We were really lucky to be given a place to stay at Apex Mountain Resort, which is about a 45-minute, winding, steep, mountain-road drive away from the race site in Penticton but the place was big and best of all, free. We were totally cut off from internet, as well as the hype and nervous energy of Ironman.
This really helped my mental state, and I got tastes of the energy by going into town for a few swims in Okanagan Lake during the week prior to the race.
On one of the pre-race visits I bumped into Rena from Calgary, who recognized Hannah from this blog! I told her that she should be writing the blog, as she was doing IMC just 8 months after having her baby!
Feeling euphoric, I started singing along with the national anthem, but soon realized everyone else was listening in silence so I quickly shut up. Then the countdown and the air horn blew. People were friendly at first. I had seeded myself in with the 1:10 to 1:20 crowd so it took a few seconds to get moving and the water got deeper fairly gradually.
Oh yeah, and for the record, there is no ‘current’ effect sucking you along on the swim. It was like a washing machine, with water going every which way and having to swim left, right and every which way to avoid getting kicked.
I exited the water in 1:16:57, 73/159 in my division (W35-39), and heard my husband David shout “Way to go, Cheetah, you’re right on track!” That was good to know because I hadn’t thought to check my watch. It felt great to be done the swim.
I spent nearly six minutes in transition (I had to pee) and was then out on the bike. I had some problems with my water bottle – the internal bottle on the “Fuel Cell” kept rising up and out of the exterior bottle so I had to secure it down while still riding. I took the first 65 km very easy and ate 5 or 6 Cliff Bars and drank 3 bottles worth of Cytomax. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to face another Cliff bar.
When I got to the climb at Richter Pass I was still feeling strong and passed quite a few people. My family was all over me on the bike – they cheered as they drove by, they were on the side of the road, they were everywhere. At one point, as they drove by slowly (I know it’s frowned upon, but man did it feel great to have the support) I could just see my baby girl’s eyes peeking over the side of the window frame. It took a few seconds of talking to her and then I saw her expression change to one of recognition. Just then, they had to speed away to keep traffic moving. I was laughing for the next kilometre.
At the half way point I refreshed my Cytomax (really getting sick of it now) and stuffed in some roasted potatoes.
With about 2 hours and another steep climb to go, my bike shoes started to kill my feet. There’s always something that happens that is completely new and unexpected. It felt like my baby toes were jammed in a door and nothing I did could extract them out. At least it made me look forward to the run. I hobbled off my bike after 6:01:28, 31/159 in my division.
I spent a long time in transition (9:24), most of it in the port-a-potty. I’d never actually sat down in a port-a-potty before, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I felt better after the visit to the little blue plastic house and headed out on the run after taking a gel and grabbing a new Cytomax.
I didn’t see my family yet, and was desperate to ditch my still-full Cytomax bottle, yet too cheap to toss it. The thought of passing it off motivated me to run - amazing how your judgement changes after 8 hours of going all-out.
Finally I found my slow and painful groove (nothing at all like running fresh, even after running 3 hours). I saw my friend Chris Allan go by the opposite way and he looked strong. With two miles to go before the half-way turnaround, I saw my husband David. He had the handycam and was there with Sean Rogers, a friend of ours who had come to watch. Totally against all rules, they ran along with me and cheered me and other racers on.
At the turnaround I saw my parents and my mom even ran along with me for a bit. David saw my gritted jaw and decided to keep running with me. He ran beside me, sprinting ahead to whip up the spectators into a cheering uproar and then filming me. I was too tired to protest. He was the most awesome supporter ever. Everyone around us got extra cheering as a result. I walked the aid stations and gradually made my way into town. Finishing under 12 hours looked possible, but it would be tight.
My discomfort seemed to increase exponentially during the last 5 km’s. I felt as though I had nothing left and was running on autopilot but I knew I couldn’t quit. I literally couldn’t stop, otherwise I knew I’d never start again. On the IMC course, you pop out near the finish line but then have to do a cruel out-and-back that seemed about 2 km’s. Thankfully, I saw many of my friends and supporters: Erin and Andrew Harlos, Brian, Brenda and their daughter Sophie (who high-fived me), Ken Lee, Jill Savege, and others I heard but didn’t see.
My final time was 12 hours, 3 minutes.Post Race
I felt like an Ironman for at least 5 minutes before my gut turned to something significantly less solid than iron.
I spent the next hour in the medical tent until I could walk out and see my family. In another cruel turn of events, we had to get my gear out of transition (I had forgotten to bring the little pass for a designate to do it).
David accompanied me and when we were almost at the front of the line to get out, I had to make a desperate search for the port-a-potties again. I barely made it and David made me keep the door unlocked because I guess I didn’t look so hot. Finally we got back to the car and loaded up. I vomited twice on the way home (not in the car, thankfully). I showered and fell into bed, but I couldn’t even take in a sip of water. At 4:30 I woke up, and then it would be two more days before I could sleep because my body felt so wired and tired at the same time.
Two days after the race (Tuesday) we ventured into town. Everyone was gone. The place was almost back to normal. I felt like I had just missed a great party. We went for lunch at The Bench and David struck up a conversation with a neighbouring party at the restaurant. Turned out to be Belinda Granger. She autographed my race guide. I felt complete.