We headed up to Canada on Wed night-I wanted to not be rushed and have a couple of days to get ready for the race. We were sharing a house with 6 others—most were racing as well. It was a great house and great roommates.
Checked in Thursday and went for a little swim—the wind had kicked up so it was 2-3 ft swells. While fun, not what I wanted for race day.
Friday we did a short ride and I met an IamTri friend for lunch. Its fun to finally meet some of the people you have been corresponding with online for months.
Sat was a pretty laid back day—got all my gear checked in by noon, had lunch with my nephew and then chilled at the house with friends for the rest of the day.
The weather forecast for race day was for perfect conditions—partly cloudy, light winds, high in low 70’s---too bad the weatherman totally blew it (keep reading)
Race morning started great—got to the site in good time. IM Canada really has the bag drop/body mark thing down—very smooth. I loaded my nutrition on my bike, stood in the port-a-potty line and got my wetsuit on and headed to the beach. Got out there in plenty of time to get my warm-up swim in. I lined up for the start way to the left in hopes of avoiding the crowds---it seemed to work as I had a great start and didn’t get beaten up too much. The water was nice and calm, sighting easy, good temperature. Exited the swim right on track in 1:04:59 (8th in AG).
Transition went pretty smoothly, though could have been a little faster (3:25). The first 40 miles of the bike are pretty fun—a slight tailwind, only one hill (MacLean Creek)—I think of it as a nice warm-up for the real part of the bike ride. I looked at my computer as I passed the 40k mark—1:06—wow—that’s even a good time for an Oly tri!. Because its mostly flat and there are lots of people you need to be really careful not to draft—the course marshalls were busy making sure that any packs were breaking it up—though I saw a couple of riders that I think they DQ’ed. At mile 40 you turn and start the climb up Richter pass—its long (11km) but not super steep so you just need to pace yourself. I rode within myself and did not pay attention to all the people passing me. I summitted and then headed down the other side. After Richter there is a series of 7 rollers that I think are really the hardest part of the bike ride-you can really trash your legs. I just kept a close eye on my powermeter and was very conservative. Here we are dropped into the next valley and headed North—here is where the weatherman let us down—nobody said anything about the 20+mph wind that would be coming down the valley. Needless to say it was a tough slog—we do an out and back sectionin this valley so essentially we got to ride the length of the valley twice going into the wind.
At the end of the valley is the second big climb of the day—heading up to Yellow Lake. I really didn’t like the look of the really black clouds that seemed to be above right where I was headed. Sure enough—just as I started into the long false flat that leads to the real climb it started raining. I got progressively worse as the climb proceeded. I will give a great hats off to the spectators---at the hard part of the climb they were lining the roads Tour de France fashion cheering us on—despite the horrible weather. As I crested the climb—the rain was still coming down. At the aid station they were giving out raincoats—I got past them before I realized this—probably was not a good choice. Now I was on the long winding descent—it’s a reasonably technical descent in good weather, it’s downright scary when there are rivers of water sheeting across the road. I focused on staying upright and did not worry about how fast I was going. Did I mention that the temperature at the top of the hill was probably under 50? Well, it was making for an extremely cold ride down. I kept wiggling my fingers and tried to wiggle the toes—not much luck, couldn’t feel either of them by the bottom of the hill. Luckily it stopped raining at the bottom as we rode the last few miles into town. All I wanted was to get WARM!. Total bike time 5:50:57 (5th in AG, putting me in 4th after the bike)
I got into T2 and stumbled to the change tent. The volunteers are wonderful—she rubbed my toes to get some feeling into them and put my dry socks on since my fingers still were not working. I grabbed the rest of my stuff and headed out onto the run T2: 4:45
Once running I warmed up quickly and settled into my pace pretty quickly. First few miles were at a 9 min pace—right on track. Took my first scheduled walk break through the 3rd aid station and started getting my nutrition in. Things were going pretty well until somewhere after mile 5. I went to breathe in----and couldn’t. Lungs totally seized. I have been having asthma issues this year so I had my inhaler in my pocket—so I stopped and walked and took a puff. Got the breathing again and started running again—but slowed the pace a bit to keep the breathing slow. I was able to do about 9:30’s all the way to mile 10 with a few walk breaks to slow the breathing. I thought that I wouldn’t be that far off my goal if I could hold that. Well after mile 10 there are hills for 6 miles. Lungs would have nothing to do with running up—put too much stress on the lungs—so I ended up walking all the ups and running down—this slowed me quite a bit. Despite that I got to the turn around (half way) in 2:08. As time was going on the lungs were less tolerant of breathing a little hard and I could not run as fast—and needed more walk breaks and quite a few more puffs of my inhaler—I don’t think it was doing the job that it should—that will be a project between my doctor and I this winter to find something that works for me. Anyhow the second half of the run was mostly survival—go as fast as the lungs would let you—I was prepared to need to dig deep in this race to make my goal—but found that you cannot dig deep against the inability to get oxygen in—it stops you cold. As I came back into downtown I knew that I needed to measure my effort very carefully and I could still be under 12 hours—I was successful at this and crossed the finish line in 11:52:37 (marathon of 4:48:25). Not the race I had hoped for—but I really can’t complain about anything under 12 hours. It was still a great experience—the whole race, my housemates and training buddies leading up to the race. And there is always next year! I have 2 IM’s on the schedule—Coeur d’Alene and Canada again