The Big Day!

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

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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.

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

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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”.

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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

The Clean Eating Experiment

It’s easy to determine if I’ve had a good training week or not. There are red and green boxes, sore muscles, and hours logged. Tangibles. It’s not quite as easy to talk about nutrition. If someone asked me how my week was, and I had just eaten an apple, I’d say great….if I has just finished off the doritos, I may second guess my choices.  

I’m no angel when it comes to food. I don’t deprive myself of anything, but have confidence I know what’s good and bad for me and tend to focus on the former.

Except for the past month. If I were being graded, I’d say my nutrition in March would result in a C. Minus. I’ve been struggling to make smart nutrition choices, and some nights been guilty of consuming three cadbury eggs, along with “loads of ketchup” potato chips. Gross (and delicious). I wondered to myself: Why do I even have this crap in my house!? I typically start my days off strong, fruit smoothie, eggs, salad, fish, vegetables and then….garbage, garbage, garbage! Sometimes the garbage starts earlier in the day…say around 3pm in the lunch room. This garbage consists of leftover meeting sandwiches, the boss’s jujubes, baked cookies and loaves from my coworkers. And on my worst days I realize that all of my meals have come through a window or out of a frozen tray. Disgusting.

If I was featured on one of those episodes of what I eat in a week, it would be shameful!(http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/what-the-world-eats-shocking-photos).

The sad thing is, I know better. I studied nutrition in school and one of my best friends is a nutritionist. I read about nutrition all the time and understand the importance of nutrients and vitamins found in whole foods. I’m also fully aware of  the empty calories / trans -fats / other harmful effects of processed, packaged foods. I know what is essential for a healthy body. Essential for an endurance athlete’s body.

But I suppose this is the part I don’t give myself enough credit for. That I’m not a real athlete. Not even a real runner. I’m an impostor trying to join the club.

The little voice in the back of my head pipes up: “Hey B. You’ve got an Ironman in 20 weeks. Now would be a good time to start believing you’re an athlete.”   

…..I’m an athlete. 

And I need to start fuelling like one. Despite my knowledge, it still felt overwhelming to start a new plan. There is so much talk about not eating carbs, fat, dairy, protein, but what’s left? Please don’t say legumes. And what’s all this talk about Paleo?

I don’t support diets, perhaps it’s because I haven’t been able to last for longer than 24 hours on one. Diets are so limiting and (in my extreme case) unsustainable….and I like so, so many food groups. I don’t crave sweet or salty or chocolate. I crave it ALL. And then I came across this book: 

eating clean for dummies

Don’t judge, I’m a HUGE fan of this line of books!

So, here goes my experiment. Clean eating. It’s a concept I can get behind. Removing the processed and fried foods from my life. Focusing on one-ingredient foods. Whole, fresh foods with ingredients I can pronounce and understand.

The simplest description of clean eating I’ve found is:  “If it had a mother, or grows in the ground, eat it.” Simple. Step two is focusing on non-GMO and organic. I was planning on starting with step one and buying organic when available. This plan reminds me of what I’ve been hearing for years….shop the parameter of my grocery store for the healthiest eating choices. I can get on board with that!

clean eating march 2015

My first round of grocery shopping, focusing on “Clean”

Eggs, nuts, fruits, vegetables, quinoa, lean meat, cheese and okay, okay! legumes. Fish, grains, whole grain pasta and bread and good god, did I read that right? Dark chocolate gets the green light.

So heres to trying something new (but with some concepts I’ve been practising for awhile now) and lasting at least 24 hours. I’m hoping that I can eat 90% clean for an entire week, and I started with a delicious salad from Pete’s! Here’s to the next (clean) week and the 20 weeks until the big race!    

salad - clean eating

My first trip to the gym in weeks was rewarded with healthy, clean greens.

 

    

Out with the old

I will preface this entry as saying I know I’ve come a long way in accepting my body and what it has done for me. Having a health scare and completing in endurance events have had an incredible way of making me be thankful for what I have, no matter the size or shape of my body. However, I’m not perfect – in body image acceptance and the thoughts that creep up from time to time  – and last week I found myself in a bit of a body image set back.

