Monday, August 1, 2011

Ironman Lake Placid 2011 Race Report

PRE RACE

The pre-race sleep - many dread it! Just when I thought I was having a great sleep, I messed it up. We got to bed at an OK time and I immediately slept like a baby! I put in an good 4.5hrs sleep before I had to get up and pee. Of course I couldn't get back to bed - its race morning! I laid there and my mind wandered for another hour before the alarm clock went off at 3:45am.
I hate being rushed in the mornings. I plan to be as efficient and quick out the door as possible according to THE PLAN. I already pre-packed the truck and had a checklist for the remaining things. I just had to eat breakfast for the most part, or so I thought. I even had the wife look over the checklist to avoid surprises in the morning like what happened in Welland. I just want to get out that door as soon as possible. It also means we can sleep in to the last second if well planned.
Anyways I'm eating my breakfast and she jumps in the shower. Wait. Eat - check. Swim gear - check. Brush teeth - check. Shower - nope... no shower on this list.
Damn woman. She made an executive decision to get a shower in the morning despite what the pre-approved checklist said. That will now add an extra 20 minutes to my travel time, we should have got out of bed earlier. uggghhhhh I swear she does it to me deliberately. I could have screamed! This happens everytime lol!
On the bright side, I had Nutella for breakfast. REAL NUTELLA. Not like the last time when she tried to sabatoge my first ever Ironman 70.3! lol


On the checklist was the Canadian Flag temporary tattoos I picked up that week! Represent! Put a big one on my calve, and one each on my shoulder. This way people know they're getting passed by a Canadian haha!

Step out of the cabin and it's real cold out. I'm only wearing my tri suit and it's waaaay too early to be running around in skimpy clothing. I threw on my checklist's pre-approved warm clothes. The drive in was dark and lonely. I recall my early morning drive to Muskoka 70.3, I was an emotional wreck for that one. Very nervous, very unsure, very scared. This time though, I'm feeling much calmer. I'm at peace with myself. There is lots to think about during this 10 minute pitch dark drive, and no matter what comes to mind it all amounts to the same thing - I am ready for this. I'm nervous, anxious but I'm missing a key component that Muskoka had - scared. I'm not scared like I was then. This time - I am prepared. I actually did the training haha!

Do I look Nervous? Maybe sleepy... lol


We arrived to the very dark parking lot in the middle of a field. We left early to make sure we got a parking spot in this closer, better lot and we sure did accomplish this. I think we were only the 5th car to arrive! I thought for sure the early-to-wake tri-dorks would have this lot full already. Oh well, at least I'm not being rushed.
Almost immediately behind us, my father pulls into the lot. Syncronized arrival, even he thought to get here early to get a spot too. Yup, my dad drove all the way down from Canada to come watch my first Ironman. How cool is that?
So we all board the bus together and I goto the back of it. I prefer the back, I dont want to be near any other athletes. I prefer to be alone, not socialize before a race. I need to focus on myself and what I am doing.
It's a quick drive to the Olympic Arena up the hill in a half-full school bus. They kind of drop you off and dont tell you which way to go. I know body marking is out on the street so we start heading over that way. Immediately I run into Paul waiting in a short line to get marked. I break my rule and start talking to him, this is someone that has inspired me along the way and it was calming to see a familiar face. I was surprised to see they body marked the top of the knees with my number, I've never seen that before. The guy had to write my number in small to avoid my Canada flag tattoos.


At that point, transition is still closed. Yup, I am early! We stand around at the main entrace waiting to get in, only to find this is not the entrance. After a 15 minute wait we made our way down the street to the SWIM IN where they were already letting people in. Fran couldn't come in with me, athletes only. I took the long way around to get into the bike area. It's completely empty, everyone else went to their transition bags first. It's a sea of bikes. A wide laneway through transition with a long row on each side. I'm in row 23 which is easy to remember - Michael Jordan. Unfortunately my bike is at the very far end of the row. I got shafted for a spot on the rack, they mark the rack with your number and I just got a bad spot. Even worse, was the guy next to me on the rack had pointed his bike in the wrong direction. Idiot. I was hoping to run into him this morning so I could ask him to fix it, but being so early there was nobody around me. I carefully shuffled his bike over more to give myself more room. I don't like touching other people's bikes as I dont like mine touched, but this was a matter of urgency. So with my territory claimed I pumped my tires up. I had to hold my breath when I pulled the pump off the tube - just the day before I blew a flat when the needle valve ripped out of the tube. I was lucky it happened the day before and not on race day. I came prepared though, spare tube in my backpack and levers just in case. No problems this morning though. Attach my GPS, pre lock it. Bento Box attached, I hate bento boxes but just this week found one that looks 'acceptable' on my bike as it is small. It's a bit too small but I managed to cram 4 powerbars in so it works - you just have to mould the powerbars like play-dough to fit haha! Lastly I attached my bottles and did a quick check of my gears. The bike was soaked. I never heard it at night but apparently it rained. I took my jogging pants off and wiped my bike down to mop up the big puddles sitting on top of the frame.
Paul on the Left getting dressed
When done I looked up to the hill overlooking transition area over by the Olympic arena. Fran, my wife, is probably up there taking photos. It's so dark, I can't see anything. I also looked over the endless waves of bikes and the people finally trickling into the bike area. I want to take it all in, everything. One last look up at the hill and I could see a small figure frantically waving in the air - oh there's Fran! Yay! I started to walk down the main row to the bag area but stopped myself halfway! Wait!! I'm skipping a step. I always pre-walk the transition area and visualize the ENTIRE process. I made my way to the exit of the changing tent. It's a long walk. Looks much the same down the chute, many would have turned back already but for me I want to see every last feet of transition area and go through the whole thing step by step. I've done this before every race, I am not going to change it up this time at the most important race of my life!
I'm glad I did, I learned something - it's short and easy. I dont have to walk back and forth simulating T1 and T2. I only had to walk from the change tent to the bike, and then out the bike area. I would never return after that, the volunteers rack your bike for you. This was easy. I even stopped to listen to a volunteer explain the entire transition process a few times to reassure myself I didn't overlook anything.
So over to the transition bags it was a tight squeeze. Row 3 - easy to remember 23 is Jordan, 3 is the second number. I couldn't walk down row 3 though, too many athletes blocking the way. I was taken back by the number of people that blocked the rows because they must have thought they were the only ones on the face of the earth and we'll just wait for them to do a final check on their gear. There was enough room to let people by, but they simply didn't. Eventually I just plowed my way down the row. Idiots. No time for Canadian pleasantries, I need to get my bags ready!
Well there wasn't much to do. I hung my own warm clothes bag on the rack, that way it doesn't get lost with a volunteer. That means I had to strip my warm clothes off and be exposed to the cool air. I pre-walked the entire bag area, as I did with the bike area and visualized my entire transition. I am ready.

Back out on the street it was getting crowded. Tough to move, athletes everywhere getting body marked. I found the wife, father, and friend and made the 2 block walk to the swim area. Actually we walked by the swim area up the road a ways to drop off the special needs bags. I've never been in a race that had a special needs bag, so I really had no reason to have one. At the last minute I put electrolyte, RedBull and duct tape in them, just in case. I had no intention to use them. I sorted my own run bag into the right box, the bike bag the volunteers were doing it for us. The long walk back to swim area reminded me how much I dislike flip-flops. We picked up disposable flipflops so I had something on my feet to the swim area but they were annoying and dug into my skin. Flip flops dont work on me, I have a big gap between my big and bigger toe.

The long wait. I had at least an hour to kill before the race started. I stood there. I jumped on the spot. I stretched. I couldn't do my run warm-up like usual in these cruddy sandals. I left my good sandals in my warm clothes bag. I was offered up a chair and took it. Sitting there I just got colder and colder and then I felt my eyes getting heavy. Fran gave me her sweater. It didn't fit, I had to stretch it out and looked like a complete fool but at least I was a bit warmer :)  Fran started rubbing my head. No - massaging my scalp you perv, what do you think I meant? Anyways that was the greatest pre-race feeling ever. I like a good head rub. It didn't take long before I had to stand back up though, I was falling asleep.

We were right against the shore and for some reason I figured when the time comes I will just enter the water right then and there, rather than walking all the way around to the beach.
That was dumb. Luckily the announcer reminded us we HAD to enter the water over the timing mat to check-in. Wow, I can't believe I forgot that! That woke me up, I started moving more and warming up and focusing on the task at hand.

