Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ironman Canada 2006 Race Recap

First of all, I wanted to thank you all for the great comments on the blog- each and every one was much appreciated. If you were following me on IM Live, you probably know that I ended up having a tough day out there but let me give you the whole story.....

I left on Thursday afternoon and the flight to Vancouver was pretty uneventful which is a good thing. Deb met me in Vancouver and we waited for our connecting flight to Penticton. We did have a bit of drama here as Deb had to get back into bag check to physically get her bags through customs after having been told it wasn't necessary....we got through that ok and settled in for a couple hours. Our flight to Penticton was ok until about 15-20 minutes before we were scheduled to land in Penticton. At that point, the pilot made an announcement that the lights were out on the runway and we may be directed back to Vancouver....


He then came on about 2 minutes later and stated that yes, unfortunately, not cleared to land and we were headed back to Vancouver. As you can imagine this did not go over to well with a plane full of stressed out triathletes. We had all just about resigned ourselves to this sorry predicament when the pilot came back on and stated he was ok'd to go for a "visual landing" at Penticton.....we all cheered and gave him a nice hand after landing.

More drama as we got our bags and Deb's bags made it but mine weren't anywhere to be found....uhhh, all my race gear (bike shoes, helmet, running shoes, nutrition, wetsuit) was floating around somewhere besides Penticton.....I was a bit stressed out but nothing I could do .....we ended up finally settling in at the hotel and I got a call at 11:10pm from the airlines stating that my bags had made it in and they would be delivering them shortly- crisis averted...nice!

On another note, if any of you are traveling and can use the services of Tribike Transport, I would highly recommend them. You don't need to worry about partially disassembling your bike and carting it around the airport. You can pick it up at the race venue and return it right after you are done with the race and it will be waiting for you at your bike shop upon your return home. At aroundd $220, well worth the price since the airlines usually nab you for $75-100 each way for the bike.

It was nice to be back in Penticton and to also spend some time with Deb. We also caught up with a couple friends of mine that I had met doing IMC for several years. I went for a very brief bike on Friday- the legs were feeling pretty good. I had to push into a very strong headwind but still got the mph's up there...shut it down after 20 minutes. The lake was covered in whitecaps so I decided to skip the swim. Seeing that lake that way was a stressor as well....I haven't been swimming at all due to the bike crash a couple weeks ago and even prior to that, my swim frequency was pretty lame. My zen-master friend Kevin stated, no worries- it's windy today so race day will be perfect....I wasn't sure if I believed him but nothing I could do to change things...

I awoke Saturday to calm winds and perfect conditions at the lake so maybe Kevin knew what he was talking about. Here's a pic of me pre-swim on second wetsuit swim in the last two years.....nice! ;-) Deb was nice enough to head out early with me and keep me company while I took a quick dip...I swam for about 15-20 minutes and shut it down. Luckily, no shoulder issues, although I could tell that I would not be going for any PR's come tomorrow....just a matter of getting through the swim "warm-up" as Steven called it until the real race began....

Steven was going to be there volunteering so we made plans to meet him at 2pm to hang out and catch an early dinner. Here's a pic Deb snapped of Steven and I while were hanging out until dinnner. We met up with my friends Kevin and his girlfriend Jessica for an early dinner before shutting it down.

I have to give Steven a BIG THANKS though for shuttling us around town to take care of some loose ends before the race- very cool. I owe you bud!'s been two years since my last IM race....can you tell I'm a lil nervous!?!? Mug shot, IMC 2006

After sorting out all the last minute to-do's, we hit the sack early for a 4am wake-up call. It seemed like the alarm starting going off right when I was finally getting to sleep....Deb was finally able to get me out of bed in about 5 minutes and I started the nutrition going. I try and avoid all solids pre-race, I don't want to spend anytime later in the race camping out in a porto-potty so limit it to liquids. I shot-gunned 3 Ensures for about 750cals then got ready for the race. We met up with Kevin / Jessica for a 4:45am departure to the race start.

Kevin and I getting ready to head out to transition / body marking.....Also, a pic of Deb and I.....don't we all look wide awake?!.....Not a fan of the early starts....

Deb took this picture of the swim start as the Pro's began their warm-up for the race. They were getting a 15 min headstart on the age-groupers. Perfect conditions for the swim...Kevin was right about the conditions turning around.

We ended up doing a last minute run through of our gear, pumped up our tires and watched as the time flew by....I had one more Ensure at about 6:15am, followed by a E-gel at 6:45am before heading for the swim start......



