I am a Pio Swimming alum, circa 1986. When I swam my final 200 yard breaststroke at NAIA Nationals in March of 1986, I never dreamed I'd ever use my swimming in a competition again. However, time marches on and I wanted to start competing in something. My husband's family was into triathlon. I still had the same five-gear bike I'd had during my LCC years and only four gears worked. Oh, and I could not run three miles without stopping to walk. But, I trained a little bit and found that I enjoyed the structure and the goal setting (sound familiar?). I didn't know if I was going to keep my breakfast down after finishing that first sprint tri in 2002, but I did and have participated in many more races since then.
Flash forward to early 2006 when I was training for Ironman Canada. Long story short -- major car accident crushed my pelvis and left foot. I ended up covering the race for the magazine Inside Triathlon, carrying a cane, five months after that accident. I then slept outside in a long line in the city park, rock concert style, so that I could sign up for Ironman Canada 2007. With months of physical therapy and a lot of pain behind me, I got to Penticton in August of 2007 and competed. My husband and three children drove to various points alongside the course to cheer me on for over 14 hours that day. Finishing that race was a fabulous accomplishment, but many things went into it and one major component was the support system I had and still have. It's a key for any and every athlete to surround ourselves with positive people who understand and support your goals and commitments.
Last month my family drove once again to the Great White North and installed ourselves in a condo for a week so that I could do Ironman Canada 2008. I had the race of my dreams. I cut four minutes off my swim time, which started the day off very well. During the 7 hour bike, my extended family were at various spots on the course. I am not sure I could ever do this race without seeing family during the course of the day. 7 hours seemed like about 12 and I finally deposited my bike to the waiting volunteers and put on my running shoes.
It had started to rain by that time -- nearly unheard of during Ironman Canada where they routinely record temperatures of 100F. I was probably one of the few people who was really happy to see the rain, since I live and train in it all winter and spring. It rained during my entire run, and I remember seeing Brazilians, Mexicans, and Greeks running by in garbage bags as I stayed happily in my tri suit. I had never run an entire marathon before, and during this one only walked about a half mile during a steep uphill section. I kept telling myself that it would end faster if I ran.
At mile 21, I saw my wonderful daughter running toward me and I could hear the finish line announcer 5 miles away. My daughter ran with me for a short section and I continued into town. By mile 24, the spectators were three-deep on either side of the racers and the noise was incredible. At mile 25, racers turn onto the road where the finish chute is, and do an out-and-back. There, I saw my entire family once again, all screaming and yelling and the kids joined me from the sidewalk. During the time it took me to get to that finish line, I don't think I heard any noise, though. I asked my kids after I finished, "Where were the grandstands this year?" and my middle son turned me around. They were 50 yards behind me, so noisy that we couldn't make ourselves heard without yelling.
My final time was 13:12:32. Everything had come together -- my training, my nutrition and hydration during the race, my support team throughout the year, and even the weather.
Oh, and on the day prior to the race, I signed up for Ironman Canada 2009. Guess I'd better get to the pool.
More of LeAnne's race-day photos: