Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ironman Canada - 2013

About a year ago, Josh decided he wanted to do an Ironman Triathlon.

"I'll be racing in Ironman Canada August 26 of next year. WTC just confirmed the new location of Whistler today..." (Josh's Facebook Post, October 11, 2012)

It's always been a dream of his to complete one.  A couple years ago, he was on track for the Kona Ironman (he won a spot in a drawing), but he put it on hold when I got sick and opted for another year.  When they announced an Ironman in Whistler, BC, we talked about the possibility of him registering, and what that would mean for him and for us.  I wanted to be supportive of his goals and dreams, but I felt so conflicted.  It's so much time and money, and when Josh puts himself into something he's 100% committed.  I worried what that commitment would mean for our family.

I took a couple days to discuss concerns and create a contract of specific things that were important to me, and things I needed him to agree upon if he was going to register.  He's been SO GREAT at honoring those and doing his part, despite a rigorous training schedule, being a dad, husband, now student, and full-time employee.  He'd wake up early and do a run or a bike ride before we were awake, then swim on his lunch break, and cycle on his bike trainer after we put the kids to bed.  He's truly proved himself to be an IronMAN.

And so, to culminate this year-long journey, here is our "Race Report"!  I can't speak for Josh's experience, but I'll give you my own perspective:

We had a bumpy start when we noticed fluid leaking from our new/used minivan we purchased last week!  Josh took it in and learned it was a broken radiator and needed to be replaced!  They didn't have the correct size, so it took almost all day Wednesday to fix it.  It was a tender mercy, despite the late start it gave us.  I cannot imagine breaking down in the middle-of-nowhere or worse, in Canada!  We packed up the car and hit the road, driving as far as we could (Everett) and then trying to find a vacant hotel at 9pm.  Long first day.
Let's roll!
Canada or Bust!

The next day we ran a few errands and found some window paint for the cars!  We decorated our windows and then we REALLY felt official!

We crossed the border; glad we had all of the proper documentation.  The guard looked exactly like Sayid from LOST, who was a torturer for Iraq's Republican Guard.

Imagine my nervousness when this conversation took place:

Border Guard:  What is your purpose for traveling to Canada?
Josh:  The Ironman in Whistler.
Border Guard:  Will you be leaving anything behind upon your return?
Josh:  Just sweat.

We picked up Nana and Papa at the Vancouver airport, and then traveled through some CRAZY Vancouver traffic and then up the winding mountain to Whistler.  I was SO grateful to have Stewart and Annette there with us!  The Boise race was so difficult to keep track of all of the kids and find my way around.  Although our kids were CHALLENGING this entire trip, I was so happy they were here to support us.  They are the BEST support team and cheerleaders you could ask for!

Whistler, BC is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever been!  The scenery is breathtaking.  The weather was picture-perfect, and just the right temperature (70's and low 80's).  Whistler Olympic Village was busy with people, but it didn't feel crowded, and I found the Ironman crowd and fans really polite, family-friendly people.

This is INUKSUK - an ancient guardian of the Arctic tundra, who points the way,
bestowing hope and strength upon the weary hunter.
We bought a Christmas ornament that has this figure carved from  antler found in the NW territories

They had wonderful playgrounds and paved paths that wound through shops and restaurants.  There were TONS of dogs who came along with their owners.  Wonderful, well-behaved, friendly dogs.  Our favorite was Digger, the Burmese Mountain Dog.  What a love!

On our way to and from our hotel, there was a map kiosk that had helpful maps of Whistler.  Diddles insisted on collecting a map every time we passed.  I think we collected about 52 of these maps!

All the rivers running through the village were this beautiful seafoam color.
We learned it is due to the minerals in the glacier run-off!

