have a good run in me.
Done and heading to the Bike Finish!

The final bit of the bike is back up the ramp to the dismount line.  It is quite slow and we rode single file.  For the first time ever in an IM race, I handed my bike to the volunteer and said "I love her, please take care of her".  I had the best IM ride of my life.  My back and shoulders felt great and I was ready to run.

Run Gear Bags (taken the day before)
BUT .... I was pretty sure my Kona dream was done for the day.  I was 7th off the bike (though B had told me I was 5th).  I thought I made pretty quick work of T2 - the volunteer had a towel and was massaging and drying my feet - which were a very crazy shade of white and quite numb.  I got my socks and shoes on, helmet off, visor and sunglasses on. Out the door in 2:38.

Heading out on the run - still dry and warm

I was happy to get out on the run.  It was raining.  And it was colder than I thought.  While I managed to stay not cold on the bike, the cold set in pretty quickly on the run.  The first two miles of the course run along a path just up from the river.  There are a few little climb and I was running well, clocking in just around 5 minutes per km.  I was actually really positive at this point, thinking if I could just keep clicking these in I would be good.  Besides being really cold, I felt ok.  Then the course turns and runs down to the clay path right along the river.

So Cold, So wet, So Muddy

Let's talk about the weather for just a second.  Apparently it only rains 5 days a year in Tempe.  Also, when it does rain in November - the temperature of the rain is near freezing.  And we all know, I do not like running in the cold, let alone WET COLD!

So I'm down on the clay path for the first time, trying to keep my 5 minute kilometers coming.  And it is slippery, muddy, massive holes and puddles.  It's hard to even run at all.  My mind wandered to Kona.  Barry saw me at the end of the muddy trail and I tried to seem positive.  But I knew this was not going to be my day.  I was keeping a a sub 5:20 pace but I was walking more and more.  I was very wet and very cold.  I was having the same bladder issue as Cozumel (I won't go into details but you can read about my Cozumel run in the rain here!).

I crossed to the other side of the lake and continued my run / walk.  I'd run between aid stations and then walk.  I took water and coke and occasionally threw back a gel.  I was very cold. My legs didn't want to work. I was finally making it back towards the bridge and I saw my first friend on the run course - Rob Bruce with his encouraging words of "look at you speedy thing".  While I felt less than speedy, it was nice to see him.

I made my way back over the bridge and finished up my first loop.  I was really walking the aid stations now and my splits were coming in the high 5s and 6's.  I was so wet and so cold.  I ran past the finish cut off and out on my second loop.  As I was going out on the path I passed a woman walking with a "P" (for professional) on her calf.  I suddenly didn't feel so bad about my run this day.  She passed me again while I was walking.  When she started to walk again, I caught up to her and said "can I walk with you?" And started a little conversation.  Her name was Ali and she was wearing a 5Q trucker hat and a bright long sleeve zip up top.  It wasn't her day but instead of pulling out with a DNF, she was making her way to the finishline.  I told her how much it meant to me as an Age Grouper to see her finish.  I wished her well and started to run again.

Heading out for 2nd loop

As I came down to the clay track for the second time, it hit me that many runners (and most of my friends racing) would have to make their way over this muddy mine field in the dark.  I think the rain had stopped by now.  I had my slowest kilometer splits throughout here.  I passed by transition again and was making my way to the bridge when I was passed by a calf marked 40,  She was running so effortlessly, chatting with another girl "I feel great, this is my first Ironman, I feel great".  There was no way I could keep up with her as she left me in her wake.

I made it over the bridge and for the first time I felt like I was warming up. This must have been around mile 20 / km 32.  I was picking up my pace between aid stations and feeling a bit better.  I was trying to do simple math in my head to figure out if I had any goals that were still achievable.  Around this time I saw Ali, the Pro, she was quite away behind me but I shouted "way to go Ali" and she responded "go get em LK".   I also saw Jackie and we exchanged some enthusiastic "you've got this" "no YOU'VE got this" banter. I was filled with love of my sport.  I was ready for this race to be over.

As I approached the hill, I knew I was not going to PB on the run, and by my math I would finish around 6:10 pm - giving me an 11:20ish time, a PB sure, but course adjusted, not really.  I walked up the hill and told myself I would run the rest of the way, just over 5 k.  I came down under the bridge and among the rock-star spectators was Barry.

Just before I see Barry with just over 5 km to go

"You've got 29 minutes to run 5k to break 11"  What? No I don't! "You now have 28 1/2 minutes".

I put my head down and ran.

