I have always raced 70.3 and 140.6 towards the end of the season. Mainly because it gives me enough time to train and get ready for it, I can totally procrastinate and be okay without training the whole summer. Last year was a bit different, I decided to do a full in the end of July. There was NO way to procrastinate, I had to train during the summer heat. To my surprise, I ended up enjoying it. So I decided that summer training was the way to go.
So for this year, I planned on Boulder whit a friend but she bailed on me. Yes, Andrea. You did it!!! Not only that, two of my best friends decided to get married in the first semester of 2018 and that was a lot of traveling (and maybe too much fun) during training season; so I transferred to Louisville.
My summer race became a question mark. Nothing really worked with my schedule. Well, nothing but Canada. Yes and some of my fast friends aka Kona qualifier were signed up for it. So tempting and so frightening at the same time! I am aware of my abilities and I didn’t want to take a leap of faith so I made a decision not to do the full. I really can’t climb mountains for 112 miles. But maybe I could try to climb for 56 miles. I can probably pull that one off… and managed a half marathon walk. (lol!!!!) Right? Right! Not looking into anything else, I signed up. Do I need to say that was a mistake? Well…. let’s dive into details
Leading up: Me and my guy flew to Vancouver on Wednesday super early. I left Atlanta at 6am and made it before lunch to Canada. The immigration had a very long line and it took us forever to get to the hotel. Exhausted from the time change and travel, we got to the hotel and took a nap before some sightseeing.
We walked around downtown, went to a rooftop (some kind of view point to the whole city), had some good food and in order to keep us awake, we hit the movies. It kept us awake and we had now successfully transitioned to the Pacific time zone. One thing that I loved right away in Vancouver: everyone rides their bikes everywhere. It is probably one of the most bike friendly cities I have ever been.
The mini vacation started prior the race was nice. The weather was beautiful, warm and we went to some real cool attractions. I really enjoyed the suspension bridge (even thought I am afraid of heights!). After having some fun and spending a couple days in Vancouver, we drove up to Whistler. The ride was just absolutely gorgeous. Pictures don’t do justice. The 70 miles we spent on the sea to sky highway were breathtaking.
Once we arrived in Whistler on Thursday prior the race. We got an airbnb. The house was nice, location was pretty convenient, right on the run course and really close to the Whistler village (as known as the finish line). Before even settling in, I went to grab my bike. She had been waiting for me since yesterday! I used TBT to transport it. I find it very convenient, for the same amount I would pay to it checked in on a plane, they bring the bike for me and I don’t have to worry about putting it back together (that is a BIG plus).
Even thought it was late afternoon, my coach had me swimming 20 minutes that day so some friends and I decided it was time to check the Alta lake. More than swimming there, I also needed to which wetsuit to wear. As soon as we arrived, the view was just gorgeous. It immediately put a smile on my face. I tried the water and decided to go sleeveless. Everywhere I looked while sighting was just beautiful, I didn’t even care that the water was a bit cold for me. I swam about 15 minutes, that was enough for me to be too cold but boy, I was glad to be there. How blessed I am to be able to do what I do. So grateful.
Friday morning was the day to get everything done. Checked-in, rode some and run with company. My guy decided to join me for it. He never does, I loved that he did. I thought riding part of the course would make me feel more comfortable, but the elevation chart told me otherwise. In fact, I didn’t quite sleep right that night.z
The day before (Saturday): There was not much to be done. I sat through the Athlete debriefing. As we heard about animals, roads and rules, the race director stopped by to say that the shuttle to bike checkin were late. The reason: Bear activity on Alta Lake. OMG! This is really Bear country.
After lunch, bike and bags were checked in. One thing left to do: drive part of the course, so that I could get over the elevation or envision my suffering. I had to get a good night of sleep. My guy again saving me… he drove me and Izumi. We went up to the entrance of Whistler Olympic park, they said we went up to the Olympic Park. Was that it? It felt short. But I was finally relieved, it wasn’t that bad. The usual dinner: pasta. And I went to bed late. Not anxious, not tired. Just HOT. Houses don’t have AC and weather was pretty warm. Ill let you do the Math. It really felt like home, like Brazil.
