Gosh, where do I start? I'll just give you a race day report.
I was up at 5:15 am, which I have to say is not all that early for an IM race. Jessi, Kathi, Kevin, and Emma were soon to follow with brighter eyes than me. I think they were more excited than I was at this point. It was a typical pre race morning with my typical breakfast, hydration, supplements, etc. Not too much stress at all. Our hotel was about 1k away from the start so I decided to walk.
I showed up to the race site about 1 hour before. As most of you know, that is pretty darn close to the race start from what I normally do... 2 hours. I have to say that I was not a huge fan of the race set up in terms layout. It was very difficult to get into transition, bodymarking, special needs bags, etc. The bathrooms were crazy. One line was about 30+ minutes long. I decided to walk 5 minutes so I did not have o wait at all. This is pretty much how it all went. It was finally time to get my wetsuit on and get going. I was still in the changing tent with about 15 minutes before the race. Again, most of you know this is how slow I typically move race morning. I wasn't worried at all, even though I did not know the layout of the swim start. I wondered down to the water with about 5 minutes to go. I went to where I could swim the shortest straight line and walked up to the front line. I stood there for a few minutes looking around me to see if I could find someone that looked like they would be explosive off the start. I was also looking for Sam Picicci, but I could not find him either. They gave us the 1 minute warning so I started my watch... then the cannon sounded. We were off. I have to say that it was the easiest start to an IM swim that I have done. It was kind of a water start, but you were still standing. It slowed down the 'rush' into the water quite a bit. So congestion was pretty limited.
I came out of the water 55th including the pros... which is my best 'placed' swim by far. I went into T1 knowing what to do, and left pretty quickly as well. I think I passed a few guys there as well.
As I headed out on the bike and my primary goal was to ease up the effort on the bike so I could have a better run... or as I have told people before, have my best IM run ever. It seemed like things were going well. The 1st 40 miles are pretty flat, and I was going well. Richter Pass felt great and I was feeling super. But I was having trouble getting my HR down for a bit so I decided to simply 'slow down'. So I did. Some people passed me, but I kept reminding myself that I wanted to have a good run, and if a 6hr bike was in the cards, that's the way it was going to be. I eventually found myslef in no mans land and just kept a steady pace. When I got to the next major climbs (Yellow Lake) my heart rate was very receptive to my effort, which is a good thing. The last 30 minutes or so is mostly downhill so I was able to recover a bit from th harder efforts required by Yellow Lake.
I had a good T2, and headed out on the run. My heart rate seemed a little high from the start, but I really did not feel like I was pushing myself at all, so I maintained that effort after trying to get it a bit lower. I passed a few people on the run on the way to the turn around, and a few people passed me as well. But 13.1 miles is only 1/2 the run... it's always harder the second 1/2. I was making time on some people that I frequently race against who are great athletes, so I knew I was going fine. But was I working too hard? On the way back would I fall apart? Well, on the way back I passed most of the guys who passed me on the way out. They were falling apart. I was taking in tons of water, ice, gels, sponges, whatever I could grab in the aid stations. It seemd to work okay, but there was more uphill on the way back. As I was nearing the 23 miule mark, Kevin told me that the next guy in my division was 1:40 ahead. That would be tough to close in that limited amount of time, not to mention I was tired. But I knew there was a guy behind me that was closing. It took him until the 25 mile to make his pass... but he was in a different division. But I was coming up on another guy in my division at the 25 mile mark as well. Crap! Do I make the pass now and run the risk of him staying with me? Do I slow down and pass later and run the risk of someone else passing me in the time? I decided to surge pass him and push myslef as hard as I could for the next 1.2 miles. For those that do not know the course, the last 1.2 miles is an 'out and back,' so the people in front of you can see how far ahead they are and you can see anyone coming behind. After the turnaround, I saw that the guy I passed was long gone, but there was another guy surging. He was about 10-15 seconds behind. It was time to see how those 800m intervals would pay off. I cranked it up and it was all or nothin'. I wasn't sure if I would make it to the finish at this pace, but it really did not matter. I would either hold him off, or not. But if he was going to pass me, he was going to puke doing so. Because of this high intensity effort (about a 6:15 min mile) I ended up passing another guy with about 15 meters to go... crazy. That is why I look so amazed in my finish shot. I just could not believe it.
It was my best finish time and my best swim, bike, and run splits as well. I ended up running faster on the 2nd 1/2 of the marathon than I did going out. Can't say that I do that too often. I simply had a plan and executed it pretty well. I would have to give myself an 85% on race plan execution, and a 100% on my marathon execution. It just went well.
I was finally able to stand on the stage and get an award at an IM event. Pretty amazing feeling, but not as great as crossing that line at the end... not matter what place you came in.
The spectator support up at IM Canada was amazing. I was impressed that there were people cheering for the entire 112 mile bike loop. But I have to say that I think that IM Cda, here in our own backyard, is a better run event. IM Cda is just so much easier to get around, get to athletes after the race and before the race. IM Canada made it quite difficult. We wnted to stay and watch the last finishers finish at midnight, but it was just a pain to get to where you needed to go at the finish... oh well, our loss.
I have to throw a huge thank you to Kevin, Kathi, Jessi, and Emma for their support throughout the ENTIRE race. They were told that it was impossible to to see athletes on the bike course and run course. And if you attempted to, you would not be able to get back in time to see them finish. Kathi and Jessi actually went out on the course 2 days before to see where they could get and do a little research. They went on a 4 hour ride that turned into a 5 our ride filled with stories of people telling them that, 'It couldn't be done.' They decided that these locals did not know how to watch an Ironman race and they would see to it that it 'could' be done. And done it was. I saw them for the ENTIRE bike course. From the first couple of miles, to the last few miles. They would cheer as I went by (with Emma and her cowbell) and then they would hopscotch up ahead and to do it all over again. It was pretty amazing to see and so encouraging as well. They were able to do the same thing on the run too. Obviously things move a little slower on the run, but getting to where you want to go is tough to do. I know it was a lot of work for them and a long day standing on pavement in the sun, but I know that their encouragement and cheering really helped me get to where I needed to be.
There is so much to the IM Canada story, that is just too long to write, so if you are interested in where we stayed, the swim, bike, run course, layout, where we ate, the closest Starbucks (only one in Penticton that just arrived 2 years ago) what to do and not do, etc., let me know. For he first time being up there, I think we did a pretty good job getting higs all dialed in... especially where we stayed.