So in the last instalment of Kim’s half ironman training saga I was ready to bail. I was psychologically and emotionally having a bad month and it was hitting me at all my weak and insecure points and my big psychological weakness in terms of fitness is running. It is ironic that running is my weak point. I started into athletics as a runner.
So on the day after the race I sit here not too worse for the wear. I have a headache which I attribute to no coffee yesterday and a bit of dehydration. I’m sipping on a Grande Starbucks as I type and the headache is dissipating. My quads are tight and it takes them a while to loosen up when I stand up to walk. My left knee IT band is probably the most painful part but I only feel that when I roll out of bed. My back is a bit stiff between my shoulder blades likely from the fact that I bought new aerobars here in Calgary the DAY before the race and I put them on roughly in the place I thought they would work and I did a short 20 minute test ride which felt OK, but after about 30km into the race, I could tell I was stretching a bit in that position and my back and shoulders are paying for it.
There is an adage that we preach in triathlon and all sports: Nothing new on Race Day. I broke that rule in about 5 different ways for this race. New Aerobars. New drink set up. New electrolyte solution for my fluid. A couple different new gels that I’d never tried before. Thankfully I have a strong stomach.
I crossed the finish line in 6:07:29. And I was astounded and very emotional at the end especially given the dread I went through to get myself to the start line. And this is how it played out.
3:30 a.m. is Really Really early
I set three alarms and one of them failed so I was glad for the back-ups. I slept OK and all my stuff was ready so it was a matter of getting up, getting dressed in my race gear, and walk the kilometre from my hotel to the Westin to catch the shuttle to ghost lake. I shared the hotel room with my friend Jen who was here, coincidentally enough, for her cousins wedding. It saved us both some cash and it gave me someone to hang out with for the weekend. And most importantly, it kept me from wallowing in my misery over this race. I was very very glad to have Jen’s company. She sacrificed her wedding day beauty sleep to get up at 4 a.m. and come out and watch the race, cheer me on, and take most of the photos you will see in this blog and it meant a lot to me to have someone to watch for at the transition points. Thank you JEN!!
Sunrise at Ghost Lake
The start of the women's wave 6:32 a.m. EEEK.
Well I forgot my goggles at home. I also forgot my race belt. So I bought new goggles for the race and they are the large 180 degree kind and they cost a fortune but did they ever make a difference. I swam in the 3rd swim wave which was relegated as “all females.” Don’t let the all female designation fool you. I still felt like I was getting beat up in the water at the start. And because this was the biggest wave I’ve ever swam in, (about 250), it was the first time I’ve been in a race and had feet to follow for such a long time. With all those bodies in the water it was like being in one big draft. I could have sworn there was a current. It was also the clearest water I have ever swum in. Beautiful. And it was freezing. Jen said she overheard a spectator say the water temp was 18 degrees. Thankfully though I got used to it fast.
Cold: Thank GOD for neoprean
Off to wetsuit stripping
Off to Bike.
I am incredibly proud of my bike. You can view the details here. When I was trying to estimate what my finishing time would be, I accounted for a 45 minute swim; 3 hour bike and a 2.5 hour run. The only one of those estimates I doubted I could achieve was the 3 hour bike. It is 94 km and hilly. And I was going to have to average over 30km per hour to do it in under 3 hours. But, it turned out to be easy. The roads are great and it is a course that is downhill heavy. There are some very good uphills too but the hardest most consistently uphill portion of the course was the opening section and somehow, I still averaged over 31 km per hour in the first 30 kms. I passed a lot of people. With the wave start it is hard to know how many, but I probably passed a 100 women and another 100 men. When I rolled into the T2 location, I was with a bunch of 30-44 year old guys who started in the swim wave 12 minutes ahead of me all on fancy TT bikes with Zipp deep-dish wheels. This made me smile.
Into T2 at Glenmore Reservoir
I lost my chain on the bike at km 56 right in the middle of a steep uphill while I was down shifting to my lower ring. It fell off to the inside so it meant I had to get off my bike and manually fix it and then get back on and ride uphill. This is hard and I lost a bit of time but the most humorous part was that at some point later I cleared my nose and ran the rest of the race with bike grease marks all over my face. Cute.
I met a guy on the bike too... haha.... not like that. I passed one guy fairly early in the bike and he yells out to me. Hey, Tribalistic, from Winnipeg so I slowed down beside him and we chatted for a bit. Turns out he’s moving to Winnipeg in the fall and he’s looking for a club to join and had been researching on the internet and recognized our logo as I passed him. So hopefully we will see Graham again in the fall. Welcome (back) to Winnipeg. I told him I would see him on the run and I did, he passed me around km 11 or so.
One thing I can say about the bike is that there was really no one monitoring drafting on the course. I will admit that I took a moment here and there to get on the back of some guy’s wheel and just recover for a short bit. Never for long, maybe a minute or two, and lots of people were doing it. There was only one crazy downhill. My max speed was 57 or something. I heard last night from some of the race organizers and the guy who was in the lead car, that the guy who won the event hit 70km/hr.
Right after that downhill, I saw ambulances rushing in the other direction. There was apparently a guy who ran himself off the road. I saw the ambulances right before I had to make a sharp S turn and given my present paranoia about crashes, it made me take those corners a lot more sensibly. The pavement was wet too as it rained through about half the bike portion. I also heard a story about a guy who got a flat and got eaten so badly by mosquitoes while changing it that he had to DNF and get Benadryl shots. Unbelievable.
I was amazed at how good I felt running. I wasn’t a fast run (see here) but it was what I could manage. And I KEPT running. I walked here and there on some of the massive steep uphills and through some water stations. But for the most part I kept a steady pace. I hit the lap button on my watch at every km mostly to keep my mind on something while running. I got passed, A LOT. I got passed by fat people. But I just haven’t found it a priority to become a faster runner this year. I was satisfied with my run. Someone told me that you can take your half marathon time and add about 15 minutes to it and that will be your half ironman run time and that was pretty close to what happened. The cool temperatures saved me though. And Coke at the water stations. That saved me too although it was about 7 km in before I discovered they had it. Did you just say you had Coke! I think I actually back tracked a few steps to get it.
Yes, I really am smiling and running at the same time.
Will I do this again? Not next year, I don’t think. But I’ll never say never. I didn’t feel awful at the end. But the memory of the training obligations hasn’t left me. For a while now I’ve been craving NOT racing and just doing fun crazy things, and doing fun crazy things while training for a half ironman interferes with the training plan. Thankfully I was trained for this race by the beginning of May before life took a turn and killed my motivation. But I also know if that I was that close to 6 hours on a course where the bike was long and the transitions were big, that I could be under 6 easily. That little nugget of a thought will weigh on me for a long time too.
So for now I plan to hang around Calgary for another week and then meet some work friends for a little jaunt through the mountains. Hope I don’t break the bank on this adventure. Oh well. I think I already have.