As usual it has been a long time since my last post. The last few months has basically been IMC training and then the actual race. I now feel like i actually have the time to sit down at write a blog entry.
Leading up to IMC I was lucky in the fact that I had no injuries or colds. Sure I had some minor aches and such but nothing that really affected me. It seemed like earlier on in the year I was getting cold after cold but luckily I stayed healthy.
My wife, son, mother in law and I had made the drive out to Penticton on the Wednesday before the race. The weather was just awesome, quite a change from the year before. The drive was a nice and relaxing. I went for a 20 minute run after we arrived at the motel. Wow it was hot!! Didn't take long and I was sweating my ass off. I was glad it was only 20 minutes.
On the Thursday I went and did a quick swim to get out some of the long drive stiffness. I was surprised at how warm the water was...almost too warm. I had to break the seal on my wetsuit to let some cool water in. Right after the swim I headed on over to the expo and registered for the race. Felt very weird when they put my athlete bracelet on.
Friday was an optional bike ride or a rest day. My son did want to sleep the night before and was up crying for a large portion of it...I opted to rest ;). Friday really was a non eventful day.
Saturday was set to be one last "training day". I was meeting up with my coach and 2 other of his athletes for a 10 minute swim, bike, run. We swam out for a little bit and then talked about some last minute tip and headed back on in. After a relaxing transition we headed out on the bikes.
Once we got out on the highway we started to do some short pick ups and I felt so good! We were just approaching our time turnaround when I heard a loud ping and then banging. After a quick WTF I was able to slow down and see that I had blown a spoke on my back tire. Not good when you are planning to check your bike into transition an hour from then. I opened up the rear brakes and made my way back to our vehicles.
I decided that it was best to skip the run and headed over to the Bike Barn to see what they could do. I walked in with my wheel and was immediately helped by one of their staff. I was so impressed that the day before a major race like this they promised it would be done well before check in time. Granted it may not take them long to do but I am sure I was not the only person needing some repairs. Having said all of this my race was not in jeopardy. My coach was clear to point out that I could have used his wheels or use my own race wheels like he wanted me too, lol. Yes I did have my race wheels with me but was reluctant to use them because I was unsure of how I would feel coming down the descents with winds kicking up. Worst case scenario I would have threw them on. But all was good when the Bike Barn texted me about 1pm and told me my wheel was done. I looked at this whole thing as better now than tomorrow.
I popped my wheel on, did a quick test ride and then headed on over to the bike check in. All I can say is I wish I had a portion of the value of all the bikes in T1....wow! It was actually a very quick process, quicker than I thought anyway. I deflated the tires a bit and said good bye to my bike until the morning.
I woke up at about 4:15 on my own and since I was planning on 4:45 I just got up. Had my usual toast breakfast and a diet coke...mmmm sweet caffeine. One of my friends that was doing the race was staying at the same motel in Summerland. I walked over to his room and we made the short trek into Pentiction about 5:30 am.
Arriving at the transition area was very inspiring. I saw one of my friend just before body marking and she gave me a big hug and well wishes. Turns out I would see her many a bunch of times on the course today! The lines for body marking were quick and the volunteers were so cheerful for that time of morning, lol.
There was a parade of athletes headed into the transitions area. This place was hopping!! Once I got in, I headed over to my bike, dropped off my nutrition and pumped my tires up. Luckily one of the guys I know from indoor spin classes was right bedside me and had a pump. This was good because then I didnt have to waste time.
After dropping off my dry goods bag, I got into my wetsuit. Just as I finished I ran into my coach. It was nice to get a last minute pep talk and advice. I quick zip up and I made my way to the beach. It was was very surreal standing in the water and looking at all the athletes there. I saw a few people I knew but I decided to keep to myself. I wanted to just get in my zone and to enjoy the moment. The pro's were off a few minutes later and then the countdown was on for everyone else. And in what seemed like seconds the horn blew and it was the start of IMC for me.
The Swim - 1:38:58
It seems like everyone has their opinions and thoughts on were to start the swim. Far left, far right, etc... I decided on mid right and quite far back. Once the race was underway I walked until I was mid thigh and then went horizontal. Their was no big cold water shock like in most races I seem to do. Like I said before, the water was almost too warm. I did see one guy doing the race without a wetsuit! Not much contact as the race got under way. I did notice that I was actually running into people, maybe I should have started a few rows further ahead.
