Laura Becker – Race Report – Total Time; 12:20
What a day! As someone very wise told me, everyone has hurdles and mental battles to face in IRONMAN but it’s how you fight back in those moment that defines you as a person and athlete. It’s important to remember the goods…the bads will be forgotten, but this accomplishment will live forever. I came out the other side stronger, smarter and with something money cannot buy, experience. This is a huge PR for me and I felt strong the whole day. I need to hold on to that. I am disappointed with aspects of the day but learned SO much and will apply it to my next race! So here it is….my race weekend in Mont Tremblant.
Recap of my season: 2017 had an uncertain start as I struggled to find out what was going on with my body. It was a long journey of many docs, tests, discussions. Then in March, I was diagnosed with IAE (iliac arterial endofibrosis) which impacts the circulation in my legs. After having multiple discussions with the vascular doctor, I had to decide what I wanted to do, surgery or continue to train and see if I can change my style to help my body and not become symptomatic. The doctor confirmed that I will not make it worse, that I would only risk frustration from inability to perform. I accepted it and decided to train using heart rate. I brought the intensity WAY down. Using this training, my body adapted and I was able to train and only rarely become symptomatic! This summer I kept my eye on ONE race. Every morning, every day, all my training focused on IMMT. I did one other adventure triathlon in June as a training race, Sea to Summit, which was fun and a good test of my bike fitness but the race was modified due to weather. Here nor there, leading into IMMT my body felt very differently- stronger and ready to go. I had a lot of miles under my belt before race day. I was proud of my training because I knew I gave it all I had. I stayed dedicated, motivated and made sacrifices to try to be as best prepared as I could on race day. On top of that, I was really enjoying my training. I have SO many amazing friends and training partners that have helped me get to this point. My heart is FULL of gratitude to so many. This sport has an amazing community of athletes that I am proud to be a part of. So….then…..a few weeks ago my calf started to bother me- becoming painful when I ran (which may have stemmed from some ankle issues after running down Mount Washington). My last longer run it was apparent that it was an issue. So I had to be smart….knowing all my training was done, I was heading into taper so now it’s time to toe the line healthy. I had to take a solid 1 ½ week off of running (with LOTS of encouragement from my husband, friends and of course Ed). This helped tremendously, but made me nervous about what the marathon would bring on race day. But all I knew is my love for triathlon was back and soaring!! And I was grateful to toe the start line.
TRAVEL AND PRE-RACE WEEK:
Thursday: I was PUMPED to head up to Canada. With passports in hand, Steve and I began the trek north. Blasting 90’s pop rock hits, we drove through Massachusetts and onto Vermont. Passed a few people who gave a thumbs up or wave as we passed with the bikes on the back….must have known where we were headed! Well I would love to say that travel to MT was uneventful (especially since last year my car broke down on the way to Lake Placid), but nope, not this time. As I was driving through VT and big truck was tailgating me very closely, I move right to let him pass…he doesn’t!! Then I am coming up on a slow moving car in the right lane and I didn’t want to slam on my break thinking about my precious bike on the back…. so I gun it to move left in front of the stupid truck and pass the slow car…At that EXACT moment I gun it…. I pass a state trooper. YUP. Perfect, getting pulled over. If you know me…you know that this reallllly got my nerves pumped. I like to follow rules. Haha. So, I explained what happened, he asked where I was going- I said to do an Ironman in Canada….he came back with a warning, no points, no fine, said good luck at your race and slow down. Save your speed for the race. HAHA! AH! Talk about an unnecessary adrenaline boost. Border was backed up and Montreal was INSANE but we finally arrived around 4:00. Did not make it to endurance nation team dinner but met up with my parents and walked through town. Mont Tremblant is AMAZING. While walking through town you feel like you’re in Europe. The shops, coffee places, fountains and cobblestone…it’s just perfect.