I was digging in my basement this week and I noticed my scale sitting dust-covered in the corner. I’m not sure what made me jump on it 3 days after Christmas and the best stuffing feed of my life, but part of me was feeling quite confident about my exercise habits over the past few months and curiosity got the best of me.

What I saw on the scale shocked me. I was my heaviest weight. Ever. My motto for weighing myself is this: Scales are for fish. They really are. But why am I (and so many others) drawn to that number that stares back up at us? I stopped to analyze my negative thoughts to try and understand my disappointment. Here’s my thought process. Right or wrong:

(1) What number would make me happy? My weight has fluctuated 35 pounds over my adult life and I have always felt there was this certain weight that I feel I should be. It was not the number flashing back at me. Linked to this number is a particular clothing size that is (what I consider) my happy place. I have a pair of skinny jeans in the bottom of my dresser that have not fit in an embarrassingly long length of time. Someday – I tell myself –  I will wear these again, as if happiness is linked to me fitting into those jeans.

(2) There was a reason I moved the stupid scale to the basement. I should have moved it to the curb. Muscle is heavier than fat. I haven’t spent a year of working out to be happy with my weight – it has nothing to do with that.

(3) The reality: I am the fittest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve worked hard this year and sweated my a$$ off in order to reach some pretty amazing goals.  These thighs may be bigger, but man can they ever take me so much further than I could ever dream about a few years ago.

(4) Body image is such a personal issue. I have a feeling every person struggles with it at some point of their lives, even if it doesn’t always make sense to the people around them. I mentioned my run in with basement scale to Tim and he scoffed and told me I look amazing. Why is it so hard to accept these compliments? Do the number get in the way?

(5) The skinny jeans and the scale are going. They taint my hard work and positive thoughts. This year is going to be about gaining strength and speed. Weight won’t have a say in the way I feel about my body.

We tend to fear the things we want most.

If not now, when?

I have recently discovered that I’m scared of setting big goals. I can easily sit down and plan my next week, the next month…but it’s those big ones that cause the “analysis paralysis”. The self doubt, the long term planning and lets not forget the possibility of failure. 

On August 18, I made a commitment to my future self. I took a deep breath and hit “register now” button. I was committing to completing my first ironman.

proof

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What does this mean? Plan. Train. Focus. Repeat. 

With some weeks peeking at 25hrs of training, not to mention travel time, pre and post workout time to account for. And all those showers and laundry 🙂 It was akin to taking on close to a full time job. Without giving up the one that actually pays me. 

You are an IRONMAN

See, I’d watched this video: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=767105323348548&set=vb.260375747354844&type=2&theater.

And I watched it again, and again.

It brought me to tears. Even today, four months after I first watched this video, I’m welling up.

Talk about impactful.

Triathlon is a sport that is performed completely solo, yet there is so much support and a family-feel through what it creates. The people cheering for the triathletes, whether it’s family, friends or strangers…their voices of encouragement are unlike anything else I’ve felt. And I want to feel. It doesn’t matter if you come in first or last, that unwavering support is there. 

When I first learned about what an Ironman actually was it sounded insane. Complete and utter nonsense, really. People pay for that?!? It was something that other people did…those elite athletes. That has ample time, money, gear and had a strong sporting background. And when some of my closest friends joined that realm – well, I still thought it was certifiable and unfathomable. But as time went on, I got stronger, I raced further distances and I began to pay attention…. something started to shift in my thinking…it was a desire that I ignored at first and kept under wraps. I didn’t even admit it to myself what I really wanted. 

Until now. I want it. I really, really want this challenge. 

Fortunately for me, my favourite training partner decided to take the leap in 2015, along with a few other of my favourite triathletes. Over brunch the deal was sealed. I was in. Mont Tremblant, get ready because here we come!

Mont_Tremblant_summer

With 277 days to go, I guess I better snap out of my “paralysis”. This is happening.

