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Archive for September, 2006

2006 IRONMAN CANADA RACE REPORT (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42km run)

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

It has been a few days since the big event. It is amazing what a little rest can do for the body. The first days after Ironman found me shuffling around and grunting when I moved. I was also trying to keep my ankles from moving to avoid stretching the skin on my heels which were seriously torn up by the marathon. Speaking of my ankles – they were the size of tree trunks until yesterday – a sign that there was a significant amount of protein breakdown in my body. Imagine that!

Currently, I am in a much better state – my heels no longer bleed, I can sit and stand without external assistance and I am all fired up to start training for my next Ironman (Ironman Florida this November 4th). That being said, I am listening to the voice of reason and will take some time off to help rejuvenate my body before jumping back into any form of serious training again.

I have documented the race day in the following report. It is not as complete as my journal, but should give you an idea of what transpired through the day from my point of view.

The alarm clock went off at 4am (although I didn’t sleep at all that night). After a light breakfast and stretching my shoulders with tubing for about 45minutes, we packed the car. Allison drove my friend Jonathan and I as close to the race start at possible. Unfortunately, Alli had complete her own Ironman fighting for parking with 2300 other people’s escorts! I dropped off my special needs bags for the bike and run, which consisted of two water bottles for the bike and two flasks for the run. From there I proceeded to get my body marked. I entered transition where all the bikes had been left overnight and attached my shoes to my bike. I saw Orca Canada’s Dave Cracknell and he helped me pump up my tires.

The general feeling I had before the race was positive, and found myself without notable nerves before the race. This time around, I knew I had prepared well for the event. In the final stages of training for IMC, 3-time World Ironman Champion, Peter Reid, joined my preparation as a consultant and mentor. Peter gave an incredible boost to my confidence – I knew the final preparation for the race was complete.

Feeling confident and relaxed, I walked down to the beach for the race start. The professional Ironman athletes started the race 15 minutes ahead of the age groupers. It was nice for the 60 of us to be separated from the 2300 others allowing for a relatively clean swim. The start was an in-water start. While we were treading water 10 minutes before the start, most of the pros (who have a generous approximation of 2% body fat) started shivering from the cold water – myself included! We were happy to get the race underway…not necessarily for reasons other than to generate body heat!

I took the swim as easy as possible. Normally, I try to gun for the front, and settle into a quick rhythm. This time, I found myself swimming super easy. I was just happy to draft off the swimmer ahead of me and conserve as much energy as possible. I ended up coming out of the water somewhere around 10th place. Making a quick change from swim to bike, I stripped off my wetsuit, grabbed my helmet and glasses and proceed to run towards my bike.

Mentally, I broke the 180 km bike course down into 3 sections of 60km each. It was my race strategy to increase my effort from section to section. I took the first 60km easy, very much like the swim. It was a section that I was cautioned not to go too hard and waste energy on.

Ironman bike section

Soon after the first 60km stretch is Ritcher’s mountain pass. Again, I took it pretty easy on the hill, and just waited to observe challenges from other competitors. Jasper Blake was first to pass me on the hill…

…then soon after, great cyclist Dave Harju, flew by both of us. When Dave passed me I decided it was “go time” and not to let him get away. Once we descended Ritcher’s pass there are a series of eight ‘rollers’ or hills all lined up in a row. Keeping Dave in view, I opted to relax and let him put time on me on the uphills as I planned to pick up my effort afterwards to try to go faster on the crests and downhill portions.

By about the 5th roller, I caught and passed Dave and Kyle Marcotte, who had gone out fast for the first 60km. At this point, I found myself in 2nd place. I was moving along well and felt confident that my plan was working. I felt I had conserved more energy than my competitors, who had either gone too fast during the early stages of the bike or attacked the hills too hard. I was building confidence throughout the bike portion of the race.

My plan was to stay strong and increase my effort for the next portion of the bike which included the “out and back” portion where the special needs bags were held. I picked up my special needs bag, which refueled me for the remaining 60km including the Yellow Lake pass and downhill into Penticton.

The last 60km were mentally tough, it is a portion of the ride that requires intense concentration because it is mostly flat and monotonous. The Yellow Lake climb, as much of a grunt it is, was a welcomed relief for me as I enjoyed changing my position while climbing. There were quite a few spectators lined up along the Yellow Lake hill. It was great to see such a spirited crowd cheering us all on. Funny though, I was getting splits from spectators telling me how much time I was out of first place…and these splits never seemed to be consistent! I would have one person say I was 3minutes down,…then another person would say 2:40,…then another would say 2:30,…then another would say 3:30,…all within a span of 2km,…nonetheless I enjoyed deciphering such information, and calculating the average – it gave me something to do which helped break up the monotony.

Throughout the bike, I felt like I had the best cheering crowd ever! I definitely had an advantage over my competitors, as I had a group of friends traveling all over the bike course yelling words of encouragement along the way.

Scott's friends

I worked hard all the way into town. Once I started getting close to the transition area, I unzipped the Velcro laces on my cycling shoes, took my feet out of my shoes and placed them on top of my cycling shoes – what a glorious feeling to get my aching feet out of my shoes.

Upon dismounting my bike, I felt pain under the arch of my left foot. Running towards the bike to run change tent increased the pain – I could only hope that it would work itself out.

Thankfully the pain eased and I quickly felt much better in my running shoes. I took the first mile of the run quite easy and wanted to take the time to get in some nutrition for the long run ahead.

I felt sensational for the first few miles of the run. At about 3 miles, I was caught and passed by someone who was feeling even more sensational – fellow Canuck, Jasper Blake. Jasper looked terrific and I was happy for him – I could sense he was having a great race. I cheered him on with a “Go Jazz Go!!!”. By the 10 mile mark, I started to feel the distance of the day catching up to me. By this point, the mental part of the race was coming into play more than ever.

It was also around this point that Kyle Marcotte caught and passed me. He did not pass me nearly as fast as Jasper did, but it was still a pace that I was not comfortable with maintaining. However, I did keep Kyle within a reasonable distance, and tried to keep thinking positively. After the turn around, I did end up having a bit of a second wind as I slowly started to gain back my lost time on Kyle. By about the 14 mile mark I was overtaken again by Gordo Byrn. “Man! Where are these guys coming from? Why are they passing me?!”, I thought. As quickly as Gordo caught me, he caught up to Kyle and overtook him as well. In my head, I still had my sights on Kyle, he had 4th place – and I wanted it from him.

I pressed on as hard as I could, trying to hold form, but I was unable to bridge the gap on Kyle. The distance remained the same, a little over 1 minute apart. The 20th to the 25th miles felt like an eternity of pain. I could not complete the miles fast enough. Amazingly however, the final mile felt better. The crowd was screaming and cheering. With the end near, I realized I was enjoying the race again – in a sick, sick kind of way. I finished in a time of 8:55:57 good enough for 5th place. It was my 2nd Ironman finish.

I was thrilled to have a good performance, felt I raced a tactically smart race and did as well as I could have on the day – what more could I ask for?!

Pure Joy

Thanks very much to my sponsors and supporters – you all are great, and I appreciate your contributions in helping me along. Next stop,…IM-Florida. Until then, take care!