Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ironman Canada Race Report

Ironman Canada
Penticton, British Columbia
Ironman North America
94F / 34C

Triathlon - Full Ironman
Total Time = 14h 14m 19s
Overall Rank = 1848/2880
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 322/497

Pre-race routine:

Ironman racing teaches you alot about yourself. It is about the journey as much as the final destination. You never quite know what is going to happen between the day you sign up 364 days in advance and hopefully when you reach the finish line. For me Ironman Canada was one of those races that has always a special meaning. Ironman Canada is the oldest and longest running Iron Distance Event in North America. This was the 29th year and it is one of those races the other athletes will tell you you have to experience. This was where the Hoyts showed the world they could finish an Ironman Triathlon. This is where Sister Madonna Budder showed us age is only a number lining up at age 81. This race is a perfect mix of nature and history. Penticton is on one of the cleanest and most scenic lakes (not to mention large). The bike takes you on an amazing tour of the Britsh Columbia country side and up two mountain passes and it by far the most scenic race I've ever done, and the run lets you explore the southern lake and be cheered on by some of the greatest Ironfans you will ever meet.

I actually was shocked last year as spot for Ironman Canada went on line as it frequently sells out before getting on-line, but I wasted no time and signed up in the first minute. That started a fun filled year of training, a few injuries, sicknesses, unplanned work trips, etc, which left me feeling under prepared for the swim and run (Due to Plantar Faciatis on my left foot which limited my running most of the year and I still haven kicked it. No real excuse for the swim other than didn't do enough), but felt good about the bike averaging over 500 miles per month since my foot problems weren't an issue on the bike. We made a 10 day vacation flying to Vancouver for 6 days and doing a ton of siteseeing (Stanley Park, Chinatown, Grouse Mountain, Capillo suspension bridge, Downtown, and Grandville Island) then drove to Kalowna for the last 4 days, driving to Penticton on the other side of the lake (about an hour's drive daily). Race morning got up at 3:20, ate a couple kewis and had a bottle of Ultragen and Tammy dropped me off at the race site at about 5:00am. Got my bottles staged and special needs bags taken care of, then got my tires pumped up and then got changed. Was about 6:30am so I got in the water and got a bit of a swimm in before the pro lined up. Water was great.

Event warmup:

After my warm up 5 min swim, I ran into a cute an very nervious Japanese lady who said the water was cold, but I was really a case of nerves so I gave her some positive words. They lined up the pros and ran through the field, announcing Jacqui Gordan my Team Trakkers Teammmate, who had to withdraw due to injuries from a bike accident. Sad she wasn't here but it did sent some positive vibes. Then they sang "O Canada." That was really cool since there we are waist deep in water and about 1000 people are sing along, never see that is the USA. It was a very cool thing I will alway remember. Then the pros were off and 2880 age groups lined up. A nervious 15 min and there I was left and middle of the largest starting field in Ironman history about to get underway. Another round of "O Canada!" for the age groupers and then it was time to go. Up went the flags and we were off!



For the biggest starting field in Ironman history, the pack was pretty well behaved, at least in my part of the lake. We started walking up to the line then got going and was very surprised how little beating and banging there was in the first 400 meters. Don't get me wrong there were people everywhere but we stayed off each other pretty well and didn't try and swim over each other and it worked well. The swim leg out to the first turn went very well. Lots of feet to follow and caps to navigate off of. So I just got into a nice smooth rhythem and cruised along. Navigated right along the bouy line. There was a bouy every 100 meters which was good. At the first turn buoy I was on the inside and there was a major traffic jam as everyone converged. But again most everyone stayed cool and went with it and no major contact. The short leg went well also, but the second turn was ever worse then the first it was so stacked up. Had a bit of a cramp there which sucked. Finally got swimming again and since this leg was into the sun, I did my best to follow feet since I was blinded by the glare. Had some issues swimming straight due to that sun, and got banged around a bit more since I was crossing peolpe's paths. But when I had a good set of feet I went well. Still stayed on course and soon found myself back at the beach looking at the rocks and standing up. Good swim!

What would you do differently?:

Not much. Maybe some tinted gogles would have worked better but still a really good swim, and I felt good



Normal ironman T1. Hit the wetsuit strippers, got my bag and headed into a very warm changing tent. Found my glasses fogged up, got changed smoothly, had some problems with my bike jersey zipper, gooped up with sunscreen and then trotted to the porta potty before heading out the long walk with my bike.

What would you do differently?:

Go faster.



