I thought about writing this blog soon after the race, but I am happy that I waited a couple days because it has offered me a greater perspective on the race and how I did. Parts of it were a complete Sufferfest, but more details on that to follow.
My family and I got to Tremblant on Thursday afternoon and even though I did the half here in 2012, I forgot how amazing this site is for a triathlon. The weather leading up to the race was a complete disaster. It rained basically every second from midday Thursday until the middle of the night before the race. This severely limited what we could do there and we pretty much spent a lot of time sitting around, which I was perfectly fine with.
This was my first Ironman, so there were of lot of things to do differently than a normal race and this I had to figure out. You have to hand in your transition bags the night before which was interesting and everything is kept separately. Then there are special needs bags for the bike and run that you could take half way through the respective leg of the course. You also have to check your bike into transition the day before the race and considering that it was pouring rain, there were some extra precautions that I needed to ensure that my bike would be rideable the next day. With all of this, the night before the race I still managed to get to sleep around 8:15 - with a 3:30 am wake up, this was necessary.
I actually felt pretty decent waking up at 3:30 am to eat breakfast. My dad and I walked down to body marking and then to transition at 5:00 am, checked my bike, pumped my tires, filled my water bottles and off we went to the swim start. Between 3:30 am and 6:20 am when I got in the water to warm up, I drank about 2 litres of water which led to lots of wetsuit peeing. Brian Leonard and I saw each other as we were getting in the water so we warmed up together and ended up being right next to each other when the gun went off.
I have to say that the swim was not as crazy as I expected. Because they only had a beach start that was about 40 or 50 feet wide, there were only so many people that could get in the water at one time. This led to small starts very similar to all triathlons that I have participated in. I like to be near the front of the swim start, so off we went at 6:42 am. I drafted about 70% of the swim. The water was crystal clear, perfect temperature and just enjoyable. Overall there was nothing of note in the swim, other than after about 50 minutes I stopped swimming for a second to see how far I was from the shore, because I really wanted to stop swimming. I got out of the water in 1:09, and I figured I would be out in about 1:10, so I was pleased.
Age Group place 29/99
This transition was absolutely incredible. The run from the water to the transition area was about 400 meters or so, so it was a fair distance. The entire way to transition the road was lined with spectators 5 deep on both sides, there must have been 10,000 people in that 400 meter section. It was this moment that I was like "holy crap, I'm doing an Ironman!" I decided that I was going to wear my Maccabi Canada Cycling Time Trial suit under my wetsuit for a quick transition to the bike. Good decision as it went perfectly, and I got on the bike.
As some of you know, I have been riding with power. And further to that, as some of you may know, I have been having difficulty with my power meter and it cutting out. Well over the entire 180km, the power meter only worked for about 20km. So unfortunately, for the data geeks, I have no power data for this race. This was very difficult for me as I had a very strict plan that I was going to follow, and now I had to go by heart rate and feel, which is never a good idea (for me anyway). The wind was really tough - about 20 km/h on the second lap. The way this course is designed, with the long portion on the Trans-Canada highway, if there is a wind of any kind, you are going to be biking into it for 25km. The wind was present on the first lap but really picked up on the second lap.
I tried my best to stick to the plan, which was about 500 calories per hour and grabbing water bottles at the start of some aid stations, taking a few gulps and then throwing them away. Based on how training was going, I figured that I would finish about 5:40 for 180km. With the addition of the wind, I probably should have backed off slightly on both laps, but I have to say that I was probably only about 3-5% higher effort than I had planned, (in the back of my mind I knew that at some point, I would suffer for this...). My first lap was 2:50 and my second lap was 2:54, which I was pretty pleased with. One of my goal was to have an even split between both laps so I was very pleased with this result.
Age Group Place: 34/99
Coming into transition, you hand your bike off to a volunteer who racks the bike for you so you can run to get changed. The first couple steps getting off the bike and running to transition were absolutely horrible. This feeling went away after I got changed and started onto the course but I could not believe how my legs felt. I decided that I was going to completely change so I put my Mettle tri top and tri shorts. I grabbed my water belt, put on my socks and shoes on, had about 3/4 of a red bull and off I went.
