It was 3 AM in the morning I woke up to some drunk guy yelling on the street. Amazingly I had a good sleep till then. I went back to it again and before I knew it my phone started ringing, it was my calendar reminder for the appointment I set long ago:
Sunday August 19th, 2012
From : 7 AM to 7 PM
Subject: Ironman Mont Tremblant
Location: Mont Tremblant
More than year of training and the day was finally here, surprisingly I was very calm. I had my usual 2 bottles of Ensure a piece of bread with honey,half a banana and 2 cups of coffee for breakfast and then laid on the couch to relax.
My mom and my aunt were constantly checking on me making sure I’m all good. I was a bit cold, it was probably the nerves, I put on some warm cloths and went back to bed. I wanted to go through some of the notes I had received in the last little while…
“…in an Ironman, its not IF something will go wrong, but WHEN will it go wrong”. I think he was trying to say that its such a long race, that not everything is going to go your way. I think you learned that in the half you did last month. Keep your head focused on the goal and work around the obstacles that your will face during the race…” (Arash)
“….Allow me to answer the two main questions you might ask yourself once in a while :
1) Was your preparation right? / have you done enough? –
Agha yes, you know it better than anyone else but just to reconfirm it from my point of view – I’m hundred percent sure that you are perfectly prepared. You proved it yourself a few weeks ago, when you went to MT and did the individual disciplines. This gave you a perfect psychological stability. I was so happy for you. Never forget during the race that you are perfectly prepared.
2) Will you be able to do it? / Will you successfully finish the race? –
Agha, a second yes, due to two main reasons. As the first success factor I see your mental stability and self confidence, which you always had and you received from you dad and your mum. The second and most important part is the very very strong motivation you need to go over your pain and to finish the marathon even if it feels meaningless during running – and here I’m even more confident than in the first success factor. Because you have chosen the best motivation factor in the beginning of 2011, when you decided to dedicate this race to your dad and for the children of Lahijan. … ” (Ramin)
“…One of the greatest things my dad has ever taught me and told me repeatedly is “it’s all in your mind. If you set your mind to something, the hard part is over.”. I couldn’t agree more as I have seen this many times in my own life. Not only do you have your mind set to accomplish this race, but you have a personal mission and a reason.
I have told you time and again that I am so proud of you guys for all that you have been through the past year and a half. You suffered a great loss, one that I can never imagine, but you stayed strong and let it drive you. I know your father will be on your mind with every stroke you take, every hill you bike and every step you run. I also know that he will be with you, cheering you on as your biggest fan. … ” (Gloria)
It was 5:30 AM and time to leave. As I was walking towards the transition tent, I saw a lot of nervous faces, racers walking around with the morning cloths bag sipping on electrolyte drinks. I finally made it to the transition area where I was greeted by a group of volunteers in charge of body marking.
Once body marking was completed, I headed down to the bike transition area to check on my bike and drop off my bags. At this point I was a bit confused, not knowing where the bags needed to go, thankfully JJ was there to help, he told where I needed to drop off my bags but I didnt quite pay attention to what he said. I walked all the way to the transition tent only to realize that the drop off bins were right by the bike start. I figured I might as well put on my wetsuit and as I was looking for my swim stuff I noticed that I’ve forgotten my chip at the hotel. I ran back to my uncle to ask him if he could go and grab the chip for me but as he started running back to the hotel I found the chip in my bag, race morning craziness at its best.
Just before I start to head down to swim start, I finally found Diana, it was very comforting to see a familiar face. She was with her parents and they seem much more in control of things than my team. We started walking towards the swim start. Athletes right, spectators left,… I probably heard that a good 200 times while doing last minute preparations at the swim start. The beach was packed, everyone was smiling, some nervously. Last minute hugs and kisses and we were off. There was a huge line up to get to the beach, swimmers were actually backed out all the way to the top of the beach. Diana and I found a little pathway and got ourselves to the front of the line, all the way on the left side as it was said in the plan.
There was no time to warm up for the swim, we just had to do some quick arm swings to raise the blood pressure, not that it was needed. Before I knew it the cannon went off and pros started.
