2010/08/29 – 2010 Ironman Canada

Location:

  • Penticton, British Columbia, Canada

What is it?

  • 2.4 mile swim
  • 112 mile bike
  • 26.2 mile run

 Category

  • Male 30-34

Official Results

– DNF (Did Not Finish)

– 2724 out of 2732 overall.

– 233 out of 234 in age group.

– Full results here: http://www.nasports.com/results/index.php
– Copy of results HERE

Experience

Parents and I get into Penticton Thursday night. We pulled the truck and trailer into my parents’ friends yard. I was going to be sleeping in their son’s bedroom since he’s working out of town.

Friday, we went to the Ironman Village for packet pickup. It took about 1.5 hours from the time I started standing in line until the end. My parents were around taking pictures and checking out the tents and such. I got to stand in line. When I finally got to the tent, they checked my ID about four times. They really wanted to make sure I was who I said I was. No changing people around now! They even put a wrist band on me, which had to stay on the whole weekend to prove that I was an athlete, and that I was whom I said I was.

After picking up the packet stuff, I headed to check out the vendor tents. I needed a running belt to attach my running number to. Picked up one that has a stretchy pocket, but no good way to attach a number, but that’s ok, it has a pocket for my gels! Just need safety pins for it, no problem!

We go back to the house so I can start sorting out the stuff I got in the bag. This is unlike any other race I’ve done. I’ve always had a TA (transition area) that I setup myself, laid everything out and was ready to go, at go time. This race, we got bags. We had to put stuff in the bags and they would be taken to where they were supposed to go. We wouldn’t be in control of anything except what was in those bags at the start of the race.

Bags:

  1. Morning Bag – This bag was to be used race day morning. You would put your clothing and such that you wore to the race into this bag, and hand it to a volunteer to stash away.
  2. Swim to Bike Bag – Everything you need for the bike leg goes into this bag. Shoes, helmet, socks, glasses, bottles, gels, bars, gloves, clothing, whatever you think you might need on the bike goes here.
  3. Special Needs Bike Bag – Anything you want at around ½ through the bike leg, you put into this bag. But keeping in mind if you don’t pick it up, it gets trashed.
  4. Bike to Run Bag – This bag holds the stuff you need for the run leg. Shoes, gels, bottles, caps, glasses, whatever you think you might need on the run goes here.
  5. Special Needs Run Bag – Anything you want at around ½ through the run leg you put into this bag. But keeping in mind if you don’t pick it up, it gets trashed.

So, I have these bags and I need to figure out what I want and when I want it. I also haven’t really thought about my nutrition or anything like that. So now I will be forced to really think this out and through in the next 12-18 hours. But, first off, I noticed when I get back to the house I’m missing a bag! CRAP! Back to the Ironman Village and through all the people so I can get the missing bag. The house is about 10 miles from where the Village is so it wasn’t too horrible, just time consuming.

Friday night was the athlete banquette and mandatory race meeting. So, after an hour or so of chilling at the house thinking about my bags, I head back to town, for dinner. I get there about 30 minutes early and the line was already backed up. There were about 100 people in front of me and there were 4 lines like that. The doors weren’t open yet so we were just hanging out in line. Some guy comes along and tells me there are more doors further down the way, so off I go to check out the doors. And I am now about 15th from the door, Sweet! I’m standing in line, and this lady, named Janine, stands behind me and we start talking. She’s pretty cool and I find out she’s done a couple (25) of these Ironman things before. And three weeks earlier she just completed Ultraman Canada (day one: 10k swim & 90 mile bike; day two: 170 mile bike; day three: 52.4 mile run) with her husband, Jim. So she wasn’t expecting too much out of this years Ironman. They then find out they had a friend that was in the first spot by the door, so they went up to hang out with him.

I continue to go about standing in line, minding my own business and this guy and girl come over. And then she asks if she can take a picture of the guy with me. I am sort of “uh, sure?” and so we get our picture taken, and they tell me that they are part of this team called “COPS” which is a charity organization with police people and he was the only real police officer on the team there. And I happened to be wearing my shirt that says “It’s all fun and games until the cops show up.” So they wanted a picture of the cop with me wearing the shirt. Then a couple behind me, started wondering what was going on, and asked me what it was all about. They thought they found themselves in the professional line, and I was some pro triathlete with people wanting their picture taken with me. So I deflated that bubble of theirs for them.

