IM 70.3 Muskoka

My first [half] Ironman!

Registration: 27/08/2007
Event Date: 14/09/2008

Biggest race at the time of registration:

(a try-a-tri!!!)

Hard to believe, but reality is that when I signed up to the 1/2 Ironman, my longest race was a try-a-tri: 375m swim, 11km bike and 2.5km run! What was I thinking? I really don’t know. Somehow I convinced Bruno to sign-up too, as I wouldn’t dare to enter this challenge by myself. How do they say? “Misery likes company”?

Before I signed up, I was talking to my father-in-law, Angelo, who was visiting us (from Brazil). He said that if I went through with it he would come back the following year to watch the race… I guess he didn’t know what he signed up either!! Have a look a his picture after the race! 😉

Pre-Ironman races

A few weeks after I signed-up to Muskoka 70.3 Ironman, I did my first sprint race: Guelph II 2007. I have to say, it was easier than I thought, although pretty different than what was to come. It was just 750m swim, 30km bike and 7km run. I was really tense before that race, but I felt much better afterwards. Was it possible that I would actually make it?

Well, I spend the entire off-season preparing myself to the following year. Race after race building up to the a bigger challenge. I started 2008 with a sprint, moving to a couple long courses (Mukoka Chase and Kingston) and most important, I had a lot of fun on each race. Muskoka was specially challenging because it would have been the first race I swam 2km and I finished side by side with Bruno! Quite a race too, but that is another story…


LOTS of carbs the week of the race. I ate as much as I could handle. Pasta, bread, milk, bananas, chocolate, oh boy!

The day before pasta buffet. We met a couple guys at the restaurant having pasta and wine… wondering what I missed! One of them finished within 5:21 hours, well the other 7:07. As usual, I couldn’t really sleep as baby. I woke up a few times, turned around and tried not to think about the race.

I waited patiently for the alarm clock… until 5:45. OK, that’s it, I’m up! I went to the kitchen and made myself a smoothie with milk, banana, apple and cereals. The room had a kitchen/living room, where my father-in-law was sleeping. You had to see hi face when I turned on the blender, priceless!

I also ate two French toasts with lots of Nutela spread. I organized my stuff, again, and after checking the time a few times, I decided that it was time to go to my buddy’s room, Bruno, and drag him to the transition area. Once I got there, his wife open’s the door with a face (also priceless)… Bruno had already left to the transition area! What a bastard, didn’t call me!!!

Got my stuff and ran. My poor wife was trying to help me, but I couldn’t think about anything else other than the race. I was looking at her, and I’m sure she was saying something, but my mind was reviewing the gear, the plan, the strategy, the time… needless to say, she wasn’t thrilled with me, but she knew I was waiting a year for this moment and she played along; and took all pictures!

From left to right: Leandro, Caca, me and Bruno

THE Race

1600 people registered! First of all, where did all those guys come from? A completely different crowed as any event I have ever been to. The bikes? Man, only really cool bikes! The competitors? Wow, fit doesn’t start describing them. Having said that, everyone smiling and friendly all the way.

Swim: 34:47 Min – HR 152 – 1:49/100m

I was pretty happy with my swim. I was expecting 35 min, so I was already 13 seconds ahead!

Hans leaving the water, first reality check!

The problem was as I exit the water… I had cramps on both calves, my heart rate jumped to 181. Nonetheless I was still looking at my watch, trying to figure out how I was doing! I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to numbers…

T1: 06:02 Min

The stripers helped me with the wetsuit (sweet!) and of I go to the huge hill, dizzy like hell. Half way to the top, I had to stop and knee down for 2 seconds as I was about to fall. Fortunately, the two seconds were enough to get the blood back to my head. At the bike, a guy was filming my transition… I didn’t say a word, I was just trying to get the hell out of there!