Where are all the athletes though? Nobody around me had a wetsuit on, or looked like a competitor. Loved ones stood shoulder to shoulder watching the water but I don't see anyone in the water either. I think they're all congragated over by the beach. I prefer it this way, I stayed near family for as long as I could. I started putting my wetsuit on. It was tighter than normal. Am I just paranoid? Perhaps. Am I retaining water? Perhaps. It's tight. I've never had to fight to get it up my legs before. Maybe I'm just clammy from nervousness. A long while later I think I have it on right. I'm an athlete amongst spectators, many sincere 'good lucks' sent my way from strangers. Strangers that look me in the eye and give me the most heartfelt 'good lucks' as if they're speaking to their loved one through me as there's was already on the beach awhile ago.

Look at all the people. Thousands and thousands. Unbelievable. The mountains towering over the lake, the clouds and fog wrapping around them, the mirror in the lake as the sun rises in the distance. Of all the video and photos I've watched of this race, there is nothing like it in real life.

We make our way over to the entrance. I kiss my wife goodbye. I take note of every touch, every smell, every flutter of my heart as this is what is waiting for me at the finish line. This will be what drives me to go on in the hottest, toughest parts of the day. Getting back to her.

Halfway down the chute to get into the water I look back to catch a glimpse of her, she's against the shore and had met up with Steve, a new found friend from the pre-ride a couple weeks ago. It was great seeing him! He asked me to come stretch with him before jumping in the water but I reluctantly declined. I paused before I turned the offer down, I would love to enter the water with someone I know, but after I kissed Fran I already commited to getting back to her no matter what. That means ONLY MOVING FORWARD. From this moment on I only go forward, I will not go backwards. Every step brings me closer to her. By going back up the chute, I am not sticking to my plan. It may hurt me mentally. I pushed on, said I hope I can meet up with him in the water and on I went. One last look at Fran. That image will be with me forever.

Down the swim chute, nobody is talking. Athletes stretching and standing there looking out into the lake. They are not looking at the lake though.
The long beep. I close me eyes and that beep will be music to my ears as I cross each and every timing mat throughout this day. This mat signifies my official start. I am here, I have made it to the start line of an Ironman. The hard part is behind me. 500hrs of training. Only 17hrs left.

I'm careful to walk along the beach in my bare feet. I am paraoid to step on something and have it screw up the rest of my day. Partway into the water and could immediately tell it is surprisingly warm. I let the water into my wetsuit, pulling the neck out. This helps dilute the bodily fluids trapped inside. I step back out of the water and squeeze every last bit of fluid out of my wetsuit. By priming the wetsuit with water and squeezing it out, it sticks to my skin and makes a better seal. The fit feels good.

I put the swim cap on, its smaller than most. I can't get the air bubble out of the top of my head though. I dont pull caps over my ears, I dont know if that is the problem but whatever it is I have an air bubble trapped in the cap. I giveup trying to squeeze it out.
My mask is so incredibly clear! I cleaned them out with soap and water the other day and it's like wearing a brand new swim mask! I'm surprised at how clear the water is. The bottom is RIGHT THERE! This is a surpsised because I pre-swam the lake only with no wetsuit and no mask. The water was perfect!

My warmup consists of very slow head up front crawl, trying not to run into anyone. The water is mostly empty still. Hardly any athletes in the water and there's only 15 minutes to go! I look back, no Steve or wife on sidelines. So many people, I can't make anything out.

Rodney Entering Water


I make my way up the far right side of the start line to find my rock. I scoped out a rock in practice that I can stand on while I wait. As I got to the rock I noticed someone already found it. As I got closer I hope the guy would be willing to share, but to my surprise it was Rodney! haha! What are the odds lol! We both stood there with some pre-race chatting about strategy. Normally I would just keep to myself but in this case I'm happy to share the start line moment with someone I know. We ran into simon as well! My first time meeting him, he had a thick accent that I had to tease him about lol. I was also happy to start near Rodney, knowing where he was on the course was comforting. He helped motivate me to train hard over the winter after absolutely crushing me at Muskoka 70.3. I'm here to redeem myself. :)

I can't see the race clock from the start line. I don't know how much longer we have to wait. I make a slow compelete circle in the water, looking at everything I can and taking in the experience. I want to see it all! Amazing how many spectators there are - I've never seen such a crowd! The water is lined with athletes 10 deep along the edges of the swim area but the middle for the most part is empty. Directly on the start line is only few athletes, maybe 4 deep. The announcer forces those remaining athletes into the water, it must be getting close.

They sing the national anthem. I put my head back and float there looking up at the clouds. In that moment I got a bit sleepy so I immediately stopped that! lol! I just looked around at everyone and felt myself getting welled up with emotion. Adrenaline pumping now, I'm psyched up for this! I cheer after the anthom, the noise is so loud!

In the moments during the anthom, the athletes came out of the woodwork! Now they're lining the shore on the right side 20 deep and it's getting crowded. I move further out to the middle and find myself RIGHT ON THE START LINE! Umm no, thats not what I want lol. There is so few people on the start line compared to the shore, I figure this is a better spot. I put a few people in front of me and decide to stay behind a few pink caps, woman, and maybe try to draft them. I've lost Rodney, but he's in the area somewhere.




We cheer loud for the athletes. We cheer louder for the spectators. The announcer says we're in the water with '2500 of your best friends'. Absolutely. Comradarie, triathletes are a special breed. I love being here.

5 Minutes left. 2 Minutes left. I can't see the clock and there was no countdown.

**JUST A BANG**

Here we go.




SWIM

Patience. With only 4 deep in front of me, it still took several seconds to get going. Once everyone was heads down moving forward it was my turn. The first thing I thought when I put my head down and started swimming was how quiet it was. It's not as loud as the smaller races I've been to. I don't hear the roar of the washing machine. I got a complete first set of 3 stroke to one breath alternating sides without bumping into anyone! Wow, that was unexpected. I changed into head up front crawl to make sure I was in an Ironman - yup, still here. I continue head up for a little bit. As the huge crowd from the shoreline to the right merged in with us, it got friendly. It was like sardines in a can. The lady to the right of me was rubbing her breasts against my body and the man to to the left of me, well... lets just say he was very friendly. I was completely calm the whole time. Even when a hand hit me or a foot kicked me, everyone was so nice about it. If you felt your hand come down on someone, you just gently brush there body, no punching like the shorter races. It was like we all knew what we had invested in this day and nobody wanted to ruin it for someone else. It was the kindest, gentlest mass swim start I've ever been in! Having said that though, there was definitely some apprehension over how squished our torso's were together. If you got run over, you may not be able to get back up for air! That, and I was worried about elbows. there was hardly room to put your hand in the water to stroke, so if an elbow came out it could get driving into your skull. More on that later.

To my surprise the pace was different than shorter races too. Instead of a burst of energy followed by settling into a steady pace, this was more like a slow ramp up to pace - its not like we were shot out of a cannon. Again, another surprise. I was loving it. Heartrate in check, pace picking up and the bulk of the mass start behind me - I picked the most perfect spot to start from!

Now I slowly merged my way to the left with the people going along the buoy. As I merged I could tell those people along the buoy were moving much faster than me. I could never see the buoy I was still 20feet out so I just sighted off the other athletes. I aimed for a notch in the trees to keep me going straight -  but admitedly I rarely looked for it. There is enough people around you to keep you going in the right direction.
I found myself surrounded with non-wetsuit swimmers. Those are the ones looking for podium or Kona so I completely felt out of place. I was comfortable passing a couple but knew that I would likely pay for it on the second loop.
As the first turn around approached I tried to cut close to the buoy but it wasn't going to happen. Too many bodies forces us out wide, so I just went with the flow. The second buoy wasn't so bad, hardly any body contact but I still somehow found myself out in la-la land. The buoy line was a good 50feet away from me! I slowly edged my way back in. It took the majority of the return trip before I got anywhere near the buoy line. In the end I swam most of that leg by myself, no draft. One of the frustrating parts was passing the non-wetsuit swimmers. They really did get in the way and I found they weren't swimming much of a straight line. Or maybe it was me. Either way I hesistated several times to make the pass because I worried about taking the risk and getting hit with a whip kick or elbow.
By now I can feel the heat of the wetsuit kicking in. Being the first non-wetsuit legal swim in Lake Placid history, I can see why they made that rule. I was getting damn hot! I also felt like I was pushing hard, not tired or anything, but hard enough to know that I may need to back off if I feel myself overheating.

