Monday, July 21, 2008

Where's Drew? - Part II - Quebec

So you've read Leslie's rather short race report (short for her). I'm going to give you a little more from my perspective - support crew.

This was quiet the whirlwind trip as is standard practice for us. We got in to Quebec City around 10 or 10:30 pm and the race director for the double had promised to pick us up and there he was. On the way to the dorm/apartment (I know, pretty basic, but it saved us a ton), leslie was trying to confirm how to get to the race course and all from the dorm since we were not going to have a car. The race director, Jean Guy, just ended up taking us to the race site, how cool. He then walked us to the swim start and the bike transition. On the way back to the dorm, he stopped at a grocery store so we could get a couple things to eat.

Well, morning came early, I believe the sun was up at 4:30 am, felt like 11 am. Anyway, leslie put her bike together and we headed down to the race course so she could swim and ride a little, I ran along side on the way there. What a nice bike trail. So the St. Lawrence river is a huge, long river and has maybe a 10-15 foot tide, who knew? Well, we got to the swim site and it was on its way to low tide, I'll show you some pictures during the later to give you a perspective but note the trees and where the water is in this one. Leslie went out and eventually got in deep enough water to swim a little then did a few laps on the bike before we started to head back to the dorm. The intent was to run back and she would ride of course, but very quickly it was all about food. We stopped a pizza place and sat outside which then turned into a walk back to the dorm basically but the weather was just about perfect.

Our friends were due in from Pittsburgh and we were going to have a casual dinner and get all caught up. Well they didn't end up getting there until 10 pm or so, so we went and dinner at a little pizza place at the corner. They have this item called a poutine, that in our opinion just rocks! It basically is french fries with cheese curds (big ones like buffalo mozzeralla slices) smothered in brown gravey, Ooooo!!!!! Anyway, the next day thursday was the pre-race dinner and introductions. Not much interesting here, except that leslie was kind of feeling like a little fish in a really big sea.

Next day, Friday, was the race. We got leslie down there early but with the sun up at 4:30 am it felt late. They lined the athletes up by country and they walked across the bike trail and then were given a few minutes to get ready to swim. Because you swim down stream and the water seems to edy out, pushing you back up, it was expected this would be a fast swim. Well for the leaders it was pretty fast. For leslie, it got a bit challenging with 4 laps to go. Anyway, she came out of the water 5 minutes behind Astrid (a former world champion and course record holder) and 3 minutes behind Syria from Great Britian. I was very encouraged by this. On to the bike, and things seemed to be

going quiet well. Astrid only had a one lap lead at best, but didn't really look comfortable, might be how she always looks. Anyway, I'd ask leslie what she wanted and she'd just grin. So I had to just start handing her anything to eat and drink, so that she would. I would say that this was the best I've seen her eat and drink on the bike in a long race in long time. It took a few hours for us to notice, since we were trying to get food, drinks, and keep track of Wayne and others, but at some point I was at the lap counter table and Leslie had 2 or 3 laps on Astrid. Then after it got dark and had rained at least a couple times, it was very apparent Astrid was not riding very well. Syria was just no where even close. Well, after many pee breaks, it was time to get off the bike and run. Leslie had a 7 lap lead on Astrid. They were riding 9 to 10 minute laps at the end so I figured Leslie was over an hour ahead. Our plan going into this race was for Leslie to concentrate on getting a double marathon time as close to 12 hours as possible.

Why? The whole goal for the year is get to Ultraman Hawaii and finish and this was on of the big tests. Well the week or so before we were coming up to Canada, Leslie got an email from the Ultraman folks saying they had concern about her running and not finishing on previous occasions and wanted her to prove she could do it in under 12 hours. Sure they said they had others they were requiring a qualifing time from but this is a first for them. I was not happy about this, it really irritated me, still does. It just crushed Leslie's spirit and quiet frankly spit it the face of what Ultraman is all about, or at least what I thought it was.

Anyway, we were thinking that at the end of the bike she would sit down, maybe take a 20 minute nap, and generally get as refreshed as she could then get out and run without any stops or breaks, because we knew the run was not going to be easy if she wanted that 12 hours. Alright, it wasn't going to be easy no matter how you looked at it. Well, that whole plan didn't happen. Leslie wanted to stay in the lead and get as far ahead as possible since Astrid has the course record and supposedly can run. Leslie was racing!!!!

First marathon was 6:11 or so, pretty good considering a few bathroom breaks, so I figured that she might be able to even split the race and 12:20-12:30 would be good enough to get in Ultraman since the format is different. Here the race is continuous and in Hawaii it is more of a stage race and you get to eat, sleep, rest after 12 hours each day. At this point, Astrid was still 5 1/2 laps behind or so and really did not look like running was something she'd ever done (i.e. really looked like she was going to fall over), let alone look like she was going to be able to make up the deficit. So this was a big festival, they had the double but also an ironman, 1/2 ironman, an olympic, a duathlon, a 50k run, and a 100k run which all started on saturday morning and ended up being on the same run course about the time Leslie still had a marathon or so to go. I think this helped her a little, if nothing else gave her something else to look at and focus on. So somewhere around 27 laps of 42 for Leslie, I noticed Astrid talking to her crew and in the medical tent. Come to find out that her crew was telling her that she wouldn't make the cut off of 32 hours and shortly there after she dropped out. The race director came out and started talking to Leslie every few laps telling her she could finish, and Leslie was like "I'm going to". (I have a picture somewhere showing the director with leslie)

Well, the long story short, Leslie won!!! Leslie is World Champion!

