Sunday, 14 October 2012

Humbled in Kona – Ironman World Championships Race Report

Despite being anxious to race the Ironman World Championships, I had a somewhat refreshing sleep. I woke up at 0400hrs and ate my fairly typical race morning breakfast: a coffee, oatmeal, and a bagel with jam. I finished packing my stuff and then helped get the kids up and out the door at 0500hrs. 

Athlete check-in was fairly straight forward…body marking, then weigh-in by the medical staff (that was a first). Then it was through to the transition area to drop off my liquids at my bike and my Gu bottles in my run bag. I was fortunate to run into Jonathan Coffen during the check-in process and wished him best of luck for the race (I had finished IMCdA with Jonathan.) Then it was waiting time in transition for a little under an hour. 

Shortly after the pros, we (all the AG athletes) started to filter down the steps and into the water for the mass start. I had a quick look were everyone was going and decided to start on the right side, near the pier. I figured this would give me a straight swim down the buoys. Everyone was quite anxious to get the swim started and Mike Reilly had to keep working to keep everyone from moving out too far. At 0700hrs we were off…cannon didn’t work so Mike just said go and then I think the cannon went. 

The swim was probably one of the cleanest I have ever done. Yes, there were a few bumps here and there but generally speaking it was quite calm. I was able to grab a set of feet for about half of the swim out to the turnaround. The personnel on surf boards directing traffic were trying to be as helpful as possible but I kept finding them getting in my way as I was trying to swim straight down the buoy line and they kept insisting that we move left. I felt quite strong and comfortable in the water and just tried my best to get into a strong rhythm and focus on a strong pull. I was happy to see the sail boat at the turn-around and start heading the other direction. There was a little bottleneck at the turnaround and it probably didn’t help matters that there was a fair amount of chop. I tried to swim as hard as I could on the way back and was fortunate to get a set of feet here and there. I finished the swim and looked at my watch to see a 1:16. Not as quick as I had hoped, but my fastest Ironman swim ever and without a wetsuit. (It must have been my sweet Nineteen Rogue SS)

I tried to hurry through T1, but I wanted to put on Calf Compression Sleeves as well as socks (I prefer to put socks on in T1 and then wear them for the remainder of the race.  Additionally, I was a little concerned with getting sun burned so loaded myself up with sunscreen and then had one of the volunteers apply even more. 

Then it was on to the bike. I was excited to be on the bike so that I could start making up lost time on the bike. I was feeling very good but decided to ease myself into my pace. I tried to back the power off as I climbed up Huakini Highway and then enjoyed the fast descent back to Palani. Once on the Queen K, I settled into a rhythm and started working my race intensity. The winds were relatively calm until shortly before Hapuna Beach State Park and then they really started to pick-up. We had a very strong North East wind for the climb up to Hawi. Once up at Hawi, I grabbed my special needs bag and then quickly got my Snickers Almond Bar and Red Bull downrange. My stomach was still feeling good at this point but I was starting to struggle with my power output. Shortly after returning to the Queen K my stomach started shutting down. I was puking every few minutes on the bike and I was having trouble keeping anything down. I was on pace for a sub 5hr bike but knew that unless I could get my stomach sorted out, the run would turn into a disaster. So I backed off the pace on the bike, stopped taking in salt tablets and solid nutrition, and tried taking in a little water and Powerbar Perform.  

At around the 155km mark on the bike Ivan O’Gorman passed me. I figured I would try and pick-up my pace and see if I could ride legally behind him. Seeing as Ivan is a good runner I thought that if I could get off the bike with him then I’d have someone to run with. I tried to ride with Ivan for a couple kms but he was riding well and I was still not feeling great so backed off the pace. Shortly before the airport I passed Jonathan Coffen…I wasn’t expecting to see Jonathan until half way through the run. I finished the bike in 5:09:xx but was still not feeling very good.

T2 was a little slower than normal, but I took the time to use the washroom and load myself up with sunscreen. 

