Ironman World Championship race reportPatrick AllaireOctober 9th, 2010Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Hello Dear Supporters!I would first like to thank everyone who helped me in my quest to race at the 2010 Ford Ironman Championship on October 9th. As with all Ironman competitions, this one being my 10th, the race is a journey. After all of the training, your hope is that everything goes well. The Ironman, arguably the most recognized and most demanding one day endurance event, consists of a 3.8 km swim, cycling 180 km and running 42.2 km, a marathon. Chances are something will go wrong, the key is to limit the damage.
Calm before the storm. I was expecting a very good performance, my pre-race fitness testing indicated that I was in particularly good form. I wasn’t overly nervous, mostly excited to test my own limits.
The 3.8 km swim started with 1849 athletes in their best physical condition. Look at the first YouTube video for the swim start! The fight to get a good position is rough but over the years you learn to deal with it. The nice thing in this swim is that you also get to watch all the colored fish as you power your way ahead, which is rather soothing. Everything was going as planned, but not for long.
At 1.9 km out in the ocean you reach the turnaround buoys, which are often another rough spot during the swim, since swimmers tend to funnel in around the buoy for the shortest pass. Usually the swim slows down there and then you have another swim start of sorts. . In ocean races, the front of the swim field can be quite wide, and swimmers approach the buoys at very different angles. As I was approaching the turnaround buoys, I got cut from the left by a swimmer. That made me slow down and turn right too soon (we had to swim around the buoys keeping them to our right). At the same time, another swimmer on my right, slightly behind ended up swimming over me, just as I was about to take a breath. So instead of air, I got a got a lung full of sea water. It distracted me momentarily, but I went back to swimming immediately.
The return to the transition zone was getting laborious and I was feeling increasingly nauseated. I got out of the water over 4 minutes slower than expected, slower then what I did 6 years ago! Obviously something was going on, but I just kept going hoping that the nausea would go away.
The transition to the bike was sluggish and I felt really bloated. The beginning of the 180 km cycling leg is a critical time to take in crucial calories required for the run leg (42.2 km marathon). Yet I couldn’t feed myself. The nausea caused by all the salt water that I had taken in continued and when I tried to eat, I regurgitated. YouTube movie of the start of the bike leg in Kona
Despite the trials of the swim, I had an excellent cycle. I was surprised that I did not feel the heat given that the surface temperature in the black lava fields reportedly reached over 110°F (43°C ).I finished in 4h38min, meaning an average speed of 37.3 km/hr. over the 180 km distance, the highlight of my day.
The transition to the run was uneventful, but then the problems started. It didn’t take long out on the run course before I started walking. The lack of food and water intake caught up with me and I could feel hypoglycaemia setting in. I was seriously over-heating from dehydration and the sun’s heat, which created an ambient temperature of 87°F (30.6°C). I couldn’t even make it to the first aid station one mile out from the start! It was going to be a very slow marathon. I decided to try and recover so that I could at least finish the marathon strong. I walked to the first aid station and took in as much Gatorade as I could...and kept walking in order to try to absorb better.
After a while I started feeling better and resumed running. That lasted perhaps 5 minutes. I knew at that point that the best I would be able to do was to alternate short runs and walks. So I tried giving myself some alternative goals in order to squeeze the best that I could out off the race. Mentally quite taxing.
I finally finished, 9h36min after the gun went off, ranking 199th overall. At the end they brought me to the medical tent, and I was surprised to be weighing 4 pounds more then when I started?!? As I found out from the doctor, the high-salt sea water caused my body to secrete water into my stomach, which explains why I was feeling bloated. The nausea I felt was a sign that I was intoxicated by sea water. I now know that I could have prevented many issues by getting the sea water by vomiting it out. A different race, a new experience. I’m really happy to have willed myself through it, truly a psychological win.
MAHALO! ...it wasn’t all pain!