Now for the Final Installement of Erich's Odyssey. The races has come and gone, and this is what he had to say.
Victoria International Half Iron Race Report.
"When I run by/lap you I am going to smack you as hard as I can on the ass" -Vincent Lavallee, raceday
[For clarification, the run is 2 laps of a 10km loop.]
Well, I will spare you the suspense and tell you that yes, I did indeed finish (Elspeth!). It was actually really fun, despite some, let's just say discomfort on the run. Pat and Vince made the trip over too, and Derek competed despite being sick, so it was a good time all-round. Without further ado:
5am, race day: The alarm comes awfully soon. On the run course there will be a "special needs" table where we can place any drink we want to before hand. My plan: pour a beer into a water bottle and start drinking it around 15km into the run to help take the edge off. This is my special need. Unfortunately in our haste I completely forget the beer.
6am: I get some last minute tips from my friends. Triathlon is all about looking good I learn (Note to self: keep doing what you're doing then:). I tape 6 power gels to my bike. There will be no bonking today. You don't wanna end up looking like that drunken n00bstick Julie Moss.
6:40 We gather in the water. This is it, the moment I've been waiting for
my whole life all week. Steph Dixon is here too, sweet! "Hey!" I call "Doing a relay?" What a stupid question, of course she's doing a relay you tool...
6:45 The gun goes off. 200m in I see Derek start to pull away. I decide not to go with. It's going to be a looong day, no need to be the hero now. I sing some Jack Johnson to calm down and settle into cruise mode. My ears pop out of my cap. I must look like a n00bstick. I'm breaking the cardinal rule of triathlon: you gotta look good. I stop to adjust my cap. A little while later my ears pop out again. I stop/adjust again. This happens 3 times.
I just follow the guy in front of me. His pace is a bit slow, but that's probably a good thing as I figure I'm likely to underestimate the race and go out too fast. I see Pat n Steph beside me. It's comforting being surrounded by ppl you know. All 3 of us emerge from the water about the same time. This is fun!
Pat & I leave the transition at the same time: "Spring Break!" I yell.
2km into the bike and Vince passes me: "heeeeey". Wait - what, already?!! I was hoping to get to 20k before he caught up. Either I swam slow or he had a good one. Turns out he had an awesome swim, good job Vince! I don't even try to keep up-those guys are fast! I settle into what will be my routine for the next 5 hours: watching other ppl's backsides as they pass by.
I seek a sustainable rythym. There's no point in going out of your comfort zone, or as I like to call it 'the zone of unsustainability' in a race this long, it'll come back to haunt you. My bike comp's busted, so I have no idea how fast I'm going. Pat zooms past on a downhill... but what goes down must come up! I catch up on the uphill. A little while later on a downhill straight he passes me again. A little while later on a hill I catch him again. Do I see a pattern emerging here?
Biker's keep whizzing past on their pimped out carbon-fibre machines. Damn it, I knew I shoulda invested that extra 4 grand. I'm like the guy who shows up for the 100 free final in a polyester speedo and everyone else has full body LZR's. They pass in packs, some clearly in the drafting zone of others. What a buncha jeerks. Superfastbikerjerks.
Two superfastbikerjerkgirls pass me. Since they're chicks I clearly have to try and keep up. Shifting on a steep hill one of their chains pops off. ha! On the next steep hill the other chick's chain pops off. double ha! Stereotypes are based on fact and clearly, chicks just don't know how to shift manually:P
I hold my own for a bit but start to die about 3/4 of the way in. 80 km now and this is about as far as my mind and body want to ride. Because of the improper fit of my bike, my lower back is killing and hamstring is tight. Good thing it's over soon. It's been raining. On one of the last corners I almost bail on the wet road... almost.
90km and I've just biked the furthest in my life! I whip out the mental checklist and tick off 3 goals (broke 3 hrs/avg'd over 30 kmph/started the run before Vince had a chance to lap me). The bike was actually really fun and went well. I only lost 15min to Vince and 7min to Derek which is a lot less than expected. Of course I don't know this at the time. The run? Ahem, well let's get to that...
Kym ran a marathon on a cup of coffee, so it stands to reason that I should do a half marathon on half a cup of coffee (observation courtesy of Callum). I don't see a Starbucks in the transition zone so I hit up the next best thing: a 25mg caffeine powergel. This one's for you Kym!
Going through the transition everyone cheers for you. You're the hero. You're feeling good, you're lovin' life. The cheers soon fade and then reality sets in...
500m in: HO-LY F-BOMB!! That didn't take long. My lower back/calves/shins are already on fire/tight as hell/basically fukt. I have to walk already.
"Is this about a 50min (per 10k) pace?" [the pace I am hoping to hold] I ask a guy running beside me. He laughs. Clearly I need to readjust my concept of 50min pace. "Have you done this before?" I ask the second guy who passes me. "Yup, it's a long ways, pace yourself." Point taken. I pace the fuck out of it.
1km: Oh my god! That's only 1k?! At this point my focus shifts from "What pace can I hold?" to "Let's just finish". The first few kms are the worst. I loosen up a bit, but the pain never goes away.
3km: The leader laps me. Man is he movin'. I'm expecting Vince to come up at any moment. I pucker up.
5km: My left foot goes numb. One km later my right foot, feeling left out, decides to go numb too. It's like the dentist stuck their freezing needle into my feet. I wonder if it's a nerve somewhere getting messed up, but hope I just tied my laces too tight. At least I can't feel the pain in my ankles anymore.
6km: My strides must be only about 1ft long. It's all I can do. Baby steps I repeat. My Borg scale Relative Perceived Effort (RPE) is only about 8, less than warm-up effort. HR maybe 110. But I can't go any faster, everything from my waist down is just hooped.
8km: Vince hasn't lapped me yet. Maybe I can make it without him lapping me at all! Encouraged, I increase the tempo of my hobbling and swing my arms harder.
9km: My achilles feels like it's going to blow up/rip apart. I reeeeally want to walk, but can't. Vince could be coming up at any moment.
10km: VICTORY IS MINE! No lap-age for Vince. I've now "run" (if you can call it that) further than I have in my life. I hear the announcer calling in the 5th finisher.
Ppl continue to pass me at an alarming rate. No longer superfastbikerjerks, everyone is uber friendly/encouraging. I must look as bad as I feel tho. Besides the usual "keep it up, you're doing great", this is a sample of some of their actual concerned comments:
"You look about as cramped as me"
"Busted a calf?"
"You need my powergel? Salts?"
17km: Let's try this running thing. I try relaxing and lengthening my strides.
18km: A chick passes me going really fast, #740. Fuck it, I decide to pace off her. My legs are already screwed anyways. RPE slowly climbs into the double digits: 10...11...12. Man she's movin' (I find out later she's on a relay). RPE 13. If my legs actually worked I guesstimate this is a little over the max pace I should've been able to hold. For the first time I'm passing ppl. My first 18k were at 5:41/km pace, these last 2k are at 4:32/km pace.
5 hours 7 minutes and 11 powergels later I cross the line. High fives all round. Where the ice bath be at?
At the finish I'm introduced to the best part: the post-race snack table. Later, a 5hr nap is in order. I wake up sore as hell & with a sprained ankle. I have a new found respect for the full Ironman that Pat did.
Would I do it again? Ya, but not any time soon. And I think next time I'll train for a little more than a week and a half. Like, maybe 2 weeks.