So I'll leave the details of the awards and after to a conversation you can have with Leslie personally. The general gist is she got a standing ovation.

The next couple days after we went to Quebec City and saw the city and went in a bunch of shops and went whale watching. I was a little sceptical about the chances of seeing a whale, I don't anyone I've ever talked to that went whale watching ever saw a whale. Well we did!! A bunch of them too. I managed to get a couple shots which seems to be a challenge because you never know where or when they are going to surface.

Well, that's the short story I guess. Ultimately, Leslie sent her results in the Ultraman and they have invited her. So we will be heading to Hawaii for Thanksgiving one more time..........To finish!!! and kick its ass.



Where's Drew?

Okay, So I haven't been so good about writing like I said I would be. So I'm going to do a whirlwind wrap up of the things I've done since the Boston Marathon. Oh and our cool dog Gretchen wanted to say hey.

You read Leslie did the 18 hrs of Fruita and was pretty happy with how that went. The next week Leslie decided we needed some speed of some kind so we jumped into the Highline Canal 10k. This should have been a fairly nice day and solid training. I ended up having trouble really getting into the mood, maybe just a little to low profile to get worked up about. The gun went off and I was in front with some other guy. Just before the mile mark some kid (I say kid because he was easily 10 years younger than me) came by with his ipod jamin'. That was the race basically, from there I increased the gap on 3rd and he increased the gap on me. It was a rather deceptively uphill course for the first 4 miles or so but it ended up being a good hard effort. I finished 2nd overall, 1st in the 40-49 age group and ran 38:55. I was a little discouraged by the time but not too badly.
That was May 10th, the next week was the Davis Phinney ride on May 17th and then Leslie thought it would be good to get a medium distance had run in. So Sunday the 18th we ran the Colfax 1/2 marathon. This was interesting, I was hoping to run around 1:21 or so and I ended up at 1:25:05. I was 4th in my age group and 13th overall. I was in a tie for 3rd/4th for the first 3 miles then settled down and ran in 4th through 8 miles and right on pace to do something under 1:21. Then I just seemed to not be able to drive through well or something and started fading a bit, one person a mile or so. Then 2 or 3 guys came by and I just couldn't stick with them. It ends up that if I hadn't faded the 1:21 would have put me in 2nd in my age group and 4th or 5th overall. Oh well, can't have it everytime I guess.
Two weeks later, June 31/July 1 was the opening of the triathlon season for me. Leslie went to Dirty Kanza and I went to Show Low, AZ for the Deuces Wild triathlon festival. I like this race, its warm...........ok its hot usually and good honest race courses, plus they give kind of cool finisher medals and have a huge raffle that Leslie and I have yet to get anything good out of. Saturday I did the Olympic triathlon in 2:15:57 for 3rd in my age group and 11th overall, that actually was a slight improvement over 2007 but only a few seconds. My run split was 2nd overall. Sunday I did the Xterra. The mountain bike course has a stretch of big river rock that starts out ridable but if you are close to anyone ends up being a hike-a-bike to the top, then its pretty fast back to the transition with rather wet/muddy culvert crossing. Anyway, I went 2:21:40 for 4th in my age group and 22nd overall, my run was 3rd overall. I ended up riding around 5 minutes slower than 2007 and the only idea I have is in 2007 I crashed pretty hard and I subliminally didn't want to do that again. Oh well!!

The next two weeks was about training and doing a stroke & stride. On June 15th I did the 1st race in the 5430 series, this actually the first time I will have done all three of these races. Anyway, the 5430 Sprint had almost 1200 people if I remember correctly. I went 1:19:07 which got me 42nd overall and 9th in my age group, rather humbling and amazing how many people are really fast and I'm barely even close. This was a 1/2 mile swim, 17 mile bike, and 5k run and was semi happy with how things went speed wise, although it has become very apparent I've lost some speed on the bike, I only average 23.1 mph for this short distance. Just 2 or maybe 3 years ago I was over 24 mph still. Could be the long distance training, I hope.

Another stroke & stride and then Xterra Buffalo Creek on June 21st. I like this race because the course has a fair amount of climbing which really helps bring me in contention with the downhill Kamakazi's. Leslie and I both did some volunteer work for the race director, trying to improve our karma or something like that. Stuffed race bag, painted some signs, and leslie ended up directing bikes on race day. I had a pretty good day going 2:50:07 for 5th in my age group and 44th overall. To put it in perspective I did this race in 2005 and went 2:42:59 for 2nd in my age group and 19th overall. Yeah, I probably rode a little cautiously in a few places like I did in Arizona but this was only the 2nd time I'd been on my mountain bike this year and it really was just a chance to race, build some strength and keep me honest.

