My first half-ironman of 2009 was this past Sunday in beautiful Oliver, BC. The weather leading up to race day was fabulous with temperatures reaching into the low 30's. Race day was ideal, with some clouds in the morning and the high reaching about 22C.
Here's how it all went down...
Race morning I woke up 5 mins before my alarm went off at 5am. I had a good sleep and only awoke one time, so I felt refreshed and ready to go in the morning. Hugo and Gucci got up with us and were running wild around the house, very excited to be up early! We planned to leave the house at 5:45am, but Geoff misplaced the car keys and we had to search around for them a bit, putting us out the door about 10 mins behind schedule.
We arrived at the race site with plenty of time to spare. Bikes were checked in the night before, which is always a good thing. The rest of the hour was uneventful except for me losing my timing chip on the walk from the chip table to my bike. I backtracked all the way to the table, where someone informed me that a volunteer had found it and was looking for me. So I headed back to my bike where the kind volunteer who had found my chip was patiently waiting.
The men were scheduled to start at 7:30am, the women at 7:35am. Geoff and I wetsuited up and headed over to the lake, which was a looonngg walk from the transition! There was a slight delay in starting the race, so I made use of the time by swimming around a bit and getting warmed up. I was very calm and not nervous at all, as my main goal for the race was to have fun and enjoy myself. 5 minutes after the men started, we were off!!
Swim - 2.0km
The swim was fantastic. This was the best-marked course I think I have ever swum, as there was a buoy set up at least every 300m, so it was very easy to sight and navigate for the one loop. I went out hard and had clear water at the beginning, until I began to catch the tail-end of the men's wave at about 300m in. After this, I settled into a good rhythm and the rest of my swim was spent focused on passing the men as efficiently and quickly as possible. This becomes a new sport in itself as you have to pick the best line to pass each swimmer, and anticipate which way the swimmer is going to go, as many people do not swim in a straight line so they can cut you off as you are passing!
I felt very comfortable during the swim and pushed it at a decent pace, coming out of the water with a lead of a few minutes.
Swim - 26:50 (1st female) This was a PB for me for a 2km swim. *I found out later that the swim course record is actually 26:49 so I missed it by only 1 second!! D'oh!
The run to transition was very long, about 500m! I felt surprisingly good while running, and once I made it to my bike my transition went very smoothly.
Bike - 93km
I went as hard as I could from the get-go! I felt strong and powerful the first part of the bike and focused on passing men or keeping the men who went by me in sight. The highway section had a nice tailwind, but then the back country road section was all into a headwind, which was of course stronger on the second loop! All of the hills were contained in the second section. The bike course is deceivingly hard and started to take its toll on me during the second loop. I did not see any women until about 42km in, when I was passed by a very speedy lady (who ended up breaking the bike course record)! I didn't see any women after that until about 8km into the run. More on that later.
My second loop of the bike was quite a challenge, as my quads became very sore and my left hip nearly cramped up at one point, and I noticed my lower back was super sore after only about 40km. With my legs being that sore, I wasn't sure how the run was going to pan out! I definitely slowed down during the second loop and felt like I didn't have as much power and strength. I was glad to roll into transition and get off my bike in second place! The transition was quite funny as there was a lady with a videocamera filming my transition and asking me questions about how my run was going to go while I tried to tie my shoelaces (I forgot to put speed laces on my shoes, so I wasted some time double-knotting my laces!).
Bike- 2:41.14 (10th female, 2nd in age group)
Run - 21km
There was a lot of support the first km out onto the run with many spectators cheering, it was awesome! I felt pretty good the first couple km's, which was unfortunately short-lived! I was so incredibly thirsty throughout the run, and my main goal turned into making it to the next aid station so I could drink some water! I kept taking my salts in and tried to have Gatorade at the aid stations. I soon began walking through the aid stations. I experienced the usual stitches/cramps in my ribs and stomach, and the very familiar overall feeling of overworking at a pace that did not match my effort! The run course is 2 loops and there is one hill about 9km in. I got passed by a woman between 7 and 8km and was happy that I made it that far without anyone catching up!
I continued to press on and work through the discomfort I was experiencing. This time even though I struggled (again) throughout the run, I kept a good mindset and didn't worry or become preoccupied each time a woman went by. Normally it is very demoralizing and disheartening for me to gain a lead in the swim/bike only to watch it slip away at the end of the race during my weakest discipline; when there is nothing I can do to stop it from happening as the people passing are stronger runners than I. I had a different attitude about it this time, as I knew I was doing the best I possibly could and could not do any more.
Near the end, I saw a woman who had previously gone by me just up ahead who appeared to be struggling more than I was. With about 100m to go, I started to sprint (actually I'm not sure if you would call it a 'sprint' or not) and went by her! I felt so happy to be done and proceeded to make my way over to the table with drinks and fruit and drink as much water as I could to quell my thirst.
Run - 1:53.08 (8th in age group)
Total: 5:06.00 (10th female overall, 1st/42 in age group)
I found out later that I won my age group! Technically I was 2nd, but the first place winner got bumped to the top 5 overall for the prize money category. We didn't stay for the awards as the dogs were there and they weren't starting for a few hours, but I found out they had some sweet prizes for winning your age group - I won Oakley sunglasses and wine glasses! Cool!
Overall I'm very happy with my race. It was a challenging day but a good one! Geoff had a tough day out there but finished strong and will be ready to kill it at the Great White North in a few weeks! And my brother's friend Bill finished his first half-ironman and was happy with his race!
Sorry I have absolutely no pictures to go along with the post but I will try and post the race photography pictures when they are available.
Bye for now!