This is a personal race report from Ironman Canada. It does not contain
any race results except my own. Read at your own risk...
IMC was my first Ironman distance race and my 5th triathlon in my
first year of racing. Naturally, I was quite nervous. I have done
3 half-ironman distance races this year (Wildflower, Hammerhead and
Vineman), but a full Ironman distance is a totally different thing.
Also, my tapering was not very good: I _did_ taper, but it was just
a two-week unplanned crash caused by ??? overtraining ???. I also
was training on my old TREK 2300, because my racing bike (ZIPP) was
being repaired. I picked up the ZIPP the night before leaving for
Canada; I know that swiching bikes three days before a major race is
not smart, but I just didn't have a choice.
As soon as I got to Canada, my bike shoes fell apart (SHIMANO's).
I had to buy new ones (Carnacs) that later caused me major trouble
in the race (more below).
I was really impressed with scenery Penticton. We stayed in a motel
just accross the street from the lake, and swam every morning. The
water in the lake was so clear, you could see the surface of the
lake from below when turning your head to breathe.
Anyway, now on to the race:
In the Okanagan Lake, a triangular course with the last leg parallel
to the shore (into the sun). This year the swim course was new: they
had ropes with plastic bottles marking _the outside_ of the course.
This meant that the swim was very crowded. I got kicked in the face
a few times, and swum over a lot. I have never swam this far even in
training, so I was concerned about the swim. I tried to focus on my
technique and hold back on the tempo. Towards the middle of the swim,
I started getting tired and a bit cold. In the final leg, you could
not see how far from the finish you were because of the sun. However,
it was easy to pick the direction: just swim directly into the sun!
THE SWIM-BIKE TRANSITION
This race has the best volunteers in the world! As soon as I was on
the shore, a volunteer approached me, told me to sit down on the grass
and ripped the wetsuit off of me in one continous movement! This was
great! I picked my transition bag and headed for the changed tent.
I was cold, so it took me some time to change. I decided to not
change into bike shorts/jersey, but to wear a Tinley skin suit on top
of the speedo's.
Now that I was out of the water, I actually felt comfortable. The first
2-3 miles were along the main street, with people cheering like mad!
Then the next 30-35 were slightly downhill with a tailwind. Everyone
was hammering like hell. I was telling myself to slow down (going 27
to 32 mph), but it just felt good to be on the bike again.
At mile 40, we hit Richter pass. It was not as bad as I expected.
It actually felt real easy. Then we had a totally insane downhill,
and then came to what the race director called rolling hills in the
pre-race meeting. Well, those were not rolling hills the way I define
this terms. I had to down shift a few gears (to like 39x15) and really
work on those. These hills were very tiring, plus we had headwind now.
I kept steadily passing people.
At mile 60, we picked up our special needs bags (I had a bottle of
Endura Optimizer in mine). By this time I felt fried and my hamstrings
were cramping (a more forward position of the ZIPP was taking its toll).
The next 52 miles were an agony. I was beyond the bonk, but kept
going, mostly passing people, but being passed by 5-7 people. At
about mile 80, we hit another climb, which felt much more difficult than
Richter Pass. Finally, we turned in Okanagan Falls and headed back
into town. I was counting miles, constantly looking at the computer.
The new Carnac shoes put a lot of pressure on the outside edge of my
feet, and they really hurt. I was actually looking forward to the run.
THE BIKE-RUN TRANSITION
When I got off the bike, I found I could not stand: my feet hurt so
much. After explaining what happended to the volunteer, I was led into
the medical tent and spent 40 minutes or so icing my feet. The pain
was quite intense every time I tried to stand up, but I was determined
to go on with the race. Finally, I decided to give it a try, put on
my running shoes, and shuffled out of the tent and onto the course.
I didn't feel that bad on the way out, passing people and only being
passed once. I kept telling myself that I will drop out at the
turnaround, knowing that I will not -- just a mental game to keep
myself going. The course was very hilly. Fortunately, aid station
people were doing a superb job: joking with athletes and always very
attentive to your needs. They had chocolate chip cookies, and they
tasted so much better than the Optimizer that I drank on the bike!
Somehow I made it to the turnaround, and the realilty suddently just
hit me: I had to get back into town!
The way back was the hardest thing I've ever done. I was counting
miles, then tried to fix my stare on a tree or a rock a few hundred
yards up the road and run towards it as an intermeidate goal.
After mile 16, I started walking through the aid stations.
Somehow I got into town, but I still had 3 miles to go. This is where
I gave up and decided to walk a mile. At this point two guys from my
age group (18-24), whom I ran down early on, passed me. I tried to
stay with them for a few hundred feet, but just could not do it.
At mile 24, I started running again: I was now on Main St. again, and
could hear the crowds. In the last 400 yards, I caught a guy from the
30-34 age group, and we ended up in a spring finish (I barely won by
about 1 yard ;-)).
Did I mention that this race has the best volunteers in the world? I
was immediately helped into the massage tent, got a massage while sipping
chicken soup. Then they helped me into a hot tub and asked if I wanted
anything (I did: something salty, so I asked for chicken soup again!)
Eventually, I picked up my clothes and rode my bike back to the motel
and headed out for a dinner of a T-Bone steak, fries and a large ice-
I finshed in 10:48:04, after spending 40 minutes in the medical tent
with the clock ticking. This put me in 18th place out of 80 people in
my age group (a 10:08:04 would have put me 8th). I really wanted to
qualify for Hawaii, but I was on the "waiting list". Fortunately for
me, two people who placed in the top 10 didn't want their Hawaii slots,
and one of them got passed down to me.
SOOO: I am pretty happy with my result, and e***d about going to
Hawaii! October 15th sure seems very close now!
Kostya Vasilyev swim-bike-run
SYMANTEC Corp. Development Tools eat- eat -eat
(408) 446-7165 program in C++