Well the big day finally arrived. After nine months of training and one quick summer I toed the line (well at least for a Half Ironman). The weather forecast promised it was going to be a wet race. I met with Scobie on Friday afternoon for a quick chat and some last minute advice. The best things he mentioned was 1) take a sleeping pill on Friday night to get a good night sleep as Saturday night won't get much rest and 2) take it easy on the bike (similar to what coach said). With the rain predicted that was important as the last thing I needed was a bike crash.
Deerhurst had a three night package (you had to stay all three nights) so we left around 2 pm and got up to the resort around 5:30 pm. At check-in I called Paul S and he was already at their room. We were to meet at the Athlete Banquet at 6:30 pm. As we were taking the luggage to our room, it turns out that Paul was staying on the same floor as us.
As Tammy got things organized in the room, I went down to pick up our dinner tickets in registration. I ran into Lisa and we went through the process together and then back to our room to collect the kids and head off to dinner. The line up was huge and we had the buffet and it was ok but nothing special. We sat near the front and as luck would have it, Craig Alexander sat at the table in front of us. Man is that guy every small!! He'd be pretty quick on the footy field but if he ever got caught, he'd get crushed. I wondered if he wanted to go for a kick after the race?
After dinner we headed back and got settled for the night. I followed Scobie's advice and took a sleeping pill. Around 12:30 am Jake woke up screaming. I woke up but was too groggy to get up. All in all, Friday's night sleep was the best I've had in months. For some strange reason, I've been waking up around 2 am and can't fall asleep. Well the sleeping pills took care of that problem as I was out like a light.
On Saturday I drove the course. Yikes!! Like the Muskoka Long Course, once again I drove the wrong route but at least had a pretty good idea of what the course was like...it wasn't going to be pretty. Saturday night we went to dinner at one of the restaurants at the resort and who should sit beside us? None other than Craig Alexander, reigning world champion!! I watched him eat and can't believe how much he wolfed down for such a little guy! I guess he would have no problem burning off the calories tomorrow morning.
Saturday night Vanessa woke up screaming at 2:30 am and that was the end of my sleep. I was up for the rest of the night and finally headed down to transition to set up my gear at 6:30 am. It was overcast and gloomy but not rain, yet. This was my first Ironman event and by far the largest. The transition area was massive and it filled the entire parking lot of the resort. There were 1,000 athletes registered for this race. By far the largest race I've ever participated. The excitement was building.
We headed down to the swim start and Lisa and I were in the same wave (five out of six waves). There were about 200 people in our wave. Lisa looked nervous and was very quiet. As we waited, Tammy yelled at me and Don (one of my brothers) and Barb were with her! They drove up for my race! That was a surprise. I wondered if they were coming as I didn't hear from them at all. Don said Paul (another brother) and Sarah were on their way as well. I was very thirsty waiting. Probably not a good sign.
Our wave finally made it to the start. Later on, I found out that Craig Alexander already finished the swim before we even entered the water. The swim was pretty uneventful other than it was a bigger wave than what I'm used to. It was crowded and got bumped around and it took several hundreds of meters before I got my rhythm. There were several times when I had to stop swimming and wait for a path to clear. I drafted off one guy for several hundreds of meters but he was too slow so I swam on my own until I caught onto another swimmer. He was pretty quick and I swam behind him for most of the race. I debated whether to draft off him or blow by him but I decided to play it conservative and save my energy. I only passed him at the end of the swim in the last 50 meters. Once I exited the water they had wetsuit strippers waiting. This is the first race where they had them and it was awesome. I've never gotten out my wetsuit that fast! The only trouble was a long 300 meter run up hill to transition one. After swimming for 37 minutes, it wasn't easy. I caught up to Paul S in T1. He started in the wave before me (6 minutes) but I knew he would crush me on the bike and run. Heading out of T1, my brother Paul and Sarah were there yelling at me. It was great to see them, as I didn't expect to see them. I talked to Paul the night before and was under the impression he had to work the weekend.
