Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Whistling along - Ironman Canada RR

Y’all two weeks ago, I completed my first ironman of the season in PB fashion. My goal time was sub 11h10m (which was 5 minutes quicker than my previous PB last year) thinking that improving another 5 minutes more on the much publicized “hilly” courses on both bike and run would be on the optimistic side.

Beyond my wildest predictions (and with the help of my blazing fast wheels and calm winds and cool temperatures), I totally shattered my goal time in an official finisher time of 10h53m09s (21minutes quicker overall)!!

I felt like a rockstar. Friends and Family were my amazing cheer leaders and my success wouldn’t have been accomplished without their continued support as always. Thanks to Chris Hart for his amazing hospitality and accommodation. 

This race was scenic and challenging but also very rewarding with patience. What was the key difference in this race was the connection I had with the people on the run course. I really enjoyed it.  I know it’s hard to describe, but I truly felt it! It’s a weird combination of emotional, mental and physical sensations. I was just riding the high on the run. Proof below:

·         My friend Kyuwon from Toronto pointed out her friend’s blog had a picture of me. Totally random, but check it out! I’m in the third picture down!! http://jonchiang.com/my-first-ironman/

·         The VOWSA swims at Kits Beach that I had regularly attended had some swimmers recognizing me at the race. Two enthusiastic swimmers even independently said to me that I had inspired them to sign up for this race next year. Awesome to hear!

·         There was definitely a lot of “UBC” pride on course, perhaps as indicated on my tri suit. I was surprised there were so many random people that cheered me on!
Photo credit to a spectator Alexis Thind from Whistler! Many thanks!
·         The inspiration I got from my friend and pro racer Brendan Naef has been huge. Brendan high fived me on the run course and give me a huge boost. Considering he did M-dot Mont-Tremblant the weekend before meant that the pain I was feeling couldn't have been as bad.

All this stardom was too much for me to absorb. I just knew what I had to do and went for it. Beast it. I knew many of my co-workers and friends from abroad and back home would be judging relentlessly at my splits online.

·         The first split was 5 minutes quicker for the swim. This was a set-up for a great day. I never looked back.

·         I’m not sure if my watch was off by a km or so, but I wanted to break 6hours so bad that I just kept pushing. Each time I passed a timing checkpoint, I rode faster to not disappoint. I got 9 minutes quicker on the bike and with a bike split of 5h53m.

·         Once I got to the run, I just rode the emotions and ran with a huge smile. I knew I was getting a huge PB. That kept me entertained every time I glanced at Garmin. I was 8 minutes quicker on the run thanks to the favourable cool temperatures.

Naiely was too slow pulling out the camera!

I’d almost forgotten what a crappy swimmer I used to be (and still am but less so). Two years ago, I was swimming 1h30m for the 3.8km swim and I never would have dreamed swimming 1h15m was even possible. This Whistler swim course being so technical with 7 turns had lots of body punching contact. I swam 1h15m15s, but I know I still have lots of room for improvement.

T1 was eventful. I ran into Tiffany and then Lise saw me too and they both helped me with my wetsuit peeling. I was a bit dizzy and couldn’t find the swim-bike bag initially until running back and forth to check my number.

I guess sometimes you have to be good to be lucky and luck has a funny way of rewarding you. Winds were definitely a lot calmer than I experienced during my training rides. I flew up Callaghan Valley passing so many riders. On the decent, I was okay with a few P5 cevelos zooming by me. Once I got past Pemberton and into Pemberton Meadows that’s when I realized trouble. Everyone was passing me on the flats, I was averaging about 32.8km/hr. I guess my climbs this year has been such a focus that I failed to train for the flats. PS – the draft packs definitely didn’t help me either as everyone passed me in huge groups. It was a bit demoralizing, but I knew I had to save my energy for the run.

Nutrition wise, I was happy eating just jels all day. I had about 12 jels on the bike course (lol after I counted them all from my bento box). It’s a smart thing I did bring half a dozen jels just because grabbing that many jels would be a bit more challenging.

I’ve been running a lot this year and had a little curiosity how well I would do. I really wanted it, my cardio was actually limiting me to go quicker but I ran pretty steady throughout the marathon. My open marathon time was 3h17m this year but my marathon split at this race was 3h38m!! I was stunned. It just goes to show Ironman is approx. 90% mental.

 How badly do you want it?

PS - The remainder 10% might be just genuine fear. A bear came to check out the run as well. Good thing the bear on course chose to spare me this time. http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/08/bear-interrupts-ironman-triathlon/ 

  Thanks for the support! Thanks for reading! Keep on truckin'! :)

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