Things were relatively calm until the second buoy. It seemed like this is were the full contact sport began. I do think I lost some time trying to navigate around others and fend off "attacks" but that is part of open water swimming. For some reason it seemed like the trip out to the first turn took forever. I did, however, make the turn quite clean. The trip to the second turn came up quick and I was surprised to make that one clean too. The home stretch was nothing but thinking about the rest of the day. I was feeling quite good and was just going from buoy to buoy. Once the buoys went from the color orange to red I had a harder time spotting them for some reason but I just kept looking for my landmarks and that helped. Before I knew it I was scooping up sand in my hands and I knew it was time to pop up and get the legs moving. I exited the water and was happy to see that I was under 1:40 for the swim. I really wanted to be under 1:30 but I was still happy with 1:38 because of how good I felt coming out of the water.
After getting my suit stripped, I grabbed my transition bag and headed to the change tent. I didn't plan on changing clothes but I decided to head in and have a seat while putting on my gear. I seat for a minute and just looked around, it was quite busy and everyone seemed so focused. I put on my helmet and shoes and headed on out to get some sunscreen. Quite the experience getting sunscreen applied but girls with rubber gloves and large pans of sunscreen. I was nothing but white streaks from head to toe, lol. But now it was time to ride.
THE BIKE - 6:48:58
I was feeling awesome as I hopped on my bike and started to peddle out of town. It was quite an experience riding out of town with that many people cheering you on. I passed by my wife and was quickly able to acknowledge her. My plan was to take it fairly easy until I hit Mclean Creek. It was already warm and sunny along Lake Skaha. I started to take in small bit of Perpetuem and began to enjoy they day.
Pretty soon we hit the first climb and up we went. I don't mind Mclean Creek, it is short and steep but really not bad. Once the climb was over we headed onto the flat section and we quickly told to get off the shoulder by a race official. Some douche bag had put tacks on the edge. I saw probably 15 or so people on the side of the road getting tired change, and this was in a very short area. I was lucky to avoid any tacks. The decent was nice and quick, road was in good condition too. As I made the turn by O K Falls I saw Heather in her pink outfit, was nice to see someone I knew!
OK Falls to Osoyoos is so fast. It was nice to just get down into the bars and peddle. It is easy to just hammer through here but that was not my plan and I stuck to it. I did have some nice speed going through here but that wasn't from working hard. I knew that Richters was coming up and I was being smart about the race.
Before I knew it I was turning at the Husky and headed up Richters Pass. I had done training rides through here and I knew what to expect. I really did not have a hard time with the pass. I did however start to get some muscles twinges that let me know that cramps were going to hit me. I stayed mostly in my saddle but would occasionally stand it up just to change position. I passed people, I got passed and I rode with a few people the majority of the way. Had a few short conversations with people as we changed positions. I passed a mother and daughter pair that were very close to each other. The mom was trailing and told me she was gonna catch her daughter. When I passed the daughter I told her that her mom was talking smack about her, she laughed. I was getting close to the crest and I increased my cadence to head right into the descent. Normally I am a chicken shit descender but I was far more aggressive than normal. Like most, I took the road vs the shoulder down. The road was smoother and there was not much traffic. I was actually peddling down hill and passed people!! I made it to the bottom and was ready to hit the rollers.
My goal for the rollers was to use momentum as much as possible and that is what I did. I got as much speed as possible going down and carried myself up as far as possible. I was glad when they were done and we were headed to the "out and back". For those of you who do not know, the "out and back" is just that. You head out away from the course and then back to continue on to the finish. Special needs it located at the turn around point. At this point in the race it is HOT!! I tried to cool myself but dowsing myself with water at every aid station and it helped. I started to get some leg cramps down the out and back and was just trying to keep them at bay. I was changing up my position, taking endurolytes, and increasing my fluid intake. But there was no stopping them :(. Luckily they were not severe so was able to keep peddling. I had no need to get anything from my special needs bag so I bypassed it.
I was so glad when the out and back was over with. I was looking forward to getting to Yellow Lake to be honest, I wanted to get the hard stuff over with. As I approached the start of the climb my legs were really starting to cramp. The good thing was the road was lined with people so it was good motivation to keep the legs moving and suck up the discomfort. I was on my way up when I passed by my coach and got a few words of encouragement. Then it was back to the grinding.
