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!