Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ironman Canada 70.3 - 2016

Alright, let’s back this up to Thursday before the race.

I had an easy, hour-long spin on my schedule.  Super easy.  “NO effort” was emphatically stated, by my coach. Work has been busy and stressful, so I wanted to take advantage of a break between meetings for relaxing, quick little bike ride mid-day..

I set off, decided the 520 trail was a good idea.  Made it to the top of the hill, went through one light, made it to the next crosswalk and saw I was about 25 minutes in.  “Great,” I thought.  “I don’t really feel like dealing with more crosswalks, so I’ll just turn around now.  Look how easy I am keeping it!  I’m even cutting it a little short!  Impressive!”

I turned, started moving, and realized I hadn’t re-started my garmin.  My 920xt stopped working (a whole different story) so I was just using the 520.  I had my right hand on the bars, and reached over with my left.  Something was off-balance.  My weight shifted, to press the button, and suddenly I felt everything shift.  In slow motion, I felt myself going down.  No no no no NOOOOoooooooooooooo…….

I braced myself, and I was in shock as I hit the ground.  I heard my carbon wheels echoing.  No, not the wheels!!! I quickly scrambled to my feet, as if the faster I got up, I could undo it all.  No one saw it so it didn’t happen, right?!  Wrong.  I was on the corner of the intersection, next to the off-ramp of the freeway.  I’m sure tons of people saw me.  I propped my bike up on the fence.  Super panicky, I tried to figure out what the heck just happened.  Focus, Rosanne.  Breathe.  I felt my knee sting.  Looked down, grimacing, seeing the blood.  It’s fine, it’s just a scratch.

I stared at my bike.  Nothing obvious.  Bar tape is torn and the corner of the bars are scuffed up.  But doesn’t look bad.  Wheels…wheels look ok!  Brakes are all askew.  Fix that.  Rear wheel is fine.  Chain is off, front derailer looks bent…or maybe not??  I took forever, frantically trying to get the chain back on.  Some guy went walking by me on the sidewalk.  I looked at him, bloodied up and covered in bike grease. He looked at me..and kept on walking.  Whatever; I don’t want you help, anyway.

After finally calming down and getting my wheels spinning and gears shifting again, I started to think again.  The bike is ok..I think.  It has to be ok, right?  What about the race?  How scraped up am I, do I feel ok?  Oh no…showering is going to be THE WORST.  I texted Mac.  I thought I could ride, but wanted Kyle to check my bike.  She quickly told me to come over.  I tried to compose myself a bit more.  Calmed down.  And sloooowly made my way to their place.

After that, it was all good news.  Mac and Kyle sent me to the shower to start washing the dirt off.  A banged up knee (three separate spots of road rash, with an enormous bruise which was already incredibly swollen), a skinned forearm, and a big gash down the inside of my thigh—presumably from the broken gel holder on my top tube.  By the time I was washed off and Mac and bandaged me up, Kyle had already re-wrapped my bars with fresh new tape, and epoxied the scuffed spots.  Seriously could not even tell anything had happened.  A quick adjustment of the rear derailer, and I was all set—absolutely no damage!  Hooray!

Anyway, all that to explain that pre-race wasn’t quite what I had been hoping for!  Many very painful showers later, I was in Whistler and prepping for Sunday.  Riding the bike to drop off in T1 on Saturday was painful—and I wasn’t even in aero.  The swelling was all gone, but the road rash sure did sting!  But everyone assured me it would be fine and I wouldn’t even notice; plus, it was just a training day, so there was no big pressure.  So, I carried that into the day and mostly was in denial about the entire race at all (until about halfway through the swim).

Race morning, and I was up early to prep.  A huge amount of Neosporin on my knee, plus tagaderm, covered with sports tape.  The goal was to keep that in place through the swim at a minimum, and protect it from rubbing against the wetsuit.  Another liberal amount of Neosporin on my arm, and then wrapped up tight with coband.  This, hopefully, would stay on well enough through the bike—and hopefully it would be enough cushion that I could ride in aero.

