Thursday, June 18, 2009


Warning: don’t bother reading this article if you’re not an ardent triathlon fan or triathlete. It could bore you to death (or at least to tears, which may be embarrassing).

On Sunday, June 7, I raced in the Oliver Half Ironman. It was the third time I have done this race, as it is a beautiful course and not too far from Vancouver. It was a milestone race, because I have done it twice, pre-baby, in 2006 and 2007. It was also the first time I put the new training program to a real test. So, after popping 4 Ibuprofen and taping up my sore heel, I was ready to go.

Race conditions were near perfect – a moderately warm day after a week of blistering heat and relatively calm after a day of strong winds. There was nearly double the number of participants compared to 2007, and the transition was moved to a larger venue that was at least a few hundred metres from the swim exit to accommodate the masses.

The swim was a 2 km single loop lake swim. I concentrated on not kicking for the first section, which really helped to control my usually-panicky breathing that borders on hyperventilating. It still took me 400 metres to calm down enough to breath bilaterally. The swim was crowded enough that at one point when I turned my head up and left to suck in some air, I was mirrored by a male competitor who was exhaling at the same time, and I instantly knew he had dined at the new Greek restaurant the night before. I erred right a little too much and nearly smacked the balloon like buoy, but at least I was on course. In the end, I was able to cut 2 minutes from my previous best swim time on this course, coming in at 37:27. I’m not a swimmer, so I was 312th out of 906 competitors at this point.
After a long, barefooted run to the transition, I swallowed two more Ibuprofen, swigged some Cytomax and hopped on the bike for the 93-km course (slightly longer than a standard half iron). I got ready to eat one of my two carefully unwrapped Cliff bars from my Bento Box, and promptly dropped one on the ground while going about 40km/hr. Oh well. Next time I won’t unwrap them ahead of time so that they stick together when I pull one out.

I gained some time on the bike course, finishing after 2:44:06 (average 34 km/h, or 21.25 mph) and ranking 154th. I pushed the bike and experienced strong adductor (groin) fatigue. This is something I have never experienced before and it haunted me on the run as well. But, I cut nearly 8 minutes off my 2007 time.

Heading into the run, I felt fatigued but managed to average a 5:10 minute per km pace (or about 8:16 min/mile) and finished in 1:48:11, which was about 2 minutes faster than my previous best time in 2006.

Overall, I cut off 14 minutes from my previous best time in 2007. Still, my favourite part of the race was seeing Hannah in the crowd (feverishly being carted over to where I was showing up next). She didn’t really recognize me, but seeing her little face scan the blur of people going by was a real boost.
Post-race, I wish I could say I had a snappy recovery and have hit the training plan verbatim. In truth, I have been fatigued and sluggish for nearly two weeks. I read that recovery time can be influenced by “training age” and I am a relatively young 4 years old in these terms. So, I guess I just have to be patient.
Anyway, a more important milestone came up today - Hannah turned one year old on June 18, 2009! Happy Birthday, Baby!


  1. WOW Alison! You Rock! It sounds like you had an awesome race. Congrats!! I wish we could have been there to cheer you on. I love reading your blogs. Tell Hannah Happy Birthday from us! Love, Kristi, Andrew and Sydney

  2. Wow, what a way to PR!! Not to mention celebrate your baby's first birthday. Congrats on both!