Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ironman Muskoka 2012 (Part 3) - Race Report

It's been a while since I posted here as I got out of the habit during my injury and didn't really do a good job of working back into things.  As such, I'm going to do this race report in three parts - firstly covering the buildup and training for the race, secondly, the final preparations for the race and, finally, on the race itself.

Warning: This report ended up being quite long as there was a lot of material to cover.  I figured that it was better to record as much detail as possible for future reference, but keep that in mind before you dig in ;)

When 4:30 rolled around the next morning, the array of alarms we had set up sounded and we dragged ourselves out of bed.  My race clothes were already laid out, and my transition and dry clothes bags were mostly packed and ready (just had to move water & Gatorade bottles from the fridge).  As such, I got washed up, dressed and moved all of the bags back out to the car.  We cleaned up the remaining baggage, checked out of the hotel and drove over to the airfield with a quick stopover in Tim Hortons (I didn't get anything, but my Father needed it).  We ended up getting there a little after 5:30 (still pitch black), and hopped on one of the shuttles with a couple of large race bags in tow.

The rain had stopped early in the night, and the roads had mostly dried off my this point.  Being way out in the country, the air was nice and fresh and the temperatures were comfortably chilly (~6C).  In short, it was pretty much picture perfect conditions for a race.  I was a bit concerned about being cold on the bike as I'd be starting with wet clothes (from the swim), but I tend to fall on the warm-blooded side of the spectrum and I'd much rather be shivering a bit on the bike then boiling out on the run!

Setting Up

Once we got to Deerhurst, I took the bags into transition to get everything set up.  I carefully unwrapped the rain covers off of the bike, then wiped down the wet sections of the frame to dry it off.  Fortunately all of the covers held fast and things were mostly dry.  We were below the dew point, so there was a thin layer of moisture on everything, but once the sun came up that would quickly be burned off.  I quickly did a gear sweep and brake check to make sure the rain hadn't messed with any of the mechanical components, and double checked the tires.

With that done, I unpacked my transition bag and carefully positioned all of my equipment so it was ready.  I had organized everything more or less how I wanted it in the bag, so it was mostly just a matter of pulling out a couple of stacks of gear and plopping it down on a towel.  As they were calling for some wind later in the day, I made sure everything lightweight was weighted down well and snugged everything up.  To finish off, I filled all of my bottles (1.2L of water in the bike's reservoir, 1L of Gatorade in my running belt) and packed my stem bags with the gel packs I'd be using (7xVanilla Bean Gus).

With the transition all set up (and everything quadruple checked), I popped into the resort itself and took a quick bathroom break, then left my bags with my Father and proceeded to scout out the details of the transition area.  I would have preferred to do this the day before, but the sudden downpour put the kibosh on that so unfortunately I ended up with little choice.  All the racks look the same, and the last thing you want is to get lost while the clock is running - so it's critical that one knows exactly how to most efficiently get to where you need to go.

After making sure I knew exactly how to get to and from my bike, I walked down to the swim out to familiarize myself with the run up into T1.  As we would be coming out near the 18th hole of the golf course, there was a 300m uphill run past the resort and into the parking lot where transition was set up.  Walking down and back, it seemed a good deal longer than that so it was going to be a bit of extra work on the day - especially given the walkway was asphalt and we'd be doing it in bare feet (shoes are up in transition).  Either way, it was good to know what was ahead of me so I could plan appropriately.

At this point, the sun was slowly rising and hundreds of nervous Triathletes were walking around in every direction.  It struck me how different the atmosphere was from any other race I'd done before - nearly everyone was the picture of perfect fitness, and there were no hordes of recreational bucket-listers anywhere in sight.  Everyone there that morning was there to compete.  Looking out into transition and seeing literally millions of dollars of equipment ready and waiting for a race is quite a sight!  It was inspirational to be among such a group of athletes, but certainly a little intimidating as well!

Once I finished figuring everything out, I headed back to the resort and hit the washroom again before rejoining my Father.  We relaxed for a few minutes in some nice comfy chairs near the bar (the upside to having the race start at a resort), then got up for the ~10 minute walk down to the swim start.  They had a bag check set up right there, so I put on my wetsuit and swim gear and checked it in containing my dry clothes for after the race.  Once I was suited up, I parted ways with my Father and made my way down to my swim wave just in time to hear the national anthem.

