I decided to arrive a bit later to the race venue to save some money, and to spare myself all of the sitting/waiting in a hotel room that is associated with racing an ironman. I won't do this again. I arrived to Penticton on Friday, and it was too stressful trying to get everything done, all the while suffering from dehydration/headaches that usually accompany traveling. My advice is to arrive no later than Thursday afternoon for a Sunday race (for no time zone change that is). I flew into Spokane Thursday night and stayed with Matty and we drove up to Penticton the next day. This is a pretty good option for those wanting to avoid driving from Seattle or flying into Canada. Jill hooked me up with a homestay in Kaleden, which is just outside of Penticton. At $75 per night with no night minimum, Jill and I had the entire first floor to ourselves and we had access to a kitchen, swimming pool, and a great deck overlooking Skaha Lake, good stuff. Onto the race:
The swim: 58:25
I am really shocked by my swim time, based on feel, I really thought I dialed both my effort and my strategy to swim a 54-55. Some speculation: the day before the race, I hopped in the water and felt great. By "felt great", I mean I had great feel for the water (it's a swimmer thing). Come Sunday morning, I had no feel for the water during my warm-up. I swam with one other guy the entire time, and though I put in some hard efforts to pull away from him, we always stayed together. Maybe I ended up doing his swim race? And finally, maybe it's the Blue-Seventy? My swims have been mediocre all season and the only difference is the wetsuit. Two weeks ago, I swam a straight 4000, holding 1:17's for the first 2000 and 1:15's for the second 2000. On Wednesday of race week, I was holding 2:15's for 200's on the 2:30 and I was holding back. I KNOW I had the swim fitness to swim a 54-55. Though the Blue-Seventy has great shoulder flexibility, it doesn't feel as buoyant as my Zoot or a Sailfish. Like I said, all speculation, but I really am shocked because I felt the effort was the equivalent of a 54-55 minute swim.
The bike: 5:56:40
From the get go, my legs burned! My glutes hurt the most, and even sitting on the saddle was painful (and it was not a saddle sore pain, but actually the glute muscles themselves). Every time I tried to push to establish my pace, they just hurt. The pain was a combination of tightness, feeling bruised, and just burning. It's a good thing I had posted this the day before because I definitely needed this attitude to overcome this crazy burning in my legs. I just told myself to pedal, at whatever pace, just pedal and maybe things will come around. 40 km into the ride, the legs loosened up, but I just couldn't find the race gear just to hold my "conservative" pace toward Richter climb . Though I couldn't ride at my goal pace, I was looking forward to hitting Richter because if there is one thing I can do really well on the bike, it is climbing. But once again, I couldn't find that gear that I know I can when I'm climbing. Very few people passed me on the climb, but I also passed very few people, and really, climbing is my strength, even when I'm not trying to climb hard. But not today. I felt like I was in my training gear the entire bike ride. With about 40K to go, I started to feel a bit nauseous, I'm sure as a result of the 90°+ heat. At 30K, I tried to put food down my sensitive stomach to prepare for the run. At 20K, I vomited and with it, all of my precious calories and fluids. The last 10K, I bonked and I could barely turn the pedals over against the headwind. My speculation: My body was just having a really off day? Or maybe I was out of shape on the bike? I've been accused of overtraining all season, so my mantra going into Canada was better to be undercooked than overcooked. I now know with me, it is actually better to be overcooked. I lose my fitness too quickly. Before IMOZ where I rode a 5:30 , I rode 3 hours hard the Thursday before the race. Two weeks before the full Vineman, I raced hard and won a trail marathon with 5000' of climbing; and the following day, I rode 5 hours and ran 6 miles off the bike. Then, the Thursday before the full Vineman, I once again did a hard 3-hour ride. Three days later, I ended up riding my fastest ironman bike split (5:22). This time around, my longest ride in the last two weeks before the race was 3.5 hours, and during race week, I only rode 3 times, with the longest ride being 90 minutes. Once again, all speculation give me your thoughts!
The run: 3:55:05
Though this was not my best ironman run split, it is the run I am most proud. After getting off the bike totally depleted, I mentally prepared myself for a 14-hour ironman finish. I thought about my friend Jeff, and I set a goal to finish no matter how long it was going to take. I spent a good 5-6 minutes in transition, sipping water and taking what little food my stomach could take. One mile into the run, I threw everything up, right in front of the maddening crowd, which seemed to get even more mad. After throwing up, I felt much better, and set out to take it one mile at a time. I started on coke at the second aid station, a new record for me. I also set a goal to only walk the aid stations. Miles 2-15 were simply amazing. I couldn't stop thinking about my runs on Kona and how the heat in Canada wasn't even comparable. I drew so much strength just from this thought alone. Miles 15-18, I started to slow and I knew I had to take in food/salt and not fluids, but my stomach was also sensitive again. I tried to take a salt tablet at mile 17 and started dry-heaving and the pill came right back out. Miles 18-24 were slow but I never walked except for the aid stations. I came so so close to walking at a non-aid station but for the first time, I actually won the battle and I kept running. Turning onto Lakeshore for an out and back section before the finish, I heard the announcer say that those just turning onto Lakeshore have 10 minutes to break the 11-hour barrier, and something in me came to life. I dug deep and crossed the line under 11 hours with 30-seconds to spare. On this day, I equate breaking 11 hours to that of breaking 10 hours. I am proud of my run.
The result: 10:59:31 [290th OA, 57th AG]
It's late as I'm writing this and I'm tired. I just wanted to focus on the logistics of the race, but I will give more sentimental moments from race day in a later post. Because as my friend Tom posted on my FB wall, "Ironman is like pizza, even when it's bad, it's good!"
70.3 Liuzhou Race Story
2 weeks ago