With shore approaching I gave up trying to get back to the buoy line. I could see the dark red arch of the swim exit in the distance. As we got closer to shore the bodies started to pile up. It was getting crowded. I could see the bottom and although I may be able to stand up I didnt' bother. Nobody else around me was standing up and I planned to wait until the very last moment before trying. I think my fingers could scrape bottom before I tried to stand. Once vertical I felt a bit dizzy. The heat from the suit and the blood draining from my head made it hard. I took a few steps and immedately grabbed the shoulder of my wetsuit. I tugged and pulled at my shoulder, especially my right one, to try to keep my wetsuit from getting pulled down with the weight of water flowing out of it. Having a long torso my wetsuit can pull quite hard on my shoulders effecting the reach of my stroke. I need to make sure it didn't shift on me in time for the next lap.

They lied at the pre-race banquet. They said at the end of the first lap they would separate the swimmers under different timing mats for wetsuit / nonwetsuit. Instead we all started the second lap under the same arch. I didn't care, it was 10 feet less to walk anyways :) I waded into the water with another tall guy and we laughed at each other. The people around us were thrashing about in the water and we were still touching bottom and keep up with everyone else. I could stand until almost the edge of the dock. I completely forgot about the infamous current around the dock. As I went to swim again, the water pulled me and accelerated me around the edge and shot me out the side, I had to fight to get it to throw me in a straight line against the buoy. Once again, I was 20 feet our from te buoy line by myself.

I gave my shoulder one last tug and was satisfied that it was only affecting my stroke a small bit. The moment I got into a rythm I could see a pink cap moving in from the far right. She must have been shot straight out the side of the current around the dock, she was waaay out there. By the time she reached me, I think we made eye contact. She swam up against me and out of nowhere

DAWWWNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGgggGgggGGGGGggggGGG!!!

It's like somebody slammed my head between two Clangs.

She had elbowed me right in the head, driven her boney little bit right through my skull. It felt like someone stabbed me with a pick right above my temple and on the forehead. She didn't hesitate, she had a quick pause and said 'I'm Sorry!'. Being the polite Canadian I didn't hesistate and responded 'Its OK!' and kept going. I was worried about getting run over my swimmers behind us so I hardly slowed down. Oh it hurt, I could feel a bit of pressure in the back of my head but that was about it. I tried to run my hand over my forehead to see if I could catch a glimpse of blood. I thought she split me open but I couldn't feel anything. I didn't adjust my mask incase swelling caused it not to reseal so I continued on and tried to ignore it.

Near the end turn around I finally caught a glimpse of the buoy line! Thats the first time I had ever seen it. I sighted off it and cut the two turns perfectly! I almost ran right into the turn around buoy lol! On the return trip I again tried to sight off the buoy which I did for a moment but then I found myself out in la-la land again all alone. In my loss of concentration I was a good 30-40ft away again! How did that happen. I did this repeatedly. I would be on the line, then 40ft away. This swerving kept going on and now I was getting tired. And annoyed. Instead of the buoy, I concentrated sighting off of other swimmers which worked better. Except they had some swerving issues of there own. Everyone seemed to be getting sloppy and I couldn't wait to get out of this oven wetsuit!

Halfway back water started creeping into my swim mask. I just ignored it and tried to tilt my head in such a way I only needed to close one eye. I got the biggest surge of adrenaline when I could finally hear the announcer at the swim exit!!! Almost done! It wasn't a sense of relief, I was actually enjoying myself. I was excited to finally be in an Ironman swim and was loving it!! I may have even slowed my pace down just a smidgen to make sure this experience lasted. I am doing this!!!






I approached the shore closer to the buoy line and it was crowded. As the people in front stood up and took a moment to get moving, the people at the back would get run over by the approaching swimmers. It was a real mess, people just couldn't stand up and move quick enough. I managed to get out comfortably and immediately tried to peel the upper body of my wetsuit. I heard the nonstop beeps of the swim timing mats and it was like music to my ears. I reach and reach and searched for the stupid zipper string and couldn't find it. I ran under the Swim finish arch while still trying to locate it. I've never had a problem getting unzipped before. I alwaays kind of laughed at the people who couldn't find their draw string, it looks really silly when they panic to find it. Well there is a first for everything and I laughed at first but then it turned to a mild WTF COME ON ALREADY anger! lol!  I barely got my top unzipped and stripped in time for the last wetsuit stripper to help my bottoms off. I've never used a wetsuit stripper before, this is cool! I'm in the big leagues now! haha! I rolled back on my ass as the two stripper yanked on my suit. It got caught on my ankles and on the second tug the girl on the right went flying when it popped over my feet lol! The guy on the left just could not get it over the foot with the timing chip. I dont think it was the chip that was the problem but either way he had to shimmy it off with his hands. It really wasn't much faster than doing it myself. Oh well, it was part of the Ironman experience! You don't get that at our local tri! :)

Running with the wetsuit was annoying. I'm tall so the arms and legs are flopping everywhere, I couldn't keep it in a nice little bundle in my arms. The chute they had us run through was amazing! It was a tunnel of screamers, shouters, clappers, ringers and absolute chaos! Everyone hanging over the edge of the crowd control gates cheering us on. It was deafening yet extremely amazing at the same time. I didn't look up, I just looked down at the ground and tried not to trip and fall or step on anything in front of all these people. My arms were too tired to high five anyone. I heard my wife and father on the side at the last moment, I managed to turn to them at the last second! I can't believe I picked them out of the crowd like that, it was crazy!

I caught a glimpse of the race clock. I could have swore it said 1h 26m. That is what I read and I immediately got a sinking feeling. Are you phucking kidding me? I could swim an easy 1:20 40 weeks ago yet here I am at 1:26!?  Disappointment. Disgust. 40 weeks wasted, and my arms are tired to boot. I had a moment of doubt, maybe being sick for the past 2.5 weeks hurt me more than I thought? Maybe I didn't do the swim training right. Either way, I was geniunely upset for about 30 seconds. I shook out of it and put the swim behind me. I made it, and now I will have the best bike of my life! Concentrate on the bike, the swim is only a small part of this. I never thought of the swim again. Bring it!! :)
**My actual swim time was closer to 1:07 which was an absolute Personal Best for me. I had the swim of my life, I just didn't know it yet lol!**
Approaching the bag area the carpets got thinner and I had to watch for pebbles. My feet began to hurt, I am paranoid over ripping something in the bottom of my foot and the arch collapsing or something. I had PF earlier this year and foot pain is the ultimate suck! I took it easy. Down row 3 I couldn't understand what people were doing standing beside there bag. They just had to grab them and go but some people rifled through their bags right there in the rack lol! I heard one volunteer bitch out an athlete for not keeping moving. Definitely a safety issue. I grabbed my bag and as I entered the changing tent, my first one ever, I was lost. It was dark and poorly lit. I could hardly make out rows of chairs and I couldn't see where the exit was. I went to walk further into the tent but the chairs looked liked they got knocked over and I couldn't make out a row. Instead I wedged my fat ass between two people on a single chair and began to get changed. The toughest part was not losing anything! Gear everywhere! I threw one sock and shoe on before I noticed I had a towel in the bag. I toweled off the grit and pebbles off my other foot and put it in the shoe. I was worried about the foot I missed, I wonder if I had pebbles in there. 

Helmet, race belt, glasses and I think I have everything. I started to pack stuff into my bag, but a volunteer said he would do it. I would find out after the race that he grabbed someone elses swim cap and threw it in my bag. I now have two Ironman swim caps! Sweet! I looked up the guys number afterwards but could not find his name or phone number. He might want it back because it says Ironman on it. I couldn't even find a phone number, he is only 27 so maybe he lives with parents or something.



Out of the change tent I jog slowly with my bike shoes on. I pick up the pace on the grass and I am impressed by my pace. I didn't grab a cup of water on the way out, I figure I probably drank enough lake water already. I regretted that halfway to my bike, I kind of felt like I should have taken some now. Approaching my row I seen that the volunteer didn't have my bike ready for me like they do in the videos. Understandably so, which means I had to run all the way down the row to my bike at the very end. What a lousy parking spot!! I hit the start button on the GPS and unrack my bike. The poor parking guy next to me was still there, actually a ton of bikes were still on the racks. I thought I was doing a moderate pace down the main strip but some guy behind me shouted to let him pass. He pulled along side me but then never did run by me. Idiot. The transition was pure chaos though. Volunteers ran around with there head chopped off, people screaming and yelling, very stressful. Thats a tough job for the volunteers. At the mount line I was up and out on my bike before many others. I think my mounting skills have improved. I think the key was to run pass the line by 20ft before mounting. It was narrow and crowded. Actually I am certain I seen people mounting BEFORE the line.

