65 In ironman canada/ race report/ triathlon

ironman canada // the run

All I could think about during my 4:18 T2 was how bad I had to pee. Twenty-two miles is a long way to bike when you have to go! After the awesome volunteer dumped out my transition bag and helped me sort through my gear – THANK YOU! – I ran out of the tent as quickly as I could to a mini-biff. A minute later, I felt much better and was off and running, waving at my cheering family.

My legs didn’t feel that bad, and it felt like I was running far faster than my Garmin said. My first mile: 10:08. Um, I don’t think I’ve seen that split in, hmm, years, so that was a bit of a shock. Regardless, it was one foot in front of the other and before I knew it, I was at mile three, and I felt a slight flutter in my GI system. Some flat Coke (that stuff is magic) and a quick stop at the mini-biff, and I felt better.

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Like the swim and the bike, most of the run flew by. The first half was punctuated by another stop at the mini-biff, chatting with a couple women who were running my 9:15 pace between miles 4-8 and walking through water stops while sipping on flat Coke and water and eating potato chips (I only ate them at one stop because they shredded the roof of my mouth and felt like I’d shoved in 17 cotton balls).

I remember glancing down at my watch about two hours in around 13.1 and being shocked that I’d ran that far already. My family was cheering right around this point, too, which was a huge boost – exactly where I needed it! I made a quick pit stop here to chat and high-five, hand off the three GUs that were annoyingly bouncing in my back pockets and my Oakleys, and take a few pics. My fab sis walked with me for 25 yards or so when I was ready to take off again.

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I started the second loop of the course and made my way through the beautiful trail segment, hoping I wouldn’t see a bear (they warned us in the pre-race meeting that bears roam the woods around Whistler). And, while I didn’t see one there, I did see one along the path by Green Lake about 1.5 miles before the turn around. I vaguely recall someone saying, “Bear,” and when I looked down toward the lime green water, there she was: A real live black bear, clearly overwhelmed with all the people running by. She just sat there, maybe 25 feet away from the path, looking around. I can’t stand running with my phone, but dang it, I wish I would have had it so I could have taken a picture!

They always say you hit the wall of a marathon between miles 18 and 22. I wouldn’t say that I quite hit it, though, because my legs felt fine and actually pretty strong (not a single cramp all day!); it was my GI system that wasn’t happy. I battled with it off and on most of the run and had to duck into a mini-biff four or five times. Thankfully I felt better after each and was able to run jog between aid stations. Lesson learned: Next time, take some immodium and probably drink a bit more water on the bike.

Some IM brain math during the last five miles or so – this was not easy and took forever! – determined if I could keep close to a 10:00-10:30 pace, I’d go sub-12. A lot can happen in five miles, so I tried not to think about it and instead to just focus on moving forward. And, if I met my sub-12 stretch goal, it would be icing on the cake.

My belly got a bit sloshly between miles 21-22, so I cut back a bit on the Coke and water, which helped a bit. I also drank chicken broth when they brought it out near the end. While I could never stomach this on a normal day, it tasted so good during the race… the sodium!

Thanks to my stomach, I walked far more than I wanted the last few miles and several times I felt like throwing up; I even got a bit dizzy. But, with a mile to go, I mustered the motivation to run – with all the fantastic cheering spectators and the noise I could hear coming from the finish line in Olympic Plaza, it was hard not to.

When I turned the corner and saw the finish line for the first time… there really are no words to describe the feeling of that final stretch. Just overwhelming joy, relief, excitement, some disbelief, pride and so much gratitude… all rolled into one. Two weeks later, I’m still trying to process it, and quite honestly, it sometimes feels like it didn’t happen!

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Reflecting back during the past couple weeks, I don’t know that I could have had a better first IM experience. Nearly everything aligned perfectly on August 25 – the weather, clean water, hill climbing and, for the most part, my nutrition. My amazing family and Nick’s mom, Mary, made the trek to Whistler to support me and were there every step of the way. Seeing Nick on the course four times was a huge boost and left me smiling for miles. Seeing Sonia on the course was awesome, too.

Would I change anything? Hmm… I gave it my all for 11 hours and 51 minutes with not much left at the end. Sure, I wish I could have ran faster – and, I know I have a much faster marathon in me – but overall, I’m thrilled with my day! You know it’s been a good race when you want to ride your bike the next day :)

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A few final thoughts on the run:

  • My stomach. While I had spot-on runs throughout my training and never once had to sprint to a mini-biff, you never know what will happen on race day. My stomach wasn’t overly happy for almost all the 26.2, so perhaps immodium may help during the next IM.
  • Cut your toenails. I’ve been pretty good about keeping mine short during training, and it was no different for race day. It worked, too – my toenails are intact. Even better: No blisters, no cramping and swelling was minimal! Thank you, Osmo Nutrition PreLoad and CEP Compression!
  • Run special needs. I put just a pair of fresh socks and my favorite cookie ever (bittersweet chocolate) in my bag, but didn’t use the socks and couldn’t stomach the cookie until well after the race.
  • The course. Such a beautiful run course with a nice mix of trail and road, shade and sun. And, there was plenty of climbing… 2,000 feet (though I don’t remember it feeling like that much).
  • Course support. There was always an aid station (and a mini-biff!) exactly when I needed one.
  • The volunteers and spectators. Again, they were nothing short of amazing.
  • My coach. I couldn’t have done it without the support and expertise of my coach, Johnny. Despite cursing him during the crazy track workouts and the back nine 2.5-mile sprints (gah!), he prepared me well. I am so grateful.

