Well, we did another half-Ironman (Ironman 70.3 Canada).
The race was in Whistler, which is probably the most beautiful setting for a triathlon in all the land. Mountains, lakes, mountains, lakes, mountains. Seriously, Google image search the race and enjoy all the splendor. Whistler was the home to the 2010 Winter Olympics (shout out to my fellow Olympic lovers), so we got to pose with the Olympic rings and feel like far more impressive athletes.
Eric’s parents came up from San Diego to be our cheerleaders, which was amazing, encouraging, and so helpful (thanks for getting all of our stuff at the end of the race while we aimlessly searched for a bathroom). Looking for Rich and Betsy throughout the race was my biggest source of entertainment, so I can’t thank them enough for making 70.3 miles feel a little shorter.
So, the race was really great for one of us, and all around terrible for the other. And only one of us writes blog posts, so you are privy to the real downer version of the race.
Allow me to set the scene:
-I had a broken toe. Thanks to the worst toe-stubbing incident of my life a few weeks prior, my right pinkie toe was still swollen to 1.5 times its normal size at race time, and wearing a shoe was slightly uncomfortable. Surprisingly, the toe was in the most pain during the swim, when water was crashing into my feet.
-I had some weird virus or allergies (the doctor couldn’t determine the cause) that gave me an emphysema-like cough that was significantly worse anytime I was horizontal. Like, when swimming 1.2 miles.
-We accidentally traveled 10 miles by foot the day before, which I’m pretty sure is not in the pre-race recommendations.
-The swim started at 8:45, but we had to be at the start at 6:45 (thanks to the full Ironman happening on the same day), which meant we had 2 hours of downtime before the race. This made for weird scheduling and a lot of time to just sit (or go to the bathroom every 20 minutes because you are nervous about how long the line will be before the race).
So let’s dive in (swim pun intended).
In general, open water swimming is my least favorite aspect of the triathlon. I actually enjoy swimming in the pool at the gym, with its clear water, easily visible lines, and the comfort that comes with not being surrounded by hundreds of other people in the water. I usually have a little panic in the first few minutes of the swim because you really can’t see anything in open water, and people are basically swimming over each other. It’s slightly terrifying. I don’t think I had that panic this time around (possibly thanks to having some more race-like open water swims under my belt this training season), but there’s a chance I’ve just blocked it out at this point.
As I mentioned before, I had some weird cough that was the worst anytime I was horizontal (sleeping and swimming are my two primary horizontal activities). So, as I started swimming, I immediately started coughing. And you can’t cough very well while swimming. So each time a cough came, I had to stop and cough until it was over. The water was really rough (I don’t remember it actually being windy outside, but for some reason, the water had waves), so each time I coughed, water splashed into my mouth, which made me cough more. Delightful. I actually considered giving up during the swim and just letting a kayak take me back to shore. That’s how rough it was. But, I prevailed and finished the swim only 5 minutes slower than I hoped, despite watching a man throw up into the lake in front of me. Again, delightful.
On the bright side, they had wetsuit strippers in the transition area that pulled our suits off like a breeze. That probably saved me 10 minutes and quite a bit of muscle fatigue (I’ve never figured out the quick wetsuit exit, and I probably never will).
I knew we were in for a bit of a doozy on the cycling portion of the race, with 3800 feet of elevation gain. Did I mention the last 16 miles was one giant hill? At one point, I was passing people while only pedaling at 5 mph. That’s how hilly it was. Luckily, it was incredibly scenic, so the miles of hills didn’t seem that bad. Unfortunately, about halfway through the ride, I started feeling really nauseous. Like, so much so that I almost pulled over to throw up. It was awful. I was thinking it might have been a result of being hunched over my bike for so long, and hoped that I might feel better when I was vertical again.
The moment I got off the bike, I knew the run wasn’t going to go well. I felt so sick, and my back was killing me (I think from gripping the handle bars so intensely during all of the uphill riding). Every step was really painful, and I thought I was going to puke. So I decided to walk the first mile, hoping the nausea would go away. It didn’t. So I walked the second mile. And then the third. There’s a time limit for the race, so I calculated how quickly I needed to move to beat the cutoff. I needed to do 15 minute miles to finish in time. So I walked as quickly as I could, running when necessary to finish each mile in under 15 minutes. Anytime I turned my head to the side (which I wanted to do a lot, since there were mountains everywhere), I felt even worse. I actually stood over a trash can at an aid station and warned a volunteer that I thought I was going to throw up. Turns out I’m a little puke shy, and can’t seem to vomit in front of a crowd of people. But I kept wishing that I would either throw up and have to quit, throw up and feel better, or just feel better altogether and be able to run the rest of the race. None of those happened. Instead, I just cried. Five separate times during the run. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more miserable exercise experience. I ended up walking almost the entire half-marathon, finishing the race about 13 minutes before the cutoff time.
But I finished!
So, while it was a pretty miserable experience for me, Eric did really well and had his best half-Ironman time ever! (My husband is a rockstar and is far more athletic than I will ever be.) I continued to feel nauseous on and off for the next week, so I can’t really say what was up with me.
But hooray for us, because we got to go on our Canadian vacation the next day, which was glorious in every way. So, expect a much more upbeat post coming soon!