I can’t quite remember how the next 10 minutes passed but I remember seeing the jet fly by and then hear go go go. Diana and I were at the far left attached to the platform that was setup for spectators and camera crew. we started walking slowly to the end of the platform and then it all started. I reminded myself to stay calm and try to find my breathing rhythm and then I remembered my dad, with my head under the water, I remember trying to call him, pedar.
(Here is a video that shows how brave we were in attacking the water at the start! Around 1:25, you’ll notice 2 athletes(Diana and I) attached to the platform making their way forward! )
It was time to focus, slowly but surely I made my way through the swim course, I felt very comfortable and confident that I could cover the distance with no problem. Every time I saw a buoy in the distance I tried to get as close as I could to it , making sure I don’t get myself into thick of things. I had estimated that I will be swimming an extra 100-200 meters as a result of swimming further to the left, but that was ok. I just needed to get to my bike. 400 meters into the swim and as expected my Garmin dropped the signal. I never got the chance to test if this was because I was wearing the 910 under my cap. I guess thats something I will have to figure out after the race. The next 2.5K of the swim was fantastic, I was breathing properly, I had open water and every once in while I found some good legs to follow, the swim could not be any better than this.
Almost 3K into the swim I started feeling the fatigue in my arms. I tried to ignore it, but it stayed with me for a next few minutes. I decided to do 50 DPS to give my arms a bit of a break, this was something that I’ve practised on my own. I did 50 DPS followed by 100 stroke and then another 50 DPS. I felt better and I was not able see the island.
As said in the plan the water got shallow close to the finish area before it got deep again. I see other swimmers trying to stand up and run but they struggle. I kept swimming and I could now hear the crowd.
For the first time in the last year and half I ran out of the water not being exhausted. I was happy, the guy beside me did a somersault as he ran towards the wetsuit ripping area. The crowd went crazy. After taking off of my wetsuit I started running towards the transition tent while looking for familiar faces, and there it was my aunt with her Blackberry ready to take a photo. I high five her and continued.
The run to the transition was pretty fast, the crowd was very loud, the atmosphere was just fantastic. There was chaos in the transition tent, I grabbed my bag and then head to the change area. It took me a while to find an empty seat. I remembered Sylvie’s words, this is still part of the race, don’t rush but don’t waste time either. I quickly changed to my bike gear while sipping on a perform and headed out. As expected a lot of the racers have already left and my bike was sitting almost alone by itself. Nothing to worry about though, this was just part of the plan.
Out of the transition area, I ran a quick check, all systems were go. Through the constant cheering of the crowd I made it to Monte Ryan where I hit a traffic jam, again I reminded myself that I needed to let my body warm up for the first 10 minutes, but these riders seems to be too slow for a warm up. It was time for the first pass on the bike. I passed one person quickly and got back into the line. I was nervous about being caught drafting so I decided to go for another pass and before I knew it I was sitting in the left lane, passing a whole bunch of riders. As I was just about to pass a group of 5 riders on the first hill of Monte Ryan, I noticed the officals’ motorcycle pulling beside me and then slowing down to my pace. I quickly sped up and passed the group and merged back to the right lane. Officials stayed with me for another 10 seconds which felt a lot longer and then moved ahead. I took a deep breath, quickly checked my numbers and refocused.
I dont remember a whole lot about the first loop of highway 117. The ride was pretty uneventful and I remember feeling really good through the ride. I saw Nigel, Sylvie, Brandon and few other NRG athletes on the ride. It was certainly a good decision to wear the NRG gear through the bike ride.
Before I knew it, I was off 117 and heading into St. Jovite, and it was rockin! The streets were packed with people, banners and volunteers. Lots of cheering, lots of cowbells. My favorite was the guy in the BBQ apron that looked like Michaelangelo’s David (without the leaf).
Heading back to Monte Ryan I felt really good I was partially excited to see my team and as expected as I made the turn to head to head up lac superior, I saw the whole crew, I gave them a thumbs up indicating things are going well and headed for fun ride up to lac superior.
The first loop to the lac superior went very well, I was really comfortable climbing and I had no problem controlling my power. Once on the top I remember thinking, as it was exactly stated on the plan, this wasn’t too bad, I can do this again. Just before I head back down to Tremblant, I passed by Eric, it was a great surprise as I did not expect to see anyone from the UofT tri club on the race. We wished each other good luck and I was off for a quick and fast ride down the hill.
