Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ironman Canada 2009 Race Report

Yay Doug!!! Asses were kicked; names were taken. On a day many athletes found challenging, Doug pulled out a personal best, taking time off all 3 events!
Doug: It was gratifying to have a well put-together Ironman...I decided to commit, and I did.

Doug likes to have lots of time the morning of an event to chill and warm up, so we were up around 4:15am, had time for a quiet breakfast, and were at the race venue a couple minutes before transition opened at 5:00. There aren’t any line ups yet, so Doug breezed through body marking, gave his bike some loving, and had lots of time for a quiet warm up run before gettin’ into his wetsuit.

I headed to my favourite IMC swim spectating spot: standing knee deep in the lake. Doug knew I would be in the lake so he waded over so I could wish him luck one more time and snap a few pics.

Doug was pretty relaxed and prepared for the day. Just before the pro’s started, they played Human by the Killers, which was one of Doug’s key training songs for the season, and although I couldn’t see where he was in the crowd of black wetsuits, I knew he was singing along. Then the horn blew, and they were off!

Doug had two changes he wanted to focus on for the swim after CdA: swimming smooth rather than swimming fast, and seeking open water. He did a great job on both of these points and cut 7 minutes off his CdA time! He did such a good job swimming smooth, when he came out of the water he was worried he had actually had a really slow swim because it had felt so easy; he was pretty surprised that he was able to cut that much time off his swim by putting in less effort.

For the second point of seeking open water, he started to the far right which is a bit counter-intuitive cuz you would think going wide of the buoys (starting far left) would be less crowded. But I guess everyone thinks that way and wide of the buoys is actually more crowded than sticking really close to them. Doug actually ended up swimming out inside the buoys, so he got some less crowded water and swam less distance than the going-wide gang. His final time was 107:53, an exciting breakthrough performance for Doug!

Then it was out of the water, and into transition. After thanking his wetsuit stripper, Doug grabbed his transition bag and ran through the tent to the less crowded area near the exit. There was a great volunteer there who helped Doug and 3 or 4 other athletes to re-pack their bags so they could get out faster. Yay volunteers! They are the secret to Doug’s great transition times. Doug grabbed his bike and headed out onto the course with a T1 time of 2:36.

Doug’s plan for the bike was to push harder and go faster than CdA. He had a fancy new disc cover for his rear wheel, and his new Garmin watch and power tap so he could keep an eye on his power output. A lot of his favourite memories of the bike are seeing and well-wishing other North Shore triathletes; he saw Rachel, looking fast, at the Cawston out-and-back and figured he was only about 12 minutes behind her, which he was pretty happy with.

Doug felt good ascending with his power tap to keep him from going to hard, and he kicked serious ass on the descents. At IMC ’07 he had to sit up and slow down to make it down the hills, and since then he has worked hard on improving his descending skills. All his work paid off – this time around he felt confident and in-control while speeding downhill, had a ton of fun going fast, and passed a ton of athletes while descending.

He road steadily up Yellow Lake, took in the incredible energy from the crowd, and prepared for the descent into town. He actually smiled when he passed his parents and me cheering him on – those of you who have seen Doug race know that’s very unusual – so he must have been feeling pretty good.

Doug’s parents are always easy for Doug to spot cuz they’ve got a huge orange’s hard to miss.

Doug: My Bike-of-the-Race award goes to Athlete #921 – riding a WTC-coloured Cervelo P3C, with matching white disc and trispoke wheels. I was tempted to ask if he owned the matching Catlike Whisper, conveniently available at Speed Theory. Do a search on for the athlete to see what I mean.

Doug clocked a time of 5:24:35 on the bike, and then it was on to T2, where Doug’s time was 3rd fastest overall – only a couple pro’s beat him! His CdA T2 was awesome so his plan was to go for a repeat performance of that success. His strategy is to begin mentally preparing for the transition well in advance. Then he does a very impressive flying dismount and is already running along with his bike by the time he hits the dismount line. As in CdA, this time around he was able to snag a volunteer to help him out: he dumped his transition bag out, grabbed his shoes and hat and was off, while the volunteer put everything left behind away for him. He sacrificed a couple seconds for a bit of sunscreen and started running; it all took just 1:25!

Leaving T2 Doug asked someone what time it was, and figured he was a good 15 minutes ahead of his CdA time. He was hoping for a better run time that kind of bugged him that his run time was so much slower than his regular marathon time. His secret weapon was his new Garmin, so he could keep an eye on his pace as he ran. We were spectating at the North end of Skaha lake, so we saw Doug around the 7km mark looking really strong.

Out on the run course, Doug saw a lot of friends and cheered them on, including Rachel and Jeremy. He saw Jordan Rapp’s commanding lead and urged Jasper Blake to chase down the field. He was extremely impressed to see Anthony Toth running up amongst the leaders. On the way out, Doug didn’t see a whole lot of athletes running the other way, which was an encouraging sign, and he steadily passed the athletes around him.

At the end of the out-and-back, Doug did his fancy turn-around (ask him to demonstrate sometime), drawing cheers from the crowd. On the way back, Doug started looking a bit more hurtin’.
He was fully into Doug’s patented grim-face, whereafter he ceases to respond to your cheering in any way. He appreciates the cheering, and he takes the energy you’re offering up gratefully, but he won’t give you any energy back. He needs everything he’s got for himself. So if Doug ignores your cheering, cheer louder, cuz that’s when he needs it the most.

With about 5 km to go, Penticton’s Olly called to him “Just keep running,” which was exactly what Doug needed to hear. He committed to picking up the pace and running strong to the end. In the last 2km he started his sprint finish, drawing on the energy of the crowd.

He gave a great final burst of speed down the finishing stretch, grabbed the finish line banner and held in above his head triumphantly, smashing his previous personal best with a phenomenal time of 10:10:46!

His run time was 3:34:20. He finished 96th overall out of 2595 (that’s top 4%!!!), and 12th of 107 in his age group. With personal bests on all 3 events, he’s super happy with his performance, and I am so proud of him!

After some sittin', I grabbed Doug's change of clothes and he went and stood in the lake (Doug says "Splash Fight Lake" for those in the know). The water was pretty warm so it wasn't exactly an ice bath, but it helped Doug's muscles a lot. Then he put on his compression tights and socks (for super double compression power), and his walking was a lot less tragic after that (but still pretty bad) and so he hobbled his way back to the race site to greet his adoring fans.

~ My name is Doug Giles and I approve this message ~


  1. Fantastic race Mr. Giles. Congratulations to you (and your support crew).

  2. Super work Team! Well-written with some comments from Liquid himself and much appreciated from adoring fans. Congratulations again!

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