Ironman Canada Race Report – Holger comes out of retirement…

Ironman Canada 2010: Wow, I am here…the sun is coming up and I am standing in line for one of the outhouse style toilets they have there..I never believed I would spend the last 30 minutes before the race standing in line for a place to take a ….

Anyhow, once that was done and dealt with, I try and wade through the masses to find a chunk of water without a yellow cap bobbing in it. Turns out I finally find a good spot on the far left of the startline, confirmed by the fact that Stefan is in the same area, a few words, and we are off. Given that there is almost 3000 people in the water I actually have quite some space to move and I congratulate myself – good choice on the starting spot. This changes drastically at the first buoy though, holy business. I don’t even dare to check my time I am so afraid I might get killed if I stall for more than a split second. It stays busy pretty much all the way to the swim finish where I see my time in disbelief: 1:20. Oh man, how do they say: “You can’t win the race in the swim but you can lose it” I just lost mine. I switch my watch off and decide to enjoy the rest of the day…

“You can’t win the race in the swim, but you can lose it”

When you have a crappy swim like that and you come out of the water in 1800th or so position, the problem for a half decent biker like myself is there is a lot of passing to do, which, especially on the first 20km and the narrow roads is not easy. As a consequence I get yelled at by the marshal because I use the wrong side of the road a lot. I feel the temptation to yell back but I withstand and tuck back, at least until he is out of sight, and then I am a passing again. I passed about 1300 people on the bike and I believe most of them in the first 70km or so. I felt great and fresh all the way up to Richter pass (after all I must have had a relaxing swim based on my time) coming over the peak the headwind hit me and then I saw the clouds we were heading into. Oh man, I pray for it to clear by the time I reach the end of the plateau, but my wish is not granted. Shortly before the yellow lake climb it starts raining. This makes for an interesting descent to town. Stiff, cold fingers, which are covered in a wet, slimy power bar/gel/gatorate mix, throw in a ~80km/h descent and you know that you are neither safe nor healthy. Fortunately, I make it to the transition zone alive. My hands are too stiff to even hold on to my transition bag and I cannot feel a single one of my toes. I am actually glad I am allowed to go for a run just to get warm.

As of mile 3 I realize that I do have toes and the rest of my body starts functioning again as well. The rest of run is fairly uneventful: I run a steady, relaxed pace (with almost identical time for both half marathons ), take a 20 step walking break at every aid station, and run on Coke (actually Pepsi) as of mile 4. I meet the family and friends at the turnaround and give my pretzels to the kids…after all they have been waiting for me for a long while so they deserve a treat.

Holger (looking considerably more happy) at the turn-around, with his cutie-pie daughter, Mia, in the background cheering her Dad on.

Time to bring on the excuses 😉

Given that my last Ironman was in 2002, and I have done literally nothing for the 5 years that I lived in the bush for my MSc field work (besides horsebackriding and a random run every month or so), I guess I can be pretty satisfied. I started slowly, easing into the mindset of triathlon again after signing up last year and have done only 3300km on my bike since then and really only about 30km per week of running on average as of May 2010. I have not done a single triathlon as preparation, I only swam in open water for about 20 minutes 3 times (I guess I know who to blame for the shitty swim time) and I never ran more than a half marathon. I have a 14 year old road bike that would be a disgrace to any serious Triathlete, and I do not own a heart rate monitor. I also have nothing that even resembles a training schedule; I went when I felt like it and did what I felt like. I guess my conclusion has to be two fold:

  1. Despite old age, kids, a job, etc. I still can finish an Ironman with a half decent finishing time without high training intensity and fancy equipment
  2. Now that I know I can still do it, I gotta try next year and be much faster – maybe I will get a heart rate monitor, a fancy bike and a trainer 😉

EDITORIAL: When Holger sent in his race report, he also commented on the fact that his new Fiera Race Team tri-kit worked out quite nicely during the race. I told him I was glad to hear that, because some folks have commented that that tops are a bit “too revealing”. Holger’s response was as follows:

“I have no problem with revealing…you have to remember I started triathlon when people raced like this…see attached…I actually still have an outfit like that just don’t dare wearing it anymore – which is probably a good thing…”

Those were the good ‘ol days….

Next year's tri-kits....?

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