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Becca Fall Down, Go Boom: My Ironman Canada 2012 Race Report

Welcome back, reader! It’s been a while, I know. I took a little hiatus after Ironman Canada to laze around and get fat, so now that I am sufficiently rested and newly-pudgy, it’s time for me to get back into the swing of things, and what better way to move forward than to recap a race I did a month and a half ago, right? If you’re all, “Pffft, this was forever ago, gimme some new material already!”, don’t worry, I’ve got some more timely stuff in the pipeline. But for the 12 of you who have been bugging me to bust out this bad boy, enjoy my ridiculously belated Ironman Canada 2012 race report (oh, and here’s 2010’s race report, aka The Longest Race Report in the History of Race Reports, if you care to revisit that one). Pre-Race Shenanigans Jas and I left for Penticton the Wednesday before the race, stopping a couple (meaning hundreds) of times so I could pee and pick up some healthy, pre-race organic, gluten-free, paleo-friendly nourishment… …just kidding, I had a gas station corn dog, a BBQ pulled pork sandwich, and about five pounds of potato chips. Every time I sign up for these endurance races, I fill out all of the information so far in advance that I’ve forgotten what I’ve written until I have to review the forms before the event. This means that Present Me will usually be simultaneously amused and embarrassed by Past Me’s responses. Case in point: when I went to pick up all of my important race crap, I saw this: The elderly volunteer who was going over my information with me did a double-take and laughed pretty hard, saying, “I haven’t seen that one before!” I took that as a sign to keep putting bullshit in my forms for future events. Thanks, lady! With registration taken care of, I taper tantrum-ed my way through my final pre-race workouts (“Eeeeekkk, my foot is hurting during this bike ride! I knew I should have brought my old nasty cycling shoes instead of the new pair!”; “Holy shit, this water is so rough! Why is it so rough?! It’s going to be even worse on race day, I know it!!”), had my pre-race meeting with Coach T, and lounged around until race day. I was a little nervous but mostly anxious to get back on the course again and see what an additional two years of fitness would do for my finish time. Race Morning I sprang out of bed before my alarm went off, hopped up on nervous energy while Jason sleepily mumbled something and rolled over to catch some more zzz’s. After I showered and scarfed down breakfast and my token cup of race coffee (I only drink coffee the morning of a race, so thus far in 2012 I have had a whopping five cups of sludge), we all headed to transition so I could do my thang. After the standard pre-race whatnots, I found several of my teammates who were also racing and hung out with them as the clock ticked down to 7 am. The mood was light and I was having a great time laughing and joking with everyone while other athletes moped around looking worrisome and miserable. The #1 reason I love being a part of TN Multisports: because my pre-race demeanor is this: Apparently my pre-Ironman ritual now consists of peeing myself in transition before the race starts. Thankfully, my teammates were more amused than grossed out. (And the flower bed got a nice watering!) I have no idea what Tom and I are laughing about here–probably my lack of shame after...
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Feels Like the First Time

Ironman races are a funny thing. I signed up last year, slimmed down, got healthy, (mostly) stopped eating like a complete moron, did four races with mixed results (one win, one DFL), juggled training amid the stresses of starting a new job. And now here I am, on the eve of showing up at the start line to Ironman Canada for the second time. But despite the fact that I feel as prepared as I’ll ever be, it still feels like I’m racing for the first time. Feels like the very first time! I told Teresa exactly that when we sat down for my pre-race athlete meeting, and she laughed and asked why I’d feel that way. Racing an Ironman has an entirely different feel to it. I’ve done three half Ironman races this year, eight since I started doing triathlons in 2008. I’m healthy enough to bust one out a month during the peak of triathlon season. Yet there are only a handful of Ironman races a year, and a mere mortal like myself typically only tackles one per season (or, in my case, one every other season). So although I’ve done this exact same race in this exact same location on close to the exact same date two years ago, it kind of feels like my first Ironman all over again (even though technically it’ll be my last Ironman Canada since next year the series gets changed to Challenge Penticton under new organizers). Sure, I sort of know what to expect this time around, and I figure that I should be faster than I was back in 2010, but it’s a long enough day and enough time has passed since I was at the start line that I’m going to have to rediscover the feeling of racing Ironman all over again. In some ways that’s a little nerve-wracking, but in other ways it’s kind of exhilarating, like being able to recapture the magic and excitement of a first kiss or rediscovering the joy of Saturday morning cartoons and a big bowl of sugary cereal when you were a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a bit nervous, especially as the list of friends who are planning to spectate or track me continues to grow. A prime example: Steven “Good Steve” Hooper, after our last training ride together, in a cheery, optimistic voice: “Good luck at Ironman Canada! Wish I could come up to spectate, but I’ll be tracking you on race day!” What I heard: Steven “Don’t Let Me Down Or Our Friendship is Over” Hooper, in a menacing voice: “I’ll be tracking you on race day.” And when I met with Teresa to talk about my race, she talked about getting in and out of transition as quickly as possible, pushing the descents, pushing my pace when I turn around on the run, and generally treating the day more like a “race” than last time, when my goal was more to “finish.” I of course interpreted her advice as Asian Mom levels of expectations and promptly peed myself a little bit. But ultimately, despite my personal goals or the expectations of others, I know that everyone will be cheering for me no matter how I do. So tomorrow I’m planning to have fun, stay strong, and be thankful that I’m healthy and privileged enough to make something that is the dream of so many people a reality. A few mantras to keep in mind on race day: (My body tells me no / But I won’t quit / ‘Cuz I want more) (It’s gonna be alright / We don’t even have to try / It’s always...
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Rev 3 Portland 2012: Attack of the Climbs