The doors open, and we start working our way towards the doors and food! Janine then comes back to me, and says I can join them at their table, so she hangs with me as we walk through the doors; the food is lined up right there. And it was a great spread of food too; Thai, pasta, salads, potatoes, veggies, breads, and fruit. Yeah. Fruits. Peach season in the Okanagan! How I’ve missed that! YUM!

So Janine takes me over to where they were sitting, like front row, OK, second row, only because the front table was reserved for the celebrities. We sit down and start eating and the food is quite good. Probably some of the best I’ve ever had in this kind of situation, where it’s mass quantity (2800 athletes to feed, plus whom ever bought extra tickets so easily 3000+ people in there eating.) the cold stuff was cold, the hot stuff was hot. It was quite good.

After a bit, some bag pipes start playing and a band starts walking through the area, right in front of our table, to signify the start of the beginning of the ceremonial stuffs. They honor the youngest (18) and the oldest guy (76) and then they brought Sister Madonna, this was her 19th start, and she turned EIGHTY in July. She missed an official finish last year due to a time cutoff, by like 4 minutes, and this year she had a wetsuit issue so she didn’t finish the swim this year. Hopefully she goes back in 2011 and crushes the course! After that, the prerace meeting started. It was a pretty standard prerace meeting, just 2 days early.

Saturday, I finish figuring out want I want in my TA bags. Still weirded out by it, but oh well, it has to be done! Get to Ironman Village to setup TA. I have my bike and two TA bags (swim to bike and bike to run.) I start looking around to figure out where my bike is supposed to go. The bike racks are labeled, but the rack that should have my number, doesn’t. A volunteer came over to help me out. A side-note here, all the volunteers were so SUPER NICE and HELPFUL! There is no way to stress that enough, and since there was around 4200 volunteers there was never a lack of help when needed! She looked around as well a bit perplexed, then she went away to see what was up, then she found where I was suppose to be, the rack beside the entrance/exit. Sensing a pattern here, am I a pro triathlete and no one told me? Not only, am I at this rack, but instead of just a number, but my name is on there as well. So I go to put my bike on the rack, where you are supposed to hang it by the seat on the bar but my seat is about six inches above the bar. It’s not going to hang there at all. So I do what I’ve seen other people do at other races, and hang it by the handlebars. That works! The volunteer and I started walking away from the bikes so she could show me where to put my bags, and this is actually when I realized that my name was on the bar, as another volunteered hollered my name out. She didn’t like how my bike was racked, it was on the wrong side, and after showing her that my bike didn’t fit correctly, we just put it on the other side of the rack, hanging by the handlebars. Now everyone is happy (we will come back to this come race day though.

We head to the bike to run bag TA, and I give my bag to one of the other volunteers who looks at the number on the bag, and puts it in it’s place numerically, I paid attention to where it went so I knew where it was come race day. Then the first volunteer that started helping me and I walked to the swim to bike area and we dropped off my other bag. And TA is now setup and I’m apparently ready to race! It’s just that it’s noon Saturday and race isn’t until 7am Sunday.

So, the parents and I kill time by driving around and checking out some of the places in and around the area. Both of them grew up in the area, and it’s where my grandparents lived for as long as I knew them, so we checked out all the new city growth and such.

Saturday night, we had a dinner of roast beef done on the grill, along with potatoes and various other things. I ate too much, as it was quite tasty!

