First things first: I finished ironman canada in 11:17:41, which is a 21 minute PR. If that’s all you care about, you can stop reading now.
I flew out to Penticton, BC in the Okanogan valley on Wednesday August 26. It was a long day of flying Air Canada (3 separate flights… DC->Toronto->Vancouver->Penticton), but quite enjoyable. Watched I Love You Man and Duplicity on the flight from Toronto to Vancouver for free (hence the duplicity watching), as well as some Gavin and Stacey and Fawlty Towers. On the flight to Penticton it was primarily triathletes in mainly prior glory shirts (e.g. IM Florida 70.3, IM Lake Placid, etc). I also think it’s a bit of a bad omen to wear a shirt like that when racing something that isn’t easy. Met some nice folks from Charlotte in their civvies and we made fun of the rest of the triathletes on the flight.
I suppose in the week and a half leading up to my travel, I hadn’t gotten much good training… one longish (1 hour) run and a few 30-40 minute swims. I also moved apartments (lots of lifting, etc). I also hadn’t been sleeping well, as lots of changes had been going on both at work and at home (and in the new apartment, new allergies or something). In any case, it was taper, so I wasn’t too worried. I wasn’t injuring myself, and I wasn’t completely stopping everything.
Once in Penticton, I met the crew from Endurance Sports Travel, who totally rocked. Got a preride of the bike course, a dinner, met tons of cool triathletes, and basically had worry free travel in Penticton. Also got to get in some good swims with those folks on Thursday. Friday brought my first meeting with Coach Matt, who aside from being a pretty cool guy has been my advisor on all things training (though I think he and I probably both agree that I would do better for myself by actually doing more of the workouts), and his fiance Sue, who despite being a Red Sox fan is a decent human being. Anyhow, I was feeling really good about my swims during these “workouts”. No idea what my times would be on Sunday, but I thought I could get by without really working all that hard, cause I’m lazy.
Saturday brought some family into town (my mother, sister, and uncle), as well as bike checkin. I had some bad thoughts on Friday night about my bike cleats, looked at them instead of sleeping, and lo and behold, the left cleat was chipped. Saturday morning I ran to the Bike Barn, got some new cleats, and put them on. Then I dropped off my bike, and we tooled around the Okanogan Valley and some vineyards (me mostly sitting down). Got to bed relatively early, and despite waking up every two hours, I slept pretty well. Woke up, had a bagel, some wheat thins, a gatorage, and grabbed another gatorade to go.
I met some more new people traveling with us on the way to the race site, got my body marked, and dropped off my special needs bags (not for those kinds of special needs. Hit the portapotties three times (twice for one, once for two, heh). Then I got my wetsuit on, found Matt, and we took some warmup strokes in the very crowded lake).
The idea was to stay on Matt’s feet as long as possible, if not the whole way. He’s a stronger swimmer than I, but given the impact
of drafting, I should be able to at least get a good start on the race. Turns out the longest I could stay on his feet was oh,
five yards. Why?
That’s pretty much what it was like. I was about 2 or 3 rows back in the scrum. No kicks to the face, just not a lot of comfort in swimming for the first few minutes. Once I got out of that, I typically found a bit of room and some feet to draft off of. I was a bit wide on the outbound leg of the triangle towards the sailboat that marked the first turn. Made the turn, still had some feet to go off of, and made my way towards the houseboat that marked the turn for the inward leg. That’s where things got really interesting. All of a sudden, I found myself in packs of swimmers again. It seemed like every time we got close to a buoy, all of the swimmers would head straight for the buoy, then spread out again. It was very very odd. Had some pink hat try to rip my goggles off at one point (not intentionally, her hand just scraped right against my face). Also on the inboung leg, I started getting cramps in both calves. Typically, it can happen when I’m swimming in the pool and pushing off so frequently from the wall, but that doesn’t happen in open water swimming, so I’ve got no idea what it was. Even with the cramps, I, for the most part during the swim, felt like I was swimming well within myself, sighting buoys really really well, and not really pushing hard.
Swim time: 1:03:25. That’s a 2.5-3 minute improvement over last year, and aside from the cramps, I did no harm on the swim. It’d be nice to be 5 minutes faster, but that’ll come.
T1 was pretty uneventful. Lost my goggles (clear Tyr Socket Rockets), but other than that, nothing to report. Instead of putting my shoes on in the tent, I carried them with me. See, I had a long run on pavement to get to my bike, and I can run barefoot much faster than I can run on cleated bike shoes. Probably could have gone maybe 30-60 seconds faster with some faster movement and perhaps some more thought into exactly what I was going to do in transition.