Kilometre 38: 5:06
Kilometre 39: 5:08
Kilometre 40: 5:38
Kilometre 41: 5:20
Kilometre 42: 4:59

I was focused and I pushed the pain out of my mind. The sun set quickly through this time and the cold was setting in again. The cheers from the spectators and volunteers carried me through the cold and the pain. I passed a lady with about a kilometre to go, she must have noticed my age and she pushed back, passing me.  I couldn't keep up.  I ran as hard as I could.   My legs were cold but I knew the finish-line was right there, I just had to get there before 5:50pm.

The lights are blinding.
The cheers are deafening.

Linda Kay From Toronto .... You Are an Ironman!

I stopped moving and the weight of my body was caught first by one volunteer, then two.  I was so cold and I couldn't see for the dried salt in my eyes.  My legs stopped working.  My entire body weight now centred between two wonderful volunteers. They quickly got me to the med tent which was warm.  Before I knew it I was on a lounge chair covered in heavy quilted mover's blankets.  I had a couple doctors and a couple volunteers with me.  One offered to get my morning cloths bag and another got me a hot cup of broth.

Medical Tent

I asked someone if my husband could come in and he said he would call him and he would try but no promises.  The all of a sudden Barry was there.  I was starting to warm up and my breathing was returning to normal.  Barry got me a couple wet wipes and I was able to get the salt out of my eyes.  All I wanted was a piece of hard candy to suck on but all Barry could find me was a piece of pizza crust!  I'm not sure how long I was in there, but when I was warm enough I was cleared to leave, changed into my dry warm cloths and said my thank yous and good byes to the Med tent staff and volunteers.

So that was it for the race. I was done.  I broke 11 hours with a finishing time of 10:56:00.

Swim  1:12:45
Bike  5:31:10
Run  4:04:50
T1  4:37    T2 2:38

8th Female 40-44
 46th woman 
315th over all.

I had VIP access thanks to Barry and spent the next couple hours drinking beer, eating steak and cheering in the athletes.  I got to see all my friends finish and got to put the medal on Carole when she finished her first Ironman, making it look easy in 14:08.  I was so lucky to race with my fellow team mates: Rob, Liz, Lori, Jackie, Jana, Felicia, Heather, Erin and of course Carole.

A huge thank you to the volunteers who stuck it out in the cold and the rain, doing everything they could to make our race day successful.  Ironman could not do it with out you!

Thank you to my partner, my #1 supporter, my sherpa, my photographer and my enabler to my endurance addiction - Barry.  I could never do this without you.  Thank you for believing in me, pushing me and loving me.

Thank you to my club-mates and the Toronto Triathlon Club for giving me the training opportunities and the coaching / training friends who make this all possible.

Thank you to my therapy staff: Dr. Kris Sheppard at the Runner's Accademy, RMTs Jen Goddard and Tracey Elliott, and my FST therapist Sabine at the Mayfair.  You all had an integral part of getting me to the start line, injury free and feeling my best.

Finally thank you to everyone who helps out with my life while training and racing.  My mom for leaving her comfort zone to come stay with the kids and my inlaws for always being around to pick the kids up from school or watch them for a training day.

That's a wrap for the 2015 season. I got faster and stronger, but I've still got lots of work to do.  But for now I've got some recovery time ahead and planning to do!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Inaugural Ironman Muskoka 2015 Race Report

It's the week post race and I'm still in a bit of a daze of emotions over my forth Ironman at the inaugural Ironman Muskoka 2015.  I jumped into this race shortly after I finished IMLP - Muskoka finally got their full Ironman and there was no way I wasn't going to be at the first Ironman in Ontario, less than a 3 hour drive from my home.  

Before I get into the details of the race - I have to say a huge thank you to the Toronto Triathlon Club, the 26 members who raced and then many who came out to volunteer, cheer and sherpa this race.  The incredible support out there on race day made this Ironman incredibly special.

Special shout outs to my biggest fan, sherpa, race photog, sponsor and basically life support Barry, as well as my best friend Carole and my inlaws Don and Anna for helping out over the crazy weekend.  And of course my kids who suffer through mom's crazy emotions and a very long day of racing!

So, let's get to the race!  Race morning I awoke at 4:20, 10 minutes before my alarm and declared out loud - "I slept through the night".  I have never slept through the night before a race!  I got up and made quick work getting food into my stomach (coffee, hard boiled egg, bagel with PB, carbopro-nuun drink).  Got my stuff together to get to transition and headed on over.  I stayed on-site at Deerhurst, which while expensive, was worth every penny.