Pumped from being able to making it up the hill comfortably I decided that I dont need to pickup my bike special needs bag. I went through the rest stop quickly and after getting another boost of energy from the team I headed for the second loop.
Overall the first loop went really well, I was on top of my nutrition and there was no sign of cramps in my legs. Perhaps the only mistake that I made was not to lap on my Garmin after finishing the first loop, I thought about it hard and then I decided not to do it as I was worried that might start chasing the numbers and push myself too hard and although I purposely backed off during the second loop, having clean view of the second loop would have helped me to manage my power a bit better.
All was going as planned in the second loop until the wind caught us on 117. I could almost see the turn around point on 117 when things really started to slow down. As per plan this was almost expected but the big surprise of the day was the stronger wind that hit us on the way back to St. Jovite after the turn around on 117. perhaps the only time of the day that I had to dig a bit deep was the 20 KM ride to St. Jovite. Looking back at the race I could have certainly pushed a bit harder but though this portion but the uncertainty of marathon held me back. All that said I was relatively feeling good, my nutrition was all going as planned and my legs were still in good shape. The rest of the second loop was pretty quiet, I certainly felt more tired but I was still feeling good. I was becoming a bit anxious on the way up to lac superior, hills seemed longer and steeper but I had a marathon to worry about and that kept my head off from the hills. I grabbed a bottle of perform on the way back and started sipping it on the way down, getting ready for the run.
TP’s ride log:
Off the bike I started running, feeling really good, to the transition tent, this was when all my doubts for the run went away. With the help of an amazing volunteer I quickly changed into my run gear and headed out for the course. This was the best I have ever felt out of the bike transition of any race in the last two years. Out of the gate and not even a 20 meters out I heard my name, it was Diana’s dad, and this was all I needed to ignite my running engine. I started sprinting up the hill browsing the crowd for my team and sure enough half way through up the hill, I saw my sister, Pouria, Shannon and JJ. I can’t describe how amazing it feels to see a familiar face through the race but hearing a big group cheering for you right out of the run gate is all you need to make it through the first half of the run.
The run was the best part of my day, feeling a bit nervous from y half experience in Peterborough, a good start in the run gave me the confidence that I needed. I ran the first 2K on 4:35. Once I realized how fast I was running I slowed down and started to focus on my rythem and think about nutrition. 7K in and it was the first time through the race that I saw Diana, she cwas a good 6 K ahead of me, we smiled at each other and continued.
Through loud cheers of the crowd and fantastic volunteers I made my way back to the transition area to wrap up my first loop, It was getting a bit colder and clouds were moving in quickly. I was feeling a bit of fatigue in my legs but nothing serious to stop me. My energy level looked good and seeing my team at the beginning of the second loop of the run gave me the last boost of energy I needed
The last 20K through the run was rather emotional, I knew the end was near and I just felt the urge to share my story. A few times I felt like pulling right by other runners and tell them who I am running for but this did not happen until the last few Ks of the run. 5 K to the finish and right in the middle of heavy a rain is where I met Allen, we ran the next few Ks together and chatted a bit. He told me with our pace we’d be able to finish just before 12 hours mark and that was the first time I realized how long I’ve been running. I asked him why he was doing this and told him my story and with that off of my chest I was ready to cross the finish line.
Over the hill and through into the pedestrian village, I saw my sister at the entrance to the village holding the “Children of Lahijan” T-shirt that I was suppose to wear at the finish, but for some reason I didnt want to stop. Thinking about it now, I feel a bit bad for having her wait in the rain for me, but at the moment I was just not thinking properly. I cant remember the last few hundred meters of the race, next thing I remember is me kissing the ground at the finish
My brain was blocked, I was nto thinking about anything, couldnt even rememebr that I had a whole crew waiting to greet me. I was just overwhelmed with the thought of having finished an Ironman. After getting my medal and finisher shirt, I got in the line for some food. I saw Andrew and Nigel on the line and we chatted a bit about the race and our amazing experiences. Next I saw Diana and her family we congratulated each other and finally I saw my family. After a couple of minutes of emotional hugs, kisses and tears it was time to head back. We said farewell to Diana and her family and I went back to the transition to collect my bags.
The day was over, mission accomplished and a new goal for 2013 was set.
TP’s run log: