Ironman Canada Whistler, British Columbia Race Report 7-28-2019

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Ironman Canada in Whistler, British Columbia was an epic event! After an exciting European city Ironman in Copenhagen last year, I wanted to go back to the mountains for my next adventure. We had always wanted to alpine ski at Whistler, but never made it out that way yet. So, it was time to do another Canadian Ironman, but on the other side of the continent. My Coach Lisa works at most of the Canadian Ironman events and said we’d love it out in Whistler. She calls us mountain people. And I can’t say enough about how much we loved the gorgeous Coast Mountains in British Columbia. The Ironman was amazing and extremely well organized. Thank you to everyone who made the day happen. Christine the race director did a stellar job. The volunteers were amazing. The course was the most beautiful and challenging so far in my Ironman journey. A five-star event for sure! Sadly, Ironman Canada will be moving back to its original location in Penticton, BC. I am extremely grateful I got to experience the last Ironman event in this exciting destination. Thank you, Whistler!

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Overall, I had a very challenging race with some struggles and setbacks. After 3-4 hours on the bike I had stomach cramping which only escalated on the run. However, I ended up third in my age-group (F45-49) which was an amazing relief after everything I went through that day. Cailla the first-place woman raced Ironman as a professional back in 2003 to 2005. And second place, Marla, lives in Whistler racing this Ironman every year. Marla already had a Kona slot from earlier in the year so everyone including my coach thought I had a Kona slot for sure. However, this year there was only one slot unlike the previous years where there were always two slots. I was extremely disappointed! This hurt! I just couldn’t believe it. It felt like a bad dream. Lisa said I was robbed but there was nothing we could do. It wasn’t meant to be and I have to respect it. I’ll keep trying for sure and I’ll keep showing up!

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Scott did the 70.3 which happened on the same day. It’s rare to have a full and half Ironman on the same day so we jumped at this opportunity since Scott had a rough start to the season. With his injuries last year that lingered well into the winter and early spring, this was his first triathlon of the season. He did so well and enjoyed his race. I’m so proud of him! He’s a champ! His bike split was much faster than my first loop! He has been riding well and his swim and run were also solid! It was a warm day for the run and he paced himself well.

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We flew to Vancouver from Montreal on Tuesday. It’s about 2-3 hours to the Montreal airport when you factor into the border crossing which wasn’t bad at all. Air Canada was mediocre at best. It wasn’t terrible but it felt like an economy airline with little frills, uncomfortable seats, little air conditioning, no bottled water, and no meals for a 5+ hour flight (you could purchase sandwiches). We got into Vancouver around 7:30pm but didn’t get onto the road until closer to 9pm after we had to wait a while for our luggage and bikes (mechanical issues with the belts). Always something! It’s a solid 2-hour drive to Whistler from the airport, so that was very tiring after a long flight. It was a slow drive out of Vancouver as you go through the heart of the city with endless traffic lights. And the twisty roads to Whistler on Route 99 were relentless and tricky in the dark. We got into our condo around midnight (3am our time). Needless to say, we were wrecked but able to sleep in a bit.

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We rented a decent condo in the heart of the Whistler ski village from AirB&B. Deer Lodge was our home for just over a week. The small one-bedroom condo was adequate with a few nice upgraded features in the kitchen and bathroom. I liked the new sinks and flooring. The carpet needs refreshing, but that was probably my only complaint about the condo itself. The condo was very clean and had just about everything we needed. I liked the balcony to hang and dry stuff like our wetsuits. And we overlooked one of the main pedestrian walkways. It was a bit noisy at night, but not intolerable. The worst aspect of the condo was hearing people walking around above us. Otherwise our stay was comfortable. The best aspect of the condo was the location from the finish line and the Ironman village area. It was a couple minute walk to the Ironman tents and about 5 minutes from the finish line. That was certainly helpful after the race!

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It was nice to arrive early to get a feel for Whistler and parts of the race course. On Wednesday we biked to the swim start to check out that part of the bike course and see Alta Lake where we would swim. It was breathtaking with the snow on top of the mountains. It was a chilly day so we didn’t swim. We later ran up to Lost Lake on part of the run course. That was very pretty as well. Lost Lake is smaller but still so lovely in the wilderness. It was a beautiful day and one of the best days of the week.