As I headed out on the run, I saw my personal cheering squad which was a blessing. I eased myself into the run. I figured I would just continue with water, coke, and a little PowerBar Perform until my stomach got back into the game and then I would go back to my Gu Roctane. I was passing a lot of people on the run, but it was friggin hot with almost no wind on Ali’I drive. Each aid station was a welcome relief as I could throw water over my head and ice down my back. At a little less than a kilometer before the turn-around on Ali’I Drive, I saw Christophe Terzi heading the other direction (Christophe was staying next to us at the Kona Coast Resort.) He was looking pretty good. My stomach was starting to turn around so on the way back into town I tried some Gu Roctane Gel from my Fuel Belt. It went down ok, but I knew the run was going to be a slugfest.

Heading up Kuakini Hwy to Palani.
I was happy to run back through town and see the family again. They were hanging out on the hill at the McDonalds. I was completely ignoring my watch and running purely by feel. I was feeling terrible and felt like I was running in an inferno. Just as I turned to head up Palani, Pete Jacobs was coming down. As I turned onto the Queen K and started running towards the Energy Lab, I got to watch as most of the male/female pros were heading home to the finish. This was pretty neat as I got to cheer most of them on. The Queen K was a welcome relief to Ali’i drive as there was at least a little breeze, mind you it still felt like an inferno. 

Each aid station was a welcome relief with water and ice to try and cool my body. The run was a living hell, but I knew each step was one closer to the finish. I was very thankful to my parents who had taught me so many scripture verses as a child. I was thankful for a note my sister, Hannah, had sent me earlier this week on Facebook on the dedication I had displayed in my training and my family life and the great goal we as Christians press on towards as mentioned in Philippians 3:14. I just kept reminding myself that I was not going to quit and I was not going to walk, despite every muscle in my legs screaming for me to stop. Shortly before the turn around in the Energy Lab, I spotted Ivan. Just after the turn around I caught up to Ivan hoping that he’d be able to run with me. He looked strong but he didn’t quite have enough to pick up the pace so I continued on alone. On the way back out of the Energy Lab Jonathan gave me a high five and said I was looking strong. That was a blessing because I truly did not feel strong. 
On Ali'i Drive heading to the finish!
And finally I had the one last climb up the Queen K to Palani and then I was home. Dad was waiting for me on Huakini Hwy and as I turned and headed down Ali’i drive there was the total support crew. I quickly high fived Ruthie and James and then enjoyed the remainder of the run down Ali’i drive to the finish. As is my typical practice, I tried to high five as many kids as possible. I was shocked to look at my watch and see 9:34 as I crossed the line. I then glanced at my watch again to see 3:00 on the run split. I have no clue where that came from. That was the most brutal and mentally tough run I have ever done. I can honestly say that it was by His grace that I finished. My total time was 9:35:02. Good enough for 139th Overall (Top 100 Amateur) and 18th in the M25-29 Age Group. Not bad for my first showing in Kona.

I am truly thankful for the amazing opportunity to race in Kona and I could not have done it without the amazing support of my amazing wife, Claudia. I am truly a blessed man. 

Thanks to my support crew Dad, Mom, Claudia, Ruthie, James, and baby Klara for enduring the heat and cheering me on.  And of course so many of my friends and family members for believing in me and encouraging me onwards.

A special word of thanks to Brian Grasky, my amazing coach, for pushing me to new levels this year. And thanks wouldn’t be completed without recognizing those that have support me this year, GEC, CompressportCanada, and Brainsport. Thank you all.

Finally a special word of thanks to Danny Carter for helping with my ankle/Achilles issue over the past couple months. Without his assistance I’d probably still be nursing an injury. 

Now it’s time to relax and recover and start considering what next year will bring.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Kona Day 7 - Tomorrow is Race Day.

So today was the last day before the race. I'll be honest I'm getting a little anxious to race but feeling great.

Workout #1 - a light swim at the Kailua Pier. I hit the water at a little before 0700hrs swam out a little over 500m practicing sighting and a strong pull. On the way back to shore I stopped at the Coffee's of Hawaii Espresso Bar and enjoyed one last Espresso while wishing Albert Boyce(Mr. Coffees of Hawaii) all the best for the race. I then finished my workout. Total ~20minutes and a little over a km.