Swim Time:

With my lack of swimming this year, I knew it was going to be about damage control on the swim. My priority was to keep my heart rate very aerobic and mimize my effort by drafting as much as possible. U2's Beautiful Day blasted through the speakers as we got closer to the swim start....I couldn't believe I was finally here again.....I couldn't wait to get going.

I lined up right on the inside buoys and up near the front. I know this is exactly where you would think I shouldn't have lined up, based on my training this year, but my friend Kevin is a strong swimmer and he gave me this tip a few years back and it is great. There is much less contact here vs. going very wide (which everyone seems to do) and having to swim over everyone to get toward the buoys.

The gun went off and I just kept it nice and easy....catching feet all the way along the swim. I did push the effort a bit to get around the buoys aggressively but settled into an easy pace once around. I was able to catch several good drafts around the course. As I was stepping out of the water, I was surprised to see 1:09 on my watch...not to far off from my swim PR of 1:04. I was definitely happy with that, based on my training this year. Took me a bit to get through the timing mats and get my wetsuit stripped off. Also, nice to get a shout from Steven here- I'm surprised he recognized me in the major traffic jam coming out of the water at this time!


Bike Stats:
20.03 mph ave

The bike was the x-factor this year. I was curious as to how all the hill training in Oregon this year would sort out on the bike. Although I didn't get in months and months of solid training, I did get in some solid training in the last build before the race. Also, my legs felt suprisingly good this year with the forced taper.

As we headed out toward Richter Pass, my goal was to keep it aerobic but I also wanted to have an "ave speed cushion" of several mph when I hit the base of the climb since I knew I would lose that over the 6 mile climb. I was feeling pretty good and averaging around 21-25 mph based on wind / roads until we hit Richter at around mile 40 of the bike course.

I need to give a big *YOU SUCK* to the draft packs up until this point. Why people choose to cheat in an ironman is beyond me.....couple of big pelotons out there.....glad we hit the hills to break them up a bit.

At the base of Richter, my ave speed was 22.5. The climb was pretty uneventful...I just kept a steady effort up the climb but didn't have to work too hard at all....I passed quite a few people up the hills so was feeling good. By the time I hit the top my ave speed had dropped to 20.4 mph. I immediately began working again to get into a nice tuck down the backside of Richter.

Next up, the "rollers" on the way out to the out and back in Cawston. Again, just focused on keeping everything aerobic. All the climbing / terrain in Oregon made the climbs seem much easier vs. training for Canada while in Cali. It was nice being ready for the course vs. having to push too hard here. I got through the rollers and made it through the out and back until the special needs stop where I stopped briefly to pick up some nutrition and use the bathroom. I lost a couple minutes here (this was my second stop- I stopped briefly earlier to get some water in two of my bottles that were already loaded with powder).

Now it was time to hit the false flats on the way to Yellow Lake. I was not looking forward to this section of the bike because it has crushed me in the past.....this year, not so much. I was able to maintain pretty solid effort levels through this section and passed a ton of people. Yellow Lake was also just a blip....not that difficult and I was able to keep it pretty steady up the climb. It was also nice that the crowds were lining the hill at this point, definitely feeding off their energy until I hit the crest. Once I hit the top, I knew there was some more climbing before I hit the true top of the course but just laid it in the big ring and pushed it here....

I was finally on the major descent into Penticton.....a bit windy here but got into a nice tuck and pushed it... Overall, I was very happy with the bike.....kept it aerobic the whole time (HR ave around 150) and no loss of energy over the 112. Again, another major adrenaline rush as I hit town and got a push from the crowds. Once in transition, I kept my eyes peeled for Steven. He was there shortly shouting some encouragement- I gave him a high five as I headed to the run transition

Here's a shot Deb took of me right before I swung it around the corner and into transition


Run Stats:
4:21:25 (Ironman Personal Worst- OUCH)
First 13.1 (2:10:01)
Second 13.1 (2:11:24)

Besides what the final stats tell you, I was actually feeling pretty good as I started the run. My legs felt pretty fresh and I had carried a bottle of nutrition out and planned on drinking that as soon I settled into a comfortable pace. It was nice to get some shout outs from Jessica and Deb as I headed down the main drag (sorry about the sweaty hug Deb!) I was keeping it pretty conservative until about two miles into the race when I took a big swig of my bottle and my stomach immediately cramped up....


Here's where I made my nutrition / hydration mistakes and it ended up costing me a ton of time. To avoid cramping, I immediately dumped the contents of my bottle and decided I would rely on Coke / Water for the remainder of the race. I didn't drink anything until about mile 5 into the race. At this point, it was getting very hot out there and I should have heeded the warning signs and took in more hydration in the form of water. I was not feeling good but kept shuffling along. Every aid station, I was loading up on ice (in my hat, jersey and down my shorts) to try and stay cool while not taking in enough water.

