Ironman Canada 70.3 was such a challenging and awesome race!! It was a sufferfest for me, because I had some pain and nutrition issues, but I’m still going to sign up for this race again in 2018. We got to explore Whistler in the summer time, and have a mini race vacation, a race-cation. It was a Team Betty takeover, with 15 of us racing. A few friends were also racing, so it was awesome to have so many familiar faces.
The 70.3 shared the same course as the 140.6, and it was so awesome. We had amenities like wetsuit strippers, change tents, and sunscreen applicator volunteers. It was so luxurious! The race is also very spectator friendly, I saw my hubby 8x over the course of the day. Seeing Justin, our friends, as well as so many of my team mates was really special. Special thank you to Betty Designs for making sure we look amazing out there on the race course.
I was thrilled heading into this race. I felt fresh, I felt strong, I felt ready! Transitions were in separate places and had to be set up the day before, so there wasn’t much to do on race morning but bring nutrition and swim gear.
We got up around 530am. I felt so rested and ready to go. Since we weren’t racing until 9am, I thought I’d be able to manage 2 breakfasts. On a regular day, I have breakfast and am hungry again at 9am. So I started with oatmeal. I didn’t feel like eating, and I should’ve listened to my body. It was such a mistake. Eating created a huge knot in my stomach which ended up bothering me all day. Thinking it would pass, we packed up to head to T2 to catch the shuttles that would bring the athletes to T1. Justin then walked from T2 to swim start.
I dropped my favourite running hat into my T2 bag, and went to get body marked. I ran into a friend and we chatted on the bus all the way to T1. So happy we had that conversation, because I didn’t get a chance to preview the back half of the course so I had no idea what to expect. I knew it would be hilly, but I couldn’t visualize it until after our chat.
Since the 70.3 didn’t start until 9am, we bummed around T1 for so long. Put my food and water bottle onto my bike. Chatted with girls who were racked nearby. Watched the full 140.6 athletes start their day. The 70.3 got some time in the water before the race, so I made sure to get in and swam to the first buoy and back. Alta Lake was the perfect temperature, and the water was so clean and fresh. The lake was pretty calm, but it would change quite a bit during our race.
The swim is a rectangle. I started closer to the back, around the 40 min swimmers. I was hoping to find some fast feet to hang onto for a better pace than my own. It took a few minutes to get into the water, and I was feeling pretty calm. I swam straight out towards the yellow buoys, and found myself swimming close to the inside line the entire time. Got caught behind slower people a few times. Laughed at myself because I saw one person backstroking faster than I was front crawling. I generally enjoyed the swim out towards the first turn. I got a couple mouthfuls of water but thought it was due to poor body rotation. I hadn’t noticed yet that the waves were picking up.
Once I hit the first turn, it got a little choppy. Once I got to the next turn, I peeked at my watch and saw it was at 30 minutes. Then I looked around me and noticed it was a little quiet, and how wavy the water was. I kept swimming and I could feel every wave. I was starting to get nervous about my time, so I picked up the pace. Then the buoys started to feel farther and farther apart, so I got a little more nervous. Reaching the last turn buoy was a huge relief, because it looks like a short, straight shoot to the finish. But this is where the swim got really interesting. The water was super choppy and it was really windy. It was my hell.
Luckily in training, Leana and I went for a horrible swim at Kits. It took us forever to get to Kits Beach because of traffic, so I committed to swim at least an hour even though I just wanted to go to splash around and get some open water time. The waves were huge that day. It took us 40 min to swim 400m. I’m sure Leana could’ve swam a lot farther, but she’d wait while I panicked every 10 strokes and stopping to tread water and calm down. So while the last turn at the swim in Alta Lake sucked big time, I told myself to HTFU and keep going because I had been through worse.