Starting Corals

We were lined up along a walkway heading down to the beach, and seperated into our waves.  I was in the third wave, so we were kept on shore while the first wave lined up and the second had a chance to get some warm-up swimming in.  The view from this point was breathtaking, with the cool air creating a nice coat of steam above the mirror flat water and the gorgeous countryside of Peninsula Lake backlit with the rising sun on the horizon.  The shore was lined with spectators, and a massive column of athletes covered the walkway down to the water.  It was certainly a welcome change from metal rails along a concrete corridor like most races we end up doing ;)

After the horn sounded and the first wave headed out (Professionals and U19 Women), the second wave lined up at the start and we were allowed in behind them to get some warm-up swimming in.  The water was a little on the cool side (~low 60s), but with the fullsuit on it was well within the comfortable range.  I popped in and did a short ~two minute practice swim to warm up and fortunately everything felt good, so I swam back to the start and lined up along the outside back.

As the second wave headed out, we moved forward to the start buoys and got ready to start the long day ahead of us.  We would be swimming right into the sun for the first leg of the swim, so it was hard to see where the buoys were ahead of us and sighting was going to be a bit tricky.  At this point the adrenaline was starting to kick in and the magnitude of what lay ahead of us was setting in.  I chatted with a few of the other athletes to help calm the nerves, but not long after that we got the countdown and finally the horn!

Swim (2000m)

As we dropped down and started off, the traffic was pretty thick but fortunately everyone lined up pretty well and there was little to no contact.  Sighting was difficult thanks to the sun, but fortunately it was easy enough just to stay with the pack to stay on course.  Once the initial chaos settled down a bit, I tried to find a pair of feet to draft behind but paces were too erratic and I ended up just pulling out and doing my own thing.

The open water practice helped a lot, and I was considerably more comfortable swimming in the traffic than I was when I did my sprint a few years back.  I was able to comfortably maintain my rhythm with little trouble, and the periodic contact didn't throw me off much at all.  Navigation wasn't too bad, as it was easy enough to feel the wake from my neighbors to guide me in the right direction.  As such, I stayed within a few meters of the buoys for most of the first stretch and ended up with a pretty decent line.

When I hit the first turn buoy, traffic started to tighten up so I went wide and worked my way around most of it without incident.  At this point the pack started thinning out a bit so there was more room to move but it meant that I largely had to go back to visual sighting.  Thankfully, we had turned away from the sun at this point so that wasn't terribly hard to do.  I was feeling great and pounding out a good rhythm so I was tempted to pick it up a bit, but with the tough bike course ahead I elected to just stick with my planned pace.

I ended drifting a bit off course by the time I hit the second turn buoy and made the corner about ~6m wide, but thankfully it was a short stretch.  At this point the lead swimmers from the next wave started cutting through us so there was a bit more traffic to work with, but thankfully they all cut the corner pretty tightly so I didn't end up getting too much contact.

With that turn, I was into the longest stretch of the swim so just settled into a good cruising speed and hammered away.  Traffic thinned out pretty quickly and I was basically swimming on my own for most of this stretch, with the occasional pass every once and a while (was overtaken more than I overtook).  Unfortunately I got a little complacent on sighting in this segment and did manage to drift a good deal further out.  Not quite to the point where the Kayakers were, but I probably ended up swimming an extra ~50-100m over the course because of it.  Either way, once I realized that I was going off course I turned back and redoubled my sighting efforts with a lot more success.

Before long, I hit the final turn buoy and was making my way towards the shore.  Traffic was starting to build back up at this point, so I took the turn wide but before long I was back into the washing machine as everyone lined up in a column for the final approach.  Sighting here was a little more tricky, as between all of the splashing hands obscuring the horizon the shore was covered in colourful details that made spotting the buoys tricky.  As such, I just aimed for the resort building at the top of the hill and stayed with the crowd.

Approaching the last buoy things were getting a bit chaotic.  I had one swimmer behind me that was hitting my legs pretty much every stroke, so I picked up the pace a little to lose him or her.  I also had a few others swim diagonally into my path so it was getting trickier, but thankfully I was able to just push through and keep going without any issues.  Tonnes of people were going on the wrong side of this buoy, and there were swimmers all over the place at this point.

