Tuesday, July 5, 2011

IM France

Here is a race report from Doug Bishop who recently completed this race. Great job and congratulations to Doug!

I finished!! Thanks to all of the Tri-dawgs for the support. It has
been great having a new triathlon family since moving to DE. I wrote
up a race report which I sent out for some other friends and family.
I thought I'd share it with the dawgs but you'll have to put up with a
few cliches (probably typical of a first time IM person like me).
Feel free to send this out to the dawgs and/or post on the blog as

Also does anyone have an extra garmin 205/305? I borrowed a friends
for the race and then LOST it during the bike. I feel like a horrible
person and am looking to have a temporary replacement. On another
note, does anyone have a small road or tri bike they were looking to
sell (or maybe even temporarily loan). My friends bike was stolen
last week (apparently there have been a few recent bike thefts in
Newark, WATCH OUT!). She is 5'2" with a long torso so I think she
needs ~48".

IM France race report with plenty of cliches
I am surrounded by people doing amazing things. From the seemingly
mundane: managing a family, a relationship, or a job; to the overtly
extraordinary: founding charities, forming companies, fighting
disease, or generally taking the long odds to make the world better.
Giving everything you can each day in spite of the challenges is my
ultimate aspiration. This Ironman is owed to all of those around me
doing exactly that.

The last few weeks before the race were a struggle to say the least.
I managed to complete my last few key century rides and 20 mile runs
while simultaneously moving apartments, completing finals, attending 2
weddings, and trying to get my research off the ground. Although my
training and taper had to adapt to the circumstances, I came into the
race confident I put in the necessary work with no major injuries
(hurray!) and feeling mostly healthy and rested. I was able to
convince myself that my lingering ab injury and mild knee pain
wouldn’t slow me down too much over the long distance.

I had heard about the infamous bike course and was aware of its
reputation as “like no other” but was not quite prepared for what I
saw as we drove the course three days before the race. The drive
alone took us four and a half hours; only a 1hr 15min short of my goal
time on the bike. The course works its way from Nice and heads into
the mountains where the fun begins. The bulk of the elevation –
almost 4000ft – is biked in a single 11 mile climb which begins at
mile 30. The narrow roads wind like an old river bed, up and back
down the mountain. Similar roads can simply not be found in the US as
we choose to pave our way straight through mountains and turns rather
than wind along the path that nature gives us. We traveled through
medieval French towns built on mountainside cliffs and carefully
followed switchback turns with little (or no) guard rail. The danger
apparent in the blind turns, long ravines, and mountain bluffs were
only lessened by the stunning views, unique and extraordinary at
seemingly every mile. The trip, which I made three times (but only
once by bike), is one in which you begin by snapping photos of each
new view, but two hours later you finally put down the camera and soak
in the full view as you know another view is just up the road.

I woke up at 4:30 race morning, thankful I was able to sleep 2 hours.
Despite being rushed in transition and warm-up, I felt strangely calm
as the gun went off. Although I thought long and hard about target
times and paces, I had tried to set few expectations for my first
Ironman (although the latest version of my excel spreadsheet read
10hrs 40 minutes). The swim was a mass start, probably 200m wide
along a rocky beach. I had positioned myself in a coral with athletes
aiming for 1hr 6min as a target time, hoping that would be
conservative enough to avoid being swum over too much. When the gun
went off, all 2700 athletes poured into the ocean which felt much as
it looked, like chaos. Inevitably as we rushed out of the gates, we
kicked, hit and swam on top of each other as would thousands of cats
had they been tossed in the ocean. The Mediterranean was shockingly
blue and clear which was perfect for seeing the arm (or foot) of the
person beside you. The athletes would converge as we approached each
buoy leading to scrambles for the best position and the perfect line
to the next buoy. I emerged from the water in 1hr 4min, just on
target. Feeling good.

I began the first of the climbs on my bike with the simple goal of
using as little as possible. As my friend Andre knows, although I
like to “drop the hammer” at the beginning of a climb, I knew I’d pay
for it at mile 60, and then pay again during the marathon. Although I
was passed by some during the long bike climb, I made it to the top
feeling like there was still gas in the tank. Despite not being quite
the daredevil that I’d lead you to believe, I proceeded to pass
athlete after athlete on the windy way down the mountain. The two
unfortunate casualties of my ride were my CO2 pump which popped off my
bike on a speed bump at mile 70 (don’t flat now!), and my Garmin GPS
(actually borrowed from Andre) which came off my bike slightly further
down the road (Sorry Andre! I even got off to look for it). Despite
loosing my watch, I finished the bike a few minutes ahead of target,
5h 43min.

I got off the bike slightly dehydrated from missing the last aid
station but feeling surprisingly intact. I started off the marathon
at 7:00/mile pace and struggled to slow myself down to my target of
8:00 after the first mile. The marathon proceeded in 4 laps down the
Promenade de Anglais, and was hot and long (who knew!). I finished
the first 9 miles well above my target. Average pace 7:30/mile, in
hindsight, a mistake. By midway through the 2nd lap I began having
stomach cramps, likely due to attempting to re-hydrate after the bike
ride along with the dozen+ gels and copious amounts of caffeine that I
had consumed in the previous 7 hours. I continued pouring water over
my head, but had to cut back on gels and drinks at the aid stations,
and was forced to take two trips to the port-o-potties for stomach
breaks (I need say no more). Despite the slowed pace from the cramps,
I resisted the urge to walk and avoiding food helped my stomach
problems. Coming into the finish line I had enough energy to pick up
the pace again (but not enough to look pretty for the cameras). My
marathon finished 3hr and 38 minutes after it began, 8 minutes over my
goal, but I have to say I was still quite satisfied. I ended, on a day
I thought impossible to predict, 2 minutes faster than my goal: 10hr
38min and 3 seconds. 217 of 2600 Ironmen.

Now I have to give a few thanks. To the Tri-dawgs who adopted me and
make me feel like I have some community in this new town. To Vince,
Josh, Lenny, David, Margaret and everyone else who rode and swam with
me, and put up with me not knowing how to flip turn or ending up in
the wrong lane in the pool. And to my friends and family who have to
put up with my training schedule, constant eating, blabbering about
triathlons, and incessant Facebook status updates (yes there are other
parts of my life). Keep following your dreams, fighting your battles,
and remember it all means nothing if we can’t share it with each

1 comment:

  1. Love the race report, Doug! Wow! Awesome, awesome job. Glad you didn't go over the edge on the bike! You mentioned it was "hot" I heard it was in the 95 degree range! Really impressive.