Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ironman Canada - Race Week

I have a certain race week routine that I follow for my big races. It works pretty well, but it still needs some ironing out for Ironman races. The travel that is involved

Shipping the Bike

I drove my bike over to Front of the Pack on Sunday as ordered to by TriBike Transport. When I had signed up for the service, I signed up to ship a gear bag too. But when the time came to pack, I couldn't figure out what I should put in it. 

It turns out, you can keep your Bento box and under-the-saddle seat and even bottles in your bottle cages. So the CO2 cartridges that you (supposedly) aren't supposed to take on the plane and a lot of other spare equipment fit into those just fine. I thought about shipping my bike helmet, but it needed to be in a hard case and I had nothing at home that would work for that and fit into my gym bag.

So I put in a bunch of crap that weighed a lot just to keep it out of my suitcase. I also put in things that I would really need in case the airlines lost my luggage.

Then I packed up the car and headed over. But when I got to FotP, I saw all these gear bags that were much bigger than the dimensions that the TBT website had said were the maximums allowed. It turns out that I could have shipped my entire transition bag! Pretty much anything goes as long as the total weight is under 25 pounds.

Heavy Strength

The next day was a rest day and then on Tuesday I did my "heavy strength" workout. I went to the Kettlebell Tuesday group workout and just used a heavier bell than I normally do. This worked out somewhat okay, but I did manage to give myself some heavy blisters, including one that bugged me when I rode my bike. So next time I think I'll just do something like Power to the People and maybe some Back Squats.

Travel Day

Wednesday was my travel day. Since I was also supposed to rest the day after my Heavy Strength workout, I figured that was perfect. I was a bit worried that all that sitting -- in airports and planes -- would kill my calf, but I had no issues with it.

I was by myself going from SFO to Seattle. There may have been others on the plane going to Ironman Canada but I couldn't pick them out. I would have been easy to pick out as I brought my transition bag and bike helmet on the plane as carryons.

In Seattle, I had some time to kill, but I didn't want to do too much walking so I ended up reading at the gate. I didn't see anyone I knew at the gate, but when I got on the plane, who should sit down next to me but my Physical Therapist! I then looked around and saw a bunch of SVTCers stowing things in the overhead compartment.

When we got to Kelowna, we all grouped up to collect our luggage and to through customs. I ended up being last through customs and then at the rental counter I had my first snafu. It seems that this particular Budget rental location did not accept debit cards and that's all I had with me. Eventually, they did agree to take it but they put an extra hold on $300 of my money. Don't worry, they said, we'll release it when you turn the car in.

At this point, all my friends were gone so I headed off to Penticton by myself. I followed the directions from the rental guy, but I think there must be a better way to get there. Because everyone says it's a 45-60 minute drive but it took me more like 1 hour and 15 minutes.

I got to the  hotel and checked in. My room was quite big, which is good, but it didn't have many drawers for clothes and it had about 3 hangers. I went to the front desk to get more and that's when I ran into another friend (our club President) who had flown into Penticton directly. She was going to go running with someone she met on the plane and did I want to go?

Remember, this was supposed to be a rest day. So of course I said "No". Ha ha, just kidding. I went with them. It wouldn't have been too bad if we really had done a slow 20 minute run as advertised. Instead we ended up going for 30 minutes and at a slightly faster pace than I should have used. I ended up bailing from calf pain 20 seconds before the 30 minutes were up.

Then I walked into the lake and stood around for as long as I could take it to cool off. It wasn't quite like taking an ice bath, but it helped.


Thursday I woke up with no calf issues due to the run the day before and headed out to the Expo area to pick up my race packet and buy crap with "Ironman Canada" on it. Unlike with my first Ironman, I felt no superstition about buying things with Ironman on them. But I didn't buy the bike jersey and pants because I wanted the versions that said "Finisher."

The line to get our race packets was long, but I had a bunch of friends to stand in line with so that was okay. Hot though. It was very hot on Wednesday and Tuesday and I was starting to get concerned about the weather on race day.

Later on I wandered down to TriBike Transport with The Prez to pick up our bikes. I think we had the only two steel bikes in the place and they were racked right next to each other. As we took them out to get pedals put on, I had a familiar experience. I call these experiences "Will Moments." One of the TriBike guys came over and started talking to me. He said my bike was the heaviest one on the truck! And then he started gushing over the workmanship. I felt bad for my friend because he didn't say butkus about her bike.

We were supposed to then go out and ride the run course but it was so freaking hot that we just went back to our rooms.

For dinner, I joined some friends from iAmTri's Ironman Canada's group. While I was sitting on the patio eating dinner, I saw two bicyclists ride by. Wait, I said to my friends, that looks like two people from my club who are biking from Vancouver to Penticton. Oh, it can't be them because they aren't due to arrive until Friday or maybe even Saturday. I went back to eating and suddenly I heard people on the sidewalk calling my name. It was them! They'd come back to see if it was me. We talked and hugged and then they went on to their hotel and I went back to my dinner. What a crazy coincidence.

Late that night, I went to pick up my mom at the Penticton Airport. Except I couldn't find the damn thing! I went passed it about 3 times before I figured it out. Poor mom was standing on the curb waiting for me for at least 15 minutes before I showed up.

The Underpants Run

As we went back to the hotel, we both agreed that there was not way we'd walk up in time for the Underpants Run that was taking place in downtown Penticton at 8 am. After all, it was after midnight before we made it to bed and my mom had been up over 24 hours with all her flights and the time change.

Fast forward to around 6:30 am when we were both awake with so much light streaming into the room that there was no way we were going back to sleep. So underpants run, here we come.

