When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Race #2- 8 weeks to Ironman Canada

finish line

As of the beginning of last week I was exactly 2 months away from Ironman Canada and exactly 1 week away from my 2nd Half Ironman of the season. My last race before the big one! Not going to lie I was definitely a bit unsure after Chinook how this one was going to go. I definitely felt more confident about what NOT to do. I paid attention to my rest and nutrition last week as well as my training. Thursday I checked out the lake and part of the bike and left feeling confident that I was at the very least going to feel stronger than I did at Chinook. Saturday I picked up my race bib and dropped off my run gear and bike and started to feel pretty excited. I felt very confident that I was where I needed to be going into the race.



I started out beside my Uncle Pat who was once again also participating! We lined up on the beach somewhat in the middle of the pack and a bit towards the front. The race began and we were off! And whoa was it a battle! Roughly 300 participants hitting the water at the same time made for a busy and mayhem-like start! The first 500 meters or more I spent fighting my way for some space, there seemed to be no end to bodies and body parts all around me. After being hit in the head a couple times, pushed and kicked I stopped and treaded water for a couple seconds as I looked for some sort of an opening and also to catch my breath. It was at this point that I decided I was going to get a bit more aggressive- I describe this as the elbows up approach. I stayed as aware as I could of everyone around me, although at times this was difficult and I just powered through not allowing myself to get pushed around. Around each buoy it was a bit of a struggle but for the most part I managed to find some space for the rest of the swim. I pushed hard the last 400meters and came out of the water with my best swim time yet! 35minutes!

collageTHE BIKE:

Out of the swim I transitioned a bit slower than I would have liked- I blame trying to put full compression socks onto wet legs for this one. Nonetheless I was on my bike and heading out in pretty good time. About 2km into the bike I lost my aero-bar water bottle, it came loose and it was either hold it for the whole race or toss it- So I tossed it, luckily I had lots of nutrition on my bike so I didn’t miss it in the end. Going out on the bike I was already feeling 100 times better than I did at Chinook, I took this as a good sign and decided I was going to push hard. Ive always had a tendency to hold back a bit on the bike, the theory being that you want to go hard on the bike but make sure you have enough left over for the run. I thought to myself, if Chinook taught me anything, it was that even after the toughest ride I can still manage a strong run, so I figured, lets go for it, but this time the pushing would be on my own terms. Next thing I know I found myself passing people like mad, I was powering up every hill and even on the downhill I seemed to find more power than a lot of riders. The best part- I felt strong doing it! As the kilometers ticked away I had a couple moments where I was feeling the burn, but I just kept telling myself, this is still better than 3 weeks ago- Just a bit more and then all you have left is the run. The double loop on the bike meant it was easy for friends and family to set up and support! And this was a huge help! lululemon had a water/cheer station set up and they cheered their hearts out for all of the cyclists! I was so proud to be an ambassador for such an energetic supportive company every time I passed them I felt their energy! My parents found me and drove beside me for a bit blasting some tunes! All of it made the ride so much more enjoyable. I came in off the bike, in my fastest bike so far- 3hrs!


I threw on my shoes and grabbed my fuel belt and I was out of the transition, energy bar in hand. My legs were sore but I knew I just had to keep them moving. I started my Garmin as I headed out and it beeped for me every mile to let me know what my pace was. I knew I had to keep below a 6minute mile to come in under 2 hours for my half marathon. The run is my favorite part of triathlons for a couple reasons- #1 there are a ton of aid stations, usually every 3 km and the volunteers are just amazing! They are so encouraging, not to mention you have an opportunity to cool down and refresh yourself with a cup of water over your head! Another reason, everyone out there is feeling just a tough as you are, and you are all finally going slow enough to see each other and all you hear are encouraging words and cheeky remarks about how its almost over (when we all know its still another 21km!) The atmosphere is encouraging and inspiring as all of these athletes push their limits one last time. I was right in there! Getting many compliments on my bright outfit, lots of smiles and a couple quick chats. I paid attention to my Garmin and kept my pace. Coming through the 1st loop I had no clue where I was at, but in my head I just told myself ‘one more lap and then you are done for the day, you’ve got this.’ As I came through the finish, I saw my mom in her matching pink shirt, high fived her and my dad and somehow found the energy to turn up the jets for my last 20m! I crossed the finish lines hands in the air! Totally forgetting to look at my time! I was greeted at the finish by my amazing friends, my parents and Jason who drove in from Calgary, and when they told me my time 5hr and 35min on the clock- I lost it! I couldn’t believe it! 3 weeks ago my time was 6hr and 20 minutes, the year before it was 6hr and 10min! I completely blew both times out of the water! I couldn’t have been happier. I started to do a happy dance and my friend Alison laughed at me for still having energy to do so- Sometimes in life a moment calls for nothing less than a little victory dance! hug

I checked my standings as they were posted after the race- I finished 7th in my age group out of 42 people! My run was 1hr 55min- another PB! So after all of that, with now 7 weeks to go I feel a new sense of confidence and a new focus. I guess that’s why quitting when things get tough is always frowned upon. If I would have decided to quit after one bad race, I never would have felt the way I did Sunday when I crushed my time. I guess sometimes you have to power through the tough times to learn what you are really made of.

Training this week:

Total Training Hours: 13hours: 7.5 training, 5.5 racing.

Favorite workout of the week: 2km open water swim and 42km bike to check out the course on Thursday! Chris was there as my lifeguard/ chaperone and I left the training that day feeling pumped and ready.

Toughest workout of the week: 2km Swim on Wednesday- the pool was packed with teams prepping for a swim race, so I was stuck in a double lane with multiple levels of swimmers- in retrospect it was probably good training for swimming with lots of bodies, at the time it was just frustrating because I couldn’t get in the groove.

Biggest learning: I’ve still got this. Sometimes you have to power through the tough times to learn what you are really made of.

Things I’m looking forward to this week: Recovering from race day and getting back at my training!


Amy Coppens About Amy Coppens

I’m passionate about fitness, health and helping others achieve their goals and as a result their best life.


  1. Suzanne says:

    Again, another great post! So happy you take time to write these!! Congrats on your multiple PB’s!

    • Amy Coppens Amy Coppens says:

      Thanks Suzanne! They have become just as much a part of my training as the physical stuff! It really helps to look back after each week and evaluate. Im glad you are enjoying them!

  2. Congratulations, Amy – you crushed it! I was so jealous every time we passed eachother on the run… I was dying and you were looking too fresh!

    • Amy Coppens Amy Coppens says:

      Haha, I was jealous that you were ahead of me! Great work! Christa, you and I should definitely try and plan more races together, that was so fun seeing you guys on the course! Good Luck with Calgary 70.3!! Hope to see you around the gym before then!

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