Headed back to the Resort and applied the finishing touches to my Shiv and then headed out for workout #2 my Brick.

Aside: For anyone interested my steed is a Specialized Shiv (M) with Sram Red (Black Derailleurs / R2C shifters), Specialized 170mm Crankset with a Cinquo Quarq Power Meter (head unit is an Edge 500)  54/39 Q-rings and Ultregra SL Pedals, Dura Ace 7900 11-23 Cassette, KMC X10SL Gold Chain,  Hed Jet 60/90 C2 wheels with Continental GP4000S tires, and a Specialized Toupe 143 Saddle. For hydration/nutrion I have a Profile Design Bento Box, Speedil A2 bottle between the aerobars, a Specialized Virtue Aero Bottle on the downtube, and a Hydro Tail with 2 x Specialized Rib Cages. There are some aero gains to be made in my setup and I'll be working that over in the off-season. For now I'm sticking with what works.

My race ready steed ready for battle!

Workout #2 - headed out for a light out and back 30 minute ride on Ali'i drive. I inserted a few race wattage intervals to keep the legs loose but fresh. I was feeling very good so had to keep reminding myself to back off on the intensity (a sign I'm getting too anxious). Returned to the Resort threw my Brooks Connects on and headed out the door for the second part of the brick. A light out and back run on Ali'i drive with once again a few race intensity intervals. Just as I was heading down Ali'i drive Crowie (Craig Alexander) was heading the other way on his bike. (I also spotted Caroline Steffen on her bike on both the out and back) At the Cliff House I stopped for a drink and then turned around and headed back to the resort. Once again I had to keep reminding myself to enjoy the run and just take it easy. Running on Ali'i drive is truly a treat as you get to enjoy the sites along the waterfront.

Spent the remainder of the morning at the Resort just staying off my feet and ensuring all my gear was prepared for the drop off this afternoon. At shortly after 1400hrs I head into town to drop off my bike and bike and run gear bags. It was very efficient process that took at most ten minutes. Trish led me through tranistion explained where everything was and answered my few anxious questions. Then it was back to the Resort to enjoy relaxing and calm my nerves for the rest of the day.

What can I say? I am a little anxious and nervous heading into the race - the anxiety is mostly from the ocean swim. Once that part of the race is over then I can really start my race. Until I hear the sound of the cannon I'll remain a little anxious and nervous but after that it's game on!

Jordan Rapp said it best in his post..."It's all over now except the suffering. Welcome to the hurt locker. Make yourself at home..."

Kona Day 6

So today I only had one light workout to accomplish, checkout the expo, and attend the welcome banquet and athlete meeting.

Workout #1 - a light 20 minute swim at the Kailua Pier. I hit the water shortly before seven and swam out to the second buoy after the pier. On the way back I made a quick pitstop at the Coffees of Hawaii floating espresso bar and then finished the workout. The intent of the workout was just to get a little blood flowing, practice sighting, and do a little drafting. Total workout ~22 minutes and a little over 1km. Happy with the workout, I headed back to the Resort to spend some time with the family.

After spending a couple hours with the kids and seeing Nana was happy taking Ruthie and James to the pool, Claudia and I decided to tour the expo with baby Klara. This would be my first and only time taking in the expo as I wanted to stay off my feet as much as possible. We decided we'd do a quick tour of ~1hr duration and then head back to the Resort. There was lots to see at the expo but my main objectives were to see Compressport, Rotor, Quarq, and Specialized. It was great to see Rudi and Ryan at Compressport. I bought some of the Kona 2012 limited edition gear and they threw in some visors for free. There was a lot of neat stuff at the expo and of course lots of free shirts, hats, and visors. A big thanks to Travis at Louis Garneau for providing us with a bag and throwing in a couple of boxes of Gels...all because I was wearing a Grasky shirt (so I guess I should be thanking Brian as well!).
Me with Rudi at the Compressport Booth (Ryan is in the background)!
I took it very easy this afternoon, stayed off my feet, and actually caught a nap. Then it was off to the Welcome dinner and athlete briefing. Dinner was good, but as every other WTC dinner, overpriced. The entertainment was great with lots of Hawaiin acts, while the remainder of the evening was long and quite boring. Athlete briefing was delayed by almost 45 minuntes, but thankfully short and to the point which is always appreciated.
The Maley Clan at the welcome dinner. (Baby Klara is hiding)

