2009: swim - 25th, bike - 357th, run - DNF
After that 2009 race I committed to stay away from Ironman until I could take my weakness (the bike) and make it a strength. 2010 was spent focused on improving the bike, and I built on that fitness through 2011. In February I made the decision to sign up for Louisville about an hour after having dinner with Mark Harrison, who'd just signed up for the race as his tenth (10!) Ironman.
Training went really well all year - no major injuries or sicknesses - just solid, consistent training. Then ten days before the race I fell off my bike whilst commuting around the city, dislocating three ribs and putting a large dent into that confidence. Cycling was fine, but both swimming and running hurt, as did sleeping and sometimes breathing. Instead of a 'taper week', I shut it all down and hoped that the rest would have me OK to race on August 28th.
Phil Verk and I left Toronto on Wednesday night with a packed Ford Escape and an 'amazing' amount of baked goods from Bake Desserts (http://www.bakedesserts.com/ - check it out, your stomach with thank you). Highlights of the drive down included said baked goods, mocking the 'crazy storm' we were supposed to get that night, seeing probably the largest praying mantis in all of Ohio, consuming massive amounts of Louis CK stand-up, then enduring the wrath of the weather gods for mocking them and being forced off the road in Findlay, Ohio for the night.
We stayed at the Galt House, which is the host hotel for the race, and it was great. Everything was close by, staff was super helpful, and we could just focus on racing. Within the hour of checking in, we see this car out front of the hotel:
|Ironmen are a strange breed.|
By Thursday I tested the ribs with a 5K run and it was manageable, did another short run on Friday and about 10 minutes of swimming on Saturday. I wanted to feel super confident going into the race, but ended up being pretty nervous as my family and I had already booked flights and accomodation for Hawaii...so a DNF would be the opposite of 'amazing'...maybe 'death before DNF' makes a bit more sense...do I still need to pay my VISA bill for the house in Hawaii if I'm deceased?
Our fan club (Team Imrie, Karen West and Shawn Patton) calmed us down over dinner, and Phil, Mark and myself were as ready as we could be ('as we could be' emphasis added for Mark, who had cycled exactly 105K in 2011 prior to the race, with 55K of that being part of the Muskoka Long Course triathlon...he was most definitely the least-trained participant heading into the race...getting married three weeks before an Ironman doesn't lend itself to being the most prepared triathlete).
Louisville is unique in the Ironman circuit as it has a time-trial swim start. Check out this video (codename: 'Muppet Show') for a taste of what it's like:
In prior years, friends and family were allowed to 'save' athletes a spot in the swim-start line-up, which resulted in people camping out overnight. Ironman decided this was a bad idea ahead of a 17 hour day (it's a long day for the friends and family as well!) so the lineup didn't iopen until transition did at 4:45AM. Being a smart cookie, not just a fantastic baker of cookies, Karen suggested that Phil ride her bike from transition to the swim start, which was awesome and got us close to the start of the line.
|Support Crew 1|
|Support Crew 2|
Swim - 55:10, 51st overall
The biggest benefit of the time-trial start is you don't have to sprint from the gun to get clear water. Being nervous about how my ribs would hold up over the course of a 3.9K swim, I took it super easy during the first third of the swim. Once we passed the island and turned around into the main channel, I found a good pace and eventually latched on to one of the guys who passed me going a reasonable speed. I wore a blueseventy distance tri suit, going for simplicity in T1 over the potential time savings in the water of a speedsuit (which I find really tight and uncomfortable).
|Finishing the swim with my draft partner.|
T1 - 3:03, 24th overall
Smooth and efficient, only potential improvement would be getting shoes on faster.
Bike - 5:02:54, 24th overall