Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kelsey's Ironman Race Report

This is Kelsey's race report from Ironman in Penticton a couple of weeks ago. I talked about it a bit here and here and of course here, but these are Kelsey's own words (edited a bit with her permission). There will be more pictures to come...maybe on the weekend. Kat and Mico are friends of Kelsey's from Australia who also completed the Ironman in Penticton. They are both professionals and it was Mico's first professional race. And when she refers to Busso, she's talking about her first Ironman in Busselton, Western Australia last December. You can read more about that in a whole bunch of previous posts.

Here's Kelsey:

Ironman Canada. In a word: Tough. I will say it three times, tough tough tough.

Early morning of course, we started at 7. Kat, Mico and I walked down to the race together, we were all staying at my friends who conveniently live just off the race course. With over 2600 people starting the race, warmup wasn't really an option. Somehow I found my best friend Vicki's sister in the crowd (probably cause Vic volunteers on the swim crew and told us both the best place to start). Both of us being decent swimmers we headed to the front of the line. O Canada was sung and we were off.

The first 500 meters can only be described as frightening. I was pretty nervous for the swim, with so many people, no seeding and a very shallow lake. Kat gave me some advice (fast arms and be aggressive) and I tried to remember that, but still freaked out a bit. It was unlike any thing else with so many bodies and so little room. It's a given that you'll end up knocking people around and being knocked around, however one guy beside me didn't take too kindly to my accidental elbowing and tried to drown me. No word of a lie, he stopped, took both his hands and pushed down on my shoulder with all his strength. I thought I was about to die. Got out of that mess and soon after it thinned out a bit. There were always bodies around but it was no longer the claustrophobic mayhem.

Out of the water in 1:03:34, good enough for 330 overall.

Onto the bike and off. There's a small climb about 20km into the ride, then it's pretty flat with just a few tiny hills up to the 70km mark. It was through this portion that things started to go wrong. I had a pretty bad headache, felt nauseous, had my hands going numb, blurred vision and lost feeling in my tongue. Didn't know what was going on, I was taking ibuprofen, drinking tons, but nothing seemed to work. When I described it to my sister the next day, she said this is exactly what happens to her when she has a migraine. Interesting.

So the ride proved challenging, as I was struggling to keep food down. Got through the first major climb, Richter's Pass, then you hit some rollers (apparently nicknamed the 7 b*tches, but I really didn't think they were so bad), then into an out and back. Pretty windy, especially on the out and back. Just before that section I got to go by my cheer squad, Team Mulvilove, in all their pink glory, with signs etc. It was awesome.

After the out and back, there is a gradual but constant uphill to the last climb, Yellow Lake. This comes at the 150k mark and that's when the headache went away. I guess with the headache I'd been riding a bit conservatively because I passed a ton of people on the climb. Training last year in Canberra with you all probably helped too. I had a ton of fun on this climb, got more Mulvilove (a bunch of my cousins were at the top of the hill with guitars and tambourines, apparently quite the crowd favourite). Then you do a wicked fast decent down the Penticton (I got over 70k per hour on the downhill).

6:54:19 1858 overall (I have to work on my cycling!!!!!!!)

Into town and out on the run. I really enjoyed the first 5 km, which is through town with lots of spectators. It had started to get real smoky from some forest fires and that pretty much killed my appetite. I was trying different foods at every station, things that had worked at Busso, but nothing seemed to want to stay down. I was already in a bit of a calorie deficit from the bike, so this was bad news. Started to walk a lot. And once you hit the 8km mark, there are no spectators...I started to really appreciate Busso's three laps for that. I started to talk myself out of the race, it was hot, the smoke was making it super hard to breath, I wasn't having any fun....

Finally made it to the turn around. My aunt and uncle were out there with my cousins, that was good and I got my special needs bag. In it, a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. Golden. It did take me 8km to eat the whole thing, in tiny tiny tiny bites, but once it was down I could pull myself out of the rut and ran the last 15km in.

The last 2km were mostly good, you're right downtown with tons of people. It does involve an out and back right before the finish. You come down by the lake, the finish line is to your right but you have to turn left and run another 800m down the road, turn around and run back. That seems to take forever. And ever and ever.

But I was done. Finally. I had my sea of pink shirts (about 25 at this point, not everyone made it to the finish) waiting for me and that was great. It was so awesome to have such a huge cheer squad, no one had a bigger or better one out there.

Run split was 4:30:36, 667th for that portion.

Total time 12:35:45, 1052 overall. 108th out of 693 women.

Sorry this is so whingey, I wish I could say it was awesome and I had so much fun but I really didn't. I'm happy enough with my finish time, I just wish it had been enjoyable like Busso was. I'll definitely do this race again, with better cycling skills and I am vowing to enjoy it the next go around!

It was awesome having Kat and Mico around, great to have some Aussies around again. Kat got in the money and Mico had a pretty impressive debut, especially his swim and bike. We made the most of Monday, hitting up a bunch of wineries in post race celebration.

Yay Kelsey! And somehow this report doesn't sound like it's coming from someone who has retired from Ironman...I guess we'll see! Oh, and being a migraine sufferer, I am even more amazed at Kelsey's incredible strength and abilities - there's no way you'd catch me taking a walk around the block, let alone doing a 180 km bike ride and a 40-whatever km run on a day when I had a migraine!

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