Now it's off to bed.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Kona Day 5

So today consisted of two workouts - a morning swim and a bike to run brick.

Workout #1 - Woke up, had a breakfast and headed out the door. It was lightly raining at the Kona Coast Resort but in Kailua-Kona it was dry. I hit the water shortly before 0700hrs and did an hour swim with two out and backs. Seeing as the Catamaran from Coffees of Hawaii was on the water, I made a stop for an Espresso on my first out and back. The water was quite choppy this morning...more like a series of larger swells. I worked mostly on sighting and caught the occasional person's feet to practice some drafting. Total workout approximately 1hr and a little over 3kms.

After the morning workout, I headed back to the Resort to spend some time with the kids and prepare for my brick.

Workout #2 - Objective was to do approximately 1:15 on the bike focusing on race pacing and then a 30 minute run at race pace. I headed down Ali'i drive to Kailua-Kona and then did a quick out and back on Kuakini Hwy (I hadn't ridden this section of the course yet). Following that I did an out and back to the airport and then headed back to the Resort. Total bike duration was 1:30 and ~50kms. I felt very strong on the bike and race wattage felt quite comfortable. Downed half a bottle of Powerbar Perform and then headed out the door for my run. It was quite hot on Ali'i drive so I was very thankful that Gu and Powerbar both had aid stations on my route. Run duration ~30 minutes and 7.5kms.

Heading out for the bike portion of the Brick!
The remainder of the afternoon I spent with Dad and the kids as the ladies went on a shopping excursion. (I actually managed to get a short nap!)  And this evening I attended the Slowtwich gathering at the Musclemilk / Cytomax house where I met a few folks and Chrissie!
Me with the ever smiling Chrissie Wellington.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Kona Day 4

So today was a lighter day with only a single workout to accomplish. A 45 minute swim focusing on sighting and some drafting.

Workout #1 - Woke up at 0530hrs, had three eggs, a bagel with jam and a cup of Kona Coffee (this stuff is great) and then headed to the Kailua Pier for my workout. Dropped my bag off at the PowerBar check-in (yes that's right they actually secure your belongings while you swim, pretty sweet.) Just as I was about to hit the water, I saw Crowie (Craig Alexander) - he looks pretty fit - and is the men's favourite going into the race. Did an out and back on the swim catching a set of legs at the beginning and then again near the end. On the way back to shore I made a pit stop at the Coffee of Hawaii Catamaran and enjoyed an Espresso Coffee. (Yes you read that right again, there is a Catamaran sitting about 300m from shore serving hot fresh Kona Espresso!) Finished my workout, grabbed my gear and headed back to the Kona Coast Resort.

Spent the remainder of the morning with the family. We toured Greenwell Coffee Farm which was actually pretty neat. Though the name may not ring any bells, they are the producers of over 20% of all Kona Coffee. Of course we got to sample some of their coffees as well which was also a treat. Definately learned a lot about coffee during the short visit...if you are ever in Kona, this place is well worth checking out.

The kids picking coffee cherries.

Greenwell Coffee Farms Kitshop.
After lunch I did the athlete check-in thing. Lots of cool stuff in our bags, but it's the same backpack minus the labeling that I got at Couer d'Alene and St George...I thought they would have at least made them somewhat special. The check-in process here was like a well oiled machine. I probably spent a grand total of 5 minutes going through the check-in process. Everyone was super friendly and probably more importantly knew what they were doing. Then I had a look at the Ironman Souvenirs...lots of ways to spend a lot of money. For anyone that knows me, I'm not a big souvenir kinda guy but my vice is my Ironman mugs. So I picked up my souvenir, my mug, and a couple beach towels and then set off to survey the downtown for an hour.

