Monday, August 29, 2011

IM Canada Race Report

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!"


martin briars said...

congratulations on finishing another IM !! i find this amazing in itself !! I guess it wasn't your best, but manage to pull positives from the event. My own IM has been put off till 2012 due to a huge house move, so i am drawing on your write ups for inspiration! thanks and keep on going!

Beth said...

Way to fight Kiet. For your friend, to break 11 hours, to not walk at non aid stations... Its that kind of stuff that says a lot about a person! I know this distance hasn't been kind to you. But I also know you are going to keep fighting!

Kim said...

I know this wasn't the day you wanted, or that you or I had hoped for, but it was still a really really good day. I agree with your friend. We've all had some really crappy races..I walked the entire St. Croix run in 2010.. the whole thing.. so proud of you for remembering your friend for getting through the hard times. I promise to remember this if I ever end up in the same situation and not quit.

Libby said...

I love the last quote, so right. even when its bad its good. I love it. I totally get the feel thing on swimming. its so rare when I actually have good feel days and I remember them for a long time!
I'm so proud of you for honoring jeff in this way. that's ultimately what life is about- picking up the pieces and making the best of the situation which you did beautifully.

GoBigGreen said...

Congrats Kiet! I am about to embark on my first one so i cant even imagine doing it under 11 hours:) I have a friend who was to do IM Wisc as well and he sadly is in a coma in Denver, a bike accident out there. So your tribute and your race bring to the forefront, again, that i am going to do Madison to the best of my ability but I am going to do it however it gets done, because i CAN!
Recover well:)
PS cold pizza:) but not for breakfast!

Betsy said...

Ironman is like really never can be bad. Congrats on another finish. You're lucky I didn't see your ass out there walking. I would NOT have allowed it :)

What's on the calendar for 2012? WIll I get to race with you again?