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Thursday, we picked up our race packets in the morning and hit the Ironman store as usual trying not to spend a fortune. Later, we drove to Alta Lake and had a very nice swim. There were some buoys set up so we got to swim part of the course. The water was around 70F and felt cold for the first few minutes and then it felt refreshing and lovely. It was so clean and clear. I loved swimming in Alta Lake! Later in the day we drove to the bottom of Callahan hill and I rode up to the top to check it out and see how bad it was. I was relieved it wasn’t nearly as steep as some of our usual Vermont routes. I really enjoyed riding up with gorgeous mountain views. Scott drove ahead of me a few times to take photos. (we couldn’t fit both bikes safely in the big SUV we rented). Later on, I did another short run on the run course heading north away from T2. I ate a Cliff bar too fast and then headed straight out onto the run which caused me a serious cramp in my right abdomen. It was so bad I had to stop for a while and cut my run short about 8 minutes. And I ended up walking and jogging back. I was a bit worried but it subsided by the time I was back to the condo. The air is much dryer compared to Vermont so maybe I just needed more hydration.

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Friday was a rest day from swim/bike/run which I didn’t mind as I felt a bit tired. I wondered if I had recovered from that very long travel day. We did hit the athlete briefing in the afternoon. Saturday, I got up in the morning and did a nice short 20-minute run with a few strides to activate my legs. My stomach was fine and no cramps which was a relief. It was a nice cool morning. Later we rode our bikes a couple miles to Alta Lake on the Valley Trail to drop off our bikes and bike transition bags. This went smoothly. We did have to wait about 30 minutes for a shuttle bus back, but it wasn’t that bad. We then brought our transition run bag down to T2 which was only a 5-6-minute walk from the condo. Then it was time to relax and chill out in the condo. After eating a whole Daiya frozen vegan pizza for lunch, I opted for the Daiya mac and cheese that has the little carrots and peas. I find it easy to get down. Carb loading for an Ironman is hard, tedious and all business for me.

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I did get to chat with Lisa on Friday afternoon face to face which was a nice treat. She helped calm my nerves as I was really getting apprehensive by Friday. I had told Lisa that I sometimes I wished I was a middle-of-the-pack racer as there would be so much less pressure on me. I was going for a Kona spot and that added a lot of extra stress. And that doesn’t help someone like me who is already wound tightly before a big race. She helped me feel better about everything. I was healthy, well trained and ready to go. And we talked about how lucky I was to be able to race such an epic distance in a very beautiful and challenging venue.

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Saturday night we were in bed early enough but I never sleep well before an Ironman or big race. I got a few hours of sleep which is the norm for me. The alarm went off at 2:45am but I was up a few times before that. We were pretty efficient in the morning cooking oatmeal, putting on our race tattoos and sunscreen. The goal was to get to T1 before 4:30am when transition opened. We couldn’t leave any nutrition in our bags or bikes overnight due to the black bears. So, I had to put my gels into my fuel belt which has a pack for gels before getting onto the shuttle bus. I also had to drop off my bike Special Needs bag near the buses. Race morning was very organized and we got right onto a shuttle bus with hardly any wait. It was a nice mellow ride to Alta Lake in the dark. The sun was coming up as we got close to the lake and it was just so pretty with the red glow around the mountain silhouettes. I reminded myself how lucky we were to be doing this event. I listened to the conversations on the bus blending together of our fellow athletes. I was nervous as usual, but felt a pleasant calmness on the bus.

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Once at the lake we had several tasks to complete. I added my nutrition to my bike and made sure it was all set. I caught up to Scott and we hit the porto potty one more time. Time was ticking away so I got into my wetsuit with the help of Scott. Lisa found me and it was so great to see her that morning. I only had time for about a 4-5-minute warm-up swim but it was better than nothing. The water felt very warm compared to the air temperature. Soon enough we were all being called out of the water. I found Scott and took some water and last sips of my Skratch drink I had been drinking since I woke up. I kissed Scott goodbye and lined up with my fellow athletes. It was a beautiful morning and I was ready to go!

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The swim

The Ironman swim at Alta Lake was my favorite and best swim so far in this discipline. I can’t say enough good things about the swim in general. In fact, it was the best part of my day. Who knew my weakest sport could end up being the highlight of the whole Ironman? This wasn’t a Personal Record swim in regards to time (a few seconds slower than Ironman Lake Placid in 2017). But I ended up 8th in the swim out of 41 women in my age-group who finished. That is a new record for me. My official time was a 1:17:00 and my goal was 75 minutes. I’m getting close! Lisa and Dave were very excited about my swim and being in the top 10 ten out of the water. I’m usually quite a bit back in the swim and have to work my way up!

