NorthWestTriman - 2nd Place Age Grouper – How Bad Ass is that?!?!
I know, I know this should have been posted a while ago.
My tale of procrastination is sad so I won’t even try and sell it. Here is the long awaited race report!
First some background or review: the original plan for this event was for me and Joe, my husband to go and do the event together. Joe would race his brother and I would “participate”.
That did not happen for various reasons , suffice it to say I was doing this event/trip/adventure without Joe physically there. What I will say was he was there in spirit along with all the rest of our family and friends and he helped me more than he will ever know on race day.
The Wednesday before I flew out I did my usual group run with my run club and tweaked something in my Right Hamstring. Worrisome but this injury has been on and off for the better part of 6 months.
The next day I ran before I got on the flight and it was still quite sore but nothing I could do about it until I hit London. I started off by flying into London and actually decided to stay 4 days with a great friend, Diane. In all the times of flying to Europe I have never been outside of Heathrow! It as an awesome 4 days, I jammed as much in as possible and she had all the accessories I needed to roll out my hamstring Plus their apartment in Greenwitch is right on the Thames so I did lovely runs every day along the Thames.
After 4 days I flew into La Coruna, Spain to stay with my Brother-in-law, Jim and his family. He is an excellent host and well I love Spain. Jim was racing as well so it was great to have a tour guide to preview the bike course, run course and swim course.
The bike course is a 4 loop course that once you do the 1km climb up to the course from transition there is only one big climb/descent and then just small rollers and fairly flat profile the rest of the way. Run course again the climb out and then it is a flat 4 loop course. The lake looked nice but more on that later. All my practice swims were in the ocean which is absolutely beautiful.
Fast forward to Race day. I felt pretty good, as prepared as I could be. I was anxious but felt confident that I would have a good day - I had done my training.
The race is about a 90 min drive from La Coruna and the skies were clear and the sun was shining and then we turned the corner to go park and I noticed the fog on the lake. The lake was in a small valley and you could not see the lake – I turned to Jim and said “hmm this should be interesting- maybe it is better when you get down to transition”.
We grabbed our stuff and headed down to transition and while not as thick it was still foggy – we could not see the lake. Everyone was putting on wetsuits and getting their gear ready so I did the same. At this point I should note that all announcements were in Spanish. My Spanish is worse than pathetic – I did not need to use the BANOS and I was pretty sure that no one had any VINO with them. So I just stood with the 11 other female competitors – yep only 11 of us in my wetsuit. They were all very nice and smiled a lot at me, finally Jim came and asked me if I understood what they were saying. I told him no but my sense was no swim. He said yes they are saying no swim we will start with a run. Ok- shoot my – so I took off the wetsuit went to the porta potties that were outside transition by the beer garden and when I returned Jim came up and said – they sent out a drone they think it is ok we are going to swim.
Great! Ok back on the with the wetsuit – I should note that it was quite cold because we were standing in fog so I was getting very chilled. As well besides a full distance they have a half distance so they were sending out the half first. We all walked down to the beach and I said good luck to Jim and then within 3-4 minutes of the half starting everyone started talking as we were waiting and I could see swimmers coming back out of the water. Swim cancelled – unsafe – the swimmers could not see the buoys, kaykers could not see swimmers, swimmers were swimming in circles – a total mess.
Back up to transition – I kept on my wetsuit just to stay warm as we had to wait for all the half folks to come back and head out for their run first. Once that happened we were all lined up for our run. The spectators were so nice they could see how cold I was and they were giving me space blankets to stay warm.
At this time Kudos to the race organizers for coming up with a strategy on such short notice and troubleshooting to make sure we still had an event.
The first run was good – my leg was mad but loosened up pretty quick – it was all trail and pretty flat after an initial short climb. I just settled in and ran my pace thinking not too hard you still have a ride and a marathon to do. Hey I always wanted to do an Ultra….
I got back to transition and was quickly on my way out with the bike there were still a few people in transition so I thought not too bad.
As I climbed out and up to the course I realized that in all the confusion of swim/run at the start I managed to hand off a good portion of my nutrition to the family. CRAPPOLA – not as bad as Germany but where I should have had 8 gels and 2 clif bars I had 4 gels and 1 clif bar – sigh. Well at least they have banana’s and I had my Nuun tablets and salt tablets. I sure was not doing myself any favors.
The ride is 4 loops and pretty uneventful well except for the first time I came down the big hill and around the last corner into town I realized with about 20 feet that they had set up barriers cutting off half the road and I was about to collide with them. I am not gonna lie – I thought well it was fun….and hit my brakes as hard as I could hoping I could correct and by some miracle not hit and go over the barriers. Well I am happy to say after a small fish tail and a lot of cursing and Fbombs being dropped I did not hit the barrier and managed to stay upright to the applause of the locals. Umm thanks I think. After that I was a bit more cautious coming down and around that last corner on the other laps. My only other issue - was not a Porta-potty on the bike course – I will attribute this to less than 30 women in both events so I guess it did not occur to the race organizer that the gals might like some privacy. Needless to say by the end of the bike I desperately had to pee, but as I pulled into transition they all said animo, animo and I was like I don’t speak Spanish. Finally an official say you need to move the bike course will be closed soon. So I hustled - racked the bike, changed my shoes and grabbed my run belt and went out on the run course.