Last month was my third half Ironman of 2012, Rev 3 Portland. I’ve gotta say, I’m really enjoying the Rev 3 race series and highly recommend them to athletes who want a challenging race that’s well run. I hope the Rev 3 series gets more popular since I wouldn’t mind more competition for WTC–right now, only a few hundred people seem to turn out for each Rev 3 race, but hopefully they’ll start gaining momentum. Anyway, onto the race report. I had just done Honu 70.3 the month before and started off my season with Rev 3 Costa Rica in March, so I had been training and racing for quite a while by the time Portland rolled around. When I did the race last year, I was overweight, injured, and out of shape but still managed to have a decent race because the course was flat and fast. This year, however, the organizers changed the bike course to a hellacious hillfest, with four Category 5 climbs (which are apparently the hardest climbs you can rank before the hills essentially just become bullshit mountain terrain). Rev 3 touted the new course as their toughest and most technical one on the circuit. Oh goody. Jason, his deaf dad Jim, his sister Danielle and I went to registration (Danielle was doing the Olympic distance race while Jason and his dad were doing a half Ironman relay with one of Danielle’s friends), then all hopped in Jim’s SUV to drive the bike course. Upon seeing how ridiculous these climbs were and hearing how the car’s engine had to grind to get up them, I couldn’t help but laugh. This course was absurd–full of long, steep climbs and really windy descents that could be quite treacherous if you weren’t cautious. It definitely was not going to be a PR bike split kind of day, but I looked forward to the challenge since I had gotten better at climbing lately. I was only worried about the descents and making sure I stayed cautious and that nobody around me was going to do something stupid that would end up getting me hurt. Jason’s dad, meanwhile, was trying to watch the course like a hawk and study it as best as he could because he was going to be doing the bike leg for the relay team and “didn’t want to get lost.” We informed him that the course is ridiculously well marked with bright pink signage, so he started paying attention to every single thing that was pink and tried to commit it all to memory. Unfortunately, that backfired somewhat: Jim: “Okay, so we go straight here…” Jas: “Ugh, Dad, you’ll be fine.” Jim: “I just want to be sure!” Jas: “If you manage to get lost on this course with how well-marked it is, then you fail at life.” Jim, laughing: “Okay, okay…wait, so then we turn right into this neighborhood.” He pointed at a neon pink sign. Jas: “Dad, that’s for a garage sale!” Jim: “Oh.” Jas: “Do NOT follow that sign. Or blindly follow things that are pink.” Jim: “Well then they shouldn’t have made that garage sale sign pink! Now I’m confused!” Once we all got done laughing at him, we assured him he’d be fine. Swim Summary When race day rolled around, we headed to the venue and I got my transition area set up. My bike was racked right next to bike out/in, which was super awesome. Also awesome was the fact that transition was actually in the park this year–no running over a half mile across the street to the transition area like we did last year. The transition...
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Aloha, Crosswinds: My 2012 Honu 70.3 Race Report