Leg patched, arm wrapped, ready to go!
We watched the full get underway first, and had fun watching the first people come in.  I missed Mac come in, somehow, too!  Super bummed :( but she swam an amazing 1:14 and it was so exciting to find out!  Last minute-struggles getting the wetsuit on.  Then forgetting my (Allen’s) garmin.  Then realizing I needed to…swim.

Swim – 37:56 (9th AG)

Rolling swim starts are great!  Hurray!  Cross the mat with just one or two others, and hit the water.  Took a few big steps as I could, and got to swimming ASAP (some people waiting a loooong time to start swimming!).  I braced myself, waiting for the shock of a combination of both cold (I hadn’t felt the water beforehand) and pain (from the road rash)…and…nothing!  YAY!  I focused on staying smooth, and everything felt good (aside from the fact that I was swimming, and swimming is dumb).  The way out went by quick.  The water was nice, there was plenty of space, really nothing noteworthy.  I did get kicked in the right knee once, which sent a wave of pain, but that was about it.  This is great!  I’m going to write about this, and have nothing to say about the swim!  Super boring and uneventful, the best kind of swim!

Alrighty, time to see what happens with swimming!
Famous.  Last.  Words (thoughts).

First turn came, and I swam cautiously and carefully, to avoid being clobbered on my right side (left hand turn, so the right was even more susceptible).  Made it fine.  Got stuck in a group, someone kept trying to runi into me.  I kept holding back.  Finally resorted to just following this guy, since I was tired of almost getting hit, and we were also now swimming into the sun and I really couldn’t see the buoy, anyway.

Suddenly I started noticing that I saw lots of people when I was breathing to the right.  And they were all getting further away.  Something wasn’t right.  Someone was clearly off course.  Why are they all over there?  Did I miss something?  But there was still a little pack around me, and we all followed this guy up front.  I kept looking around, trying to orient myself to make sure I was going the right way.  Finally, I saw a kayaker rushing over to meet the guy out front, and I KNEW we had to be off-track.  I stopped completely, looked all the way around, and saw that we were actually swimming diagonally, and totally cutting off the second turn buoy! Nooooo!  Before seeing what the kayaker was saying, I turned and took off, back towards the buoy; as long as I made it around all the turns, I was still “on course” and I was not about to cut any corners!

All told, it probably cost me about a minute.  Nothing huge, but really annoying.  That should teach me for only sighting off of one person.

Fine, that was annoying and now I have to write about it.  But the plus side of that ordeal was that I did glance at my watch, and saw it had only been 15 minutes!  I couldn’t remember exactly what the swim course looked like; I knew I probably wasn’t quite halfway, but knew it was probably roughly close, and was pretty stoked with that.

Unfortunately, the way back was not as smooth.  I’m not sure where all the people came from, but I was pummeled.  Normally I would be a bit more aggressive and try to hold my ground (water) a bit more, but I was sooooo afraid of anyone touching me, I did find myself holding up and stopping for a moment to let people by, as soon as I was too crowded.  Granted, I did line up in the 30-35 area, but it wasn’t only people swimming past me—I was also coming up on a bunch of people.  So, I’m not sure why it got soooo much more crowded and violent, but the nice empty water that I had enjoyed before was totally gone.

Also saw some lone ironman swim caps, way at the bottom of the lake.  In the middle of the course.  That was eerie.  I told myself they just came off, and there was nothing bad that had happened—but still creepy!

Finally, turned back.  Then turned again.  Lots of weeds (and another cap!  Creepy!) and fiiiiiinally saw the ground.  Happily, I scrambled out of the water.

