Whistler 70.3 Race Recap
It is said that the course at Whistler is one of the toughest on the circuit, specifically in North America. After competing last Sunday I would have to agree with this statement, yet would like to add also one of the most spectacularly stellar course due to the sheer majestic nature of the surroundings. I am not sure that my words can give the beauty of Whistler any justice; with lakes turned green due to the sediment residing at the base of rugged snow capped peaks it will take your breath away.
Growing up a skier my family had been to Whistler many times, it is one of our favorite places to ski due to the sheer magnitude of terrain available, yet had never been there in the summer before. My dad said it correctly, "people come to ski in the winter and stay for the summer" as the beauty just sucks you in.
We, Brandon, my dad, and myself, arrived in Whistler on Friday after a crazy couple days of packing up our house into a Pod, closing, and traveling. Brandon and I sold our house, closing the Thursday morning that we left for Whistler, and would then move into our new house upon our return to Spokane from Whistler.
I won't go into to much detail about "pre-race" because this is race report not a pre-race report. Mostly I tried to stay off my feet as I was feeling a bit beat up from moving. I got a small spin in, light run, got my gear and bike to the appropriate places, and spent some time exploring the Whistler village and Ironman Village.
That being said; Whistler 70.3 Recap.
Whistler 70.3 and the full Ironman had transitions in two different places, the first being the swim start and the second being closer to the finish line. The full Ironman started at 6:30 am with everyone (athletes competing in the 70.3) having to be out of transition by about 7:00. This meant that even though the 70.3 start time wasn't until 8:45 am I had to be at the start a full two hours prior actually hoping in the water so that I could ensure that my nutrition was on the bike, and perform one last check of tires. For the next two hours I walked back and forth (I am not good at just sitting) as it was chilly and I was unprepared for the cool morning.
My husband and dad showed up around 8 am as I started warming up.
When the full Ironman started the water in Alta lake was beautifully calm. By the time 70.3 athletes warmed up the wind had picked up and the chop caused by the amazing Ironman athletes who went before us seemed to increase.
Around 8:50 the gun went off for the 70.3 athletes and I slipped into the crystal clear, albeit extraordinarily choppy waters of Alta Lake, to partake in the 1.2 miles of the swim. Honestly, this swim kicked me in the ass. The swim had four turns with the last one only having about 500 m or less to the finish line. However, those last couple 100 meters were some of the toughest I've ever experienced. I felt as though I was in the ocean despite being in a lake, I remember thinking that if my mother was swimming right now she would probably have to pull up to spend the next four hours vomiting.
Total Time: 34 minutes
Since the 70.3 was at the same time as the full ironman the transitions were beautiful and efficient, with wet suit strippers, a changing tent, chairs to sit on to get ready, and an unbelievably amazing group of volunteers to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
While running has always been my strong suit my biking has really improved over the last year, and even more so in the last 4 weeks since I began working with my coach Heather at BAM Multisport, so I was looking forward to the bike.
Coming down from Alta lake was more technical than anticipated for me; technical biking is not my strong suit.
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog I mentioned that the Whistler course is known for being one of the toughest on the circuit and that is due solely to the bike course which heads towards Squamish than turns around and heads towards Pemberton and finishes with about a 14 mile climb.
As mentioned the wind had picked up and going down towards Squamish there were areas it got a bit squirly. When I finally settled in after coming down from Alta Lake I got into a groove, focusing on legs pumping, breathing in and out, and just hammering away at the bike. This went great until I turned back around from the massive downhill towards Pemberton and had to come back up that 14 miler. There is a 5-6 mile stretch that is brutally steep and BOOM it smacked me in the face. I was able to bring it back around when the steep leveled out and the hills became a little more rolling to finish out the bike.
One of my favorite parts of the bike course actually did occur on that ridiculously steep hill in which I was mentally unraveling and looked up from my misery to see Whistler Peak just staring at me from above, majestically keeping an eye on all of us bikers. Maybe it is that beauty sitting there so ruggedly that allowed me to pull myself back around to get cruising on the bike again.
Total Time 2 hr 48 mins
I loved being able to hand my bike over to another amazing volunteer as it was one last thing I had to think about during transition. T2 quickly became my favorite when the cutest little girl who was probably helping her mom got to be my T2 helper, all she wanted to do was get me some water and I was grateful for it.
Ahhhh running. Its so beautifully shitty. I love to run but it really can be brutal. Surprisingly I came off the bike with legs that felt ready to run. I settled in with some low 7:00 min/mile which was right on track to what I had been training for and the goal I wanted to hit. It felt good to finally be running the pace I know I can hit in a race (hard work is paying off).
The run wound through the village, woods, and trails of Whistler Village and Green Lake. It was awesome to see my husband and dad while I was out there, telling me to keep it up and go after the handful of women who were ahead of me. I was able to hang on to the pace with relative ease and then it hit me on the backside of Green Lake where the spectators decreased and the sun pounded, mental and physical fatigue that I could not shake. I could just feel my legs slowing and my brain allowing me to give in. This is the biggest piece I need to work on - a mixture of strength endurance and not allowing my body to control my mind, "embrace the suck".
I hate to say this but I had almost thrown in the towel for the race, honestly I am ashamed to say that. Then all of the sudden I made the turn with about 4 miles to go and ran across my friend, part time training partner, and overall awesomely fast chick Meghan Faulkenberry who was out there running. Meghan had an accident on her bike one week prior to this race and yet she was still out there. Seeing her spurred my brain to kick it back in, telling myself "Meghan literally ran into a brick wall last week and she's still out here so stop being a pussy".
So for the next four miles I told myself I can do anything for four miles, I can do anything for three miles, two miles is nothing to pull myself to the finish line.
At about 400-800 meters to go the finish line I came across my husband and dad who gave me an idea of how close the finish line was and as per standard told me to run just a little bit faster. While yes I did curse them in my head, it has a wonderful way of getting me to run faster.
I ended up crossing the finish line as the 2nd female in my age group, only 16 seconds behind the girl ahead of me.
Total time 1 hr 41 mins to make a total 70.3 time of 5 hrs 10 minutes
Whistler 70.3 you really were one for the books, you chewed me up and spit me out but I am proud of myself for hanging tough when I wanted to throw in the towel. I noticed some huge improvements since CdA 70.3 working with Heather and am really excited to see what comes next with about 5 weeks until 70.3 Worlds and 10 weeks until Kona I have a lot of work to do, specifically around mental toughness, staying in the moment, embracing the suck, and being able to perform at faster speeds.
Despite the toughness of the course this is a course I would do again in a heart beat, in fact I plan on it and may work tackle the full portion of it.
Thank you to my husband and dad for being there with me (Mom I wish you could have been there) and hanging tough with putting in about 13 miles of walking that day so that they could be at the start line and then finding me throughout the entire course, it always makes me legs a little lighter to see my family! Thank you to Heather for the vast improvements you've installed in me over the last four to five weeks, I can't wait to see the improvement we make on this final stretch to Kona. Lastly, thank you to every single person (massive shout out to my bestie Anna who always has my back) who cheered, texted, messaged, and supported not only on this day in particular but every day of this journey I could not do it without you.