Thursday, August 30, 2007

race report

Thanks to a long list of people who helped me get there:

Bruce for always telling me I would get there and finish

Rob for teaching me how to ride a bike

Chuck for just assuming I could do it

The family for supporting me

my coaches Kyle Will, Rob Higley and Vanessa Polvi for all the info and hardwork and lessons

my on site support crew consisting of my family, The Monsons and the Speirs.

The family at Triscoop specifically TriRob, jetpack, Texafornia, jdub and moonpie who has encouraged me from the start ( oh yea and Coach Adam)

Podcasts that helped the long runs and rides: Simply Stu, Zen and the art of triathlon, the Jetpack show, intransit duo, and tri talk

it was a team effort and there were more along the way and THANKS!!!!

And now the rest of the story:

T minus 2 days.

Showing up at the venue was easy as I had been there the year before to sign up. Some say it was a hassle to have to show up but it prepared me for many things. Knowing the area and little things about where to park to where to get a cup of coffee lessened time wasted and problems.

On Thursday I went down to the swim area and swam for about 1000 meters. The water was warm (to my standards for open water swimming being used to snow water in Oregon Mountains) and I felt fresh….I had been doing no swimming for the last few weeks really and this felt good. I got out of the water and my stuff that my family was watching was gone but they were gone as well so I figured they took it. They were getting Jennelle and Piper ready for the kids 1k fun run. I assumed they had my stuff and were over by the race. Only at an ironman event could I get out of the water at a public beach and walk down the sidewalk in a one piece with logos all over it and a wetsuit under my other arm and get zero looks as I walked down the sidewalk through town to find them. I found my clothes and then watched as the kids did a great fun run where they each got an ironman kids medals.

Friday was a complete rest day for me. Packet pick up took about 20 minutes and was very organized. This is where they were pretty serious about checking picture ID and you got your shiny Ironman bracelet that you needed to wear for the next 4 days. I noted it also gave you a quick check of crowds and other people at restaurants….oh look shiny ironman bracelet…there’s another athlete. We were all tagged like cattle for the chute.

Saturday would be an easy workout day but first we had to drop off the bike and all my gear bags that morning. With the help of David and Jeff I laid out all my gear in a road outside of the property I was staying at and walked through what I needed. I wanted to visually see everything to make sure it was all there before putting in the bags. Unlike other races where you set up your area next to your bike at Ironman you have to have it all inside a bag for each transition. I later decided I like this more that the setup by the bike for ease. You would think that this process would take 5 minutes but we sat there for about an hour mulling over what to bring and what not to bring. How many gels do I tape to the frame? What do I put in these special needs bags that I can get at the halfway point of the run and the bike? Sunscreen in my bags? I ended up putting a tube of NUUN ( electrolyte replenishment tabs that also sponsor me… in by Bento box along with some electrolyte cubes to suck on and I gel. I taped one gel to my stem and 3 to my top tube. I had my aero bar drink bottle and two rear bottle filled with a combination of NUUN and carbo pro ( a powder carbohydrate mix). My secret was two peanut butter and honey sandwiches in my rear back pockets of my jersey. When it comes to needing energy these hit the spot. I was raised on peanut butter and honey sandwiches and have eaten them on top of mountain tops summer and winter, on rivers in a kayak and while climbing to 20,000 feet ready to dive out the side door with a parachute……I knew this nutrition plan would not fail me or cause me any GI distress over the long day and the NUUN, carbo pro mix was tried and true over time during other training days and racing. The bike got all set and the Zipp wheels adjusted and the seat put back in place. Bike felt solid. Now as we entered the transition area I had the all access pass on my wrist to enter while my crew waited outside on the side walk. The bike drop was awesome as the racks were set up by number and at your spot was a sticker with your name and number saving this rack position for just you……zero fights about location and space. I was in rack 17… lucky number, a good sign. I dropped my bags for race number 601 and noted that the row I was in was numbers 601-650, my bag would be easy for the volunteer to find as it was laid in position number one for the race in that row….another good sign. Gear dropped, I was off to swim another 1000 meters and then a short 15 minute run with a few minor sprints. Dave came with me on the swim and we swam out to the first buoy with no wetsuits. It was a little colder but a good workout without the wetsuit. (when the race started this was nice as the wetsuit added buoyancy and compared to today it felt much easier…not a bad strategy by accident). We ran up the beach and back with a few sprints and DONE… the bank. Go sit down since the next athletic thing you do will be on the clock. I spent the afternoon sitting by myself while the crew it the break or went hiking and I just rested and took a nap and read a book ( MINDSET by Carol Dweck). I went to bed early at 7 and slept solid until 3 and laid quietly until 5 to get up. I felt wide awake and well rested. The rest and taper went like a dream.


