Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ryan's Race Report from Clearwater

IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 70.3 ------- 2ND PLACE FINISH!This past Saturday (Nov.14/2009), myself and my guide and friend Syd Trefiak, ventured down to the sunny south! Clearwater Florida! Our mission? To take on our third and biggest event of the year, the Foster Grant Ironman World Championships 70.3 .Syd and I met up earlier this year when i began my Paratriathlon career. He stepped up to the challenge and decided to help out a perfect stranger continue his athletic career. Going to a World Championship was a reward or good karma for somebody who does something that Syd did, being selfless. We raced a half Ironman earlier in the year, and the Paratriathlon USA championships in July; both great successes and learning curves. We hoped to have our act smoothed out for Florida, and i believe we did-turning in a performance that surpassed my goals.Trying to keep it fairly short, please enjoy the race report. From the eyes of a blind will be interesting to get Syd's perspective on the day.Thursday--- We arrived early, after an early wake up call, to a chilly and WINDY Clearwater... It wasn't much different then the weather at home--expect more palm trees. The order of the day was to meet up with Matt Miller (C Different founder) and Aaron Scheideis the CDF this kid has it all---speed, looks, talent, etc. He is one fun guy. We were also off to make sure that "flaming big al" made it safe and sound. This is my tandem, not a long lost uncle!! Big Al made it safe and sound and so we rode it back to the hotel and unpacked. That evening was cruising the expo and then off to the pre-race banquet. The dinner was on the beach, a beautiful setting normally, but this day was freezing and windy; not the most enjoyable of evenings. Off to bed to catch some much needed sleep.Friday(NBC day!)-- This was a LONG day! Syd and i got up fairly early, took Big Al out for a cruise to make sure he was race ready, and he was. Since i was battling the beginnings of a head cold, Syd went off for a short run by himself. My main mission was to not get so sick that i would be unable to race, but man i was worried, as i was feeling cruddy for sure. Once Syd was back from his little warmup, we hopped on Big Al and rode down to the expo to visit with Erik at K Swiss. Erik is one super cool and super nice guy...I chatted with him a bit bout myself and career, and my connection with C Different, and i proceeded to purchase some Canada flag K-0na shoes...these are super sweet lighweight trainers by KSwiss, and let's just say Erik gave me a deal i couldn't refuse. After this we headed into the Hilton as i had an NBC interview scheduled for 11:30am---a quick stop to say hi to Kevin Mackinnon and Greg McFadden, two friends of mine--then it was time for the interview. After about a 30 min chat with the NBC camera crew, Syd and i had some still pics taken, were given the GPS i was to wear on race day, then we were off to the Pro panel press conference. Sitting at a long table with Aaron and about 8 other pro's, was pretty cool, but obviously i was the SLOW guy of the bunch. A quick lunch in the VIP booth and then we were off to the Pro Pre-race meeting. One hour later, that meeting was over and we were free to "enjoy" the rest of the day. This amounted to dropping off our gear bags just as it got dark, heading to the hotel for a 1 hour rest, then dinner, then back for an early bed time. Holy moly, we were all just wiped out...and ready to that'd be the easy part! I am not complaining though, as the C Different, Ryan and Aaron, ALS, and "yes you can" stories all got told and covered very well. Nighty night!Saturday(Race day!)--- Woke up at 4:30am and downed a couple Peanut butter sandwishes, as i forgot my normal BOOST drinks for pre-race... Syd convinced me the PB sandwish was the way to go. I agree it didn't upset the gut, but didn't quite have the oomph i needed. We (Syd, Aaron, Matt and I) drove off to transition and as we entered...immediately 2 cameras swarmed on Syd and I... I guess they saw when we checked in, and now were getting their pre-race coverage. The idea was to "look cool" and not appear nervous:) I really wasn't that nervous to be honest, i was pretty tired and a bit worried that my non-existant headache would come back with a vengance later in the day (thankfully it didn't). Had a bit of a pre-race interiew in the transition area, then we were off to hit the Porta John, then the swim start. The swim was originally supposed to be in the Gulf of Mexico, but due to rough surf and rip current, they switched it into a nearby protected harbour---fine by me, as i wasn't feeling my swim was up to snuff. After standing around for a little bit, it was time to put the wetsuit on, and head to the dock, smile/look focused for a few more cameras, then hop