Race recap

I woke at 3:30 a.m. and ate a bagel, donut peaches and a glass of O.J. We left the house at 4:30 a.m. My brother dropped me off at T1 (Transition 1) by 5 a.m. for body marking and special needs bag drop. I boarded a school bus to T2 (Transition 2), for the swim start. Arrived at T2, 15 minutes later, used the bathroom, pumped air into my bike tires, put water bottles on my bike cages, and ate my second breakfast – bagel with peanut butter. I walked to my bike transition bags and untied the knot, fixed my bike gear and put on my wetsuit for the swim start. At 6:30 a.m. we were allowed into the water to warm up, and 7:00 a.m. the gun went off. I stayed a little behind the main crowd of swimmers and waited until they swam first. It was kind of beautiful, to swim with so many other people surrounding you. I didn’t feel too stressed. I unintentionally hugged the buoys. They were so bright and it was reassuring to be close to them. Everyone seemed to take it easy for the first 7 buoys, which was the first stretch before the turn. I didn’t even feel like I was using much energy, trying to find my groove in the mass of people. When we went around the first turn, people started picking up the pace, but I just kept on thinking, like Dory, says in the movie “Finding Nemo,” just keep swimming, just keep swimming. After the second and third turn (a triangle course), we made it to the second lap. I was pretty happy to make it to the second lap because I didn’t feel like I was struggling and I was keeping up with others. My worst fear was to have everyone leave me and be alone in the water. I was grateful to have others around me, even though sometimes it felt like bumper cars. Only twice, did I stop my stroke, because I felt someone grab my ankle. Not a simple, sorry, I bumped into you, but a full grab, pulling me down. It was definitely intentional because no one swims accidentally grabbing a foot. It happened twice and I couldn’t see the other swimmer, so it wasn’t a big deal but definitely not nice.

I made it out of the water, 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 36 minutes, which is not bad at all, considering I only swam maybe 10 times the whole summer. I also didn’t site too bad, the buoys were fairly clear and easy to see. I did not veer off the course much. I tried to draft a few times but I wasn’t very good at maintaining the close distance, so that’s something to practice for another time. All in all, I was happy with my time. I know I could have been quicker, possible coming out of the water at 1:15 if I trained properly/consistently.

Into transition, it was a strange feeling, walking out of the water, moving from horizontal to vertical. I followed the path to the strippers/peelers, and followed their directions. They helped unzip my wetsuit and told me to lie down so they could peel off the wetsuit. I said, thanks walked to my bike bag, and changed my clothes in the transition tent. I was very grateful for the volunteer in the tent who helped me change out of my wet clothes. Surprisingly, it was very difficult to change out of my swimsuit into my bike kit. Next time, I will definitely just wear a tri-kit so I won’t have to struggle with changing out of wet gear.

Out of the tent, a quick stop to the porta-potty and then I got my bike. It was heartwarming to see my fan club: brother, his wife, and my friends at the transition area. They were cheering for me and were all smiles. I also loved all the volunteers and fans at the swim exit. They said words of encouragement, like “you look great!”

Onto the bike course, the first 5 miles were difficult. I had a hard time getting my heart rate and breathing to be normal. We started climbing very soon into Callaghan Valley. Home to the Winter Olympic 2012 Nordic Ski course. It was 8 miles of climbing at a 10% grade. Very difficult, but not overwhelming. At the turn around, it was 8 miles downhill, passing thru Whistler (where I saw my friends and family again), then onto Pemberton. It was at mile 60 that my back started to hurt. I remembered all the friends who supported me getting here, and remembered I must persevere. By mile 80, I was having a difficult time and peddled almost every other stroke to stand and stretch my back while on my bike. I stopped into a med tent and the most they could give me was Ibuprofen. I kept pedaling but knew I would have trouble making the cut off time. I biked thru more climbs, making my way back to Whistler, but 8 minutes too late. I was not allowed to continue onto the run.

I tried my best and would not have done anything differently on race day. It was a great course (scenic, beautiful and the temperature was excellent.) There was so much love everywhere. Maybe, I might try for an IM finish one day, but not any time soon.