Went back and picked up the wife and kids from the Resort and then enjoyed the Ironman World Championship Parade of Nations. It's a pretty neat affair. All the countries march down Ali'i drive holding their flag and handing out goodies. I got the honour of holding the Canadian Flag...pretty sweet! I guess it pays to show-up early.
The Canadian Contingent.

However, the highlight of my day was getting to meet Macca (Chris MacCormack) who won here in 2007 and 2010. He looks to be in top shape and should give Crowie a run for his money.
Macca and I!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Kona Day 3

So today was another acclimatization day calling for an early morning swim at the Kailua Pier and a moderate effort bike ride of 2hrs.

Workout #1 - An early morning swim with the intent of getting used to the swim venue, locating landmarks, practicing sighting, a little drafting, and keeping the arms loose. I hit the water at about 0645hrs. There was a few other athletes there at this time in the morning. I saw Matt Russell again as he hit the water just before me. I did an out and back of about 45minutes using the buoys as my sighting points. Upon returning to the pier there were considerably more athletes just hitting the water. I figured this would provide a good opportunity to practice drafting so turned around and sat on someone's hip for a little over five minutes and then turned around and headed back to the pier. I was satisfied with the workout, just over an hour in duration and a little over 3kms of swimming.

I headed back home, had a quick Starbucks Kona Coffee (this stuff is great!) and packed the bike in the van. The plan for the second workout was to drive with the family out to Hapuna Beach State Park, they could swim, while I biked out to Hawi and back. I was anxious to do the ride because from what I have heard, this section is the hardest part of the course (or at least it can be dependent on the wind). Drive out to Hapuna Beach State Park was uneventful, but it provided me the oppertunity to review the section of the course on the Queen K (I had pretty much ridden all of this section on Saturday minus ~10kms of it)

Ruthie and James enjoying the beach while their father enjoyed another workout in Kona!
Workout #2 - The ride out to Hawi was a light pace mostly Z2 with the occasional harder effort to climb one of the many rollers. The wind wasn't strong so I was able to ride at my prescribed easy pace. I was expecting a few tougher hills but it was significantly easier than what I had expected... I guess I'll be sticking with a 54/39 up front and an 11-23 for the race. On the way back from Hawi, I inserted three moderate effort intervals on the bike (very similar to my intended race wattage and intensity). This section of the course is definately more scenic than the Queen K. Total time just over 2 hours and just shy of 70kms.

Elevation profile from today's ride. Just shy of 700m elevation gain.

I enjoyed lunch with the support crew on the lovely Hapuna Beach and then we headed back into Kailua-Kona to shop at the International Market and picked some fresh veggies from the market in downtown Kailua-Kona. Of course I had to make a stop at the Cytomax house to pick-up some Muscle Milk on the way back to the resort!

Cytomax/Musclemilk pitstop on Ali'i Drive.
 The race atmosphere in Kailua-Kona is continuing to build with more athletes pouring into town and race packet pickup starting tomorrow. 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Kona Day 2

Day #2 in Kona is now in the books.

Workout number one of the day was to get my first swim in at the Kailua Pier. I hit the water shortly before 0700hrs. I did a leisurely kilometer and a bit out and then returned back to the Pier. There was definately a current as swimming back to the Pier was significantly slower. The water was crystal clear and there was only a little bit of chop. My new Nineteen Rogue SS Swim Skin was awesome. (Thanks to Wolfgang Guembel and Matthew Bonin at Endursport for ensuring I had one for Kona.) Total swim was forty five minutes.

Me sporting my sweet Rogue SS!
 After the swim I head back to the Kona Coast Resort and spent the rest of the morning with the family. We attended Kona Baptist Church in the morning.