The day of: Even tough my race started at 7:20 am, I woke up at 4. I needed to hug my friends before they take on the full distance starting at 6 am. I went back to bed for another 30 minutes. Had a quick breakfast and was in line for the shuttle at 5:20. Got to transition very quickly. Then, set everything up and just stood there till the full distance started.
For the first time, I was racing outside of the USA so it was different to hear the Canadian National Anthem. Oh Canada, what a great day to race. As the gun went off, I watched all those 2,000 athletes start their day. I waited another hour on my sleeveless suit to start mine.
Swim: I positioned myself on the 35-40 minutes wave. I figured, if I stick the front of the pack I would make it under 35. Main problem was that I was on the back of the pack and the entrance to the water was a bit crowded. The arch was a bit too narrow. It is what it is, I was late to the party and it looks like I was going to pay the price.
I started good and the water was cold, much colder than anticipated. My pace was spot on, but there was a lot of people to go around. Then I realize that it was not 70.3 people, it was the back of the pack of the 140.6 that started at 7am. Everything as fine till I got swam over and my google fell off my face. A desperate moment as I can’t lose my contact lenses (that would be the end of the day for me if that happened) and I realize that my googles are around my neck. Thank God!
I keep on moving and the water is so cold. But there is nothing I can do at this point but keep moving forward. One more stroke. And finally, I am done. Time: 40:35 (Is that my worse 70.3 time? I think so!)
T1: My guy and my coach always gives me a hard time on these. I am trying to be quick. Not a lot of bikes around me. Argh! Time: 5:39
Bike: I am anxious. Mainly because I unprepared. It is all in my head, so I shift focus to what I can control: my heart rate. That is what I do for 56 miles. Up or down, I am keeping that beat at 130 per minute. Looking in retrospect, it was a very smart thing to do. It kept me on the game as the temperatures rose through the day. The course was hard, Long and steep mountains. Some rolling on the highway but that was about it.
I had fun on the bike. Even when I got to the entrance of the Whistler Olympic Park and the very same closed gate from yesterday was now open. So from not that bad yesterday, it became this is pretty hard but also absolutely beautiful. Wouldn’t trade it for any other extra 7 miles!
As I head back into town, I was pretty proud for being able to keep my heart rate and making it on reasonable time. I heard some friends yelling my name, I saw some on the course. It was a good day to ride, even thought it was a pretty warm day. Back to transition, I was so ready for my running shoes. Time: 3:29:04
T2: As I head into transition, I am proud I am under 4 hours (I think I am smiling) and my guy is waiting on me and yells: “You had a good bike!”. I am smiling for sure! He is looking so I am making it a fast transition. Time: 5:38 (Later he tells me that I was running when he looked away. Seconds later, he looks again and I am walking. Yes, he gave me hard time about it. I still think I was moving fast)
Run: One loop. How bad can this be? Oh pretty bad! I started running but it felt slow, but it was pretty slow. As I ran passed my guy I make a statement that my run might be 20-30 minutes slower than I predicted. It felt so hot. It was dry but no shadows and hills kicked my butt. I realized that something was off hen i made to mile 8 and threw up. The heat got to me, I kept moving. Slowly.
Coming to the finish line was a torture. Why? They make you go around the block after you see the finish line. That is just wrong. I might have called people names in my head as turnaround. Finishing is always fun. Even when your guy misses you again. He is the best at doing that. Last time, he blamed the tracker. This time, he blamed someone else’s parking skills. It is all good. I am done. Time: 2:26:06
Finish time: 6:47:02. Maybe my worse 70.3 time ever, definitely the hardest race. Who would think it could be 97F in Canada? Fun race, wonderful venue, awesome city. Never doing it again.