Monday, September 06, 2010

IM Canada, I introduce you to Chris

I understand why people keep going back now. I get it. An ironman is such a big event you can’t really describe it. The energy around the race has no words, having the announcer count down from 10, feeling, yes feeling not hearing, everyone yelling and hollering. All 2850 athletes, 3500 volunteers, and god knows how many spectators. It is for lack of better words simply incredible.

Ok enough of that. Race morning I was wide awake when the alarm went off. Rice, eggs, yogurt, infinit, lets rock! We got dropped off, marked up, added stuff to transition bags, double check tire pressure, PT is working, my bike is row 13… awesome…

A bit of stretching and a little zoning out so I don’t start tearing apart the alloy fence in a need to burn off energy and we are off! Feel good. Lined up in front. I mean ON the front, dead center. "If your faster than me crawl over me or shut the f** up!"

Ohh right, that’s Chris. Many people that I have raced or trained with have meet him briefly but probably didn’t realize it. Chris is my alter racing personality. He is incredibly smart, supper savvy racer, cunning, never loses his cool and is very, very aggressive. The price we pay for all this knowledge, wisdom and fierce competitiveness is Chris is not the most fun to be around. Basically he is a totally A. hole. He doesn’t care about you, anyone else or anything else. For my rowing friends (who were few) Chris over took most of my day to day personality. Not pretty.

Alright, approaching half way in the swim and a gap opened up between me and the group I was with. I pushed hard to close the gap but It was too much, I couldn’t do it. “what should I do?” I thought. Chris chimes in “look behind you moron! There are 2850 people racing, there is likely to be a few right behind you, you can draft! And hurry up! I wana start riding!!” see… kind of a jerk.
Sure enough a guy came around me. I got on his feet and we connected with the group at the turn for home.
I swam hard I won’t lie, and when I heard, “well, we only have 57 minutes on the clock for our top age groupers here”, from the announcer as I jumped onto my bike I thought for a second I may have just blown my whole race. Well whatever time to do some serious cycling execution.

The first 10 miles was supper chill, over McLean rd. short climb but with some steep sections. Use a 27 cog for this race people. I had a very strong bike and I was in mine several times. The first 38 miles or so are pretty fast roads and while it didn’t feel like there was a tail wind, there was and Chris noticed it. hey! Eric, you see the leaves on the trees? Its windy, doesn’t feel like it now but we are gona have a big head wind second half on the bike. Stay loose I stayed smooth and got lots of cals down.

Up Richter pass. A tough stair steeped climb. It surprised me that even being at the front end of the amateur field people still climbed horribly! Guys weighing 10-20 pounds more than me would blow by me on the steep part (I was doing 260 watts) then on the flat section I would only do 220 and I would blow right by them! “keep it up morons! I am gona make you pay on yellow lake! Nice job EK stick to the plan” Chris said to me. I don’t let him speak out loud anymore.

Down the decent, more food, some evacuation and onto the rollers. These are tough, and here came the head wind. I starting passing more and more people here. Pushing 220 watts now. The out and back was smooth. A bit harder now, fueling was perfect. I had all my food gone by yellow lake, sands 1-200 cals of infinit for the last 17 miles down hill into town. As yellow lake kicked up I passed more people. The roads were wet from a passing thunder shower. I would later find out a shower passed through later and gave several people hypothermia. Ouch! Glad I missed that. The yellow lake climb was great. I felt amazing, I kept asking to go harder but Chris kept me to the plan. The crowds were awesome. Like riding up a big climb in the tour. People shouting, both sides of the road, barley enough room for 1 bike at a time. It was sick!!!

I got rocked by 30+ mph cross winds on the decent, and some rain. No biggie. Roads were dry in town. And I backed off to 200 watts or so for the last 15 minutes or so coming into town.

My bike data is
HERE. I could not have executed a better bike. 230 watts, best 2 hr. was from the bottom of Richter pass to the summit of yellow last. Mile 50-95. Best hour was the second hour of that 2 hr’s. I have never felt better after 5 hr’s on the bike. NEVER.

Quick, smooth T 2 where if not for my helper in the change tent I would have run out with my helmet on. Thank you!