So you’re aware that Hawaii was crazy windy and that after my race I almost fainted on Linsey Corbin, but you don’t know how the actual half Ironman went because I haven’t gotten around to writing it yet. My bad–juggling a new job and Ironman Canada training ramp up has been a bit crazy and I haven’t had a chance to blog much lately. But enough with the excuses, I’ve got posts to write and they’ll spill out of my sun-baked brain and onto a keyboard sooner or later. Here’s how it all went down… The 2012 Lance Armstrong Ironman Lance Honu 70.3, Sponsored by Livestrong Oh, was this the race that Lance Armstrong was at? They made such little fuss about him that I barely knew he was there. (I’m kidding–Ironman totally and unabashedly gargled his ball.) Anyway, the morning of the race I woke up, showered, sunscreened, choked down breakfast, gathered my bottles and gear, and hopped in the van with my housemates to head to the race start. I got to transition and went through the standard ordeal: Pumped up my tires Checked my bike computer Arranged my bottles and fuel Used the portapotty Slathered on more obscene amounts of sunscreen Lubed up my nethers I went down to the beach and got body-marked. This race likes to use fancy stamps for your numbers to make athletes feel as if they’re at the World Championships despite only having to do half the distance. I had a really smudgy stamp and a volunteer captain came up and scolded the person who was helping me for using an inferior stamp on my glorious arm canvas. She spent a few minutes painstakingly cleaning up the ink smears around my numbers, and when she finished I promptly returned to transition and coated myself with another layer of sunscreen. (I wasn’t about to get Cancun’d again so I sacrificed number readability for not getting skin cancer.) Jas and I wandered around, avoiding Lance’s entourage and the surrounding crowd of gawkers, in an effort to find his parents so we could hand them our pre-race gear bags to hold onto. We eventually found them on the beach at the swim start, so we dropped off our stuff and headed into the ocean to get warmed up. Jason made it in fine but I only waded in a few feet before a big-ass wave knocked me down. I popped up, sputtering, and tried again, but the waves were all “Haha, no” and bitch-slapped me back down again. At this point I thought, “Screw it, swim warm ups are overrated anyway” and headed back onto the beach. Jason emerged after a couple minutes and asked why I was covered in sand. I explained that the ocean was not being kind to me and he started laughing. It was a great send-off from my supportive boyfriend. Swim Summary I found my slow and steady Lane 7 teammates and stood with them to wait for the race to start. In previous years the pros and amateurs all started at the same time, but since Lance Armstrong was gracing us with his presence this year, the pros were allowed to start three minutes before us peons. They took off while I stared at the buoys, confused by how the course had been set up. It looked roughly like this: We had to start at the first buoy and take a long, diagonal path to a buoy in the upper left area, which meant a lot of swimming without seeing anything for a while. Then we would swim to the second buoy and turn right. From there, we’d...
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A Day in the Life of an Ironman Bike Check-In Volunteer

Last week I was in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for Ironman CdA. A good chunk of my teammates, including my boyfriend the BFG, were racing and I was there to get some training in for my upcoming Ironman (Canada 2: Electric Racealoo) and to cheer for my peeps. A few months ago I decided to sign up for a volunteer spot as a way of giving back to the Ironman community since the volunteers do such a great job of making the races run smoothly and ensuring that the athletes make it across the finish line in one piece. I thought it would be cool to be an athlete catcher at the finish line or do something on race day, but since Jason was racing I wanted to be free all day to spot him on the course, so I opted to volunteer the day before at athlete bike check-in. My summary of my shift is below: 6:00 am I wake up and contemplate going right back to sleep because waking up early sucks balls, but I have a stupid 90-minute run on my schedule and it’s supposed to rain later so I should get this damn thing out of the way before I start my volunteer shift. Blargh. 6:40 am My teammate Jill and I hop into her car–she’s meeting some TN folks for a swim and I was tagging along so I could begin my run from the trail that’s adjacent to the lake. We ride in silence for several minutes before Jill breaks the silence with this amusing confession: Jill: “I ate a whole box of cookies last night!” Chick, you’re doing an Ironman tomorrow. Eat all the cookies you want. 7:00 am Jill begins her swim while I start my run. I make it about 5.3 miles out before turning around and heading back. The weather is cool and it’s very quiet and serene. I feel pretty good and tell myself I should wake up early to do my workouts more often. (I probably won’t.) 8:30 am I finish my run and sneak a shower at my coaches’ rental house, then chow down on a Powerbar before heading over to bike check-in to start my volunteer shift. 9:02 am I head to the Ironman tent marked with a gigantic “INFO” sign and get the attention of a surly, fuchsia-haired woman of middle age. Me: “I’m volunteering at bike check-in and was wondering where I need to go.” Her, scowling: “They’re all grouped over there. The meeting has started already.” She glares at me for daring to be two minutes late. My shift doesn’t even start until 10, lady, so chill yoself. I mentally throw a “Screw you, ya purple-haired bag” her way but smile politely before wandering over to the group. 9:03 am Forty or so volunteers are huddled around the captain while he explains how the transition area is set up and how bike check-in will work. I cannot hear him at all, so I stand around awkwardly until the meeting adjourns. Someone hands me a purple wristband and a matching Ironman Coeur d’Alene t-shirt that has “VOLUNTEER” emblazoned across the back. It’s soft and comfy, so I immediately mentally assign it as my new sleepin’ shirt when I get back to Seattle. 9:10 am Everyone wanders off. I find a couple of people and ask them to basically repeat what the captain had told us since I had no idea what he was saying. Most everyone I pester is just as confused as I am, so I resort to standing at the bike check-in entrance like an idiot. 9:15 am The bike check-in captain...
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