It was all smiles on the swim exit. I gave someone a high-five, and proceeded to the wetsuit strippers. I didn’t wear the straps on my bib shorts during the swim, so I held onto my pants to make sure they didn’t come off. I got my bike bag headed into the change tent. It was pretty quiet inside the tent so I had a volunteer all to myself. As I exited the change tent, there were sunscreen applicator volunteers, so I let them spray me down. I hurried over to my bike, and headed toward the exit. The mount line was surprisingly a bit busy, so I made my way to the left side and peddled away.
I left my bike geared down, so that I would take it easy out of T1. It was a scenic ride past Alta Lake out to Highway 99. Popped some Tums, hoping it would sort out my stomach, and then later sipped on my liquid nutrition. As we got onto the highway and headed towards Callaghan Valley, my hips and deep in my hamstrings started to hurt. I tried moving around on my saddle and stretching on the descents. When it didn’t seem like the pain was going away, I started to get upset because now I was distracted from enjoying the bike course and scenery.
The pain in my hips and hamstrings finally ended after about 30km, but my stomach pain wouldn’t let up. Any time I sipped on my liquid nutrition, my stomach would protest and hurt even more. So I picked up some course nutrition. Managed to get down half a pack of Shot Bloks and a vanilla gel. After debating on making myself throw up, I attempted to around the 70km mark, with no success. Then I just dumped my liquid nutrition and decided that Gatorade and water would have to do. Always for fun, I packed Ghirardelli chocolates in my bento box, and I was so happy I did. I was able to get down a small square of caramel chocolate. It was only 60 calories, but it was a great pick me up. There were some great descents on the north side of Whistler towards Pemberton, so I made sure to enjoy them because they wouldn’t be so fun on the way back.
All in all, I managed to get in maybe 600+ calories by the time I finished on the bike. I was aiming for 1,100+ calories. So that calorie deficit had me on the verge of tears quite a few times. At one point, I actually started to see stars and my vision got a blurry. So that wasn’t fun but I survived. Since the bike course is 2 lollipops, it was so nice to see so many of my fellow Team Betty girls and other racers coming and going. It was uplifting to see so many familiar faces, and it made the time go by much better. I also saw Justin and our friends quite a few times too! So despite the pain, I really loved the bike course and experience. It was pretty hot and windy too, but I didn’t notice because my stomach hurt so much.
It was really quick to get myself out of my cycling kit and into my tri onesie. I threw on my favourite racing hat, shoes, and race belt, and I was off. Justin was cheering me on out of T2, so I went over to give him a kiss and told him I’d still be a while until the finish.
I didn’t pack any nutrition because I was planning on Coke and water. When I made my way to the first aid station, I immediately grabbed a coke, and that made my stomach hurt too!! I was really counting on the familiarity of Coke on my stomach. It was settled, this day would stay hard. The beginning of the run course was pretty quiet without many spectators, so I sniffled and ran/walked, trying to hold back tears of frustration. My fellow team Amelia was out cheering, and she jumped up to give me a hug and I just started crying. I was so happy to see her, but so upset in that moment. She gave me a huge hug and sent me on my way. So I ran a bit more, and when I was far enough away, started to cry again hehe. 🤣
Eventually, something clicked and I decided to buck up and finish strong. The course finally got more busy, with more racers and people around. The run course was gorgeous, and went past Lost Lake and then up to Green Lake. Part of the run course was on dirt trail, and some on concrete. On some parts we ran alongside the highway, so we could see the full distance Ironman racers heading back into Whistler. I took ice at most aid stations to put down my trisuit. and it was divine. I ended up being able to get in tiny sips of Coke and water. Some people said the run course was pretty hilly, but I really didn’t think so.
As I started to approach the finish line, all my pain went away. I high-fived people and soaked in the finish. I couldn’t find Justin, but he got this great photo of me!
Loved this entire experience!! I woke up Monday morning and decided I’d be racing this one again. Ironman 70.3 Canada was a great character builder. I wish I hadn’t got upset so much, but I didn’t give in and kept soldering on. Even if you are suffering big time, you can fake it til you make it. I made sure to smile all day, especially when it got tough. And guess what, it totally works!! I’m already making plans for Whistler 2018, can’t wait.