SUNDAY! GO DAY! I wake up, full. Yeah, that’s not good, still full from dinner the night before. Oh well. I go about getting ready and decide to make life easy on me, and just wear my race clothes, jersey and shorts. I was carrying my wetsuit with me and had on my $3 flip-flops I was prepared to lose. The drive over, I took my bagels with me so I could eat on the drive over, but yeah, still wasn’t hungry. Dad dropped me off and I carried my last two bags, the special needs bags, over to where they needed to go. Then I got marked up, with my number all over my arms and legs and who knows where they got me while I wasn’t looking! I get into TA, and just kind of stand around, holding my wet suit watching everyone. Most of the other people were wearing full on clothing, and gloves and toques, and the like. I’m not quite sure why, since the temperature was around 40F (5C). Of course I did the sensible thing and went and stood in the exhaust of a generator, just far enough that I wouldn’t get carbon monoxide poisoning before starting the race. I could over hear a lot of people talking about how they got like zero sleep that night and were tired and nervous. I was thinking to myself, “huh, I got like 7 hours of the best sleep I’ve had in a long time.” And I don’t get nervous at races, there isn’t really a point to that since I do it for fun, I have nothing really riding on it of any real importance other than wanting to do it. People start to put on their wet suits, so I figure it was time for me to do so as well. I’ve not really swum much in one, and always struggled with it, it’s just barely big enough for me, but it fits.

Go over to the water and look at all the people. 2800 people is a heck of a lot of people to mass start a race! WOW! I hang back, knowing I’m not as fast as anyone else there, since I’ve not really trained enough for the swim (OK, for the entire race, there was no training the month leading up to it thanks to a lung infection.) So there we are, just chilling waiting for the start. I put the swim cap on, that’s the first time I’ve ever wore one of those. That was weird, will have to practice that a lot more as well. Don’t like things covering my ears or anything like that. But oh well.

And we are off!

And I’m walking through the water. And I’m walking. And I’m walking. I probably walked a good ¼ mile of that swim to start with. Then I dive in. Water was cold, much colder than I’m use to; it was either 66F or 68F, either way, colder than I’m use to. And my left shoulder, the one I damaged in a mountain bike crash a year ago, SEIZED up. %$#@*%@**&$#^#@%?@?%?! Yeah. Lots of bad words right then. So my left arm is only capable of doing a half doggie paddle like stroke, while my right arm can do a normal stroke. During that start, I was surprised I only got kicked in the face twice. As I struggle I look at the markers they have along the route. They are looking to be about 100 meters apart, and it looks like a long, long, long way to the turn. Once I hit the third marker, I’m starting to think to about pulling out of the race. No way I can do the full swim like this. With one arm not working at all? Thoughts of quitting are flooding my head. I make it to the sixth marker and actually start looking around to see where the water support crew is so I can make my way towards them so I can get pulled out. Then all of a sudden, my arm loosens up. Well that’s rather weird, but I will take it and test it and decide to give it a couple more markers before I actually quit. I seem to be not doing too bad now. The swim is pretty much a large triangle. And at the two corners are houseboats. Very neat to get close to them, and seeing and hear people cheering you on out there. As I got to the turn I was face down in the water and noticed movement. Now, we are swimming in the Okanagan Lake, and it’s known for the Ogopogo (think kin of Loch Ness.) And in a fraction of a second I’m thinking “WOOHOO! Ogopogo!” Then realize it was scuba divers chilling out and keeping an eye on us so we don’t drown or get eaten!