Trying to be graceful
Glanced at my watch, was a little bummed at the time but knew I had a lot more conservatively, and focused on the next task—getting the wetsuit off, carefully, and getting on the bike.
Failing at being graceful, but this is basically how I ran through transition
T1 – 3:21

Since the full had wetsuit strippers, the half distance racers got wetsuit strippers, too!  But, I was worried about the bandaging (also just worried about being rough with my knee and arm in general), so I tried to (politely) decline and ran past all the enthusiastic volunteers to grab my bag.  I did manage to unzip my wetsuit and pull the left shoulder down, but other than that, I was fully wetsuit-ed as I sat down in the changing tent.

As I carefully got my right sleeve off (coband was in place and everything looked good! Yay!), a volunteer moved over to me, and wanted to help me take off the wetsuit quickly.  “I have something on my knee, I’m just trying to be careful…here, just let me get the knee…” I got it off, and then let her pull the wetsuit off the rest of the way.  She dumped the rest of my gear, I got what I needed, and she packed up the rest.  I definitely was moving more slowly here than usual, but I really didn’t want to make sudden movements or do anything to hurt myself, especially since I wasn’t really sure myself how I felt.

Stuffing my sunglasses in my top, I ran through the bike racks.  Found my bike.  Grabbed in, and made the long trek to bike out.  And the long run up to the mount line.  And tried to get on the bike.  We had spent most of the morning laughing at everyone (even the pros) try to get on the bike—it was an uphill mount, and NOBODY was doing very well.  Lots of crashing into the fench, falling over, etc etc etc.  Suddenly, it seemed a lot harder, but I did manage it without too much trouble.  Alrighty, let’s see how this goes….

Bike – 2:55:50 (5th AG)

I was in a small gear, but still stood up to power up the little hill; saw Kyle at the top as I crested and Allen right down the road.  I knew he was trying to ask how the swim went, but I didn’t have much to say + I was kinda of stil out of it, so I mumbled about getting hit a lot, then sped away—right down into aero, without even thinking about it.  I was THRILLED that aero seemed to be no problem!
Up out of transition..but can I ride in aero?
The way out, to get to the highway, was a little odd.  It was rolly, it had some rough pavement, I didn’t know how long it was.  I kept trying to find my legs, but even the very first rollers seemed….annoying.  Not particularly difficult, but I felt that I shouldn’t be feeling them at all.  There was some jostling around with other riders, as we passed each other trying to settle into our respective speeds.

Once we got to the highway, I started to settle down more.  I also noticed that my garmin, which I had carefully set up to start in the “Race” profile, was showing Calories in the bottom field—not Power.  I scrolled through all the options. Did I really not set up this profile?!  I could have sworn I did, and used it in CDA, but I finally concluded that there was no way I would see my power numbers.

I debated this for a while with myself.  I don’t have particular targets, but apparently I do pay more attention than I thought, because it was driving me nuts to not know!  I finally reasoned that I could stop, save, then re-start a ride in a new profile, but I didn’t want to mess up the numbers too badly so decided I would do that at 10 miles in.  I rode on.

Up and down, and rolling hills.  Nothing awful, all really short, I felt ok, but not amazing.  I was thrilled to be in aero, though!   It was hard to really know my average speed, since there was so much up and down, but my 5 mile increments were coming in around roughly 13 minutes each so I knew I was doing well.  Except, wait, that means it’s been 15 miles and I forgot to restart my garmin!  I waited until 16 miles (because then it would just be an even 40 miles to go), then tried to quickly stop-save-back-select new profile-restart.  It was a bit of a mess, getting myself situated, but I managed it quickly enough and suddenly I had my power numbers back.  I settled back down into aero, and suddenly saw a bright pink kit with matching bright pink helmet and neon yellow shoes approaching!  MAC!!!  I yelled for her, pumped my fist and smiled, I was so psyhed to see her :)

Soon-ish, I got to the turn, and promptly saw the “1km to 70.3 turnaround” sign.  Kind of silly, really.  Up for one 1km, awkward sharp turn (where I unclipped my foot and help myself turn, much to the amusement of the volunteers), then back down.  Time to head back toward Whistler!

