The Big Day!

I didn’t win, but it sure feels like a victory!

11890623_10153652427357845_3896559901109529912_o

This photo says it all. Except my real time 🙂 14:51:58

It’s the morning of the race and I look around to see my friends at the start line. My thought: We are really here. Excitement washed over me. Elation. All of my work – all of their work – today was finally our day.

Let’s do this.

I waited for anxiety to set in as I waited for the gun to go off, but strangely, it never did, not in the way I anticipated. We were in the water splashing around before 7am and I focused on sighting buoys through the fog and not swimming into anyone. I spent this first hour re-hashing my race plan – transition zones, nutrition, how to deal with the heat (the expected humidex was slated for 40C!) – and trying to swim straight 🙂 My garmin read 4200M when I came out of the water, but it didn’t matter, I was under 1:30 and now I could focus on the next task, the bike.

I knew the bike would be the toughest part of the race for me, and I was right. I started off with a 27km/h pace, and given the hilliness of the course, I knew I couldn’t sustain that speed. Tim and a few others started to miss me on the live tracker at some spots. You can see my speed variance here:

7 km 7 km 15:29 1:52:06 27.13 km/h      
73.5 km 66.5 km 2:40:43 4:32:49 24.83 km/h      
81.5 km 8 km 26:55 4:59:44 17.83 km/h      
89.5 km 8 km 19:11 5:18:55 25.02 km/h      
163.5 km 74 km 3:14:26 8:33:21 22.84 km/h      
171.5 km 8 km 29:29 9:02:50 16.28 km/h      
180 km 8.5 km 21:23 9:24:13 23.85 km/h      
Total 180 km 7:47:36 9:24:13 23.10 km/h

Lesson learned: I didn’t turn into a hero on race day. I had anticipated my time on the bike to be around 7h:30m, I wasn’t far off, and given the heat I’ll say it was a success. I didn’t have any mechanical issues which was a small miracle in itself. Betty’s 7 years old and has done me well. I managed to grab a big hug from my mom before I did a complete wardrobe change because it was SO. HOT. and I knew I was going to be donning some compression socks (thanks to my Fredericton Marathon experience!). I came out of the tent to find Ron chatting up my mom. I couldn’t help myself, I ran past Ron, give him a (friendly) smack and said “LET’S GO!” I was off!

The true test comes now. After spending close to 8 hours on the bike, how was a marathon going to feel? I’ve had lots of experienced Ironmen assure me I wouldn’t be running the entire 42.2K, but I was aiming to run half of that distance regardless! I saw many of my friends on the course and chatted with fellow racers throughout. There were mostly happy racers and one woman who grunted, to no one in particular,  “Why do I keep doing these races?! This is the last one, and I mean it!”. This made me smile. I think we’ve all had a race where we’ve thought that way, and I loved that she needed to verbalize it. However, I didn’t agree, at ALL. I felt strong. I kept pushing.

Our run course was a two loop trek – thankfully every marathon I’ve ever done has been the same! It can be pretty tough to come thisclose to the finish line, only to race another 21K. I’m happy to report my mindset was positive and I was truly enjoying this entire experience. The volunteers and spectators made the 5h:20m fly by. I’m serious! The rails-to-trails graced us with shade (and flatness!), and shortly after a sunset brought the much-needed cooling temperatures. High-fives and smiles from my friends from home was invaluable and I loved that so many Halifax Triathlon Club athletes made the trip and were sharing the experience.

With about 5K to go I was hoping that I could pick it up for that strong finish, but my legs had a different plan. I ended up walking/running with Pat Kennedy, someone I had only met once before and we chatted. It was his first Ironman too and he was still smiling, just like me. How exciting that we were experiencing this together! He offered to run me in, but I could tell he had a bit more gitty-up-and-go than I, so I told him to enjoy that finish line and I would see him soon. I felt confident I would finish in under 15h, and I was happy no matter.

I could hear the crowd. The announcer saying “YOU. ARE. AN. IRONMAN.” I started to tear up as I shuffled to the village. Trying to run up that final hill…I smiled and high-fived all the way to the bright lights of the finish line. I heard my mom, Karen, Sarah and everyone else that remained to bring us all across the finish line.

Becky Davison, you are an IRONMAN.

It was amazing. Outstanding. Out of this world. Dare I say, magical?  I knew I would love this experience, but I had no idea the scope. The pre-race dinner with over 2500 attendees and their collective energy. The expo where I did spend all of my allowance. The blind woman who went for it. The 75 year old man that beat me. My friends that surpassed their goals. Our families that knew what we had been through to get here and believed in us every step of the way. All of it. I want it again!

Do people actually do just one ironman!?!? Not this girl.

11896035_10155965568725385_3386504614418718599_n

Unbelievably lucky to have my mom with me. And for Sarah to have thought to take this shot!

The night before …

  
It’s past my bedtime, but I had to capture this rambling. 

This excitement and strange calmness, together. This greatfulneas that I have this opportunity, and amazing support around me. 

 I’m opptimistic about tomorrow, despite the weather forecast of extreme heat and humidity mixed with uncertainty. 