The bike is a big loop that takes you southbound on a slight downhill before you make a right turn and start hitting some hills. At first, my powertap started providing really odd power numbers (flashing things like 74 watts). Reset it twice and started getting nicer numbers. This is a good thing as having power numbers really helps me mete out my effort. There’s only one steep hill in the first two hours and it’s less than 10 miles out of transition. A lot of riders around me hammered up the hill; I just stayed seated and tried to keep my watts down. No point in killing my day after being out there for only an hour and a half. Anyhow, saw quite a bit of drafting going on. Some of it was understandable, some was just blatant crap. I would pass someone, and minutes later see them hanging onto a peleton going by me maybe half a mile an hour faster than I was going.
We turned after about 2 hours and then the climbing started. Really enjoyable climbing too. I was able to just sit up and spin up the first hill. One of the very cool things about the bike course at IMC is the number of fans out on the climbs. Two of the climbs at IMC are epic: Richter Pass and Yellow Lake. Spectators were out in full force cheering people upwards and onwards in all sorts of outfits (wigs, superman suits, etc). Anyhow, climbing Richter Lake (the first climb), I started getting some intense pain in my left hip. This wasn’t the first time this year that the pain had come. In my last two rides before I left DC, I had had some hip pain as well, but typically I could run on it. But the pain was always at the front of my mind, except when I was climbing, at which point getting up the hill was the ONLY thing on my mind. It was hard to get comfortable in the aero position from this point, and hard to get comfortable sitting up. There’s one out and back on the course and that’s the second time on the bike that I saw my cheering section, who rocked. At the turnaround you get your special needs bags. I didn’t need my bag, but I really needed to pee. So I stopped for about a minute and a half, did my business, and tried to work a bit on my hip. The hip pain, I noticed, was really bad if I was coasting with my left leg forward, so that was right out for the rest of the day. Came back and got ready to climb the second big climb of the day: Yellow Lake. Yellow Lake was something totally different from anything I’d ever ridden before. It’s pretty close to what climbing looks like at the Tour: fans crowding the street, screaming their heads off, chalked messages all over, and just in general being awesome. I think after that climb I really wasn’t prepared for what was next. In driving the course, it felt pretty much downhill all the way from the peak. In reality, there were a couple of climbs and it was a bit flatter than I was expecting. Maybe lost 5 minutes here just being unprepared. Mentally, I was really worried about whether my hip would allow me to run at all and not focused at all on the bike at this point because I was really really concerned. How do you explain to people that although it looks ok when you walk, your hip is killing you and you can’t run a marathon? Got into T2, and decided I would take my time and just make sure that everything was working.
Bike time: 5:45:36. I was really shooting/hoping for 5:30, but I expected I would fall anywhere between 5:30 and 6:00, so I split the difference pretty well. I think my nutrition may have been a bit off for the last 35-40 minutes
T2 saw me hit the bathrooms, again, before heading out on the run. My hip was not hurting at all anymore, so it must be some kind of rotational injury.
My plan for the run was pretty straightforward. Go out easy and try to maintain the easy pace. I had a water bottle to start, and decided to toss it after 4 miles. After that point, I was just cruising, checking off the miles at ~8. At mile 7 I accidentally ingested some water into my lungs and spent a few seconds coughing, but kept on going. Around mile 9 or 10, I stopped to pee, again. After mile 9, we hit the first hill, and that’s where my right calf started cramping up on me. I walked for 30″ or so, and tried to continue on. I was able to, but every half mile or so, my legs would start cramping again. I reached the halfway point at 1:58 minutes. At this point, I had to even split to get back and finish in under 11 hours. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to run consistently for any significant amount of time (longer than .5 miles). So I just kept running until my legs cramped, walked a bit, rinsed, and repeated. This was punctuated by multiple bathroom breaks. As I got back towards town, a couple on bikes started screaming at me telling me to run and pick off people on the course. Half of me was grateful, half wanted to commit a capital crime. Unfortunately, my left quad was having some issues supporting my knee from time to time, but still, just one foot in front of the other towards the finish line (kinda like this race report). At ~24.2 miles into the run, I decided I was just going to run the rest of the way. At this point, I’m in town and there are still people out there cheering me on (really, they’re cheering everyone on, but that’s just them being awesome). Saw my mom and sister, and just started smiling. I was going to finish, I was going to beat the previous year, I was going to cross with a smile on my face.
Run time: 4:20:03. About 2 minutes slower than last years race. Really the only portion of my day that I was disappointed with. It wasn’t a fitness issue, it was my body just not agreeing with myself on the day. So there’s definitely room to work on that. I think I’ll be doing some open marathons, and longer, to get myself there mentally.
Total time: 11:17:41. Yeah, a 21 minute PR. Would have liked to have seen how I could go if my body were there. But I finished, and finished well. I didn’t have a great day, but it could have been much much worse. I’d call it a fair to good day.1 comment