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Margie Skeen: IM Canada

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 I arrived in Calgary on assignment with the engineering firm for which I work, bike in tow, on 12 February to a mild evening temperature of -15 deg C.  What I planned to do with a bicycle in the ice and snow with daily highs around -10 and lows around -26 deg C, I am still not sure.

 

For the next three months my bike sat in the corner sulking while I was limited to mostly run training until the ice and gravel were cleared off the main roads making cycling possible.  I was determined not to be bogged down by the weather and persisted in running through snow, rain, lots of mud and finally fields of hungry spring mosquitoes.  There is something special about running in the snow – the silence and the observation that almost no-one else is willing do likewise (I guess they’d all hit the ski slopes somewhere glam…) which made the simple act of going for a run feel like an accomplishment.  When weekend temperatures rose above 0 deg C, the locals would even come out to "my” running parks to braai.

 

Five months later, 27 July, the day of Ironman Canada arrived.  The host town was Whistler, which is north of Vancouver and had hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Having been surrounded by snowboards and all manner of foreign cold weather toys in Calgary, the familiar sight of compression socks paired with too-bright takkies and the sound of ticking of bike wheels were very welcome – finally I’d found "my people” J

 

The two lap swim began in the misty Lake Alta with the backdrop of the Canadian Rockies (still snow-capped) and, although Canadians are reputed to be very polite, the open water swim start was still an open water swim start.

 

In the T1 change tent, I encountered a fellow athlete whose bike had not arrived in time and she had opted to swim, withdraw from the race and then volunteer for the remainder of the day.  She was naturally disappointed but I thanked her for volunteering and got on my way on the bike, an out-and-back course.

 

Around the 58km mark, a black bear decided to cross the road in the middle of the field – very "hakuna matata” this bear was, just passing by to get to the berries on the other side of the road. This was not the first bike-bear encounter I’ve had and my reaction is usually a two-fold, "Oh s***,” followed by, "Aww, it’s so cute and fluffy”.  In native cultures, the bear represents home and family so seeing one always makes me smile.

 

The bike course was a tough one, with temperatures in excess of 30 deg C in the flat valleys and a lot of the 1,800m of climbing left to the end, just to pummel the legs in time for the run.  Thinking, "I’ve done this Ironman thing before” and being eager to improve on time, I duly cooked my legs on the last hills, got a bit dehydrated and was pretty grumpy rolling into T2.

 

Sitting in the change tent contemplating the next step or lack thereof, a volunteer sat down next to me saying, "Listen, I’ve done 21 of these things, and you still have 8 hours to walk the run…”.  I’ll be darned if it wasn’t the same woman I saw in T1 whose bike had been left behind!  It seemed she had been sent, bike-less, to save my bacon that day.

 

After giving hugs to the volunteers (I have learned that I’m friendly when dehydrated, just like some people are friendly when they’re on their 3rdmojito), I hobbled out with a cramping foot onto the "run”.

 

Walking most of a marathon is a lot less fun than running it.  The blister patterns alter notably when my "I’m a gazelle” midfoot strike turns into a 9min/km slog.  The supporters, many of them athletes themselves, were absolutely top class and made the run such a pleasure despite very sore feet. 

 

I’m very grateful to Natalie and Ray for their support and for being accommodating with my shifting work and race priorities, as well as for the inspiration from the many other Team Tissink athletes doing crazy and awesome things all over the planet.  You guys rock! J

 

 

 

 

 

Annah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017

After a great first year racing in the professional category in 2016, I was amped for the 2017 season. Feeling stronger and fitter and more in the "right head space" - I had done some great training over December spending many many many (and many more) hours on the bike - I loved it. My swim was starting to click, I was starting to understand the phrase "feel the water", and my running was strong

READ ONAnnah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017
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