The bike started out OK. With 2880 on the course it got pretty crowded out on the trip up Main street as we got into a good groove. Riding along the back lake was cool then we turned left and up Mclean Creek hill which was a tough little grind made a lot tough by all the people slogging up it spread out across the road. After that was a nice praved downhill with a few good technical turns. Right at the bottom there was a accident and gear spread along the road, which I was very fortunate to miss. The leg down to Osoyoos was smooth and fun. Got into a nice rhythm and made sure to hold back and save energy for the climbs. Passed through a few towns which came out in force to cheer us on. Started drinking every 10K and taking a shot of EFS each aid station. At about 35 miles, my race turned for the worst as I was taking my EFS and then all the sudden I was gagging and throwing it back up. Tried some liquid EFS and same result. This was a really bad sign. The day was getting hotter and I could keep anything but water down and there were 65 miles of climbing left.
Soon we hit Ritcher and started grinding up the bottom slopes. Ritcher has several tiers to the climb so you get a break every so often, and you don't quite realize how much you climbed until you look down the the valley below. 1140 feet of climbing. But the fans turn out in force and it was a party on the side of the road and it felt very Tour De France like. Coming up to the summitt they have an MC and they were cheering you on like mad. The MC on top hollered congratulation you just conquored Ritcher Pass which felt awesome and then you were absolutely flying down the other side on a crazy decent. I don't have a bike computer on the Kestrel but we were flying. Then came the tough part of the course. The seven sister are a series of rollers between Ritcher and the out and back. Very hot and exposed road and it never let you get back into your rhythm. At this point, I was very close to dropping out. Still could take in anything but water (even tried the nasty poweraid- stuff which didn't work.) My mouth was dry, my nutrion was shot, my stomach hated me, my back was really starting to hurt and I could stay aero, and there was a serious headwind. When the going gets tough, you find out alot about yourself. I knew one thing i had to do was slow down, reduce my sweat rate, and try and hang in their till my stomach would accept anything. I had to deal with the sight of so many folks cruising past me but if I was going to make it I had to swallow my pride and let them go. I grinded through the sisters, was able to take and hold down some fruit and water at the next aid station and I got through the worst of it. After what seemed like forever we hit the out and back and there was one last evil little hill which I didn't gear down early enough for and had to stand and grind as I stalled out.

The out and back is tough and again very hot. There was a mini out and back leg and two people flopped over in front of me at the turnaround forcing me to go off roading to avoid running over them. (They were fine, just embarassed.) FInally you reach the end of the out and back and hit special needs. I stopped and unclipped and traded out my bottles, and again tried some EFS with no luck. So now it was back into the wind and what the heck I can't get my left shoe to clip in. Spent the next 5 miles cursing at my shoe and doing everything to get it to clip in to no avail. So the last 35-40 miles were with my left foot sliding on top of the pedals which made the climbs so much fun. As if this wasn't bad enough, then the real messed up part happened. Aid stations 8, 9, and 10 were out of bottled water. The only fluid I could keep down and they didn't have any. They had a hose at 8 and 10 and a line of people. SO climbing back out of the out and back at the hottest part of the day, into a head wind, and starting up to Yellow lake, with no water or nutrition. I was in my own personal hell. I was able to take a bit of EFS and thank god for the lady in Aid station 9 who had a water bottle of Ice which got my to and over Yellow Lake. The Yellow lake climb is very gradual until it turns up for 2- kilometer or so stretches. Again the fans were out and very encouraging and entertaining on the climbs. Felt like a rock star again. Once over the top the headwind and rotten road made it rough even on the downhills. There was another short climb and then finally aid station 11 with some ice cold water. Yeah!!. After that was a major down hill with twists and turn where we were flying and then back to Penticton airport into town and eventually back to Main Street for the last 3-4 miles. Saw the runners going the other way. Felt great to be back and even better to finally get of that bike.

I survived the bike, which did put a smile on my face. Just about everything that could have gone wrong did. But I fought my way though it. That was very rewarding even then.

What would you do differently?:

Address nutrion issues, back issues. DOn't know it the EFS went bad sitting in the transition bags or in my gear bag, but that it something I never want to experience again. Never had issues with EFS before but the temps in the mid 90s apparently spoilled the liquid shot. The expo didn't have anything other than powerade, where is PBN when you need them!!!



Got off the bike and the volunteer took my bike and I slowly walked to get my bag and headed to the tent. I had one great volunteer help me in the tent, I just wanted to sit a drink some water for a bit and he encouraged me, then helped get my stuff out goop up with Trislide untied my shoes and the hosed me down with sunscreen. I really appricated his help and encouagement. Probably would have just sat there for 20 minutes without his help. Visited the porta pottty, pulled on my Trakkers hat and off to the run.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I was not in a good place coming in, so just getting out of transition was an accomplishment at that point.