Saturday Pre Flight Test



.
BIKE


Onto the bike and we're into an immediate downhill through side streets. I'm surprised at the number of people lining the sides of the roads here - we're going by so fast there is not much to see. Athletes are not rushing to pass, we're taking several sharp corners. I don't know this section, I never pre-rode it so I dont know where I am going


Heading out of town is a fair bit of short steep climbs. I just put it in the easiest of gears and spun my way up all of them. My stomach doesn't feel right, almost like I'm dehydrated but I'd swear I'm sloshing water in my stomach. I've had this before, I'm guessing trapped gas. I get gassy after long swims - I probably swallow air? Anyways the light headache in the back of my mind is still there. On one of the short uphills I feel for a goose bump or bruise but I can't feel anything on my forehead. It's definitely present though.
The guys with disc wheels blow by. I checked my ego at the door and willingly let them go, this is a long ride I expect to see them later. Stick to the plan. My HR is higher than normal but I'm guessing it's just the excitement of the crowds and the transition.
As I settle into a rythm I find myself drafting my way up every hill - there is just so many people, you can't help but rub tires. I think of passing but there are guys muscling up the hills with he-man like efforts and blowing by us. I am not interested in getting into that, I stick to my peice of the pavement and wait for the crowds to dissapait.
My legs are only at 80% power. I'm clearly missing some strength, I begin to doubt myself since I missed out on the last 3 weeks of riding due to illness. My legs feel flat.
I sip some water befor the big Keene descent, my stomach is still not happy. Something is not right, but its not effecting my performance yet. I'll be patient, it's a long day so no sense feeling sorry for myself now. It'll sort itself out in no time. Nothing I can do, so no sense whining about the headache or the legs so just enjoy the experience.
On the Keene decent I kill that downhill. In the aero bars and I'm pushing 80km/h with no pedaling whatsoever. I coast faster than most guys pedalling, my bike is crazy fast. Adrenaline pumping and I'm feeling better all of a sudden. I have some minor gas, not enough, but I can tell it makes me feel better. I'm warming up, sun is breaking through and I'm beginning to feel good.
Some idiots are blocking the road by riding the yellow line at 70km/h. I squeeze in the first pass by riding the line but the next guy almost kills me and I'm forced to swerve across the yellow line to just not die. I get mad at myself - I'm risking my entire race for nothing! If a referee is behind me I could get DQ'd for that. There are cones on that third lane, I wonder if we're actually allowed to use it? They never said anything in the athlete's guide or race meeting so I am not sure. I catch a pack of riders that are blowing by everyone. Before I knew it even they are crossing the yellow line. I shout to a guy to see if he knew for sure if we can do this and swears the pilons are there for us. We can use all three lanes.  I'm still not certain and I'm worried about getting disqualified so I keep to the right of the yellow more than anyone else.
Even coasting I'm picking up speed so I take the lead of this pack who are sprinting like crazy but still can't keep up with me. I dont know what it is about my bike or setup, I just descend way better than anyone else. It's amazing!
Long downhill and I'm on fire. I begin to pull on our sprint pack and give out a notable 'woohoo!!' as I put distance on them. Seriously, I didn't pedal once and I've dropped all but almost a couple of them. My quads are getting tired from holding me up, I keep shifting to distribute the load and absorb the big bumps.

We go ripping into Keene and on the left is an army of ambulances all lined up at the bottom of the hill. It looks like they are expecting carnage on that downhill! Scary.
There is no feed zone in Keene, I really expected one but oh well it's time to settle into a rythm as this will be the only flat of the race course.
I hold a steady pace yet people are passing me. It's getting a bit annoying but after being humbled by the pre-ride a few weeks ago - I know that the second lap will kill me so I'm trying to play it safe. Jay comes sooner than expected and I begin the out and back. I begin to check out the riders going the other direction. All shapes and sizes and ages out in front of me, you certainly cannot judge a book by its cover. I wonder how is it these people are so much faster than me - better trained? more experienced? How the heck is that old lady beating me!? I'm inspired, amazed and it doesn't phase me one bit - I want what they have. I can't wait to get that good!
I am also searching for Rodney. I expect to see him on this out and back and see where we stand. Unfortunately everyone looks the same and in no time I have to give up on that. My eyes are going buggy and at this rate I'm going to hit a pothole because I'm not paying attention. I also wonder if I see him then what would I do? My response would probably not be favourable. In front - go faster? Behind me - go faster? Either way I'll force myself to go faster and risk burning myself out. No, I dont want to know where he is, it's best I just ride my own race.
I'm surprised by the endless referees going by. Handing out yellow and red cards like they are trying to meet some kind of super-quota. Every penalty given out was justified though, I seen alot of them and the ref was right every time. Some athletes didn't know what to do when they got carded. Amazing how many people do not read the athlete manual or listen at the mandatory meeting. They probably didn't even show.
At the turn around I'm enjoying myself now and I pick up the pace. I'm warmed up, in the zone and feeling good albeit a mild headache in the back of my mind. My legs feel more 90% power but they are getting better. My stomach is better now that the turbo kicked in a few times and I think most of the gas is behind me. I hope the person behind me had there mouth closed. :-/
I put back my first big dose of gel. I like feed stations on out and backs, makes it easier to time nutrition. I dilute the gel with a helping of water at the aid station. One of the many lessons learned this year was to dilute the gel in my stomach with water, its the only way I can take them. I have learned so many lessons this year, so much experience. I can't help but pat myself on the back just before heading up the steepest climb of the course.
Big up, lots of spinning. Few pass but those that do I check out there gearing to see what it is they are doing. I learn from others, its interesting. I'm surprised to see spectators cheering on this part of the course, there is a good looking chick on the side of the road with a shirt that says "single and supportive" HAHA! Thats cute, I would imagine there were alot of guys that stopped and gave her their phone number that day lol!
Which brings me to the other spectators - INSANE! In the most remote sections of the course where there are no homes or businesses, but just mountains and rivers, you would find cars parked on the edge of the road with big home stereo boom boxes blaring and people partying. Endless parties dotted the course. I really loved the music along the entire course!
The feed zone in Wilmington was one of these parties, with a DJ and all. There was a couple guys in skimpy speedos dancing umm provacatively so I shot them with my water bottle when they danced my direction lol. They enjoyed that all too much, I think it turned them on. That wasn't the response I was looking for lol *shudder* haha!
Right at the final turn around the guy in front of me crashed bad. He let his tire slip off into the soft sand and fell like an amateur cyclist. It was embarassing, I hope he was able to continue.

After the left turn at wilmington the road got painful. Very bumpy and now my headache has moved from the background to the foreground. It's definitely there. I begin the 16mile climb with a positive attitude and hold a steady pace. I intend to get to the top as fresh as possible!
Some guy pulls up along side of me and shouts 'Nice bike!' :)  I turned to say thanks but it quickly turned into an 'awww phuck, WHATEVER!' as it was Training Payne just messing with me haha! He caught up to me which is not surprising and we had a good laugh. I had to pat myself on the back, almost halfway into the bike and he's only catching me now - I'm happy about that! He praised me heavily for my swim performance which I'm confused since I could have swore it was the worst swim of my life. After exchanging swim times and some confusion, I realized I must not have read the race clock properly. I did way better than I thought.
He passes by me and I keep him in sight. I easily catch him on the hills but struggle to comfortably hold his pace on the flats. He's not screaming fast but very strong and steady. I hang with him a bit and watch and learn from his gearing, power, technique. I finally get to see a mentor in the wild and I make sure I learn something from him this day.
Well I was supposed to learn something from him back at the Guelph Olympic Triathlon but unfortunately it was hard to learn from someone that was behind me. I totally beat him. HAHA! Yes, I just had to slip this in here as it is probably the one and only time that will ever happen. Gotta enjoy my 5 minutes of fame here! lol!!
So I made one last bit of effort to catch up to him and pinch his bum as I caught him. That was the last time I would see him, he pulled away slowly.
I focused on a fresh first lap. I went real easy on the big hills but they felt longer than I remember. I kept anticipating the hills coming up which just made it drag on that much longer. Anticipating things is my weakness, it sucks the life out of my legs and breaks me down mentally. That was a bad move on my part as it felt like the hills dragged on forever.
On the last big hill it was like being in the Tour de France! Chalk all over, people crowding the road and waving flags and signs in your face - it was simple awesome!
At the top of all the hills I took note of my lap - I felt slow but fresh. I'm happy with my lap and only slightly dreaded the next lap. I'm having a hard time getting excited though, the adrenaline is not pumping and I can't get into a ryhtm as the headache is interfering with the voices and music in my mind. I'm almost feeling bored. My lower back and neck is more sore than usual, but that goes with not riding the bike for 3 weeks. All in all I am ready to take on the next lap.