I had forgotten my headlamp and was regretting that as I dried off my bike, lubed the chain, inflated my tires (I rode at 100psi) and got my nutrion set up.  I had my aerobottle filled with carbopro-nuun and I had one bottle with 5 bottles concentrate of carbopro-nuun which I would mix with water from the course.  I stuffed my bento box with gels and stashed the remainder in my pockets.  I was doing all liquid nutrition on this Ironman.

It was so nice running into so many friends racing.  It's like a local Multisport Canada race!  Lots of hugs and well wishes.  I almost had a cry chatting with Eric. The excitement was incredible. The weather was perfect.  It was going to be a great day for a race.

I made it back to the condo and got my wetsuit on around 6 and we headed down to the water.  I thought I was running late but they hadn't let anyone in the water to warm up yet becuase they had to wait on either an official or a lifeguard or something.  Barry had purchased the VIP package so he had access to the beach with the athletes - so nice!

I got into the water and it was the perfect temperature.  I swam out to the coffee dock and back and felt calm and ready to go.  They called us out of the water and I was incredibly thirsty - thanks to the VIP access Barry was able to get me a bottle of cold water from the VIP area on the gazebo and I was so incredibly thankful as I can't stand swimming thirsty - and I had a long swim ahead of me.

I gathered in the start area near the back of the 1:10 corral. Again it was so comforting to be surrounded by training partners and friends.
Who's going to Kona - This guy is going to Kona!

Trying to get some fast swimming vibes!
lined up with Dushan
Finally the gun went off and we started the process of "rolling" into the water.  They were only letting 8-10 athletes go at a time and then waited before letting some more go.  This was quite slow and irritating - it took over 4 minutes for me to hit the water.  I heard that by the end they were rushing the athletes in as they needed to get everyone in before 7am.

and off I go!

I entered the water and quickly settled into a nice stroke and easy breathing.  I LOVE the swim in Peninsula Lake!  The water was calm and the buoys were easy to see.  I sighted well and just swam - this was my first 1 lap full Ironman swim and I quite liked it.  However it does seem like you are swimming forever until you get the the first turn.  My swim went pretty well - I did take a huge kick to the head but it didn't trouble me too much.  I was so happy to make the final turn into the bay to the exit.  I felt like i had a good swim but I wasn't sure I pushed myself as hard as I should have.
had no idea of my time but I was going to ham it up for every photographer I saw

I didn't see anyone I knew on the swim exit but the kids and Barry were there.  I had no idea what my time was - I ran over to the strippers, fumbled a bit with my wetsuit and then bam - my wetsuit is off, I'm up and I'm running up the hill to transition. The crowds were amazing, I felt amazing.  It was going to be a great day.
running up to transition - can we say steep hill?

I got into the change area and there were no volunteers to help. I dropped my wetsuit, googles and cap, quickly put my headband, helmet and sunglasses on, grabbed my shoes and headed out - leaving the pile behind knowing a volunteer would take care of it for me (LOVE THE VOLUNTEERS).  I ran to my bike and slipped my shoes on there and the next thing I know I'm running out to the mount line.  I had a blistering fast T1 of  5:10 which  includes a 400 m uphill run!

I finally see Barry and he says 1:12 - and I think I might have screamed Bull Shit (got to work on that language thing).  I jumped on my bike, my heart rate was racing, I felt like a million bucks.  This was going to be a great day!  It was time to get settled in for a nice long ride and I was ready.  I knew this course, I love this course.

The first 15 km are quite slow - lots of climbes and a couple technical decents.  I held back knowing this was not where I would make time on this course.  As I was coming up the clime to the  Dwight Beach turn off I got to see Barry and Hector.  I don't remember much of what was said and off I rode.  I think by this point I had climbed from 12th out of the water to 3rd.

this girl is in a lot of my photos ....drafting much?

I got out of Dwight Beach and onto 35 where I knew it was time to start my bike race.   I felt great, settling myself into Aero and happily watched my power and speed numbers shine up from my Garmin.  My average speed was nicely over 30 kph and my power numbers were smack dab where they should be.  I was having the ride of my life.

I turned into Seebreeze and was so excited to see Irene and Lori at the aid station - just another woohoo of a local race - your support crew is everywhere.

