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puzzle pieces

Monday, August 6, 2012

Calgary 70.3~ My First HalfIronman


I crossed yet another race off my "race bucket list" last weekend.
A Half Ironman which I started and finished...
all 70.3 miles of it!

Out of all the race events I have ever done...this has been the farthest, longest, and most fun.
Maybe it was because I feel I trained forever and I was glad to finally put it to use.
Maybe it was because after crossing the finish line I felt I could do it all over again.
Or maybe...I was just glad to accomplish something I was determined to do. And I actually smiled almost the entire way through it!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ironman Calgary 70.3....
was a Point to Point race....meaning a very long Saturday of sitting in on the race meeting, package pickup, packing up transition and dry bags, and then making my way out to Ghost Lake to drop off T1 bag and my bike.
All of it was so new to me, my longest triathlon being an Olympic distance...and being an Ironman sanctioned event didn't help calm my nerves any.
As long as the day was...and for how nervous I felt, it was calming to know I was doing this race with 2 good friends ...and the scenery which surrounded this event was absolutely amazing.

I actually was able to sleep a bit before my alarm went off at 3:45am, and except for a bit of panic when I realized what I was about to do in a few hours, I felt okay...and was able to choke down half a bagel with peanut butter and a bit of banana with some coffee. Body marking and bus pickup was across the city, so by 4:50 I was driving..in the dark...wondering what was to come of the day.
Riding out to the lake with a bus load of athletes who all looked fitter than I, caused me a bit of panic as well....but I tried to focus on where we were driving and where the bike route would be.

Once we arrived at the lake, it seemed there was hardly enough time to fill my bottles on my bike, stock it with my nutrition, pump the tires, stand in line for the washroom, don my wet suit, and get into the lake for the in-water Start. I felt extremely panicked thinking they would blow the horn before I finished all I had to do, but looking back- I'm thrilled I didn't have time to think!
I was in the water maybe a minute before Start time...and before I knew it there I was, beginning my first Half Ironman event in the middle of over 200 other women in my age group. I can happily say my fear of getting kicked or swam over never occurred.

The swim segment is always unnerving to me.
I know I can swim.
I love to swim.
But the unknown takes over my brain and I let my thoughts win out.
Every time.
So for the first 600m my main goal seemed to be just to stay above water and calm my beating heart.
I talked to myself more in that few minutes than I ever have before.
My head was yelling to just go!! while my body wanted to stop and yell HELP!
All negative thoughts crowded out the excitement and for that short bit of time I called myself stupid for even thinking I could do this.
But....I conquered the monster called irrational fear...and within  minutes I found my rhythm and started to breathe like a normal person.
At one point I do remember wondering where my cheer squad was, and actually stopped to look up along the bridge before I swam under it just to see if my kiddos were there. Of course when I saw them I had to make sure they knew just which one of these swimmers in the pink swim caps I was.
So unlike me it was to stop and wave- but I had to. For some reason I needed the comfort of knowing they knew that  I knew -they were there.
(Besides that...my goggles needed to be cleared;)

GHOST LAKE- WATER TEMP. 15+ Celsius

Molly-girl took a picture of me as I swam under the bridge.
I'm glad I stopped to wave;)


After I found my swim legs and arms...I just went. And I actually enjoyed the swim.
There was one point at about the halfway mark when I heard a lady choking beside me and stopped to make sure she was okay.
I remember thinking that if she couldn't catch her breath...how in the world would I manage to call a kayaker over in time for help?!
When she quit sputtering and found her voice, I carried on and came out of the swim:

1.2 mile swim  in 43:40
~~~~

Wet suit stripping.
I had heard of it, but had never seen it occur.
I have always wondered why one would need help taking a wet suit off.
Now I know.

I felt a tad dizzy from the lake swim, legs felt like jello, and I was trying to catch my breath.
Before I knew it I was sitting down on a mat looking up at 2 people who grabbed arms, legs, and peeled that thing right off of me in seconds. 
My only thought as I looked up at them was how the heck I was going to get up.
But they even did that for me;) 


(Yes. I DID feel as stunned as I look here;))


I took off to my  bag for my bike gear, ate half a banana, got on my bike, 
and started the 94km cycle into Calgary.  
Transition took a little too long, but under 5 minutes was fine with me for a first time.
(I am planning to knock off a few next time around.)





The bike was amazing. 
I felt invincible...as long as I didn't think of the potential of a flat tire. Or 2.
And the scenery was absolutely incredible.
At times I almost forgot I was supposed to be racing. 
Almost.

My greatest worry- aside from a flat tire- was taking in enough nutrition to get through the bike, and then have it carry over into the 21km run.
I have played with nutrition before while training, and even the weekend before during my 175km bike tour. 
But nothing has ever seemed to work for me. 
I always end up drained before the bike is even over .
This time...whether it was adrenaline or just luck, I managed to do it right.
Over the  3 hours I was out on the bike route I consumed something every half hour. 

Nutrition included:
granola bars,
gels,
and fruit snacks.
I also consumed an entire bottle of water, and a bottle of Perform.

My average speed was 29.54km/hr, and for a 94km distance which included some very "sweet" inclines, I was happy with this.



94 km in 3:10:56
 ...and I smiled the entire time:D
(TRANSITION TIME (bike to run):  2:50 min)
~~~~

Getting off the bike- I felt amazing.
I didn't even feel like I had "brick legs", and I'm crediting that to my fruit gummy snacks on the bike:)

If anything, it was more of a mental struggle to think that I now I had to run a Half Marathon...but I pushed it out of my head and pretended I hadn't just swam or biked.
This was merely me taking off for my Sunday long run!