It turns out that only one other person was let out on the run course after me the rest would be DNF’d! My goal had been to be off the bike for 7 hours. I had factored in that if I could be off the bike in 7 hours then that would give 5 and half hour for the marathon to get my goal of 14 hours. Of course this was when I thought I was swimming first. Ride done in 7 hours – woot woot, despite almost crashing and stupid headwinds on the last lap. Oh and dropping my tube of Nuun on lap 3 (sigh)- at least I had my salt tabs.
As mentioned I had to go to the bathroom and had no time in transition to go outside of transition to the porta – potties by the beer garden- so running up the 1 km hill to the course was a bit rough. Finally at the 2 km marker I saw a porta-pottie and I almost cried from relief. After a quick pit-stop I was off – I had been training doing 20 min run, 30 sec walk so I fell into my rhythm but it was hard my right leg was not pleased but it was holding up. I was tired and it was quite warm. As I finished the first lap and hit the turn-around for the 2nd lap a massive wave of nausea hit me and I got sick.
This was the 2nd time today – I got sick once while on the bike – not a lot and I did not stop riding but this time I had to stop. I was by a bench and afterwards I sat down on the bench. I am not gonna lie this was a bleak moment for me. I just thought OMG I have to do this loop 3 more times. I have never sat down on the run course during an Ironman – my motto has always been relentless forward progress. I just remember sitting there and thinking –really?!? You know I had a good run – no shame in just stopping. While this was going on – spectators were shouting Animo, Animo again at me – which I have learned is not ANIMAL but roughly translated is get a move on – hustle.
Those who know me know I dedicate all my events to someone/thing and often to remind me and motivate me when I start to feel tired. I write their name or group on my arm so I can look at it when I need to. This event was dedicated to my husband Joe – who is suffering from severe PTSD and my close friend Chris who passed away from Breast Cancer in February. I had written each of their names on my arms. Thank goodness I did because as I was sitting there thinking DONE– I want off the ride and spectators were calling out I looked down at both arms and saw their names and thought to myself – both of these people would do anything to trade places with me right now – GET UP. So I got up and started walking and then Jim came running from the other direction and shouted come on Canada pick it up! Ok you know what lets do 5 min – you can run 5 min. So I started 5 min run, 1 min walk and that is how I moved forward for the next 20km. Relentless forward progress.
I kept glancing at my watch and calculating – at that time I had changed the goal in my mind to just finish. I had kind of let go the PB goal of 14 hours, I just wanted to finish. With 10km to go I thought if you reach deep you will get this done under the 15 hour cutoff and decided time to suck it up and change tactics, plus my watch had died so I had no way to monitor 5 and 1 or 10 and 1 or even how long I was out there and how much time I had left. Here we go - I just would pick a landmark and say run to that and when I got within a foot or 2 I would pick the next point. Run to the stop sign, now to the mailbox, now to the street lamp pole, now to the street sign and so on and so on. I knew I was the last runner on the course the other guy had just passed me (sigh) but I could see a few up ahead. What was unnerving was the bike Marshall right behind me – it was causing me anxiety as I was unsure if he was there as support or there to pull me off the course so I just kind of ignored him and kept pushing.
I should mention at this time my calves and right hamstring were barking VERY loudly. To the point that I was concerned that they would seize up. Nothing I could do but relentless forward motion.
Coming down the final section before heading down the long hill back to the finish I could see Jim, my sister-in-law Kat and the my niece and nephew all shouting. Jim was like you have this you are going to make it- dig. I was like cool – he said how are you feeling and I was honest – my calves are not pleased and I am a little worried about getting down to the finish – hoping I don’t face plant! He said ok we will see you at the finish. At this point my escort had increased to 2 now.
So I looked at my arms and said guys I really need you right now and took the turn to head down to the finish line. It was not pretty but I stayed up right and as I came around for the final 200 meters I crossed the finish timing matt and then the kids and Kat were there to run with me the last 50 metres to the finish arch and time clock with me. That was super special and then as I passed under the clock I looked up and was like what!?!?! I turned to Kat and said did that say 14 hours? She was like yes – yes it did. WHATTTTT!!!! OMG really? I was in shock how is that possible?
So as I was surrounded by the announcer and all the volunteers that wanted a picture with the international athlete from Canada and last official finisher they explained to me that they had to change cut-off to 14 hours because of no swim and the time delays before we started. I really had no idea how close I was to a DNF. Official time was 14 hours - 24 seconds - if I had been 34 seconds longer and I would have been over the allowed time – now I understood the sense of urgency to get me to the finish line.
Wait for it... the best part – I placed 2nd for my Age group so I got a wee trophy – Lol. I know only 2 of us for our age group but as one friend put it – hey you were the only 2 who took up the challenge and did it so you deserve the trophy. It now sits in the living room along with my silver BC Time Trial championship medal.
Overall this as an amazing adventure and experience and would recommend the venue to anyone. I know it was technically not an Ironman because of no swim but it was my first Ultra Duathlon. The Spanish were kind, supportive and just a lot of fun.
Oh and the run streak? Still going completed day 277 today.