This is the one leg of the course where I had no idea how I would do. Not only was this my first Ironman, but I had never run a marathon and have only run one half-marathon. I figured that based on my training, if everything went to plan, I would likely run close to a 4:00 marathon. Of course, I knew that the suffering was going to happen at some point, but I didn't expect it to happen the way that it did. The start of the run went pretty well but I could not eat or drink. I think that the red bull was just not sitting right, maybe I had too much at once and it was just sitting there and I thought I was going to puke. After about 10km, I started to feel a blister on the inside of my right foot. I stopped to readjust my shoe and tighten my laces but it did not help and I knew I needed to stop for a medic for vaseline / second skin. At the 18km or 19km mark there was an aid station with a medic and I stopped for about 3 minutes to get them to put that stuff on and it really helped, I didn't feel it for the rest of the race.
However, right after this point, I tried to run and I just couldn't do it. A couple things caught up to me at this point in the race. The fact that I basically had only about 80-100 calories and only about 7 oz of water over the last 1:45, the fast pace on the bike, and the sitting down for a few minutes while they put the second skin on, really got me. I honestly cannot even put it into words how I felt from kilometer 19 - 34. Forget the physical pain, but the emotional suffering at this point in the race was something that I could never have expected. I basically did a run / walk (more like walk / shuffle) for this whole section and if you were looking at my splits, they definitely reflected that. It was the most epic level of suffering and there is no possible way to prepare for this.
After about the 32km mark, I saw Elizabeth for the first time and if she didn't look so good running I would have made her stop to give me a hug (lol). Then at 34km I saw former Mettle member Tony Chen who ran past me. At that point, I had taken in lots of calories and liquid, so I could start running again and for the last 8km of the course, I did not stop running (shuffling) once. I was extremely determined to finish, although at some points during that epic suffering, I just wanted to stop, cry, and even quit. I kept glancing at my water for whatever reason, and while I was running about a 7:00/km, (a slow pace I had never run before, even during training), I was happy to be running. The run through the village toward the finish line was emotionally overwhelming. (Halfway through writing this post, I went to Ironman.com and watched the video of me crossing the line. The combination of joy and relief that I felt at that moment was incredible to watch and re-live).
Run Time: 5:02
Age Group Place: 72/99
Overall Finish Time: 12:07:27
Eating and drinking started immediately. They had a Smoke's Poutinerie truck behind the finish line and it was the best thing ever! I had some pasta, lentils, cookies and fruit and then waddled to meet my family. My legs and feet were destroyed and they are not feeling so great now (at the time of this post) either, but I guess that comes with the territory. After a long, long shower to warm-up, this was my post race meal: small bowl of chili, pulled pork sandwich with fries and coleslaw, and a sausage plate with fries and salad. I pretty much ate everything, except for the salad. I don't eat like this, ever, so I figured that after an Ironman, it would be ok.
Just before I went to sit down I saw Brian and his family standing outside the restaurant waiting for Elizabeth to run by down to the finish line. So I joined them outside and waited for her. We almost missed her but luckily we saw the incredible smile and joy on her face as she had about 200 meters to go in the gruelling day.
Thank you to everyone who supported us and followed us throughout day. And to all Mettle Members, for continuously inspiring me and motivating me to pursue this lifestyle. I could feel your support and encouragement while I was running the last 8km of the race. Special thanks to my family who not only sat through cold and rain during race day, but also a terrible couple of days of weather prior to the race. It takes special people to race an Ironman, but it takes even more special people to watch an Ironman, (you only manage to catch a couple glimpses of an athlete over a 12 hour period). Thanks Natalie and mom and dad for your awesome support.
While I tried to include everything in this report, there is much more that I could expand on (do you really want to know how many times and how I went to the bathroom throughout the day?). So if you have any questions, feel free to email me.
Do I think I will do another Ironman? Probably yes, but not for a while. I need some time to emotionally recover from the event itself, as well as the long build up and the training. I am young though, and once I get my power meter fixed....