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Vancouver International Half Ironman

Race : Vancouver International Half Ironman – Subaru West Coast Triathlon Series

Location : Vancouver, BC – Spanish Banks, Locarno Beach and UBC

Distance : Sprint and Half Ironman

Date : July 13, 2008

Website :

Well going into this race I was REALLY nervous.  I think I was more nervous than for almost any other race I have done.  The reason, was just a feeling of being unprepared.  This is a bit of a theme this year as you might have noticed from my other race reports.  With my crazy year of change; moving to BC, getting married, buying our first house, new puppy and new job I have found it hard to get back into a consistent training program.  My first two races this year were shorter distances and I managed to squeek by, however I was a little concerned about the Half Iron.  I had only managed one long bike and one long run the month previous and had taken the 2 weeks prior to the race off to recover from a cold.  Going into this race my main goal was to finnish, and if i could get anywhere close to my time from my last 1/2 ironman I would be thrilled. 

I was a little concerned about how smootly the race was going to go when we went to Locarno Beach the day before the race to register.  It was very hard to find the location and even harder to find parking.  The registration was quick and painless and I dropped my bike off in transition.  The shirts we got were mens sizes, so too big for me, and unfortunatley too small for my husband. We started to worry about the time we would have to allow the next day to find parking. 

It was nice to wake up race morning to beautifull weather.  This was a huge change from the hypothermic worlds and cultus lake tris I had done earlier this season.  I woke up at 4am and headed downtown to Spanish banks by UBC and Locarno Beach with my fan club (my husband Brenden and dog Rosco).  We got to transition after a tim hortons stop just after 5am and I had 45 minutes or so to get ready, line up for the washrooms and warm up in the water.  The water was 18 degrees which was like bath water compared to my previous experiences this year which were 10 and 11 degrees.  I got in a 5 minute warm up of easy swimming and joined the group lined up on the beach for the start.

The swim 1.9k was a 2 loop triangle that we swam counter clockwise.  We started on the beach with a run in entry and had to come out of the water and run around a bouy before starting the second loop.  For the swim my main goal was to work on my sighting, which is always a stuggle for me.  The first loop I felt great and was sighting well.  It wasn’t untill the second look that i realised that the first aid volunteers in kayaks were wearing the same colour shirts as the bouys.  I realised this when I started swimming toward something yellow and then realised it was a guy in a kayak with a yellow shirt.  I got back on track after this and was suprised when I got out of the water to hear the announcer say something about 35 minutes. 

My tranisition was not exactly speedy.  It was a very congested transition area so it took a bit to dig through the girls stuff around me (who were obviously out the water first) to find my bike shoes and bib etc. 

The bike was a 4 loop course which was pretty much an out and back with a smaller out and back included in it.  The first part of the loop had a significant long, challenging climb, followed by some smooth straight aways and some rolling hills.  The first 2 loops I felt strong, I was passing people like crazy and was pretty suprised at how good I was feeling.  About 1/2 way through the third loop my lack of training kicked in.  I couldn’t keep up my pace and started to slow.  The hills seemed to get bigger and all the people I passed (and some more) started to pass me.  The best part of the bike was going back down the hill we had to climb at the begining of the loop.  I got up to 60k going down it, and to look to the left were views of the Spanish Banks and all the way across to West Vancouver and the North Shore mountains.  This was probaby the best view I have ever scene in a race.  I really struggled through the last 1.5 loops and was extremly happy to be off my bike. 

Despite the INSANE transition zone, our stuff was everywhere!!!! I managed to find my running shoes and running free hat and headed out on the run course. 

The run was an out and back east which was along the beach and through some trails at UBC and then an out and back to the west which was all along the beach trails.  We had to do 2 loops, so a total of 4 out and back sections.  2km into the run I didn’t think I was going to finnish.  This was my first true bonk, or hitting the wall.  I felt like I was going to cry and was short of breath.  I talked myself out of it, tried to get my breathing under control and had a gel.  The feeling passed and  I just kept plodding on.  The first loop was not bad, there was a lot of walking involved and I was just focusing on finnishing.  The first out and back section along the trails was nice and shadded but the sections along the beach were out in the open and very hot.  The views along the way were breath taking.  The second loop involved even more walking than the first and I kept trying to play games with myself to get going after a short walk break. 

When I finally saw the finnish line I couldn’t really make out the numbers on the digital clock.  I remember thinking, does that say under 6 hours….there is no way, maybe I am wrong.  But sure enough I came in at 5:51.  I was shocked!!!!! My first half ironman was 5:47 however It involved a lot more preparation and was a flat course in Ottawa.  I was happy with my results and glad that I kept with it.  This race not only made me realise that I like longer distances (as opposed to the sprint races I did earlier this season) but that I have potential to work harder and get faster, I just have to stick with it! I am volunteering at IMCAN this year and signing up for IMCAN 2009.  This race gave me the confidence I think I needed as we are getting close to Ironman sign up time. 

Overall I was very happy with the organisation of this race.  Despite my initial worries the day before the race, all the race day organisation went smoothly.  The volunteers were great and were cheering the whole way along.  Even though this was a small race there were tonnes of people out on the beach getting some sun, so the location made it feel like we had tonnes of spectators.  There were volunteers and police officers all along the course directing traffic and making sure we know where we were going.  In our registration form we were able to write down previous athletic acomplishments.  As each athlete crossed the timing mat in between out and back sections of the run the announcer said their name, where they were from and listed off some of their achievements.  I thought this was a nice added personal touch and it was nice hearing my name and having them mention my Worlds and Ironman Lake Placid finishes.

This race is definitley one that I would recommend any one to do. If you are looking for a destination Half Ironman and want to see Vancouver this would be a great race for you.   I have done a bunch of west coast races now both running and triathlon and I think that this one might be the most scenic one yet.  It was a lot of fun and challenging!!!!!!! I was questioning whether or not to do this race the day before because I felt so unprepared. I am glad that I toughed it out and went through with it.  I am still recovering and have never been this stiff after a race…….but I am still pleased with my results and had a blast. 

Up next…..this will be my last tri of the season…we are really busy for the month of aug and sept.  But I am planning on doing the Seattle marathon Nov 30, 2008, and I am volunteering at IMCAN 2008 to sign up for 2009!!!!!! 2009 my tri plan is the Desert Half Iron in July and IMCAN in August!

Results from the Vancouver International Half Ironman

Overall Time 5:51:27

Swim 35:29

T1 3:50

Bike 3:09:10

T2 1:36

Run 2:01:13 

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