Run details

Nutrition // Honey Stinger chews (1.5 packs = 240 calories), water and Coke at almost every aid station, chicken broth near the end.

Run gear // Nike Zoom Elite 6, Feetures socks, SOAS Racing kit, Garmin 910XT, IM visor.

Official run time // 4:32:25, 6:27/km (10:23 pace).
Official IM time // 11:51:29, 12th AG, 108th female.

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And, Nick! I am so, so proud of him! He had an INCREDIBLE day, finishing in 9:58! Watch for his race report on his blog soon :)

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  • Romain Rainaut
    09/11/2013 at 7:59 am

    Awesome article – congrats

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:41 pm

      Thank you!

  • Katie T.
    09/11/2013 at 8:13 am

    Congrats on a great first ironman! The picture of you and Nick is an awesome pic – so much love in that photo.

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks so much, Katie! One of my fave pics :) Can’t wait for IM #2! Hope Kona recovery is going well!

  • Amy
    09/11/2013 at 8:24 am

    What a great post to read first thing this morning! I’m inspired to get my butt in gear for some training today. A nearly perfect race-you must be so happy. All the pictures from you entire day were amazing. Congratulations again!!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:43 pm

      Thank you, Amy!

  • Kerstin
    09/11/2013 at 8:33 am

    Awesome post Erin!!! I just love all the joy radiating from you. As you described your experience crossing the finish line I could totally relate and was remembering finishing my first marathon and first Birkie! You can’t really describe those feelings-just carry them with you and they will lift you up! So proud of you!! I got some new nest pro goggles yesterday and am SOO excited. Thought you would appreciate my gogglelove!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:45 pm

      Yes, truly an indescribable feeling! Thank you, Kerstin! Yay for new goggles! That reminds me… I really need a new pair, too!

  • Valerie
    09/11/2013 at 8:34 am

    Congrats again Erin – loved your 3 wrap-ups of the race!!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:47 pm

      Thanks for the all the cheers, Valerie!

  • theamericanedit
    09/11/2013 at 8:39 am

    i adore that picture of you and nick where you are sitting. so, so proud of you my friend! so inspiring!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:48 pm

      Aww… thank you, dear! One of my favorite pics :)

  • blondetriathlete
    09/11/2013 at 9:06 am

    The picture of you and Nick at the finish is priceless. Congrats again! I loved reading all of your recaps.

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:49 pm

      Thank you so much, Meghan!!

  • amikoch
    09/11/2013 at 9:17 am

    Great post, Sista!! xoxo!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:50 pm

      Thank you, Sista! And, thank you SO very much for making the trek to Whistler and supporting me! It means so much :) xoxo!

  • vardotrichic
    09/11/2013 at 9:48 am

    This makes me so excited for our upcoming year of Ironman training and racing!! Thanks for sharing and congrats on an AMAZING race Erin!!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:55 pm

      I’m already super excited for IMWI training, too! Thank you!

  • Courtney
    09/11/2013 at 9:57 am

    Love your photos and your radiance! Way to go, girl! Dream chasing and goal crushing!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:57 pm

      Thank you, Courtney! It was such a happy day! :)

  • Brittany
    09/11/2013 at 10:11 am

    How inspiring! I LOVE that you wanted to bike the following day. Glad you had a great race and enjoyed reading all about it!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 10:58 pm

      Days are better on the bike :) Thank you, Brittany!

  • Page
    09/11/2013 at 10:16 am

    AWE! You look so incredibly happy! Congrats on an amazing race and enjoy every moment of this great post-IM high! YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:00 pm

      I think I’m still smiling :) Thank so much, Page!

  • Alyssa @ Don't Look Down
    09/11/2013 at 10:26 am

    Wow! Congrats! I loved reading all these recaps.

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:01 pm

      Thanks much, Alyssa!

  • Jocelyn Bergeron
    09/11/2013 at 10:54 am

    I loved reading every bit of your IM recap. Thank you! You are totally inspiring. I’m going to come back to these posts a lot in the next 2 years as I start my journey towards IMLP 2015!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks so much, Jocelyn! It was such a fun journey, and I can’t wait to do it again! You are going to love IM training… so excited for you and look forward to follow your road to IMLP!

  • Corey
    09/11/2013 at 11:26 am

    I LOVE how you are smiling in almost every single picture! I looks like you had so much fun out there! Congrats again and killing it in your first Ironman!!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:04 pm

      It was SO fun, Corey! Thank you!!

  • Beth
    09/11/2013 at 2:53 pm

    Oh my gosh, I LOVE this report and how much you love Ironman. What a great day!!! Congrats! Hoping I can use some of your race day magic in a week and a half…EEK!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:05 pm

      Thank you, Beth! Congrats on IM Tahoe! Seriously, YOU are so inspiring!

