Saturday, 30 August 2008

Race Report: The Canadian 113 Half Iron Triathlon

Swim: 2km @ 38min04
Bike: 90m @ 3hr00
Run: 21.1km @ 2hr37 (ouch!)
Total Time: 6hr29min24 (109th of 148)

Overall rankings:
- Swim: 70th
- Bike: 92nd
- Run: 126th

  • My fastest swim EVER!
  • Love the new bike, but I'm certainly not used to it yet. That aggressive position really sapped a lot out of me. Lots of strength work is due this winter!
  • There was nothing left in me after the bike. Really, nothing at all.
  • The run was the most painful run I've ever done. Ever.
  • I'm sporting one nasty sunburn!
But above all, I'm extremely proud that I was mentally strong enough to suffer through the longest 21.1km run of my life and finish and get the medal. I hurt like hell right now, but I did finish. And that was my only goal.

And now the details!

-- Pre-Race

This race started out differently in a lot of ways. First, I was ready to test out my new bike. Second, my wife was actually going to be there - this was super awesome! I've never had any family or friends watch me at any tris yet, so I was super pumped about that. Third, the conditions were very different from my last (and first) half-iron, with warmer temperatures, full sun and higher humidity. Fourth, this course was flat - no downhills for recovery. I knew that I'd be learning a lot from this, and while deep down I was hoping for a new PR, I wasn't really concerned about that. I wanted more learning and experience to carry into the fall/winter season.

Getting the bike ready out of the car was so much easier simply because my wife was there. She held stuff and kept me organized while I got my gear out. Then she held the bike while I attempted to inflate my tires. Yes, first thing in the morning, my pump won't inflate the tires, and the damn thing gets stuck on my valve stem! Not the kind of stress you want before a race. To make a long story short, I managed to rip the pump off and just headed into the race area.

In transition, I got setup in about the only place remaining, which was about as far as I could get from the "Bike Out" spot. When setup, I was convinced by my wife that I should hit the Pecco's bike tent and get my tires checked. Good thing as they were at 60psi (should be 120). I put the bike back on the rack, got my wetsuit and timing chip, and headed out to meet my wife and get to the beach.

After getting suited up and having a quick dip in the water, we were ushered out for a great preliminary event -- The Wylie Ryan Canadian Surf and Turf. It's a kids race consisting of a 50m swim/wade and a 500m run/walk. The kids were 3yrs to 10yrs, and it was so fantastic to see! They were all so proud, and they loved having all of us cheer them on. I heard someone say "...he was so proud that all these people in black suits were cheering and clapping..." - ha!

-- Swim

Finally, it was the start of my event. There was a great bit right at the beginning where we gave a moment of silence to honor a fallen triathlete (I wish I could remember her name, but this would have been the venue for her first iron-distance triathlon). We all knew that it could have been any one of us, 'cause we're all out on those roads just like she was.

And then we were off! I tried to place myself better this time, and I certainly did. I was in the right spot pace-wise, but I was getting beaten about - I was in the middle of a pack. So, I did what I should do in that situation - I beat them back. I figured as long as I could keep my breath and form, I'd just keep on swimming. I was kicking and shoving and swimming across just like the best of them! And after about 600m of this, I finally got some clear water and fell into a more natural form.

The rest of the swim was uneventful, except for the brief moment where I sighted the wrong bouy and started to swim into oncoming traffic. Thankfully that was quickly corrected and I headed in the right direction after that. Out of the water in a killer 37min - I cannot believe that! That's awesome!

-- T1

Had some problems getting out of the wetsuit in T1, but everything else was good. For some reason I felt like I kept forgetting something when I really wasn't, and once I realized that I had gels, food and my helmet, I was good to go.

(Turns out I forgot to reapply sunscreen, which became blatantly evident later on.)

-- Bike

The ride was fast and smooth...for the first 2hrs. Then the aggressive position on the bike was starting to take it's toll. Today's Lesson #1 - a new bike position will cause you to use different muscles and different amounts of energy. Wow. My shoulders were weakened fast, as was my back (mainly the erector spinae and upper trapezius) from holding my head up. And after 2hrs, while my quads were just fine, my hamstrings were spent. And if that wasn't enough, a stiff wind came out around the 90min mark and seemed to come from all directions. I lost a lot of speed and time from just not being able to hold myself on the bike properly. I definitely need to train on this bike during the winter - it's so different from my 'cross bike, and I need to build specific strength on the new one. In any case, I still held 30kph overall and managed a 3hr bike leg.

