Sunday, June 18, 2006

The big day

If it wasn't difficult, it wouldn't be much of an accomplishment.

You really don't appreciate the magnitude of a 1/2 ironman until you've done one. I'd done a lot of training to get here so I was prepared for the challenge but being ready and actually doing something are entirely different things. I'd told myself that if I couldn't do it due to the sickness I'd been fighting, I'd still be the same guy. And I would have been... but the struggle to complete this event has changed me.

Three things really set this race apart from any other race I've ever done. The distance, how much I enjoyed it and the overwhelming amount of support from all my friends and family who came to cheer me on.


I've never been a fan of open water swims because I've never been a fan of getting bashed around by all the other swimmers who are also eager to get a good time. Today, I got the thrill of the open water and also the benefit of everyone spreading out far enough that I could relax and think about my stroke. Coming out of the water, I was greated by several friends who's only connection to the sport was me. I don't think I've ever experienced that before (and may not again) but it was great!


On the bike for 5 minutes and passing people already... nice! About 10 minutes into the ride, my leg started to cramp up, hard. I'd given myself so many outs leading up to the race that I considered pulling out but I've trained too hard for that and I had friends come all the way from Vancouver to cheer me on. No excuses. I put a pedal down, stretched my hams as best I could and kept moving. (I had to keep doing this for the rest of the ride!)

The first loop was tough. It was a very hilly course and I was feeling the lack of hill training but I started catching people on the flats and downhills. Ok, that's how I'm going to stay in this. Near the end of the second lap, a guy started to catch me on a hill and I wasn't going to make it easy for him. To my surprise, I beat him. I think I like this sport. The best part of the whole ride was all the friends who were cheering on the course. My buddy Jim and friend Lara (independently) kept popping up at different spots on the course to keep things fresh. Man, did that ever help! My mom, Lynn, Amaya and Vytes were also all stationed on the course, thanks guys!

I kept loading up on gels at the aid stations and would also replenish the water in my aero bottle. It was a real treat to have water available when you're getting sick of the constant taste of sugar in your mouth (from all the goo that keeps you going.) I didn't bother with my clif bars, preferring to stick with gels. That seemed to work fine, at least until I had a stubborn gel that wouldn't open and then covered my hands, jersey and aero bars. It's something trying to change gears when your arms are glued to your bars. Once again, I was happy for the water that I could spit on my bars to clean them off.


Geez, I might actually finish! Out of the chute, I saw Jim again and it wasn't long until Jarhead showed up to keep me company on the run. Sweet!

They say you should never do anything on a race that you haven't done in training but all the same, I had forgone my trusty running water bottle in the hopes that I could avoid the discomfort of having the strap dig into my stomach. That and it's still in my bad books for the loose water bottle incedent on the Oak Bay 1/2 marathon.

Whatever the case, I was just hoping there'd be enough aid stations to keep me moving. I only got water at the first station because I was so thirsty and tired of the sugary beverages. Jarhead reminded me that it's probably the sugary beverages that are keeping me moving. Good point. That and they're probably my best protection against hyponatraemia. I think my race plan called for me to stop at every second aid station but I needed all the help I could get and stopped at all them (for gatorade) and had a gel every 5k, which I figured was about every 30-40 minutes.

I finished the first lap and was thinking, "hey, this is actually quite manageable." Then things started to get really tough around the 14k marker. I took a couple ibuprofen and was getting a little dopey from exhaustion. Jarhead suggested I break it up in my mind and just think that I have 2 3k's to go. I was falling apart but somehow, I was enjoying how hard it was. Made it feel like I was really earning this.

I reached the 17, one down, one to go. About the time I thought I should find the 18k marker, I found the 19 instead! Yippee! I kept a steady pace but as I came into the main area (with masses of friends cheering for me) I kicked it up a few notches and gave it everything I had.

And I was done.

Special thanks to Jim for popping up absolutely everywhere on the race course, to Jarhead for keeping me moving on the run, to Adam, Pom-star and Kevy for coming over from Vancouver and to everyone else who came out to cheer me on. Your smiling faces and cheers gave me incredible amounts of energy.

Thank you.

My body's aching and my time is at hand
And I won't make it any other way

~James Taylor

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Day before the New Balance 1/2 Iron

Didn't sleep much last night. I still haven't gotten over this nasty stomach bug and it's added a huge load to an already scary race.

I rode down to Oak Bay bikes today to get it checked. First time I've been on my bike in a week and I couldn't believe how dizzy I was. Riding back up Rockland I was fighting for consciousness... I wasn't even going that fast. That passed in a few minutes and the rest of the ride was fine.

I'm so tired of being sick. Should I even race tomorrow?

It's easy to get lost in this haze of fear and doubt. I've worked really hard for this and don't want to walk away from it if I don't have to. My body seems to be telling me not to race but I don't think I'm willing to listen. The question is, can I get away with it?

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness

~Jame Thurber

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Blue 70.3?

Read something today that didn't make a lot of sense to me: The half-ironman is having it's name changed to Ironman 70.3

Doing the math, I found that I had correctly assumed that this silly name had come from the distance (in miles) for a half ironman. Readers of Fred Sommer's blog had some alternate ideas on where 70.3 could have come from:

"The average water temperature at an Ironman race"

"WTC's net worth in millions"

"The IQ of the marketing genius that came up with the 70.3 name"

"The number of people out of 1,000 surveyed that may embrace the name"

For anyone who was wondering (as I was) WTC stands for World Triathlon Corporation, who are the fine folks who own the "Ironman" label. It seems that WTC hasn't always had the best relations with the International Triathlon Union (ITU) and ITU runs a bunch of half iron races. So maybe this whole Ironman 70.3 is a way of saying, hey, WTC owns this race. (Ironman is no longer a race distance, it's a brand!)

Speaking of name changes, Ironman wetsuits have also just changed their name... to Blue Seventy. This time we're told that it's because 70% of the earth's surface is covered by water, yada, yada, yada... Could it be that it just became too expensive to license WTC's Ironman brand? Good thing water doesn't cover 70.3 percent of the earth's surface...

What is this sport coming to?

What I would love is to have any boy in the world who thinks of pirates to think of…Disney pirates.

~ Robert Iger, president, The Walt Disney Company

Friday, June 02, 2006

Frog in a kettle

Usually, I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky guy but just about everything has been irritating me for the last few days. That should tell me something.

At first I thought it was just that it was just all the stunned drivers who don't have any regard for people on bicycles... ok, that's an irritant at the best of times. My body aches a bit but that's probably just the hard workouts. Did I wait too long to get my first cup of coffee? Yeah, but I should have started feeling better after I finally got some. Food? Same story.

4pm rolls around and a buddy pops his head into my office to see if we're still on for sampling some cask beers at Spinnakers this evening. For some reason, I'm really resistant to riding there. I've been looking forward to some delicious brews but I can't seem to get through this fog. When I get headaches, they usually come on so gently that I don't realize I've got one until my head is splitting in two. 5pm, it hurts to move. I load up on aspirin, cancel plans for tonight and go home.

Between the mental fatigue, lack of sleep and next to zero downtime, this really shouldn't come as a shock.

It is not good for all our wishes to be filled; through sickness we recognize the value of health; through evil, the value of good; through hunger, the value of food; through exertion, the value of rest.

~Dorothy Canfield Fisher