I still have a bit of euphoria left but the drowsiness is coming on rapidly. I had an incredible race. I’m just so thankful to everybody and everything that makes a day like today possible. My ancestors, my parents, the land that supported me as I travelled across it, my wife and kids, the ever positive volunteers and race organizers, whoever built that new aquatic centre and I can go on and on.
If you read my pre-race report you’ll notice that I wanted to swim sub36min, cycle sub83min and run sub72min but changed those hopes to finishing in 3.5 hours. So that’s 1500m swimming, 40km cycling and running for 10km (for those that don’t know).
This morning I weighed ~325lbs which is roughly 40 more than when I did this race 3 years ago. I haven’t been on the bike outside much at all and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to sustain 3.5hrs of consistent effort with my longest training day being only two hours.
So now that it’s all set up, I completed in 3hrs20min with a 35min swim, 80min bike and 73min run. I’m amazed. We had a long run and subsequent transition after the pool so that was 8 minutes and T2 was 4. I’m thrilled by this and mostly about being able to race at a low zone 3 (heart rate ~150-155) for it all. I attribute this to my nutrition plan which I used during my Ironman in 2014. I mixed two bottles with 2 Nuun tabs, and a mixture of CarboPro and Orange Gatorade for taste (~450kcal). I had one on the bike and one on the run and I felt strong throughout.
My sense of the course is that it is a fast one. The winds picked up halfway through the bike but the out is mostly downhill and the back is a gentle uphill. The run has a lengthy downhill segment and the back not much of a noticeable climb. The pool was fast and electric. It had 10x50m lanes so we swam down and back each lane across the pool to clock 1km then jumped out and back into lane 5 to finish the 1500m.
I had to register this morning and was put into the D heat. We went last around 9:15am and though I was told we were grouped by time (35-45min estimated swim time) that was not the case. I found myself 2nd last in my heat with Thomas kindly taking the rear. He would pass me at the 25m mark. LOL It’s definitely harder when you’re the slowest by a wide margin. I just had to swim within myself being unable to use anybody to pace off of. I had a close call with one guy as I had to barrel role to avoid a head on collision. He was coming down the middle of the lane and I was creeped over a bit too. We locked arms into our shoulder but we got free during the recovery, no injuries. Yay!
Thomas went out pretty fast and built 100m lead on me but I was able to bring it back to 40m by the end. I was happy with that. People were lined up all around the pool and it was neat looking at them as they waited their sprint heat. I felt pride knowing, even though last, that I was doing the Olympic distance. The sprint is half the distance and I was thinking how maybe I should’ve opted for that instead but am so happy that I didn’t.
T1 (1st transition from swim to bike) had a long run from the pool to the bike racks. It was somewhat surreal needing to run around the Aquatic Centre and between the old Student Union Building where I had once been attacked by a throng of teenagers. The Bird’s Nest wasn’t there and certainly not the Aquatic Centre. I used to play soccer and go to beer gardens where the hot tub is. Racing at UBC is a treat and though many construction changes have happened in the 20 years, there are many memories anchored deep.
I was happy to see Thomas in the change tent but he was long gone by the time I got to the bike rack. It was raining by now and very cold. Probably around 5 degrees C which is what, about 40 degrees F?
The bike course is an out and back with 4 laps. A few potholes would steal some unsecured water bottles from inattentive riders. They were deep so I hope they and their bikes were ok. I rode with a spare tube but no pump or patch kit. Gambling but no issues. I chose running shorts and a long sleeve, short sleeve, tech hoodie combo for the top. I was very cold but once things numbed out, it became more bearable.
So I’m the slow guy on the course but not so so slow on the bike. I get a lot of energy out of the people cheering, the volunteers offering encouragement and others who pass me by. Some of them say, hey way to go. I hear..for a fat guy. I change it in my head by replying, thanks…you too.
The 4th lap came and went pretty quickly as far as I was concerned. By the third, I was trying to remember how many I had done. There’s always that thought “Am I going to do 5 of these because my brain doesn’t work anymore?” Don’t ever ask me to engage in complex conversation while I’m sweating a lot.
As I was coming in to T2 (Bike – Run transition), I was pretty hobbled. I haven’t cycled enough to have developed reasonable sit bone resilience and I was cranking a big gear at times and my hamstrings seemed locked tight. I managed to get the short distance to my bike, and as per regulation, put my helmet on first and then changed shoes and all that stuff. I was out in 3:55. I hobbled forward to the end of the transition and then as soon as I crossed it, I was able to run. I don’t know how but I did run. It wasn’t pretty. For one, I couldn’t feel my feet. They were completely senseless and would take 3km of pounding to start coming back.
And so I was running. I wasn’t the fastest or even competitive but not the slowest either. I was able to meet some people on the course and share war stories. Still able to talk in low Zone 3. I’d power down the hills as quick as I could trust my feet and heart and on the steeper inclines, I’d power walk. There were only two of these on the course. At the halfway mark, I saw that I had 30 minutes left to finish in 3:15 and match the time I set three years ago. I picked it up though not able to tell how fast I was going. I was wearing my Garmin 910 and had it set on Auto Multisport. That was a mistake and I got no metrics about speed or pace and even my HR monitor was wonky, reading at times and not at others. It was nice though to run to how I felt. I didn’t go too hard fearing that I’d blow up and inevitably get slower. The pace I kept was a good one, about 11.2 min/mile which is very fast compared to my training pace (~13min/mile).
With the last straight slightly uphill stretch and a downhill turn to go, I had 9 minutes to get to the finish to be there by 3hr20min. I turned it on, as much as I dared, trying to catch the big guy who passed me by. He was too fast. I felt pure elation in that final stretch, very grateful to all my relations. I thought of my wife and kids AJ, Emily and Bobby, hoping that I’d see them at the end. It was really raining uncomfortably hard and cold. Sure enough, there they were, cheering me on wildly as I ran down that last few metres. I was and am so happy. What privilege I have to be able to do this, to have the time and resources and health to do all of this. AJ and her support are tantamount to any success I have and I am eternally grateful and indebted to her.
She delayed her plans to spend the weekend with her two best friends to care for the kids. She took them to music class and stood there waiting for me in the cold rain, trying to keep the kids entertained. Bobby is 2.5 and so appeared content to be sheltered away in his stroller and Emily was hunkered down under an umbrella. They were soaked. I lifted Emily over the fence and she was immediately given a medal. It matched the one I got and I didn’t want to give it back. My hope is for her to find her own way of taking care of herself and hopefully sport fits into that picture in some way. I’d love to be able to do races with her and Bobby as they grow.
So there you have it. I was super happy, feeling very proud, excited to have my family there and see others that I’d met throughout the day. I told AJ that I needed 30 minutes to change and gather everything and I also couldn’t pass up a chance to sit in the hot tub. My whole body stung as I entered, my skin and flesh slowly warming and building circulation. I got out much too early for my liking but not wanting to leave AJ too long. But that happened anyway, as it often does. I’m a very lucky man to be blessed with the love of such a wonderful woman. I hope and try to support her as much as she does me.
Signing off for now. Hope you all enjoy your weekends out there and if you’re on spring break, that time as well.
With love. ❤