The first few miles of the Ironman Canada bike were a little technical as there were speed bumps, bumpy roads and a few twists and turns. I didn't want to do anything silly in these early miles so I treated it as a warm-up, especially since my body was still adjusting to the bike position after the swim and I was finding myself a bit cold from being so wet from the swim. Once I got on the main road (Sea to Sky hwy) I started to ride into my Ironman event.
The layout of this course was rather simple as there were four main segments. To Callaghan Climb, Callaghan Climb, to the far turn around, riding back to town and then you repeat. This allowed me to break the course up into small segments so that I could focus on executing each segment to the best of my ability. Although I didn't have any metrics to abide to, I lapped my computer at each segment so that I could check in with my metrics just to see how my numbers (specifically lap normalized power) was correlating to my RPE. I primarily rode the entire bike by feel but checked-in with my metrics every now and then, especially on the first loop.
My strategy was to ride the first loop relatively easy (feeling like I had three more effort gears in me) and to then ride the second loop strong (feeling like I had two more effort gears in me but using a gear or two as needed depending on how I was feeling). I resisted the urge to push hard on the first loop, especially since I was so cold. I found myself shivering at times but climbing the 8 mile climb in Callaghan helped. The descend was extremely cold for me but thankfully, I warmed up after the turn around. This helped me enjoy the second lap a lot more.
I didn't find this course overly challenging as my training really prepared me to ride my bike well on this course. I don't think I could have executed the bike course any better. The first loop was rather quiet with riders whereas the second loop was a little more busy with the 70.3 athletes. However, with the layout of the course and the long hills/descends, I didn't find it difficult to ride my own race, often not seeing any riders directly in front of me. This is the second Ironman I've done on my Ventum and I am absolutely in love with how it rides. It's not only smooth with how it handles (similar to a road bike) but I feel incredibly in-control while descending, especially in the wind. This not only helps me ride better but I expend less energy as I can ride more relaxed and efficient.
For nutrition, I front-loaded my calories so that I took in a bit more in the first loop of the bike due to the cooler temps. Because I did warm-up, I knew that my calories would digest and absorb a lot better in the first loop - especially with all the climbing. My nutrition was as follows (well-practiced in training):
First loop (on my bike): Skratch PB&J bar (consumed after the Callaghan climb in small bites spread out over an hour), aero bottle (CarboRocket 333 black cherry, 2 1/2 scoops 260 calories), Ventum hydration (1.2 L - 4 scoops + water of INFINIT custom formula Fruit Punch, ~500 calories), rear bottle (Infinit Custom formula Pink Lemonade, ~250 calories).
Second loop (in special needs): Aero bottle (NBS Carbo-hydration, 5 scoops, ~200 calories), Ventum hydration (same as first loop, I used a large plastic water bottle so it was already mixed and filled up my hydration system in special needs), rear bottle (CarboRocket 333 black cherry, 2 scoops 220 calories).
On the first loop, I didn't finish my rear bottle (which was more of a back-up bottle) but on the second loop I finished about 3/4ths of everything. I had one low moment around mile 80 of the bike but it went away in around 20 minutes. These things happen during Ironman racing and after troubleshooting the situation (is it pacing, nutrition, just a low moment?) I realized it was just a low moment and it will pass...and it did. I only grabbed water at the last aid station to cool myself off as I was getting a little warm. I eased up in the last few miles with a slightly higher cadence just to get the legs ready for the run.
I loved seeing my athlete Erick and Karel on the course. I cheered for them both every time I saw them. I also saw a few of our athletes doing the 70.3 which made me happy to see those familiar faces.
Because the run was still a big unknown for me, I put all my mental energy into the swim and bike. I knew that I had great fitness going into the race and even if the run didn't happen, there was still a lot I could gain/experience in this race so I kept my mind in a positive/can-do place.
The course was absolutely beautiful and I loved being surrounded by the mountains. The volunteers were exceptional and it was nice to have two lanes closed for us on the bike course. The course was really well marked and the weather was just perfect for the entire day. I liked the set-up of the course as the climbs were long enough that I could still settle into a good rhythm. The ride back to town was the slowest as it had a bit more elevation gain but there were still segments to gain some speed and shake out the legs.
Although my athlete Ericka rode a few minutes faster than me, I exited the bike as the overall amateur female by 3 minutes. I didn't know this until after the race but this was certainly a high note and a reminder that the Ironman is filled with highs and lows and you need to hold on to whatever positives you can find. It's a long day filled with a lot of uncertainty and just because a race doesn't go as planned, there is always something to be grateful and thankful for.
After I dismounted the bike, I jogged to my run gear bag (a volunteer handed it to me) and went into the changing tent. The tent was filled with other females from the 70.3 but a volunteer came over to me and helped me with my gear. I was a bit nervous as to what would happen on the run since I haven't really ran in 3 weeks but I tried to stay positive and reminded myself that my main focus is on Kona. I made a quick stop in the port-a-john and then headed out on the run by focusing on my form and trying to run as easy as possible.
For the record, the bike was 109 miles (not the full 112 miles)
Karel's bike recap:
OK so I really messed this up 😬I wanted to start and do the first loop a little more conservative to feel strong on the 2nd loop. I felt great and despite seeing a high power I kept on going thinking the powermeter is not working right. Well it was working and I paid for it after 50 miles. I also got distracted by a few Uber bikers who passed me - I made the mistake of thinking I’m failing and the race is not going well. First time up to the Callahan mountain I went up pretty fast but it felt easy. 2nd time around it got real for me. At that point I was in a very low moment and after the descent, I even experienced a few pre-cramp signs and had to really ease up to shake it off. The returning leg back to town was very tough mentally and I had to be careful not to fully cramp. I was also dealing with my typical back pain. During those rough times I focused on riding well in terms of posture and staying aero - not to create any extra drag. I still managed 5th fastest AG time and still hit the T2 in 2nd place AG (I looked these up after the race). During the race I had no updates and had no idea of my position due to the rolling start. I’m glad I was able to overcome the lows and the wrong pacing on the bike to still finish it well. For nutrition, my only source of liquid nutrition was NBS Carbo hydration (5 scoops per bottle). I started with 2 bottles worth in the hydration system in the frame and then another bottle between the aero bars. I had two more bottles in special needs. I also had one water and one base bottle from the aid stations. I also consumed 1 Skratch Bar (lemon raspberry) and 4 Skratch Chews. One Enervitine cheerpack at special needs and 1 SIS gel. Nutrition wise, everything worked well. It was cool so I didn't feel like I needed a lot of liquid but I still took in calories. I never have a specific nutrition plan when I race - I kinda wing it as I go along but have plenty of stuff with me and pick and choose based on how I feel.