In the meantime, I realized I'd done something to my back while I was sleeping. This happens to me every once in a while. It feels like my back muscles aren't supporting me and it's very painful. I was not  happy about it and also not happy to be popping Advil so close to my race.

For the run, I bought the official underwear, which also serves as a donation to the designated charity. My mom bought a muscle shirt instead. We put on our underwear and started talking to the crazy people waiting with us. Then they presented a nice bike to a local kid's group (from money collected last year, I think) and we all said the "Runner's Pledge" which was part funny and part serious.

Then we were off!

It wasn't actually much of a run. We were in the back and the street was quite backed up. So we kind of jogged down to the Penticton Hotel on the beach and  then we all walked until we were on the beach. Then we did some "stretches" and some jumping jacks and headed back to the Starbucks. Mom actually ran the first part even though she doesn't normally run -- her workouts are walking, hiking and strength training -- but she was too pooped to run back. That was okay. I knew how to get there and other people were walking at this point too.

Afterwards, we got back into our street clothes and went to experience Tim Horton's. I have now had the wonder that is the TimBit. (It's a donut hole, essentially.)

Why I hate that ART Girl

At some point I remembered I wanted to ART. They offer it free at Ironman races and it was really helpful at Ironman AZ. So I went over and told them about my calf and my back and the gal really started working on me. She was kneading a lot harder than anyone else who had ever done ART on me and I was concerned about it.

It turns out I was right to be concerned because even though she cured my back issues, she did something to my calf. I'm not sure what but it hurt all day Friday and most of Saturday in spite of at least one session with the ice packs. There also was a new spot that hurt. If she managed to give me a new calf tear, I'm going to hunt her down and inflict some sort of damage on her!

Driving the Bike Course

Our next adventure was driving over the bike course to get a preview. We started out by going the wrong way and being on the right side of Shaka Lake instead of the left. So we had to head back into town to start over.

We spent a lot of time talking, which was probably not a good idea. Also, Mom isn't experienced at reading an elevation map so we often weren't exactly sure where we were on the course. Many times I'd be waiting for a big hill and then we'd clearly get beyond it and I'd say "that was it???!" In the end, it looked like Ritcher Pass would be challenging in parts and Yellow Lake seemed like nothing. I  had heard too much about Yellow Lake to believe that though so I just reminded myself to be careful on race day and not grind up it too hard.

Welcome Dinner

Our next stop was to buy Mom a ticket to the Welcome Dinner. We got to the convention center and there appeared to be several lines and it wasn't clear which line was which. There were signs on the door saying tickets would go on sale at 5:00 pm and it was 4:45 pm so we got into one of the lines and waited. And waited.

Then at 4:59 pm, some dude came out and removed the signs and tried to leave! Obviously, we wouldn't let him. We demanded an explanation and he said that they would sell tickets but we had to wait until all the athletes were seated so they could see how many seats were left. Our response was "Are you freaking kidding me??" Then Mom and I left because we were stinky and sweaty and needed a shower.

I came back for the dinner and again had to stand in a long line. But I got in eventually and my friends were saving me a seat. It turns out, about five minutes after we left, the powers that be gave into the pressure and started selling tickets! So Mom could have come to the dinner after all. I was pissed because she would have enjoyed it. Even if there wasn't any desert and it was mostly carbs. But the speeches and presentations were interesting.

Bike Check-in

Saturday was the day to check everything into transition. First I met a non-SVTC friend for an Open Water Swim in the lake. I'm glad I did that as it was relaxing and gave me a feel for what swimming in the lake is like.

Then I took my bike out for a short spin. I needed to do that because I had to make sure nothing had broken or gotten tweaked during shipment. I ended up biking to the Canadian version of Home Depot and buying "Hurricane" Tape. Which I think is basically duct tape. And also black electrical tape because the tape on my bar tape was sticky and bothering me. I replaced it with the nice new tape when I got back to my hotel.

Then I grabbed up all my bags that I had packed the day before and my mom and I started down to the transition area with the bags and the bike. Less than half way there, we ran into our Cruise Director who was going out to chalk the course and hang signs. My mom went with her as was planned and I went on to transition by myself.

When I got to the transition area, all the bikes from my rack were already there except for one. Which luckily was next to mine. So I racked my bike pretty easily (this isn't always the case as sometimes those bikes are crammed in pretty tightly) and went over to drop off my Swim-to-Bike bag and my Bike-to-Run bag. The way this works is that they have rows with numbers and you put your bag into numeric order.

The race organizers let in 300 more registrations this year than last and (apparently) didn't really increase the infrastructure to match. This was readily apparent in the transition area. They had yellow signs for each of the rows holding bags 1-2999. Then they had white signs for the numbers that were new this year.

Oh wait, they only had nice signs for numbers 3000-3099. The rest of us had torn up pieces of cardboard with our numbers written on in Sharpie. This was my reaction:

Are you freaking kidding me???

No, really. How hard would it have been to type up a few more sheets in Word and had real signs for all the numbers? Did the extra $10 that it would have cost to laminate a few more signs really have broken the bank? Or are these people so disorganized that they just forgot they had given out numbers to 3200?

I know it's a little thing, but it pissed me off. It's not like I paid less than people who had nice signs and our signs were hard to read which was going to make race day a bit more stressful.

Afterwards, I went back to the hotel and then met some friends for a last dinner. My mom didn't come with us but I don't remember why. We went to a pasta place and I had the Ironman Special. Hee.

I also got some great advice that served me well on race day. The first was "This is an Ironman. If you need something, ask for it!" The second was not to fight the wind if there was a headwind going back into town.

Then it was back to the hotel for a good  night's sleep. Normally such a thing is impossible on the night before a race but I had brought my sleep medicines with me and taken them every night to be sure I got enough sleep. It worked too.

continued at The Race

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