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Ironman Canada 2010 Race Summary
Pre-race: Suzi, Tammy, Tim and I arrived in Penticton on Wednesday evening after flying from SFO to Kelowna and driving to our house rental. We picked up our bikes from TriBike Transport in the only hour of pouring rain that occurred on Thursday. Suzi, Tammy and Tim biked back to the house (~1mile) and were completely soaked but somehow enjoyed themselves, while I got to put my bike in the rental car- hey, the perks of being the name on the rental papers. We did end up doing a short bike ride that evening once the roads cleared up, but didn't get in our planned swim due to very choppy lake conditions. We drove the bike course on Friday- it took about 3 hours and was well worth it to see the out and back section and to know what the hills looked like. The hills always seem smaller/easier in a car, (Tim: "that was Ritchers?" ;) but the general idea was there. Saturday was busy with our short pre-race workout and bag/bike check-in. It's amazing how long it took to organize all the T1, T2 and special needs bags- though you don't have to turn in special needs bags until race morning- and you can modify T1 and T2 bags race morning as well. I made a checklist of the extra things I needed to put in T1 and T2 bags and that helped with the race morning nerves/confusion.
We left the house around 5:15am the morning of the race. That seemed like an adequate amount of time (since we were driven very close to the body marking area). A suggestion for future racers: bring your own black marker. Our body marking line was super slow and we finally grabbed a marker and marked ourselves. Just figure out what kind of marking the volunteers are doing, and you'll save yourself at least 10-20 minutes. And even though the race director said there would be more porta-pottys, the lines were still ridiculous. Suzi and I were still standing in line at 6:50! Yikes. That was a bit nerve racking, and I was glad I wasn't alone. We made it to the beach with "enough"; time to spare, but it would have been nice to have been out there a bit earlier.
Swim - aka. the mosh pit: Wow. What can I say about that swim? I guess I can’t complain too much because I had an awesome swim time: 1hr07, but wow. What a battlefield that was. I don’t really remember where I lined up. Due to my late arrival on the beach maybe I didn’t choose carefully enough. I wasn’t too far back – maybe 5th row of people. But I must have been behind slower people and in front of faster people – so that didn’t leave me in a good spot. I got bonked on the head a number of times, had to readjust/clear my goggles at least three times from people knocking them askew. Someone even managed to unzip my wetsuit – and that was after the last turn so you’d think it would have thinned out by then. Both my calves cramped twice during the last mile; I guess due to tensing up when people collided with me. So I swam with my foot fully flexed to work the cramps out. I thought there was no way I would have a good swim time, but just tried to relax and finish. So I was very surprised when I hopped to my feet at the beach and saw my time.
Bike: I’d put in a lot more bike miles in training than planned due to my plantar fasciitis (and not being able to run much). So I really had high expectations for this section. I think my training went well in this aspect. Norm caught up to me on McLean and we talked for just a bit, which was nice. I never really thought about what a long day it would be if you didn’t talk to anyone. Due to my faster swim time, I was passed by A LOT of people on the bike – stats say about 500 people! yikes. I did notice that, but didn’t let it bother me. There were a number of big groups, and there really wasn’t a way to completely avoid drafting. Some people tried, some people didn’t. Ritchers Hill(s) wasn’t too bad – especially with all the hill training we’d been doing, and JF came along side me during that climb, said hi and motored on ahead. I tried to go pretty fast down the backside and didn’t find it nearly as nerve racking as I thought I would. Thankfully there was no major crosswind to rattle the bike. The middle section (the seven sisters) wore me down a bit more than I expected and I hit a low point just before the out and back section (maybe around mile 65). I could tell the return from that out and back area would be strong headwind and slightly uphill, so I tried to recuperate/recover with the downhill/tailwind instead of blasting it. I didn’t feel like eating on the bike (maybe due to all that lake water I swallowed :) ), but still made myself eat my half PBJ sandwich, shot blocks and drink my accelerade/carbopro mix. I WAS looking forward to a cold coke that I’d left frozen in my special needs bag (thanks Derek for the suggestion!). That was heaven and, along with some advil and tums, seemed to help me recover a bit. Then, as I started heading towards Yellow Lake, around mile 80, my inner knee/quad area started cramping and it started raining.. lovely! That was my first thought. Well actually it was: “you’ve got to be shitting me” :) But then I saw all the volunteers/spectators and they looked miserable. They were wet and chilled and just standing there getting colder. And still cheering! So I simply downed some salt tabs and kept going. I came across Erica and Bob at some point at the end of the climb. Bob ran up part of the hill with me giving me all the info on STVC folks he had seen. Here’s what Suzi, Tammy, Melissa, etc were up to.. and something I thought was funny ‘Norm and JF are just in front of you’.. yeah right. Maybe if ‘just’ is 20-30 mins :) But again, it was nice to have some form of conversation. The last part of the hill was pretty cool, very Tour de France. Crowds on both sides of the lane were cheering us on. Very fun. And then I was at the top. The descent down to Penticton was ok. Even with the weather conditions I was able to get up to a decent speed. I was glad I wasn’t around too many bikers at that point, as I could concentrate on descending wet roads and not have to worry about some bozo zooming by me too close (as they often do). I biked down Main Street, saw JF and Norm going out on the run, then heard Isa in the stands cheering like mad – no wonder he had no voice on Monday.