Friday: Weather was not good when we woke up. High winds and rain. They were not letting people swim in the morning. I really needed to get into the water to shake out. 4 Keys course overview talk was cancelled. I was anxiously awaiting getting into the water. Went down with Endurance Nation athletes around 10:30. Got in and I had never felt colder water. I went out 500 yards, turned around and booked it back. When I got out I was shaking and couldn’t feel my hands or feet. I felt dizzy and sick. Got inside the training house and couldn’t move. Hands and feet were white- no circulation…and this was after 15 mins. I was totally freaked. If the water was that cold I thought to myself I will NEVER be able to swim 2.4 miles and function. The woman at the training center (I will never forget her, she was amazing) said it was because the wind was so strong it makes the water colder, that it was not like this the day before. I tried to put it behind me and go on with my day. Luckily I had so many calming voices around me like my hubby, my parents, my girls at home Amanda and Hunter and Marcie who came to cheer and volunteer! Got a quick ride in on Monte Ryan (part of the course) which felt awesome and then a quick run- with no calf pain! So I was pumped for that. Went to athlete briefing and hung with family and friends while watching fireworks. Mont Tremblant really does an amazing job with entertainment!!
Saturday: Slept in. Got my gear bags ready which took entirely too long- even with my a millions lists! Went and checked in my bike. Then I NEEDED to get back into that water. I had Steve take me down to the lake. It was warmer out today and not windy. I decided to try and splash around in just a bathing suit because I didn’t want my wetsuit wet for the morning. And BAM! The water was fantastic! I almost cried because it was like night and day. My heart filled with joy and I instantly calmed down. Then we did a quick drive of the second part of the course called Duplese where there are lots of punchy hills. It was good to see. Back to the room, dinner with family and friends, nutrition bottles ready. Time for bed!
It was HERE! RACE DAY! I was excited. I actually slept some too! Woke up, coffee, ate, numbers on and out the door I went. Down to transition where they announce that water temp went down to 66. OH SHIT. I know that wasn’t THAT cold, but if the water was 68 on Friday…what would 66 feel like?? Tried to stay calm, nothing I can do now, it will be fine. Everything on the bike- bags dropped and checked, back to the room. Then off to the lake.
THE SWIM (ACTUAL 1:11)
My nerves were high getting down to the lake. I was worried about the cold water/ and just how the swim was going to play out. I got down to the water and got in to test it out. It didn’t feel too bad but it was cold. I got right out ran to get a sweatshirt but no time to put it on before they started shuffling us in. I seeded end of 1:05….but as they corralled us, I delayed going past the start line as I did some self talk…..“WTH are you doing Laura- get in there” Finally got in- by the first buoy my arms were cold, by the 3rd it was my legs….there were 13 buoys until the first turn. I just kept on the inside and did my thing. It was a bit choppy….this was no mirror lake. I thought if I kicked more I might warm up but everytime I tried to kick my cold muscles would feel like they were going to cramp….you know that feeling like you are going to get a charlie horse! So I backed down. Last thing I needed was cramped legs in the middle of an IRONMAN swim. The other thing I was not used to was not being able to see the turn buoy- unlike placid- this was one loop- so when you look out you cannot see the red turn buoy because it’s over a mile away, so it just felt long. The rest of the swim turned into- don’t think about the cold- stay steady- don’t cramp- get to the turn buoy. Just kept on swimming and focused on a strong pull. As soon as we turned at the buoy we were directly into the sun- no one could see and people were swimming all over the place- it was BLINDING. Turned for the next mile back into shore and the sun was still a problem but luckily could find each red buoy as I headed the mile back. FINALLY see the shore- get out- frozen. Looked at my watch- 1:11 and I was NOT HAPPY. So disappointed. I had worked so hard and my swim has really really improved. It was in my head….
T1 : THINK SLOW IS SMOOTH AND SMOOTH IS FAST (9:22)
My feet were completely numb so running (and it was a longer transition run for sure) was difficult/painful. I felt out of it. Got to the tent shivering. Arm Warmers, gloves with hand warmers, thermal socks, and out.