 I got back onto 35 and headed into Dorset.  There is this one long climb just before you get to Dorset and I flew up it - passing man after man.  I see a familiar kit ahead and call out "is that Mr. D'arcy? Sure enough - he asked how I was doing and my reply "I feel like a million bucks".  I continued up the climb passing, feeling great.
beautiful course

Flew in and out of Dorset, got on 117 - flying - feeling amazing - loving my 5km split numbers coming back.  I was so excited  - I was have a great race!  I was spot on my with nutrition - drinking my carbo-pro nuun and taking a get every 30 minutes.  Before I knew it I was flying into and out of Baysville and making the sharp right turn onto Brunel.  Have I said the weather was perfect?

2 hours and 18 minutes into my ride, somewhere around kilometer 72 my perfect day ended.  As I was approaching a climb, shifting from my big ring to the little my pedals came to violent stop.  This had happened to me on my first 3 rides on this bike back in the beginning of July but after a trip to the shop and some changes made, I hadn't dropped my chain since.  Luckily I didn't crash (for some reason when you drop the chain on the P5 you cannot pedal as it gets "stuck").

I jumped off my bike  - the chain is on the top of the small ring and one link it jammed and stuck on one of the points of the big ring.  I finally get it pulled off, while puncturing my right pointer finger - so lovely - covered with grease and blood.  I go to turn the crank and .... CRAP - WHY IS IT NOT TURNING?!?!?  Then I notice something that made my heart stop - the chain was off of the jockey (I just learned what that was called - I called it the springy sprocket thing that the chain goes on by the rear derailer).  WHAT?  How can that even be? How is that even supposed to be?  I did the best I could - which was line the chain up over the bar (that would normally keep the chain in I suppose) and got onto my bike.

The good thing was it was working and I was making forward progress again.  The bad thing was the noise it was making made me know I was going to be fighting against this for the rest of the ride.  I summitted the hill and had my only cry of the day.  I was angry and frustrated.  I own arguably the fastest triathlon bike on the market, I was on my way to an amazing bike split (I was averaging near 32 KPH and feeing awesome) and now, that is over.
Rode 110k like this - how much drag do you think that caused?

I pulled it together - of course I did - my bike was still working.  I worked hard on this bike course. I still had the tough South Portage section to get through before heading back up to Dwight Beach.  I had trained on this course so much that I knew every hill, every pot hole, every curve.  I love this course - it definitely warrants the name Beauty and the Beast.  I was happy to see Hector at the tail end of South Portage, the frustration with my bike was growing as I realized just how much drag was begin put on my chain.  The numbers coming up from my Garmin were disappointing to say the least.

 When I saw Barry on the second loop at the Dwight Beach turn he told me I was in 4th.  Then I was  surprised and happy to see Papa sitting at the top of the hill cheering!  The ride through Dwight Beach on the second lap was amazing thanks to the shuttles bringing  spectators out on the course!  Kudos to TriMuskoka for doing that!

 I was passed by Ali Davies on the climb out of Dwight.  She had a cheer squad at the special needs station as did I (thank you Kirsten and Jon!) - which we both bypassed.  I tried to keep her in sight but there was no chance.  The second loop was unimpressive.  I watched my power numbers and sadly watched the speed that corresponded.  I mentally threw a temper tantrum in Endrosport.  And then I focused on what I had control over - and that was my upcoming run.

I have never gotten off the bike in an Ironman excited to run.  I have always been in a negative head-space but this race was going to be different.  I kept reminding myself that I was a runner now.  That my training has been perfect and I'm uninjured and I should be able to run well under a 4 hour marathon - that even my lofty goal of 3:45 was possible.  I was ready to run that marathon!

Coming back into Deerhurst was amazing, even with the grey cloud of the mechanical over my head, I was killing this course and ready to go.  I dismounted and handed off my bike to the volunteer.  I stopped and took off my shoes so  I could run faster to the change room.  My official bike split is 6:12:10.  Because my watch was set to autopause (can't believe I left that setting on!), my actual ride time was 6:09:43.  I was 8th off the bike.  I will never know what I could have ridden that day but I know in my head and my heart I had a killer bike split in me and my bike failed me.  There may have to be a redemption Ironman next year!

I made super fast work of T2 and was out on my run before I knew it.  I felt like a million bucks. The crowd was amazing and seeing my family and friends pumped me up.  I wish I could have my kids at every race!  I approached this run unlike any IM run in the past - I wasn't going out for a 42k run - I was going out to run for 3 hours and 45 minutes.  I've learned, it's all about mindset for the Ironman run.
Looking good, just 3 hours and 45 minutes to go!