Pretty soon the last part of the climb was approaching and I thought I was in the Tour de France, lol. There was people lining both sides of the road and on the road just cheering and calling out your name. Talk about feeling like a rockstar!!! My legs were cramping but the top was just ahead, no relaxing just yet. Once I did peak, I got my legs spinning and the cramps let up a bit.
Most people were stopping at the aid station but I kept on going. I just wanted to get down to the run at this point. Once I got to the actual descent I tried to lay off the brakes as much as possible but the winds had kicked up a bit. There are a few nice curves thrown in there as well. The over all descent was good but I was glad to be heading back on into town. I pulled up to the dismount line and was lucky to not cramp and fall getting off my bike. Overall I was happy with my time given the cramping issues. I was aiming for 6:15- 6:30 but it wasnt in the cards today.
I had decided to wear actual cycling shorts for the bike and my plan was to change to tri shorts for the run. I knew this would cost me a few minutes in transition but in the grand scheme of things it wasn't going to hurt me. I was sock less for the bike so I put body glide on my feet , threw on a pair of socks and then my shoes. I was so glad to be out of my biking shoes. I had developed a nice hot spot on my right foot and it was pretty uncomfortable. Once I headed out of the tent it was time for my sunscreen, lol. I walked up to the transition timing mat and the started the run.
THE RUN - 6:14:58
I started out feeling pretty good on the run and was holding 5 min km pace. My legs felt ok but a bit tight. Again I ran into my coach and gave him an update and he gave me some advice. I made it to about 4 km and then I started to cramp. I knew this was gonna be a looong run, lol. I started with my run, cramp, walk, run, cramp repeats. A few minutes later one of my good friends pulled up bedside me and was running with me. My friend Detlef has done just a few Ironman races, this years IMC was number 38, lol. I had passed him on the bike but I knew he would catch me on the run. He was the one who actually helped my transition into triathlon. He said that he was having a rough day but I think it was a load of BS. I am pretty sure he sand bagged the bike to run with me. I have a feeling he wanted to make sure I finished. I appreciated the gesture but in a way I wish he had just kept running, I hated the feeling of holding him back (and I did tell him that). I was determined to finish and was going to do it at my pace, so I really didn't need him there. He didn't really pace me, he ran when I ran and walked when I walked.
Along the course I ran into people I knew, competing and spectating. My friend Donna (another multiple Ironman finisher) was watching on the road, yelled my name and came up and gave me a huge hug. Very brave considering it was about 11 hours in at this point, lol. I think it was the 5th time I saw her that day, lol. It was so nice to see friend on the run course making their way back into town. I was so impressed to see how some of them were kicking ass!! One of the cool parts of the day was talking to different people and finding out more about them, so many different stories!!
One of my strategies for the run was to break it down to aid station to aid station. At each aid station I grabbed a sponge and soaked myself, took some electrolytes, took in some gel and then water and then a sponge. By the turn around point I really had my fill of gel. I had carried my gel flask with me but decided at the special needs to leave my second flask in my bag. I grabbed my electrolytes and tossed the rest.
It was nice to be heading back into town!! I had passed one of my team mates as I approached the turnaround and she was heading back into town. It was nice to see her smiling and looking so good. I knew she wasn't far ahead so I was hoping to catch up to her on the way back.
The run/cramp/walk cycle continued. For nutrition I switched to pepsi and the occasional chicken broth when it became available. The kms were counting down one by one. The cramps were manageable but my feet were hurting. Mostly my right foot where that hot spot developed. I could tell there was a large deep blister was developing. I think it was about 9km left when I felt a couple blisters popping...nasty feeling. But I was getting close, I am not sure at what point I knew I was going to finish but I do remember how good it felt.
As I got close to 7km to go, I came upon my team mate. She was cramping bad and was hurting. This girl is ALWAYS smiling and she was now a bit teary. She had been good up until 34 km and then started to cramp. At that point I made a decision, I was gonna stick with her like my friend Detlef stuck with me (he was still with me). I told her that we would walk it in if we had to but we would get there. I still could have did my cycle but I did not want to take off and leave her. I was already past my goal time and it wasnt like I was chasing a Kona spot, lol.
We walked for the next 4 km and talked about what it was gonna be like to finish. We were approaching 2km left when I told her that she was going to run the last 2k or I would make fun of her at the next training camp (really I would not have but she didnt need to know that). Just before the 2k left mark we started running. I was running a bit faster but I was cramping and needed to stop, she was consistent but slower. My friend Detlef knew she needed support so he stuck with her, although I was not far ahead.