Saw Steve- told him I had a horrible swim- he said it’s 5 minutes- forget it and go bike. Game face on and out I went.
THE BIKE (ACTUAL 6:22)
First 45 minutes were so cold- I couldn’t even get my HR up. Finally, 45 minutes in, I warmed up and felt like I could ride!! I just stayed aero and tried to stay consistent. I felt strong and my fueling was going well. Mentally was in a better place on the second loop even though the wind was BRUTAL. Really picked up and I was being pushed around like a rag doll. I had to come out of aero a few times because I literally almost got blown over. But temp was perfect! Kept up on my fuel and switched off of UCAN and onto GUs at 5 hours.
Shortly after 5:00 mark I was riding up a hill with my head slightly down- I was coming up on this guy but still a ways back- marshall came by and said I was too close! LIke what!! I am such a rule follower and I was at least 3 bike lengths back…she said I had to be 5. Blue Card= 5 minutes at the next tent. I was so discouraged. But tried to stay focused. Kept looking for the tent but couldn’t find it. Now I was worried I would miss the tent and get DQ’d or a larger penalty. Did the hills in Duplese again- and as I make the turn I am thinking well, I will just tell them I didn’t see the tent. But then… of course the tent was literally 2 miles from the bike finish. I will not lie. I got to the tent and I teared up…. I was frustrated and a angry I had to stop when I knew I was close to my goal. I was just emotional because I wanted to keep going and I felt like I had not been drafting and the penalty was unfair. But I will not argue and will just do my time. So there I stood for 5 minutes….I could hear the transition area! Honestly, I saw a TON of drafting out there- and they were catching people but I was going up a hill…come on now! Here nor there….. it was not a good use of energy. Pull it together and use this energy on your run.
T2 : THINK SLOW IS SMOOTH AND SMOOTH IS FAST (2:56)
Nothing exciting here. Got my stuff and out I went.
THE RUN (ACTUAL: 4:33)
Out of transition with the question in my mind….will I feel my calf?? First mile done, feeling strong and NOPE! WOOHOO!! Time to rock. Felt really strong on the first part of the run, went back to UCAN because I was worried too many GUs would mess with my stomach. Used UCAN the first loop- then switched to GU. Fueling may have played a part in my low HR mid run but no stomach distress and I was PUMPED about that!!
Starting at around mile 6-8 calf was a started to tighten….crap….and on top of that my FEET THEY WERE ON FIRE. The bottom of my feet were killing me. I could feel blisters ALL OVER…between my toes on the bottom of my foot, and a GIANT one the size of a golf ball on the inside of my foot. Like what?? I didn’t change ANYTHING. WHERE DID THIS STUFF COME FROM??? This is all part of the game 🙂 Part of it could been that my gait was changed because of my calf? Who knows but I tried to move my feet around a bit.. Made the conscious decision in my mind to ignore it- if I don’t think about it, it won’t hurt. BUT my calf was something that I didn’t want to blow out….I started backing down when my it tightened…. The tighter it got the more I worried if I pushed too hard would I be forced to walk….. Took my first GU roctane and that helped give me another boost. At special needs I stopped and picked up band aids thinking that would help…I could tell one of the blisters was so big so I worried about getting my shoes back on. So out the door that idea went. (And I forgot to put Vaseline in my bag, damn it). BUT despite the leg and feet….I FELT GREAT AND STRONG! I just kept at it- worked on being consistent and avoiding an injury that would set my race and rest of my season back. It was an honor to be out there with so many amazing athletes….all striving towards that same finish line. I was SO close to my goal- and despite missing my A goal, I am proud of how I handled the day.
This year taught me so much about myself. And I know I have so much room to grow. Lots of ideas and thoughts in my mind right now about where to go next. For now it’s time to have some fun and get back to some other things I love!! Closing this season with some sprints, a couple of cyclocross races, maybe a half marathon and back to Mission Fitness for some strength training!