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Grand Columbian Ironman - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Grand Coulee, Washington
United States
65F / 18C
Total Time = 11h 43m 19s
Overall Rank = 8/67
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 4/14
Pre-race routine:

off to a bad start. i packed up my gear wednesday and one of the points on my list was 'check oil on car'. so i did and oh no! the dipstick was completely dry. so off i went to find somebody who'd change oil within one hour and had synthetic 5W30 Mobile one and wasn't Jiffy Lube. as a result of that confusion i forgot to pack one crucial thing - more about that later.

i didn't sleep well. thoughts about what i might have forgot kept waking me up. i started my drive up to Portland OR bleary eyed and tired at 4:45AM.

the day was a blur of junk food, traffic jams, rain showers with a big dose of "this sucks!" attitude mixed in. it got worse once i reached Portland. Martina's flight was 2h late (we had planned on picking her up at the airport and driving on the next day to the Grand Coulee Dam) so once i found the hotel i went out to find some chinese take out food, so we wouldn't have to leave the hotel again.
as i was waiting for the order she called - "i've landed. come pick me up!"
so i went to find the airport. let me tell you - being tired, driving 15h straight, rain and darkness is not conducive to good navigation in a city you don't know - i took a wrong turn. called her on the cell to tell her that it was going to be a while.

"I can't believe you're that stupid!"

of course, she had had a bad flight herself, but the tone for the rest of the evening was set. there was not much talking that evening and the alarm clock went off again at 5AM Friday. 350 miles to go. 5h of sleep.

as i was trying to find my way out of Portland i took a wrong turn again - north on 205 instead of south to get on 84 west (in case any of you have ever driven through Portland and west.) so the tone was set again.

i felt like driving her back to the airport and just giving up at that point of time. i have a very hard time with people who react to things going wrong with bitching istead of trying to find solutions. too much information, i know.

i'll skip the rest of the sordid details. we ended up staying at a motel instead of camping, as planned...

i wish there was a thing such as a pre-race 'routine'. nothing pre-race has ever been 'routine' for me.
Event warmup:

i had a hard time getting motivated. as i waded out into the water 5 min before the start i yelled at the top of my lungs "have a great race, everybody!"

the way people answered cheered me up a bit. so much for a warmup.
  • 1h 07m 1s
  • 4225 yards
  • 01m 35s / 100 yards

i played lamprey for most of the race. after about 1/2 mile i found somebody who was going just about my speed and followed the bubble path. touched his feet a few times and sometimes i sped up a little and swam side by side, just in case he wanted to draft off me (i feel a bit guilty about drafting) but no.

i intentionally slowed down during the last few hundred yards to let him come in first, although i had plenty of energy left. i know it's legal to draft, but i can't help but feel like a leech about it.
What would you do differently?:

nothing. it was as good of a swim as i could have hoped for. many, many people finished in less than an hour. conditions were perfect.
Transition 1
  • 08m 14s

i suck at transitioning. i had to do a full change. i didn't want to ride in the crisp moring air (about 45 deg) with a wet top or bottom. bad decision.

transitioning is by far my worst discipline.
What would you do differently?:

wear the bike outfit under the wetsuit and damn the cold.
  • 6h 21m
  • 116.5 miles
  • 18.35 mile/hr

the hills were no problem at all. i guess the SF Bay prepares you well for races with 7000'+ elevation gain. i don't consider myself a strong cyclist over all - it was the hills where i passed most people.

i mentioned before that i forgot one crucial item. i rinsed and washed all of my gear Wednesday, including the (ahem) inserts of my cycling shoes. guess what stayed behind? i checked several times to make sure that my cycling shoes were packed, but who thinks about the inserts? i used the inserts out of my running shoes instead, but they are a bit too big and my feet went completely numb after about 20 miles.

the bike course is a bit convoluted. not to make it too complicated - there's a 4 mile out and back for the IM which you share with 1/2 IM and ITU long course people who don't go out and back but go on. i managed to add 4.5 miles to my bike segment, because i listened to a volunteer who told me to go on when i asked him if i had to turn around here. he probably thought i was doing the 1/2. my fault. racers are required to know the course.
still, it hurts. those extra 4.5 miles included an extra climb of about 200' and all in all probably cost me about 15 min in total. i might have gotten a ribbon...

well, nothing ever goes 100% right.

also, i got pretty good at peeing while riding. but i'll spare you the details.
What would you do differently?:

not forget the inserts.
not ride an extra 4.5 miles.
Transition 2
  • 06m 38s

switching the inserts from my bike shoes to my running shoes cost some time.

