Ironman Canada is probably the second-most often written-about Ironman other than Kona, and there are already several RRs on here. As such, I’m sure I have nothing new to add regarding the course (it’s hard); the venue (it’s far away); or travel logistics (it’s complicated).
[i]Yes, I swam in my bibs. No, I don't ride a tri bike and yes, I felt dorky with a disc coming in damn-near last place in my AG. No, that's not Crisco on my legs. It's super-industrial sunscreen soothingly applied by Lunch Lady-hot volunteers, not tittering High School cheerleaders, in which I was disappointed.[/i]
[b]I can, however, offer three observations[/b]: First, meeting trifuelers increased the connection not only to this forum, but to the sport and event itself. Tri is a solo endeavor, and racing an Ironman is often a lonely adventure. I travel to most Ironmans by myself, so knowing others on the course, even if they are former e-cquaintances you recently met in person, is comforting and encouraging. You very well may not see them on the course (I didn’t; they were all ahead of me), but you know they’re there.
[b]TriFuel Meet Up[/b]
[i]I'm the bald guy. Lee, who I reference in this post, is to my right.[/i]
Lee and PoC volunteered, and I saw both of them in T1 and T2. They were exceedingly gracious. Lee found me at the finish, late into the evening, and personally Sherpa’d me through bike and gear pick-up, and even loaded my bike into my car. Again, a very gracious host indeed. Since I travelled solo, his assistance afterwards was invaluable.
[b]And that leads me to a request, nay a demand[/b]: as Warren, PoC, and Lee flawlessly executed, I decree that it is now incumbent of all of you to schedule a pre-race meet-up at every Ironman at which you race. The week prior to the Ironman (or any 140.6, really), post on trifuel.com a location and time to meet. PoC simply wrote, “Meet at the Peach on Friday at 9am,” and “Meet at Smith & Co Coffee on Saturday,” and that was all that was necessary. Buy a trifuel shirt or hat and wait for the hordes to approach you, whispering introductions like a neophyte at a secret society meeting. Pre-race meet-ups should be a pre-requisite for writing a race report. As such, if you return and post a RR without either scheduling a pre-race meet-up or attending pre-event, then boo on you.
[b]The second observation[/b] is that with experience comes perspective. Ironman Canada was my sixth to date. Now, before you chalk this up to retroactive rationalization of a poor performance, I have been on record in other posts stating that I was not expecting a PR at Canada, nor was I planning on putting in a PR-worthy effort. Perspective comes with completions. I knew when I signed up that Canada was not a good course for a flat-lander Texan. Being held in late August also meant that I must train in June, July and August – our hottest months by far. As fate would have it, we Dallas residents have had our second-longest streak of 100-degree days in recorded history. Also, living at 500’ elevation in an area not know for vertical variety, I realized well in advance that no matter how much “hill work” I would have liked to have done prior, it was simply a geographic impossibility in the southern reaches of the Great Plains. Finally, knowing my history of doing very poorly in warm if not outright hot conditions, I fully expected these three variables to limit my potential on race day. And I was fine with that.
I finished in 15 hours. Sure, I would've liked to have gone faster, but I’m not disappointed in a 15 hour finish. I’m fortunate to have had enough Ironman experiences to be able to say, by comparison, I had a bad day. If Ironman Canada 2011 was my first, then yes, I’d be bummed. But I honestly had a good time. Ironman Canada is all about the bike course. It is breathtaking, brutally unforgiving, in an arid, inhospitable region with an intimidating profile. But meeting trifuelers and benefiting from their experienced, committed service, really salvaged an otherwise grueling day.
[b]Finally, I did observe a few oddities[/b]. I was taken aback when I went to pick up my chip and was asked to "make a donation in exchange for a chip strap." That's not a donation. That's a sale. A donation, by definition, does not include an exchange of a good and/or service. If it was, can I file a $5 deduction with the IRS? (No. I now have a cheap strap to show for my $5.) They provided a chip, but no way to affix it to your ankle, so unless you already owned a strap, they put you in a position where you had to buy one. And conveniently they only took cash.
I was also surprised that Ironman Canada ran out of water on the bike course. They didn't run out of hydration, but there were stops that had no water. How many years experience do they have? I also think the medal, which is small, made of plastic and adorned with a very generic, unadorned ribbon, looks chintzy and is an unworthy representation of that race. And the finisher shirt is a very odd color. Is that purple? Glad I bought a nicer one at the Expo. And by the way, who cares if the [i]pre[/i]-race Expo shirts don't say "Finisher"? Anyone can buy "Finisher"-branded goods at the [i]post[/i]race Expo, so it's not like they check to ensure you had an official finish before they sell you over-priced technical Ts.
[i]Canada compared to Germany[/i]
[i]Every bit of Canada's marketing material is Red and Black, which builds great brand imagery. But for some reason their finisher shirt is ... purple? Maroon? Pink? Either way, possibly saving a few bucks on an over-inventoried color only dilutes their branding. I have no plans on wearing it.[/i]
[b]UPDATE: E-mail from Ironman Canada[/b]