Bike: 03:08:11 hours – HR 148 – 30 km/h

The start was a bit odd. I could feel my heart in my throat. The heart rate was pretty high, specially considering that we started down-hill for the first 4 km. My heart rate was jumping to 170 bpm as soon as I started to pedal a bit faster (Cadence in green). It was a battle to lower it and keep an average of 162 bpm during the first 4k. I thought it was important to get some rest after the swim and get some liquid and gels in me too.

After 10 minutes trying to get my heart back to race, I finally started to gradually increase my effort again. I managed to get my heart rate to an average of 148 bpm for the remaining of the bike course.

If you look closely to the blue line, it will give you an indication of how hilly it was. The speed was constantly going up and down!

On the nutrition side, I started the bike with 1.5 L of eload and 500 ml of water (aero drink) and a 750 bottle of eload on the back cage. During the bike I got 2 bottles of Gatorade and 2 of Water. I did drink it all (5.75 liters of liquid!!)… so I stopped once at the 3 hour mark (after the start of the swim), for a “pit-stop”.

In regards to gels, I had 5 GU Chocolate gels during the bike course, and I still had one left, which I took as soon as I started the run.

At the 90 km mark, I found a guy with a flat tire. He was at the end of a hill, struggling with his tire. Apparently his CO2 adapter didn’t fit his tire, so I left mine with him. Fortunately I didn’t get a flat on the last 4 km! Maybe coincidence, but I only saw people with Tubular flat tires, which is suppose to be harder to happen. I’m wondering if it is really harder to flatten, but also if it takes longer to change; thus seeing more people struggling with them.

Lesson learned (in Muskoka Chase earlier this year): check all your gear including your tire kit (tube, CO2, adapter, leaver, etc.). Bruno saved me there!

At the end of the bike, I was actually feeling good. The bike was a bit slower then I expected (8 min), but I was ready for the run! Or was I?

Run: 02:06:01 hours – HR 157 – 10.2 km/h

Starting strong on the run!

I dropped my bike, changed my shoes and off I went. I started the run feeling great. I started taking my last GU gel, and grabbed a PowerGel with a volunteer. I ran the first 500m at 12 km/h… downhill! Then the first hill, I managed it well, around 11 km/h. Boy I was feeling like a real Ironman.

1 mile into the run, another pit stop; I had to get some of the 5.75l out! Interesting enough, two other guys stopped beside me and emptied their bladders too. Restarted my run feeling quite good. My first 4 km, I’ve averaged 11.2 km/h and 156 bpm, pretty much what I was hopping for.

So far, so good: 4th km and I was keeping up with my plan! I’ve stopped at every aid station for water and Gatorade. From this point on, the hills were starting to get to me. On the first 4 km the hills were not too bad, but then on the private road, there was a taste of what was yet to come. I couldn’t keep up with my speed and I jogged uphill refusing to walk. From the 4th to 8th km mark, my heart rate was up to an average of 157 bpm (not too bad) and an average speed of 10.3 km/h (urg). This was just the start!

Around the 7th or 8th km marker, I found Shaun Bethell, my old buddy from Milton! Shaun and I had had met for the first time on the Milton Sprint, where I ran into him… actually the other way around! We ran together about 5 km of the 7 km in Milton chatting, which made me forget about my side stitches at the time. In the Mukoka Ironman, it wasn’t much different. I was great seeing a familiar face and have a bit of conversation! This time I didn’t have side stitches, but boy was I running out of energy!

Shaun and I were running relatively well. To be honest, I stopped checking my watch so often and I just tried to keep up with him… not sure who was keeping up as we were both pretty tired. He told me one thing I keep thinking at every aid station: “Pepsi got me through the Ironman”, so guess what, Pepsi it was! Anyhow, whatever we were doing seemed to be working. Around the 12th km we ran into Caca, who looked like I felt… dead! I’ve exchanged some words with Caca, but I didn’t want to slowdown (trust me, I wasn’t really fast!) so I continued on my pace.

The funny part was that Shaun started walking at 12th km mark, he just told me to keep going… I thought I would only see him after the race, little did I know!