  • Leslie @ TriathleteTreats
    09/11/2013 at 3:18 pm

    Nice job!! Way to go on the run!! The GI is tricky especially in an IM!! Way to plow through it!! Rocking time overall!! Congrats!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:07 pm

      Figuring out my GI and what works will be the focus of the off season… it is tricky!

      Thanks so much, Leslie!

  • Danielle @ I Eat Therefore I Run
    09/11/2013 at 3:59 pm

    Great photos Erin! Congratulations once again, you are truly amazing :)

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:08 pm

      You’re so sweet! Thank you, Danielle!

  • Kim Fox
    09/11/2013 at 8:54 pm

    JUST.KEEP.MOVING.FORWARD. Love it girl and YOU DID IT! I love the smiles and the excitement. THANK YOU for inspiring me to reach my limits and exceed them. I can’t wait to hear about what you have planned for your next adventure! Congrats again!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:09 pm

      You are welcome, Kim! And, thank YOU for all the cheers and support!

  • andrea1626
    09/11/2013 at 9:56 pm

    So awesome! Good job and congrats again!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:12 pm

      Thank you, Andrea!

  • Emily Dingmann (@nutritionisteat)
    09/12/2013 at 12:36 pm

    So, SO proud of you!!!!! I absolutely love those pictures of you sitting when you just finished and then with Nick. Congrats again!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:15 pm

      Thank you so much, Emily! :)

  • Kendra
    09/12/2013 at 1:08 pm

    Great post!! I never knew about the magic of flat Diet Coke. Congrats again – I’m so inspired to take on more next summer for races!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:17 pm

      Yes! Coke is a fantastic pick-me-up and stomach settler! It helped so much – and, was one of the few things I craved after a long, hard day of training.

      Thank you, Kendra! Hope to meet you at some races next year!

  • hyedi
    09/12/2013 at 2:54 pm

    Wow! Think about how far you’ve come (specifically related to your injury and running!) Amazing. Simply amazing :) Congrats, friend. So proud of you!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:18 pm

      Thanks so much, friend! Still a ways to go on the running, but it’s definitely come a long way!

  • ktfit
    09/14/2013 at 12:00 pm

    Wow!!! Erin, what an incredible day!!! I have suffered with GI problems too, and definitely getting enough fluids on the bike have helped me. 12th AG and sub 12 at your first IM?!?! You have places to go friend!!!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:20 pm

      Definitely didn’t hydrate enough… something to work on in the off season! Thanks so much, Katie!!

  • Luv What You Do
    09/15/2013 at 12:38 pm

    You two are incredible!!!
    Before my first marathon my biggest concern was my stomach. It is such a tough line between too little and too much hydration and food and I already have a finicky stomach to begin with.

    I can’t believe you saw a bear. That is so cool! Keep living the high!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:22 pm

      Thank you, Jen! Definitely will be further dialing in my hydration + nutrition during the off season and build to IMWI! I can’t believe I saw a bear, too!

  • Candice
    09/15/2013 at 6:55 pm

    you look sooooo happy in your pics! love it!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:23 pm

      I’m still smiling! Thank you, dear!

  • Change of Pace
    09/15/2013 at 9:35 pm

    I love, love, love your description of what you felt running down the finishing stretch. So perfect. As are your run happy photos!
    Congratulations on an amazing Ironman! Hard to believe it was your first; you absolutely dominated it!
    And a huge congrats to Nick, too! I’d love to read his race report!

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:28 pm

      It’s such a hard feeling to describe… so, so amazing, though! I’m sure you can relate :)

      Thank you so much! And, big congrats to you, too, girl!

  • penelope
    09/22/2013 at 5:45 pm

    Amazing race, Erin! Congrats on the solid race and enjoy the time for relaxing! :)

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:29 pm

      Thanks so much, Pen!

  • Jennifer Schaffner
    09/23/2013 at 4:41 pm

    This is about the best collection of finish and post-IM finish photos I have ever seen. Congrats on a great day! So impressive for your first time out.

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:32 pm

      Thank you, Jen! It was fun to write and I know I’ll come back to them during IMWI training :) Congrats on your fantastic race at Canada, too! You crushed the run!

  • Kristen
    09/27/2013 at 11:49 am

    so awesome! congratulations!!! such an amazing accomplishment :)

    • erin
      10/21/2013 at 11:35 pm

      Many thanks, Kristen!

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  • Amanda Jorgenson
    06/18/2016 at 7:11 pm

    Erin – After chatting with you today, I came home and read your race report on Whistler! Thanks for sharing your experience there – I’m excited to check it out in person. I also read your 2015 Wisconsin report – I was there also, but dang you had some real obstacles to overcome with your chip and bike issues!! Great job and good luck in Kona this year!

    • erin
      06/25/2016 at 7:37 am

      Hi, Amanda! Yeah! Thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad our paths crossed at Grandma’s :) Best of luck at Whistler… so excited for you! I’ll be cheering for you from afar! Ha… right?! Wisco was crazy last year, but it definitely taught me a LOT and was a huge deposit in the mental toughness bank :) Hope to see you again soon!

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