It was encouraging to see my greatest fans along the run course. All 4 of my kiddos were there, and it seemed every time I turned a corner at the start and end of the run route, they were there cheering me on.

It was warm. Really warm.
No, it was hot.

And here is where I have to pull out an 
Amazing Gigantic 
THANK YOU 
to all the volunteers!
There was a total of 8 aid stations along the route, and it's at each one where I was blessed with volunteers handing me water, coke, ice, and cold sponges.
And best of all, they all encouraged us on by name.

I came up with a routine after the first 3 aid stations..
Grab 2 waters, dump one over my head,
drink one,
grab and drink the cola,
grab and dump ice into the front of my tri top,
and 2 sponges got stuffed into the front and back of my top.
I was a running water barrel!

And I felt amazing.
I still think it is due to the calories I continued to take in on the bike route.

Along with the water and coke during the run, I consumed a gel every 40 minutes.
By the end, 
I vowed to never consume another gel 
Ever 
Again.

The last kilometer was the longest kilometer in all my days of running.
I remember halfway through it, a spectator yelled out...

"If you give'er...you'll finish with a sub 6:30!"

That was enough to make me forget that my legs were cramping and I was already feeling thirsty enough to grab ice out of the front of my top!
I "sprinted" as hard as my wooden legs would sprint, and finished the run:

21.1km in 2:26:56
~~~


My goal, which I didn't share with anyone less I miss it by any amount of time,
 was to complete these 70.3 miles in 6 hours and 30 minutes.
My final time:

6:29:02
WOOT!
~~~~~~~~~

This race was amazing. 
From start to finish it was a beautiful course,
I never quit smiling (once I got past the first part of the swim!),
I got to run it with 2 amazing friends,
and I already want to try my swim/bike/running at another one.

A full Ironman is on my race bucket list after all...

~My inspirational race buddies~


~My AMAZING Cheer Squad~
Thanks guys!


22 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

wow, dawn, you are amazing! so glad you could accomplish, not only a finish, but a finish under your goal time, too! and i'm a fan of your cheer squad, too. :)

Bev said...

I love the picture of them stripping off your wet suit!! hahaha...too cute!

darlin said...

Wow, you're an amazing lady Dawn! Congratulations for finishing and beating your personal goal, I don't know how you do it but good on ya! (A prof in Australia wrote that one an exam I wrote and I didn't have a clue what he meant by that! lol)

Cheers.

Robin said...

Well done! A seriously impressive feat...

Buttons said...

Yeah Dawn by the middle of this excellent written account of your tri I was crying because I felt like I was right there with you.
I am so happy for you, you had a goal and you accomplished it.
I loved seeing your family right there with you they must be so proud I know I am for you.
Amazing Dawn I always knew you could do it.
You go girl nothing can stop you now. Great time!!!! Hug B

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

You.Are.Amazing!! Congratulations!

Jayne said...

Ho-ly. Cow. I was worn slap out just reading about it Dawn. Wow. What an accomplishment and good for you! I am in awe of your determination girl. :c)

Cat said...

wow Dawn
congratulations
an amazing accomplishment indeed!

love and light

Miz.November said...

Dawn!! I love that you finished just under your goal time. That is awesome! You are amazing. You may not think it, but you are. The majority of us out here could never even imagine doing something like that. Congratulations.

Farm Girl said...

You are so incredibly awesome. I am so glad you wrote about what you were thinking about as you swam, biked and ran. That is just so incredible. Way to go, I love seeing you meet your goals.
I can't even imagine the swimming part.

Changes in the wind said...

Oh my goodness...what a challenge!!! You are amazing:)

bon bon said...

wow. what an impressive accomplishment! i don't believe "can't" is in your vocabulary! those olympians got nothing on you. ;)
congratulations!!!

Meg said...

Wow, congratulations! That is amazing!

sage said...

What an accomplishment. Congratulations!

Jack said...

Dawn, the word is "Amazing!" With an exclamation point. I felt like I was with you while I read your account. Time for a nap.

Jimmy said...

Congrats Dawn, I can see why you couldn't stop smiling, I bet the smile increased just a bit when you realized you beat the time you were shooting for :^)

Debbie said...

ooohhhh i just love your cheer squad!!

you rock dawn, setting an awesome example for the family!!

Out on the prairie said...

I laughed and even had a few tears try to appear with your family pic at the end. What an inspirational post, congratulations.You are so lucky in many ways, keep up the good life!

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

Wow! you did it...I am proud of you

I'm so not a blogger said...

Congrats, that is amazing!

Julia Ionov said...

Congratulations Dawn! You did it! You're amazing, I'm so proud of you. Keep posting Dawn, thanks!
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tonyb said...

Dawn,

Congrats! on your race, you seemed like you were pretty well prepared , it’s funny how everyone’s story always has challenging points, I finished my first 70.3 and it had it memorable moments., you can read more about it here…http://www.abrandao.com/2012/07/19/my-first-70-3-triathlon/