Now by myself, I was starting to get a cramp on my neck! Oh man, that could not be good. I could just see myself at the finish line, all twisted with cramps… I had that image of Gabriele Andersen-Scheiss in the 1984 Olympic Marathon in LA. I thought to myself it could only be nutrition related, so I took my second gel… a powergel raspberry (I didn’t know what was worst cramp or gel). I also tried to massage the muscle, which did help.

I continue to the 14 km mark by myself, when suddenly, who is just beside me? Yep, Shaun! Don’t ask me how he did it, but from that point on, he would run with me for about 800m, walk and catch up again! Around the 17 km mark, I was pretty much exhausted. I told Shaun that next time he walked, that I would walk with him. Shaun just said “You’re doing alright, just keep doing what you’re doing, it is working for you!”. So… I just kept going.

Not much later, we could actually see the finish line, and who do I see? My wife, Beatriz! She was just soaked! I didn’t realized, but it was raining quite a bit. Anyhow, she just yelled from the distance “Vai Maridoooo!” (go hustband!), and I was trying, boy was I trying to go faster. Tears came to my eyes as I was trying to go faster, but I didn’t have the energy. I really didn’t want to disappoint her, but I just couldn’t go any faster either. The second thought that came to my mind was not losing precious water and salt with tears! I put myself together and “kept doing what I was doing”.

Just before the 18th km, you literally pass in front of the finish line. I was praying for a problem with the marks and I could taste the finish line, but it was just a teaser. I saw my wife, my father-in-law and Fernanda (Caca’s wife) cheering for me and I just “kept doing what I was doing”. To make things worst, as you pass the finish line, you go uphill! Trust me, any hill at that point was as big as the Everest.

Finally 18 km, last aid station! I got water and another gel, this time it was a espresso gel, much, I mean MUCH better than the raspberry one. Anyhow,  got the gel and kept going. These last km were just HARD AS HELL. Each km mark seamed longer and longer. Shaun was still there, walking, running and catching up! We kept telling each other that we were almost there, it was jut around the corner… how many times did we ran that distance? It couldn’t be that hard!! And suddenly there it was the finish line!!! Shaun and I start running like winners, we finished really strong crossing the line together!


Time: 5 hours 56 minutes of glory! (I left on the second wave!)

Place: 376th (out of 1299 finishers)

After the Race

Not much later, actually 2 minutes later, Carlos Araujo (Caca), one of my training buddies, finished… He was in front of me 80% of the race. I finally caught up to him in the run, but he was right there. What is 2 minutes in almost 6 hours anyway?!

I guess you can tell we were dead! 🙂

Before I realized, my other 2 friends finished and they were looking way better then Caca and I. We could barely walk, the two looked like they could do it again! Bruno and Leandro ran together through the finish line.

We all did! Not sure how, but we did it. The four of us trained together for the whole season, raced the same races, and saw each other getting better and better.

Bruno, Caca and Leandro thanks for helping me on this journey!

I have to mention my Wife and Father-in-law, who supported us through the rain for 6 hours as we were racing! Oh man, did they wish for a better weather?! Without them, there would be no pictures for my blog! 😉


6 responses

21 12 2008

Hi Hans, congratulations!! I m very, very happy for you!!! Good luck with the preparation for France! Miss ya, Ju

13 11 2008

I am SOOOOO proud of you!
This was an awesome feat and you nailed it. All that dedication, training and more training paid off.. I can’t wait to see you do one of these, hopefully, next years! Fingers crossed..

4 11 2008

Ae Hans!
Congrats for your huge achievement in Muskoka. Really nice performance.
Hope to be there some day doing the same. By the way, nice website.
Way to go!


3 11 2008

Congratulations on your magnificent victory, we always rooting for you.


3 11 2008

2 minutes in 6 hours may not be a lot for someone who did not run it. But at that time, 2 minutes felt more like 1 hour!!!! hehehehhehehehehehhehehe…


3 11 2008

Marido eh lindo!!!!

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