By athlete ambassador, Lesley Maisey
Anything can happen. This statement applies to life and is also very appropriate for triathlon, especially my most recent race at Ironman Whistler. Here in Vancouver we had an unusually hot June and early July. So, in preparation for what was most likely going to be a hot race, I took every opportunity to train in the heat and work on cooling techniques. I’d wait to run until it was the hottest part of the afternoon instead of doing my nice cool 0530 run. I rode indoors without a fan and practiced using different arm coolers, spray bottles, and ice as water and ice would be readily available on the course. I swam in my sleeveless wet suit just in case the water was warm.
Off to Whistler we went three days before the event and I was still only prepared for and expecting a warm race. We woke Friday morning to torrential rain and looking at the weather for the coming two days was concerning. All that heat training was out the window and I had left home not totally prepared to race in what Mother Nature was planning for us.
When I rose Sunday morning at 0400, it was overcast and 9C. It had rained hard Saturday night and I was glad I had used garbage bags and ziplock bags to protect my gear inside my transition bags. There was a good chance I could start my ride and run in a dry and warm state even if it rained all day. The rain held off for transition set up and the first loop of the swim. Second loop I knew the rain had started as the water became quite choppy and changed colour. I exited the swim to be met by hard, cold rain and joined a few hundred other women in a steaming change tent. My T1 time was slow. I took the time to put on socks, gloves, toe covers, long sleeved jersey and a light rain jacket. I don’t usually race in all of that but today called for a different plan. My only regret was I had not included leg warmers in my ambassador clothing order!
Off onto a very cold and wet ride. I started warm and dry but that was gone in the first few kilometres. I embraced the climb up Callaghan but froze on the descent. I had legs that were cold and felt like lead and didn’t like what I was demanding of them. Racing in these conditions takes a different kind of energy. We generate heat as a by-product of metabolism so my system was on overload trying to keep me warm and functional. I had depleted my 3 hour Perpetuem bottle and was out of gels when I hit special needs. Quick top up and out to the flats. I warmed up by the120km mark on the Pemberton flats and climbed back towards Whistler even sweating a bit, finally! Into T2 and it felt good to shed the soaking wet layers, and don a dry shirt and fresh socks.
Living in Vancouver and running outdoors year round means I run in the rain a lot. The run was beautiful and I only had the downpour for the last 6km. There were many friendly faces to cheer me on during the run and I was proud of my perseverance on a challenging day. Coming down that finish chute is a wonderful feeling and this event was even more satisfying. I toughed it out and kept going even when my legs were so cold I could barely feel them, my hands were numb and my feet were floating around in my cycling shoes. I proved to myself that anything can happen but it won’t stop me!