Approaching town I roll into the most awesomest racing experience of my life. At least 6 deep, both sides, the spectators are screaming and yelling, ringing bells, horns, pounding the endless sponsor barriers to make noise it was insane! In that moment I felt like a pro - haha! I tried to look good but my neck was killing me, I looked around for my wife as I stretched it. Too many people, looking is futile! A few athletes ride the wave of energy from the crowd and blow by me, I just let them go.
In this moment of neverending crowds and cheering - this right here made it all worth while. You can see it on a video but you have to experience it for yourself to understand. Wow. Just wow.
At the last moment I heard Fran and turned to catch a glimpse of her! That made my lap! I thought for sure I would never see her in that crowd.
The left turn at the post office had a pro photographer - crap I didn't look good - I wish they had signs so we could put a gameface on lol!
Out front the the Olympic Arena the barricades were no longer and people could get back in front of you and cheer. The road would open up at the last second as spectators jumped back to let you go by. In that moment I just had to crack a tear. Really, I watched videos of this all winter long but never once thought I'd be a part of such a thing. This was totally unexpected - these crowds were hardcore.

Now out the back of the higschool it got quiet. This crowd is not cheering anymore, even though there is plenty of people. The big turn at the bottom of hill had hay bayles which I missed on the first lap. Started on the second loop of hills on the way out of town I'm not feeling it now. The wave of energy from the crowd is gone. My head begins to really hurt, that headache is screaming in the foreground. I can't think with the pain.
I granny geared the uphills but once up top I couldn't get out of the granny gear. I was stuck in it. Not because my gears wouldn't work, but because I simply did not pick up speed at the top. I was tired and couldn't get going.
On the Keene descent my neck and headache were killing me. Every bump was like someone took a hammer to my head. I managed to aerobar the whole thing. At each and every downhill I would utter the words 'Free Energy' and coasted down every single one. I didn't power down a single one, I just let gravity do the work. Eventually I got annoyed at the term 'Free Energy' but that mantra was working and I looked forward to wussing out on every descent and just coasting. I looked forward to them.

The out and back at Jay was long and painful. I couldn't concentrate on what I was doing, the pain was just behind my forehead. Out the corner of my eye I seen a guy coming the way other perk up at the last moment. In that moment, I knew it was Rodney, he had seen me.
I finally had confirmation that I was in front of him, but by only a couple of kilometers at most. I had nothing to hold him off, I was just happy to be moving forward. By the time Wilmington arrived he had caught me - way quicker than I expected on the out and back. Ouch, either he's going really fast or I am going really slow. It's pretty clear, I'm going very very slow. He made the pass and that was the lowest point of the race. I've read that there are highs and lows over the long Ironman day but for me I've been waiting patiently to bounce back from this low yet instead it just gets lower and lower and now I'm in a deep dark place.
My metaphoric wheels on my wagon have been wobbling for the past couple of hours and now those wheels have come completely off. I saluted Rodney as he blew by me like I stood still and that was it. My headache consumed me, I was broken. I pulled off at the next aid station to take a pee break and get my head looked at. I pee'd sitting down to save my legs. It was hot in there and that was a good thing, had it been even the slightest comfortable I may not have gotten back up. I wanted advil or tylenol or just something to make this headache go away but I've read that there are dangers to mixing advil with exercise, especially if you allow yourself to get dehydrated. I didn't take anything. I got on that bike and took off before I could get looked at.

The thought of quitting never once crossed my mind. Slowing down, resting - absolutely!

I didn't feel any better when I got going again. This is going to be a very long 16 Mile climb. I came to terms with my inner Demons. I had a set of 5 distinct goals for this race

1) Dream Goal - I will reveal this after the race.

2) Run Entire Marathon minus aid stations
3) Finish ahead of friends
4) Give. It. Everything. I. Have.
5) Finish under 16:59:59

The demons sitting on my shoulder beat me down with guilt for not making goal number 3. A big part of the training motivation over the winter was to come here and redeem myself after getting destroyed by Rodney at Muskoka. I let it bother me for about 5 minutes, then shook it off. Goal #2 was the biggest, most important one of the day. It's still within my grasp. In my current condition, I could feel it slipping away so I adjusted myself to ensure I had the best chance of success. I wuss'd out from here on in, I swear I granny-geared the rest of the course. I went as easy as I possibly could to make sure I showed up to the marathon with the best chances of running the whole thing. I can still do this, its not over yet!

I got passed by a million people. The more people that passed me, the better I felt. This is it - this is what I have to do to nail my most important goal of the day. I am sticking to the plan and the more I have to swallow my pride and let these people go, then so be it. I'm a cyclist. That is my strength, yet on this day I'm being the biggest wussy there is out on the course. A necessary sacrifice. I took comfort in this, my headache slowly, and I mean slowly, started to subside.

In this moment I decided that I WILL get an M-Dot tattoo. When I started the journey I really wanted the tattoo. As time went on, I learned of the whole anti-tattoo movement seeing as how its a trademark for a seemingly evil corporation - I never thought of this. In this moment though it was very very clear - I dont care what anyone else thinks, THIS IS REALLY PHUCKING HARD, that M-Dot means something to me - a monumental accomplishment even by my own standards. This is sacred to me, I without a doubt want one. A trophy to myself. I will earn this no matter what it takes.

For the rest of the ride I laughed at myself. A cyclist, getting beat down on an Ironman course and all I could do was repeat the words 'This is really Phucking Hard' and giggling to myself. Ok, maybe it was hysteria but I'm telling you it was really hard. I was just surprised for some reason lol!

Heading into town I rode the energy of the crowd and didn't see the wife this lap. I completely forgot about the photographer and screwed up the turn. I missed my chance of looking hardcore haha! At this moment though, I was feeling everything but!

I risked a slinging leg dismount and caught my calf on the top of the water bottle I picked up from an aid station. They're a little higher than the ones I normally have - that was a close call! Nutrition wise I nailed it - I took in almost 4 powerbars and a total of 12-ish gels. Drank a solid 7-ish water bottles. Most importantly, my stomach wasn't bothing me which usually happens is I mess up the mixture in my stomach. This made me happy.

A volunteer took my bike, I don't have to rack it myself which was pretty cool. I tried to find my legs as I made a lousy attempt at a run in my cycling shoes. Oh boy my legs are tired haha! Row 3 again, grab my run bag and get lost in the tent again. Its so dark in there, I run to the back of the tent to let my eyes adjust to the light. I find a wide open area to have to myself. It felt like a slow transition. In that moment of sitting down though I could feel my head clear, allowing my heartrate to come down had taken the pressure off my head and it was finally clearing! I change out my socks on this part so I have something dry. The poor volunteer started packing my nasty socks and stuff into my bag. Actually they are alot of help, they help keep me moving. It feels so good to be sitting and resting, but the volunteers are pressuring me to go fast and get the heck out of the tent - I dont want to let them down. lol! 

Just as I'm finishing up an old guy comes up to me, volunteer, and offers to lather sunscreen on me. ... ... Wait a second here! I seen the Ironman videos and there is always a lineup of cute girls waiting to apply sunscreen to the athletes, I'd much prefer them! lol! This old guy wasn't in the video!?  OK, I need that sunscreen though so yes please do get my shoulders and back. He was thorough, rubbing every square inch of my body. *shudder*. He even went the extra mile and ran his hand on the inside of my tri suit as the mesh material will allow the sun to burn me right through. I asked him not to do my face though, I dont want to ruin my photos and more importantly WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU CHANGED THOSE GLOVES?! I tried not to think about how many bodies he has lathered up today using the same set of gloves. *shudder*. I think him profusely for his help and put those homo-erotic thoughts to the back of my mind. OK I'm kidding, but seriously - WHERE WERE THE CUTE SUNSCREEN GURLS!?

Actually I almost left without my sunglasses. The volunteer reminded me and got them out of the bag for me. He said alot of people made that mistake, he's my saviour! Wow!
I stopped at a water table on the way out and chugged a tall glass of cold stuff. After I drank it I remembered I was about to run. I hope it doesnt slosh! oops! haha!
I really did drag my but out of transition, but I would find afterwards that my transition time was actually not bad compared to everyone else.



