Thursday, July 3, 2014
Ironman and Anne girl
Here’s the race report of my first Ironman Triathlon. Unfortunately, it was an attempt rather than a triumph.
The average time for this particular race was 13 hours last year. This was triathlon number nine for me, but my first Ironman. I figured average was a good goal, so that's what I was training toward, and the numbers were looking good for eleven months straight.
It was an exciting morning with 2400 other entrants. Lots of hot bikes and intense faces. I only fit in the second category, but I'm not complaining. My bike, Pinky, was given to me by a neighbor when my old road bike (circa 1982) became unreliable. It's at least a four year upgrade. And yes, when I'm on the bike you can call me the Brain.
I lined up quite far back for the start, as I was worried about being caught in a piranha frenzy of swimmers. About 13 minutes after the race start, I hit the water. Just before that, the wind picked up and I was swimming into two-foot waves which were frequently whitecaps. In spite of that, I did well, and got out after two hours. Never swam 2.4 miles before! Problem was, I was shaking so badly from hypothermia (lake temperature was about 58 degrees) I couldn’t speak well or get my wet suit off. They sent me into the warming tent, and in my stupor, I lost track of time and stayed 30 minutes.
Once warmed, I got on my bike and rode 56 miles of rolling uphill road, and into the wind. Coming back down was super fast though, and I was just short of my 15mph average I needed to finish the whole race in 13 hours. As I finished lap one, I ran into the problem.
At the pre-race meeting, we’d all been warned of the cut off spots on the course. Listening to where they were and what the time was, I wasn’t worried. But 1:30 pm at the start of bike lap two was one such cut, and I got there at 1:35.
I spent almost a year preparing for this, and one stupid strategic error screwed it all up. But what makes me feel okay about it is going to that tent was only one stupid strategic error. My swim time was good despite the wind. After 56 miles on the bike, I couldn’t tell a difference in my legs from when I started. I had trained sufficiently to get the job done. Now I just have to wait until next year to do the rest. It would be dishonest to say I wasn’t furious and depressed when the race official took my timing chip. That felt like pulling off an extra-sticky bandage when the wound underneath hasn't healed yet. But I progressed rapidly to determination. Progressed fast enough no one witnessed my initial reaction.
Next month is an Olympic triathlon in the same lake and some of the same ride. I did it last year and had my best time ever. This year, I’m taking off another ten percent. First two workouts to that end are already done.
During the race, I got to ride next to the female champion for a while, the same Canadian woman who won last year. We rode together for about eight, maybe nine seconds while she lapped me.
Speaking of Canada, and Tuesday being Canada Day, here’s another way to look at my situation. Specifically from the perspective of one Anne Shirley. She would have loved this outcome far more than what I had planned. The tragedy! How romantical! I can imagine her imagination running away with the possibilities. Such a close shave with accomplishing something heroic! Makes me want to take some ipecac to help with a croupy cough and lie down in a leaky boat in that choppy freezing lake. It's as if some uncaring authority figure told me I can't hang around with my best friend Diana for a while. Yeah, that’s a good story. L.M. Montgomery would approve.