-- T2

Getting off the bike at the dismount line made me realize that the bike leg was nearly the last leg I had in me. Nearly all my leg muscles were either cramping of threatening to do so as I started the long walk into the T-Zone. "C'mon! I didn't buy you that bike so you could walk!" "Dear God, is that who I think it is?!?" Yes - it was. My wife was waiting at the T-Zone entrance with family in tow. What else could I do? I started to run in, stopping only for a hug and kiss from both my wife and my daughter. When asked how I felt, I responded (quietly so my daughter didn't hear) "I f**kin' hurt!" She must have seen it in me, because the Coach responded with a simple "Whatever it takes to get this done." At the time, I didn't know if I had any piece of whatever it was.

I gobbled down another Hammer Bar, somehow managed to get my feet in my shoes, and shuffled off in more pain than I've been in for a very long time.

And again, I forgot to reapply sunscreen.

-- Run

As I stated above, I've never had such a painful, difficult run ever in my entire life. I've never had to do so much walking and soul searching to dig deep and finish what I started. After managing to make my way around the first 7km loop, I was seriously contemplating a voluntary DNF. But my family was there in the stadium as I entered to start my second of three loops. If they weren't there, I would have quit for sure. "Whatever it takes" was echoed again, and it struck deep.

It was at that point where I knew that I'd finish. I'd damned well finish even if I had to walk. Hell, there were iron-distance folks out there still on their bikes, and they weren't giving up. That 57yo woman that passed me wasn't giving up. And that 63yo male iron-distance competitor sure wasn't giving up - he was walking too, but he wasn't quitting. And that fallen triathlete never gave up either - her dream was taken away by a drunk driver. My family squeezed themselves into a car and came down to see me. How could I give up on them? I thought of Rutger Beke walking his marathon leg in Ironman Worlds and holding his head high and never quitting. I thought of how my wife and daughter want to be more active, and how my daughter wants to do triathlons too. I thought of how I love to see people persevere through this sport even when they don't have to.

I soldiered on and never quit. There was a lot of walking and eating done on loop 2, and I started the final loop in a similar fashion. Finally, after about 15km in, my legs started to feel better. As long as I kept my HR below a lactate threshold (about 85%maxHR) I could run. As soon as I crossed into the anaerobic region, my legs would give out and I had to walk. But at least now I could run and shuffle along. As I neared the end, someone from Zone 3 Sports doing the iron race said "C'mon buddy, you can do it!" I laughed back. He turned around - actually turned around to look at me - and said "Your slowest jog is still faster than a walk." Well that was all I needed to hear. I shuffled my way along the rest of the way, stopping only to grab one last drink, and ran right up the hill into the stadium one last time. With head held high, legs burning, and feet aching, I crossed the line happy, punch-drunk, and ready to down 5 cups of Gatorade.

And 2 cups of water. And a bottle of chocolate milk. And a Hammer Bar. And more water.


And there ends my 2008 triathlon season. It was a great season. I've learned so much, experienced even more, and I've progressed farther than I ever though possible. Honestly, I can't wait until next season!

But things here aren't over yet - far from it. I'm still toying with the idea of a fall marathon (although it may just be a half-marathon), and the fall/winter seasons are approaching and I've got a lot of work to do to get stronger and more comfortable for next year. My masters swim starts up on September 22 again, too. So there's still a lot you'll hear from me.

In the short term, it's time to rest up, recover, and get the bikes cleaned up. I should get some pictures up as well, as my wife played the additional role of "Photo Joe" and got some great pictures of the day.

Once again, to my family, friends and everyone else out there that's been following this blog, my sincerest thanks for your continued support. It's been a real treat for me.

Renee, Claire -- I love you both to the moon and back. Thank you for being the ones that are always there for me, and always getting me through to the next level.


Closet Artist said...

I am sooooo proud of you! And that was so freakin' awesome to witness!!! I can't wait to see what a winter of focused training will do for next year's season. If you thought I was a tough coach before, you ain't seen nothin' yet!!! LOL

And to fill in the blank- the name of the triathlete killed was April Nauta. The friend who asked for the moment of silence and then did the race in her place was Pedro Villanueva, the same friend who was riding with her when she was hit.

Cliff said...

A 21 km is a hard run..coming off the bike. Glad that u are able to hold it in despite the pain and the agony.

Trevor Oseen said...

Good job on the race man. I wish I could get my 2k swim in 38 minutes.

Setanta said...

Go on you legend.
Its a funny feeling isnt it when you finish one of these big events. You sound like you got that euphoria towards the end. When I did my half Iron I had a nice big cry at the finish!

As for running out on the run, round these parts we refer to that as "seeing the bear", cos its like as if a 500lb brown bear is waitin for you out there in the long miles and he hops on your back and you have to carry him home!

Good job, well done, good season.

Anonymous said...

Good job. The moment of silence was indeed for my friend April Nauta.

Congratulations again.