How I ran my way to Ironman World Championships! Ironman Canada Recap

How I ran my way to Ironman World Championships! Ironman Canada Recap

Posted by on Aug 1, 2016 in Jaimee's Blog |

Race Highlights

  • First full Ironman
  • Fastest swim, bike, run
  • 1st place AG
  • Ironman World Championship Kona Qualifier

How to make the most of an Ironman

  • Have an epic support crew
  • Pick a race with gorgeous views
  • Make a realistic race day plan and stick to it
  • Have a positive attitude

I apologize for the longest race report I’ve ever written, but if I can race 140.6 miles you can read the whole thing!

In July 2014 I witnessed my first triathlon, after that I set a goal to start racing and in four years compete in a full Ironman and qualify for Ironman World Championships in Kona. In 2015 I had my first year of racing, competing in three half- ironman’s and a couple Olympic distance races. After landing myself on the podium each race and a couple wins I decided to chase my Kona dream in 2016. For those who don’t know, Kona hosts the Ironman World Championship race every year and every year over 80,000 people compete in an Ironman while only 2,000 qualify for Kona. The chances of qualifying are less than 2.5%. I knew it was a big goal but I also know the value of hard work and determination.

I signed up for Ironman Canada in August 2015 and every day after that worked towards that race knowing it was my one shot at Kona. I woke up early every morning to train then would train again after working all day, weekends were full of long training days followed by recovery and rest. A lot of sacrifices made, a lot of miles and hour logged and a lot of sweat all to prepare me for Ironman Canada and dedicated to a dream.

Fast forward to this year, I had some good days but felt like the bad days outweighed the good. 8 outta 10 times my workouts never went as planned, always felt fatigued and some days were just a struggle but I kept the dream in mind and plugged away day after day. By the end of June I was done, mentally, physically and emotionally drained from it all. I didn’t feel fast, I didn’t feel ready and I didn’t feel excited. Luckily my coach had me start tapering early, my friends and I got some fun training days in and before I knew it I was feeling good and excited to head to Canada.

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My mom and I embarked on our road trip from California to Canada. Two bikes, over 10 bags and over 1,000 miles to go! I was in awe over the beauty that surrounded us in Canada. By Wednesday we were in Whistler, made it to our house, relaxed and went to the Village to explore. Some friends I grew up racing dirtbikes with came up for the race, not to watch but to compete in their first Half- Ironman, which was also their first triathlon and a super hard course. Having them with us made race week so much fun, carefree and memorable. Thursday morning I was antsy to get out and get moving. We swam in the gorgeous crystal clear Alta Lake followed by a run through the trees. Later we did the typical athlete check in, athlete meeting and we drove the entire bike course. As we drove up and down all the hills and mountains I couldn’t help but let out a few cuss words wondering how I was going to get this done. Friday was a total rest day, hanging out with friends and staying relaxed. Saturday we got in a short bike + run before checking in our bikes and bags. At this point it all became real and the nerves were starting to get to me.

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The night before I laid in bed reminiscing on everything I did to get to this point. From the time spent to the people who’ve supported me and helped me get this far. In my mind I had one chance to get to Kona and come tomorrow I either do it or I don’t but as long as I stick to my race plan and don’t stop, I’ll win (at least that’s what I told myself).

4:00am wake up call– Eat breakfast, get dressed and make sure I have everything I need. Then headed to the swim start, nervous as ever but confident in what I could do if I stayed calm and stuck to my plan.

Swim– My mom gave me some last minute advice, a hug and I went to line up with the fast dudes in the front since it was a self seated rolling start. I noticed many girls don’t start with the guys and I found out right away it’s because they don’t want to be swam on top of or hit by guys’ 2x their size. The swim out was rough trying to get out of the crowd and into my rhythm. I finally got into my groove and kept that pace, reminding myself it’s a long day don’t wear yourself out on the swim. I finished the first loop thinking, not that bad, only one more to go. Racers were spread apart more making it easier to swim without swallowing gallons of water. 500 yards left I picked up the pace a little bit and exited the water, grabbed my bag, went pee and hoped on my bike in less than 3 minutes.

