Ironman France Results 2012
Elizabeth's "IRONMAN FRANCE" Race Report 2012
Ironman Nice, France delivered on the promise of the largest triathlon on the French Riviera. More than a sporting event, Ironman France is the annual highlight for the territory and gives Nice the local prestige of hosting the event. Boasting a bike course considered one of the hardest in the world with over 1800 meters of climbing ,coupled with being very technical, and a 16 hour time frame - one (1) hour less than the standard Ironman, everyone knew they had their work cut out for the day. Just as reminder, the distances on the Ironman are 3.8km swim; 180km bike; 42.2km run.
Ironman France had huge hype attached to it this year as Lance Armstrong was racing his first ever Ironman and had been blogging and tweeting for the past few months on his training and the difficult bike course. Due to the alleged issues surrounding him with doping from years ago during his Tour de France days, the WTC (World Triathlon Corporation) and governing body of Ironman ruled he was unable to compete within the week of the event. I personally had my own thoughts of this whole issue (since when is a person guilty until he or she are proven innocent?) as well as numerous athletes; it was a huge topic of discussions surrounding the event. All the training for nothing…
I had decided this year was definitely going to be my final fundraiser for the Vancouver Resource Society as I had imposed on many of you for the past 5 years and have so appreciated your support. My target was to raise, in total overall, $10,000.
What was interesting and very different about Nice, the European Sports Network (equivalent of TSN), wanted to do a TV special for Europe on “older” athletes competing in Ironman as well as the young Pros. They had chosen John Wragg (my Ironman partner in crime), world record holder in completed Ironman – 138 in total to date and myself with France being my 34th. The day prior to the event, the film crew had filmed us checking in our gear and hosted a pre-race interview of the what, why and how’s for us: what we do, why we do it and how we train coupled with an overview of our lifestyle. The film crew had told both John and me, they would be following us on motorcycle all day with camera and crew on hand filming us “in action”. This was a first for either of us; very intimidating and naturally, the pressure was on to have a good race too!
The weather was gorgeous but very warm for racing. Facing the humidity and just shy of 30 degrees, no records would be set for the day. Checking in for the day, pumping my bike tires, the film crew was waiting with many questions…stressful! Keeping focused on the event and myself, I knew I would have to block them out and just do what I had trained for. Waiting for the start, I gave silent thanks for your support, good wishes and many of you who had generously donated to my final fundraiser. With that thought, the gun went off at 6:30am and 2400 plus athletes headed over the rocks (no sand beaches here and ever so hard on the feet) into the warm waters of the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea and the long day had started. With a two loop swim and trying to climb over the rocks…ouch…up a steep embankment, I thought it would have been much easier if the organizing committee had made the swim into just one loop with no land exit. But then again, this is an Ironman and organizers around the world are vying to make their race toughest. Finishing up in 1:20:55 I transitioned, as quickly as I could, taking off my own wetsuit with no support at this race from volunteers with the camera crew in my face asking questions.
Off to my bike, with camera crew at my heels, the bike course proved to be everything and more of what embodies a tough course! Massive long climbs, over 18 km, spectacular, panoramic views, vistas I could never describe, gorgeous quaint French Villages, lavender fields where the smells greeted me before the gorgeous rows of flowers, I could only describe it as one of the most incredible bike courses I have ever ridden. Quad cramps in my legs kicked in about 100km into the bike and I realized that I required more power drinks and electrolytes. After drinking 3 Gatorade’s and taking more Hammer electrolyte tablets, the cramps eased off and I got my grove back. Tough and technical with the downward spiraling, descents, twisting and turning roads, I really had to concentrate and “remain in the moment” with the focus to keep safe and error on the side of caution with applying the brakes. I saw two really bad accidents and just hoped the athletes made it out OK…suffice to say, it was not pretty and scared me to keep safe and slow it down on the backside of the course. I was so pleased to get off the bike with a 7:59:34 and finish up that segment. I planned on an 8 hour bike and had met my target on the swim and bike thus far – with camera crew in tow!
As quickly as possible, I transitioned into the marathon portion - my favorite part! Mentally, I’m off the bike and I’m safe, happy and it’s just a matter of ticking off a kilometer at a time. The wall of heat hit me immediately on the run and knew there was no speed record in my books for this portion either. This is where the mind games are played and the mental toughness has to kick in. I knew I had 42.2 km ahead; legs are tired but have to keep pushing though the heat/humidity and looking forward to sunset. Trying hard, pushing hard and keeping in the game is the strategy….with camera crew again on my heels, they try and chat. I’m not a chatty runner, my philosophy, just keep the focus and keep running – and the crew learned that aspect very quickly. I was happy to get to aid stations, to walk and grab some ice and throw it under my cap, and down my front and back clothing. Right about now – I would have killed to stand in a freezer!!! It was a four loop run for the marathon portion (very spectator friendly) and knew that somewhere I would see the Ironman of all Ironman - John. I knew John would be ahead of me and finally saw him 1 ½ laps into the marathon moving fast with his race/walk. To try and catch him at some point in the run was going to be tough and really impossible. Given the conditions of the day, I realized then, he must have had an incredible swim and bike time. Good for him – he had really kicked it out and in retrospect he had 1 hour and 21 minutes ahead of me. Saw other friends and cheered each other along in our journey and saw John again on the final lap and try as I might it was not in the legs for this race to catch him. He proved to be, yet again, a better athlete than me! I realized it had a great deal to do with the camera crew filming his every move and he also, had felt the pressure to perform under the tight timelines, the extra scrutiny, and it had pushed him through. I worked as hard as my body would let me and ran down the finishing shoot just happy to be finished with another IM under the belt with a run of 5:16:35 and overall 14:53:07. Camera Crews were there all along filming (gosh they had a long day too) and it was done! John and I gave each other a big hug, did a brief interview for the Press and called it a day. John pointed out that I’d had a good run and had closed the gap on him with only 23 minutes separating us in our finishing times. We were all were safe, sound and knew that everyone had worked as hard as possible. Check; done – off the bucket list! Time for a bite to eat, a much needed shower and sleep!
Thank you to all of you who contributed to my fundraising efforts for Vancouver Resource Society. This is my “giveback” and contribution for those in life who are disabled and don’t have the freedom to move and use their bodies. It 's always a comfort to me when I race an Ironman to see volunteers on the course who are in wheelchairs, handing out our nutrition and giving to the athletes in their own way and being involved. It is truly heartwarming.
Life is a circle – sometimes we give and sometimes we get. It’s all about the journey and what gives us strength, comfort, happiness and satisfaction.
Thank you to all of you again and it’s not too late to make a donation www.vrs.org . Having reached and exceeded my targeted goal of well over $11,000.00– I am signing off on my final fundraiser. My deep and heartfelt thanks for all your support; be it for one year or the past 6 years…my gratitude and personal thank you for your contributions!
Now onto my next project – the Surrey International World Music Marathon…this will be an amazing event like none other in the world. Check us out at www.surreymarathon.com and join with the City of Surrey, Mayor Watts and Council; be it for the 5km Walk/Run; the Prospera Relay; the Run Inn Half or the Boston certificated Full Marathon Presented by Central City with the City of Surrey’s full support and endorsement – we will run/walk like no other marathon… on September 30th. 2012! Make it your personal fundraiser for the charity of your choice – the benefits are more than you can imagine.
I would love to toe the start line with you so let’s make it a date!