Either way, I found my way to the staircase and two volunteers grabbed my arms and helped pull me up to the first stair (which was about 2-3ft off of the bottom).  I pulled off my goggles, wiped down my eyes and ran across the timing mat and on towards transition...

Swim: 46:55 (2:20/100m) - 69/81 Division, 667/826 Overall

First Transition

After getting my bearings back on land, I was working on removing my wetsuit and then realized that the strippers were right there so I just ran over and had them undo the top half (they can remove the whole suit if desired, but they I would have had to carry it all the way up to T1).  They were ninjas and got that done in about a quarter of a second, and I was back off and running.

While most T1 runs are just a short jog up the beach, Muskoka's swim exit is on the 18th hole of the golf course so there is a 300m run up a hill and around the resort to get to transition.  Naturally, coming out of the water we are barefoot and running on asphalt is not exactly a pleasant experience but I softened my stride a bit and did what I could.  I slowed down a bit on the steep grade approaching the back of the resort, then picked it up again as we went around the side and into the transition gating.

Once in transition, I beelined it to my rack and quickly pulled my legs out of the wetsuit.  I threw it behind my normal transition stuff, grabbed a towel and sat down to put my socks and shoes on.  As I was doing this some of the adrenaline wore off and I realized that I should have hit the porta-potty before going to my rack, but it was too late for that so I just held it and continued on.  Once I got the footwear on, I stood up and grabbed a quick swig of Gatorade.  With that done, I put on my helmet and sunglasses then grabbed the bike and started running for the exit sucking down a gel as I ran.  As I was heading out I crossed paths with Ueli who was just heading into T1, so we exchanged good lucks as we ran in opposite directions.

I headed out the chute, crossed the mount line and climbed on and we were off...

T1: 8:01 (Includes the 300m run)

Bike (94km)

As I headed away from the resort I switched to a higher gear and pushed away as we climbed a small hill out of the area.  Once we cleared that I grabbed the straw from my Speedfil and wasn't able to get any water, so I fiddled with the valve and still couldn't figure it out.  We were approaching a turn at this point, so I just put it back down and continued on.

Pretty quickly things started getting bunched up, and trying to maintain the required 10m follow distance was extremely difficult.  There was a long column of bikes in every direction, and every time we hit even a small grade everything would bunch up and I'd end up right on the tail of someone else.  I tried backing off, but whenever I did that the person behind me would just pass and fill in the spot.  When I passed, none of the openings were large enough and I'd just end up in the same scenario as when I fell back.  The only way to stay legal here would have been to boot it and just keep passing people, but with no end in sight I was afraid that I'd burn myself out if I tried to do that.

As such, I did a lot of backing off here and lost a good amount of time trying to follow the rules.  I should have picked it up and done a lot more passing, but my memories of those massive hills made me a bit gun shy so I spent a lot of time just coasting.  Fortunately, when we hit the downhill segment along Canal Rd. I was able to get into aero and pass a horde of people before hitting the first turn onto South Portage Road.

Things went pretty well for a short period, but as soon as we hit the uphill segment here (long, but at a minimal grade) I caught up to another group and ended up playing the same game as I did earlier.  Whenever I saw an opening I'd gear up and pass, but inevitably I'd catch up to another group and end up coasting for a while trying to open up enough space to stay legal.  As passes had to be completed in less than 20 seconds, doing so on an uphill grade basically meant going all-out so unless someone was going really slow I typically just backed off.

Things opened up again as we turned onto Dwight Beach Rd, and I was able to get into a good rhythm of passing people once again.  As these grades were pretty tame, I fiddled around with the Speedfil straw and figured out that I hadn't pulled the valve open all the way.  As such, I gave it a good tug and got it open and then started drinking again.  Thankfully it was a pretty cool day, so I wasn't terribly thirsty at this point and I still had to go to the washroom so it may not have been a bad thing ;)

With the water restored I was a little past the 15K point, so I unpacked my first gel and sucked it down.  After squeezing all I could out of it with my left hand, I wrapped it up and stuck it back into my stem bag. While the road was littered with gel packs, the rules only allowed disposal in the designated areas (ie the bottle exchanges) so I elected to stick with that and carry my trash back with me despite some sticky fingers.

