When I last posted my story of participating in the Ultra 520 K 3-day triathlon that was held during the August Long Weekend in Penticton, I was about 1/2 way through the 52 mile run. In this segment, I take you through the last (mostly happy) 26 miles.
The picture that you see here are two of the happy faces that helped get me to the finish line.
Day Three Part F: Hour 10 A New Day’s Dawn
One of the blessings on this last day of the Ultra 520K was the weather. Sure the air was smokey and warm (about 30 degrees) but at least it wasn’t stupid hot and crazy windy. That would have really sucked! As I crested yet another big hill, another big hill loomed in the not too far horizon. It was the Giant’s Head in Summerland! That meant that we were getting there! And then it happened – the “Welcome To Summerland” sign.
And then another thing happened – the nasty gravel turned to pavement. And because good things happen in threes – the road finally started to go DOWNHILL!
Now that the running surface was actually something that I could RUN on, I started to REALLY run, no half-assed shuffle-walk that had been my method for the past ten hours. It felt really good! For the first happy-half hour Sean ran with me. He’s Rio’s boyfriend and is Ironman in the making, although he doesn’t know it yet! WE cruised at a respectable pace and ticked off a few miles.
As the finish line got closer and closer my pacers changed more frequently. Next to run with me, was my brother Kim. We were sort of bemused at the energy level some of the other folks on the crew were exhibiting. There was a bit of hooting and hollering and “you-got-this” sort of behaviour going on. Fact is, I didn’t GOT this yet. There was still work to be done, about an hour’s worth, and if you’ve ever done an Ironman before the last hour of it can take about a week. Well, at least in your mind. Conserving energy and playing it smart was still at the forefront of Kim and my minds. There would be no premature celebration.
Day Three: Part G Hour 11 You’re Not The Boss of Me!
But there WOULD be some shenanigans on the way to the finish line. At kilometre 80, when we KNEW that unless I got hit my a bus or struck by lightning, that I would finish this thing, we decided to do something typically Heinze like. Instead of following the sign for the course route and turn left, Kim and I turned right, and started climbing a nice long hill, adding a few extra hundred metres to the course. After being a slave to this monster of a race course for the past three days, for a change it was ME that was in charge, and if I wanted to do a few bonus minutes of running to, in a sense say “screw-you” to the course, I would – time be damned!
Although some of my crew members thought that this was a very silly thing to do (understatement) – it was a way of me saying to the course (and myself) “ok you motherfucker of a course, you tried to grind me down by sending me off course on the swim, tried crushing my spirit by making me scale “The Wall” in Okanagan Falls on Day Two, and tried messing with my mind and body by throwing 6 hours of shit washboard road as some sort of sadistic icing on the cake this afternoon, but I survived all of that AND I had energy enough to throw in this extra run. I did it my way!
After our bonus run we turned around, got back on course, and I changed pacers yet again. This time it was Elise. With her very fresh legs and my renewed spirit we ran down the final few kilometres before we got near the finish chute. Just as we were about to join the rest of my family and crew for the final kilometre, a mischievous quail dashed across the road, right in front of us, as if to say, “I’m waaaay faster than you humans are!” It was probably right.
Day Three: Part H – Signed Sealed & Delivered
With about 2 kilometres to go, another unexpected bonus. My sister and her family, who had been supporting me on day two turned out to run with me. Shortly before the finish line, I suggested to them that we stop running and savour the moment. I told them how much it had meant to me for their support over the weekend. After a few hugs and pictures, it was down the road, around the corner, and into the finish chute.
With about 200 metres to go, another unexpected…bonus? I had all my family and crew running with me, except for one person, where was he? Kevin Watt was at the finish line, waiting for us with his camera. I guess that he wanted to capture that big moment of us all crossing the finish line together. Nope, that wouldn’t do. He was ONE of “us” and I wanted to make sure that he crossed the finish line with the rest of “us” so I motioned him on. He didn’t budge. Nor did I. Impasse! I crossed my arms and waited. The clock ticked. A few more tense moments and he finally relented, joining he rest of us in crossing the finish line. The race was over!
Although there were only 14 people doing the race, there sure seemed like there were a lot of people at the finish line, although nothing like and Ironman or Sun Run finish line, the main difference being that I KNEW most of the people there. They were the rest of the participants, their crews, and the race organizers. They all seemed genuinely happy to see me cross the finish line. Initially, there was not a lot of time to celebrate, as I was whisked over to the medical tent to have my vital signs checked. After the nurse gave me the “all clear” I was then able to do some socializing with my crew and the rest of the folks at the finish line. It was quite a flurry of emotions: elation, relief, pride, guilt, emptiness, connectedness. I put all those emotions in a box and continued with my post-race routine. It was off to the massage table to get my body back to normal. But wait! First a beer, and wait! A burger. Usually after a race I am not hungry, but due to the low intensity of the run, I was ready to eat. After scarfing those down quickly, it was onto the massage table and for as long as I was out on the race course I wasn’t really feeling that badly. Nothing was really hurting that much, it was more like a case of heavy legs fatigue. The one area that was hurting a bit more than other was my arms, specifically the tendons running from my arm into my elbow. Those darn things were the only long-term “injury” I sustained from doing the Ultra. Two weeks after the race, when I finally started running again, it was that part of my body that reminded me of what I did to it that long weekend in August.
These feet don’t hurt as much as you may think…. yeaaah for endorphins!
Visit us back here in about two weeks when I offer my postmortem on the race and what I may have learned from doing it.