When I used to be into snowboarding, I had numerous places I wanted to to visit for that purpose. Since I've started triathlon, I've made trips to Park City, Queenstown (NZ), Wanaka (NZ), Lake Tahoe and now Whistler… …all in the summer months. Not what I would have thought many years ago.
For those that weren't following the race, it was, by far, the most difficult race I have ever competed in. Ironman races are generally pretty challenging. Ironman Canada has a solid bike course making for some additional challenges in ideal conditions. However, this year's race brought cold temperatures and heavy rain. Putting all those components together and you have an extremely challenging race.
The weather in Whistler during race week had seen cool temperatures and sporadic rain leading into the event with the race day forecast being the worst of the week. The bike course in Whistler loses elevation across the first half and gains it all back in the second half. With that in mind, I felt that if the weather could just hold out until mid-morning, we would be 'just fine' even if heavy rain rolled in. However, we basically had the opposite occur, with the heaviest rain falling during the first half of the bike (beginning as soon as we started the swim) and eventually letting up on the back half. I don't know how cold it was early on, but my Garmin showed an average temperature of 44 degrees for the whole bike. With those conditions, you can see why a number of folks were pulled from the course for hypothermia.
A basic recap of the day was something like:
1. The swim:
Bell, Barrett and Buckingham exited the water at about 48:20. Ambrose and Symmonds came out around 51 high, and I came out of the water with a group right at 53 minutes. Generally felt good in the swim.
2. The Bike:
0-32K: Was able to stay warm enough because of the ~12K up Callaghan Road.
32-45K: Trying not to freeze descending Callaghan.
45-79K: Trying to stay warm.
80K: I think this was the coldest point of the race for me. I remember seeing the 80K sign and I felt like I was shivering uncontrollably.
95-120K; flat part of the ride in Pemberton Valley, which is also almost 2000 feet lower than Whistler. There is a turnaround on this road and I could see Kyle (Buckingham) had a big lead, but 2nd-4th where not too far out of reach. First time since the end of the swim I'm starting to think about 'racing' again.
120-145K; tried to stay on top of things back across the valley, but starting to fade a little. Hoping the final climb will bring me back to life.
145-180K; climbing back up to Whistler. Originally, this had been the point in the race where I hoped to put time into everyone else. However, I felt totally wiped. This final section I tried to just do my best and make it to the start of the run.
3. The run:
3K: Moved into 4th
Maybe 10K?: Moved into 3rd;
10-30K: This was probably the best section of running for me, got the split to Victor and Kyle (running together in 1+2) down under 3:00 at one point. Thought there might be a chance for one more spot.
31-32K: starting to fade; gap to front is going out again.
32-42K: looking around every corner for that finish line.
42.2K: 3rd place.
I had a couple takeaways from this race:
1. Coming back from pneumonia in May made this race a bit emotional for me. I was so sick a couple months ago and being able to competently compete again was very fulfilling.
2. I tend to do better in races of attrition, but those races almost always involve hot weather. Being able to work through a day like that in the cold was also very fulfilling.
Until the next one,