Once we hit the hills about 10-11 miles into the race, I was a mess. I resorted to walking / shuffling along and pretty much felt like crap. Mentally, I was crushed as well since the run was usually my strongest discipline. I had run a 3:47 & 3:50 at Canada before so to be walking the course was a major bummer. I saw the course from a very different perspective this go around.....THIS BITCH OF A RUN COURSE IS TOUGH........major hills around OK Falls at the 13.1 mile turnaround. I was walking through this section of the course and the crowd encouragement was pretty F'ing annoying - No I DON'T LOOK STRONG....NO I AM NOT ALMOST DONE (I knew I wasn't in a good state now). I grabbed my special needs bag and drank two V8's I had thrown in there. They actually went down very well and got a boost of some electrolytes there. I was able to run up some of the more difficult hills out from the turnaround but would then resort to walking the flats....WTF?!? Strange stuff....

I did see my friends Kevin and Noel as I headed back from the turnaround and they were having their own tough days to deal with.....major suffer-fest on the way back into town. I did see Sister Madonna Buder and tried to give her some encouragement but she looked like she was having a tough day as well. I just wanted the day to end as all my time goals were thrown out the window. I went from possibly thinking that I could get close to hitting my Canada PR of 10:41 to hoping I would still break 11 hours to just wanting to finish.......uuuugh.....

Here's a couple pics Deb took of me as I continued my zombie-like shuffle into the finish. This was the last out-back until you ran into the finish (probably about a 1/2 mile from the finish). I was kinda out of it at this point since I didn't even recognize Deb until I was right in front of her and she yelled my name several times....I was not in my happy place

almost home......

Finish Time: 11:15:05

After crossing the line I saw Kev's girlfriend Jessica who was working the finish line and Steven who was now done with his volunteering duties. He took a walk with me to the athlete finish area and let me bitch for awhile about my disappointing finish / run out there. I'm surprised he didn't slap me since I was probably sounding like a whiny beeyotch.

After downing some watermelon and water, I kept feeling worse and worse. I started feeling pretty nauseous and Steven mentioned that I should probably take a quick trip to the medical tent to make sure I was was like a war zone in there. At this point I felt like crap and sat around waiting to see a doctor while I shared war stories with the two guys next to me. Luckily the nurse had handed me a bag in case I decided to puke.....I started dry heaving which hurts like hell......I then proceeded to puke about 3-4 times.....thank god I was in the med tent where there was alot of that going around. I couldn't imagine unloading out there with Steven while everyone else was enjoying their post-race high.

I did feel alot better after wrenching out my guts....after sitting there for observation for a bit, the doctor finally let me go.....not a great end to my race.

I continued my whine as I walked back to the hotel with Deb.....she did put things into perspective for me though.....and I needed it big time.

You really never know how things will pan out when you toe the line at an Ironman....the event is too long and there are too many variables to deal with out there. You can only keep moving forward and hope for the best. When I got back to the hotel, I turned on the TV and watched the racers coming in at 15+ hours through the finish......those guys / gals kick some serious ass out they can push for that long is pretty amazing and the majority of them were so happy and excited to be finishing an that definitely put things into perspective for me.

Yes, I wasn't happy with how my race turned out but any Ironman finish should be viewed as a accomplishment....If you are racing and things didn't go as planned, use it as a learning experience so that maybe you can avoid those same issues from affecting your race next time.

I am already looking forward to IMC 07......I was glad to hear that Steven was able to get in next year and I plan on pushing him in training over the course of the next year and I know he will definitely do the same for me. Same goes for my friends Kevin and Noel....nice to hear that they will be back next year as well.....

Finally, make sure you thank your supporters out there (and the GREAT volunteers throughout the course). It is really easy to get a tunnel-vision like focus when you are getting ready to race and forget the sacrifices your family/ friends have made for you....especially the ones who actually join you out at the races.....don't kid yourself- it is not fun for your supporters to sit around for 10-11 plus hours waiting to catch a few fleeting glimpses of you as you head out again from transition.

*Deb- thanks for being my biggest fan....I love you and appreciate everything you do for me.... more than you know!*

Now...time for some R&R until we start this madness again.......



Blogger Steven said...

Great report, Michael! And a great job in Penticton. It was a tough day for everyone and you still finished in a very good time.

I'm already stoked about next year and having my own Ironman Canada experience. I. Can. Not. Wait!