We were so close and you could hear the announcers so clearly. People lining the route were just calling out your name and just so encouraging. Once you make the turn and head back toward the finish you see the bright light off in the distance. I cannot explain the feeling. I was rapidly approaching the light and then all of a sudden I was on the blue carpet. I had quite the rush of emotions but didn't cry like I thought I was going to, lol. I crossed the line and I WAS AN IRONMAN!!!
It was so surreal to finish. I really didn't have time to enjoy it before I got the mother of all cramps in my left calf. Very quickly 2 catchers were at my side and helped me take a few steps to walk it off. I told them I was fine and wasn't going to fall but they didn't buy it. I really wasn't going to fall, I just couldn't walk at first due to the cramp. After a few steps the cramp was gone and I was ok. My coach had snagged a VIP bracelet and was at the finish as I was lucky enough to have him place my medal around my neck. After a quick hug, I got my shirt, hat and then photo. I was happy to be done.
OVERALL TIME 14:55:43
My friend Detlef and teammate had crossed the line 12 second behind me and then we all had a celebration. We decided to head on over to the food and then get our family to the meeting area. As we got some yummy pizza, my coach was busy contacting our family members and bringing them to us. I was happy that I was able to eat...in fact I was starving.
Not long after I was hugging my wife and thanking her for all or her support. I really could not have done it without her. While we were standing around and I was eating pizza, I saw a flag from St. Francis Xavier University (the school I graduated with). They funny thing was, the people holding it up were the mother/daughter combo that I had saw on Richters. It was hilarious when I went over and told them I had gone there too. It is a special bond when you graduate from there. Next thing you know we were all getting pics taken and laughing.
After a few more minutes of taking in the post race activities I knew I was done. We headed into transition and picked up all of out gear. I was tired and I wanted to get back to the hotel to see my son. I did see him when I started the run and got to scratch his head when I ran but but I wanted to hold him. We made the drive home and I was so ready to sit down. My wife had picked up some food for me to eat just in case and I was so thankful. After a brief visit I went to bed, happy to be done but more thrilled with the accomplishment.
So...the after math.
My recovery has been good. The first few days I had some bad insomnia, sleep for a few hours and then awake the rest of the night. The expected muscle soreness was absolutely gone by Thursday. The absolute worse part of the recovery was the gastrointestinal cramping that I had. A couple days after the race I woke up in the night with bad cramps and nausea. This went on for almost 2 days and I was so uncomfortable. I was pretty happy when I was over that. I lost a few layers of skin on the bottom of my right foot where I developed a deep blister. Overall I feel back to normal.
No all asepects of the race were perfect. Multple aid stations ran out of water and I heard some actually ran out of all fluids! I was severely disappointed buy the finishers medal. A couple of days ago NA sports sent out a letter of apology. They said the miscalculated the fluid needs. Also, after the design approval of the medal, the dimesions were mistakenly changed by the manufacturers. The water/fluid shortages were not a big deal to me as I was always ahead on my fluid needs. As far as the medal goes I cant really do anything about it but I am not happy with the "we screwed up and all we can do is say we are aorry atitude" I think the company that made the medals should redo them correctly and be offered to any finsher that would like one. Oh well, life will go on.
I remember reading Leana's blog and she has ansswered some common questions that most people seem to get asked so I will follow suit.
Did I sign up for next year.....no I did not.
Will I do it again.....f#*k yeah, 2013 I will for sure. I would be greedy to ask my wife to commit to it so soon again. She wants to have another child I I think I owe her and my son some time. This was not a bucket list checkmark for me.
Am I going to get the tattoo....already did. I will post a pic when I take the bandage off. There are many thoughts and feelings on this. Many people like it while others think it is cheesy. In love it and I dont care what others think.
What am I going to do next year...I will start formal triathlon training in maybe a month or 2. I plan to take some snowboarding lessons this winter. I will do some half mary's, half IMs, short distance tri's, an Xterra tri and the Spartan race. I like to race, what can I say. I am going to focus on some good speed development too.
This was a great experience and was truely EPIC! One of the best parts of the day was sharing it with family, friends and other competitors. It was lots of hard work and dedication but in the end it was so worth it. I didnt get the overall time I had thought of but I am not in any way disappointed!! I am a proud to say I am now an Ironman.
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