Up at 5 am and I wander to the car and get my one piece on to wear under the clothes so I am ready. Jeff has the coffee going and I eat a bowl of instant oatmeal and we are off. I had heard about eating more in the morning by others but I was a more eat little all the time guy so I stuck to what I would eat for a half ironman which is not much in the morning. Dave and Jeff escort me to the race start and we find a close parking spot a few blocks from the start We wander over to main street and find a coffee shop where Dave and Jeff get a coffee and I use the restroom. Just alike greyhounds race the one that makes a final deposit wins so that I did. We wandered by the race course and I really wanted to find my name in Chalk that Piper had put for me the day before. We had to split up at the body marking station (special wrist bands only….off to the slaughter) so I said my good byes and lined up for the body marking, they marked the crap out of you. Both arms and a leg and then your age on the other leg. I wander out on the beach and put my wetsuit on. Somehow out of the 2700 racers I run into the only other racer I really know there Chris from Kelowna Canada ( AKA Quicktrip from and we chat about the start and hangout, the beach area fills up and we are ready to go, We talk about our race strategy a bit and both are not the best swimmers so we agree in the back to the side is the place for us…..BOOM the cannon goes off and the professionals leave 15 minutes early. We wait a little and I have a final Gel pack with some caffeine before go. The Canadian national anthem is sung and then here comes OZZY over the speakers with a loud guitar….I AM IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!!! Wow we are really going to do this. We wander out into the water up to about our knees and the 5,4,3,2,1….BOOM!!!!!


I have never seen so many people swimming at the same time and I am in the middle of it. After about 10 strokes the sound of the crowd and thrashing goes away and it is just breath and water. I feel pretty calm. The wetsuit feels like I am floating and I make the realization that there is a swimmer on each side of me and in front of me. This is just like all the other open water swims I have done and I feel pretty good. I few bumps and hand hit me but nothing that I have not done before so I feel solid. My form feels good and I tell myself nice and easy. It’s a long swim and I am not really a swimmer so I settle in and set a pace I think I can sustain. I draft behind anybody I see with an Ironman tattoo on their ankle figuring they made it before. Sighting is pretty easy on this course and I just stay with the crowd. When I make it to the boat at about 1600 meters I look down and there is a scuba diver on the bottom. I smile and wave at him and he throws me the “hang loose sign” I am enjoying myself. As we make the turn I find out that turn was a little farther over than just a quick turn. Its 500 metes to the other boat before we head back. I feel like I have been swimming forever but am not tired. I focus on my form and keeping it smooth. I round the next boat and now make the turn for home. That stretch is still 1800 meters back to shore and I find less and less people around me as my slower pace has left me near the back. No worries, I swim on and get bored going from buoy to buoy, that was my problem with training too as I got bored in the pool since the scenery never changed. Maybe I should have swum more?? Nah. I finally get back to the beach and am in the final 200 meters and start to see the sandy bottom again. I think to myself “1st hurdle down and I think I may have beat my estimated time of 1 hour and 30 minutes!” I get out of the water and see the clock read 1 hour and 48 minutes…..WOW was I out there that long? Damn that was slow and I guess I have some work on the bike to do but I MADE IT!!!!.