The beautiful surroundings and collective sacrifices for this event amaze me. 

I am just so excited and greatful for my support. I’m humbled by the outreach from friends and family near and far. I am blessed. 

Good night! 

Arriving in Mont-Tremblant 


At this moment, I’m sitting in a beautiful cafe in the village of Mont-Tremblant. I can see the crew assembling the finish line for Ironman.

I pinch myself.

I’m just days away from the race and I feel ecstatic. This race I’ve been planning and working towards all year.

Just days ago I was running around getting everything ready. An endurance event in itself. I have a theory – I’m never more productive than the days leading up to vacation. Clean clothes, clean office,  clean inbox, clean house (ok, that last part was mostly a lie).

The final hours of work were busy, including a surprise party from my amazing colleagues (lululemon? How did you know! 😉 )


Finally, the out of office was on and I raced home to meet Karen. As I zoomed past the Dartmouth Sportsplex, a warm breeze blew through my window, smelling of chlorine. I couldn’t help but smile. How many hours have I spent in that pool, preparing for this adventure? Dozens? A hundred?

And I’m finally here, relaxing on my own and making a loose plan for the next four days. Short workouts – very short, dropping off my gear, exploring with family and friends, grocery shopping, etc.


According to my plan, I swim / bike / run today, tomorrow and Saturday. Less than 90 minutes in total each day. I’ve read enough to know about what mishaps can happen during taper. Over-training is common for athletes leading up to the race. I’ve certainly experienced watching athletes do big workouts before the main race and questioned myself about not doing it. Especially under these amazing conditions – the town is designed for athletes right now and we’d be crazy not to!

But ultimately, its cramming, and I know enough that training heavily this week will not move me towards victory, and more than likely, take away from my race day.

Taper time can also play havoc mentally. Did I train enough?!  Thoughts can pop up. But I’m feeling strong. I’m not sure if the totally hours trained but I’ve worked hard to get here. I’ve had low moments in the past month – typically in a hot and hard bike ride – where I wondered if I’m capable of even finishing. It’s an upsetting place to be and I’m glad I’m past those thoughts!

I’ve joked to people who don’t quite understand why I would put myself through this gruelling process:  “I’m pretty sure I’m not going to win, but I do feel confident that I will finish.”

I’m joking, but I have to believe the words I say!

Karen and I are fortunate to have a condo steps away from the swim start and to be able to arrive this early in the week. Arriving earlier than necessary has been a great experience and more than anything allowing me to find calm. I know the swim course and part of the bike course already. It is the calm before the storm as the Ironman activities don’t get started until tomorrow.


Until then I will explore this beautiful – and for right now, peaceful – village.

Crossing the t’s and Dotting the i’s

I’ve been reminding myself to let every training session be a learning opportunity.

IMG_4950 (1)

As we get into the final weeks before race day I start making lists and thinking about all the things I should be focusing on to make sure my race day goes as smoothly as possible. Essentially, the training is complete, but making sure I have the right gear, nutrition and mindset on race day still need to be ironed out. Let’s hash it out for my own piece of mind.

Nutrition.

I’ve heard a hundred times to not try new things on race day. I’m promising to follow this advice! I’ve been struggling with nutrition on my bike, needing way more than I thought I would. I get 40-50K into a ride and the gels are just not enough. I typically stop of a chicken sandwich, or a grilled cheese, or a donut. I don’t think I will have access to these things on race day, so I better sort myself out. Mars bars – surprisingly – have been easy going down with no ill side effects. I think I’ll bring a PB & Jam sandwich for my special needs bag, but will test it out on this weekends ride. Gels will be taped to my bike, along with water and an electrolyte mixture. I think we’re sorted out there. I’ve also planned a decent meal plan leading up to race day to keep me healthy and on track. Fingers crossed.

The flat tire – a different kind of anxiety. Does anyone else feel this way? The flat tire anxiety. It like nothing else! Thankfully I forced myself to practice a bit last year, with the help of some seasoned triathletes. Last night I practised with the flat tire I go 500M from my car on Sunday.

photo 5

I took away a lot of lessons:

  • It isn’t quick to change a flat
  • I know the mechanics of changing a back tire (yes!)
  • My hand pump doesn’t work (!!) 
  • Take a deep breath. Flats happen.
  • I’m going to get dirty, so maybe carry a towel.
  • I’m carrying around a bike tool I don’t even know how to use!   

Gear.

Sorry guys, but ladies I found the mecca of bras. The Lululemon “Stuff your Bra”.

IMG_8589

Pre-marathon, literally stuffing my bra 🙂

I can swim in this. Bike. Run. I can carry lip balm and enough gels  for a marathon. Heck, last week I even stuck a chicken sandwich in there. No chaffing whatsoever and another place to store nutrition. Another Lulu win. And it works for all shapes and sizes 🙂 

I’ve also discovered Sport Shield Roll – on the best anti-chaffing product out there. Waterproof, sweat proof. It’s magical. 

