September 7, 2013
This was my last triathlon of the year. It would also be the hardest.
It was a 2 day drive just to get there. The only reason I could justify it was that I could combine it with a trip home to see the family.
I was the hilliest course of the year…by far. Official bike elevation 2660 feet. Garmin bike elevation was over 4000 feet. On a 56 mile course. This would be a brutal challenge!
It would also be my biggest test. Registration for the 2014 Ironman Wisconsin was scheduled to open the next day. If I could handle this bike course, then it would likely be ready for Wisconsin the next year.
The race was held at the Deerhurst Resort in Muskoka. Transition was in their front parking lot. I was able to stay at the resort which made life really easy. I arrived, parked, checked into the hotel, crossed the hall and checked in for the triathlon, went a couple doors down for the Ironman Store and the orientation talk. The optional pre-race buffet was right there too. Hopped on to the elevator and went to my room.
The next day, I racked the bike in the front parking lot and drove the bike course. It was very hilly…and amazingly beautiful! It was your basic lollipop course. Ride the stick out, do a loop (in this instance, the loop was a lap around the lake of bays) and then ride the stick back.
I checked out the swim and run as well. The lake was pristine and crystal clear. There wasn’t a ripple on the surface of the water. Water was cool, but a sleeveless wetsuit would do the job. The run was a little dull. A 4 mile run down a highway into town and then 4 miles back. The rest of the course was through Huntsville and was quite lovely.
Weather was forecasted to be practically ideal. I little cool for the bike, perfect for the run. Sunny. No wind. After all the weather issues this year, this was a nice change of pace.
Race morning arrived. Weather was as promised. I went out the front door, walked 20 yards and was in transition. I got my area set and went back to my room. I had some breakfast while getting on my wetsuit and watching TV. I could get used to this!
When the race start was approaching, I took the 5 minute walk to swim start. It was another in-water wave start. Again, it was a little cool, even with the wetsuit, but I would warm up quickly enough.
The horn went off and I found my rhythm. It was so nice to be able to see the bottom of the lake and not feel like you were in a washing machine! The last leg of the swim went into the marina and there was the smell of gas and oil. Otherwise, a beautiful swim…
Swim Split: 44:10
Yay! Wetsuit strippers! (Boo! They punched a hole in my wetsuit!). Then, there was a long run to T1. Ashphalt path, gravel, uphill. That took awhile. Once I got there, took a little extra time since I needed to get some warmer gear.
T1 Split: 14:28
I feared the bike. This was the make or break leg for me and I knew it would be grueling! But, it was also just so beautiful that it made it rather serene. The birds were out and singing. The sun was bright. I hated seeing the lake…it meant that I had gone as far downhill as I could go and it was time to climb again. Many of those climbs were grueling. I was frequently standing while peddling in granny gear (had not done that all season…even on the “dam(n)” hill in Kansas!) It was also quite technical. Many downhills ended at a turn, so you had to slow down for the turn then grind your was up the next hill. The course was also 2.5 miles too long (extra time was allowed for this). It doesn’t seem like much, but after 56 hilly miles, 2.5 extra hilly miles are not easy. I was relieved to see that I survived the bike…
Bike Split: 3:42:27
T2 Split: 7:58
The run was a mile out of the resort, 4 miles highway (was getting a little warm to run…especially with bright sunlight and no shade) before doing a scenic 3 mile loop through downtown Huntsville and heading back. The run was not as hilly as the bike, but was far from flat. Overall, it was a good run considering the bike ride I just survived.
Run Split: 2:24:52
Final Result: 7:14:05
Post race meal was amazing. So much great food, I could barely finish!
Afterwards, I headed to the room and had a shower. I met a online friend for the first time. We were virtually introduced by my cousin about a year and a half earlier. We have a lot in common. We have both overcome significant weight issues and have changed from sedentary and gluttonous lifestyle to one that is very fit and active. He is a real runner…he has an amazing level of dedication and training. He also has phenomenal finish times at all distances and has evolved into an Ultramarathoner as well. He has been my inspiration and a huge source of support over the past year and a half…especially during my injury and recovery. I finally got a chance to meet Rod and his partner in person as they came up from Toronto to meet me post race.
A great night of good food and fellowship followed as we swapped war stories well into the evening.
With this finish, I became a rated ironman athlete. 1574/4310 in my age group (U.S.) and 4541/10105 worldwide.
Overall, this was a great way to end the triathlon season and give me a good shot of confidence heading into 2014.