I’d like to start by saying thank you to all my friends and family for the calls, texts, and emails following the race. I was internet-less and (somewhat) phone-less in Canada so I apologize for the tardiness (or complete lack) of my gratitude. Your support is always greatly appreciated.
I hopped in a bathroom line at 5:55 a.m. and at 6:35 a.m. I was still standing in it (pro start at 6:45). My chances of making the right swim group seemed to be drifting away because of a variable I had yet to consider. Fortunately, I somehow managed to get to the start line with a couple minutes to go. Missing a warm up was compensated by the anxiety I was experiencing while standing in line. I was alert and ready to roll.
I lined up right next to my buddy Gordo and the gun went off. My plan was to stick to the G-man no matter what, but I lost him in about 13 meters so that didn’t work out so well. I kept it rolling and after a few hundred meters it appeared that our group had formed (and interestingly enough, I then found Gordo in front of me). I made my way towards the front as I feared there might be an early break and I did not want to get boxed in. As it were, the group stayed together for quite some time (and was quite large).
The pace picked up a bit in the final thousand meters and the group strung out in a single line just like a bike race. The front swimmers took a wide line to the finishing chute in the final minutes of the swim so everyone sort of spread out and made their way to shore. I actually found myself wide of the exit and had to dolphin dive along the shallow water to get to the exit ramp.
In and out of T1 and onto the bike.
I honestly felt pretty wiped from the swim and I found myself struggling to get a rhythm as we rolled through town. After I found my legs, I decided to ride quickly to the base of Richter as the winds were coming from the South. This meant that we would have favorable winds on the backside of Richter Pass and I felt there would be a good time return to ride a bit harder through the first section of the course.
Getting up and over Richter Pass was a nice relief as the descent allowed for some recovery (and it was welcomed). The section after Richter Pass is really the meat of the course and, from what I have been told, the out-and-back often shakes up the race considerably. At the turnaround (mile 75 or so) I could see a big group up the road, but the time gap didn’t seem too great so I had hope of reeling some of those athletes in as the day wore on.
I did manage to start catching some athletes as I approached and climbed to Yellow Lake. At the top of the climb I got a split of “three minutes to third” and it really sparked some new life in me. I really wanted to be on that podium.
The descent from Yellow Lake was FANTASTIC and being able to soft pedal at high speeds did wonders for my legs. I rolled into town, got my run shoes on, and headed out for a marathon.
It might be odd to hear, but the start of the run is always such a relief to me. The swim and bike legs of an IM have such a wide variety of intensities and variables, but the run is pretty basic. Although, this time it was a bit different because I was feeling a little on edge and low on energy. I decided that I would take in a gel at every aid station until I started to feel better and that came out to taking one in for the first 7-8 miles.
The Ironman Canada run course can be a lonely venture to the turnaround, but I have had the good fortune for the past two years of having a run partner for the first half. This year it was Canada’s Kyle Marcotte (who has had plenty of success at IMC over the years). We ran together to the turnaround and we helped motivate one another to move up in the field. As we rounded the turnaround we were running in 6th and 7th with 5th place shortly up the road.
I got a split to third place. It was two minutes. I really, really wanted to finish on the podium.
The way back into town was one of the best efforts I have yet to give in this sport. I found myself in 5th place at mile 15 or so (taking the position from Marky V; my friend who raced very well off the front for most of the day) and at mile 19 I caught Andrey (who looked totally cooked) and moved into 4th. I kept plugging along, pushing myself to try to make a go at the podium, but it appeared that Jasper was just too strong and the split would not come down. At this point I was merely running for myself, or so I thought.
As I neared the mile 25 marker I heard someone say “50 meters.” I looked over my shoulder and saw Andrey charging down Main Street. I started to mentally prepare for a race to the finish, but my response to Andrey’s pace was not enough. I lifted my effort by nearly 20 seconds/mile, but that would not do. I gave one more go in the final mile, but he had the legs and I had to concede 4th place and finish up 23 seconds back. I had nothing left. I did everything I could on Sunday; finishing 5th in 8:37:34.
I have really enjoyed racing in Penticton the last couple years and I’m very pleased to have set a new Ironman PR on such a challenging course. I had ten family members in town to watch me race and they carried me from the start to the finish. You guys mean the world to me.
Until next time,
My support team:
Trainingbible Coaching www.trainingbible.com
Javelin Bikes www.javbike.com
Fuel Belt www.fuelbelt.com