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Bike- We headed South for the first portion of the bike and had a gnarly climb before we hit mile 10 luckily what we just climbed we got to go back down. I used every opportunity I could to gain “free speed” by bombing down the hills in aero position. Heading out to Pemberton the course was gorgeous; I got to see Ted, Maria and my Mom headed the opposite direction for the 70.3, we screamed and cheered for each other as we zoomed by. I was having a blast, at mile 56 my Garmin buzzed, I yelled in excitement to the other racers “We are half way guys, keep it going” one grumpy guy told me I shouldn’t be excited I still have to climb back up these mountains. My response to him was, just quite then if it’s not fun, no one will care. Remember, if it’s not fun it’s not worth doing… and you paid to do this. A negative attitude isn’t going to give you a positive or fun race. After a flat out and back for 22ish miles we headed back into Whistler with a climb that was roughly 13 miles long and about 88 degrees outside with no shade. I put my head down and plugged away, mile by mile. By mile 92 my butt hurt, my legs were tired, it was hot and I had thrown up on my arm. I wanted off my bike more than anything! 6 miles left and I pushed hard to get to the transition area as fast as I could. I jumped off my bike, grabbed my bag, changed into running shorts and a tank, went pee and in under 2.5 minutes was back out on the course to start the last 26.2 miles of this race.

Run- As I started my run I hear “You had the fastest swim and bike, keep running” not having any idea who is talking to me and look to see it was my friend Jake. Apparently I was out of it because I gave him a dirty look not realizing who was talking to me (sorry Jake). The first section heads up some hills and into the trails around a lake where hundreds of people were floating in the water, boating and laying on the docks. I wanted to join them so bad for just a second. I put my head down and just kept running, one foot in front of the other. My Garmin buzzed at mile 13, just one more loop, one more half marathon, four 5k’s and a mile left. I hear Maria screaming from 200 feet away, my cheer crew jumping IMG_8068and yelling. I ran by yelling what place am I in, where are the other girls. The hard part about Ironman (other than the actual race) is not knowing what place you’re in, where the other girls are or how close they are to you. At mile 15 everything hurt and I wanted to walk for just a couple seconds. My mom ran next to me telling me I was in 1st place but only by 4 minutes, I could run as slow as 12 minute pace but I could not walk. She also relayed messages my friends had been texting her and the support from them kept replaying in my head for 10 more miles. IMG_8066Mile 20, only 6 miles to go that’s a 10k I got this. I put my head down and ran uphill when I looked up I saw Ted on his bike and my face lit up I was so happy to see him. He rode next to me, told me about his race for a couple minutes then had to go before we got in trouble. He met me at the next aid station encouraging me to keep running and repeated that for the remainder of the race. I passed the last aid station with 1.2 miles to go looking at the finish line and seeing racers finishing but had to do a circle around the finish before I could run down the red carpet. Maria, Ted, Jake and my mom were all screaming one more mile. Out of all the 140.6 miles I covered that day, the last mile was the hardest. Finally 400 meters from the finish and I sprinted (or felt like I was) to the finish with tears in my eyes, I did it! I completed my first full Ironman, I didn’t stop the whole race, had the fastest swim, bike, run and I qualified for Ironman World Championships in Kona!

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140.6 miles later- After nearly collapsing from my legs giving out I met up with my crew and hugged them all for their support that kept me going. After catching my breath and taking it all in, they told me I had won by over an hour and 20 minutes. Shocked, slightly angry that they lied but also glad because if I had known that I may have stopped and the outcome could’ve been different. It was hands down one of the hardest things I’ve endured mentally and physically but every second of pain was worth it.

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I’ve always said there’s no such thing as a perfect race and you have to be prepared for anything to happen, no race ever goes according to plan. I don’t know if it was from my hard work, luck, good karma or the triathlon God’s but I managed to have a perfect race that went better than planned.
IMG_8064There’s no way I could’ve gotten through all the training, good days, bad days and race days without the endless support I receive. Thank you to my family for always supporting me, from saving me dinners to eat when I get home at 9:30pm to still loving me during my taper tantrums. Thank you to my mom for being the best Sherpa, cheerleader, chauffeur, chef and race partner. Thank you to my friends who let me train with them and give me advice, friends who support me and encourage me day in and day out. Thank you to my coach Jon for believing in me, preparing me and sticking by me when I wanted to quit. Thank you to my teammates, we may not get to train together but we always motivate each other. Thank you to my sponsors who help me get through all my training days and races, Freeplay MagazineRudy ProjectNatures BakerySalming USAxx2iFolsom BikeHoffart ChiropracticFLUIDSacramento Running AssociationObdura, and Vitality Multisport. Thank you to every single person who has helped me make this dream come true.

Jaimee 

WE ARE FRIKEN KONA BOUND!!!

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