As we came out of the woods and into the town of Dwight, we had an awesome view of Lake of Bays including a fire boat creating a fountain for us.  The streets were lined with spectators cheering us on, which was a good boost just before we pulled up and out of town.  Turning onto Highway 35 we had a bit more space and I was able to pick up the pace a little and maintain legal distance without much trouble (hills were still a problem).  From our pre-ride I knew there were a few bigger hills up the road s bit so I didn't go too crazy, but I managed to pass a good number of riders along this section.

Unlike the roads before it, there was a good amount of traffic along this stretch so we had to be a bit more careful.  There aren't a lot of alternate roads up here, so the bike course was just 'semi-closed' (ie Police control all intersections to give us right of way) and we had to share the road with cars going a good deal faster than us.  Fortunately, the drivers gave us plenty of room and slowed down a lot when they came up on packs of us.

Along this stretch I saw a car parked at an angle in our path, with an elderly woman (mid-80s) getting chewed out by a course marshal.  As I slowed down a bit and passed, I saw a cyclist laying on the ground in front of her left front bumper.  The fellow was holding his knee in pain, so it appears that the lady ignored the marshal controlling the intersection and turned into him.  Fortunately, he was conscious and I didn't see any blood so nothing life threatening, but a bit scary to see on a controlled course like that.  At that point I was a bit thankful that I wasn't slightly faster, as it looks like it had just happened!

As we approached Dorset, we got into a few bigger hills and things started bunching up again.  I did what I could, but ended up losing a good degree of speed navigating my way around all of the traffic.  When we hit the matching downhills afterwards, I took the outside lane and worked my way around as many people as I could.  Things bunched up again after a second big climb, but then thinned out on the descent as we headed into town.

Once we turned onto Main St there were tonnes of signs warning us about the bottle exchange ahead, so I slowed it down a bit and got ready.  They had hockey nets ahead of the final turn, so I tossed my gel wrappers away then proceeded to get my right arm ready to grab a bottle.  As we turned the corner, there was a line of volunteers holding out bottles at arms length so I yelled water and pointed at one of the volunteers to signal my intentions.

This was my first attempt at doing a bottle exchange like this, and the idea of grabbing a bottle from a standing volunteer while at speed was a bit terrifying.  Fortunately the volunteers knew what they were doing and it went down without a hitch.  The fellow stepped out and held the bottle by the bottom, and I managed to grab the top and hold on without falling on my arse.  I steadied the bottle on my handlebars until I was clear of the area, then reached around and put it in my rear carrier.

As I approached the end of the zone there were a few porta-potties so I pulled over, put down my bike and ran in to relieve the pressure I'd been carrying since T1.  I got out in less than 30 seconds, then took the time to quickly down a gel and throw it out before hoping back on the bike and continuing on.  Once I got underway I drank a bit more water to chase the gel, then grabbed the bottle from my carrier and poured it into the reservoir.  As I was past the disposal area at this point, I put the empty bottle back in my rear carrier and continued on.

The stretch from Dorset to Baysville (36-62km) is much flatter than the rest of the course, and when we pre-rode the course I booted it along this patch.  The problem, however, is that the final stretch back has some incredibly steep hills that I had a lot of trouble with on the pre-ride because I burned myself out a bit too much in this leg.  As such, this time around I just kept things to a comfortable pace - coasting the downhills, carefully climbing the uphills and just cruising on the flats.  This was complicated a bit by a stiff headwind along this segment, but if I was going to get that at any point this would be the best place for it.

As such, there isn't a whole lot to report in this section.  Keeping legal distance wasn't a big issue here, so I was largely able to control my pace as I liked.  Things did get bogged down a bit on a few of the climbs as some gravel on the edges of the road left little room to pass, but other than that it was nice to be able to ride my own rhythm for a bit.  Everything was feeling great at this juncture, with no signs of fatigue and both my fueling and hydration were going well.  At the 45K mark I downed another gel as planned.

As we approached Baysville (the second bottle exchange), I tossed my empty bottle and gel wrapper into the hockey net before the bridge.  With a lot more confidence than before I grabbed a second bottle and made the turn onto Brunel Road and into the course's bigger hills.  This was the segment that I was worried about for the full ride, and was the main reason that I was holding out.  When we did the pre-ride some of these climbs were merciless and I wasn't sure I was going to make it to the top, and that time around we had stopped a couple of times to rest whereas now I'd be doing it continuously.

