Thursday, 8 September 2011

Ironman Canada 2011 - Part 2 of 3

My second transition was a little slower as I made a p-break and this time I did stop for the sun screen. I set off on the run at an easy pace (whatever that turned out to be) and felt pretty good. I encountered Audrey and Kat (Paul's wife and daughter) at mile 5 and got water and sponges from them. This is the point where I suffered my biggest (and maybe only?) regret of the race. Kate was cheering at that aid station and I was so focused on the task that I totally missed her.
Kat cheers Paul, Audrey preparing a sponge in the background
My only stated goal pre-race was to run (rather than walk) the entire marathon. I was almost 100% successful. I deliberately walked every aid station to make sure I got everything I thought I needed and then started running before reaching the end. There were only three hills on the way out and two on the way back where I decided that walking would be just as fast as running and would use much less energy.
Is this the famed Ironman shuffle?
They say that in every Ironman you will hit one or more low points where your mental resolve will be tested and that you need to be strong and push through. The closest I came was the Mile 8 aid station where my stomach just felt a bit queasy and nothing really appealed to me. I attributed this to trying to take in too many calories at the intensity I was going so ran a little slower and just took water (Thanks again Jordan!). By the next aid station I was already feeling better. From that point on I was pretty much OK and was able to start increasing my pace.

Headed into the turnaround at Mile 12 I saw Kevin coming out for his Mile 14. He looked pretty strong and I thought "good for him". Shortly after Mile 14 I saw Paul heading for the turnaround and he was moving OK but didn't look too comfortable. He told me not to stop, we high-fived, wished each other well and kept going. Around Mile 19 or so I saw Scott (Love the TTTC uniforms!) and he wasn't moving too fast but looked to be in good spirits. Again we wished each other well and kept moving. Very shortly thereafter I came back into town and with about 10k to go (Only 10k!) I started to allow myself to think I was going to be able to finish strong. A smile began to form and it just got bigger from there to the finish. Around Mile 22 I could see a Tri-Factor uniform in the distance and recognized Kevin moving pretty slowly. I caught him and asked him how things were going. Not well, apparently his stomach had shut down at Mile 17. I encouraged him to run with me but he said he couldn't so I went off on my own. You get to a high point on Main St between Skaha Lake to the South and Okanagan Lake to the North where the finish is. Like the man says "It's all downhill from there" and I really picked it up (or felt like I did). With your name on your race bib all of the spectators are cheering you on by name which is quite a boost.
Feeling the Finish Line approaching
The last trick the course plays on you is that as you are heading towards the finish they turn you away for an out and back along the Lakeshore Ave on Okanagan Lake. That outbound section seems to go on forever. The return goes by super fast. In what now seems like a total blur I was through to the finish. It's good that there are pictures because I didn't really take the time to recognize the enormity of what I had just accomplished. I do recall an almost euphoric feeling from about 3km out. Happily Kate was working in the finish are and this time I did NOT miss her. They let her leave her post to accompany me to the finishers recovery area.
Kate was able to get the "Hero" picture
Once I sat down in a chair there was a period where I did not feel good. I just didn't know which way my stomach was going to go. I had some water and some Pepsi and in about 20 minutes or so I was feeling great again. Piece of pizza, massage, gathered my gear and hiked the kilometer back up the hill to our place on the Lower Bench. I chatted with our hosts, showered and started eating the post race food (and beer!) Kate had prepared for me. Shortly thereafter Kate returned from her shift and we were able to finish our post race meal together.

At around 10:30 we headed back down to the line to cheer on the final finishers (this time I asked if we could take the car). What an experience! An absolute must-do part of your Ironman experience. Steve King and the rest of the announcing team get the crowd absolutely pumped up to cheer the finishers in. People at the barriers pound on the signboards to pace them. Nobody walks the final 100 meters. There's way too much energy. Jordan Rapp showed up with about an hour to go and if anyone looked like they might walk to the line he got them running. I saw a lot of the Twitter peeps (Tweeps) come across which made me feel particularly good. Watching those final finishers, right up until about two minutes to go, was almost as memorable as my own finish.

In Part 3: The "touchy-feely" part of Ironman

1 comment:

  1. Great post Tom! Glad you started this blog!! :) Ready for #3!