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The beauty of the area is really magnificent. Gorgeous rugged mountains with snow on top surround Alta Lake. You can see the Whistler ski areas in the background. The lake itself is clear, clean and pristine. It was about 66F for race morning which felt perfect with a 50F morning air temperature. And this was ideal for a wetsuit swim. At the swim start we were presented with the most beautiful sunrise coming over the mountains. It was truly majestic. And with the fog coming off the water, it was the perfect morning swim scene.

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On social media I described Ironman Whistler’s swim as being the politest swim ever. It was a rolling start with 4 athletes going off every few seconds. I do love the rolling start swims as it’s so much less stressful for me. I started on the far-right corral and entered the water. Because of a very short warm up swim, I didn’t start out too fast. I know better. If I do start fast, I will get panic attacks and have trouble with breathing and a rapid heart-rate. I did feel my heart-rate rise a bit quickly the first couple minutes, but I managed to settle into my swim, slowly getting into a good rhythm of breathing twice on each side.

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The course was counter clock-wise doing two loops without getting out of the water. So, the buoys were always to my left which I seem to prefer. The first leg went fine and I stayed on the outside as I usually do to avoid contact. And I swim better with more clear water. There were always people close by and many in front of me but it wasn’t a problem having space. The only downside with this tactic is that I always swim more distance staying on the outside. My Garmin clocked 2.6 miles instead of 2.4. That is more than Copenhagen last year where I clocked 2.5 miles. But I was swimming well and feeling OK. I was breathless but not red-lining it.

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The first red turn buoy came up quickly and then it was a couple more buoys to the next turn buoy. It’s always more congested around the turns but I didn’t have any problems. On the way back it was beautiful with the sun coming up over the mountains on my right side. I might have been swimming too far on the outside as I would find myself very close to the many kayakers and paddle boarders volunteering for our protection and safety. I would then try to swim a big closer to the buoy line. Then it was around the next couple turn buoys which went smoothly. I had a minor worry I might miss the exit on the second loop or the start of the first loop, but everything was well marked and I just followed the flow and started on my second loop.

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One positive aspect of this swim was that I was passing a lot of people. Very few passed me. I was wondering if I was swimming a sub 75-minute swim. But now I realize many people were not lined up properly. I lined up with the 70 to 80-minute swimmers. Many should have lined up a bit back. But I had plenty of space to pass slower athletes.

The second loop was uneventful and similar to the first loop for me. With many turns, it ticked by quickly. I would feel happy every time a saw a red turn buoy. I kept focusing on a good strong stroke. The bilateral breathing with two breaths on each side continued to work well for me. I was feeling decent and enjoying the swim. That was amazing for me. I liked Ironman Copenhagen’s swim but didn’t enjoy it as much as Alta Lake. This was such a nice swim!

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I was very happy to get to the final turn buoy and head to shore. This swim felt like it went by quite a bit faster than previous Ironman swims. It wasn’t as grueling or monotonous like in the past. It certainly wasn’t easy and I worked hard. This swim gave me a lot of confidence for future Ironman swims. I am no longer afraid to try an Ironman ocean swim. I still need to work on speed and I still want to break the 75-minute Ironman swim goal. And it will happen. I just have to keep working on my swim. Overall Ironman Canada’s swim was a success for me and a big win. I will never forget that swim.

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I do have to mention the volunteers were so awesome in T1. I had a kind woman help me with my transition bag. It was so nice to have this extra assistance. I had to sit down after the swim and having someone pack my wetsuit into the bag was a treat.

Scott had a good swim but he was disappointed with his swim time. The 70.3 athletes went off about an hour and 20 minutes later than us. This was his first triathlon swim since Ironman Copenhagen last August. Coming back from injuries I feel he did a great job out there. He didn’t feel his swim was as spacious as mine and dealt with a bit of anxiety issues in the beginning. Scott is a strong swimmer and finished successfully in spite of a more challenging start to the day.

The Bike

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The Ironman bike course in Whistler was epic in regards to beautiful scenery and elevation gain. This was by far the most difficult Ironman bike I’ve done so far and that includes Lake Placid in 2017. The course has changed several times the last few years due to issues with different towns and last year the course was too congested with three laps. This year they changed it to two laps that included a long climb up Callahan hill which is home to the Whistler Olympic Park. Many athletes were reporting that they clocked over 8,000 feet of elevation. The official website reports 2405 meters (7,890 feet).