Throughout the ride, I was ok up until about the 70 km when we started heading back to the resort. The course was getting much hillier and the slogging got tougher. There were lots of ups and downs as I was constantly using the granny gears which allowed me to pass lots of people with their fancy tri-bikes (opps I might be one of those next year). After one last quad burning climb back into the resort, I was anxious for the bike to end but at the same time not really looking forward for the run to begin.
Pulling into T2, Paul (my bro) was at the entrance. He yelled at me asking how I felt. "Like shit" I replied and he laughed. I was dying to take a leak so I jumped in the port a potty seeing that my spot was only five feet away. It felt like I was in there for about five minutes as T2 was almost three minutes long. I got confused as to the exit to T2 as there was nobody to point the right direction. As I headed out, everybody from my family was by the exit cheering me on. I headed out trying to slow down as I always run too fast from T2. Paul S was earlier complaining about the run course where they had made it harder than necessary by adding extra hills and I quickly realized what he was referring to. By the time the course made it back to the highway it started to pour. I hoped Lisa would be off the bike by then but doubted it as she never passed me while I was dicking around with my tire on the side of the road. It rained for about 20 minutes and I continued at what I thought was an ok pace. I had reset my pedometer before the race but it was obviously incorrect as there was no way I was running at a 5:10 pace. As I passed by other runners, I kept asking if they had a pace on their watch but no one did so I just chugged along. My goal was to finish the run in two hours. At the 6 km mark I saw Paul S. He was coming back in around the 14 km mark and was moving at a good pace. I yelled at him and he just grunted back. The run was going ok as there were more nasty hills. I hit the turn around point and headed back into town. For most of the run back, it doubled back along the same route but around the 14 km mark it veers off into the bush following a path. I kept hoping I'd see Lisa before the route veered off and I finally did see her almost at the same point I saw Paul S. She looked ok but I knew she was going to suffer on the run.
As the route changed to the path, there were more hills until finally just before the 14 km mark there was a short nasty hill. I didn't want to walk it but I just ran out of gas. At the top was a water station so I ended up walking the hill and the station while I sucked back a power gel that they were handing out. Although it tasted like crap, I felt it kick in immediately and started to run again. In defeat, I decided that I would walk the last couple of water stations as we headed back to the resort. The hills were just killers and they became steeper (or so I thought). As I headed the last hill back into Deerhurst, one volunteer yelled "only one more kilometer or one hill." I groaned as I knew exactly what he meant. I was trying to keep up with Sharon from Ajax Running Free who had passed me earlier. She told me she was looking to do it in 7 hours but she looked like she was going to beat her time. I thought she started a wave earlier but later found out she was in the same wave.
Finally Deerhurst came into site! I was looking in vain for the finish line but didn't realize it went around the transition area. I was totally bagged by this time and everything was hurting. As I rounded the last corner, I saw my family yelling at me and I tried to sprint down to the finish line but had nothing left.
My time was 6:12. CRAP!!!! If I didn't have those two mechanical issues I would have beaten my goal of 6 hours. My run time was 2:03. I wanted to run in two hours but if I didn't walk those last aid stations I would have beaten that as well.
Overall, I finished at 6:12:13
Swim 37:43 or 1:54 per 100 metres. My fastest time
Bike 3:23:20 or 27.7 km\hr
Run 2:03:01 or 5:50 min\km
T1 5:12 (as Paul S asked "were you doing your hair?")
T2 2:59 (I had to take a piss)
477 out of 863
Age group: 60 out of 90
Total calories burned: 5,171
I rate my performance 7 out of 10.
I'm disappointed because of the bike issues (nothing I could do about them) and the fact that I had to walk on the run portion.
Would I do this course again next year? That remains to be seen.
Clearly much work to be done in the off season.
FYI: In the Ironman race report, it calls Muskoka a "tough course"