Let's see.. another weekend, another adventure of large proportions in Scully land as of late. This one is long, I hope you have the time. One of these days I'll learn to condense my thoughts.
A friend of a friend was doing the Half Ironman relay but her team mates bailed on her (the cyclist and the runner). Through the powers that be, my good friend (the runner) asked if I would like to be the cyclist. At first I was all over it with the exception of the cost. I agreed, and then I looked at the route profile and began questioning it for weeks. I put in 3 high mileage weekends in a row in hopes that it would be enough.
I'm not a triathalete. I've never done a tri or even watched one. In fact I’ve never really even entertained the idea of doing one. I never discounted the idea either. I am a runner and a cyclist but not really a swimmer, at least not for the past 5 years or so. Big events like Ironmans don't come around that often. As someone who loves to spectate races I thought this would be an amazing opportunity to witness an Ironman event without suffering through the whole thing. It didn't hurt that it was held at Mt. Tremblant in Quebec, one of the most beautiful places to visit.
My nerves were getting wrecked the closer we got to the day. It was a long drive out there after work on Friday and we promptly fell asleep upon arrival sometime after midnight. We had 3 teams in our big group and we were staying at a cute idyllic 3 storey condo chalet within walking distance to the athlete’s village.
|picture through the aerobars|
The day before the race the runner and I went for some respective exercise. She went for a run and I thought maybe it was a good idea to at least TRY out my bike with the new fan dangled aero bars I had only just put together the day before. I'm confident on the bike to the point of maybe being a bit cocky. Maybe. I instantly went down into aero and nearly wobbled off my bike. Yikes, okay it looks way easier than it is. With 5 or 10 more minutes of practice on a straight and empty road I was feeling aero peachy.
"runner" with a beautiful smile full of excitement mixed with terror.
We met up later to check in and pick up our kits and then we had time to kill. Runner and I went to play in the trees on a high ropes and zip line course. Runner is quite afraid of heights and has the belief that if it terrifies her, she should do it. And do it she did!!! I was so proud of her!
Her first ever zip-line and she hit it like a pro!
Me? I'm not so graceful!!
As we were all walking down to watch the swim start I was greeted by a familiar face. Sebastien Sasseville (Montréal, Quebec) from the TT1 Triathalon team spotted my team cycling kit I was wearing. We are the two token Canadians on the team. We chatted as we walked all the way there. I learned a bit about his triathalon diabetes game plan as I was eager to ask. He's really got a system down and I was quite impressed. We parted ways as the hubbub of commotion took over. I checked up on his post race results which were AH-MA-ZING! Go read his race report on the Team Type 1 website. It's absolutely inspiring.
The air show as the gun went off
The relay swimmers took off last which felt like forever. It didn't help my nerves one bit. I made my way to the transition zone while I continued to FREAK out. I didn’t want to do this any more after seeing the elevation profile of the 56mile (90km) route. It was mountainous and intimidating and all sorts of anxiety inducing hills. I suck at hills. I can only try so hard before my heart or stomach explode. I didn’t set a temp basal until right before because I forgot. I set it to -50%. I hadn’t had any water all morning and it was now coming up on 9am. I didn’t drink coffee either because my nerves were shot I really didn’t need anything else sending my heart rate into the stratosphere. My HR was at 155bpm as soon as I got on the bike from anxiety alone.
This was all really new to me. The rules in these events are ridiculously strict. No drafting, single file, 20 seconds to pass, 4 bike lengths between riders. I was afraid to even talk to someone for fear of getting a penalty. I tried to amuse myself by learning how to ride in aero and counting kills which I never get to do. Kills are the people you pass. Because I was doing a relay, I had the opportunity to leave everything on the bike. I didn’t have to save energy to run a half marathon after. So I took advantage of that by being able to pass people for a change. I got a total of 73 kills which surprised me. I got overtaken about 15 times. I will admit it made me feel pretty damn good passing people on the uphills even though I DID have the advantage.
The route consisted of two out and backs. The first 30km were rollers. One after the other after the other. There were some long hills which made for good climbing but even better descending. I loved tucking into aero and passing people without even pedaling. After 60km was where it started getting interesting. Read:miserable. For some unknown reason I was in pain from about 20km in. It started in my side butt – Upper IT band and lower back. My muscles felt like they had been injected with pain. I’ve never felt that before. I tried shaking them out at a higher RPM every little bit but it didn’t seem to help at all. I was riding in aero for most of it which might explain the lower back pain. I know my bars weren’t positioned right. The pain traveled up my arms and into my shoulders – again from the new-to-me aero position. However my left shoulder is still really messed up and this aggravated it to the point of tears. I said to myself, “..after this, I’m not getting on the bike again until I get this shoulder fixed, I can’t stand this any more.” Yes, I am in desperate need of help.
The pain continued to get worse at about the time I hit the seemingly endless mountain climb. The part I had been fretting about. It was awful. It was pure torturous suffering. Relentless climb after climb with the occasional downhill. Every muscle in my legs was now feeling like somebody injected extra strength pain into them and pedaling was becoming increasingly difficult. Riding in aero ceased. I tried to think about what it could have been. I didn’t hydrate enough or eat enough the day before. Maybe that was it.
I made it back to the transition area where I was greeted by the runner and I crumpled thinking how the hell do people do this alone? I immediately went for a massage. I have never taken advantage of the massages post races but this time I wanted to cry. It helped – a little – but not enough.
My favourite runner coming in to finish it up!
PERFECT! Dare I say I’ve mastered it on the bike? No lows, no highs and not a BG reading over 8.0mmol/l (145mg/dl) for the whole time.
I was lucky enough to be wearing a CGM sensor so I didn’t have to test the entire 3+hours of riding. And really, when you’re in a race like that, you can’t just STOP and test. Well you can but it’s a huge waste of time. I consumed a package of honey stinger chews (my favourite) and a salted nut roll (my other favourite). 60g of carbs, that’s all I took in. Not enough at all but I was hurting so much I didn’t think more carbs were going to help. I just wanted to finish and fix it later. My BG never crashed OR went high afterwards. Success!!
It was a one-of-a-kind weekend and I had a really great time with some new friends as well as the runner who is turning out to be one of my closest friends. We’ll stop calling her “runner” now, her name is Steph.
The atmosphere of the whole weekend was awe inspiring. Athletes every where! Watching them come into the finish chute was giving me goose bumps. There’s nothing like seeing the suffering and accomplishment on all of their faces. There were tears of joy and of pain. I was in complete awe of what these people were completing. Triathaletes are a different breed of human.
And I’ve decided that I’d like to try it one day – a half Ironman.