Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Kona Bound – IM Coeur d’Alene Race Report

I hardly know where to begin. It’s been an extremely hectic six weeks since IM St George.  Between then and now we’ve finished renovating and sold our house in St Albert, bought a house in Cold Lake (we’re posted this summer), and had our third child, Klara Jane on 17 June . Going into race week I was mentally drained, but physically feeling great. 
The latest addition to the Western Maley Clan - Klara Jane Maley
On 16 June, Claudia and I had one last BBQ at our house with friends and coworkers and it was at this point that I had decided I would not be racing IM CdA. Claudia was scheduled to have her C-section on 20 June and I just felt wrong leaving her in the hospital so I could go race. As much as I might love racing my family will always take precedence over my race schedule. Miraculously, Claudia started having contractions on the evening of 16 June and early in the morning on the 17th the Dr performed a C-section. The miraculous part was that during her first two pregnancies she had not gone into labour. I felt like it was God leading. With the baby being born on Sunday it meant Claudia would be home from the hospital on Tuesday and dad and I didn’t plan on leaving for CdA till Thursday. I was still a bit reluctant to head to CdA but Claudia insisted that she would be fine and that I had trained hard for a shot at Kona and this was my race. What a blessing it is to have a wife that is so supportive…truly a blessing and an inspiration.

So on the morning of 21 June, Dad and I set off for CdA in the Prius. It was an uneventful drive to CdA with the exception of an unscheduled meeting with a Sheriff in Idaho…thankfully he was gracious.  We rolled into CdA in the early evening and checked into our accommodations at the Super 8 in CdA about 3kms from downtown. Brian Grasky had sent a couple nice GEC polos to the Super 8 and they were waiting for us at the counter.  Friday I did a swim in the water…not nearly as cold as people said it would be, drove the bike course, completed registration, did a light ride on Highway 95, attended the Ironprayer ceremony and the welcome dinner with Dad. I didn’t find the food at the welcome dinner that great, but as always the company and their stories were the great part.

The Bike Portion of the Brick!
Ready for the Swim.
Saturday morning I did a quick brick workout consisting of short duration efforts in each of the three disciplines. I was feeling very good and the opportunity to relax a bit in CdA was definitely a mental boost. Having my Dad with me was also an added blessing…a constant encouragement and source of wisdom.  After the brick I checked my bike and transition bags into the transition area. I took it easy for the remainder of Saturday and continued to rehearse the race in my mind. Brian, my coach, called me early in the evening to go over the race and make sure we were on the same page. It’s great when you and your coach are on the same wavelength. He wanted to ensure that I treated the bike portion as a race, but leave a little in the tank for the run. And the run, well it was supposed to be a steady first loop and then a suffer fest on the second loop…just the way I had envisioned it.

I awoke Sunday morning at 0400hrs, did the usual morning routine put some breakfast downrange and then Dad and I headed downtown to City Park. I got my body markings completed, dropped off my bike special needs…red bull, and then dropped my fuel off at my bike in transition. I dropped all my stuff back off at the car and got changed for the swim start. The water temperature was a balmy 57 degrees C so booties seemed like a good idea. As soon as the Pros were off at 0625 I proceeded down to the water aligning myself in the middle and four or five rows back. I am not the fastest swimmer but based on times from the pool and a few open water sessions I thought a 1:10 would be achievable. The cannon went off at 0659 and the race was on. Wait, I mean the chaos started. The swim start was very narrow and the first buoy was only 800m or so out. It was very chaotic; with very little room to manoeuvre, I got a few kicks to the face, but that’s normally part of a mass start. I settled into a good rhythm and found a set of feet to draft for most of the way to the first turn buoy.  I tried to keep my stroke long and deliberate ensuring a good pull, but it was very difficult given the congestion. The remainder of the first lap proceeded without too much excitement and as I entered the shoot for the completion of the first lap I saw 35:xx on the clock. I thought to myself a little slower than I was hoping but still ok. The second loop was a little less chaotic but people appeared to be swimming in random directions at times. I finished the second loop and saw 1:16:xx on the clock. Slower than I wanted, but no panicking yet.

The first transition went without incident, thanks to the great volunteers; lots of smiles and lots of people clearly enjoying the day. I grabbed my bike and headed out to start hammering the bike course. Based on AG splits from last year I thought the bike course would be ~5:00, but was a little unsure as the bike course had changed for this year. My stomach felt terrible. I didn’t feel like eating or drinking and mentally just tried to focus on the road ahead. I convinced myself to take a few swigs of my Gu Gel mix and then started working on a bottle of Gu Roctane Drink. The small loop out past the Marina to Higgins point went very quickly and I was passing a lot of athletes. I headed out on the first loop on H95 and felt great climbing the first real hill, ~3kms. My stomach still did not feel great but I forced myself to down a PowerBar. Every few minutes the liquids just kept coming back up and I just continued to try and drink while I spit out what came back from my stomach. Not very pleasant, but hey this is Ironman and I don’t think the day ever goes perfectly. After the second climb and the turn-around, I decided it was time to hit an aid station and see if I could release some of the pressure from my stomach.  Thankfully that worked and I felt ten times better, though I was still not at 100%. 