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I was excited to sign up for this Ironman when I learned the new course would have even more elevation gain compared to previous years. Living in Vermont we bike over mountain passes and gaps almost every weekend. Climbing is what I do best on the bike and I love the mountains. So, I thought this course would suit me. And I really did love the climbs on this course. While there were several 10% graded climbs up Callahan, it never felt that badly even on the second loop. We have much steeper climbs here in Vermont. Just try biking up the Stowe side of the Notch road! Even our famous Appalachian Gap rides are much steeper and more difficult than anything we rode that day in Whistler.

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However, due to stomach cramping on the second climb up Callahan, my bike race took a bit of a nose-dive on the second half. I had to scale back on my effort to make it onto the run. The cramps sometimes felt a bit better after backing off from my chews but my stomach never resolved itself. My overall time was around what I thought I might ride for a worst-case scenario. I do think I was about 10 or 20 minutes slower compared to if my stomach felt good on the entire bike. I still have to figure how to have a decent stomach for an entire Ironman bike. I have little trouble doing a half Ironman but my stomach has issues after about 3-4 hours of racing on the bike. My time of 6:27 wasn’t stellar but not terrible either. I was 8th in the swim and moved up to 6th place going up Callahan the first time but then moved back to 7th place when I was finished the bike.

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After a great swim (for me) in Alta lake, the bike took us on a couple mile stretch back to the main Route 99. The air temperature was in the low 50sF so quite chilly especially after being wet and having several downhills on the first section leading away from the lake. I had stressed over what to wear the few days leading up the Ironman. It looked like it was going to be in the high 40sF after the swim. So, I almost wore a vest and arm warmers. I did pack the arm warmers in T1 but ended up not wearing anything extra. It was cold but tolerable the first hour. My hands didn’t get numb but my feet were cold for quite a bit. Luckily, I could still eat my power bar (a new item I experimented with this season) on the first 20 minutes.

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The ride to Callahan on Route 99 (the main drag through Whistler) was uneventful and not too crowded. It was a rolling downhill with beautiful views of the mountains. I was still chilly but the sun was out and it was a gorgeous morning. I got water at the first aid station (took water at all of them – topped off my front water bottle). I was feeling fine early on in the bike course. We did a lot of early morning training rides so being chilly wasn’t new for me. My mantra for the day was “There’s no place I’d rather be than doing this Ironman”. And I felt like I was in good spirits so far. Before I knew it, I turned right onto the 7-8 mile climb up Callahan. There were plenty of other athletes but it never felt too crowded like I feared. I was doing well up the climbs, being smart but also pushing past many other athletes. I also decided to eat my second power bar. Lisa had advised on eating well after the swim. When I was almost at the top, Dave was there cheering me on. He also told me I had a great swim and I was 8th out of the water. And after the turnaround at the top I saw him again and he said I was in 6th place! I was so excited and in great spirits. I’ve never been that far up in the rankings early on in the bike course. I usually have to catch many women on the run!

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The ride back down Callahan has many fast downhills with a 10% grade. I was careful and my max speed didn’t exceed 40MPH. I crashed badly in 1997 so a few extra minutes isn’t worth going excessively fast. Of course, there were several men going down at extremely fast speeds. One or two went by me so fast it was startling and disturbing. One wrong move and they would be dead or seriously injured. I was happy to be back down onto Route 99 heading south. Again, it was a lot of rolling downhills. I was able to be in aero for much of this. The 6 or so miles to the turnaround close to Daisy Lake weren’t too bad and I was happy to head back towards Whistler. However, this long stretch back to Whistler was long and tedious. It was also getting warm and it felt a bit hot on some of the uphills. I was still plugging along and riding at a good pace. I was happy to pass Callahan on the left and continue onwards to the Whistler Village area. The rolling uphills were never too bad but there was much climbing in my little chain ring and easy gears, much like Callahan. But the worst grade on Route 99 was maybe 7%.

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It was good to get back into the village with many people cheering by the Whistler Village entrance. We biked past everyone and almost back to Alta Lake but turned around on Route 99 at the light (Alpine road). Then we took a quick right onto a turn off where we got our Special Needs bags. Everyone had to ride through. When I first got to the parking lot area, a volunteer was calling off my number so when I got to Special Needs another volunteer already had my bag. I stopped and quickly gave her my old water bottles with small bits of Skratch nutrition left. And she handed me my fresh water bottles with Skratch nutrition. I thanked her many times and was off again. The volunteers were so great on this course!

