I signed up for IM Vic 70.3 as part of a race package with IMCA. The 70.3 was not the “A” race, rather a long brick day on the way to Whistler. A nutrition, gear, and progress check. And an opportunity to go out and have some fun, in the midst of weeks of building and volume in preparation for Whistler. I threw my hat into the ring for the Issaquah sprint tri, the week before the 70.3. I couldn’t resist, its just down the road from my house and a good opportunity to shake things up a bit. I had a fun time and ended up 3rd in my very competitive age group (I know some of these ladies, and they can fly!).
I took the ferry from Anacortes to Sidney, B.C., which worked out great. There I met my race buddy and teammate, Edytte, at our hotel in B.C. We had a small kitchen and a deck in which we could hang our wetsuits and stash her bike (mine stayed in the car). The logistics for this race are tricky, as there is very little parking at the event site, so we took advantage of Friday registration and bike check-in. Hello, long lines! It was 2 1/2 hours later when we finally did our practice swim in Elk Lake (water temp 72…a bit on the warm side but pretty darn nice). We stuck around for the race briefing then headed back to town for some dinner.
Saturday, we did a dry run with the shuttle bus and checked on the bikes. Then back to the hotel to lay around and do as little as possible. We found an Old Spaghetti Factory a few blocks away for dinner at 4pm. In bed by 7pm, read a little, then asleep by 8pm.
We set 3 alarms so we would be sure to be up at 3am. It wasn’t so bad, a little coffee and small breakfast (peanut butter and banana, my usual race morning fuel) and we headed out to park at the elementary school for the shuttle to the start. Body marking, then into transition. I took my bike to the tech tent for one last tire pressure check. Had some Plow On gum, then one Ucan (I had mixed 2 scoops of Ucan in a small bottle of coconut water, and drank half, the rest I would save for T2). A few trips to the porta pottie, said good-bye to Edytte (her wave started earlier than mine – 6:09am versus my 6:24 start). It was a beautiful morning. I heard the race announcer say that my age group (women, 40-44) was the largest of the entire race. This leads me to my other goal for the race. Let it all go and have fun. No obsessive looking at other people’s calves on the bike. That’s my least favorite part of the race….getting passed on the bike. I can swim pretty good and run pretty good, but I lack a little on the bike (although if I have a good run generally I can catch up and even pass some people in my AG). My goal was to remember, this is my race, I’m only competing against my last 70.3 time. What I really wanted out of the day, was to practice the fueling plan I had put together (all Ucan with one packed of TRS for sodium on the bike), relax, and have a fun time.
The swim was great. I love open water swimming. I don’t mind being around a lot of thrashing bodies (although I do try to sight and swim the path of least resistance). I did get whacked one time straight into my right eye goggle. Crap! Would this leave a bruise? The pain went away after a couple minutes and I had a strong swim time that pleased me. 1:28 per 100, although the timing mat didn’t stop the swim until a bit of a run back up to transition so my race time is 59 seconds longer (no biggie).
T1, saw Edytte (our bikes were very close, yay!), we wished each other good luck and were outta there. The bike course was crowded, in the shade at first, with lots of rollers and not a lot of flat (around 3000 elevation total). Overall, I liked it, except some stretches that were pretty rough and bumpy. As it was a 2 loop course, there was plenty of traffic to navigate. At one point, some guy on disc wheels passed me, followed by another guy on a Cervelo who said something like “I want what he has.” I was like “yeah, lol.” Then Cervelo guy got right in front of me and started squirting something out of his water bottle. What? Why is he doing that? Oh….wait…that’s not water. I backed off but not before I ended up with some splashes. I’m a big fan of peeing on the bike, although whenever I do it in a race, I make damn sure no one is anywhere near me!
Bike went by fast. I completed my nutrition according to the plan, within 15 or 20 minutes of the finish (one bottle with 3 scoops of Ucan and one packet of TRS) and water as desired from my other bottle. I was feeling pretty good. Stomach felt ready to run. Pulled into T2, a quick change of shoes, and changed from my tri top to my running tank (from the Secret Idiot gift exchange…black/white/gray super soft Asics running tank that I am in love with) and my trusty Boston 2012 white visor instead of sunglasses (the run is on a shady trail). Hit the porta pottie and was outta there in under 3 minutes.
The run. The run! Left transition, passed the beach and the finish, then onto the trail which loops around the lake twice, with a little out and back up a hill to make it 13.1. Felt pretty good, a little brick-y, but that is typical. I focused on relaxing and good form. The left side of my lower back was a little tight, but I knew that would fade as my run legs came back to me. The first few miles I spent just settling into it and gradually all the bricky-ness left my legs and they came back to life completely. My stomach felt great. My body felt great. I settled into a very comfortable high zone 2/low 3 effort and didn’t much look at my Garmin. By mile 4, I was gliding over the trail, picking up my feet over roots or playing around with the stones on the ground. My Kinvaras give me the perfect combination of cushioning and ground-feel. It was incredible to be gliding along that trail in unison with the earth and my breathing. I didn’t have many thoughts in my head, although some lyrics from one of my favorite running songs drifted in occasionally (Break with the past, set the Nexus free at last…) which went on as mantra here and there. I decided to stay in that zone until mile 10 and then do a check in. I like to suffer in a race, so if I felt good at 10 miles, I would bump up the effort and do just that (I also heard the voice of my coach in my head, reminding me that I like to race hard). It was probably 75 degrees (I’m from Seattle, this is warm for me) but not bad in the shade at all. At every aid station I would take a water, drink a little, pour the rest on my head and neck, toss the cup in the garbage (mad running skills!) and be off. I was feeling awesome by mile 10, so I decided to crank up the effort level so I could enjoy the exquisite pain. I negative split the run and had fast last mile. At the finish I heard the announcer call my name. Stopped my Garmin. 1:48! I was pretty happy with that. One minute faster than my last 70.3, when I was in the greatest run shape of my life. Take that, old self! I had pushed hard the last 1/4 mile so there was a moment of “wow, maybe I’m going to puke,” but it passed quickly. Grabbed a cold water and headed to transition so I could text my husband, then let Coach Brandon and Coach Kristie know I was done. I ended up at 5:20:14 which I was very happy with. But more than anything, I had a fantastic race and a helluva rocking good run.
After, I headed down to the trail to watch for Edytte. She had an awesome bike split and was fast on the run. So fast, I missed her first loop but was there at the finish. It was a great day for us both and after getting the bikes back to the hotel and showering, we went to the pub down the street and had a pig out on nachos, salad and fish & chips (I enjoyed a lovely Amber ale too!).
This was a great race that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a 70.3 this time of year. Thanks to my husband for holding down the fort while I was away. Thanks to my coach, Brandon Wood, for letting me know I had it in me. Thanks to Coach Kristie and all my teammates at KR Endurance. The camaraderie and inspiration you all provide is second to none! Next stop….Ironman Canada!