1/2 Ironman Race Report
Well i finally did it! I completed my first official 1/2 Ironman this past Saturday in Ottawa. The race was called “The Canadian” and I had it on my calendar for a couple of months now (since my Syracuse non start). My day began at 3:30am with an alarm that I was not ready for. Brittany and I gathered up our last remaining items on were on the road by 4am. Jackie stayed behind for this race as her and Brandon had a long todo list for him to be ready to move to University the following day. We arrived in Ottawa around 6am, just in time for the registration tents as they were opening. I picked up my race kit and put my race number on my bike, helmet, etc. I also did the body marking tent to get my race number and age written on my legs and arms. I always find that funny. It is like if you die out there they say, hmm he was 46, no big loss he was too old for this anyways! I had my bike racked and I was ready to go by 7:30am. I took a walk down to the water to check out the swim course and get mentally prepared. There were multiple races taking place that day so I watched the sprint athletes start their swim. I went back to van and had a bite to eat, 10 washroom breaks (I am not exaggerating much on that one), and then I was ready to go. Brittany and I went down to the water’s edge as I started getting my wet suit and googles on.
It was a beach start to the 2k swim leg. I positioned myself near the back of the pack as I didn’t want to be right in the middle of the mayhem that occurs at the start of a swim race. It turned out to not be the best strategy as I am a mid pack swimmer so I had to deal with lots of the slower swimmers for the first 200m. It was a bit frustrating and as a result I couldn’t settle into a good rhythm. After about 300m I was with a group that was about my speed so I got behind the feet of another guy and let him do the spotting. Before I knew it I was at the turn around point and we headed back towards the start. I was feeling good about the swim until the last turn. Somehow I breathed when I shouldn’t have and drank most of the lake water. I came up coughing and spitting but was able to settle down and regain my composure. My training really helped with the situation as I didn’t panic, I knew I would be ok I just needed 10 seconds to regroup. I finished the swim and felt great at that point. My swim time was officially 44:14. That surpassed my goal, I figured I would have been satisfied with anything under 50 minutes for my first Ironman swim.
The run from the water to the transition zone was a relatively long one. I would guess it is about 400m. It was mostly on a paved path but it is still hard when you are in your bare feet. When I got to my bike I stripped off my wetsuit and got ready for the bike leg ahead. I put on socks, bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses, and my race bib with my number on it. I grabbed my bike and began to jog with it to the road where the bike leg started. Unfortunately there was a lengthy distance between the transition zone and the road. We had to run across a field with our bike shoes on. I have cleats on my shoes so it is very awkward running that distance with bike shoes. I felt a twinge in my right glute (aka my ass) but didn’t think much of it. I got to the road and off I went. My transition time from the swim to the start of the bike was 6 minutes in total.
Well, this is where the fun began. I was most confident in my bike so I hadn’t given much thought to things going wrong. As soon as I started the 90km ride my glute just froze up. I must have pulled something during the run in the bike shoes. It was really painful and I was just hoping that it would loosen up but it didn’t happen. I rode the first 15kms thinking I was going to have to drop out. I decided at about 20kms to get off the bike and stretch a bit and see if that could help. There I was on the side of the road, on my back, stretching as everyone else passed me by. It was humbling but I knew if I didn’t try something that my day would be over. When I got back on the bike it felt better, but still hurt bad. I sucked it up until about 60kms into the ride and then decided that I would have to get off once again. Just as I was going to pull over I saw Brittany at the side of the road cheering (I hadn’t seen her previously). Well mentally this helped a lot so I just kept going. The uphills were particularly painful. Bottom line, I made it through the 90kms in 3:10:57. I thought my time would be worse so I was a bit pleased for a brief moment, then I realized that my goal was less than 3 hours so I was a bit upset. On a good day I can easily ride that distance between 2:50 and 3:00 hours. Things don’t always go as planned and I was proud of myself for sticking with it.
I was never so happy to get off my bike, and that is saying something because I love biking. I switched to my running shoes and had a brief drink of water and ran over to the port-potties. A girl darted into the only free one right when I got there, grrr. I waited for what seemed like forever for someone to come out. In reality it was about 1 minute, but standing around doing nothing for a full minute is very frustrating in a race situation. I finished my business and out on the run I went. My transition time was 5:25 (including the port-pottie fiasco)!
I began the 21.1 km run with heavy feeling legs. Not surprising after the tough bike leg I had just completed. I was concerned with my glute but thankfully it didn’t affect my run at all. The run was a four loop course so I got to see Brittany many times throughout the run. She was always there with lots of encouragement and ran beside me while I complained about how stupid people were for participating in a crazy event. She really helped keep my spirits up. For most of the run I used a run/walk strategy. I knew from the start of the run that I wasn’t going to break any records and at this point I wasn’t feeling the best. All of the gels and fluids left me with a “heavy” feeling in my stomach. At one point I tried some pretzels but couldn’t get them down. The water and coke and gatorade that was provided seemed warm and just didn’t cut it for me. In short, it was a long tough run. I had thought I might be able to run a 2 hour 21 km distance but clearly I was delusional, lol. In training I can do it but doing it after a long swim and bike is a totally different beast. I pushed through and finished strong with a 2:33:33 run split.
I did it! I did it! I did it! I had been training for a long time for this race distance and it feels good to have accomplished the goal. I overcame my fear of the water, and in fact, it was the most enjoyable part of the race, go figure! The finish time really didn’t matter that much to me, I finished in 6:40:28. It set a standard for me that I am sure I can beat next race! Yesterday after the race I wouldn’t have committed to doing another iron distance race but today I am ready to do it all over again and prove I can do better. From a nutrition perspective I consumed 6 gels, two full bottles of Ironman perform (an electrolyte drink), many small drinks of water and coke, mouthfuls really, and one bag of Perform chews. Next time I think I would go for something solid at some point in the race, all of the fluids and gels really left me feeling shitty.
I couldn’t have accomplished any of this craziness without the support of family and friends. Jackie sacrificed many things while I was out on long Saturday morning bike rides. She also spent many days at the side of the lake watching my go back and forth. I couldn’t have done it without her. I got lots of support from Facebook and Dailymile friends as well, now it is your turn people! Set a goal and get after it.
See you at a full Ironman finish line soon…… 🙂