RUN

Started the run and was relieved to feel headache had disappated with that short break, what a difference! The course starts you going downhill, so I turned my legs over fast to help loosen them up. My HR continued to drop and my head cleared up wonderfully. It's the middle of the afternoon and that sun is blazing hot, many are walking and many are running it's a 50/50 split out of transition. My quads are burning, it's actually a very long downhill. I'm trying not to trip over my own feet as I crank the cadence up. I'm not paying attention to the road, I'm a frantically searching for my wife. I need to find her. I have a special delivery for her.

I wrote a letter. A Thank-You Letter and put it in my T2 bag before the race, sealed in a sandwhich bag. She doesn't know it is there so it should be a pleasant surprise. I can't find her though, I'm looking and looking and the edge of town is approaching fast. Damn, I won't be able to give it to her for another 2 hours while I make the out and back trip. That's it. That is my mission. I will run the next half-marathon with a fire in my heart, I must get to her. I must deliver this message. I stuff it in the back pocket of my Tri-Suit and I set out on my mission.
The first aid station finally arrives, I gulp 4 waters and I get my first little walk in. The plan is to walk every feed station as short as possible and walk up the couple of steep hills to save myself. This first station was on a hill so I nailed two walks into one - excellent! I grabbed my first ice sponge ever! The sponges are soaked in ice water and I stuff one on each side of my visor. The cold water constantly drips down over my neck and back and it chills me in the summer heat. The cold against my head is refreshing.

Once on the flats I'm holding a great pace, 5:30min/km and I'm very pleased. This is exactly what I was aiming for. The pace varied by 10 seconds and felt comfortable. I'm surprised how good this feels, just minutes ago I was falling apart on the bike and now I feel like I've started fresh on a whole other discipline. I put the bike behind me, I concentrate on maintaining my run. It's a long day and the big question is can I continue to run the ENTIRE Marathon?

This is my first Marathon. Ever. I've never run this far before. The longest I've run was 30km's for the Around The Bay Race. I blew up in the last 2km's of that race, mostly nutrition related and it was freezing cold out that day. Today is frickin' hot and that sun is like a blow torch on my skin. Even with the sunscreen I can feel my body burning.

The road is lined with cheer squads until the big hill by the ski jumps. Then it gets quiet. By now everyone is running, nobody walking. I'm surprised to see this. the feed stations are generous - I'm getting at least 2 ice sponges and two cups of ice per station. I keep replacing the sponges under my visor and then I dump the cups of ice into my Tri-Suit. It holds the ice against my heart and body quite nicely. Well for a bit anyways. Before I knew it the peices of ice would make there way down to the Twig-And-Berries and oh boy that is a real chill! At first it felt GREAT! But then after a few feed stations it became apparent that I may be doing some kind of damage to my body - I can't feel my boys!!!! OMG THATS COLD! Stupid me changed it up and threw the ice down the back of my tri suit instead - bad idea - the ice makes its way down to them ummmm, use your imagination and it. just. does. not. feel. right.

So far I've only been grabbing water, I take in my first gel at the 5 mile mark and dilute it with water. I could instantly feel it kick in. Quite noticable actually. By now I've seen the Pro's going back the other way, the leaders of the race. I'm kind of happy that they haven't finished their race yet. I remember the race winner was done, showered and ate dinner by the time I finished Muskoka 70.3 last year lol. More and more people started going the other way, I gave a solid wave to Training Payne who passed me earlier on the bike - he was now eons ahead of me. Wow, I really dogged it on that bike! Haha!

I make a decision to not pee myself, I have no reason to. I pull over at a porta-potty before the first turn-around. Ohhhhh the whole ice-on-the-pecker thing was a bad idea! I screamed in agony, it felt like I was peeing needles. Owie. I thought I was approaching the turn-around but it was still quite a ways away. I stopped myself from anticipating it - I mentally reached out and grabbed one feed station at a time.

Then I saw Rodney going the other way! At the moment he saw me I was not at my best. I had just exited the porta-potty, ran up a small hill and didn't look very good. He shouted some words of encouragement 'Finish strong, Run strong'. Or something along those lines. Ughh, I looked and felt like crap but was able to continue my 5:35-ish pace, nothing has gone downhill yet. I was hoping to look super strong when he seen me. I was going for the Terminator look but I completely failed that. Maybe if I looked fast he will get scared and pressured that I was coming. Not a chance, I looked like shit - haha!  I failed at the psychological games part of this. :)

Coming up on the inspiration station there were two girls dancing to loud music while cheering people on. Some guy was stopped in the middle of the road going the other way with a drink in his hand and staring right at them. From 10 feet away. It was kind of creepy lol. I ran by and not far past that was the turn around. Now I got to see Rodney was actually really far ahead of me, a solid 6km. I thought of the extraordinary performance I put in at Welland Half-Iron a month earlier when I ran Jesse down. That took a monumental effort to make that happen and it nearly killed me. I wasn't about to risk my entire race just to satisfy a score to settle in my own twisted little world. I let it be. I maintained my pace and changed nothing. It's more important to me to try to run this whole thing than it is to put a performance pressure on me. I had another gel at the next feed station.

The return trip was beautiful. You get some great scenery on this run. The road is mostly shaded too. I gave each section between feed stations a name and description. This helped me prepare mentally for the next peice, knowing that I need an extra sponge or a gel. Or maybe shorten my walk at a feed station since I'll need a miniature walk up a steep section. I planned ahead but no more than one section at a time. I ignored the course as a whole, I stuck to my plan. One of the impressive things of the race, I never once hesitated to get running again. I had to force myself to walk at some aid stations, I don't know what would happen long term so I stuck to the plan.

Someone shouted at me going the other way. I couldn't see who it was. I didn't try looking either, I was in 'the zone'. I did make a point to cheer Paul on, and I wondered what he was thinking right that moment. He's commited to doing Ironman Canada in a month's time, as well as a total of 5 Ironmans within a one year period. This was his first!! Wondered if he had regrets. He looked good though, inspiring. If I could afford it - I'd probably be right there beside him. That is one hardcore guy. Wings. Damnit.

Yes, I said Wings. An annoying mantra that I couldn't shake, but it was working great! I would think of someone or something that inspired or motivated me and I would say 'gives me wings' and a surge of energy would roll over me. Yes, totally stupid. You know like the 'Red Bull gives you wings'. I hate those commercials. I don't even drink red bull, yet I put one in my Special Needs bag incase I hit rock bottom before the halfway point. I'll only chug it if I get desperate for a jump start.

So Paul gives me wings. Phuck that sounds ghey. haha!  Fran gives me wings. Getting this letter to her gives me wings. Being in the same arena as Training Payne gives me wings. Simon's insane bike skills gives me wings. Rodney's crushing performance at Muskoka gives me wings. Rodney has since plucked my wings and stomped all over them as he passed me today on the bike, still gives me wings - I'm impressed - he has worked hard to earn it. :) lol! My dad being on the sidelines, gives me wings. 'This is really frickin hard' gives me wings. Wings, dont give me wings. I hate wings. This is a stupid mantra, shut the phuck up already! Uggghhhh

That chick cheering for me gives me wings. Ugghhh. I give up.  So I just rolled with this going over and over in my head for the entire race. Remind me never to pack a Red Bull in my Special Needs bag again.

So I passed a tent earlier that I thought was a feed station but it wasn't. It was a chicken broth station! Oh yummy, I'd like to try! It wasn't open yet so I'll just have to wait until my next lap which is coming up soon. I get to the big hill just before town by the ski jumps, this is a walker for sure. The first real one, I talk long strides and power-walk my way up it. The long strides help stretch out my hamstrings that quivered a moment ago on the flat. Once at the top I shorten my stride a bit to save my hammys. The cheering crowd is back again, I absorb the energy from the crowd and now its getting real. I grab another gel to hold me over for the final bit of the lap, I also keep an eye out for photographers. I want to remove my sponges in my hat before they snap the photo :)

I make a decision to stop at the next porta-potty. As I get there Training Payne is going the other way, instantly shouting 'Hes right there! He's just ahead! Rodney is just up the road!'.  That's nice. I entered the porta-potty anyways. I think Bryan might have been surprised that I decided to stop. I had already decided ages ago that I am stopping here. I have to stick to the plan, it's what keeps me focused and going strong. Besides, 'right there' is a relative term. Last I seen he is 6km ahead of me. Even if he was half of that, I still would not catch him by the end of the race. I chalk it up to Training Payne trying to motivate me, pullin' my leg, or simply he can't tell distance worth shit. Either way, I take my quick pee and move on.