in the water. We got to start at 6:45am in the pro wave (pro women, as the men started a few minutes after us). The sun was just coming up and was promising to be a gorgeious day. BOOM! went the cannon and we were off. My goal was to hang at the back of the pro women pack as long as i could, then just get the swim done. We were doing ok, and somehow i felt myself being pulled backwards. Hmmmm, odd! I guess while looking into the sun, Syd mistook a small bouy for a swim cap and swam to the wrong side, stringing up our tether----oh well, i wouldn't have seen it either!! I actually thought he sangged a person, as the bouy looked like a head!! Syd calmly took his tether off, unwrapped it, put it back on and we were off. We had lost the pack and now were basically alone the rest of the way. We managed to get a bit over half way before them pro men flew by us. I felt cruddy, and very unpowerful, but somehow managed a sub 34 minutes swim, which was actually my goal. Got the wetsuit stripped off, tethered stuck on my feet--slight delay--then we made the run into T1, grabbed gear bags, into tent, threw on shoes and helmet and were off! Onto the 90km bike (after the 1.9km swim), we took it out steady and decided to not kill ourselves and leave a bit for the run. We found ourselves totally alone---pro's in front, age groupers behind, it was very very strange. We saw 5 people the whole race (passed them handily) and never got caught by a single rider. Syd and i both were riding strong, and felt good, despite very very very very sore posteriors and backs.... More kinks definatley need to be worked out in this regard. My goal was to average around 37km/h and we managed to average 40.22km/hr for a 2:16 bike ride...I was pumped for sure! OOOOH DOLPHINS!! was the highlight of the ride (for Syd anyways)..and the NBC cameras coming up to film us was quite awesome too...."look intense syd, look intense!" Into T2, shoes on, and we were off on the 21.1km run!My goal was to run a sub 1:40 half marathon, but considering the way i was feeling the preceeding days, i was just happy to run the whole thing. Syd is good at keeping me steady and avoiding the quick start. We held a strong pace the whole run, only fading a tiny bit about 3/4 of the way through...his knee was hurting, my stomach was hurting, but we managed to keep it quite strong and average a 7.55 min/mile pace (I was aiming for a 7:45/mile pace), so not too bad. Seeing Aaron and Matt 4 times was fun, and we realized we were neither gaining, nor losing time to them. We knew we'd not catch them, so we decided to not blow on the day and kept it steady. Seeing my buddy Debbie Regals out there (fellow Blazeman Warrior) was awesome too. The crowd and athlete support for Syd and I was unreal, i've never had so many people say so many encouraging things, they truly understood our mission. As we appraoched 2 miles to go, i realized we were pretty much on track for a 4:45-4:47 overall finish, which was right on my goal of a 4:45 finish. It was going to be tight, and Syd decided to step it up the last hurt, but we sucked it up and managed to both ROLL across the finish line in 4:43!! A new personal best for me by 25 minutes and we ended up 25 minutes behind Aaron. Great race for me, but would've loved to get closer to Aaron. One day for sure...i just need to work on my swim and a few other things...and perhaps get more agressive on the bike. All and all we had a ton of fun, and Syd and I were VERY pleased with our day. Very satisfying.Final thoughts?-- Coming in with the goals of sub 34 swim (swam 33:xx), a sub 2:20 bike (rode 2:16), a sub 1:40 run (ran 1;43) my sub 4:45 finish...i was pleased for sure. I ended up 4 of 7 Paratriathletes overall, and got a 2nd place finish in the Visually Impaired group (yes there were only two of us, but i truly believe my time would have been good enough for 2nd against all the other VI athletes i know, alhough it would've been close). AND i've not taken on Canada's other fast Blind guy, Brian Cowie...We got our story out, we gained people's attention, and respect, we gained potential sponsors and product support and we finsihed 2nd in a World Championship!! You can't end 2009 any better, as when the year began i didn't kow if i'd even get to do one race, let alone 4 (2 big prestigious events). Thanks to Syd, C Different, Aaron, and my wife for all the help and support. This year makes me very eager to plan for the future and the potential to inspire others that they can do anything....just adapt to your situation, and figure out a way to get it done. Oh ya, and thanks to Big Al , my comfy Running Free shorts, CDF shirt, Rudy Project sunglasses and helmet, and New Balance shoes...they got me to the line safe and sound...and i can't WAIT to get out in my new K Swiss shoes, hoping for some new PB's outta those puppies!!!

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