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Ironman Canada - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Penticton, British Columbia
North America Sports
85F / 29C
Total Time = 13h 22m 8s
Overall Rank = 1348/2575
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 167/240
Pre-race routine:

Met AbbieR and we did the expo thing and did our check ins and spent some time hanging out over the weekend. Although I think I was late for just about every breakfast haha. She is awesome, even though she didn't bring the melon helmet :)
Event warmup:

I don't typically make my race reports public because I use them for self analysis and recording raw thoughts at the time. And while some of you might enjoy that, it might get me banned?

This race is a special case and I wanted to share because of what happened leading up to it. Maybe it'll help someone else out there who's struggling just getting to the start line. Onward...

Long story here. As many of you know, this whole year has been a struggle for me. I fought with digestive issues the first few months of the year, leading up to an upper endoscopy. That problem by itself caused a lot of interruption to my training.

In April when I ran a marathon, I had a slight calf pull. Then in June, it seemed to get much worse after a local 12k. I hobbled on crutches a day afterward. But after a week of RICE it felt like it was healing. The following week, it suddenly got very tight with no flexibility. Back to resting it. Note at this time I didn't know the severity of any of these symptoms.

I woke up one morning with some pain under my ribs and figured I pulled a muscle swimming. I gave it a day and it didn't seem better or worse the next day. I was actually on the phone discussing what to do about it and coughed up blood. Being a weekend, off I went to urgent care.

CT scan diagnosed me with bilateral pulmonary embolism, likely attributable to the calf. Ultrasound later confirmed that. This is now July 1 and I was in the hospital overnight. I was sent home with 5 days of self-injections, followed by coumadin treatment for the forseeable future.

By all rights, I should've missed this race. At first I was resigned to not doing it. After consulting with a hematologist about risks and weighing how fast I was returning to form on the bike, I decided to take a shot.
  • 1h 32m 59s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 12s / 100 yards

I knew this was going to be slow. I deliberately waited nearly 5 minutes at the start before even entering the water, wanting to avoid contact as much as possible while on coumadin. I picked my way through the slower swimmers, found some feet for the 2nd half and made some headway.

About 3/4 through, my chest felt pretty tight and breathing like I was getting half a breath each time. Not enough to panic, but I rolled on my back and self-evaluated. I considered heading over to a kayak but shore was in sight and I felt like I could just finish it out slow.
Transition 1
  • 06m 5s

Not sure why this took 6 mins, didn't really do anything out of the ordinary although the run-out to my bike was around to the far side.
  • 5h 58m 54s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.72 mile/hr

I paced this pretty well for my training. Unfortunately I didn't pace it well considering I was riding at about 85% since my hospitalization. I was unable to re-test FTP safely, but that's a fair guess. I think my HR was a little above my ideal for this ride and I paid for it.

I was VERY impatient with all the blocking going on up past Richter. People are not only riding side by side, but they're rude about it when you try to pass on the left. Not only that, but crossing center-line is dangerous and an immediate DQ if you're caught. So you're stuck waiting. One of my goals for next year is to get up FOP on the swim so I have less of this to deal with on the bike. I feel like I both lost time and burned matches due to the accordion effect of working through these packs. In particular, I couldn't ride the 7 b-tches the way I wanted to because I had to get on the brakes for blockers.

I killed the final downhill after Yellow Lake, knowing in the back of my head I could get in under 6 hours. Barely. Had 1 portapotty stop on this ride, about 2 mins, but it actually worked out well because it gave my legs a quick rest right before the final climb.

I'd rate this course as slightly tougher than the old CdA course but less technical. The final descent was the only part I felt required some confidence in bike handling.
Transition 2
  • 05m 16s

Contrast this with T1, and consider I applied sunscreen here, but not in T1. Go figure.
  • 5h 38m 56s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 12m 56s  min/mile

Ran 9:30s for about the first 4 miles, then called it a day. I noticed myself coughing and didn't want to push my luck.

Mile 9-ish, sole started peeling off my right shoe. These shoes only had a 10k on them prior to this race. Oh well, random bad luck, right?

Mile 10-ish, sole started peeling off my left shoe.

Yeah that's about how that run/walk went. At that point I just had to laugh. I spent the rest of my "run":

- schmoozing with spectators
- ... one of whom ran up to try and glue my shoes (didn't hold, but A+ for effort!)
- chatting with Ken Glah on the side of the road for about 10 minutes
- photobombing people

I didn't quite hit a daylight finish but oh well.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

This was a triumph of willpower more than anything else. Up until this year with the PE, I had PR'd every single attempt at any triathlon distance for about 3 years straight. I knew that was going to end here.

I had several worried family members who were mad / didn't understand why I felt like I had to do this race. And I couldn't talk about it at work because it makes my medical issue seem less serious than it really is. I was surrounded by a lot of negativity but I refuse to accept that. People telling me I'm not healthy, not ready to race, not this or that. To them: you don't know how my chest felt, or how it improved; you don't read my power files on the bike or my training. I know my progression better in many ways than my own doctors do.

This year proved to me that even as a fit, healthy adult, random bad luck still happens. I'm not going to let my life be governed by fear of something going wrong. Sure there's risk in racing while taking coumadin. But that PE itself easily could have killed me. And if anyone still can't understand my rationale after that, well, they either don't know me very well or they're not accepting me how I am.

Hats off to the Penticton community for putting on a good show. I'm glad I was able to participate while it's still an Ironman. I have other plans for next year but I'll be watching to see how the race progresses under new management.