I’ve also been modifying my packing list. Confession: I hate packing. I always pack way too much and not always orderly. But Ironman is where I bring my packing “A” game. I did ok with my Challenge half ironman but we’re next level in 2015.   

So here it is. It will be modified and I’d love feedback! 

THE LIST

Pre-race essentials:

  • Training clothes for final workouts
  • Casual clothes and sunglasses
  • Gear (watches, power meters)
  • Hear-rate monitor strap
  • Charging cords for devices and phone
  • Favourite pre-race snacks
  • Compression clothing
  • Flip Flops
  • Identification for registration
  • Electrical tape/Duct tape – add a few strips around bike for emergencies
  • Safety pins 
  • Timing chip
  • Reflective tape or clothing
  • Tums
  • Hand wipes 
  • Goggle defogger spray
  • Plastic bag for bike seat
  • Water Bottles
  • Pump
  • Band-Aids (where to have these?)
  • Hair elastics (do headband braid)
  • My own pillow!
  • Bike lock
  • chamois cream
  • Tide

Swim essentials:

  • Warm clothes for race morning
  • Race swim cap
  • Stuff your bra and VS swim bottoms
  • 2 sets of goggles
  • Old pair of flip-flops
  • Wetsuit (long or short sleeves?)
  • Body glide / other rolly thing
  • Old shirt or towel
  • Waterproof sunscreen (face only until body marked)
  • Earplugs
  • 1 gel to take right before take off

Bike essentials:

  • Helmet
  • Cycling shoes and socks (grey icebreaker socks)
  • Bike Shorts (MEC)/Capris – temperature dependant
  • Bike Shirt (HTC sleeveless or NS with Sleeves)
  • Sunglasses (MEC)
  • Water bottle(s) – fill one with Ignite (Use Hammer Bottle)
  • Taped gels to the bike OR Bento box
  • Seat bag and tool kit: tube (2?), CO2, levers, multi-tool
  • Salt tablets and advil on the bike
  • Sleeves – temperature dependant
  • Floor pump

T1: Banana & Gel

Run essentials:

  • Running shoes (Asics)
  • Compression Socks / Fresh socks
  • Visor (epic)
  • Running shorts/capris (tbc)
  • Race belt/ Nutrition belt (put mini bodyglide/2 Advil/2 tums/pepto/blistex/gum)
  • 2 ziplock bags with 11 gummies in each

T2: Banana / Mars bar / Fresh water
Special Needs Bag on Bike

  • Spare bike tube
  • Salted chips
  • Sandwich
  • Extra gels

Special Needs on Run

  • Salted chips
  • Sandwich or skinny bagel
  • Extra gels
  • Long sleeved shirt

Food for thought:

  • Gu Gels**Plan when to eat caffeine & how much!
  • Stinger gummies
  • Bananas
  • Cut up orange
  • Ignite for electrolytes on bike
  • White Bread – PB & Jam
  • Mars bars
  • V-8 juice
  • Boost

Post clothing options:

A loooong dress. Flip flops. That’s it.

Bubbly for celebration!

Things I may need to buy

  • More Gels
  • Compression Socks
  • Extra Goggles
  • Aero bottle?
  • Bike gloves?
  • Anti-fog spray

To Dos

  • Check bike cleats
  • New tires!

T-10 days, 19 hours and 24 minutes…but who’s counting? We take off Monday night and I’m just so excited. I had some self-doubt there for a bit but trying to remain positive. I’ve worked all year for this. 

Self reminder: This is a great read regarding nutrition: http://www.endurancecorner.com/library/nutrition/race_nutrition

It’s all so much – too much!

Written on Tuesday July 28

Time management….Last week I was talking about Ironman with my hairdresser, and she asked me what I was looking forward to most after the race was complete. I think she thought I would say something like french-fries or ice-cream (neither of which I’ve given up, for the record). My response: Freedom! A blank schedule!

For well over seven months my Sunday evening routine consists of sitting down with a calendar, my planner, my training guide and my work schedule which looks like some game of odd Tetris puzzle. When my week is organized there are colour-coded boxes filling every block of time. Chamber. Cyclone. Training. Volunteering. Family & friends. Dog Walking. Land lording. Looking at my completed calendar gives me a sense of accomplishment, mixed with overwhelmed anxiety. I often went to bed thinking “How will I do it all this week!?”

But I do. Mostly. I feel like I let people down from time to time. My social outings consist of training with friends mostly. I don’t feel like the worlds best volunteer this year, but I’m trying. I wonder about those brave souls that do Ironman every year! And the ones with children…I can’t even imagine.

Overall, I am still feeling excitement about my vacation (yes! I’m calling it that!) and the wonderful opportunity that I have, don’t get me wrong. My training is consistent and no new injuries. My knee is recovering and I will make it through that marathon!

There was a little dark time this week, and I just happened to be texting with my girlfriend, who has been following my training journey from the start – even throughout her pregnancy and arrival of her brand new baby girl. I confided that it was all too much and I just didn’t know if I could do it all. Her response to my overwhelmed schedule was: “You’ve got this. It’s nothing that you can’t handle.”       

And breathe.