Oliver Half Iron June 6, 2010

Great results. See Amy Kirkham Race Report below. Click on spreadsheet to better see results.

Amy’s Oliver Race Report

I had been struggling to decide which races to do this year. Oliver was a last minute decision over Boise 70.3 because the 10 hour drive to Idaho was a bit daunting to me. I didn’t officially register for Oliver until the Tuesday before the race. It was a decision I wouldn’t regret. I knew I was feeling fast, but never expected what would actually happen. On Saturday evening at dinner before the race I ran into local Vancouver pro, Rachel Kiers. Rachel had just come off a big win at Shawnigan Lake the previous weekend in an incredible time and was racing again! She also named some other pros who were racing the next day. I thought to myself that maybe I wouldn’t do as well as I expected.

Race morning started with a long 20-minute line-up to get my timing chip and get into transition. Ultimately the unexpected line-up replaced my warm-up. By the time I got everything set-up it was time to go down to the water, but I still had to go to the washroom! I lined up again for about 10 minutes to use an outhouse and then ran down to the water. I had just enough time to zip up my wetsuit (which I hadn’t put on since last August!) and do a few strokes in the water. The gun went off and I was in a large pack that was slowly spreading out. I needed to find some toes!

Luckily I was able to put in a hard effort to catch up to a group just ahead of me and found some toes that I followed the rest of the 2 km swim. I put more effort into following her toes than concentrating on my stroke but it paid off because when I got out of the water I looked at my watch and saw 30:50 for 2km! I was expecting about 34 minutes or so.

I started running up the beach and ran through a few pairs of wetsuit strippers and thought, “do the pros use the wetsuit strippers too?” then I saw the woman ahead of me stop so I stopped too.  There was about a 400 m run from the water to the transition area. That is pretty far in terms of T1’s but I figured, the run is my strength so I might as well use that now. I saw a woman hauling ass ahead of me so I just tried to keep pace with her thinking I could ride with her on the bike. I later found out it was Annett Kamenz, a pro from Edmonton. We grabbed our bikes and met again at the mount line, Annett just stepped on a pedal and hopped onto her bike, so I decided to skip my usual flying mount (that doesn’t always work) and use the same technique as her.  I was trying to keep her within sight when I passed by Rachel Kiers. I was totally shocked. Not only is Rachel a renowned powerhouse on the bike, but her swim is way stronger than mine too. I must’ve had a good swim to be in this position, I thought.

It didn’t take long before Annett was out of my sight and Rachel passed me back. “That’s okay, just try to work with Rachel for as long as possible,” I thought to myself. That’s what we did, I rode back and forth with Rachel for about 60 km or so, until finally when I got a pang of fatigue she managed to sneak away out of my sight ahead. I just kept telling myself to keep riding hard so that she doesn’t get too much time on me off the bike. The last time I checked my averaged speed was 36.something on my GPS bike computer, which was completely shocking to my own expectations. I got off the bike and ran into transition on jello legs. “Oh no” was my only thought. “It has happened, I had gone too hard on the bike, just like other people always talk about. I can’t possibly run fast with my legs feeling like this.” As I approached the 1 km mark, I looked at my watch: 3:50.  “Wow I am running a lot faster than if feels like I am!” I thought.

At the 2 km mark: 7:40, and confirmed that the markers were accurate distance with my GPS. By about 4 km I caught Rachel Kiers, she had shut it down a bit, probably feeling the effects of the previous weekend and thinking about her upcoming training. I could see a few pros ahead of me at the turn-around. I tried to not think about the other pros, I tried to focus on my own race, my own technique.  I used the advice of one of our wise LETC coach’s: “you can’t change anyone else’s race, you can only change your own outcome.” So I just told myself “you will catch them eventually, just keep running your own race.”

I caught 3rd place, Gillian Moody (9:37 ironman last year) by about 10 km and shortly after caught 2nd place as well, who was Annett, the woman who dropped me much earlier on the bike. Someone told me at one point about halfway into the run that 1st place was 5 minutes ahead of me, so I didn’t really have any illusions of catching her. I later saw in the results that she had a 7 minute lead on me off the bike, but I did manage to get that down by almost 5 minutes.

By that point,  I was focused on finishing in my goal time: 4:00 per km. I was still going under 4’ km by about 16-17 km. Then I started to get a bit tired. This was around the time when Clayton cheered me on to lap him, telling me to “stay strong.” I slowed down to about 4:00 for km 17-20. It was starting to hurt, but I was trying to stay strong for Clayton! I looked at my watch at kilometer 20: 1:19 high. Right on target! I started counting down the minutes. 1.1 km would take me about 4:20.

At this point, I felt like I was sprinting, and it was hurting so bad, but I knew I was not slowing down. By 1:24, I couldn’t see the finish line anywhere in sight, so I just kept running. I finished with a run time of 1:25:45, breaking the run course record.

By my calculations the last kilometer must have been a few hundred meters long, because it just wouldn’t end! The woman in fourth place, Janelle Morrison of Team Timex Triathlon team, broke the run course record as well, running 20 seconds faster than me. Six of the pro women (including myself) also broke the bike course record. As there were faster women on both disciplines that day, I do not get the fame of an official course record, but I did place 2nd overall in a good field of 8 pros, and win my age group and a qualifying spot for IMC (if I was interested in that…no thanks!).

Overall it was a great, fast course, with perfect weather conditions that resulted in a fantastic race result that blew away my own expectations. Judging by Michellie Jones’ time of 4:33:54 two years ago on the course, I had expectations of about 4:45. My race time was 4:32:50 for 2 km swim, 93 km bike and 21.1+ km run.

Other LETC’ers that day had fantastic races as well. Lindsey completed her FIRST half ironman distance triathlon blowing away her own expectations too, Brian, Clayton, Amanda, Barton, and Dave also had stellar showings on the day. Special thanks to Jeff, Amy and Richard for cheering!