I make the turn and head towards the second houseboat and start thinking to myself, that I am starting to finally feel a bit hungry and will have to make sure I get something in TA when I get there. I continue on to the second corner and see more scuba divers and this time I just wave and smile at them rather than jump out of the water in excitement for the Ogopogo. My arm continues to feel better, and I get to marker #19, which I’m thinking is the ½ point. The swim is 3,800 meters and I am thinking these markers are 100m apart still. I look at my watch, and see that I’ve been in the water for 1:45. I have 35 minutes left before the cut off. I realize at this point my race is done. There is no way I can swim 1,900m (1.2miles) in 35 minutes as tired as I was from swimming with one arm. Yeah. Not happening. I’m totally resigned at this point to just finishing the swim and being done. Then a lady in a kayak came up beside me “Hey! You are almost there! It’s not as far as you think! You can do it!” I look at her like “WTF Lady?!” And I look towards shore, and yeah, there was NO WAY that was ½ the distance of the race. It was much, much closer! This might be doable, actually doable. I wasn’t yet sure I was going to make it, but it did give me a bit of hope that I might make it in time. So I started back up swimming again. And the lady in the kayak stayed with me the whole time, cheering me on. Encouraging me. I pushed it; I didn’t stop for breaks this last little bit. And she continues to encourage me on. I finally get to a point where I can touch and I stand up, turn to thank her, and she was already gone. I start walking, only to find out that the finish is walking on baby heads (rocks the size of baby heads.) What a horrible way to end an exhausting swim, I can barely stand as it is, and now I have to walk through these with out tripping or hurting my feet or something? Oh, well, and I some how manage to do it. As I pass under the arches, the time was 1:57! Holy Crap! I made it! I still had 23 minutes to spare before the swim cut off! But I didn’t go back out and waste those 23 minutes! I went to where ever the volunteers guided, first to the wet suit strippers, no idea what I was doing they yanked it off my torso, then pushed me on the ground and yanked it off my legs, and then helped me back to my feet. I’m still not fully sure what all transpired there but I did check twice to make sure I still had my shorts on! Then by the time I got to where the Swim to Bike bags were one of the volunteers (THANKS SO MUCH!) already had my bag in their hands and told me which tent to go to, and I was guided over to the guys tent.

I walk into the tent, and instantly, I was way too familiar with way too many guys and how they were affected by the cold. Yeah, they were not shy at all about their nakedness. So I go towards the back to find a chair that was away from the naked people and I sit down. I start to think about what I need to do, still clearing my head from the swim and struggling with fuzziness. Then a volunteer came over “What do you need? What can I do to help?” And before I said anything, he had dumped my bag, and sorted everything; shoes, socks, gels, bars, gloves, bottles, glasses, helmet, all neatly arranged in piles, he then grabbed my wetsuit and shoved it into my bag and asked if there was anything else I needed, and I just shook my head and he was gone. And I thought to myself “I hope I see my wetsuit again, it was kind of expensive.” Again, I’m left sitting there wondering what just happened, and checked to make sure I was still wearing my shorts in case he tried to change me while I wasn’t looking too!

I get my wits about me again, and get my crap on my body, and head out of the tent when instantly this guy walks up to me, holding his hands out (think jazz hands) wearing gloves covered in white stuff “Do you want sun screen?” I mutter a no thanks, and quickly head over to the porta-potties. I come out and fill up my bottles with some water and head towards my bike, and again, accosted by a guy with gloves and white stuff, “no… thanks, I’m good.” Scoot on over to where my bike was. But not how I left it (remember the foreshadowing from before?) they had flipped the bike around again, and leaned it on the saddle bag, and the bike was also leaning over and across the bike beside it since it was still too tall so it was in there sideways. I laughed at it to myself and put my bottles into the bike and got the bike and headed on out of TA. I hop on the bike happy to be biking.

I hammer those pedals just so excited to get going, I round the first corner and HOLY CRAP! My family! Cheering! I’ve never seen anything like that! Jumping up and down and hooting and hollering! I smile and a thumbs up and just start laying it out on the pedals. I get into my cruising gears and ease into a nice easy rhythm. The first 10 miles (that same road I’ve been driving back and forth from TA and the house) is flat and I’m starting to pass people and I think to myself this isn’t right, I’m going too fast since I’ve not trained much at all, and these people probably did. I look at my speed and I’m going 22mph. Now, when I was training lots about 3-4 months earlier I was able to maintain 20mph for about 20 miles. So yeah, I’m going WAY too fast at this point. So I try going easier, but can’t really, I felt like I was spinning easy as it was, and I’m cruising this speed. So, screw it, I just do what the legs feel like doing, and not what the brain thinks they should be doing.

I go up the first little hill with no problems at all, pass some people there, and it was good. Legs are feeling fantastic. I head down into OK Falls, and then out towards Highway 97. As it turns out, I’m told after the race, that my parents stopped to get gas at the station there, and I almost beat them to it. They had just finished getting gas and were getting ready to leave when I went past. I was in a zone or something, as I didn’t see or hear anything really. Going along the highway, legs are feeling amazing, I pass the first aid station, and not knowing how they worked or what they have where, I grab the first bottle handed to me, a Gatorade, knowing it will mess me up if I drink too much of it. Then I see about 25m down, they have water bottles which is what I really wanted but rather than wasting, I kept the Gatorade and kept moving. I took a sip of it and yeah, that was all I could handle. Next aid station I tossed it and got a water bottle. Much better!