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I was still feeling decent on the second loop and noticed my legs/quads were doing quite well. I was still in good spirits and happy to be out there! The rolling downhills went fine and I wasn’t cold like the first loop. It was a beautiful sunny day! And soon enough I was back on the long Callahan climb. This time it felt much warmer and I was so glad I didn’t wear the arm warmers. The hills felt harder this time but nothing terrible. After getting a bit over halfway up the climb I noticed my stomach was getting some cramps. Damn! So, I backed off the chews and drank mostly water. At the top of Callahan my stomach was definitely in distress so I decided to just stick to water until things felt better. I really had to pee and used the opportunity on the way back down the hill. I had to pee a lot on the bike (not unlike last year’s Ironman).

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Once I was off Callahan and back on Route 99 my stomach eased up slightly but I wasn’t out of the woods. I noticed that there were less athletes around me after the last climb up Callahan. I didn’t mind but wondered how I was doing compared to everyone else. The rolling downhills sometimes felt harder with the head wind which had picked up for the second loop. Someone joked that even the downhills felt like uphills. I believe they were referring to that section between Callahan and the turnaround on Route 99 near Daisy Lake.

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The long climb back up Route 99 was hard and hot this time around. My stomach was back to being upset and my cramps were not subsiding since I was working harder up the hills. I tried a few more chews as I would need to have some nutrition for the run but my stomach didn’t like it. So finally, I stopped with the chews on the way back with maybe 40 kilometers to go. I just sipped water and some of my Skratch nutrition in my water bottles. The way back was slower and very tedious. I was hot and ready to get off my bike. My neck had been sore most of the ride but not as bad as Copenhagen last year. Because I wasn’t in the aero position as much my neck never felt excruciating. But I was never comfortable.

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Finally, I was riding past the Whistler Village and was able to pick up the pace a bit. Again, we had to ride all the way down to Alpine road, through the Special Needs section and back. A woman in my age group (4th place) passed me but I ended up passing her on the run giving myself a 30-minute buffer. I couldn’t wait to be off my bike. I still had stomach cramps and hoped I’d be able to run with my stomach in distress. I was so happy to hand my bike over to a volunteer and head to the transition tent. I took my shoes off after I knew I wouldn’t be able to run that far with my clunky cleats. So happy that was done!

Scott had a very good bike ride on this challenging course. His time was much faster than my first loop! I’m so proud of him. He wasn’t able to do all the long training rides I did this season. And he was late getting onto his bike due to a nagging hip issue from November. He’s a champ for tackling that course!

The Run

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When I was in T2 with my transition bag, Lisa was in there giving me encouraging words. I wasn’t in great spirits due to my GI/stomach issues and cramps. She told me I was the best runner out there in my age group, but I had my doubts at that moment. (I was actually the 3rd best runner in my AG for the day but I’ll take it!). Again, the volunteers were excellent. I had one helpful woman assist me with my transition bag much like T1. I took a quick pee stop in the porto poty which was a nice relief. And then I was off onto the run. I had my work cut out for me. My stomach was very crampy from the beginning to the end. I did learn that I am capable of running a sub 4-hour Ironman marathon with terrible GI distress. I called this run Sufferfest 2019! I never want to feel that badly on a run again! I am proud of this Ironman run, mostly because I didn’t give up and pushed through the entire 26.2 miles.

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My official time was 3:55:07. This was my slowest Ironman marathon and a slowest long run I’ve done so far. But it was also the most difficult run course so far in my Ironman journey. The elevation gain was a bit less than Lake Placid but it was tougher especially with a longer hilly trail section. Shaded parts of the course did help but the exposed parts were very difficult. It reached the mid-high 70sF but this felt hot for me especially on the second loop. While it was also the most beautiful and stunning course I’ve run, it was a big challenge.

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From the very start, the run was warm and I was feeling slow and crampy. I decided not to worry too much about my pace and just run conservatively for the first few miles. The first mile slowly climbed up towards Lost Lake on the paved trail through the resort, condos and a golf course. This was a slower section and then it was into the shade which felt good. Soon enough I was on the gravel packed trail cruising the uphill section smoothly. The trail wasn’t technical, just a bit slower due to the loose gravel and elevation. The turnaround came after a small downhill section but soon enough I was running back downhill which provided some relief and some faster paces. Then it was back to the busy section running by T2 with lots of crowd support.