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Alta Lake - this is where the swim took place

Crowd gathering at the Medals Pavilion for the Ironman Welcome
We stayed at the Alpenglow Lodge, which had bunk beds for the kids, and a comfy Murphy bed for us.  It had a full kitchen, so we packed most of our food.  Good thing, too.  Things are quite expensive in Canada!  A gallon of milk was 8$!  The hotel had a pool and hot tub that the kids loved.  I really liked the place we stayed.  Very close and convenient to everything.  We left our car in the garage the whole trip!

Papa watching the kids swim

Our hotel room was on this side, and Nana and Papa's was two floors up!
The next day, we had our little birthday party for Diddles, and then went  to the Upper Village to play a little.  They had a bunch of rides for the kids and they really enjoyed themselves in the bouncy house,  go carts, and the bungee jump.

Crossing the bridge to Upper Village

Beautiful water - everything was so clean!

She wanted to sit and look at this horse eat all day.

Bouncy House.  Hot kids.

Josh went on this ride with Yaks, but he didn't last long.
Yaks finished the ride alone and said,  "That.  Was.  Awesome!"
The next morning was a little cooler with some rain.  Boo had registered for the IronKids race, which was a mile run.  They got to cross the same finishing line as the Ironman, so that was exciting!   She did a great job!
See Boo Run!

Great job, Boo!
Josh and Papa rented some scooters to go scope out the lake and the bike course.  He came home feeling a little more nervous about how difficult this was going to be.

Haha.  Goggles.

The night before, Josh did a lot of checking and rechecking his gear and his bags, eating, drinking, resting.  

Thousands of bikes!

The sea of bags at the run transition.

Race day began with a 7am swim start.  Boo walked over to the lake at 6:15 with Nana and Papa to watch.  I stayed home and got the other kids going.  I managed to forget a stroller for Diddles, which proved to be such a challenge!  (Diddles is prone to dart away to explore whatever interests her that second, and in a crowded venue, I Annette and I were pretty nervous!)   I ended up renting one from a little shop in the village.  What an item to forget!  Sheesh.  

We made these shirts out of fabric paint and freezer paper stencils!
They turned out really cute.
Here's an ariel view of the swim start.  2.1 miles.  Can you imagine?
Josh finished the swim in 1:15 and transitioned to the bike in just over 6 minutes!

Josh transitioning from swim to the bike
We set up camp across the street from our hotel with our signs we made,  cow bells, snacks, drinks and blankets.  We didn't know exactly when we would see Josh pass on his bike.  I snapped this picture of Stewart seven minutes before Josh sped by.  Of course my phone was put away when he passed!  It was take a picture or cheer.  I wanted to cheer!

We cheered and screamed.  He waved and smiled!  He looked like he was feeling good.  It was a thrill to see him, and he was making such great time!  The kids were so excited!  Stewart had tears in his eyes.  It was so sweet.  The bike course in Whistler was deemed the most difficult of all the Ironman courses with 6,000+ ft of climbing!  Everyone talked about how tough the bike leg was.  Josh must have had the upper edge training on our Palouse hills, because he finished the 112 miles in 5:21!

Keeping it real here, folks:  The day was a challenge with these kids.  It was one LONG day.  Nana and Papa were such a huge help, but my children were horrible!  Lack of sleep and routine took its toll.  My kids aren't happy vacationers, I've decided.  Isn't that a shame!?  Vacations should be so much fun!  There was a LOT of arguing, teasing, fighting, especially between Boo and Yaks:  Who is going to push the elevator button?  Which cheer we were going to do?  No, I want to cheer by myself!  Who sits where in the car?  Who gets the swim goggles?  Who gets to go on an errand with Dad?  Who gets to take the pictures!?  It was horrible.  I pulled out every ounce of my patient mothering skills and tricks, but they were not enough.  I lost my temper with them several times, and felt like pulling my hair out.  Debated leaving them for the bears to raise.  

Speaking of bears.  Look at this shot someone captured on the Ironman course!  
Can you spot the black bear?

Photo by Mike Kopec

We swam a bit more at the pool, all the while, watching the web to see where Josh was at the splits in the marathon. The first four splits were great, but then we waited and waited and waited.  