Heading out of Transition w/ my Shiv.
I finished the first loop on the bike in just over 2:30 so was pretty stoked thinking that I might be able to hold onto a 5:00 bike split. That euphoria was short lived when I started struggling holding my power. Well I was still in the right range 210-220W but was maintaining the lower end. I was thankful to have a Red Bull waiting at the special needs and quickly put that down range.  I slugged through the second loop making an additional potty stop, but was generally feeling a lot better than the first loop. The wind seemed to have picked up and the ride out to the turn-around seemed much harder the second time. The ride back into town was uneventful except for a gentleman standing on top of the last climb letting the athletes know approximately where they were. I thought when I passed him he told me I was in 70th place. Up to this point in the race I had absolutely no clue where I was relative to the other athletes. It was at this point that I thought I still might have a chance in my AG. I finished the bike and rolled into transition with a 5:15:xx split. No clue of who was still ahead of me, but I didn’t care, I was going to run my race and see what would happen.

The first loop on the run was uneventful. I only glanced at my watch once or twice and ran by feel. At the turn-around, I glanced at the watch and saw that my average pace for the first quarter was 4:11/km. Right about where I wanted to be. My quads were very sore and the climb and descent on the large hill was anything but pleasant. Most of the athletes I passed were walking but I just kept a light pace going. I completed the first loop and headed back out for one more...opening loop was ~1:29. I knew my pace was dropping and quickly, but did my best to keep pushing. I had mentally prepared to go hard in the second half of the run and knew I just had to remind myself that there were still people ahead of me. The second loop hurt. The climb at mile 20 was brutal. My legs hurt, but I knew the end was near. It was just before this point at the aid station that I passed Jonathan Coffen wearing his Mark Allen team gear. He decided to stay with me, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I kept slugging away and at mile 23 Jonathan pulled up beside me and said something along the lines of, “let’s push this together and finish strong.” I double checked he wasn’t in my age group and then began pushing the pace. Jonathan stayed with me and together we really started to push. I was a hurting unit, but I just kept reminding myself that I had to assume there were more M25-29 athletes up the road. The crowd support was awesome and I fed on the energy they provided to push the pace even more. We made the last turn and headed into the finish line. I put absolutely everything I had into the finishing kick, while at the same time trying to pick-out kids along the road and provide high fives on the way in.

And there it was - the Finish. I looked up and saw 9:41:xx as I passed through the finish line. I had run a 3:04:xx. I was extremely weak and my quads were throbbing. I turned and congratulated Jonathan for pushing me to the finish – you are the stud at 10 years the wiser! I passed through the finish chute and there was Dad to give me a big hug. He told me I did it. I had won my AG. I was absolutely shocked. He showed me his iPhone with the results, 1st in M25-29 and 18th Overall. I was almost an emotional wreck, I had my Kona slot.  
Left to right M25-29 5th to 1st and F25-29 1-4th
This race was clearly for my wife and new addition to the family Klara Jane. The support my family has provided has been incredible. I feel that my wife and support crew, my parents, are the real Ironmen. I was simply the fortunate person that got to benefit from their tremendous support. 

So thanks Claudia, you are the greatest encouragement and supporter a husband could have. Mom thanks for looking after Claudia and the kids. Dad thanks for being there and enjoying the day with me.
Dad and I after the awards ceremony.
Thanks also to my friends, coworkers, and family for the tremendous support you have provided on a daily basis. Thanks to my sponsors, GEC- especially Brian Grasky, Compressport, and Brainsport for putting your trust in me. I am proud to represent you. 

Onwards to the big Island!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Special Thanks to Brainsport!

So a couple weeks ago, well maybe a month ago Brian Michasiw contacted me. For anyone who has followed my blog since the Las Vegas Marathon that name might ring a bell. Brian is the owner of Brainsport, a speciality running store in Saskatoon. Brian and I had slugged through most of the Las Vegas Marathon together and I credited him largely for my great success during the race. He really forced me to push and dig deep. Well as a result of having run much of the race together he had found out that I was a big Brooks running shoe fan and had tried to hook me up with the folks at Brooks. So when Brian contacted me a little over a month ago he offered me up a free pair of Brooks Shoes from his store. How can you say no to an offer like that? Shortly thereafter the following package showed up at my door:

After opening it up it contained a new pair of Brooks Pure Connects (these are wicked shoes) and a Brainsport Tri Jersey.

Wow! Thanks Brian! Looks like this might be the start of a partnership with Brainsport to keep my feet in some flashy shoes.

If you happen to be driving through Saskatoon do yourself a favour and looks this great shop up. I'll be posting on the Brainsport FB page to promote this great owner and his shop.