I was running great and watching my splits come in: 4:59, 5:04, 5:09, 4:58.....  Barry was out on his bike and he told me I was in 6th place.  Then I passed an old club-mate Christina putting me in 5th where I would end up staying for the rest of the race.

heading into Huntsville

It was sunny now and warm but I was loving it. I walked every aid stations taking as much water as I could drink, pouring it on my head and dumping ice into my sports bra.  Every other aid station I started taking a gel.  And occasionally I would grab a swig of pepsi.  The run out to Huntsville was amazing and I was overjoyed to see Calli Anna and Carole and LeanneB.  First 10k put away well under target.

Heading back to Deerhurst and I was still feeling good.  Seeing so many training partners and club mates out there was so energising.  The crowds in Huntsville amazing.  And the stretch on Highway 60 really wasn't that bad.  I walked the steep short climbs in Cookson Bay like I had always said I would do.  My pace was starting to falter around  here.  I had been averaging around 5:07 but it was steadily declining.  I knew 5:20 average was the number I had to hit for a 3:45 marathon.  It was going to be tough to do on the second loop.
turning off Main to head back to 60 first loop

I gained some good energy through out here - I got to pass my buddy Benny at the turn around - ran up and slapped his butt as I ran by - he ran back and swatted me as I made the turn.  I told him I loved him but had to run and off I went.  I got to Shannon just after that - I think before we got to Cookson Bay where the cheers of Irene and Lori pushed me along.  I was starting to suffer so I ate some more and ran on.  My pace was really dropping here and my Garmin was shouting a 5:20 average pace at me.  I had less than two hours to run.


The second loop in an Ironman Marathon is a herculean task.  It's where you need to train your brain to understand the end is coming and your body can do it until then.  There were so many people and things that happened on the run ... people from the Ironman Muskoka facebook page would cheer me on.  A couple runners knew me from my blog  (yeah, people do read these long drawn out race reports)!  I saw my daughter and Carole and Leanne and Trevor in Huntsville.    The energy was amazing.  

I made the turn around on Brunelle, I had passed Brendan and Breech and started the long run back to Deerhurst. 11 km. Let's get going.  Going back through town was a blur.  I remember hearing my name cheered out so much on that course and I thank every single on of you who did! Seeing my daughter was a high point every single time and Nancy and her girls at that corner were there every time I went by. Barry, I know I wasn't so nice all the time but having you out there was amazing. Thank you to all the encouragement from my fellow club-mates and friends on that run course.  We were all suffering but you were able to cheer me on making me feel like a million bucks! I was never alone.

 I was walking a lot at this point, trying to do math in my head, which I'm not allowed to do at this point.  Seriously, why do I think I can do simple math at this point?  I knew I was in 5th and I was sure I wasn't going to catch 4th.  I had no idea how close #6 was.
definitely not looking fresh

The closer to Deerhurst I got, the better I felt.  I was doing this, I was finishing my Ironman Marathon in under 4 hours!  OMG!  I didn't once morn the fact I missed my "A" goal of running a 3:45, I was over the moon with my run.  Kirsten will never know how much it meant to have her at the top of that hill and for running up with me.  I just kept saying it's the last hill. I was overjoyed.
final turn into the finishers chute!

I actually like the finish where you run through special needs and then cut off for the finisher's chute and I love the finish line ending where it does.  I threw my arms in the air at the crowd and jumped over the finish line.

The money shot!

  I was thankfully  caught by 2 wonderful volunteers.  I felt pretty good but my body revolted a bit and I vomited enough to get me into the triage of the med tent.    I do apologise to that amazing volunteer for barfing on his shoe.  Immediately Carole and Dushan were there with me and I was astounded they were allowed in the area but very happy.  I spend a few minutes collecting myself and was discharged with a barf-bag souvenir.  In hindsight I should have gone back to the massage area!

My kids - thanks for beign there for me today!

my family and support crew!  Thank you Grandma, Papa and Carole for all your help!
TTC with Dave Scott!

There you have it - Ironman #4 - the toughest one yet 
Swim: 1:12:55
Bike: 6:12:10
Run: 3:51:03
T1: 5:10
T2: 2:39
5th F 40-44
23rd woman
179th overall

I made the podium!
So that's it - next race Ironman Arizona in less than 11 weeks!  

Thank you to TriMuskoka and all of the 1,300 plus volunteers who made this event happen.  I had a fabulous time and I think the Venue will be a premier Ironman venue in the years to come.  Every step of the way I felt like myself and my crew were being taken care of.  The course was well supported by spectators (thank you spectators!) and the race had great energy.  We all know it's not a easy course, but it's beautiful and your planning and executing gave us a great experience.  I will be back!