After we crested the first moderate hill in this section, things started getting bunched up again and staying legal became a problem.  Fortunately I was able to keep it within the rules pretty well here, as speed differentials were a bit smaller than before so it was easier to open things up when necessary.  Fortunately, I had a lot less trouble with the hills than I remembered so it appeared the strategy was working - although we hadn't gotten into the really big ones on South Portage so I wasn't counting them out just yet.

Along this segment the first draft marshal passed us on his motorbike, and despite tonnes of people being well within the 10m zone he didn't do anything about it.  That's understandable as I didn't really see anyone actively trying to draft, so it was good to see that they were taking a liberal view of things.  The downside was that it made me question whether I was putting too much effort into sticking with the rules, as most other competitors weren't really doing much to avoid it (ie they weren't trying for it, but they weren't backing off either).

Shortly afterwards we made the turn onto South Portage Road, which I'd heard a lot of complaints about from friends that pre-rode this year.  It was pretty dodgy when we did our ride last year, with tonnes of broken pavement and potholes.  In the early summer several riders reported having to walk several stretches as the road had been ground up and replaced by gravel.  More recent reports indicated that they'd basically sprayed the gravel with tar to harden it up, so it was rideable, but still quite dangerous.

Well, it turned out that those reports weren't exaggerated at all.  They had signs up well before the transitions warning us about them, but even though I slowed way down it was still incredibly sketchy and uncomfortable.  Road bike tires don't provide much shock absorption at 100psi, so riding over inappropriate terrain like this is kind of like sitting on top of a jackhammer.  Adding to the complexity, a few of these segments were downhill so I needed to carefully manage the brakes to keep speed under control, but not push too hard as to lock the tires on the loose surface.

There were three segments like this in total, and I slowly gained a bit more confidence as we passed through them.  I had to do standing climbs on several of the hills as they were big, and riding the brakes down the preceding hills meant that I had little to no momentum here.  Fortunately, the legs were holding out well and I was able to keep the cadence at a comfortable frequency so it wasn't a big problem.  By the third segment I was getting a little braver, so I stayed off of the brakes on the bigger descents which made the climbs a whole lot easier.  I unweighted the saddle a bit to prevent discomfort and held onto the drop bars with every ounce of strength my fingers had, but managed to keep things together.

Either way, after I made it through the dodgy sections on South Portage we made the final turn left onto Canal Rd.  There was a moderate hill here, and then a few twists up ahead with some of the largest grades on the course, so this was the segment I was most concerned about.  After cresting the first hill and then stretching out the legs a bit in preparation for the larger climbs I came down on the first twist in the road and got ready for a big climb.  There was a significant hill there, but I didn't have much trouble getting over it so I figured I was just misremembering things and it was further up the road.  After the next 90 degree turn, I figured that was it and climbed that without too much trouble either.

I pulled up the map on my Garmin to realize that was the end of the hills, and at this point I realized that I'd been a good deal too passive about my pacing.  Part of the problem was that I was just coming back from injury last year, so my perception of their magnitude was probably more a function of lost fitness than their actual size.  As such, I kicked myself for not finding a way to head up and pre-ride this year as I had avoided pushing it over the entire course because of that fear and it didn't end up materializing.

Either way, there was little that I could do that that point so I downed a gel (as I missed the 75K one as there was no opportunity to take my hands of the controls) and rode back toward transition.  I was tempted to boot it at this point and sprint it in, but with only a couple of kilometers left that wouldn't buy me much time.  I still had no idea how my legs would feel when I got out on the run, and I figured sticking to the plan would likely be the best approach.  As such, I stretched out the legs as best I could, made sure to finish off as much of my water as possible and brought it home at a comfortable pace.

I rode up to the dismount line, slowed down and dismounted then ran back into transition as quickly as I could...

Bike: 3:40:28 (25.6km/h), 70/81 Division, 661/826 Overall.