Onto the run. I felt good. Mile one, 8:10, “take it easy EK.” Mile 2, 7:50, “Hey Crowie, if your gona blow this thing right here I’ll go home. GET-IT -TOGETHER!!! Ok, so a backed off and found a nice rhythm at 8:20 or so. I had a few quick pee stops but nothing major.
Tummy was good fueling was going well. Pee on the bike. Peeing on the run sucks. The wind and wet roads kept me from doing so on the last decent. The hills as at the half way point of the run are tough, but seemed almost shorter than I imagined. I grabbed my special need bag. Another flask of Infinit and a can of red bull. Now, I already have a flask of my super double secret go go juice, but I put a red bull in there just in case. I felt pretty good here but before I knew it I drank ¾ of it. Ok well, guess I needed that??
Back over the hills and onto the return leg. When I passed mile 16 something very strange happened. I thought. “ohh yeah, I ONLY have 10 miles left” this thought acutely made me laugh. I had come from being soar after a 30’ jog in November to this. “only 10 miles”. Another 30-34 ager passed me. I had lost count, a number of people were wearing compression gear which covers their age. Should be illegal if you ask me. You look LAME! And while I knew I was close to the front coming off the bike I didn’t know exactly. The thought of not making it to kona washed over my body a swarm of locusts my mental focus slipped away and there was nothing I could do. . .

Chris was gone, he couldn’t do anything anymore. Then I felt something that I was sure I would feel but hadn’t yet. “hey kid, you’re lookin good ya know. Shit I think your gona make it.” It was my grandfather. He died the wed. before the race.

I felt horrible for not being there in Fl. with him and my family. The night before he passed he said to my mom, who was by his side, that he wanted me to go to Canada. To race. He said, “I’ll be there with him”.

And sure enough here he was. I could hear him plan as day. And see he face. That tan leathery skin, worn by the life of raising 3 kids, fight in a world war, and few other story’s I can’t tell here.

“Eric, I don’t care if you qualify for Hawaii. You should be happy with just being able to do this, huh.” There are people that can’t walk you know, can see, can’t do lots of the things that you can do. Look around this place is beautiful, and you’re here doing great! Now get to the finish so you can have a beer for me! I’m thirsty!”

That was him, always keeping me grounded, showing me the appreciation I should have when I lost it.

Mile 20 came and so did the wind. 20-30 mph head wind while running up a long, long false flat.
“6 miles EK lets do this!!” I was feeling good again and thought I could run sub 8:30’s but the wind was crushing.

Climbers have a term for the area above 26,000 feet in altitude. It’s called the death zone. Not because climbers are bad asses, or there crazy. It’s acutely a very good name. Above that altitude you are dying. Rather quickly too. Your body can not recover. No matter how much you sleep, even if you could. No matter how much you eat, even if your digestive system acutely did work. You just keep dyeing.

Mile 20 to 26.2 in an Ironman is like the death zone. There is nothing you can do to stop the pain in your quads. You can’t surge to get behind someone and draft, if you bonk there is no coming back, it’s over, you’re walking. It took every ounce of my being to concentrate to each steep. If you lost that concentration your body would instinctively do the only sensible thing, stop. You have to really force it. If you look at the girl in the bikini, or the 2 guys dressed up as Iron man or smell the burgers from the hotel, you’re walking.

Despite all this I was still running and running 8:30-8:40 pace. I guess THIS worked. My feet began to scuffle quite a bit now. “pick your feet up EK, come up up!!” chris was back noticing things I cannot, making adjustments and combating issues before they happen. It felt like I was high steeping. Like I was marching or something. In reality I was barley clearing the ground with my feet.
With 300 meters to go one more 30-34 ager passed me. “ahh come on EK get on that! WTF!, we are not finished yet, we don’t give up” I tried to accelerate, and did, but not enough. I came down the finishing shoot alone, high fived some kids crossed the line, said a quick thank you to gramps and hobbled over to the finishers coral. Drank about 14 cups of soup, and ate plenty of food.

A bit later I found our souginer of the weekend and another roomy finished, Paul.

You have to watch people finish at midnight once in your life. Some guy finish 4 seconds before the cutoff at midnight. Are you kidding me?!! 17 hours out on the course and it came down to 4 seconds!

Some stats from my race:

9:52. (9th ag. 71st over all)

Swim: 54:30 (there was speculation the course was short. I believe it. Maybe by 1-2 minutes)

Bike: see power file. Time 5:07, 3rd in AG. 230 watts norm. felt great

Run: 8:30 first half. 8:40 second half. 3:45 total. Felt much better than I thought. Cloudy and cool on the run. Good temps, wind was brutal in last 6 miles.


Kristin (Triathlon Dreams) said...

Awesome time!!! COngrats on sticking with the run!! Mental Toughness!!!

Liz said...

very cool writeup! fun to read. Glad you felt good.