On Sunday, June 7, I raced in the Oliver Half Ironman. It was the third time I have done this race, as it is a beautiful course and not too far from Vancouver. It was a milestone race, because I have done it twice, pre-baby, in 2006 and 2007. It was also the first time I put the new training program to a real test. So, after popping 4 Ibuprofen and taping up my sore heel, I was ready to go.
Race conditions were near perfect – a moderately warm day after a week of blistering heat and relatively calm after a day of strong winds. There was nearly double the number of participants compared to 2007, and the transition was moved to a larger venue that was at least a few hundred metres from the swim exit to accommodate the masses.
The swim was a 2 km single loop lake swim. I concentrated on not kicking for the first section, which really helped to control my usually-panicky breathing that borders on hyperventilating. It still took me 400 metres to calm down enough to breath bilaterally. The swim was crowded enough that at one point when I turned my head up and left to suck in some air, I was mirrored by a male competitor who was exhaling at the same time, and I instantly knew he had dined at the new Greek restaurant the night before. I erred right a little too much and nearly smacked the balloon like buoy, but at least I was on course. In the end, I was able to cut 2 minutes from my previous best swim time on this course, coming in at 37:27. I’m not a swimmer, so I was 312th out of 906 competitors at this point.
After a long, barefooted run to the transition, I swallowed two more Ibuprofen, swigged some Cytomax and hopped on the bike for the 93-km course (slightly longer than a standard half iron). I got ready to eat one of my two carefully unwrapped Cliff bars from my Bento Box, and promptly dropped one on the ground while going about 40km/hr. Oh well. Next time I won’t unwrap them ahead of time so that they stick together when I pull one out.
I gained some time on the bike course, finishing after 2:44:06 (average 34 km/h, or 21.25 mph) and ranking 154th. I pushed the bike and experienced strong adductor (groin) fatigue. This is something I have never experienced before and it haunted me on the run as well. But, I cut nearly 8 minutes off my 2007 time.
Heading into the run, I felt fatigued but managed to average a 5:10 minute per km pace (or about 8:16 min/mile) and finished in 1:48:11, which was about 2 minutes faster than my previous best time in 2006.
Overall, I cut off 14 minutes from my previous best time in 2007. Still, my favourite part of the race was seeing Hannah in the crowd (feverishly being carted over to where I was showing up next). She didn’t really recognize me, but seeing her little face scan the blur of people going by was a real boost.
Post-race, I wish I could say I had a snappy recovery and have hit the training plan verbatim. In truth, I have been fatigued and sluggish for nearly two weeks. I read that recovery time can be influenced by “training age” and I am a relatively young 4 years old in these terms. So, I guess I just have to be patient.
Anyway, a more important milestone came up today - Hannah turned one year old on June 18, 2009! Happy Birthday, Baby!