Second Transition

When I got back to my rack I found one of my neighbors had put his bike in my spot so I had to improvise a bit and put mine in his place and shift my stuff over so I could work.  I quickly took off my helmet and sunglasses, then sat down to switch over to my running shoes.  I grabbed the Garmin 405 and put it on my wrist, then turned my number belt around and put on my running belt.  I quickly grabbed my Garmin Edge from the bike and threw it in my pocket and headed off.  As I was running out of transition, I quickly ate my last gel and threw it out in a bin just before I headed out on the course.

T2: 6:04

Run (21.1km)

Surprisingly my legs were feeling quite good at this point, and it was a bit of a struggle to keep my pace down as low as I had planned.  Fortunately the borrowed watch made that a lot easier, as I had that feedback that I'd been missing for the last little while.  My stomach was a bit heavy at this point, as I probably shouldn't have had those two gels in such rapid succession, so I skipped the first couple of aide stations and didn't touch my bottles of Gatorade.

I was passing people continuously along this stage which did a lot for my confidence, as running had been my weakest discipline in training and was the stage I was most worried about.  My heart rate was staying in the comfortable territory, and my legs were nice and fresh with no signs of fatigue.  Overall energy level was good, and I wasn't feeling too hungry or thirsty so things were going well.

As I turned onto Highway 60, however, I noticed a bit of a twinge in my right leg just above my knee (lower portion of the Adductor Magnus).  It wasn't painful or anything, just kind of felt a bit of pressure every time I pushed off of the ground.  Given the lower electrolyte content of gels versus sports drinks, I was immediately concerned that it might be a cramp starting so I started drinking my Gatorade as quickly as my stomach could manage.  When I hit the next aide station, I grabbed a few pretzels as well to squeeze in a bit more salt.  Thankfully, it didn't progress much after that point and I was okay.

Shortly after that, we hit the turn onto Fairyview Rd and started to get into the proper hills on the course.  The legs were still feeling pretty good, although that muscle tension wasn't going away and it was significantly more pronounced when climbing hills.  I saw Marlene running the opposite way along this stretch and we exchanged greetings as she headed back toward town, which was a welcome boost.  Things were getting pretty warm by this point, but fortunately most of this stretch had some pretty substantial tree canopies that did a great job of keeping the sun off of us.

At the 7K mark, just before turning onto Muskoka Rd 3 (and the gigantic hill) I ran into Rob and we talked for a short while before breaking off just after the aide station.  As I started going up the big hill the leg started hurting a bit so I elected to bite the bullet and just walk up the hill.  I figured that would give me a chance to let it recover, and hopefully work its way out.  Once I crested the hill I picked back up to a run and it was feeling better for a while, but the discomfort crept back after a while.  At the next aide station, I stopped and stretched it out a bit while munching on pretzels and flat pepsi (had used up my Gatorade by this point).

I picked it back up to running again and was okay for a while, but eventually when we hit some more hills I had to brake back to a walk to let the leg recover.  I was relieved to see the turnaround, and knowing that the rest of the course was a pretty substantial net downhill helped boost my confidence.  On my way back I crossed paths with Ueli going the opposite way, and knowing that a friend was that close to my tail gave me a push to keep on fighting.

As I descended the big hill I crossed paths with Patricia on her way up so we exchanged quips about how tired we were feeling and continued on ;)  When I hit the turn onto Chaffey I stopped at the aide station again and took in a bunch of prezels to try to work out the cramp.  I stretched it a bit more while I was waiting, and Ueli overtook me at that point.  I wished him luck and then picked up behind him a little while afterwards.  At this point I pretty much decided to just walk any uphill segments and try to keep running on the flats and descents.  That worked pretty well for a while, but by the time I hit the turn onto the trail segment the leg was hurting more and I knew it wasn't going to last the remaining distance.

As such, at that point I made the hard call to just switch to a full walk and stick it out that way.  We were only about 6K from the finish at this juncture, and walking that distance wasn't a huge problem.  Fortunately, the muscle in question didn't seem to be used for the walking gait, so I was able to push the walk to a full racewalk and not loose too much.  Unfortunately, it had been a long time since I did much training for high speed walking so an 8:00/km pace was about as much as I could pull without tripping over my legs.

