Am I the Oldest? Mt. Tremblant 70.3, Race Report by IronPapa, Paul Allingham

It rained all day Saturday but cleared overnight and was just overcast for most of the race Sunday – and no wind to speak of.  Great race conditions.

I figured out I was the oldest person in the race.  There were 8 registered in my age group but only 7 showed up and the 74 and 82 year old registrants were non-starters.  Does that make you feel old or what – especially when you get passed and people congratulate you for surviving that long after seeing your age on your leg.

The start was neat with the military out on a barge and shooting off a big cannon for the start of every wave.  Because they sent the old farts off early I was in the first wave after the pros.  In the end that meant getting passed by about 1700 of the 2500 or so in the race as I placed 1763.  That meant lots of congratulations just for being alive and doing this – several in French.  I was a bit melancholy at the beach before the start as I wondered if this would be my last Ironman race after 5 full ones and a dozen halfs, I’ve started to think about a new career in Sprints and Olympic distances.  The longer ones are tough races and getting tougher with less motivation and less to prove.

I did fine in the Swim at just under 40 minutes – not my best but not bad.  I was 3rd in my age group and felt quite good especially when being looked after by the “strippers”.  Lots of great fans being very noisy along the long run to Transition.  I noticed that the transition area was still very full of bikes.  I probably saw half of them go by me on the bike course as all the young stallions whooshed by on their solid wheels.

But I also did very well on the Bike course for me and finished in 3:15 with an average of near 28K/hr including doing a decent job on all the hills including the steep ones near the end.  That included 2 stops of a few minutes each at aid stations to be sure I ate and recovered a bit.  And I was still 3rd in my age group but when I got to Transition it was half full of the bikes that had passed me – young studs, was I ever one of them?  Maybe college but that report was burned long ago.

I started OK on the run and was doing my 10 & 1’s nicely including the early hills.  I stopped for what turned out to be a long pee at 14 K which just proved I was well hydrated.  Then my old friends, Mr and Mrs Vomit threatened to show up about 15K.  But I fought them off by slowing and walking a fair bit, and drinking coke at the aid stations to try to settle them down – so they never made the party.  I was 2:49 in the run, which is about 30 minutes slower than I would be without the “party”.  That dropped me to 5th in my age group of the 8 registrants, 7 who started and 6 who finished. I might have been on the podium as they were going 5 deep but Joanne was feeling worse than I was with some bug she picked up overnight so we headed back to the condo and she slept most of the rest of the day and evening.  No special dinner out and no greasy burger and fries.

During the last part of the run two songs kept running through my head which were very relevant to me at the time for the situation.  The Eagles – Take it to the Limit, One More Time and Kenny Rogers – Know When to Hold ‘Em and Know When to Fold ‘Em.  It’ll be a tough decision for next year’s race plans.

While I would rate my race as a success, the best news I got after was that my son-in-law Jason had won his age group and placed 9th overall in the Niagara Half marathon.  With all he’s gone through in the past few months he’s one tough hombre.  I’m not near as tough as I forgot to lather up with butt cream before the race and now I’m using diaper cream to recover after the “fact”.

Sorry if the report is a bit long but I enjoyed writing it as much as doing the race.

Paul

My First Half IronMan, Syracuse 70.3 Race Report by Siobhan Flarety

Well that was an experience!  I’ve had a full day to reflect on the challenges of the day and now that I’ve slept, rehydrated, and refuelled, I’m feeling pretty positive about my first half Ironman.

The day started early, 4:40 am to be precise, and I arrived at the race course in plenty of time to set up my transition area.  This was accomplished by copying what the women to my immediate right and left had done.  Laying out my gear took no time at all, and I wondered what I might be missing because my neighbours seemed to be very busy.  Since I still had plenty of time before having to don the dreaded wetsuit, I stood and stared at my stuff for a while and rearranged my shoes four times.

It was finally time to make my way down to the water.  I watched the pro men and women launch their swim waves, they were very speedy and very competitive.  I chatted with a few other women in my age category, some like myself were first timers, others veterans. There was a nice spirit of camaraderie in the air and I wasn’t nervous.  My plan was to stay to the back and stay wide.  My plan did not include waist high weeds that got caught in my hands, around my shoulders and plastered across my goggles during the first 100-200 m.  I found out later that the local tri club had done their best to clear the water of weeds, no easy task I’m sure.

Out of the water and onto dry land once again I huffed my way over to a wetsuit stripper.  Flat on my back and legs up in the air.  Jesus Murphy.  Off came the suit, and with it a little dignity lost.  But no matter, I was up and trotting to transition.  Shirt on, helmet on, glasses on, shoes on, grab bike and off I went!  I learned later that there had been some spectacular crashes out of bike transition but mine was uneventful.

That was a tough bike ride.  The first 12-15 miles were steadily uphill, with a nasty surprise at about mile 21.  This hill was so steep that in my downhill approach I reached 73 kph!  I smelled burning rubber and realized later that it must’ve have been my tires.  Sorry tires.  The man in front of me tipped over and fell, others dropped their chains and some riders had unclipped and were walking their bikes up the hill.  I made it up seated and safe and can say that Sydenham holds no fear for me now.

Returning from the ride I encountered walkers.  Lots and lots of walkers.  People that had passed me ages ago on the bike were walking the run course.  It was hot.  Really, really hot.  Actually,  hot isn’t an accurate enough description.  Imagine a blast furnace on the surface of the sun and you get the idea.  I knew I was going to be in trouble.

