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The Half Ironman Ottawa triathlon is the first half ironman distance race I have done. The race is located in Ottawa just minutes from my parents home where I grew up. The swim course is two 1km loops in Mooney's Bay starting just under Hog's Back Bridge. The bike course is a 6 loop out and back along the Rideau Canal with the turnaround just before Laurier Bridge for a total of 90km (56 miles). The run course is two loops once again following the canal with the turnaround point just before Clegg street for a total of 13.1 miles.

The Taper

My taper for this race ended up being a little longer than planned. I did my final long ride 4 weeks before the race (60 miles) The next week I was on vacation and didn't do any biking. The last two weeks before the race my long bikes ended up being 40 miles and 28 respectively. Since the race was near my parents house my wife son and I all headed up on Thursday before the race to visit (and for me to get things ready to race on Saturday) This entailed spending a good part of Wednesday evening packing. This meant my final workout for this race was on Tuesday. The trip to Ottawa was pretty uneventful. My bike arrived safely except for the front deraileur cable was pinched during the trip up and required replacement. I got this done on Friday morning at the same time as I got some C02 cartridges. With all my stuff unpacked and my bike set up I was ready to go on Saturday.

Race Morning

I didn't sleep to well on Friday night and woke up several times finally getting up for good at 6;10am The plan for the race was an easy swim shooting for around 40 min utes, an easy bike and aiming for under 2:40 and see what was left on the run trying to keep it under 2 hours for a goal time of 5:20. My wife then adjusted it to her estimated time of 5:30 since she says I always estimate a little too short. I wasn't very hungry so breakfast was a couple of blueberry waffles.

Just after 7:00am I headed over to the race start on my bike while my wife, son and mother drove over with the rest of my stuff. We arrived a the transition area around 7:15. I picked up my timing chip and found a spot to rack my bike. Just down the rack from my bike my wife saw someone with a Dallas Whiterock marathon t-shirt on. We talked with them and it turned out that there were two women that had also come up for the race from Dallas. Just before 8:00 they gave an announcement that the swim would be starting soon so I got my wetsuit on and headed to the starting area. The rest of my family had arrived for the start of the race they wished me luck and I headed into the water.

The Swim

Goal sub 40 minutes. Actual 39:47

With a short blast the swim started. It wasn't very rough and I only bumped into a few people. I had not been able to do any swimming in the previous three weeks due to pool closures so I was a little rusty. It also took several minutes to feel comfortable in the wetsuit because my arms felt a little constricted. The first lap went well although there were very few people to draft off of. I seemed to stay about 50m behind a small group of swimmers.

The second lap was more of the same. Pretty easy swimming with very few people around me other than the small group that I just couldn't quite catch up to. I felt pretty good heading in to the finish, in fact I probably had not gone hard enough in the swim since I felt so good. However I knew it would still be a pretty long day so I was happy with my 39:47 time as I exited the water to the cheers of my family. So far I was right on plan for the day.

Transition 1

Goal NA. Actual 3:03

I took my time in the first transition. I carefully but quickly got my wetsuit off with no problems. I got my jersey, socks, cleats and some food and within 3 minutes I was headed out on the bike course.

The Bike

Goal 2:40. Actual 2:37:37

My plan for the bike was simple, keep it easy. I tend to push the bike a little to hard so my goal was to keep things easy and my legs fresh for the run afterwards. My nutrition plan was to eat 1 chewy granola bar each lap at the turnaround roughly 1 every 27 minutes just as I had trained with. I would also down 1 bottle of liquid every 45 minutes. The first two bottles were water, the third gatorade and the last was water again.

The first lap went according to plan. I passed a steady stream of riders, many who were doing the sprint triathlon on the same course. At the turnaround I caught up with a couple of guys doing the full 56 miles. The first lap was completed right on target in 26 minutes. The second lap was more of the same as I kept trying to keep things easy. At the turnaround another rider caught up to and passed me. He began to draft off the rider in front of me. I decided to try and pull away from this group to avoid the drafting but the stuck with me for the rest of the lap. Lap 2 finished also right on target in 26 minutes. For the first half of the third lap I cranked things up a little to see if I could drop the riders just behind me. I was able to put some distance between them but as I eased up on the return, the drafter again caught up to and passed me. I was a little annoyed but then realized that he was doing the sprint triathlon at the end of the lap as he turned and headed into the transition area. I had surged for no good reason. However I had finished the first half of the bike in 1:17 so I was still right on target.

During the second half of the bike the wind began to pick up a little and I began to tire. Laps 4 and 5 were pretty consistent just under 27 minutes. My final lap I felt that I was slowing but was still able to finish feeling pretty good with a total bike time of 2:37:37. I was pretty happy with this time and according to my Dad I was in 25 spot at this point in the race. All I knew was that after a quick 1:20 transition I was starting the run 3 hours and 21 minutes into the race. If I could do the run in my 2 hour goal I would finish right on plan.

The Run

Goal sub 2 hours. Actual 2:08:55

The run started off well. I skipped the water at the first aid station just outside the transition area to let my stomach settle. I was keeping a slow but steady pace and my legs were feeling pretty good. My nutrition plan was to have two granola bars per 10km. I also had a couple of clif shots if that didn't pan out. I hit the 2.5km aid station in just under 15 minutes and grabbed a cup of water while I downed my granola bar. I hit the turnaround in 28 minutes still feeling good. On the return from the first lap I didn't feel like eating anything else. I was still able to finish the first lap in 58 minutes. As I started the second lap I figured that since it was starting to warm up that I should grab some extra water. So at the first aid station I grabbed two cups of water instead of one. I also took one of my Clif shots since I didn't feel like eating much else. By the 1km mark on the second lap I started to feel a slight stich coming on. I slowed to a walk for a little bit. This walk/run continued to the 2.5km aid stationq where again I grabbed two cups of water. This time the stitch came back just 100m past the aid station. I again slowed to a walk. The next mile I ended up doing this walk/run combo while my stitch began to ease. At this point I came upon a water fountain and since several other people were grabbing a drink I opted for one as well. The stitch came back again. At this point I realized that it seemed to be the water causing the problem. I decided that I would skip further water and see how things went. With this new plan I was able to run to the turnaround without stopping although my new pace was very slow. I hit the turnaround in 32 minutes.

As I started my return I knew that it was not likely that I would be able to finish in 5:20 but I was till on target to finish in under 5:30. With the knowledge that I would be done in just over 30 minutes I ploded on home. I was able to make it to the 4km mark without stopping. I then did the run/walk combo to the 2.5km aid station. I opted for a cup of water but just took a mouthful to clean my mouth and dumped the rest over my head. The final 2 km I seemed to just keep slowing down even as I tried to increase the pace. My stich was gone but my legs were just running out of gas. At last I climbed the final hill went through a tunnel and turned towards the finish line. There was my brother holding the finish line tape. I crossed the line to the cheers of my family and some friends with a run time of 2:08:55 for an overall time of 5:30:47. My first Half Ironman was complete and as usual, my wife was dead on with her time estimate :)

Post Race

After the race was over I met and grabbed some pictures with the rest of my family and friends. Even my brother-in-law and his two kids had come out to the finish. It was really cool being able to talk to all of them. I eventually wandered over to where my bike was and gathered up my stuff which my parents offered to take home for me. I then talked with my niece and nephew for a bit about my bike and then headed home for lunch and a well deserved shower. The rest of the afternoon consisted of passing out on the couch and not moving. All in all a great finish to my first Half Ironman
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