Every once and a while I'd give running a try again, but I'd get a few hundred meters and things would just start hurting again.  So I soldiered on and pushed myself as quickly as I could without running, and managed to make it back to Highway 60.  It was extraordinarily frustrating at this point, as my legs still had plenty of strength in them and when I switched to running I could easily maintain a rapid pace.  Other than that one annoying muscle, everything else was feeling good and I could have easily punched it.  Regardless, with nothing else I could do I kept going with tonnes of encouragement from the volunteers, marshals and police officers.

I eventually made it to the final stretch which was mostly downhill, so I stopped at a guardrail to stretch it out and then attempted running again.  The leg was feeling better, but it wasn't there yet so I walked until I saw the transition zone.  As I wasn't about to walk across the finish line, however, I bit the bullet and decided that I'd just work through the pain and picked it up to a run as I approached.  I'm not sure if it was the adrenaline, or just the salt kicking in, but everything started working at that point so I picked up the pace and pulled into the finish chute at a good hard pace.

The finish chute was the one segment that I didn't really scout out, as it was pretty straightforward and I didn't really need to worry about navigating it.  Unfortunately, however, what I didn't realize was how ridiculously long it was.  Either way, after making the last turn I finally saw the finishing stanchion and picked it up to a full sprint.  I was cheered on by Ueli and Marlene as I came in, and ran through the finishing tape (nice touch!) with a total time of 7:08:16; substantially slower than I had planned, but I had made it to the finish so the primary goal was met ;)

Run: 2:26:48 (6:57/km), 70/81 Division, 680/826 Overall

Chip time: 7:08:16 (official results, full results)
Gun time: 7:20:16
Pace: 2:20/100m, 25.6km/h, 6:57/km)
Place overall: 680/826 (17.6 percentile)
Place in men: 510/588 (13.3 percentile)
Place in age group: 69/81 (14.8 percentile)

Post Race

I do have to give the organizers credit for this race, as everything about it was incredibly well executed.  After crossing the finish line, a volunteer hands you a water bottle and asks you an array of questions to ascertain your condition and figure out if you have to be diverted to medical.  She walked me over to the chip removal, then over to have a picture taken and then finally over to grab my finisher's hat and shirt.  Much nicer than the typical run finish where you're basically on your own, but I guess that's a little easier here as people are coming in at a slower rate.

After heading out of the finishing area, I headed over to my father as well as an aunt and uncle who came out for the day (didn't meet up with them before the race unfortunately).  We walked up a bit more and met up with friends, had a bit of discussion and then I popped over to stretch everything out.  With a long day done, and a victory (regardless of how messy) under my belt it was nice to let it all soak in!  We waited for Patricia and Jayne to come in, and after exchanging congratulations with everyone headed back to get their stuff.

We headed over to the entrance of the resort and took a few quick photos with the race bling, then proceeded over to the bag check to pick up my dry clothes.  With the bags in hand, I headed over to my rack and packed up all of the loose transition equipment leaving the bike there to pick up later.  On the way out, I ran into Marlene and asked if anyone was doing anything but everyone had largely scattered at that point so we continued on alone.

As such, I popped into the resort and found a washroom to change in - peeling off my wet, salt soaked clothing and putting on some fresh street clothes.  From there, we proceeded onto to the banquet to grab a bunch of food and refuel!  Again, I have to give them credit as they had quite the spread - while most races settle for bagels and bananas, they had a full buffet with pasta, salads, bread, cookies and pretty much anything you could think of!

Once finished, we headed back to transition to grab my bike and then walked everything up to the road.  My father hopped on the shuttle to go get the car, and I just found a comfortable rock and sat down to relax a bit.  I drained the remaining water out of the Speedfil (just lowered the straw below the reservoir and used it as a siphon) and sipped on some Gatorade while I waited.  Soon enough he looped around, we packed the bike in the trunk and bags in the back seat and we were off after a long and extremely rewarding day!

Now it's just a matter of sitting back a bit and letting the body recover, before starting all over again for another run at it with the goal of getting that finishing time out of the stratosphere!  The one upside to making a bunch of mistakes at a race is that it makes it easier to blow your time out of the water next time around :D  Either way, I'll save my analysis and summary for another post as the length of this one is already getting pretty ridiculous at this point!

1 comment:

  1. Really it is a nice blog, I would like to tell you that you have given me much knowledge about it.
    street bike parts California