I walked to the start and then took fruit and water at the aid station and started shuffling off. You start with a loop from Winnioeg to Westover, to lakeshore and do and out and back. The first half of that loop I walked alot but i started trotting before the end of Westover and I kept in up the rest of the way other than walking the aid stations and getting every bit of nutrition I could. They had the aid stations very close together in town which was perfect for me. The fruit (oraganges, watermellon and grapes) and cola revived me. By about mile 2 I was actually floating along pretty well. As you got out of town you passed a park with a tent full of rowdy fans who were awesome. Got a few comments about my green racing kit with matching hat (Very positive comments) which made my smile.
Getting out to the shores of the lake it seemed like almost everyone was walking, so I was actually passing people doing my 11 min miles. Met alot of cool people along the way, who would tag along with me. Met a cancer survivor, a few native indian Pentecton residents, and a 75 year old guy would was leapfrogging my with a walk run. Very few people were running the hills but I was afraid to stop. I could let myself walk through the aid stations, because there was a purpose to get as much water, ice, cola, and fruit down, then get going. At Eagleman I found once I stopped without a purpose it was a lost cause, so I kept trotting and actually didn't feel too bad. Hit the turnaround and got my special need bag with a nice Kiwi fruit. The hills were tough on the way back, but I slogged along. At mile 15 I took a pit stop at the porta potty. The last 7-8 miles my legs started to get very heavy and my pace slowed. At this point the sun was going down and it was cooling off and more folks were running, especially as we came back into town. The trip dowm Main street was awesome with folks lining the street and encouraging you along. Finally we hit, Westover and you could hear the finish line. At the end of Westover, I saw Tammy, Adrian, and Matthew who were a bit worried since i was about an hour behind my normal pace, but happy to see me none the less. That pumped my up as we got a few pictures. The last out and back on Lakeshore just seemed to take forever (mile 25 marker is as you turn on to Lakeshore)but the street was jam packed. When I finally hit the turn around (which is about 4 blocks further than on the outbound loop) I was feeling great. I started listen to the announcer (Mike Riley was at IM KY) but they were giving alot of information. I passed two more people on that last 1000 m stretch and wanted to stretch out so each of us had the finish chute to ourselves. They announced me "Andrew Rosebrook of Royersford, PA. Andrew is a 6 time Ironman finisher having completed IM FL, Kona, IM AZ, and IM UK." (No love for Rev3 Cedar Point but this was a WTC race)." With that i hit the finish line with a smile on my face.

What would you do differently?:

Getting to the end of the race on a tough day is what it's all about. Defeating that little voice inside your head, even when what that little voice is telling you makes all the sense in the world, is an amazing feeling. That was make i felt the first time I crossed the line at IM FL and the feeling was even stronger at IM Canada. Couldn't have done much different on this run as i paid for the mistakes on the bike but I still managed to pick up nearly 300 spots even with a 5:19, my second slowest IM marathon.

Post race

Warm down:

My catcher grabbed me, and got my medal, got some water, pulled my chip, got my to my picture, and got my finsher shirt and hat. Saw Tammy and the boys and gave then the finishers stuff. Then she led me to the massage tent. Very nice lady from Wilkes Barre, PA. Small world. Got a massage, had a bit of cheese pizza, got my gear out of transition, got changed to some warm dry clothes, then brought my bike and gear bag to Tri-Bike transport. Stuffed the contents of the bags into my gear bag and dropped them off. Then a long walk to the car and back home to Kalowna. Really wanted a McDonald's chocolate shake, but the shake machine was oos at West Kalowna. Long shower/bath and of to bed sore as hell. A good zipper hickey and two rub mark from my tri shorts, and a small sunburn at the elastic on the legs and on the aclies tendons of both legs and back on my hands.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Unable to take in or keep down nutrition on the bike. Plus a few mechanical issues. Can't ever fully recover from something like that but I am proud how well I coped.

Event comments:

Absolutely great fans and greater volunteers, and the course was absolutely amazing. My catcher and T2 assitant were great.!

Organizationally there were some issues however. Running out of water on three aid station on the bike was pretty unacepatble (especially since there were 800 or so more behind me) and I did notice that the volunteers were filling up water jugs from the lake on the run at several aid stations on the lake. Don't think that was supposed to happen.

There were a ton of ambulences on course for bike wrecks and heat related issues on the run, and those folks were outstanding as well. It was a rough day and I hear there were over 500 DNFs. Not that the Race director can control the weather.

Medal wasn't as cool as some of the IM Canada onces I've seen from previous years, and not along of swag for $650.

All that said the race really was spectacle and a very cool event to have been a part of. The course is breathtaking in many ways, the lakes are beautiful and clean, and the support from the community and voluneers was second to none. Very happy I did this race,