I change into my cycling clothes among a bunch of old men in the changing tent ( translate as also slow swimmers) and I tell the volunteer helping me that I cannot swim but I can ride a bike. He tells me his brother came in from the swim #2000 last year and ended up #700 overall so not to count myself out. That helped and I ran out to the bike and standing there at the fence was my entire support crew. My family, The Monson’s and the Speirs. Great to see them and then there was my bike sitting quietly by itself amidst a bunch of very empty bike racks.

Off on the bike and per my plan I rode the first 40 miles easy. Well I have to tell you with my super aero wheels and even going easy I was cranking about 20 mph and passing a ton of folks. I used this time to recharge the batteries and eat some food. I was having fun. The key to coming out of the water near the back is the joy in passing a lot of people. It really gives you energy. 40 some miles later I got to the bottom of Richter pass which is a huge mountain pass into the next valley. I started spinning and was cruising past people uphill. I had asked the local Bend pro Matt about the hill and he said it was like riding up Mt.Bachelor which I had done a ton of times near my house. I pictured myself headed up to Mt B. and next thing I knew I was on the top. A large downhill into the valley and we got our first dose of the winds of the race. Over the next 3 plus hours we were in really strong headwinds that got worse as the day went on. The main problem for me was in the rollers and some large downhill’s my deep dish aero wheels got really squirrelly. This was to the point of me actually riding my brakes down hills out of fear that I would crash. At about mile 70 we had an out and back section that was the windiest part of the course and that was really debilitating for a lot of racers. I went through the special needs bag drop and decided I did not need anything and kept racing. A sprinkle of rain hit me and it rained for about 1 minute but not enough to really get anything wet. On up the last mountain pass and this was not as steep as Richter but a lot longer. I would say half way up this pass was where I felt the most tired. I was at mile 90 and had been making a lot of effort to pass everyone all day without burning myself out. I would have even passed more people but the main valley course was on a major highway and you had to wait for traffic to clear to safely pass other cyclists. Past Yellow Lake and mostly down back to the city of Penticton. Again with the brakes as I shot down a big hill but overall felt really solid about my 112 mile ride. Spun easy the last two miles in preparation for the run and thanks the bike gods for no flats. The times I have given away bike parts and tubes to strangers had paid in dividends.


You hand your bike off to a volunteer and they take your bike away lie the best valet service in the West. I go get my run bag and back into the changing tent. I decide I have made up some time because the average age of the men I join this time as dropped dramatically. I change into running shorts and shoes and get my new hat from my trainer Kyle Will who said I could keep it if I finished. (Finish an ironman and I get a free hat!...YOU BET!) I come out to the sunscreen table and two ladies lather me up with sunscreen. Fortunate for me the whole day had been overcast and not too hot but I was not taking any chances after the one piece outline that you can still see on my back from my bad burn from the pacific crest race 2 years ago. Running up Main Street with crowds yelling you on was great. My name was on my number as all racers are and so the crowds would give me a “Go Drew…..Looking Good Drew…….Keep the pace Drew” . The first 6 miles actually felt really solid as I had done so many Brick workouts that I was used to this feeling and had trained for it. I was running about 9 minute lies at this pace and walking for thirty seconds every ten minutes to stretch out the legs per one of my many mentors Coach Adam from New York. I end up running with Jennelle for three blocks while Isis tries and takes pictures of us together with her cell phone. It looked like she was working harder than me as she ran backwards trying to figure out her new phone. Great boost again to see friends and family on the course.”DREW!!!!! I have your mom on the phone!” Jeff yells from the sideline holding up a cell phone. I run over to Jeff and yell “Hi Mom” into the phone as I continue on and the crowd thought that was a nice touch according to Jeff. Now I run out of the city and along Skaha Lake where the crowds thin as we have a lake on one side and a mountain side on the other but beautiful scenery. I stop to use a porta potty at about 7 and along comes Chris whom I started the race with. He tells me he had an ok swim and that I must have passed him on the bike. We run together for the next 4 miles or so at a similar pace. It was great to have him run with me and just shoot the bull about our triscoop friends and our training. He notes his heart rate is at 116 and mine was at 150. I can stay at 150 all day if need be and he said he could run a lot faster but was afraid of cramps that he had felt earlier. Eventually I run ahead as he stops to use a couple more porta johns and I get to the turn around point at 13 miles. I grab my special needs bag and get my bottle I had prepared with NUUN and Carbo pro and that tastes good along with some Jelly belly beans that I put in my pocket. Now coming back for the home stretch the work begins. A few large hills to get back up and my body is feeling the work of so many hours for sure. My system changes to more of a run 5 minutes walk 3 minutes. I would feel bad about that but this seemed to be the system that 200 other people around me were using as well.