Out of transition I started that funny shuffling ohshitwherearemylegs gait that is supposed to mimic running.  I made it to mile 2 before the heat hit me.  I was running on asphalt country roads, no shade, no breeze.  I could feel my skin burning.  I wanted to die.  In the distance I could see a water station, the heat radiating up from the road provided a shimmering effect and I prayed that it wasn’t a mirage.  I made the mile, and discovered the bliss that a sponge soaked in ice water could provide.  I kept going.  I wasn’t running at this point, it was more like a walk shuffle; my shoes were sticking to the melted tar of the road.  Up the hill, down the hill.  Water station.  Ice sponge.  Turn around,  head back to finish loop one.  Back into park.  Dry arid park, with big frigging stones that it was hard to walk shuffle on.  I saw my friend Jen, and started to cry.  I felt empty and I was just too damn hot.  I said, ” I’m done.  I want to quit.  I’m too hot”.  Jen was encouraging, so I kept going and left the park for lap two.  The walk shuffle continued between water stations.  I reached one water station that did not have ice sponges.  I wanted to prostrate myself on the ground and weep.  But since I couldn’t spare the salt or the water, I elected to shove ice down my top and pants and kept on shufflin’.

I don’t know what time it is, I’m too hot to care.  Just finish. I’m at mile 9 and the sky has become dark.  Oh sweet relief, clouds have obscured the sun.  Oh, wait a second.  Those clouds are black.  Hmmm…is that a breeze?  No, that’s wind.  Big fat raindrops sizzle when they land on the hot asphalt.  And that’s not my stomach growling…that’s thunder.  And then ladies and gentlemen, the proverbial shit hit the fan.

Mile 10 or so, still shuffling.  Full blown tempest.  There was a paramedic in the road trying to wave runners, walkers, shufflers into a nearby barn for shelter and safety.  He also announced that the raced had been cancelled due to the weather.  He had his orders to drive participants back to the park once the storm cleared.  To be honest, I entertained the idea for a half a second.  Here’s my out, I thought, I can stop right now.  Then I quashed it.  There was no way that I was going to stop now.  All support crews had been pulled, so those of us still out there were on our own.  This also meant no more water or ice sponges, but the rain lashing at my face was quite refreshing so I shuffled on towards the finish line.

I was pleased with my swim, the goal was to finish before the cutoff time.  My bike ride was tough, and I think this is where some of my inexperience showed.  I didn’t know how to strategize.  Should I have biked harder and treated each segment as a separate event? I also didn’t drink enough for the heat. I had my watch set to beep every ten minutes, and I sipped at my bottle but maybe I should have gulped. As for the run, I really felt in hours following that I had failed.  I was quite disappointed.  The heat kicked my butt.  I had checked the forecast in the morning and knew it was going to be 46 with the humidex, but I didn’t know how it was going to feel running in that kind of heat.

So like I said, I was disappointed.  But then I thought about it.  I had endured an endurance event.  I didn’t quit when I really, really wanted to, nor did I quit when I had the perfect opportunity to do so.  So I’m actually quite proud of that.  My first half Ironman was a good experience, I learned a lot about the sport and about myself. I’m definitely going to do another half, a full Ironman triathlon still seems insurmountable.  After having completed this half IM I have more of an understanding of the mental and physical fortitude that it takes to complete a full IM, and I know that I don’t yet have it.  For those of you copied on this email that have completed an IM, the respect and admiration I felt for you before has just tripled.

Thanks for the support everyone,

Siobhan

 

ITU LD Triathlon World Championship, Belfort France 

Race Report by Kathy Eaton, June 1, 2013

We arrived in Belfort France on Tuesday, May 28, on a cool but sunny day.  That was the last time we saw the sunshine until the day after the race.

The days got progressively cooler as we approached race day and by Thursday night the race officials determined it was too cold to swim and declared our long distance triathlon a duathlon.

The 4k swim was replaced with a 9.5k run.  The 120k bike was now a 87k bike and our 30k run was now 20k.

As the saying goes, “Nothing new on race day” went out the window, everything was new.  I had to rethink clothing, nutrition, pacing. I had never run 9.5k before a bike, etc.

My main mode of thinking was, “It is what it is and it’s the same for everybody”.

Parade of Nations

 43 countries were represented this year and 44 athletes made up the Canadian Team.  Our parade uniforms were a big hit. We received loud cheers and whistles (or maybe it was our good looks and great country)  I felt very proud to be a Canadian.

Race Day

The weather for Saturday’s race was predicted as 90% POP and 25-30ml of heavy rain however, the rain held off for the most part but the temps were cooler, especially at the higher elevations of the bike course.

The race venue was held in Malsaucy, a protected natural area.  It was truly an awesome place to run and I can only imagine the swim would have been as well.

The first 9.5k run was fine as I tried to save my legs for the upcoming bike up Ballon d’Alsace, peaking at 1,247 meters above sea level.  This has been a regular stage of the Tour de France.

I felt pretty good getting on the bike after the first run. I cycled the first part of rollers, roundabouts and cobbles and racing through villages. At exactly 40k the incline of the mountain starts.  The grade is 5% and 8.5% in portions for about 14k.  Thanks to hill repeats on Snake Road and Sydenham and a trip to Mt. Lemon, I found the mountain enjoyable yet challenging.  Having said that, as we got closer to the top, the temperature dropped noticeably and visibility was poor due to fog.  Thankfully, our team took a bus trip up the mountain 3 days earlier so I knew what to expect when we got up there and knew enough to descend with caution as there are no guard-rails and a few brick walls at the ends of the switchbacks…..exciting!

Once down the mountain we continued on closed roads through small villages, awesome scenery, more cobbles, with the villagers out in great numbers cheering us on.  Allez, Allez!  Once again, proud to be a Canadian as they cheered Canada loudly.

Finally back on the run for 2 more loops of the hilly run course and home for an 8th place finish in my age group.

What an incredible experience, meeting new friends and being able to race in such a beautiful country.

Kathy Eaton