Thanks to various folks on here for the inspires, suggestions and other encouragement. I'd try to throw out some names but probably forget many who deserve credit.

And finally, huge thanks to Ken Glah and Stacy Hadac over at Endurance Sports Travel. I raced Western Australia with their group but did Canada on my own. But I bumped into them and they were gracious enough to get me to the start line and took my bike back to my car afterwards. Just great people all around. If you're thinking about traveling for a race and you don't have a tri-sherpa, look them up. They make life a LOT easier.

See you all at Tahoe!

Last updated: 2012-02-07 12:00 AM
01:32:59 | 4224 yards | 02m 12s / 100yards
Age Group: 220/240
Overall: 2131/2575
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 75F / 24C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 06:05
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
05:58:54 | 112 miles | 18.72 mile/hr
Age Group: 112/240
Overall: 801/2575
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 05:16
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:38:56 | 26.2 miles | 12m 56s  min/mile
Age Group: 184/240
Overall: 1718/2575
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2012-09-05 3:21 AM

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Subject: Ironman Canada

2012-09-05 4:00 AM
in reply to: #4395628

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Melon Presser
Subject: RE: Ironman Canada

You're my hero.

And I do get it.

CONGRATULATIONS on the race ... but most of all for persevering on the strange journey that took you there.

{MELON PRESS} <-- how's that for peer pressure

P.S. Shoulda peed on the blockers as you finally went by.

P.P.S. Nice shout out to the Endurance Travel folks!

2012-09-05 5:10 AM
in reply to: #4395628

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.

Edited by Fred D 2012-09-05 5:10 AM
2012-09-05 6:21 AM
in reply to: #4395653

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2012-09-05 9:11 AM
in reply to: #4395628

Subject: RE: Ironman Canada
What a crazy journey!  congrats on doing this race the way that made sense for you - and congrats for meeting so many challenges head-on, Ironman!
2012-09-05 9:36 AM
in reply to: #4395628

Rocky Mountains
Subject: RE: Ironman Canada
Congrats on your race, and perseverance.

2012-09-05 10:14 AM
in reply to: #4395628

Subject: RE: Ironman Canada

Awesome race - and amazing journey.

Glad you're healthy and SMART.

While family might not understand, we do. And we're proud!

2012-09-05 12:06 PM
in reply to: #4395628

Subject: RE: Ironman Canada

I'm glad you did a write up!

You know, I always do my write-ups and I haven't been banned ... YET.

As one of the people who wasn't entirely on board with you racing, I'm glad you did it. Only you can every really know when to go for it or when to sit one out. And go for it you did! 

Solid times and a great attitude. 

I'm still very impressed.

2012-09-05 12:14 PM
in reply to: #4395628

Subject: RE: Ironman Canada

Somehow discussing the risk with my family made me think of this:


2012-09-05 6:31 PM
in reply to: #4395628

Subject: RE: Ironman Canada
Great job Mark.  I applaud your courage to race, but also your wisdom to do the things necessary to race safely.  Well done and great RR.
2012-09-05 6:35 PM
in reply to: #4395628

Vancouver (not Canada) Washington (not D.C.)
Subject: RE: Ironman Canada
Nice job Mark. My thoughts on race day were a flood of memories about challenges I've faced in the past year. My finish of the bike was the most emotional for some reason.

I admire your ability to stay focused and make adjustments to your race and expectations and still pull off a great performance.

2012-09-05 6:39 PM
in reply to: #4395628

Knoxville area
Subject: RE: Ironman Canada

Mark, Great report and great race. 


I can remember just barely making it through my full totally healthy, I can't imagine what it was like for you! Unbelievable resolve sir!


And a VERY nice bike split for what you were putting down on the day. Aerodynamics DO matter :P

2012-09-05 7:29 PM
in reply to: #4395628

Subject: RE: Ironman Canada

Just amazing!  Been following your progress (and regress, and progress) and I swear you're amazing.  Good lord I have two good lungs (with an inhaler) but damn, you did great!

Although my favorite part is that you photobombed people on the marathon.  Fantastic.

2012-09-05 9:51 PM
in reply to: #4395628

Extreme Veteran
Penticton, BC
Subject: RE: Ironman Canada

You took a chance and you did it!!  Congratulations.  Plus, I was a catcher at the finish line when you finished.  Wonder how close we came to meeting or if we actually did.

I'm thinking of doing a relay in the new Challenge Penticton next year.

2012-09-06 10:18 AM
in reply to: #4395628

Subject: RE: Ironman Canada
Mark - congrats.  Some real perseverance and great attitude to just toe the line, let alone have a good race where you were able to enjoy the day (minus the blockers).
2012-09-06 5:32 PM
in reply to: #4395628

Subject: RE: Ironman Canada
Great race report!  So awesome meeting you, eventhough you passed me on the bike and didnt say "hi" LOL!!!

2012-09-07 1:39 PM
in reply to: #4395628

Seattle, WA
Subject: RE: Ironman Canada

Amazing.  I totally get why you'd want to race.  Sometimes you just have to do the things you set out to do, and accept the consequences as they are.  I'm truly impressed.


x2 on loving the photobombing.  That had to have been fun

2012-09-30 3:49 PM
in reply to: #4395628

Subject: RE: Ironman Canada
Just stumbled upon this... I was out of your loop and didn't even realize you raced. Congratulations, and I'm so glad your body was there for you, and you for it. You were smart about your execution. LOVE the photobombing and how much you enjoyed that run in spite of what the day had given you, both on that day and with the events leading up. You're awesome!!!
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