I found Kimberly, on one of the longer hills back up.  We rode next to each other a bit, chatting about the swim and bike so far.  She was looking great, and I was so excited for her to be doing so well on her first full!

The lanes kept moving and I kept having to avoid the middle rumble strip, or turtles, or various other things, but finally made it back to town.  I wasn’t exactly sure where Allen and Kyle would be, but suddenly I heard my name and saw Kyle out of the corner of my eye!  A slight wave as I realized it was him, and then heard Allen on the other side—but wasn’t able to see him.  No matter; I knew they were there, I knew I was in aero and therefore looked good for them to see, and happily kept on.

As we headed out towards Green Lake, it finally started spreading out a bit more.  The views were gorgeous; I kept stopping and looking around.  We passed the sign on the trail next to the road, saying “70.3 turnaround” for the run, and I chuckled thinking how that would be feeling in a few hours.  Suddenly, I realized we were descending a lot more than climbing, and realized that this must be the big looooong descent down to Pemberton.  We hit the new pavement, which supposedly they finished at 1pm the previous day.  It was “nice,” I guess, but parts of it really sketched me out—it was so fresh, it felt really slippery, and there were no guard rails.  Everyone around kept exclaiming how nice it was, but I honestly preferred the other asphalt.  Oh well.

I wasn’t sure how far until the turn-around, since I wasn’t sure how far the first turn-around had been.  Clearly, I was super well prepared for this ;)  I did finally see Sam, coming up the other direction, so I hoped that meant I was getting close!  Sure enough, I started seeing signs for Pemberton, and soon I was heading to the “70.3 turnaround” lane.  A little confusing, but got it all sorted out.  Once again unclipped (while telling the volunteers “ahhh I don’t trust myself!”, as they all yelled “hey that’s the best turn we’ve seen all day!”) and was on my way.  Somewhere around here, there was an aid station.  I had refilled with some Gatorade at some point, but I was getting hungry.  Again.  I was trying to be better about my EFS but that hunger was definitely there.  I saw some volunteers hading out banana halves, and I totally jumped on it!  Perfect.  I took a couple more at the next couple aid stations, and it was enough to get me through.  Few.

I started grinding my way up.  This will be great! I thought.  I love hills.  I can pass people.  I can’t wait.  I’ll feel wonderful!  Just a few-ish miles and I’ll be done!

Except..people were passing me.  And I was getting dropped.  Not that I care particularly about passing people, just that it was a clear indication that I just wasn’t feeling it.  I would have sworn my brakes were rubbing, but I know by now that whenever I think that, it usually means I’m just being slow.

Nothing was bad, I just didn’t feel good.  No energy.  No fight.  I tried drinking more, tried water instead of Gatorade, tried more bananas.. but the legs just weren’t there.

I did have one Aid Station Fiasco, as I got closer to the end of the long climb.  I had a toss bottle of water on my top tube, and it wasn’t quite done yet but I thought maybe some nice cold water would help me feel better.  I grabbed it to toss at the beginning of the aid station, and there was a kid on the side, collecting bottles, so he held his hand out.  Ok, so he wants to just grab it, sure, I’ll do that instead of chucking it at him.  Except, somehow that hand-off didn’t work, because he was way off the side of the road and I wasn’t paying attention at all, and WHY AM I SUDDENLY OFF THE ROAD AND RIDING INTO THE GRAVEL!!?!???!  I dropped the bottle, stabilized myself and got back onto the pavement.  ROOKIE MOVE, KELLEY,  DO NOT RIDE OFF THE ROAD. 

By this time, the next volunteer who had previously been holding water, was too busy staring at me (the dumb biker riding off the raod) to get more water…so, I had to wait for the next volunteer.  But someone else rode up, but in front of me and grabbed the bottle---and proceeded to drop it in front of my tire.  I avoided that, and finally, finally, FINALLY at the very end of the aid station, managed to grab a nice, cold bottle of water. 

