If the miles behind me could be put into words before you, you would feel my efforts, my struggles, my desires. Most of all you would see my joy. Watch me from afar run the trails and hills and miles upon miles and you will see ...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Desert Half Ironman Report

This report may be a bit shorter than usual and you'll have to be the judge if it's sweeter as I'm at work where it's 12:30am Saturday morning. Just back from a call and probably the first time I've had since the Desert Half Ironman last Sunday to sit and write anything. Therefore, it may be a bit abridged.
I'm not sure if the heat from being at Shuswap and Penticton in the days leading up to Osoyoos helped a whole lot but it couldn't have hurt. I still felt sluggish on the run during the race. Of course it may have been due to a two hour hard, hot, hilly run Tuesday before the race followed by a similar bike on Wednesday plus an hour lake swim thrown in. I took it easy on Wednesday and the morning we left Shuswap Carrie, Karen, and I did a 45 minute run at 10am where it was already around 30 degrees.
In Penticton it was hot but there was always a breeze. Tracey, Barb, Sandy, Shannon, Michaelie, and myself swam on Thursday morning at OK lake with a fair chop in the water. A different experience and one I hoped wouldn't be repeated at Osoyoos or even Ironman for that matter. Every Ironman I've watched or done in Penticton has had great water conditions at the start. A few short rides before the race and it was time to go.
It was predicted to be hot on the day but it turned out very pleasant for the swim and bike. I felt like I was going harder in the water than in Victoria but as we exited the water after the first loop my time was 15 minutes, right on pace with my other race. We jumped back in where I saw nothing but one guy's feet for the whole next lap. I caught a glimpse of the lead group ahead and wish now I had tried to go harder to maybe catch them (dreaming?). Tracey says I swim straighter when I'm going harder so I'll try that at the Peach tomorrow. My swim turned out to be 32 minutes but I'm not sure if that was with transition. Like I said, it felt faster. A few people after the race were commenting on the distance and how they thought it was a bit long. I whipped through T1 I'd say twice as fast as New Balance so it paid off having done a few races already.
I felt awesome heading onto the bike and began passing a few riders before Richter. True to her word, there was Trish from Peninsula Runners at the first pull out going up the pass with her tiny boom box blaring out the tunes and cheering on riders. As a total opposite of riding the course the other week, we had headwinds all the way out to Cawston. I spoke with other riders before and after the race and I guess the headwinds were standard all week going in that direction. All I could hope for was a solid tail- or at least non-headwind on the way back. Maybe a nice diagonal cross to change things up a bit. It was lonely on the rollers after the big climbs as not many riders were in sight. Those I did see I couldn't catch. One rider, 63, came past me but I returned the favour five minutes later. It took me seven minutes longer to reach the turnaround point in the race than in the training day.
On the return trip the gods of wind were treating us to some tail which was well received. The rollers and 8 percenters didn't seem so bad without the wind. I was amazed at how happy and evergetic the athletes going the other way still heading out to the turnaround were. Most were looking in my direction, maybe for recognition attempts, maybe for a change in scenery, maybe to say, "you #@$%!, already done with these headwinds!" A few even gave the head nod in greeting. There was a guy ahead of me that I could barely start to catch on the flatter parts and then more on the hills, but on the down he just took off. It took until the final long stretches up to the top of the pass for me to overtake him and even then I thought he'd be right there the rest of the way. I saw him on the run later. To my surprise (I don't know why, though, because I never look back anyways) after I passed that guy, good old 63 went past me and man, was he flying up the hill. I felt demoralized. Then we started on the down and he kept putting more time into me. I lost sight of him before T2.
I have this transition down to an art as it's simply running hat, running shoes, running belt with bottle and I'm off. I heard Steve King announce that Brent Cyr was just heading out of transition and then it all came together - Brent and I are pretty much equals when it comes to racing over the years. He's in an age group below me so it's more of a fun rivalry. We raced the Peach two years ago and came out of T2 exactly the same way, with me slightly ahead. Like that race, he eventually passed me on this day. It did take about 10kms to do it this time.
I felt great the first loop on the run. I went by Tracey who was, as always, helping out with the race instead of just watching it. Generous as can be. She announced I was sixteenth but I wasn't too interested in the stats. The temperature went from 24 at the begiinning of the bike to 30 at T2. It was now mid-thirties but still with a breeze blowing on most parts of the run. Brent passed me and we ran for a few minutes chatting until he dropped me. My pace remained slow and steady until the 18km mark where, like New Balance, I thought about going a bit faster and still remaining below the hurt zone. I passed two guys who turned out to be in my age group, with one of them saying, "Look out, he's making his move". I had to laugh and said back, "Don't blink". I felt slow at that point and I think they had just slowed more due to the heat. Anyways, I eventually ended up catching one last guy in front of me and we had a sprint finish to the end, both tied with the same time. Turns out the guy, Rob, was the one who had beaten me by 10 seconds to take second in our age group in Victoria three weeks earlier. At the awards Joe Dixon the race director generously gave us both second place. Rob and his wife are expecting in a few weeks so we won't be racing against each other at Ironman, thankfully. There at the finish line were of course Carrie and the kids, happy as ever for me to be done so they could grab some post-race goodies, mainly water and Gatorade as it was smokin' hot at this point. Also at the line was my Uncle Joe who lives ten minutes from the race finish. That was a nice surprise as we visited them the day before and he said he'd try to make it. Apparently he was at the swim start too but as we all look the same, who can blame him for not seeing me and me not seeing him.
I took away a lot from this race. I know that with a few more long rides I'll be able to push hard on the IM bike. I know the heat will be a mental thing, something to push aside and focus on the task. I also know that should I choose to speed up at the end of the run I'll be able to in order to get my time goal. The legs are still a bit tired from this week's workouts so the Peach this weekend is a crapshoot. I love the race, though, and can't think for a minute why I won't love it (when I'm done).

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