My journey is finally complete...yeaaaa! I did it! my first half Ironman.
It's an amazing feeling looking at the man in the mirror when I get up in the morning knowing how much I have transformed, and how all that hard work paid off....and what a great time I had...and so let me tell you about my day.
Sunday morning came fast with the sound of our alarm at 4:00 am, we stayed at the Cherry tree inn so that we could relax a bit and get a good parking spot by arriving early. I was so full of nervous energy that I did not fall asleep till 10:00pm but awoke feeling ready to go. I ate my regular bowl of cereal had a cup of coffee and then began to prep my gel flask and make sure all my gear was ready; we finished loading the truck by 4:50 am and headed for the race site...we got there by 5:00 am and practically had our choice of parking stalls..that's the way I like it..he he ; I had some time to put my mp3 on and rock out with a few songs and before long body marking was happening, it wasn't to start till 5:30 am but they we're already going by 5:20 so we headed over and got in line to get marked and collect our timing chips as well..this now gave us access to the transition area to set up our gear. I was glad to be there early this kept things flowing smoothly and gave me lots of time to set up..I hate being in a panic mode! First thing we got done was getting tires inflated so that the pump could go back in the truck out of the way..don't want to be tripping on that thing, I soon had my bike all set up along with my towel and all my equipment neatly laid out on it, It was time to do one last dry run through transition from both exit/enter ends and by that time it was about 6:30 am and time to go get my wet suit on, the time was flying by and I knew this day would go fast..the 10 min call for the men's start came and Tam and I started to head over to the beach.
I thought the lake would be like glass this early in the morning but it was a little choppy and left me wondering what this was going to be like. We ran into Monica and she wished us both well on our day which was nice, I gave Tammy a kiss and we wished each other well as it was time for me to get in the water . I found Gary at the back of the pack and he thought I should be up there with all the fast swimmers...I giggled and said no I'll start back here..I just want to make it through this day. The 1:00 min call came and I made my final adjustments to my goggles...I was ready to go and then there was a loud boom! and we were off, the Canadian armed forces were there with a Howitzer for sounding the start...talk about adding drama for my big day...that was sooo cool. I started off easy and increased my speed as I progressed, by about 400m I was settled into a nice rhythm and was able to navigate around most swimmers..I even had time to take in a moment and thought here I am in the middle of 276 men slugging it out in the water I felt on top of the world! ...the chop on the water wasn't too bad and soon found my self upon the first buoy at 800m, I managed to navigate around it without any problems and was feeling confident , I rounded the second buoy 300m later and was still passing some swimmers , I was on the home stretch now and continued with my pace....at one point I took on some water and had to regain my rhythm and only encountered one little twack on the head, soon the beach was in plain view and could I hear the spectators cheering...I kept on slugging through almost till my hands touched bottom and then began to stand up and make my exit ...I was a bit dizzy but kept moving forward and completed my swim in 37:50 and in 111th position out of 276 men. I had a great swim and felt strong the whole way and learnt a bit more about working my way through other swimmers ...that's a challenge in itself.