Run: I had an optional change of clothes for the run but decided I was fine with what I had on, and only changed into my good running socks [supposed to help with blisters – and they did a decent job]. As I was running through T2 I heard the announcers call MikeD’s name so I knew he was right in front of me. I had randomly been testing my quads towards the end of the bike by standing up on the pedals and each time they would tense/cramp up so I was a bit concerned about how in the world I was going to even run off the bike through transition never mind run a marathon. But necessity and adrenaline are powerful things. My legs were definitely on the verge of cramping the first mile or two, but I tried to keep a steady pace and work it out. I caught up and ran with Mike for a little while up Main Street then pulled away at one of the aid stations. I started drinking Pepsi at most of the aid stations after the first couple miles. I’d heard good things about this, and figured taking a sip or two each time would be helpful. And I was eating gels and drinking my Gu2o mix (in my hand bottle) in between aid stations. I got into a routine while running through aid stations which worked pretty well: grab water, sip and pour on arm coolers, grab soda and sip, grab cold sponge and wipe neck, face and squish of the top of my head. I did amuse myself by thinking about how the sponges were undoubtedly recycled and here I was washing my face with them. But then again, I had just swam in a lake with 2800 people; half who pee in their wetsuits, and half who lie about it. :) Hey, whatever can make you smile in an Ironman is a good thing. It’s an out and back run course, and I knew Erica and Bob planned to be at mile 10.5 and 16 (the McLean intersection) so I was really looking forward to that. That became ‘my box’ as the ‘Four Keys to Ironman Execution” article calls it. ‘Just get to mile 10.5.’ And there they were. I remember making some comment about how I was doing well and I hadn’t walked yet but then added ‘better not watch me go up the hill because that might change’, but it never did. It was one of those things.. don’t stop/walk, because once I did, I might continue to stop/walk. I actually talked to a few people during this section [mile 11-16] – the hardest part I think due to the hills – and tried to keep a positive attitude. Again, talking to people really does help give your mind a bit of a break from focusing on the pain and discomfort. The turnaround was crazy and loud, and then the hills began again. I definitely started becoming more focused on the 6inches in front of me and didn’t really look around too much. I did start seeing some of my team members running on the other side of the road, so I tried to wave at each. I got a little boost from seeing Bob, Erica and Team Loew at the intersection again and yelled out that this was now my longest run of the year (got some strange looks from that but it was true) and from there it became a math contest. Really. I think I did math constantly for the 3 or 4 miles. “8x11 is what? 88. Which is what? 1hr 28mins. Which means even if I slow to 11min/miles I could finish in under 12:30.” And repeat for mile 7, and for mile 6 and for mile 5...etc. At the top of mile 21 hill I came across a girl who was running along and she just starting sobbing. I realized that was what I probably looked (and sounded) like at Ironman CDA five years ago when I was just exhausted and ready to be done. I tried to cheer her on, but then got in front of her and continued my math countdown. Once I got until Main Street it was really one foot in front of the other. I was so determined to just keep my pace and finish strong and not have anything cramp up on me in the final miles. It was really quite a strange mix of happiness (knowing I was actually going to finish the run well) and still being afraid that something might give at any second. My legs were definitely on the edge: my outer shins were sore, my feet ached, my Achilles felt like it might pop at any moment, but once I turned the corner off Main St. and saw a couple SVTC spectators and then Bob (who actually bowed to me :) cute) I knew I had it. But wow, that was really brutal making us run that close to the finish line and then making us run another mile. I don’t think I really saw any particular person during that last mile, though there were tons of people yelling and cheering. I was so focused on finishing. But once I got within sight of the arch that starts the finish chute I tried to enjoy the experience. I was so happy, and those who know me know I’m not one to ease up at the finish line, but I was high-fiving the crowds and clapping and raising my hands in the air the entire finish chute.
And then of course, seconds after finishing, I collapsed into the ready arms of two volunteers. Seems to be the routine for me lately. [Thanks Bob for videoing that from the Jumbotron for me to see].
Bob and I had made plans on how to handle the finish area, since for IMC it’s sectioned off from the spectators and difficult to reconnect. But he did even better than meet me at the designated spot. He talked his way into the athlete area and hung out with me while the volunteers got my warm clothing and I tried to eat pizza and soup. We were in there when George, Paul and Tammy came in as well. Then it was off to cheer for the other SVTC folks still out on the run. I didn’t eat much after the race and was still on my feet three hours later but fading fast. Once all of our club members had finished, I shuffled back to the house and tried to find something to eat. And for the first time ever - chicken wasn’t appealing! I know; it’s a shocker. I just wanted ice cream or yogurt or something smooth – probably was quite dehydrated and needed fluids.
So my stats:
In summary: I was super pleased with all my splits and total time. I’m taking the fast swim time even though I know the draft had tons to do with it. And my bike time was within minutes of my goal time even with the rain and windy conditions. And my run – I really couldn’t have asked for better considering I did not run in May or June due to plantar fasciitis and was aquajogging instead. My revised plan B, or C or D or E - I had many change of plans - had been to get into as good of bike shape as I could and hope it carried over into the run. I can happily say it did. :)
p.s. Thanks to all the SVTC gang (and family members) who traveled to Penticton to cheer us on and take more pictures and videos that anyone will know what to do with. You guys rock! It was so great to see everyone at all the various spots you managed to get to. I can’t even imagine what a different experience it would be just to be doing the race without any support crew and/or fellow racers joining in. Thanks Thanks Thanks!