After church I headed out to complete my second workout of the day. The plan was to run into Kailua-Kona on Ali'i Drive at race intensity (aproximately 15kms). (Essentially the out and back portion of the run course on Ali'i Drive). My legs felt great. I ran at a strong pace and slightly faster than my planned race pace. There were a few small hills on Ali'i, but not much. I ran into Matt Russell, a pro from the U.S.A. on the run. Compliments of the folks at Cytomax I had an aid station at approximately 20 minutes and again at 40 minutes. Aside: Cytomax and Musclemilk have a house rented on Ali'i drive and they have fresh coolers with drinks available throughout the day for free. Sweet! Total workout just over the hour.

Following the run I had some lunch and then hung out with my parents for a bit as domestic niner and the kids were still sleeping.

Workout number three of the day was a light ride out to the Queen K and then an out and back of thirty minutes. The road to Kailua-Kona was surprisingly quiet with only a few vehicles, cyclists, and runners...much quieter than earlier in the day. The ride out the Queen K was quite pleasant and I'm starting to get my bearings. I saw Chris Lieto (he's not racing this year due to injury) out on the course doing what I thought was a photo shoot. I contemplated stopping but wanted to get my ride in so I could get back and spend time with the kids. On the way home I of course stopped by the Cytomax house and picked up a Muscle Milk (my recovery drink).  Total duration just under two hours.

That's it for today.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Kona Travel and Day 1

So Friday, 5 Oct 12, the family and I departed Cold Lake for Kona. Temperature wise we started the day off in the negative digits...and finished in Kona at +27C. We departed Cold Lake in the Sienna at around 0800, ran a few errands in Edmonton: Element Multisport to pickup some Metasalts which Elise had so kindly ordered in for me, the Tech Shop to pick-up a new pair of shoes compliments of the Edmonton 21 I had run a few weeks earlier and finally arrived at the airport shortly after 1300hrs.
A Frosted Sienna ready to depart Cold Lake.

Checked into our flights at Jetset which is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Westjet has a counter setup at the Jetset parking lot so no need to lug bags and carseats to the terminal. Flight from Edmonton to Vancouver was great. After we cleared U.S. Customs in Vancouver we were greeted by my parents. (My parents had arrived from Ottawa earlier in the day. They are accompanying us to Kona to help with the kids...what a blessing!) The flight from Vancouver to Kona was good, it also helped that the Westjet agent in Ottawa had "moved" my parents to sit with us, though he couldn't tell them that. Once in Kailua-Kona we picked up our rental vehicle - a stylish silver Dodge Caravan. Then it was a 30 minute drive south to the Kona Coast Resort. Finally by 0100 Kona time (0400 Edm time or 0600 Ottawa time) we were checked in and heading to bed. A long day of travel, but well worth the trip.
The support crew enjoying Starbucks while awaiting our flight in Edmonton
 First day of acclimatization is also now in the books. Today's workouts were a 3-3.5 hr ride up the Queen K with several race intensity intervals and a 45minute swim. Our next door neighbour is a French Gentleman, Christoph, who's done the race a few times so I elected to ride with him as he was very familiar with the course. He spoke half broken English and I spoke half broken French so we got along fine. We rode through Kailua-Kona and then up the Queen-K. On our way out of town we spotted Chris "Macca" McCormack running. This would be the first of many Pro sightings of the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride out and Christoph and I took turns pulling and occasionally riding side by side to talk. On the way back into town, we got the honour of riding with none other than Paula Newby Fraser. There was another gentleman riding with her so the four of us took turns pulling for a while. Then Paula decided that they were going to up the tempo for the remainder of the ride. Christoph and I went with the group for a while (we did the majority of the pulls). Finally my common sense prevailed and I backed off my pace and let the Paula entourage take off. I have to say Paula was pretty down to earth. First ride on the Queen K complete...what a blast!

And as for the swim. Well, it simply didn't materialize today. I was a little time crunched in the afternoon and seeing as the kids had been promised to swim today, I elected to take the kids for a quick swim in the Pacific.
Dinner #1 in Kona - Stirfry on the lanai.