Heather’s IM CDA race report

(the two canucks, just after the race… see more photos below)

Wow eh!?!?

Who’da thunk.

I just won an Ironman. I am an Ironman Champion. Huh.

It was a pretty special day and I think it is all still sinking in. Thanks so much to everyone for sending me all the positive karma before the race, and for the celebration and the pats on the back afterwards.

My fantastic homestay family, the Kozaks, took tonnes of great pictures, and a video of the awards speech so I will get that posted asap. For now here is a fun little link of part of the post-race press interview. I was nervous about seeing myself on TV, but after watching it felt like “that’s me alright” and I don’t feel misrepresented in my goofiness!

[I am having trouble getting the video embedded with in the post, but here is the link: http://www.krem.com/video/sports-index.html?nvid=256922 Excuse the Toyota ad at the beginning! (FYI, there is also a little video of my finish on the same site). The question that got cut off at the beginning was about Trevor’s race… 

 Anyway. I guess you are all curious about the race from my perspective. Here’s a little run down…

I went into the race with a “no pressure”, laid-back attitude. I just wanted to have a solid performance, and I felt that I could be on the podium if I did my best. I was more nervous for my pre race interview:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCwTnTMllpQ and the pro press panel thing on Friday than I was for the race itself! I was almost surprised with how chilled out I was the week before and I felt more cool and collected than I ever have race morning. On the start line I vividly remember thinking, “it is so cool to be doing this, it’s going to be a fun day” and that vibe kept me going throughout the race.

I worked really hard to stay on the feet of some of the pro men for the first loop of the swim, but they dropped me the second time around, and I was on my own… I pretty much said it all in the post-race interview above.

It took me awhile to get in a good rhythm on the ride, but it felt better and better throughout. Word on the street was that people were saying things like “who is she?”, “Man, she is burying herself, she is going to die on the run”, but I actually rode pretty conservatively; making conscious decisions to stay seated on specific hills, and to keep my legs feeling the way I wanted going into the run. I read a little Mark Allen article before the race about suspending judgment and just doing my thing. I was happy to be all zen with the head-winds and they really didn’t phase me. I also knew that I could still race well without feeling good, but luckily I did feel good and I was happy to get my nutrition dialed in for this one.

Oooh oohh, I also have this new visualization that I used on the bike. In the past I have unconsciously started breathing shallowly, almost in time with my peddle stroke (investigate yourself to see if you do this next time you are making a hard effort). Shallow, rapid breathing is of course no good in terms of oxygen exchange, and you don’t want to go there. “Breath” and “loose” were my ride keywords, and several times I focused on taking good, deep belly breaths and imagined all of this oxygenated blood rushing to my legs! It worked really well. That, and some electrolyte tablets always perked me right up! (Geepers, maybe I shouldn’t give away my race secrets! Consider yourself lucky! ha ha)

But I digress. The run: I did the first little ~2 mile out-and-back and I didn’t see another pro woman the whole time! It was then that a little thought of “huh, it’d be pretty hard for someone to catch me” starting wiggling its way into my brain. Out of respect for my fellow competitors run speed, which is something I need to work on, I dismissed thoughts of winning until the second loop. By then the gap still hadn’t narrowed, and my thoughts switched to the skull and cross bones on my cool AVIA kit and I was prepared to “win or die”. I did give my self the leeway to make 2 porta potty stops, however!

It was kind of funny (as in odd) out on the run course for the first loop. For some reason my “lead female” bike guy was giving me bad vibes and he kept on turning around and staring at me whenever I farted! It is an Ironman for goodness sakes! If you are concerned about passing gas your focus is not it the right place!! Perhaps it is just my over active imagination, but he also didn’t seem to like the fact that I asked a few of the age-group men that I passed for salt tablets. Support from fellow competitors is totally allowed! Like a dummy, I put a bunch of electrolyte tabs loose in the front of my fuel belt. By the second lap they were a salty, mushy mess and I was in trouble. I am a very heavy sweater. Three wonderful men gave me some of theirs, at critical times and helped me stave off leg cramps. That, and the chicken stock that appeared at the aid stations with 2 miles to go, saved the day!

Another funny thing is how people think that you can’t hear them the instant you run 2 feet past. I heard a lot of “whoa, she’s tall”, and quizzical “that’s the leader?” and “that’s not the right Heather”. People didn’t really cheer too much until the second loop (but then it was full on!)

From looking at the videos of me running I sure don’t look all that spectacular, ahem, “jogging along” with my loping stride. I think that people of Heather G and Desiree’s stature just look so much more impressive, like they are powering along (which they undoubtedly are) and it is easy to dismiss me as “not a runner”. Nonetheless, I kept it steady and got it done. Heather G worked hard to claw back some time but I kept my “commanding” lead until the finish.

It was a great day, and a fantastic experience. I think what both Trevor and I find most exciting is how much room we both have for improvement! I can’t think of a more thrilling adventure!

Cheers, Heather

P.S. My dad showed up in CDA on Saturday and surprised me at the race! I just saw him walking by in the race expo… I was overjoyed! It was so awesome to have him there to cheer me on, but my poor mom, who was visiting my brother Jeff and his family (hugs to Kathleen, Abbey, Sadie and Isaac!) in Ottawa was heart broken that she missed the big event. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful supportive family! Here are some of my dad’s photos:

 

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~ by trevorandheather on June 25, 2008.

4 Responses to “Heather’s IM CDA race report”

  1. My broken heart was brimming over with pride and joy…….and what a joy it is to have you as a daughter!
    Love Mom

  2. Awesome Heather! Live it up! Enjoy your recovery.

  3. Wow that is amazing!! Congratulations on an AWESOME race – we will be watching and cheering for you in Hawaii!

  4. Great Job! btw your bike guy looked at me funny when I farted too 🙂

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