I got a taste of a new item for an aid station on this course and that was chicken soup broth…..OHHHHHHH that tasted so good. I verbally let the volunteer know that was the best soup I had ever eaten. Now this likely was due to my physical being at the time as opposed to actually the best soup in the world. I really remember mile 17 because Chris had caught up to me and we ran a bit together and then I needed to slow down and he was feeling stronger so I told him to go on and finish hard and he thanked me and we separated as I slowed. Miles 17-23 were very hard for me and took both physical and mental work to keep going. Now I never felt like I was going to stop or anything but the fun factor had diminished a bit ion this stretch. I get to about mile 23 and I ask a person on the street what time it was and they said it was 8:30. My second goal after finishing was to try and beat 14 hours which was at the stroke of 9 where my coach would turn back into a pumpkin and I would miss the opportunity. I decided that I was almost done and to see if I could do it. I started running a little harder and focusing on street sign to street sign and vowed I would walk no more to the end. I came by Main Street and saw family and friends again and that really gave me a little push again and I headed to the finish. I tried to go a little faster but I was tapped and was going as fast as I could already. I came around the final turn and could see the finish and there was nobody around me and I said to myself “you did it” and headed in standing tall with a smile on my face and there on the left hand side was The Monson’s and The Speirs cheering me to the end and I acknowledged them as they really made my day and as I came down the final red carpet from the side Jennelle and Isis came out onto the carpet and rand across the final with me. I could not hear the crowd anymore as I had a tunnel vision of sorts but I could hear the famous announcer Steve King…..”DREW HOLMES, 36 FROM BEND ORGEON, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”


rambonie said...

congratulations, irondrew. much resspect!

T-Guy J said...


Absolutely awesome race report. You just gave me some serious motivation for my long rides this weekend.


T-Guy J

TRI-ROB said...

What a great RR! Thanks for taking us along! The D Clan is really proud of you! So now... when I come to Bend... and we hang out... do I have to call you "Sir"?


M said...

Again, what hasn't Drew Holmes done?? You just keep adding to the list. Impressive. :) Many congrats. Well done. Michelle

moonpie said...

Awesome job my brotha!!! Very proud of you and knew that you could do it all along!!!

Cara said...

So cool Drew!! Thanks for sharing. I love all the detail. I had no idea they had divers posted on the swim at IM. It really sounds like you had a strong race. Congrats!!!

Quicktrip said...

Hey Drew..Great RR...It was a pleasure to meet you and wish you all the best in your future race endevours!...See you in Bend sometime for a frosty finishers'll buy of course being that i am the IMC

Al said...

Congrats again, great RR. Nice and detailed which will help newbies like me next year. So the aero wheels were a little squirrely down the hills? Would you still recommend going deep-dish or maybe do it differently?

Drew Holmes said...

thanks all!

Chris I think Homey beat us both

AL, yeah I would still use those wheels overall