Except this bottle, they had yanked the entire closure part of the cap off, so when I put it in my bottle holder it just spilled water onto my garmin.  I mean, I know the thing is water resistant, but I didn’t exactly want to be dumping water on it the entire time.  So, I ended up dumping half of it out on myself, so that at least the dripping was minimized to when there were bumps in the road.  The struggle.

Speaking of struggle, I was still struggling.  Time was passing quickly but distance was not, but I thought I should still be under 3 hours. Hopefully.  The last few miles weren’t pretty, but I finally made it back to Whistler, and wound my way to transition.
Mostly just happy to get off the dumb bike
As I turned the corner and saw the guy motioning to SLOOOW DOOOWN, I unclipped…but heard Kyle yelling at me from the sides to keep going—the mount line was around one last corner!   Errrr, way to make that clear, guys.  Turned, pedaled a bit more, and THEN finally unclipped and managed to stop my garmin before a nice volunteer grabbed my bike away (in hindsight, that seems so odd.  My poor bike!  But in the moment, it’s totally second nature—off the bike, let go, and don’t think twice about someone else taking it away).
See?!  From far away, that arrow just looks like a dismount line!  Right?  Just tell me I'm right...

T2 – 0:59

I rushed off to grab my bag.  That morning, I had intentionally paid close attention to where it was.  The numbering confused me, but I know where it should be.  Apparently, it confused the volunteers, too.  As they shouted my number, to try to help, I had multiple volunteers trying to grab me and take me to a differnet line of bags.  “Over here!”  I finally got kind of annoyed, and snapped “no, I’m pretty sure it’s right here,” as I ran down the line, grabbed my bag, and ran off.  Sorry, not meaning to be snippy, but I really did know where it was and just needed them to stop trying to change what I was doing and distract me!

The tent was fairly busy, but I found a seat.  Took shoes and glasses off, but left on my helmet.  OF COURSE.  As I got my socks and shoes on, I laughed to the volunteer, saying “ok maybe I should take my helmet off, my husband always makes fun of me for leaving it on!”  “it wouldn’t be the first time someone ran off with it on!” she laughed.

After confirming I didn’t want my glasses, the volunteer gathered the rest of my stuff and I was off!

Run – 1:50:54 (5th AG)

And soon enough, I was off.  I heard a big group of cheers, from various friends (sorry, I didn’t even see exactly who was in all the groups but I kept recognizing faces; now I can’t remember which groups I saw where! But hi!!!!)…and as I ran through the chute at the start of the run, I quickly realized that the tagaderm-and-sports-tape combo, which had been flapping a bit on the bike but was otherwise fine, was now INCREDIBLY ANNOYING.  I knew there was no way I could keep it on for the run, flapping around like that, and decided right away I’d have to stop momentarily at the first aid station to toss it.

Hooray, hi Allen!  I'll pretend to look happy about the start of the run, sure!
Turning the corner, there was Allen!  After smiling and running past, the flapping tagaderm on my knee was still bugging me.  I tried to keep going.  I got like 5 more steps before I realized there was no way I was even going to make it to the aid station—so I stopped, ripped it off, turned and yelled “ALLEN!!!!” as I threw it over towards him, pointed and ran off.  I did feel bad, leaving a wadded mess of sweaty, oozy tagaderm…but…sorry.  :)

Then he made the mistake of asking how I felt, and the truth came out...