What would you do differently?:

oh, i don't know. probably not forget those DAMN INSERTS again!
  • 4h 00m 28s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 11s  min/mile

my left leg hurt like hell during the first 6 miles. i still suffered from the damage sustained from my last 50k. i wasn't sure at all that i would be able to run the whole marathon. i figured i could probably hold my own during the first half and the run/walk the second.

miraculously, most of the pain dissappeared after about mile 9. i still swallowed some Ibuprofen (first time ever i did that during a race) at the halfway point and maybe that helped, too.

in any case, i managed to run the whole thing (except for the aids station stops, of course).

what probably helped is that the gravel/dirt you run on is about as easy on the feet as it can get. my feet didn't hurt one bit after - maybe because they were so glad to get out of the biking shoe hell...

i'm very, very happy that my legs didn't quit. i really don't know why i felt better during the 2nd loop - maybe i thrive on pain.
What would you do differently?:

this is the first marathon that took me over 4h. i'd try to run 2 sec a mile faster.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

wrong inserts in bike shoes.
peeing like a race horse during the bike segment
riding an extra 4.5 miles.

not being fully recovered from my last 50k

Event comments:

i'm not sure if i'll ever do an Ironman again. the logistics just don't appeal to me. i always forget something.

but i have to say - as far as 1/2 and full IM races go - the Grand Columbian takes the cake. everybody goes out of their way to make you feel special. the whole town. the clerks at safeway ask you about the race if you buy stuff that the locals wouldn't, the race bibs have your name on it. they even go to the pain of researching your race history and announcing it when you go through the finish chute.

they even return your special needs bags to you!

i can't imagine a better race environment.

if you read this and are not set on an IMNA event - please DO consider the GC. you'll be part of a family there.

now please excuse me. i need to take a nap.

Last updated: 2006-03-27 12:00 AM
01:07:01 | 4225 yards | 01m 35s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/14
Overall: 24/67
Performance: Good
Suit: full
Course: Banks lake, 2 triangular laps, sun into face for the first leg. cleanest water you could imagine.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 66F / 19C Current: Low
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 08:14
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:21:00 | 116.5 miles | 18.35 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/14
Overall: 17/67
Performance: Below average
Wind: Some
Course: mostly well maintained, albeit a bit rough due to the farming equipment. some gravelly spots, but all in all a very good course. definitely better than the Vineman course. BUT: there's a 20 mile segment going along Banks lake back to the start. it's very scenic. but it's cyclist's hell. there are cracks in the road about 15 ft apart and they're deep enough to give the already well worn taint a good jolt. several thousand times. that was by far. the worst part.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills: Good
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 06:38
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:00:28 | 26.2 miles | 09m 11s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/14
Overall: 6/67
Performance: Good
Course: down a 200' hill and then along a level gravel road along the Columbia river. 2 out and back loops.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2006-09-18 3:30 PM

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SF Bay Area, Mountain View
Subject: Grand Columbian Ironman

2006-09-18 5:19 PM
in reply to: #544903

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Grand Columbian Ironman

A) WOW! Your race was great, and you did better than you expected on the run, and your swim strategy was both useful and respectful of the other swimmer.  B) So sorry about Portland.  I cannot tell you how many times I've gotten lost there.  It must the combination of bridges and rivers and intersecting highways, to say nothing of stress and being overtired. C) Nice thorough race report.  More than just facts, also the ups and downs of the day. 

2006-09-18 8:04 PM
in reply to: #544903

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Granvile, Ohio
Subject: RE: Grand Columbian Ironman
Nice job!  Really sorry about all the trouble leading up to the race - you didn't have enough to worry about!  Great job getting through it and finishing strong!  Your report caught my eye since I've been eyeing this is the race since I got my butt off the couch! Just have a few more years to build up to it!  

Thanks for reminding me never to be a bike volunteer!
2006-09-18 8:29 PM
in reply to: #544903

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Lakewood, CO
Subject: RE: Grand Columbian Ironman
Common, details about the proficiency, I could have used it this weekendSmile  Congrats on the event.  I pray logistics improve for you as you go on!
2006-09-18 8:32 PM
in reply to: #544903

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Silver member
Subject: RE: Grand Columbian Ironman

Nice. Job.

You rock. And you exceeded your goal. Bike shoe inserts be damned! You are one hell of an athlete, Harry!

Now, you may go take a nap.....



2006-09-18 11:12 PM
in reply to: #544903

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San Mateo, CA
Subject: RE: Grand Columbian Ironman
Wow!  Fantastic performance, Awol. 

2006-09-19 9:39 AM
in reply to: #544903

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Bellingham, Washington
Subject: RE: Grand Columbian Ironman
Awesome job.  Extra miles, inserts problem, long drive.     DETERMINATION.
2006-09-21 1:30 PM
in reply to: #544903

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Subject: RE: Grand Columbian Ironman
Wow! Great race!
2006-09-21 2:00 PM
in reply to: #544903

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Pittsburgh, PA
Subject: RE: Grand Columbian Ironman
Dude, sorry to hear the whole thing wasn't positive and fun from start to finish. You are fassssst for having to deal Good job making the best of it
2006-09-22 11:56 AM
in reply to: #544903

Extreme Veteran
Cary, NC
Subject: RE: Grand Columbian Ironman
Yay! Great race report! I can't believe you drove.... that's an endurance event in and of itself! Yikes! But sounds like it was a well supported race and a good experience. Glad all that biking Skyline, etc. paid off!!!!
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