The weekend of the race arrived with me feeling ready and relaxed. I was certainly prepared for the big day and was relieved to be starting off injury and pain free.
One 12th of my race crew, my wife, came down to the park with me at 0530. I have never seen such a line just to get body marked. I have body marked myself at other events but generally IMC goes well. Not this year. Made it through in about 25 minutes and had a good chat with a fellow from back east.
In the transition area I checked over the bike and added a few items to my gear bags. Of course the bathroom break is inevitable. The lines were at least 30 deep all around so I put plan B into action. I suspected there would be a shortage of bathrooms, there always is. I walked back out of transition, hopped the fence into Gyro Park where there were potties a plenty. A quick hop back over the fence and the whole thing was over in 5 minutes. The other option would have been to save it for the swim but I would like to maybe sell my wetsuit some day.
I made my way onto the beach at 0640 to quickly find my family lined up along the fence, all 12 of them decked out with green Dave’s Race Crew t-shirts. We hugged and high fived and chatted a bit. Then I gave my mom in Edmonton a call on the cell. These are some of the greatest moments that Ironman has to offer. It gets emotional standing there knowing these people have given up 3-4 days to show they are behind and beside you all the way.
The warm up was next so I waded into the water, stopped to put my goggles on only to discover I am standing beside a good buddy, Darin Bentley. All those thousands of people and I stand along side Darin. We were both shocked and happy to see each other. Darin finished 1st in last years Ultraman Triathlon. We kept it brief, as I wanted to get a 10 min swim in. After the short warm up I came back up onto the beach to wave at family and stand for the anthem. I new this might be my last IMC so I just turned around several times to look at all the people and to take a moment to reflect on how awesome it felt to be standing there only minutes away from an event that I felt so blessed to take part in. There was no anxiety or worry just excitement and relief.
The swim was chaotic at the beginning but I have personally never felt more relaxed. You could really feel this year, the total presence of all those extra swimmers. Especially when they were kicking you in the head. It didn’t thin out till I rounded the first turn. After that there was plenty of open water but still many swimmers near by to catch a draft from. I exited the water feeling better than ever and still managed to pull off a PB in the swim.
The T1 was smooth and flawless and my quickest to date. No chatting. Just get in get out.
Out onto the bike and that really cool ride down Main Street makes you feel like you are doing something kind of special. I maintained a solid average pace of 35k or so all the way to Osoyoos.
Nutrition was not going to be factor as it has never been an issue. A flat tire on the other hand can have a way of spoiling the moment. I felt there was something not quite right with my tire about 1 km out of Osoyoos. If you have ever ridden tubulars you will understand what I am talking about. You hardly know the bloody thing is flat. The ride feel is a bit off but not that much. Plus your head is saying no, that’s not a flat mate just keep peddling. Well you probably could, but not overly wise. All those friendly faces going by and there I am frothing at the mouth on the side of the road. Actually, it didn’t faze me too much at all until I yanked the flat off only to discover the valve stem broke off inside the carbon wheel. OH, OH! All that adrenaline and excitement was just too much for that poor little valve stem. I have never done this before and was pretty sure I wasn’t carrying a tool to fix it. I did however stay at a Holiday Inn Express once. Anyway I managed to route around for a stick to jam in the hole in the wheel to get the busted stem free. Then to the task of putting the other tire on. No problem there, I was back in the race. I know time flies when you are having fun so I am not sure how much I gave up in that little exercise.
Richter Pass seemed like a nonevent this year. Cool day with lots of support along the way I guess. Down along the backside of the hill, I stopped by the Bike Barn vehicle to have my tire pressure checked, sure enough only 40PSI. Can’t do that on a clincher or you would be saying pinch flat all day long.
Then those nasty rollers came and so did the wind. The best part about this portion of the race for me is seeing my family cheering me on at every hill.