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The day after

If I go back and read my blog posts, the race started for me when I was sitting in Bali, Indonesia in February and signed up for a charity spot for Ironman Canada. I agreed then and there I would be an Ironman Finisher. It is disappointing to put so much effort into a single day after months of preparation to have the outcome not be what you want. In retrospect, we all could have trained more but I know I put in every effort yesterday. I arrived at the start line intact but not at full strength. Someone said, an ironman is just a race about managing injuries. Two and a half weeks ago, I sprained/strained my back, not doing anything out of the ordinary and it was not well enough to carry me thru the day. (I’ll write about the race recap soon.)

Meredith Kessler, a professional triathlete, quoted in an article in regards to two crashes, “I was meant to experience it, to learn from it and make the most of it, in order to prevail.”

Maybe, that’s what I am meant to do. Learn from the experience and overcome. I am spending the next week with my IM support crew/cheer squad – friends and family who flew in for the race. We will explore Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Thank you all for your outpour of support and love. A few less tears today, and hopefully a few less tomorrow.

Race ready

Fun facts about Ironman Canada.

Ages range from 19-75.
Most represented countries: US (1,000), Canada, and Japan (50).
Most represented US states: California, Colorado, Washington State
No. of Rookies: 500.
Total field: 2,600.
Two men from Canada, this race marks their 30th consecutive ironman (they are 65 and 72 respectively).

Photos: getting race ready

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Signs of support

Walking around the expo today, I felt a little out of my league. I saw a person wearing a leadville 100 t-shirt. It’s a shirt, I would bow down to and say I am not worthy. The Leadville 100 is possibly the most challenging 100 mile race through the Colorado Rockies, with steep climbs and descents.

I wasn’t impressed with the individuals who were already wearing ironman canada clothes. That’s like people who wear the band’s clothes to their concert. And what did they do, buy them today and wear them right away?

I saw people wearing ironman shirts from other races. When telling people I am racing and it’s my first. The response is usually, oh, how sweet. Like, I’m a little bunny or something. How do people do it, race again and again at this distance? Why do they do it? I suppose I will find out soon enough. The ones who are veterans have this glow of confidence around them. I’m kind of afraid.

Photo: fun t-shirts at the bike shop, My friend Kesia and I at dinner and her signs of support.

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Service thru sport

Whistler Village is transforming into Ironman ready. Yesterday, I volunteered packing 2,500 backpacks for registration. The backpacks are triathlon bags filled with race information and goodies. It was a nice preview of what is to come. I also saw my bib no. It say’s Liane! Exciting!

Another volunteer asked me which of the 3 sports I liked best? I said, like all triathletes, you can not be good at one and are mediocre at 3. I enjoy the challenge of triathlons, but I’m not sure I’m good at any of it, which I suppose is what makes it fun. Why do something you are good at? How is that a challenge?

Tomorrow, I am volunteering at a service project, “knock out hunger campaign”. Along with 44 participants, we will group into teams, canvasing the Whistler community on our bikes while delivering grocery donation bags to local residents. The bags are for the community to donate to the local food bank.

My entry is an Ironman Foundation Charity spot. You helped me fundraise and your contribution is donated to local non-profits, giving back to the community where this race takes place. The Ironman Foundation is donating $50,000 and you were a part of that. Thank you!

From the Press Release:
The Foundation’s contribution will provide support to non-profit needs and initiatives within the local community in partnership with the Whistler Community Services Society. The WCSS will distribute the Foundation grant funds to 35 local groups nonprofit. A few examples of the local beneficiaries are: Squamish Hospice Society, Pemberton Multicultural Network, Howe Sound Women’s Center Society, Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, Whistler Adaptive Sports Association and St John’s community Church.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

An often quoted line from the book/movie trilogy, the Hunger Games. I am not Katniss Everdeen, (the main character of the story), but I do have a long list of sponsors who have helped me in my own adventures. I have too many people to name but you all know who you are.

Everyone I have crossed paths with has helped get me here to the starting line. Thank you for sending me care packages of food, or camping and bike equipment, messages of congratulations and support when I reached a milestone. Thank you for providing me shelter or acting as a post office/courier service. Thank you for feeding me, picking up the tab and your everlasting kindness and generosity. Thank you for donating to the many charities I support. Thank you for saying you believe in me. I will channel all your collective energies on race day, and know it is because of each of you I am already on my victory lap.