I wound my way slowly through the first part of the course, around lost lake. Everything was uphill!  WHY IS EVERYTHING UPHILL?!  I was struggling, it felt so so so hard, I could feel myself working way harder than I should be.  Finally, from the other edge of Lost Lake, things started going down more than up, and I tried desperately to pick up the pace.  Figure it out.  I was dodging pedestrians and mountain bikers, since the trail was still open to other use.  I made it to the intersection, where special needs was for the full, and saw Kyle and friends shortly after.  Kyle yelled at me to run someone down, but I didn’t know who he was talking about—it didn’t matter, anyway.  There was nothing in me.  No energy in my legs, and absolutely no spark to push it.  Allen saw me a few yards down, and tried yelling at me to push the pace as well—I waved him off, and couldn’t even try.  He told me afterwards that he could tell right then that I didn’t have it in me, since his yelling didn’t even perk me up momentarily.  No fight.
Normally, this would inspire me.  Not today.
Regardless, I was now about 5k down, which mean there was “only” 10 miles left! I reasoned with myself that 10 miles was just like an easy long run, no big deal.  I did finally find myself settling down, and things started feeling sustainable vs the frantic, “how am I ever going to keep running” feeling at the beginning.  The garmin must have been loosing satelites, because it kept dipping down to like, 15 minute miles, and I knew I wasn’t THAT slow, but I knew I was nowhere near where I “should be.”

Let’s get a wider perspective here, though, and take a look at my running since CDA.  In other words—nothing.  My running has been feeling so flat, and honestly a huge struggle.  I haven’t been running anywhere near my “normal” times, so at least in my head, I knew that while I WANTED to be running faster—there was nothing extraordinarily wrong with the day.  I was just not running super well lately.
At least these photos make it look like I was running! :)
But, back to the course.  It was all uphill, did I mention that??  It wound through various neighborhoods, and trails, and all sorts of places.  Super pretty, lots to look at, but MAN I was struggling.  Lots of games with myself, making it to the next mile, the next landmark.  I saw Sam coming back, yelled at her, then knew the next thing to hit was the turnaround.   FINALLY it came, but the downhills I was looking forward to, after the uphills to get there, just weren’t quite as much as I had hoped ;)
At least it was pretty :)
But, I kept going.  It ebbed and flowed, sometimes feeling better, sometimes feeling worse.  But finally, I made it back to Blackcomb Way, and I could see and hear the finish line!

Unfortunately, it’s still quite the trek to get TO the finish line, as you have to go past it, wind through more trails, head back to the village, run under an overpass, turn to run a block THROUGH the village, then run over the overpass and finally, finally, FINALLY turn onto the street with the finish line at the end.  Kyle was there, near the turn, and I heard him cheering for me.  As I hit the red carpet, I actually saw Allen for once, waved, and TRIED to give five him—it almost worked!

Almost to the finish!  Finally!

The high-5 that ALMOST happened
In the end, I still very happily crossed the line—unaware of my time, or anything else, just happy to be done with a solid day of training.


Swim 37:56
T1 3:21
Bike 2:55:50
T2 0:59
Run 1:50:54

Overall 5:29:00

5/13 AG, 102/536 Overall

Not my best, not my worst.  All told, it was about exactly what I expected, given where I am with training and especially considering crashing.  I know I CAN be faster, which makes it hard to get super excited about these results, but I also never went into it with the intention of being competitive.  So, with that, I think it was a really successful day.

I still had a good swim, and I’ve solidified that I can swim faster than last year—even swimming conservatively, off-course, and trying to protect my knee and arm, I swam much faster than at Cabo last year.

I may have felt smoked on the bike, but I still averaged 19+ mph, on a course with something like 3500’ elevation (I still haven’t uploaded any data, since it was Allen’s garmin…oopps), so that’s nothing to be too ashamed of.

Running wasn’t great, but it was still a 8:28/mi average which….isn’t great, but for the end of a 70.3, and considering I was struggling with that pace last week..i’ll take it!  A very fair assessment of my running ability right now.

Now, I finally feel like I can fully focus on Australia!  That is the next race coming up, and I’m super excited and motivated.  Time to get my legs back, and get going!!!  :)

Trusty Sherpa!!


  1. WOW! Thank you for sharing your day. Love a lady with grit and you have LOTS!

  2. Always fun to get your first-person view of the race! You work so hard and always persevere.
    What a terrific athlete you have become! I am so proud of you ❤️.

  3. Great race report! So glad your crash wasn't worse for you or the bike...that road rash is such a pain. Amazing job and congrats on your finish!