Continuing down the highway, this is the only point where I really get upset in the race. Sure there was the shoulder thing, but that happens. But this, this was seriously upsetting. Here I am, riding my bike in this beautiful area, orchard country. Peach orchards. And it’s Peach season. And the fruit stands are open. And I’m thinking to myself, “Why? Why does the race directory have us going through this area when we can’t stop for peaches?!” Or can we? Next time, I’m bringing money and am stopping at the fruit stands for some peaches! Race be damned! (Yes, the peaches are that good!)

I get over the peach issue (OK, maybe it still bothers me a little bit.) And continue on my way, I’m still catching and passing some people, it was around mile 25 or so when I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day yet, and that I probably should have something. (All you racers out there HUSH! Yes, I do know better.) So I pop a Larabar in my mouth. I have this big goofy smile on my face; I just know I do. I don’t remember the last time I was this happy on the bike, even under the duress of racing I was just totally digging the bike ride. Home roads, beautiful time of year, legs feeling awesome, yeah, this is totally how biking should be each and every time!

Get to the aid station at the bottom of Richter Pass, and decide to stop a bit and stretch the legs, and down some water and Endurolytes. I get back on the bike, and a guy hollers at me about being out of bananas and hands me three halved Power Bars. I don’t so much like Power Bars, but took them anyways, thinking I’ve not had much to eat still and the big pass was in front of me and I will need something. They were cut in half and lined up, strawberry, chocolate and peanut butter. I just bit through all three and, wow, that tasted good and I wolfed down the rest of it. Either I was just really hungry or that combo really is tasty. I’ve not tried it since then, though so still don’t know if it was tasty or just hunger!

And up the climb I go. I’m still just letting my legs decide everything and they are feeling great. I start going up and I’m still catching people and thinking this is wrong, I’ve done ZERO hill training, let alone mountain pass training. And I pass people? Yeah, this isn’t right but I won’t complain! And I get to the top and start thinking? That’s it? And yes, they had people cheering there at the summit, including the lady whom won the very first (1983) Ironman Canada. She was up there cheering us on and high fiving us! So, I was thinking that Richter Pass was like 12-15 miles, but it was only 7 miles and only 1300 feet of elevation in those 7 miles. I was feeling pretty good still. And then came the downhill! Wooooo turned to booooo. There was a head wind going down hill. I had to pedal to maintain speed downhill. That’s just so wrong on so many levels, I was hoping to hit 55mph or more on the down hills. But I was struggling to maintain 42mph. And with the gearing I have on my bike, if I’m pedaling 100rpm, I should be going 37mph. So yeah, down hill should have definitely been faster! Annoying! But oh well. Go up and down a few more hills. Stop off at an aid station for more Endurolytes and a stretch. Legs are still feeling great.

I get going down this one hill and at the bottom of it, Holy Crap! My family again! Jumping up and down! Excited as all get up! I’ve never seen my mother that excited or animated! It was way cool to see that! Gave them another smile and thumbs up and up the next hill I went!

Then at around mile 65 it happened. POOF. My left arm just stopped working. I couldn’t reach to grab the bars anymore. I couldn’t shift or brake with my left hand. I couldn’t even grab anything if it was able to move out that far. And this is my left hand! I’m left handed! This isn’t any good at all! I’m having the most fun at a race ever, enjoying the hell out of this awesome bike leg, and my arm quits on me. I go from averaging 20mph on flats, to 9mph because I can’t hold on to pedal, and I’m super shaky with only my right hand on the bars. So at around mile 70, the aid station there, I have to pull out of the race. 70 miles on the bike and I’ve never been past 50 miles on any bike. I’ve never swum 2.4 miles. I have never done that kind of distance in a race before. And I’m having to stop because my arm just stopped working. I’m sitting there at the aid station, and the volunteers there are super helpful and cheery and trying to do everything to make me happy and enjoy the wait. And you know what? I didn’t need cheering up. I had just had the most amazing bike of my life, and I was happy with it. Life was good.

