The short of IRONMAN Canada: It wasn’t my day.
I gave everything I had and then some, but came up short of my goal (which was, no surprise, a Kona spot).
I know I should be proud – and I will be eventually – but when you have really high expectations of yourself, set big goals and train your ass off for months, to come up short… well, it hurts. A lot.
But what did I expect? My race was the outcome of the stories I told myself for much of the build: that I would have rather lazed in the hammock than slog through three 80-minute intervals during a long ride. I fought for so many of those intervals, my internal dialogue I have to do this rather than I get to do this. I lost the bike love. I focused too much on things out of my control, which took the joy out of the journey. And I let myself get in my head – the worst possible place you can be.
I never want to go into a race feeling like that again. And you can bet I never will.
With that, a few race day details on my second slowest IM ever…
Race morning started kinda like any other – an early alarm, coffee, a not-big-enough breakfast, Imodium, Midol (ugh). My cycle started Tuesday, so I felt like garbage Thursday and Friday (constant borderline migraine). I definitely didn’t feel like my sharp ready-to-go self on race morning, either, but I did my best to ignore it.
Since the race, I’ve re-read part of Roar by Stacy Sims for some insight into hormones. While I was in the lower hormone follicular phase, that doesn’t mean my hormones didn’t have an impact. Estrogen spikes during this phase, too – typically higher than during the luteal phase – which can have a pretty big impact on how you feel (or at least it does for me most months). Because of that, it wasn’t the ideal time for my A race. I’m not solely blaming my day on my cycle, but I honestly think it was a big factor in how it all played out (nausea = can’t eat = no calories on the run).
Swim start at Alta Lake – the most beautiful swim venue.
Race day – and really, every day – reminders.
Anyway, it was a stunning morning at Rainbow Park. Not even a ripple on Alta Lake. About 20 minutes before go, full of race day jitters, I shimmied into my sleeveless ROKA (bought the week prior to the race because of my full-sleeve wetsuit anxiety), which turned out to be perfect. From the get-go, I settled into a steady rhythm, fully in tune with the water just inside the buoys. Both loops flew by and before I knew it, I was approaching the beach. I spotted Nick right at swim out – he scored a media pass thanks to awesome Christine – and couldn’t stop smiling. I knew I had a great swim (a PR of 1:05!) because I entered T1 with speedy Beth.
The bike started out solid, climbing and descending the Callaghan Valley. But around mile 20, when I shoved part of a waffle in my mouth… OMG… gag and near vomit. That’s certainly never happened on the bike, and so soon?! WTF. I knew then it was gonna be a long day. That said, it didn’t make me let off the gas. This course is spectacular, and my legs felt amazing. And my Argon 18? Pretty sure it was built for Canada’s 6,000+ feet of climbing and screaming fast descents (clocked my fastest speed ever – 50.3 mph! – on the descent into Pemberton, and it was amazing).
My gagging/nausea issues continued the entire ride (no surprise because nausea is normal during my period). Every time I tried to eat, I could only swallow with a drink of water, and even that was difficult. And at one point I had to spit out my favorite Skratch chews. My stomach just wasn’t having it. But my legs continued to grind right on my power target. The climb back from Pemberton is no joke – part horrible, part awesome. And for all 20 windy miles of it, I thought long and hard about pulling the plug in T2. Not only did I feel awful and nauseous, I was also terribly low in calories (maybe 900 – half my target). How the hell would I run and finish a marathon?!
As I rolled into T2, I knew two things: one, that I was near the top of my AG, and two, that I at least had to try. How could I not? I felt pretty terrible from the first step, but somehow managed to string together a few on-pace miles. By the time I saw Nick at 10k I was going downhill fast and holding back tears. After some encouragement and learning I was in first, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and pounding the Pepsi. How long could I hang on?
Holding back tears at 10k.
At the halfway point, I knew. The nausea was full-on awful and I couldn’t hold it any longer: vomiting so violent I’m pretty sure I pulled an oblique. How fun. But I kept moving forward – scared and sad – because I knew I was losing time.
As painful as the last nine miles were – there’s nothing more demoralizing than having a 13-minute lead and then running your slowest IM marathon ever, watching your dreams disappear – there was a bright spot: Running the last six miles with Caroline. I’m sorry it wasn’t your day, either. But know this: You’re a gem, and don’t ever give up. #bloodsweattears sisters always. The next time we race together, it’s gonna be a different story. Deal?
Somehow found IM finish line #7 – and still smiling (but only because it meant I could stop moving and get some much needed sodium – and vomit again – in the med tent).
What triathlon’s all about.
To my squad – THANK YOU. Team Coeur Sports, you make the best women’s tri apparel around, but most importantly, you created a community of strong, inspiring and uplifting women. I’m humbled to be a part of it. And the rest of my team – you make training and racing possible. Christine – thank you for everything, from your warm hospitality (and hammock!) to putting on such a top-notch race. Coach Andy, thank you for everything, including stretching me well beyond my comfort zone day in and day out this year. Sorry if I wasn’t always fully in it. And sorry I couldn’t execute this race as planned. And Nick. There aren’t words to express my gratitude or how much you mean to me, so I won’t even try.
What would I do without this guy? My everything – in sport and in life ♥
Now, can I have a redo?