I got to my bike and quickly removed my wet suit , got my helmet on and then that dizzy spell hit me a bit more as I stood after putting on my socks so I crouched down for a moment to let my racing heart settle a bit and then I was fine ...I slipped on my shoes and was headed out of T-1, I had hoped for a faster transition but had to take the time to regain my balance...once again a learning thing which is great and feels good once you make it past that point. I was glad to be on my way with the bike and started of easy to let my legs warm up...and then at about the 4km mark my chain dropped off the inside ring...oh darn not a good start ...I got off the bike and was trying to get the chain back on when the front end rolled of the edge of the pavement causing the large now exposed chain ring to run into the front of my left shin leaving a good gouge and a puncture wound from one of the teeth...it caused some immediate pain and a small stream of blood ran down and I decided at this point I really don't have time for this now...grrrr! I got the chain back on and took off and regained my race focus. from this point the ride was going well I was eating and hydrating and felt great...then at around 15km I some how managed to hit this pothole about 4 inches wide by 2 feet long 3inches deep and it was like thud! thud! both tires right through it ...I swear it was perfectly designed for me alone to hit as it blended well with the road... My first concern was double flats but as I road on the tires seemed fine , I was in the aero position when I hit that rut and it caused my right elbow rest to slip down , try as I might I could not pull it back into its original spot...now I was dealing with my right arm continually sliding outward and had to use some upper body to try and keep my position for aero...this was a pain! and so early into the ride! but I wasn't going to let that wreck my day. At the 20km mark I heard a loud pop! and looked back to see if someone behind me had flatted and then heard a sssssssssssss and realized it was me that had the flat! ...gggrrraaaa! have I not had enough yet? why was this happening? and so I went about the tube change with the just let me finish attitude...many other riders asked if I was OK and I had remarked to one that this was just another day in paradise and I was fine.. and I was ...hey I had one more tube for one more flat right? So I continued on passing riders here and there doing the best I could as I was struggling with aero position and soon found my self starting the second lap and at 55km my chain dropped of the the big ring but this time I was extra careful not to get bitten again! ha ha....that was #5 but I soldered on knowing I would finish....I was at 65km mark and began to have that urge to pee but figured I would make it back to T-2 for that but by the time I hit the airport section I thought maybe I'll go when I get to the last water stop as there was a portable at that station, I should have gone sooner as holding it caused a lot of discomfort not to mention mental focus on riding instead wasted on holding pee !!! ha ha he he ...I finally came upon that portable and got to relive my self and it seemed like an eternity doing so...another learning curve for this dude!I was now on may way for the last leg of the ride and could feel some tiredness in the legs at this point but pushed hard to make up any time I could . The stop line soon appeared and I was happy to be finished my ride and felt high and mighty going into T-2....as I was my own hero out there today on the bike...adversity looked down upon me many times and each time I looked it squarely in the eye and said I don't think so! not on my day! I finished the ride in 3:12:21
I came out of T-2 in 1:38 and went right down to business of settling into my run upon the first water stop I took in a gel and water to make sure I stayed well hydrated and fueled...I was feeling great and at 3km had a manageable pace going and was determined to run this non stop other than fueling up. I was slowing pecking off runners here and there and continued to do so through the first 8km at this point I had caught up to one fellow who was wearing an orange jersey ( I'll call him orange)and had a good pace going so I paced off him right up to the end of the first lap when he stopped for water I kept going till I hit the boat launch and went for a pp break...whew that felt soo good...now I could get back to the task at hand ...I was passed by a 30-34 female before my break and commented on her great pace she had going...she said thanks and flew on by....orange had passed me while I had my break but I soon caught up to him and asked how he was doing? he said he was beginning to suffer and I said come on only 8km to go we're almost home you can pace of me now ...as I was feeling strong, I never looked back after that and I pushed on; at the 13km mark my quads were starting to feel the effects and I remembered Tammy saying this is probably where You'll have to use mental will power to get to the finish line so I just pretended that I was trying to catch this guy named Ivan and I was going to hunt him down ...he he, I continued to pass many others along the way. At the next station I took Gatorade and water then kept on going ...at 5km to go I said to me hey this is just a 5k run bud! And then at 16km I caught up to that blond 30-34 and said to her I thought you were long gone...she still had a good pace going and one that I was hoping I could manage to the finish, I could not believe I caught up to her so I just dug in there and held on as the markers went by 17, 18 and finally the 1km marker...I was so close now and as I entered near the finish I had nothing left to sprint with as the spectators cheered us to the finish line , as I crossed the finish line feelings of a great accomplishment engulfed me as I had now completed my first Half Ironman and endurance event. My run time was 1:51:29 a 5:35 pace woo hooo!
The final note
My final time was 5:45:40 I was hoping to do it in 6 hours so this was the icing on the cake for me, I had the time of my life and am looking forward to doing another one. Great love and admiration goes to my wife Tammy for pulling me through some difficult times during all the training and a special thanks to Gary V. our Ironman and tri bud for all the support and encouragement along the way and many friends and family that wished me well on what was... my journey to my first Half Ironman.