Swiss Ironman 2009

Well another year goes by and a new and improved Ironman story to tell. I don't have pictures up yet but they should come shortly. But first here are my results:
3.8 km Swim: 1:06:06
180km Bike: 5:30:11
42km Run: 4:15:28
Overall with transitions: 11:00:46

The day was perfect, overcast and in the low twenties. The swim was even more interesting than usual since it was an open water start which was a first for me. On the beach they announced that there would be a one minute warning to enter the water and swim to the start and then at some point within that same minute the gun would go off to start the race. Well even the entry into the water was a little agressive so I was sort of near the back when the race started.

As with any Ironman, people are very anxious at the start knowing the swim is chaotic and frankly there is no way to judge how good the swimmer next to you is. The gun went off and I started agressively but sticking to a longer drawn out stroke with decent kicking. I was passing many people and for once I wasn't the one getting pummeled. That didn't last long however since everyone including myself do not swim a perfect straight line. The corners weren't too bad but the swim back to shore narrowed and I started running into people. I sprinted ahead once but I just swam into another group so I just kept a steady pace. Just before you make shore, you swim under a bridge, climb up a ramp, run 20 meters across a little island and jump into deep water on the other side. Good only 2 kilometers more to go I thought. It was surreal jumping into the water at the halfway point though and brought a smile to my face. I refrained from diving in thinking it foolish to loose my goggles.

So off I went swimming to the first corner from the first lap since the second lap is kind of a triangle portion of the first lap. Coming into shore for the second time I felt pretty good and for the first time did not feel shakey or dizzy when I ran to my bike. Yes this time they let you come out of the water for good as they pity you for getting into this crazy mess.

The bike start was fast and I was cramping a little in my left quad which is not my injured leg. Unfortunatetly it bothered me the rest of the race but it is Ironman and there is no use complaining so I “shut up and rode”. I even rode fast at the start since the first 30 km is more or less flat and there was no wind on the first lap. The first hill was pretty pedestrian so I stopped for pee in the corn field, yes men do have an edge here. The route then turned into country rode which periodically would weave through little pockets of buildings which were like miniature town centres. As hilly as what I call the “back section” was it was still very fast due the interluding downhills. Each time I approached the crest of a hill I would pick up the pace so that I maximized the downhill portion. Near the end of the back section there is long steep hill where I was able to pass a lot of people and again maximize the downhill section where I maxed out at 80km/hr. This is the fastest I have ever been on a bicycle and I don't recommend it without first aid attendents lining your road way like I had.

While the first part of the bike leg goes along the opposite shoreline of the swim leg, the second part of the first lap comes back past the transition to a small hill section called “Heart Break Hill”. As the name implies you have a bit of a work out getting up it, but it is very short and near the top the crowds close in on you just like the L'Alpe D'Huez stage of the Tour De France. Well maybe not quite, but it felt cool and made you forget all about the steepness. From there it is about 7km back to the transition area where you can start your second 90 km lap. My legs were continuing to bother me at this point and I experienced some locking sensations which I was expecting at some point from my injuries during training. As pumped as I was with the pace I was setting I decided to slow it down on the flats and focus on the hills more to avoid injuries. It was probably good thing since the wind picked up and the previously flat sections turned into more of a grind.

Once again I picked it up in the hills and pushed my upper limits on the downhill sections. Coming into transition I was pumped since I knew I would finish with a 5 and half hour bike which is almost 20 minutes faster than my previous best.

In transition I knew my IT bands were tight so I spent about a minute strecthing each leg to avoid potential injuries. In an 11 hour race you have time! Considering I injured my knee March 2nd and did not start running until May 2nd I also knew what was at stake if I just tried to run through it.

I felt dead tired at the start of the run but thankfully I had none of the usual hamstring cramping you feel after massive bike rides. I stopped to give Viv a kiss and then plodded along. Tonnes of people were passing me at this point since I was in “hang in there mode” but it did not bother me at all. I just kept my focus until I could pick it up a little around the 8 km mark. This lasted for around 3km and then I felt tired again. The run race is basically four 10km laps and takes you along the shoreline back and forth through the center of Zurich. There are lots of people to cheer you on and I feel as with most Ironman events that the fan support is awesome.

Near the end of each lap you receive a different coloured armband so that the most dilerious athlete knows how far to go. I just maintained my pace and tried to avoiding walking except for two of the aid stations where I would take in more calories. Near the very end I was able to pick up the pace as I knew I was closing in on 11 hours. I wasn't so worried about being a little over or under, just to be nearer to the end so nothing could go wrong. The last 100 meters I was pumped and smiling ear to ear (i'm sure of it!). The first aid tent had beer (it was non-alchoholic), what more can I say?

First and foremost I have to thank my fiancee Vivian. Ironman is a one day event but 12 months of training. When I reinjured my knee several times this year I was in a pretty dark place and wasn't pleasant to be around. This was also the third Ironman event in four years. So baby, no more Ironman unless you want to attempt one or we become filthy rich and I don't have to work anymore!

Second, I have to thank my coach Mark Bates whos patience and knowledge opened my mind more than I could have imagined. I learned more this year than many of my previous years of combined. I found out how much more I could improve without any damage to my ego. I would recommend Mark to anyone interested in Triathlon – he was Canadian champ ’97, ’95, ’94, and ’91 after all!

Thirdly, family and friends; yes even the ones who think a marathon is an Ironman and don't know the order of events in a triahlon. It used to irk me a bit but now I just laugh when I hear “how was that marathon you did” to which I respond “11 hours”. The confused look I get is priceless.

I have one more special thanks to my oldest sister Michele. She truly was my inspiration for getting into running, biking and finally Ironman. Seeing her do the Penticton Ironman was an incredible experience. She also subtely pointed me in the right direction with the odd training book as a Christmas present. Thanks Michele!

Cheers everyone


PS here are my training totals October 08 to July 09:

Swim Time 48 hr
Swim Distance 149 km
Bike Time 118 hr
Bike Distance 2971 km
Run Time 54 hr
Run Distance 648 km
Other Time 48 hr (yoga and weights)
Total Time 268 hr
Please note: the times may seem low for Ironman training. This is due to my knee injury which prevented me from running and intense bike training from March to Mid May.

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