Saturday, July 18, 2015

Roth 2015. -race report

Wow where to start.    In 2012 I said I will do 1 more ironman just to prove that the first 1 was not a fluke.  Challenge came and took over penticton that year and my friend Judith and I registered with them rather than wait to see where Ironman would be.  I wanted to prove I could do the same course and do it faster, I also met Felix, owner of Challenge and he convinced me to trust his group would respect the course and take care of us athletes. 

I finished that race and can say that the Challenge team met and exceeded all my expectations. I was satisfied -goal done.  Then at the rewards dinner Felix got up and started speaking about Challenge's race in Roth.  They showed a video and by the end of the dinner I turned to Joe and said 1 more.   I am going to go to Roth ; him: " I thought this was the last one?"  Me: look at it -I have to do it.  And the quest began. 

Flash forward to June 2014 and registration day.  It is online registration and sells out in 90 sec.  Joe got in - I did not.  I was so upset but I knew I had 1 more shot in December.  I did not want to take any chances so I started campaigning Felix : I made him my facebook friend, I blogged and sent them to him, I improved our internet speed, practiced my typing and well just prayed.   It all worked- I got in. 

After confirming I was in I was reveling in my moment when Joe pointed out that cutoff for Roth was 15 hours.  We argued, I went online and checked and confirmed that yes it was 15 hours!?!?!?  My fastest time was 16:05. CRAP.  

So after throwing up a little bit in my mouth and double, triple and quadruple checking the Roth site I sat down to make a plan.  I was going to have to work for it but I was going to finish in under 15 hours come hell or high water.  

I reached out to an old contact a Peak Centre for Excellence.  I went in and had my heart rate testing and lactate zones done.  They have an intern program and I hired the intern to help me come up with a program.  Here is where it got fun - he asked the goal time and I said 14hrs 35 minutes. I figured what the heck shoot for the moon - I needed to take over an hour off, what's another 30 minutes at this point?  The best part was neither Paul, my intern, or Lewis his pratique instructor blinked an eye.  

I have never been so focused on my training. I  rode the compu trainer because it would improve my power and wattage on the bike.  Anyone that knows me knows that I despise the trainer and those workouts were brutal. I don't think there was even 1 time I did not come off the bike soaked With sweat feeling like I was going to puke, not once.  I lifted weights twice a week and did core training every day on top of the other workouts. I even did speed workouts on the treadmill - if you think I dislike bike trainers you have not seen me on a treadmill!  But this was the program and you have to trust your coaches and the program or there is no sense in even starting.  

Fast forward to July 12, 2015 thirty km into the marathon at Roth with Joe running beside me.  He says so do you think the guys at Peak know what they are doing?  Me: ask me in 12km.   

Finish time: 14:37:08!!!!! OH YEAH BABY THE BOYS KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING!   

So now on to the race report.  Everyone we talked to said it would be amazing.  A guy who also trains at Peak and had raced Roth says it will be everything they say and more.  It was. 

We arrived in Hilpostein on July 8.  This is where the family we were staying with lived and is where the swim start is.  Their home is literally at the base of Solar hill, I will tell you about that later.  

The village was beautiful, home stay family amazing, and all the locals very helpful.  We had a few days to get over jet lag, look at the course and get some light training  in.  

Race day morning we headed down to the swim start.  They send out waves every 5 minutes I was in heat 3 and joes heat was an hour 10 min after mine.  Unlike Penticton with its beach start,  the swim is in a shipping canal and the start is a floating start.  So you are funnelled through a small area 4 feet wide down some steps that are in the canal and are covered with moss and quite slippery and then you swim to the start line.  I entered the chute and high fived all the volunteers standing on the steps and started to swim to the start line and then BANG! Shoot I guess we are starting and I was still 25 metres from the start. Guess I better hustle.  

The swim went well. There are literally thousands of spectators along each side of the canal for virtually the entire swim and you hear and see them all the time.  The hot air balloons were gorgeous and the water temperature perfect -wet suits were allowed.  In one of the practice swims we talked with a guy who said swim to the left not the right- so that is what I did and it worked great.  At one point I could feel a change in the water so I moved about a foot to the right away from the centre buoys and was glad I did because that was the next heat coming through and I would have been water trampled for sure. (That is what happened to Joe-he did not move and got kicked in the head)   My goal was 1:36/1:37  for the swim and on the bike out of transition by 1:45.  Actual: 1:36:13 swim.  Now I had no idea if I had done this because I can't swim with my watch. I thought I heard them announce the time was 8:25am  as I was getting to my bike.  Damn 5 min behind, I wasn't but my brain calculated it that way and in my panic to get on the bike I dropped 4 of my gels-I did not notice this till later....

Out of transition and time to ride.  The bike course is not Penticton but it is not super easy at all.  It is rollers and a lot of headwinds.  They talk about Solar but it is not the climb, there is a bigger climb that starts right after a sharp turn you have slowed down for.  You come around the corner and BAM there is this bloody hill that is 8 or 9% grade and goes on for a while and this is followed by 3 small rollers.  There are 2 very technical downhills that they have flaggers to warn you and hay bales for the crashes on the sharp corners. 