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I knew the next section would be challenging and a question mark. I hadn’t seen the last few miles of the run course heading north. I ran by the place I had the terrible show-stopping stomach cramp on Thursday, relieved my cramps were still allowing me to run. I actually had my fastest paces on miles 4 and 5 (8:22 and 8:17) but slowed it down a bit as I knew with my stomach and warm sunny temps, those paces were not sustainable.

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Running over the wooden bridge next to Green Lake (the turquoise lake) was something I imagined a lot during training and I was finally there! But it was hard to appreciate the gorgeous scenery with my unrelenting stomach cramps. My legs were still feeling decent which was a pleasant surprise. I just had to manage my stomach. At that point I was taking GU gels every 30 minutes with water which is my usual race nutrition strategy during any marathon. I was also taking extra water to dump on myself and grab ice when available. That does make a difference. Thank you again volunteers!

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I was happy to run again through some shaded areas but then it was back into the blazing sun again for a while. Reaching the turnaround felt like it took forever. Where the heck was it? I was running along the most turquoise beautiful lake in the world with snow capped mountains but I was suffering badly! Finally, the turnaround came and I just kept moving forward diligently. It was all business for me! From miles 7 through 11 my paces were pretty respectable ranging around 8:30 to 8:52 depending on the terrain and probably the sun factor. I was still holding it together.

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Mile 12 brought us running past T2 again and up towards Lost Lake one more time. My stomach was still very crampy and I wasn’t finding any relief. I was tired, hot and knew the next half marathon was going to be really tough. I had to dig deep! But I knew that I could soldier on for a while more. I reminded myself of all the tough running races I’ve done. It was slow going back up to Lost Lake. Mile 14 and 15 were my slowest paces at 10:00 minute miles! Yikes! I was thinking that even a 4-hour marathon would not be possible that day. But heading back down the Lost Lake trail, I felt a bit better. The shade was such a welcome! And the best part of the run was seeing Lisa and Dave on the Lost Lake trail as I ran down it. They told me I ran into 3rd place with a comfortable cushion. I was so excited in spite of being in the pain cave. I knew I just had to run consistently and not fall apart to keep that 3rd place. I was also thinking of Kona since I knew second place already had a slot. I still thought for sure there would be two slots. I did yell out to Lisa and Dave that I had a very badly cramped stomach and they told me to just consume water and coke. I did this for the rest of the marathon. And I started walking the aid stations taking water and a few sips of coke. This strategy worked well. It slowed my overall paces but I was making progress and not falling apart. My cramps didn’t get better but I could still run.

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Again, it was great to have all the crowd support going by T2 and heading out on the other long section. I hit mile 16 and knew I could gut it out for 10 miles. I focused on getting to the turnaround first. Dividing the run into sections helps mentally. I slowly caught up to a 27-year-old male (ages are on our calves) who was setting a nice pace around 9-minute miles which was what I was doing for miles 16 through 18. We even chatted for a bit. It was the only interaction I had all day with another athlete. It was his first Ironman. We both agreed the turnaround took forever! But at least I knew where it was on the second loop. I tried to appreciate the stunning turquoise colors of Green Lake with sea planes taking off even with my GI distress. After the turnaround I had 6 miles to go! I did my usual self-evaluation after 20 miles. I was hurting and my stomach was still feeling rough. But I knew I could keep this up for 6 more miles!

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I lost my young comrade but he was never that far behind. I looked forward to different aspects of the course such as the aid stations and shady parts. My paces slowed down to 9:18 to 9:31 on the final miles but I was happy to be moving forward and still passing many other athletes. It was a tough day for many out there! My bowels were starting to rumble and I really needed a port-o potty! My new fear was diarrhea on the last 5K but luckily that never happened!

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The last few miles were tough but I knew I had this. I made the mistake of never checking out the last mile of the run course where it looped back into the village. So, I thought I would be finishing sooner! But alas the course kept going! And on the final mile the young guy who I ran with passed me running very well. I congratulated him and felt happy for him! I knew I was close so I just kept moving along. I wasn’t able to pick up the pace much. It was neat to run through the village with all the tourists. After a little downhill and uphill and a left turn, I could hear the announcer! I ran straight for the red carpet and tried to really appreciate it. For a few seconds I forgot about my stomach cramps and celebrated smiling and raising my arms. I had done it again! I finished my 4th Ironman in spite of serious GI distress. And I held onto my 3rd place finish with a nice 32-minute cushion!

