Friday, August 31, 2012

IMC 2012, the end of Ironman in Penticton

Going into the race this year, I had no inkling of the changes that would be happening. To wit, WTC yanked its license from Graham Fraser, the city and NAS/WTC couldn't come to any agreement and the Challenge Family is now the race organizer for 2013.


My focus going in was a confluence of great numbers for me: years at IMC (20), age of IMC (30), and a new age group for me (65).

This year I had a great training start but then a 2-month hiatus with spotty training due to sinus infections. It even morphed into a reaction to the water of Lake Washington this year. At my single race before IMC (Chelanman) I was so deeply tired after finishing that great doubts came into my mind. Nonetheless, I persevered with some great training weeks and some that were just plain tiring in the interim.

Janet and I traveled to Penticton on the Tuesday before the race, our usual pattern. During the week we hook up with old friends: have lunch with Tony and Stella, see the McGivers, etc. Plus, there are the ironman activities, daily swims in Lake Okanagan, runs, bikes. And try to get a wee bit of work done in between.

On Friday morning we hooked up with Mary Carey and her Denver gang for a swim and breakfast. Then of course the pre-race banquet in the evening. I was very disappointed at the number of extra tickets available as Janet was unable to attend with me. My tri-buddies were, though, and we truly enjoyed the athlete stand down. The 2 Eds of the Dick-Eds were seated at my table and Dick came over for the stand down. With all the 30 year nostalgia it was great to see them as the last men standing - 29 years of participation at IMC!

Saturday I took my bike out for a spin to the turn off up McClean Creek and everything seemed to be working well. Got my stuff turned in, made cioppino for dinner and post-race snack and went to bed. The pre-race cioppino was pre-empted by Liz and her gang who invited us to dinner after our "Ironman Seminar" - a total hoot, but that's another story.

Race day came with calm and cool air. All the pre-race stuff went flawlessly as I stocked my transition bags with fluid bottles, put bottles on my bike, etc. I found a calm place at the edge of the activity and just sat and centered myself. Then a little cat-cow and some yoga stretches to limber up the old bod. Athletes were filtering out to the beach by now so I followed the flow. There was Tom by the dry strip bags and we walked down to the beach together.

I must forget the huge crowd from one year to another but the beach was really covered. My swimming has been really good this year and I felt that a 1:10 was possible so I wanted to avoid as much trashing as possible, just to have open water. However, the crowd to the left looked too thick so I stayed more to the middle and that was a good strategy.

As the start neared I edged out more towards the front and I was able to start swimming immediately and swim all the way to the first turn without getting trashed! Around the first turn I got sucked into a crowd at the first buoy on the second leg and had a bit of a time escaping. Then open water all the way around the second turn and back to the exit.

As I stood up I heard Steve King announce someone in 1:10:50 so I hustled out to try to cross the mat in under 1:12. Not sub-1:10, but still a personal best. Third swim split in AG.

To the wet suit strippers and then out onto the bike and up main street. Start hydrating and eating which I kept up all day. The first 40 miles to Osoyoos are basically flat, with the exception of the McClean Creek climb, so it was only necessary to pay attention to hydration and fueling and not get too out of control in the speed department.

I made a single potty stop on this leg and it was worth it to get off the bike for a minute or so.

Then through the Husky Station and up Richter. Everything seemed to take less time this year. Maybe because I was paying closer attention to my plan to not get dehydrated. Even though we had some wind going up Richter and into the rollers.

But then there was virtually no wind in the section to Cawston and for the out and back! It was heavenly.

At special needs I swapped out my bottle of Perpetuem and guzzled my chocoloate milk. Mmmm, good.

Then up to Yellow Lake which also seemed shorter. I really missed the crowd for the last bit of the climb to Yellow Lake. The RCMP were enforcing a no parking rule and people were parked farther away, closer to the turn off to Apex.

After that the final bit of climbing to Twin Lakes and then down into town. Even with my sense of lessened time on the bike I was still happy to get off. And, I felt great coming into town. First bike split in AG at 6:03:20!

Since my running was so lame my plan was to run 11 minutes, walk 1 minute, and walk all the aid stations. I was determined to get fluids inside me and not fade. After a decent T1, including a pee break, I was out onto the run.

My marathon goal was 5 hours. With my great bike and swim splits I was about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, so a 5:15 marathon would still bring me in at my target finish time. Just a tiny bit into the marathon I felt an incipient giant cramp in my right quad and ended up severely shortening my stride the entire run to keep it in check.

All the way out to the marathon turnaround I was right on target, finishing the first half in pretty close to 2.5 hours. In the majority of this segment one of my AG competitors and I continued to trade leading each other. Going in to OK Falls I saw him just a couple hundred meters away from the turnaround, heading back.

Keeping to my plan I ended up passing him on the long uphill section out of OK Falls. Then somewhere on the way back to town he passed by me again, probably when I took a pee break.

Somewhere around mile 21 the wheels began to come off. My slow run pace slowed even more, I started feeling wobbly and it was a struggle to down the full cup of sport drink that I was taking in at every aid station.

Janet, as usual, was waiting patiently for me out front of our motel and I stopped to give her my waist belt with water bottle so I wouldn't have to carry it the last few hundred meters. Then just a couple of steps as I felt quite wobbly and I stopped, bent over with my hands on knees and vomited copious amounts of Powerade on the street. The next thing I knew two volunteers where over me, one holding each arm and one of them offering me a bottle of water.

I had passed out right there in front of the crowd! Damn that lowered blood pressure.

Janet, of course, was very concerned and was right there as well. The volunteers helped my to my feet and I drank more of the proffered water. I took the water bottle and one of the volunteers jogged along with me to the final finish chute.

Just as I started down the last few tens of meters another AG competitor ran past me, snagging 3rd place. We ended up finishing 19 seconds apart. Run split: 5:45:22.

Ugly! Final time: 13:13:31 with AG 4th.

But the story isn't over yet!

After the catchers walked me around and got me pizza to nibble on all I wanted to do was lie down. I sat in a chair eating the point off my pizza and suddenly it didn't taste so good any more and I pitched it into the garbage. Ever so tired I bent over, elbows on knees and the next thing I know a couple of volunteers are helping me up.

This time I wanted to go to the med tent. We walked there, me staggering, them helping me to stay upright. In the med tent I got to lie down with my feet up and just rest. Oh, was it glorious.

Someone went to get my dry strip clothing and I put on as much warm stuff as I had, but I was still cold. A wonderful volunteer brought me a heat pack and I snuggled down into it.

After a time they had me switch ends on the bed with my head elevated and I sipped a cup of "chicken soup". By that time they were anxious to have me move along so they assigned a volunteer to walk me back to my motel! Wow, I've never had service like that. In the past, I was on my own.

So, we gathered all my stuff and started the journey back. It was great having an escort because we got to cut through the medical/finish area instead of having to go all the way around.

When we got back to the motel, he carried my bike up the stairs for me! Holy, moley, I'll start to expect this.

Janet let us in and we all had a bowl of cioppino before he had to head back over to work for hours more.

Next day I felt quite good. Some soreness and stiffness but nothing more serious than deep hunger. That I dealt with by having 3 breakfasts followed by the awards banquet lunch followed by dinner.