A win on my birthday

birthdaySunday July 12th was the date of the Osyoos Desert Half Ironman, which just happened to be the Canadian Long Course Championships, and, incidentally, my 30th birthday. I thought that, maybe, I could keep my entrance to a new decade a little hush hush, but boy was I wrong!  It started with a happy birthday announcement over the loud speakers at the swim start, and all day people on the sidelines and even other athletes were cheering me on and wishing me a Happy Birthday!  It was a great way to spend the day  (make friends with pain and you will always have a good time, right!?)

The race began with the nicest swim start I have ever been a part of. It was a gorgeous morning, the water was flat and warm, and there was an awesome positive vibe in the air. P7111749I had some pleasant little chats with other racers on the beach, we reviewed the swim course, I was wished a happy birthday, I wished others a great race – there was a count down from 5 and we were off. It was all exceedingly civilized. I was in open water pretty quickly and enjoying myself. I spotted someone off to my right and got on her feet for the first loop. She dropped me with some savvy swimming through the sea of men that we caught the second time around and I was on my own for the most of that one. Like all good race directors Joe Dixon called the race as wet suit legal even though it was right on the cusp of being too warm. I was definitely over-heating by the end of the swim and have never been so eager to get my suit off. Yay wetsuit strippers  – but the boiling water inside the suit must have been a little creepy for them! Trevor and I always compete in the swim (it was the one of the 3 sports that I was better at than him for a brief moment in time) and I like to tease that he gains time on me by sitting on my feet and then blowing by at the end. Separate starts, same conditions, and he still beat me by 7 seconds… dammit! Oh but he had a big group of guys to swim with, and got to draft more… ya that must be it!

Anyway, the warmth in the water and the predicted 35oC warmth of the air made me super conscious of drinking. I was gulping down water and givin’er up Richter pass hoping to spot that swimmer who was out of the water in front of me.  She never appeared – turns out it was a relay team – but there were lots of guys who were fun to chase, and pass, and then usually pass once more before they accepted that they had better stick to their race plan and let me go! There was some definite leap frog on the rollers out towards Cawston in the good strong head wind, but I felt smooth on the return trip and came up to people fewer and farther between.

I was hydrated, I had enough calories,  my mind was in a good place, but my legs just felt like lead.  Like some serious heavy metal and I’m not talking Black Sabbath. The bike is usually the easiest part of the race for me, but this was decidedly not easy.  P7111775 At one point when I passed my cow-bell ringing, cheering parents at the side of the road and I yelled at them to take a split off the next woman behind me. They drove by about 60 seconds later and said “she’s 35 seconds back”.  I looked at them like “duh, I don’t care about the split back from the guy I just passed” – I had never asked them to take a split before so maybe they got confused, or didn’t hear me with all the cheering – when lo and behold a streak of purple goes blowing past me about 30 seconds later. I would have laughed for giving mom and dad the the evil eye when they were dead on, if I wasn’t so shocked and utterly demoralized. Where the hell did she come from!?!  I kept her in my sights and then we got to an aid station and she then she was gone… and I dropped my banana to boot! I was doing the “it’s okay, race your race, stay steady” mental consolation thing when I saw her stopped up ahead swearing at her shifting. She had hopped off her bike, adjusted, and hopped back on just as I went by, to pass me yet again. I was genuinely impressed and said “nice recovery!”.  I wish a bike mechanical on no one. All the excitement acutally passed the time, and all of a sudden I was at the top of Richter Pass again. I sped down as fast as I could to try to minimize the damage and was happy to hear the announcer talking about speedy Rhae heading out on the run just as I got into transition.

P7111803Well it was my birthday, and I really wanted to win the Canadian Long Course Championships, so I was just going to have to do it on the run. This was exciting for me because the feeble bike legs didn’t feel quite so heavy on the run. I also enjoyed being back in the land of kilometer markers which always seem to make the race go faster for me – you can see the next marker sooner, there are more of them, and it is easier to keep your splits constant. I was chasing Rhae, and seemed to be slowly closing the gap. It was fun to see a lot of familiar faces in the pro men’s field and Scott Curry yelled “come on, she’s right there, go get her” at just the right time because it lit a fire under my butt and I caught her just around the 5 k mark.  I was determined not to look back and just keep going strong but it felt like she was close behind for quite awhile.

At the turn around of the first loop I was happy to see a good gap, but then “hey, who’s that other chick screaming up behind her!?”. Now this position I was familiar with – in the lead with some insanely fast runner chasing me down. I’ve been told I run better scared than I do angry, and I knew she was gaining so I had to step it up a notch. There is something special about being first that fuels your fire. It was hot, but I actually wasn’t feeling the temperatures so much. I was just thinking about staying on top of my form and getting as much fluid in as I could at the aid stations.  I was nervous and hurting until the far turnaround just about 1k from the finish… she was far enough back that I knew I’d made it, but then I thought about ITU sprint finishes and kept the pressure until the finish chute.

P7111832It was an awesome race and the competition pushed me hard, which is always the most fun! There were smiling friends and family at the finish, Scott caught Trev on the run and they were both smiling about it in their would-be-sickening-if-it-wasn’t-so-damn-sincere-and-natural amiable manner (these two guys are truly impossible not to like), and then we sat in the lake and ate watermelon and joked around with Jonathan Caron and Ben Cotter.  There were awesome Okanangan College of Massage therapy students on hand to give amazing massages, good food for a lunch banquet and kick ass awards. Happy Birthday to me!!

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~ by trevorandheather on July 13, 2009.

2 Responses to “A win on my birthday”

  1. Congratulations — great race report! I was laughing when I read about how you thought your parents made a mistake on the split thing — parents have a funny way of always being right, eh? Hahahaha!

    Again, great race report, felt like I was right there. 🙂

  2. Belated Happy Birthday and big, big congrats on a super race. I always enjoy your race and training reports – I can hear you talking as I read them. Cheers, Phyllis

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