Split Name
DistanceSplit TimeRace TimePaceDiv. RankOverall RankGender Rank
6.9 km6.9 km38:087:25:455:31/km
11.8 km4.9 km25:567:51:415:17/km
16.5 km4.7 km27:298:19:105:50/km
20.2 km3.7 km24:278:43:376:36/km
26.2 km6 km1:06:009:49:3711:00/km
 We didn't know it, but at about mile 18 of the run, Josh got some severe stomach cramps, and had to visit the medic tent, the pain was so bad!  They never really went away, and he struggled the rest of the run.  Still as I'm typing this (three days later), he's still having stomach problems!  I got worried, but there is nothing you can do but wait.  Stewart and Annette went down the running course to see if they could see him.  He was in a lot of pain, but determined to finish.  We tried our best to entertain ourselves.

I didn't want to leave and go back to the hotel, but the snacks I brought were dwindling, and it was dinner time.  In a moment of exhausted desperation, I let the kids have cake and cookies for dinner at this fantastic bakery called Pure Bread.  I'm still daydreaming about the Flourless Chocolate cake Annette shared with us!
Chocolate chip cookie, chocolate cake and lemon cake!  It's what's for dinner.  :(

I had to return the stroller by 5:30pm, and that was an adventure, as I had to weave in and out of the race course across the village to the shop, with a stroller and a four-year-old, only to return to our spot to find my older children...fighting!  Awesome.

We rejoined Annette and Stewart and just waited at the finish for Josh.  It was an anxious time when you don't know exactly when to expect them, and what's going on.  I knew his hoped-for-time had passed, and I worried he'd cross the line disappointed.   It was so crowded at the finish, we couldn't see from where we were standing, and so would just listen as best we could to the announcer call the names.  Finally we heard his name, "Joshua Paulsen...YOU.  ARE.  AN IRONMAN!"  It was so exciting!  I didn't think he'd make it before the 12 hour mark, but he made it with 22 seconds to spare.  Amazing!

You can see Josh's finish on this video clip.  Start it at about 02:36:11, and watch for a few minutes.  until the clock says 11:59, and then hold your breath, cause that's what we were doing!! ( 02:38:50 they call his name, but I can't click on that exact spot.)

He's on the right with the white hat

You.  Are.  An IRONMAN!

A wave to the kids

The prize

We didn't get much of a chance to properly celebrate.  We snapped a couple pictures over the fence, and then he went straight to the medic tent, then spent the rest of the night sick.  I took the kids home and made some dinner.  Off to bed for a long trip home the next day!

It was all downhill from there:  A long, long day on the road home, which included a sick Josh, grumpy children, rainy weather, long wait at the border, missed exits, a closed mountain pass, a speeding ticket for me (first in nine years), and I almost hit a deer a mile from home!  Trying to remember the good parts, and forget the bad.

I'm happy Josh could meet his goal, and that we could be there to support him!  Yay, Josh!

Finally, here is the professional (inspirational) video they put together of the race highlights.


Sarah said...

Love the opening cartoon! And the details of this big race.
Wow - just wow. That picture of the bikes gives an idea of how intense this whole thing really is!! How would you even find yours among the mass? How could you be anything but nervous and anxious that things would work out and run smoothly?
Ugh to the no scooter! Hurray for his parents' support. That's huge.

Liz said...

That's amazing! I know how much time and effort goes into training for one of these. Ryan trained with his neighbor (who just did one in Idaho) and was gone a lot! Thankfully, since we wasn't really doing the ironman, I could get him to take days off to be with us, too. Anyway, I'm just glad you had such a successful time! P.S. I want to stay in that hotel someday. It sounds great!

Trish and Matt said...

Ever since we did our little race, I've been anxious to hear the details of your trip! Now that I've seen firsthand how it all works, I have a better understanding of just how amazing triathletes are. So glad he finished and the entire crew was there to support him. What a great family team you are!