I run the final bit into town and hit the IGA uphill. I had decided before the race even started that if I am to stand a chance at running the entire marathon, I will have to swallow my pride and walk this hill. That was really tough to do. People shouting and cheering for you to run, but it wasn't going to happen. I could run. I felt fine, but I still have a long ways to go and to do this hill again. I stick to the plan, power walk up and there is a DJ with a megaphone haggling me. He starts screaming at me and asks me if I'm gonna let the bouncy lady next to me pass me like that?! I was more annoyed than embarassed. Its easy for him to taunt people while sitting his fat ass down on that lawn chair. Whatever, I stayed steady and true to the plan. Towards the top a spectator got up and went out of his way to come up beside me. He told me that I am doing the right thing, walk strong on this hill and I will be able to run the entire thing. He said I am doing it right. Wow. That was an amazing moment - I thanked him. He gets it. That was exactly what I needed to hear. When I got to the top I ramped back up to my steady pace and felt great!

Now I'm frantically looking for my wife. I need to deliver this letter. Now I dont care about my pace, I'm looking everywhere and there is just so many people I'm getting worried. I make the turn and pass the brewery. This hill is not steep enough to walk, not shallow enough to ignore. With all those people around I just keep running at an albeit slower pace than the flats. I pass up the offer on using my Special Needs bag. No need for electrolyte tablet, blister tape or red bull. I pass by a guy playing guitar on a stage at the front of his house. There are some kids and a familly singing Karaoke and a couple of old guys in lawn chairs drinking beers on the side of the road. The support is amazing lol.

THERE IS RODNEY! Holy cow, I see him and I just about see the turn around too. I'm within 1Km of him! My jaw drops, how is this possible? I completely scratched this goal off my list, conceded defeat but now I'm within striking distance of him!? I'm taken back and refocus my effort on just maintaining my pace. This is not the time to get sloppy, I concentrate on form and stick to the plan. This is MY pace, I'm not changing it but damn - I got a big set of wings on my back just flappin' away lol!

After the turn around I'm looking at each and every face I pass. This will be my only opportunity to complete my mission, after this I won't see her again until the finish line. I MUST get this letter to her. The Olympic Oval gets closer and closer yet still no wife. Now I'm dreading the obvious. I think I've missed her, my heart sinks, I'm mortified! I thought they were supposed to be on this side, I looked everywhere but it's just so hard to make out faces quick enough. I'm feeling really bad as I make the turn at the Oval to start the second half of the Marathon which will take me out of town again, away from her.

As I round the corner there is a crazy mad woman leaning far out over the crowd barrier screaming and yelling and flailing her arms in the air in my direction. IT'S FRAN! I burst into a sobbing tear as I reach back to my pocket, pull out the soggy letter and reach out with two hands and deliver it to my loving wife. I had to learn forward and grab her shoulders to hold myself up though. I leaned over to get a sloppy kiss, my legs wouldn't bend I just reached my neck with all my might to get my reward! Fran quickly pulls away and points down the road - 'Rodney is right there - he is right in front of you!'. I know. But I want my damn kiss, I don't care about that. This moment, right here - is everything. We make out for an eternity with a billion people watching. lol

I turn away to start the final loop of the Marathon and BAM right there is a guy sitting on a tripod in the middle of the road. OMG it's a photographer! Wow, I wonder if he snapped a photo of our kiss!? That would be amazing! What are the odds? I wondered.



Wings. No. No wings. A frickin' jet engine on my back and I set the throttle to 'Kill Mode'. My first mission is complete and I'm a happy man. My second mission, redemption. I envision my conquest at Welland, the exact same scenario has played out here just double the gap and double the race distance. I'm now hunting my rival. The guy that destroyed me at Muskoka, the guy that showed me what is possible if you follow a structured Training Plan and stick to it. A lesson in humility that has fueled my training machine for the past 40 weeks. This is my chance to be extraordinary.


Nothing changes. I maintain the same pace I've been doing all along. The only difference now is my renewed sense of believing I can do this. I still walk the next aid station, I still take in the planned gel. Once out of town  and back on the flats I find myself looking down the road to try to catch a glimpse of him. I don't look too long though, the attempt is distracting. I go back to gazing at the road directly in front of me and focus on the immediate task at hand. Anticipation is my kryptonite.

Approaching the next aid station I have to pee. Up until this point I've always stopped. I stopped because I didn't have an immediate need to count every second, every minute. Now, I believe. I have to believe even if they don't. I believe I can pass Rodney. I just let it all go. The pee that is. Haha! I think of Muskoka and the YellowSocks story. They weren't yellow and the story gets more exaggerated everytime the wife tells it, but the long story short - sometimes peeing yourself is justified. This is one of those moments that can make or break 40 weeks of sacrifice. I dont care what anyone thinks.

Running the downhills is the worst part. I try not to fall flat on my face with everyone watching :) As I approach the next feed zone I get a pleasant surprise. Rodney is right beside me. I didn't recognize his outfit, I jumped - he scared me lol! We walk the feed zone together. I stick to my plan to run when I reach the next porta-potty. I have a go-line, I pick an object that I must absolutely be running by and allow myself to walk up until that point. My go-line is further than Rodney's. Rodney starts his run before me, but I keep walking. He looks back and starts walking again to wait for me. We get our run going together, it was great having him here next to me. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time now. Months of training, I envisioned this exact moment many times over.

We exchange pleasantries. We both had the same thought - This Phuckin' Hurts! We share a good chuckle at Brian Bourne's expense - this is really phuckin' hard, he is sooo gonna die ahahahAHAHAHhahahaha. He's totally going to kill us. Poor bastard signed up for Mt Tremblant, we may have had a hand in convincing him :)

I get some pain in my hip, some discomfort in my stride - we're running too slow. I can't hold this pace any longer, it hurts to change up my stride. I would rather I run the rest of the marathon with a great friend, but I'm afraid I cannot do it like this. I find something comfortable and it slowly pulls me away from my buddy. I never said good bye to him, that would indicate that I wouldn't see him again. I honestly don't know what will happen after this. It's likely I will see him again if I succomb to walking, afterall we are approaching the point of the longest run of my life. I'm venturing into the unknown.

The mission now is just to never stop running. I must run this whole marathon now, he's right there behind me. There is added pressure, I'm being hunted - he is coming for me. Everytime I slow down, walk, slack, he is right there behind me, waiting to take the lead from me.

I'm getting tired now. I'm digging to hold my pace. I'm afraid to slow down. I'm now scraping 5:45-ish and I need to pee again. I wont risk a stop, so I pull another yellowsocks. This happens many more times, apparently I was well hydrated lol! The ice sponges are not working anymore, they are getting warm. The ice at the feed stations has melted, the day is getting late and soon there is no ice to be had at any of the stations. It's still hot out though, I'm cooking.

Amazing, at the inspirational mile the same two girls that were there many hours earlier are still going strong! Are you kidding me? They should have lost there voice by now, gotten tired or something. That's some hardcore dancing. The turn around approaches and this is the big moment. Simon said it best - the entire Ironman is won or lost in the last 10 Kilometers. It's all about the last 10 Kilometers. Up until now, nobody has been walking. Every has been steadily moving in the same direction, but as soon as I make the turn around there are a couple of walkers.

Here I am, the longest I have run in my life. Heading towards the finish line with 10km's to go. This is the end of my Ironman, I have to make the best of it. I admire every scenice mountain, every sparkling stream, every blade of grass. This is my Ironman. This is amazing. My hamstring begins to twitch, my groin muscles are twitching like crazy. I dont know what causes my groin muscles to twitch but they are going nuts. I find that after I pee myself I feel much better, but I can't see that being the cause.

Rodney is right there, only 1.5km back so I look as strong as I possibly can. Does pschological warfare work? I dont know, but in my own twisted little world it does. Whatever it takes to make me feel better I guess haha! I see more and more walkers, soon I'm pressed to find a single person still running in my direction. They were right - the final 10km really is where it makes or breaks you.

Its getting cooler out now, and freezer burn has set in on my skin from all the ice I've dumped down my tri-suit. I have a big blister on the bottom of my foot, it burns. The chicken broth station is still not open, I think I missed it by a few minutes. The generators are kicking in and the flood lights light up the race course albeit a bit early. The sun is still setting. Feed stations are no longer consistent, some have sponges, some have Perform, some have Gel, some just dont have what I need. I substitue IM Perform for water at the one station. Yuck, but it didn't bother my stomach. I gel up again and I can noticably feel it kick in. wow - I've never felt a gel hit me that hard before. It's a noticable difference after taking one. The one station hands me coke, I try it. Ughhh what a mistake that was. It gave me endless gas from a tiny bit of cola. Never again.