So I head off on the bike and I think yep the roads are smooth.  I decide to thankfully eat a gel because around the next bend the whole entire freaking road is covered with manhole covers that are slightly raised.  I hit those and my stupid Bento box pops open and all-ALL my gels but one go flying.  s****t I check the box oh wait there is still 1 gel in there and my electrolytes and my salt tabs and 2 cliff bars plus I should have 4 gels in my back pocket.  Reach back check my back pocket. NOOOOOOO nothing, check again and again and again and it dawns on me that with 175km to ride I have 1 gel, 2 clif bars, electolytes in my bottles and 4 salt tablets.  I have never used the on course nutrition as you can't get it in North America and my stomach is very fussy.   Deep breath they have aid stations every 17.5 km and they have bananas.  I can eat those so guess what I will be eating a LOT of bananas.  Trust me the irony was not lost on me - this was pay back for my anti-fruit lifestyle.  

I tried to ride the first loop in my Heart rate zone 1.  I loved going through all the towns and the spectators were fantastic.  Most villages had a beer mile - a place where they set up tables on both sides of the course and the folks sat and cheered for you while sipping their beer and listening to music.  I am proud to say that i did not stop and join them.  Anyone that looks at the Roth website or reads about it will hear about Solar hill.  This is a hill that is not particularly steep or long.  I liken it to the Ubc hill, it would be yellow lake in Penticton.  The thing about Solar hill is next to the finish line it is the biggest party in Germany that day.  This year there was close to 20,000 (yes 20,000) spectators on the hill cheering for us.  I have goosebumps reliving it.  Honestly I knew it was coming but about 500 metres from the corner to it you start to hear it and then you see it this mass of people and you see the riders In front start to go up and then they disappear into the crowd chute and you think here we go.  It is truly like Tour de France. The people are right beside you some running beside you others standing in front till the last second and then they jump out of the way as you get there to let you pass. All the time yelling UP,UP,UP. It was the most amazing thing.  And then you are up and on to the 2nd loop.  I had been keeping my eye on my watch. I had started it when I left transition and my goal was off the bike at the latest in 7 hours.  It was going to be close and I was anxious because of having no gels I was eating bananas like crazy and still had 2 salt tabs and a clif bar.  Plus I had been feeling slightly sick all day but kept telling myself it is just nerves you need to keep everything in.   

It was going well on the 2nd loop and I got to the downhill section and was a lot more aggressive since I knew the lines now and passed a lot of people this time.  While I was not cramping my legs were shaking during the downhill and I realized that my nutrition plan was not going to be enough I needed to try their gels and hope for the best.  So I grabbed some through the next aid station. Here goes nothing.  I took it and it was DELICIOUS, way better than my Gu gels.  Now to wait and see how the tummy would do meanwhile I had come back to solar hill and it was just as great the 2nd time.  Checked the watch and realized that I had just Over an hour and 30k. To ride before 7 hours.  DAMN time to get angry and focus and that is what I did.  Thank you Paul for making me do those bloody cyclo trainer workouts because it paid off.  I was in my tri bars and passing people on slight inclines and through headwinds and I just kept hearing Lewis -no matter how hard this is do not slow your cadence down you need to push through the pain.  Final bike time. 7:00:24.  Boo yah.  Into transition, quick change of shoes grab my Nathan Pak. No clothing changes no time- I gotta a marathon to knock off and I need to do it in 6 hours.  Quick hugs to the volunteers and high fives and off I went.

Again with the crowds, they are absolutely amazing and no I still ran past the beer.  I looked at my watch and decided I need to be inside the stadium when my watch hit 13 hours.  If I did that I would be under 15 hours.  So the plan - run to each aid station, walk the aid station take in nutrition and the run to the next station.  The course is relatively flat a few minor hills not really even worth mentioning and you are never alone.  It is a combo of gravel along the canal and pavement.  I kept waiting for Joe to catch me and at 20km I started to worry that something had happened, he should have caught me by now. Then I saw him up ahead -of course bloody guy must have passed me why I was in a porta pottie.  So I jogged up and said hey handsome.  We continued jogging and that is when he told me his race had ended several hours before because of being kicked in the head in the swim and suffering a concussion.  I was super upset and he was like I am ok let's get you to the finish line.  Ok let's do this.  And away we went. He was clocking my km times and I was monitoring my watch, that 13 hr time was creeping up.  My calves really started to cramp the last 10km.  I was so tired but I kept looking at the watch and just kept digging, one of us was going to finish today no matter what.  Heading back into the heart of town was great, beer miles were set up over the last 3 km and I made sure to high five everyone sitting at the tables - and no I still refrained from drinking beer.  Then we could hear it, joe had already seen the stadium and all he said was-this was made for you - go do your thing I will see you at the finish line.  I had seen the stadium and the finish line but that had been empty turning the corner and running through the arch was unbelievable 15000 people cheering I was beyond shocked and then I heard the music and I just had to start dancing.  The crowd started chanting and it was the best moment and then I decided back to business and just ran for the finish line.  14;37:08.  OMG. I did it, I actually did it. 1 hour and 28 min faster than my last one.  

So there it is my Roth race.  It was epic, amazing, a dream come true and so much more.  Will I do another full? I don't know. At this time no but things change.  We will have to come back to Roth though so Joe can finish what he started and well these spectators are my kind of peeps so I will cheer with them.  

Next up swim portion in Penticton in August for team Lambchop's Lackies.

Peace out 

Shaun

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