This week, June 29th was the week all the other races were kind of gearing toward and ultimately Ironman Louisville at the end of August. Buffalo Springs 70.3 is normally just one hot, breezy race that I know I should be able to do pretty well at and yet I always struggle for some reason. Oh yeah, I think that's why I like doing or something like that. Normally in the 90's, breezy to windy, and with a few hills to slow things down a little, and almost no shade on the run. This year was totally different. It ended up being very windy and at times it always seemed to be in your face and it rained almost the entire bike and part of the run. When we left it was basically sunny. I had a decent swim 31:27, probably aided by another first. Everyone ran the first 200 yards out of the beach area. I didn't know that was an option but I sure got in on the deal. I thought I was riding pretty strongly into the wind and even down the very wet and slippery hills on the bike but only managed a 2:50:42 (I'm usually 2:40 here and last year I was 2:36 or so). So out on the run, I felt pretty strong through the first 2 hills, running stride for stride with some other dude and passing many. Well comming up the second hill I lost touch with my running partner and ran into an old friend we made at Great Floridian in 2000 (I think). I ran up on him but we really were running the same pace somehow. I moved on past him at the turn around and really thought I was moving pretty good, especially with the overcast skies, wind/breeze, and rain. I ended up finishing in 5:11:35 for 24th in my age group. I think I may have really worked hard on the bike and that took it out of my legs for the run since I ran 1:46. When I looked at the top guys in my age group and others it seems that everyone had a tough time on the bike because their times weren't out of control and yet their runs should have been faster because of the cool temperatures. Overall I guess I feel like I'm on track but we'll see when it really gets hot in July and August.

I guess since this is getting rather long and I still have more we'll go to part two in a few.

Ciao Drew

I'm a World Champion!!!

Just got back from the Triathlon De Levis Double Ironman World
Championships and I'm exhausted, but cannot stop this big grin on my
I am the 2008 Double Ironman World Champion!!!!!

Quick report here, and then more details this weekend...

At the dinner the night before the race they introduced the athletes.
The other gals were Astrid Benohr and Suraya Oliver and got long
introductions as they are both top multi-ironman distance athletes
(google their names, I did before the race and it was scary!). They
introduced me, "Leslie Holton... she's done ironmans"... well, okay
I've done a bit more than that but I am certainly the baby at this
sport and the race fodder!

Slept pretty good, and Friday morning arrived all too soon.

SWIM: The swim was in the St Laurence river, 12 loops. The tide was
high when we started and dropped enough to expose 30 feet of beach by
the time I finished. Each lap was a different challenge with
different circulating currents sweeping us around. Finished the swim
and was 5 to 10 minutes back.

BIKE: Quick(ish) transition and onto the bike. Passed both gals in
the first lap. Astrid looked strong but Suraya was clearly not
feeling good yet. The bike course suited me well with 1.2 miles on
lightly rolling road with a kicker at the end (a steep hill that was
about 20 pedal strokes standing up hard) and then 1.2 miles back on a
super sweet in the aerobars bike path. Really good sweeping turns at
each end. 92 laps. I could see folks on the opposite side of the
course as I was riding and tracked Astrid each lap. I tried to ride
steady and easy but with a rabbit like that it was fun to see what I
could make up each lap and I ended up having just a blast oon the ride
grinning like and idiot even through the 3 short storms that blew in.
The storms actually changed the winds, which were strong and
relentless, but just added to the fun. After dark set in it was
harder to keep a consistent pace, and other riders became just
headlights but finally it was done and I hopped off the bike.

RUN: I had planned a slow leisurely maybe even a nap transition but
Drew told me I was 7 laps ahead of Astrid so instead it was a quick
change and go. The run was out and back, 2k total, 42 laps. I tried
running the middles and walking the ends. After a few hours Astrid
hit the course and it was a question of whether she could hawk me
down. She did not pass me in the first marathon, though she caught up
a bit each lap and we did get a chance to chat. She said she left too
much on the bike trying to stay close... The sun came up, things got
hot, life got hard. Astrid quit after 28 hours or so when it was
clear she would not make the cutoff. I was not allowed a pacer
because I was in the lead. My guts turned over, settled down, and
turned again. Finally it was 5 to go, then 4, then 3, 2, and the last
lap where I cried most of the way because it was over and I was so
darned happy!

AFTERMATH: Finished the race and all I wanted was a Pepsi. Nope.
Drink only these sealed water bottles, got escorted to the drug
testing room, chug more water til I could produce 100ml. Strange
formal surreal process of drug testing where I had too pee in front of
a witness and create my A and B samples that will be sent off to the
lab. Crazy!!!

Won the biggest heaviest trophy I have ever seen. When the drug tests
come back clean I'll even win a prize purse!

Whew... it was a really really special week!