8.26.2007 – Penticton, BC, Canada
Race morning was pretty standard. Normal breakfast, etc. At the race site, it was amazing to see so many people (almost 2,500); other than that, nothing of note. Bodymarking, pump the tires, use the portajohn, etc. All the standard stuff. Got my wetsuit on and went out for my warm-up. Swim start came with the boom of a cannon, and we were off. It was a deep water start, so no crazy run in, which was nice. I got out well, courtesy of all the hard and fast swim training I do with our group, and was pretty close to the front after about 200m or so. Then I picked out the green cap of Jonnyo Caron, and settled on to his feet, drafting well until the turnaround. The turns are always crazy, and it’s definitely where I need to do the most work, as I got bumped jockeying for position, and lost Jonnyo’s feet. I wasn’t able to bridge the gap, and that was a disappointment, since I think I definitely could have held the pace and come out with that group. I ultimately came in 53:00 flat, but I gave up two minutes over the second half of the swim, which was a bummer.
Heading out onto the bike was a bit of a hard transition, since the swim is so long and your balance really gets skewed. I also had a bit of an incident as I lost my water bottles on a bump in the road. I have rubber bands to keep them in place until I get out on the road (as in/out of transition always seem to be the hardest to negotiate), but I snapped them that morning (I guess they dried up), and I hadn’t brought extras. This was one area where having a bit more time to prepare and think would have been helpful. Losing the bottles definitely shook me up, and about 50m later, I crashed as I went over another crosswalk, and I reached back to steady a bottle. I think I slipped on the paint on the crosswalk as I tried to steer with one hand, but I’m not really sure. Apparently, I flipped over the handlebars, and came down hard on my left side. I put a good gash in my elbow and smacked my hip, but I wasn’t going to stop so early in the day. I hopped back on my bike, and Paulo appeared at the side of the road and yelled at me “STAY FOCUSED!” which totally snapped me back to reality and probably saved my race.
After that, the bike was pretty uneventful. I was conservative with my power, trying to keep really steady and not go to far above the even the yellow line (as opposed to crossing the redline as you might in an Olympic). I held that pace for the first 60km, which I rode pretty much solo, in between the group that had come out in 51 minutes or so on the swim, and the group of guys that swam 56+ behind me. I really wanted to chase hard, but I was definitely cautious, since everyone said people really slow down later in the ride. Right around the 60km mark is the first of the two big climbs on the course – Richter Pass. I rode steady up the Richter, losing a bit of time to the group ahead who were really riding hard. Next time I do the race, I’d definitely push a bit harder up the Richter, since there is a very long descent afterwards where you can recover. I knew it was a big descent, but I didn’t realize how long it would actually take, even at close to 70kph (45mph). After the Richter is a series of big rollers which I thought was the hardest part of the course. There was a punishing headwind from the north, and I was really fighting to hold my pace. The group behind me was closing in, but I was confidant that they would pay a price for that later. Finally, we hit the out-and-back around 110km, and that is where people usually slow way down. I picked up my pace, and moved up from 7th to 3rd over the course of the 20k out and back. Coming out of the out-and-back, you have a little ways before you hit the final climb up to Yellow Lake. My legs were pretty tired at this point, and this was a hard climb. This was where I really felt that not properly prepping cost me the most. I did my best to hold good watts and take in nutrition.
After the long descent from Yellow Lake, I came into town and had a good transition, heading out for my first marathon about 90 seconds down from 2nd. I knew I really had to be conservative here, and I settled into a good pace at 6:45 miles. I held that pace pretty steadily, eating two gels during the first hour before switching to gatorade and coke at every aid station. I tried to keep my turnover going well, and this helped with keeping a steady pace. Around mile 14, I got passed by Chris Brown, but was holding steady in 4th. Miles 18-20 were the hardest, and that was the only time I really, really wanted to stop. But I didn’t… I stayed about two minutes up on fifth and sixth until the last 2km of the run, when my Timex teammate Andriy Yastrebov put in a good charge to catch me. I held my pace together well and finished up fifth in 8:51:. I was really happy with my first marathon, since I ran very steady – my fastest mile was 6:40 and my slowest was 7:30, which people said is pretty good pacing. I didn’t really know what to expect, which I think helped me at least as much as it hurt me.
Thank you so much to the countless people who encouraged me before, during, and after the race. The biggest thank you goes to the wonderful Jill Savege who kept my head on straight the whole day. And also to Paulo who got me back on track after a rough start during a season that seems to have had a lot of bad luck. And lastly, to my parents and family, who due to the late notice couldn’t be there. I knew they were watching at home, and that meant a lot.
Tale of the Tape:
Bike: 4:48:39 (2nd fastest of the day)
Notes for next time:
2) Don’t crash (four stitches in my elbow later, I’m fine!)