I hope your recovery goes well and you take a little break.

You're going to need it, Dude. Come late-Feb 07 we hit it. Hard.

Congrats again on a job well done!

9:48 PM  
Blogger Jessi said...

Wow, excellent report. I am so damn impressed with your bike time - and if that's a "crappy" run for you, well, you're obviously incredibly fit. You might not be thrilled with your time but in the grand scheme of things 11:15 is pretty freakin' fast! Anyway, congrats on finishing another IM.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Cool report Mike. I checked your time a few days ago and was wondering what your take on it would be. Glad to hear the crash didn't really factor into things.

It was cool to read about IMC from both your and Steven's perspectives. You Ironmen amaze me! Congratulations!

10:31 PM  
Blogger Nic said...

Mike - Congratulations! I know how easy it is to be disappointed in yourself. But you're already looking to your next race, which really proves that you are an Ironman. NOTHING gets by you. OK?!!!!

12:17 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Great job with the race, Mike! I figured from your splits that you posted here that you had a great bike and a not so great run. But I loved your race report and appreciate the brutal honesty. You truly never know what you're going to get at an IM.

11:15 is pretty darn speedy considering the trouble that you had out there on the run. If it makes you feel any better, you beaten my run split (both years) by 45 minutes. :)

12:58 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...


Sorry to hear about your struggle in the run. I heard the weather was super hot out there.

Despite that, those pics you look strong on the run.

I can't wait to see you train next year when you tear the course up.

5:24 AM  
Blogger Lora said...

Hey Mr Ironman--what does that make you--one sixteenth of 1% of the population..AGAIN??

Loved the race report. My heart was beating for you while reading it. Great job.
And your healthy perspective to put it all into focus so quickly afterwards, while sending out appreciation to others, can only be admired.

Congrats Mr Ironman!! Recover well and enjoy hitting the race rewind button in your mind.

5:33 AM  
Blogger Zeke said...

Mike, congrats on your finish. As I'm sure you'll hear a lot, 11:15 is still very solid.

"If you are racing and things didn't go as planned, use it as a learning experience so that maybe you can avoid those same issues from affecting your race next time."

I doubt this statement is more accurate for any other event than the Ironman.

Now you have me really fired up to watch IM-Moo in 11 days. You and Steven will rock in 2007.

6:07 AM  
Blogger IMmike said...


awesome job out there.

yeah, you really can't be prepared for everything ironman throws at you. But that's part of the reason we do it, right?

I'm looking forward to reading about your prep for IMC 07.


7:28 AM  
Blogger Donald said...

Awesome report, Mike. Very inspiring. Congratulations on your finish. Enjoy your rest time now!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Spokane Al said...

Mike, this was a great report on a tough day. You made me laugh with your irritation from the well meaning well wishers! I must admit that during tough parts of races I have sometimes felt the same way.

Your swim and bike times were amazing.

I have learned a lot from you and am in awe of you and can only imagine what you will accomplish next year while pushing and being pushed by Steven.

Thanks again for a great report.

11:12 AM  
Blogger robtherunner said...

Great report Mike! I bet it felt better to get some of that out of your system, literally, and better to be done in the medical tent. There are times when I wish I could just hack things out, but I just am not a puker. Sometimes I think it is one of my downfalls when I get nauseous. Enjoy some rest.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Great report, I very much enjoyed reding it. As you've said yourself, finishing am IM is a great achievment, and personally I think 11:15 is a rather awesome time.

2:24 AM  
Blogger neese said...

"Deb.....she did put things into perspective for me though"

that doesn't surprise me one bit, she's is so wonderful about being able to do that.

excellent race report, and you're right a finish is such an accomplishment! sorry you had some struggles during...congratulations on a great finish inspite of that!

12:57 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

Hey Mike,
Caught the link to your blog from Cliff, thought I'd check your race report.

I feel a real sympatico with you as my day went almost exactly as yours - even the med tent part. :)I almost felt as I was reading my own race report!

Glad to see you signed up for '07 - solid stuff. All the best Mike.

2:13 PM  
Blogger qcmier said...

Congrats. Loved reading the report. Awesome job out there. Hope you have a wonderful rest and recovery period. You've earned it. Can't wait to follow your journey to IMC '07.

8:10 PM  
Blogger BuckeyeRunner said...

Wow! Great job, Mike! Those times are unbelievable. You should be very proud of yourself.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Habeela said...

I know, I'm really behind on blogs, but still, CONGRATULATIONS! For wanting to break 11 hours and only missing it by 15 minutes - that's outstanding regardless of how crappy you felt!

5:54 AM  

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