With the pressure of Rodney coming up behind me I skipped walking some hills. I try to lay distance between us because I can feel things beginning to cramp. I have a feeling I will need to stop to stretch soon, its getting critical. I walk up the last little hill before the bridge. Immediately on the other side of it on the downhill the inevitable happens - I screech to a halt, keel over and grab my hamstring. Shit. It's seized right up. I painfully hop over to a fence and try to lift my leg up on it so I can lean forward to stretch it out. Bad move, as I goto lift my leg, my groin muscle seizes and quivers. Uggghh. That really hurts. I settle with just bending over and touching my toes. This works surprising well but as I'm hanging my head there, stopped on the side of the road I can feel Rodney breathing down the back of my neck. I'm stressing. He's back there, coming for me.
I get going again, I shorten up my stride and now my pace is obliterated. I'm almost 45 seconds off my pace. I'm not feeling like I hit the wall, my legs are just not fully co-operating. I move them at whatever pace they will allow me before cramping up. At the bridge before the big hill into town there is an athlete collapsed in the middle of the road, an ambulance blocks traffic for miles and it doesn't look good. Virtually nobody is running now, I'm passing millions of people. I recognize people that passed me 5 hours ago on the bike. I'm reeling them in and it feels great! I'm still running and they aren't.

As I enter town I take the last couple of big pee's to make sure I'm not doing it in front of the crowds lol. Anticipation is killing me, I know the finish line is coming but that out and back at the oval is way further than I think. I grabbed a gel at the final station to hold me over. The big IGA hill requires me to walk, this time everyone is walking and the DJ is not so rude. Anyone that passed me on the uphills running, I passed later on in the race.

I make the final turn to start the out and back at the Oval. I run as steady and as quick as I can. It's not fast by any standard, I've dropped off my pace big time. I give it everything I've got and risk cramping. It all comes down to this out and back. I need to get to the turn around as quickly as I can and put as much distance between Rodney and I to ensure he can't run by me to the finish line. I don't look back, I just give it everything I've got. The two old men drinking beer on lawn chairs cheering athletes on ARE STILL THERE! Wow, that's alot of hours and they are still there, still cheering albeit a little more slurring in their cheer lol! The kids are playing Eye of The Tiger on the stereo and that totally get me moving haha! This out and back is on a hill and its killing me. I must hang on, avoid cramps and lay distance.

Here it is, the moment of truth. I make the turn around and start looking for my hunter. I'm worried he's right there about to overtake me. There is nothing left in the tank, this is all I have and I'll just have to settle for second if he passes me.

So this is it. This is my Ironman. I start thinking of everyone that has inpsired me. I start thinking of the training program that I followed so meticulously. I think about the toughest workouts of the program, the run in the slush trails, the endless runs in the snowstorms, the frostbite on the toes from biking, the permanent chlorine odour on my skin from the pool, the cold dark mornings on the bike trainer, all the highs, all the lows. It all comes together in this moment. It's all worth it - in this moment.

I've done it. No, NO! I'm doing it. Anticipation is bad, I'm doing it but I'm not done. A single cramp could screw this up for me as I am still a bit away from the Olympic Oval and finish line. Still no Rodney, but now is the time to start celebrating. High fives, waves of emotion, adrenaline powered cheering - I'm doing this. It's really happening.

It wasn't until the very. last. moment. that I seen Rodney turn onto the out and back at the exact moment I started entering the Olympic Oval. It became all too real, I am in the final stretch balling my eyes out. As I round the oval and enter the finisher's chute I slow down and give myself room around me from any other athletes. I made sure to stop halfway down the chute, look out at the crowd and do a 360 to see everything, take in every moment and scream my frickin' head off! I cross the line with the biggest battlecry that even Rodney should hear 3km back. I've done it.

I never heard it. One bit. It wasn't until 30 minutes later that I realized - I completely missed Mike Reilly call out my name. I didn't even remember, I didn't even care. I knew I did it. My mind was in orbit at the time I crossed that line - I didn't hear anything lol! haha! I had to goto the video of my finish to hear the words...

JOHN PROC FROM BRANTFORD, ONTARIO - FIRST TIMER JOHN - YOU ARE AN IRONMAN

There is no bigger sense of accomplishment in life than finishing the Ironman.










17 comments:

  1. You were truly extraordinary, John. I could not be more proud of you. You have taken the last 40 weeks and crushed this race. You are an inspiration to me and many others.
    I am so in-love with my sexy IRONMAN! ;) xo

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  2. It was worth the wait!!! Congrats on a job well done. What an awesome race report and an awesome race! I laughed (a lot) I cried, I snickered, I was amazed, awed and excited. I love that you remember so many details of your day, and I love that despite your tuff guy act you are such a softy and sweetheart to your wife. What a romantic!
    Congratulations John on becoming an Ironman! I can't wait to see the tattoo!

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  3. What a race report!! WELL worth the wait. You trained so hard for this and crushed it! I have to say, all the pics look cool but the one of you and Fran kissing is my favourite. I hope you are framing a copy for yourself.
    LOVED every single word of this post. It gave me wings.. wings? really John? Wings?

    I freaking love you guys.

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  4. Awesome RR John, so awesome to meet you and Fran. I FREAKING LOVE the make-out picture. That is a framer!

    You have some fabulous pictures there!! I was WAAAAY behind you on the swim and didn't get much current.

    You totally crushed it!

    Only 382 days until IMMT! Maybe we can all meet for a pre-race scout, I can be the caboose. :)

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  5. AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME race report. I didn't mind spending the 45 minutes to read every word. What an epic day you had. I gotta say I loved the letter to Fran and whoever got that picture of the too of you is amazing.

    Congrats again!!!!

    B

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  6. Fantastic time and you did it with style. Loved the 360 turn - I'm thinking of dancing in this time myself.

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  7. What a great attitude you showed, John! Congrats on an amazing, killer race! Well done. Question though - what was longer - the IM or writing the RR? hahaha!

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  8. Seriously, I tear up watching that vidoeo of you at the finish line. AWESOME!

    oh, and good on ya for the love note. Seriously, she buys the wrong nutella and it's the end of the world but she does a 1/2 iron with the wrong gears? You married a good woman!

    Jenn

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  9. I'm giving your race report a shout out tomorrow on my blog...hope you don't mind. :)

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  10. Great report!!! You and everyone else you participated in the ironman race are awesome, amazing people and totally motivating!

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  11. seroiusly awesome. What lessons did i take from this? that when your wife rubs your head it feels amazing ;)

    Great stuff man. You are a true mental case haha. Let the mental games go and enjoy yourself once in awhile !!!

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  12. Wow, simply wow, reading this was like watching a great movie, everything was so detailed and great, gave me chills, pumped me up, choked me up. Great, great race report

    Congrats on enjoying your reward for all your hard work!!!!

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  13. It took me a while to finish reading your race report but it was well worth the time.

    It brought me great memories from when I did IMLP last year. Just like you, I had a personal best record for the swim. It must have something to do with the Mirror Lake's perfect water and the IM atmosphere.

    You trained hard and race hard. CONGRATS FOR A GREAT RACE! Enjoy being an Ironman!

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  14. Congrats!!! You should be so proud!!

    I stalked you online on race day and had been waiting for the report :) (and then waiting to find time to catch up on blogs!)

    So glad to hear you had such a great experience - reading this makes me want to go do an Ironman tomorrow!

    Love the pic of you and Fran kissing on the run course!

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  15. I'm finally working my way through everyone's IMLP blogs. They are all so great, but I am only able to get through about .5 per day! haha.

    Love the CA tat. I am totally going to have to get a USA tat for IMMT now!

    Holy crap do you have a process! I totally just wing it, but I know I need a checklist for IMWI to be successful.

    Hopefully you remember Jordan on the Bulls and on Jordan on the Wizards. 45 would have screwed everything up!

    Awesome job on the swim! Other than the elbow it sounds like you had a really smooth swim.

    I'm glad to hear they were giving out penalties on the bike. In all my racing, I have never actually seen a referee.

    Awesome job all around. I feel like I was there for your race from all the details. I have lots of good ideas for IMWI now too!

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  16. I've just installed iStripper, and now I can watch the sexiest virtual strippers strip-teasing on my desktop.

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