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Lisa and Dave were in the finish area which was so fantastic. I was so happy! I got my photo taken with Lisa and then saw Scott on the other side of the barrier. I was thrilled to see him and learn of his successful 70.3. He ran the whole 13 miles without walking and did so well. I was so proud of him.

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But then all of a sudden, I felt nauseas and started vomiting on the grass. I was feeling sick and couldn’t help myself. I was immediately rushed to the medical tent via wheelchair. I was in there for an hour and felt better once the undigested nutrition was out of my stomach. Soon enough I could eat pretzels and a banana. We walked back to the condo slowly. I was a bit shaky but knew I would be OK. The volunteers were awesome as usual. (we are no strangers to the med tent!)

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Overall, I am very grateful we were able to race in Whistler. Thank you again to everyone who made the day happen. A big thanks to my coach Lisa. She helps me arrive at the start very prepared and healthy. And I could not do this without my awesome husband! I’m a lucky girl!

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We flew back home on Wednesday after a couple mellow days in Whistler. I was very tired on Monday. Tuesday we were planning on taking the gondola up to the top of Whistler but the weather was very cloudy and rainy. So, we just enjoyed some shopping and walking around the village. We did drive out to Green Lake to take photos Monday afternoon after the awards ceremony so I could appreciate the views without the stomach cramps. I’ll never forget that run course!

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Food and Beverage Report

We had plenty of vegan options in the Whistler ski village within easy walking distance from our condo. And there were plenty of local grocery store options. We food shopped mainly at Nestor’s Market which was a couple minute drive right on Route 99. And there was also a nice food market in the ski village which was a 5-minute walk from our condo with plenty of vegan options.

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Our first stop was the Green Moustache which is a small plant-based healthy food chain with locations mainly in Vancouver. We enjoyed vegan waffles with lots of cream and fruit sauce on Wednesday morning. After a difficult travel day, this was very welcome. Most menu options are very healthy and consist of whole foods. This is a health nut’s paradise for sure.

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That evening we craved vegan pizza and found Misty Mountain Pizza which was about a 5-10-minute walk from our condo. They offer Daiya cheese and we happily ate a large veggie pizza with artichokes and olives. It was very tasty. There were other vegan pizza options in Whistler, but we didn’t get a chance to sample more.

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Thursday night we ate at a nice Indian restaurant called the Indian Masala Bistro. This was located just above Misty Mountain Pizza. We decided to walk upstairs and check out the menu and were excited to see several clearly marked vegan dinner options. We ate there on Monday night after the race as well since it was so good. I just love Indian food! It’s a real treat especially to have the vegan options!

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Monday after the awards ceremony I really just wanted to have fries and beer in the village. We discovered a hip, rustic bar called the Amsterdam Pub that served the Impossible Burger along with a couple other veggie burgers. There has been so much hype lately regarding the realistic but plant-based Impossible Burger. We ordered two with fries and beer which was refreshing. The Impossible Burgers were very good. I was OK as long as I didn’t look too closely since it was very realistic. This is a great option for people transitioning to a plant-based diet or just aiming to consume less meat.

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On Tuesday the weather was chilly and rainy. We decided to try the restaurant that Lisa and Dave love so much and eat at almost every night when in Whistler. It’s called the Mongolie Grill where they cook the food right in front of you. I had my doubts, but the sign outside did show options for vegans. I like to support food establishments that offer vegan friendly. We both enjoyed picking out fresh vegetables, beans, tofu and noodles as well as a healthy vegan sauce. Our food was then cooked on a hot grill with other peoples’ meals but plenty of room from any meat-based meals. They used clean spatulas and cleaned the grill for vegans. The meal was delicious and we ate like kings!

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Tuesday night we packed up to leave Whistler on Wednesday. Being a chilly, damp day the restaurants were extra busy and I wasn’t in the mood for crowds. So, we ordered a very tasty vegan veggie burger from Gnarly Roots, a restaurant that served pizza and burgers. It was about a 1-minute walk from the condo just around the corner across from the Olympic rings in the village. So that was super convenient. It’s too bad we didn’t try it sooner.

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Thank You Whistler! We hope to be back someday! Next up is the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France this September! So excited!

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