I can always tell we are in for some serious head winds when those big metal road signs are hanging on an angle, towards you. I just went t into the fetal, I mean aero position and peddled on. I was maybe doing 20k/, not fast enough to set any records today. I may have sworn a couple of times, maybe. You just have to keep telling yourself. “Well this Ironman Canada for you. What did you expect?” After making the turn toward the out and back turn around the pace was good again with the tailwind. I remember this guy going the other way say to someone, “when are we getting out of this wind tunnel?’ After picking up special needs it is like heading home now. This was the slowest and most challenging section of the day. Brutal wind. At one point 4 riders in front of me were actually tilted about 25 degrees to the right, just like those infamous shots from Kona. The ride through Ollala and up Yellow Lake was not easy but it is here where I start taking notice of all the riders passing me that I will very soon be passing on the run. Happens every year.
Speaking of running, there is no better site on the planet for me than the archway into T2. Bike be- gone. I quickly changed and headed for the exit only to realize just before the timing mat that I forgot my Carbo Pro in the bag. No worries. Just run back and grab your bag. Where is my bag? Oh, in that pile with 500 other bags. Three volunteers searching and finding nothing so I walked over to the other side of the heap and there was my bag. Oh well. Could have been worse.
The run started with my legs feeling great. Again, that trip up Main Street says it all. Carol and the gang were a km or so up the rode and at their usual spot near Skaha Lake Campground. It always strikes as real weird feeling leaving that aid station. It is like you are out on your own now. But then I remember I have a whole bunch of people to catch so better get to work here. It is not much for some but I do take some pride in only being passed once in the first 13km. This young gal with a War on ALS shirt went by. I shouted out Way to go Blazeman. (John Blais). She new what I meant and waved. I teared up. You get thinking about yourself and you lose sight of the sacrifices others have made along the way. If you do not know the story check it out. My race was back in perspective again. Ironman does that when you least expect it.
I made the turn around in just under, 2 hours. Saw a buddy Steve O. from NSTC there so we chatted as I walked for a bit. I ended up walking up the hill out of Okanagan Falls. The last two encounters with that hill I ran but this time my legs just said walk. Like I didn’t really have any input in the decision. I just walked. If I was going to walk some then it was going to be a fast walk at least. The trip back was windy and difficult at times. I found the best thing mentally and otherwise was to walk quickly through the aid stations even though I had my own water bottle and Carbo Pro. I did this until the campground again where the family was waiting. My brother-in law from Richmond and his hunting partner made a surprise appearance bringing the total number of fans up to 14. How good is that?
With just 5 miles to go I had a sudden #1 urge for #2. There was this lone man in his yard cheering folks on so I stopped and asked with humility if I could use the washroom. He was very gracious and escorted me into the where I met the wife but I was not in much of a state to chat at that point. After a short pit stop we shared some pleasantries and I was off. Sometimes you meet people in the weirdest places and at the strangest of circumstance.
I want to go back for just a moment. At mile 19 there is this fellow standing by the mile marker cheering people on. He then appears at mile 20 holding the marker overhead and yelling the usual stuff. I wasn’t paying much mind until he kept showing up at subsequent markers along the way. I couldn’t figure out he was getting by everyone. I was just thinking about getting across the finish line in under 13hrs, when I see this guy again at 2 miles to go. He sees me and shouts out “Hey Dave, 2 miles to go man. Keep that pace and you will just beat 13hrs, but you gotta keep going hard man. You can do it.” How did he know about my sub 13 plan? I have no idea who he was or if he even existed at all for that matter. Even if my family had not been there that day oddly enough at that moment I knew I wasn’t doing this alone. If there can be angles in the outfield, why not at an Ironman? I felt good but tired heading into those last 2 miles and crossed the line at 12:58 and change. A PB. Go figure.
I mentioned a tear or two being shed on the run after reflecting on John Blaise and the legacy he has left behind. I actually wept a few other times that day. Standing with my family at the swim start and calling my mom on the phone I was overwhelmed by their love and support. As I headed up Main Street on the bike my mind was flooded with thoughts of my buddy Jack, who should have been there that morning had he not been killed training for this very race. I shed a few more tears for him that day. Then the finish line with everyone around. I hugged my wife and was thankful for all her patience and support. I never would have attempted a third IMC without her. Thanks Lucy.
Thanks Sean and Tar-lee for putting together a terrific training plan that kept me motivated and on track the whole way. Best swim and run to date but I am afraid there is no hope for me on the bike. Two out of three ain’t bad.
Thanks to my great family and friends for all the encouragement and help that made IMC 2007 one to never forget.