This weekend, I raced the Oliver Half Ironman for the third time. I surprised everyone (even myself a bit) with the my results. I was inspired by my fellow racers, friends and fans. Now, I’m ready to take what I learned and keep working hard in the build up to Ironman.
My pre-race prep couldn’t have been better with good friends, a party on Friday, an incredible luxury suite, a relaxed warmup on Saturday, and a couple hours of reading papers for an article I’m writing this summer (my nutrition plan neatly printed on the back of one of the papers). I went to bed feeling relaxed, prepared, and confident.
After my warmup, I decided to head to the far left hand side of the swim start. I saw a few folks I knew and realized they were following me and positioning themselves behind me to draft. Darn, don’t you ladies realize that I’m trying to get away from everyone because I hate the craziness of these swim starts. All I want is a bit of open water. I don’t know how its possible but I got kicked on the very first part of the swim – like in the first two strokes. My left google filled with water and a bit of panic started setting in. Should I stop? What if I lose my contact and can’t see on the bike? I contemplated stopping and took a quick sight to the right only to see a wall of blue caps behind me. I’d have much worse to fix if I stopped now. So I swam with one google full. The panic that I’m sure is part of every mass start passed and I quickly forgot about it. I found a good set of feet and just swam. I swam well. Apparently the swim was 400-500m long. Fortunately I didn’t time the swim which means that I didn’t know it was long. That was a good move because I knew I had a good swim. Lesson learned, go by how much you gave or how you feel – not your watch. I came out of the water in 16th place.
I love this bike route. I have a fast new bike, and new race wheels, and a new dorky (aerodynamic) helmet. My plan was to practice my nutrition plan for Ironman and to ride steady. I watched my speed and tried to keep it above 32+ on the flats (which was my average speed the last time I raced this course). At one point I found myself pounding pretty hard on the bike and said to myself, “You know you have to run afterwards, right?” I sat up, watched the scenery for a bit and got back to spinning. I recall thinking, “No more potatoe mashing with the legs, OK?” This was a good move. Since my plan was to practice nutrition I want to make note for myself that I ate 4 gels, 2 scoops of Perform, 1/2 salt pill (dissolved in the bottom of my bento box – gross), 1/3 bottle Gatorade (Gatorade is just gross) and 4x500ml of fluids. I came off the bike in 6th place. Again, I didn’t time the bike but instead used my Garmin to time my eating and to watch my speed/ effort. I stopped the watch early and transferred it over to my wrist during the last part of the bike because I did want to use the clock on the run. As I dismounted my bike, I said out loud, “Well done, Joanne. That was awesome!”
Here I did have a time goal. I wanted to run 1:45 which is a 5:00min km. My fastest time on this run course is 1:48. I ran this time the year that it was 38oC in Oliver. That year I made a inadvertent mistake starting my watch only after the first lap of the swim and convinced myself that I was placing with the pros (running a sub 5:10) time. That year showed me the power of positive thinking on the run. This year showed me what I imagined could come true. I ran 1:42 for a 5:09 finish time. The SAA racers, friends and supporters REALLY helped me on the run. The first 10km was fast. I ran into a rough spot at 15km; it passed, and I kept the pace up for the last bit. For my nutrition notes, I drank one bottle 500ml with 1 scoop of perform. I tried to eat a gel but couldn’t and had two mini cups of coke at the end (coke is awesome). If the pace got too fast, I focused on being out for just another training day and visualized last Sunday’s run. For the last 8 km, I imagined the Tuesday night Starbucks route running with the group. On my first lap, I could only see one girl ahead of me and she was smokin’ fast. I cheered, “You go girl!” when we passed each other at the turn around. She liked that and it made me feel good too. I passed 1 girl and noticed 1-2 girls running steady behind me. Those three gals were all I could see. I didn’t know where we were placed overall but I knew I was having a good day. It was super cool when Larry, Steve King and the SAA fans told me I was 4th place.
The best part of the day…
One of the best parts of racing is challenging yourself alongside others and knowing that everyone is there to help you be at your best. To my fellow racers from SAA, from SDTC, from LETC, and my friends and new friends in this community, you inspire me. To the supporters who were out there on race day, you made a BIG difference. To my family and friends who understand what sport means to me, “Thank-you!” To my friends at Speed Theory and my coaches Calvin and Tracey, thanks for helping me to be as prepared as possible. To all of you who posted or texted, thanks for your support. It’s been quite overwhelming (my favorite posts were, “Holy Speed Balls Batman” and “so aaah, it would seem you are totally badass.”) To my training buddies, thanks for giving me all the days to use as positive visualizations. To Torbin, thank-you isn’t really enough.
I’m so lucky to have such a great community around me, thank-you ALL. Get ready, Ironman, here we come.