Step one: I finally got down to reading Joe Friel’s book that I had originally purchased for my 70.3 training. I’m disappointed that I waited until now to read it. I’m all in for Friel’s training method. His philosophy really speaks to me and I’m confident in his plan. From finding the right people to train with, to dealing with the off-season, to training in zones. I found my coach for the low-low price of $24.99. 

 tri book

My registration and accommodations are booked for August 2015. I guess all that’s left is the training. We’ll call that step two.

Let’s go.

tri canada 

 

 

 

Ramblings of a Runner

Ramblings of a Runner.

 GM3

(written in late July 2014 on a ferry)

The 70.3 triathlon was certainly what I’ve now learned to call, my A-Race for 2014. The event was amazing, I met my goal and now the dust has settled. I haven’t given much thought to what I would do after Challenge, race wise. I was primarily focused on enjoying some sunshine and gorging on poutine, with a side of beer. I did have s few races in my peripheral though, I’ll admit that!

Tim and I have been running the Boys & Girls 10K and Half Marathon race for two years now, and it’s becoming a bit of a tradition. It’s the perfect excuse to make it back to Tim’s homeland of Grand Manan. It was also the perfect excuse to convince my “other” mother and dad to explore a little taste of New Brunswick’s paradise (no that’s not an oxymoron!). My first year I completed the 10K and last year the half marathon.

GM2

The view at Swallowtail, Grand Manan

The interesting thing about last years race was I expected little, ate far too many bagels beforehand an managed to finish with 2 times. 1:59:18 and 2:00:06. I could have lived with either of those times, if I had in fact broken the two-hour half marathon before. I swore redemption for 2014 at that time, the under 2 hour half marathon would be mine.

So here we are, 2014 and me not really having the best running situation given my earlier injury and still in recovery from Challenge. Tim and I signed up again anyway, it was a flat course and we were heading over on Thursday regardless! Low and behold Connie signed up as well. Her first 10K in, well, likely a decade!

GM

A comment I said to my friend in passing – and is surly a reflection in how far I’ve come this year – was: “I’m not expecting to beat records this weekend…but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.”

And try I did. The race begins at 730 PM , which is a bit awkward for planning meals and I spend the whole day thinking about the race. I wasn’t worried, I was just going to do my best and see what would happen. I ate some more of those bagels that made me go so fast last year.

When the horn sounded I was off! I knew I was starting strong because I could still see Tim for at least 2 KM’s but I went with it. I’m always so bloody conservative and hold back until the end, etc. etc. Now was my time…I was ready to beat 2hrs or blow up.

The weather was beautiful, the aid stations were plentiful and I had a few runners to chase/pace/leapfrog with. Dad (and eventually Connie) were cheering me on and Tim, after winning the 10K, ran ahead of me for the second half of the race.

At 10K I was at 54 minutes and feeling strong, but the next 11.1K could have brought anything. I didn’t get excited. I ate my gels and drank my water.

My loving words to Tim were “Run ahead of me, I can’t talk……faster, faster.” Aaaaand that was about it for the next hour. (Sorry babe.)

I made it. 1:54:48 according to my garmin:

GM half

It felt amazing and I was amazed at the entire mental side of this race. I continued to push myself and because I didn’t know anyone else racing, I didn’t get lost in what other people may have been thinking of me, because I didn’t care.

What if I could always have a strong mental attitude, and could push myself to the limit during a race? The ability to stomp out that self doubt that is always lurking in those low moments, and to maintain confidence. To focus on my own race and not worry what other people thought?

finsh line gm

Feeling happy and ready for wine @ 930PM on Grand Manan

In order to achieve a challenging goal, one needs to put in the training, the hours of running, biking, swimming and what goes along with that. Proper diet, sleep and dedication are also important factors to a successful race. Ideally, self-assurance would also be growing and help push through those mentally weak moments to cross that finish line feeling proud and accomplished.

May your training be smooth, your attitude be positive and amazing treats be waiting at the end!

GM treats

Amazing finds at Island Art Cafe in Grand Manan