As I’m sitting there, a SAG truck shows up. They come and grab my bike, but it’s just the bike SAG, no room for people in it. And a girl gets out of the truck and comes over and so we sit and chat a bit waiting for the people SAG to show up. She had to quit because of arm issues as well. During the swim she stumbled on the baby heads at the end, and fell on her arm, jamming her shoulder. But she too was in high spirits because of how great of an event it was. Also, turns out, in the small world that it is, she’s from the city where the son of the couple I was staying with, is currently working. Yeah, definitely a small world out there!

One of the race officials shows up, and they decide that he can take us to where the people van is. So we hop into his truck and get to see some behind the scenes stuff. Pretty chaotic!

We started to pass some people that he said wouldn’t be making the next cutoff, which is where we were actually headed. Now those people who had to stop were a bit more upset than I was, there were some tears, but not much. Again the volunteers just made it really hard to be upset or angry or anything so awesome they were. The guy driving the back was this tall red headed guy, who turned out to be a professional hockey player for the Flyers. I really wish I could remember his name (so if any of you out there know a tall red headed guy that plays [or played] for the Flyers let me know!)

Eventually we end up with a van full of people. And we start going down the road, only to find out there will be more. But there is a nice volunteer couple at the next stop with a mini van so they offer to take us back to TA with them. So we all pile in to the van and away we go!

We get dropped off close to TA, and we have to walk towards it. Now, TA is not suppose to be open for collecting stuff until 6:00 or 6:30, don’t remember exactly. But either way, it was 5pm. And walking around in bike gear and bike shoes kind of sucked, so I went to a volunteer and told them the situation and they opened it up for us to get in and get our bags that are in TA, that has our change of shoes and clothes and what have you. Next thing is to figure out how to get a hold of my parents. I gave Dad my cell phone so that in the event of needing to call him I could. Of course, I didn’t have a phone to call him. I walked around TA for a bit looking around to see if they had come back this way and were waiting for me. I knew not where they could have been at all since they were racing around the course with me. I finally stop and ask a volunteer if there was a phone someplace that I could borrow to call. And they made sure I wasn’t calling Africa (only Texas since it’s a Texas phone) and I called and it rang and rang and voice mail picked up. Crap. I thanked the awesome volunteer, and decide to go get my bike out of hawk now since I saw others doing it. I grab my bike and now walking around with several bags of gear and my bike and my left arm (dominate hand!) not working at all, it was complicated! I walk through the area where the finishers were going and getting food. And holy crap! There’s Mom looking for a volunteer to figure out how to find me! Yay! Go over and tell her what’s going on, and she tells me Dad went to park and to go get my stuff out of TA since they knew something was wrong since I didn’t pass them on the bike again.

I head off to TA again to find Dad and don’t see him, go back to Mom and get them to call Dad. And they get a hold of him Why aren’t you answering my call Dad? Oh yeah. I told him to not answer the phone unless the phone number was a BC number. Oops. I apparently called from the volunteer who was from Washington State. Well at least Dad listens and adheres to directions!

Post Race Meal – Big Mac, Fries and a Root Beer! Best nasty food I’ve had in a long time!

My arm was still pretty messed up for a while, I got back to Texas the Wednesday after the race, and got an appointment to see my doctor on Friday. Get in there and he notices, yeah it’s messed up. He puts me on an aggressive 7-day steroid treatment to see if that helps at all. Not sure if it did or not, but on Wednesday of the next week, I was driving home from dinner and my neck made this loud CRACK sound and instantly my arm felt normal again. Like nothing had happened. On Friday went to see the doc again and he was like “Uh, I have no idea, might have just been a pinched nerve, but you ARE fixed and can go back to doing what you do.”

So, I had to call it quits in the race because of a pinched nerve in my neck. Talk about suck! But oh well. Still the best race I’ve ever been too and I can’t wait to go back and finish it!

 

 

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