I really wish this was a happy race report, but it is not.
If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram then you already know that Ironman Canada ended in a DNF. Honestly I am really disappointed about it, I worked for months to prepare, had been looking forward to it for a LONG time and had planned my year around this race. But it’s also not the worst thing to ever happen to a person, there are so many worse things that could happen in this life. So it’s time to put my big girl pants on, find the lessons that can be learned and move on. Here is the story of my time at Ironman Canada:
The week leading up to the race I watched the weather get worse and worse for race day. At first the forecast was 75 and sunny (perfect!) but the days leading up were chilly and rainy so I worried that the weather would change. That is exactly what happened, race day ended up having the worst weather of the entire week.
We flew into Seattle on Thursday and drove up to Whistler, the drive was stunning and we enjoyed the drive and the sights.
Friday and Saturday were full of the normal pre-race prep. Athlete check in, practice swim in the lake and easy spin on the legs. It rained off and on over the couple of days and was chilly. This caused some pretty high nerves on my part. It really made me realize that I have been a fair weather rider. Sure I can swim and run in the cold/rain but I have never ridden in those conditions. Lesson learned there! I will try harder to get out in non-ideal conditions and figure out what gear I might need. Not surprisingly a waterproof jacket would have gone a long way.
Race morning it was very overcast and lightly sprinkling. I did my normal bike and gear check, it was chilly and dark. I was doing my best to get pumped up but I was a little worried about the day and the deep water mass start. As the race start grew closer I got into my wetsuit and kissed Cory goodbye.
I made my way through the swim arch then into the water, I have never done a deep water start in a race before and this one had thousands of people joining me. Many athletes were hanging out in the shallow water off to the side, I don’t understand this since we were all in wetsuits and treading water doesn’t take much effort. I lined myself up slightly to the outside of the buoys since I have heard that Canada’s swim can be a bit brutal and congested. After bobbing around in the cold water for a few minutes the gun went off and we all started moving. It wasn’t too bad at first, but then all the athletes that were hanging out on shore made their way out with the rest of us. There were people everywhere, no water and nowhere to move. I just tried to (literally) roll with the punches and keep moving forward in the herd. It was definitely slower than I would have liked but it’s a long day so no use worrying about it. After the first turn things opened up and I found some great feet to swim with, he sighted well and was pretty consistent. I followed my feet until halfway through my second lap when I decided that I needed to be going faster so I jumped off to do my own thing. After that I couldn’t find anyone else to follow, looking at my paces I really fell off at that point and I definitely could feel I was working a lot harder. So another lesson learned, don’t leave good feet if you find them!
As I rounded the last turn and made my way towards the swim exit, I was excited to be almost done but nervous about the bike leg. It had started to really pour down rain as we were swimming and I felt really cold in the lake. As I got out of the lake I found some nice wetsuit strippers and headed into the tent.
My T1 time was supper long as my hands were freezing and I had decided to make a full change into warm dry clothes. After the full change and stuffing my gear in the bag I ran out into a full downpour. I grabbed my bike and headed out to the mount line. Almost immediately I was drenched, rivers of water where in the streets and I was freezing.
I am not even sure how far I made it (not far) before pulling off to the side. I was shaking uncontrollably, I couldn’t imagine navigating 10% downhill grades with hairpin turns. This was a pretty low moment for me, I have been looking forward to IM Canada for so long and the conditions were so bad. It was especially hard seeing the courageous athletes blow by me as they continued on in the harsh conditions.
I found Cory, who was also freezing from standing out in the cold and wet all morning and headed back to our condo. A warm shower and crashing on the couch felt pretty dang good but my spirit was a little crushed. After warming up for a bit and grabbing brunch, we decided the best thing to do was to cheer on the other competitors. It was bitter sweet to stand on the course and cheer on the athletes who had endured so much and were headed to their ironman finish in some of the worst conditions I have ever seen. Even though it was a little painful for me it was also inspiring and helped me to refocus on the future, to work harder and keep trying. The worst thing I could let happen is to give up because of one failure.
So now onto the next adventure, I WILL finish an Ironman this year. I have done it before and I can do it again! Up Next Ironman Lake Tahoe.
I cannot imagine the conditions you and all of the other athletes endured that day. I would have probably been in a similar boat if I had raced, as I have little experience riding in cold/rain. Even though it was a tough decision, it was probably the right one. You know yourself and your body best. That’s great that you are heading to Tahoe in a few weeks to take on IM Tahoe. I hear it’s a beautiful course. Hopefully the weather and conditions will be in your favor. 🙂
Thanks so much Kristen, it was so cold! And of course the next day was BEAUTIFUL, go figure. I have learned to be better prepared for next time, Tahoe is notorious for having crazy weather 😉
Ah bummer, Beth. I am so sorry to hear it didn’t go better. Sometimes Mother Nature likes to throw us a wrench…I like to think of it as making us more determined than ever to finish. Sounds like she did her job well. I know you’ll be back to finish one this year too. Carry that fitness through and I know you’re going to kick some Tahoe butt!
Thanks Jill, you are so right, I am so determined to have a good day and most of all have fun in Tahoe =)
I’m so proud of you for deciding to stop; I’m sure it was a difficult decision. I’m also so proud of you for forging onward to your next goal and race!
I couldn’t believe the weather that day; it seemed crazy!
I hope you at least enjoyed Whistler 🙂
(ALso, I would have been devastated if that were me, as I get cold way too quickly. But I love how you said there are so many worse things that can happen in this life. So true.)
Thanks Abby, it really means a lot. It was a crazy day, I even felt bad for the spectators, they were suffering too! Here’s to Tahoe being fine this year since it’s a bit of a weather gamble.
Beth, I am so sorry your race didn’t go as you hoped. I had a few friends racing Whistler and I heard the conditions were some of the absolute worst that day. I am a fair weather rider as well and I completely chicken out on riding downhills in the rain. I couldn’t imagine trying to navigate the downs especially while being cold. Best of luck with your prep for Tahoe! Hopefully the weather gods will be smiling on all the IM racers for that day!
Thank Leana!! it means a lot coming from a tough Canadian like you!!!
Sorry that you didn’t have the race that you wanted, but I really admire your attitude! And great job refocusing and finding another goal.