Calgary 70.3 Half IronmanBy PBarker This race was not in my plans for the year, but when I learned that I would be a bachelor the week of the race, I quickly signed up. My main race was Ironman Canada. Calgary 70.3 is one month before Ironman Canada, so pushing for time this close to my A race was out of the question. I treated the day as a training day, a dress rehearsal for my bucket list race. Volunteered the day before the race after dropping my bike off in T1. Helped rake bikes and explain race day logistic to athletes. The race is a point-to-point that involves a bus shuttle to the start race morning.Race morning; up at 3 a.m. Weather was cold and raining. The bus ride to the start line was one of those times you start questioning your sanity. Why am I on this bus in the pitch dark and the driving rain at 4 a.m. with a bunch of strangers? As the bus came to a stop, I squinted out the misty window to see a mud hole filled with ghostly figures busily moving about. Much like paratroopers preparing to jump into the unknown, everyone filed off the bus into the mud and the thickest swam of mosquitoes I have ever seen. The rain storm had passed, and the air was still and cool, and like starving piranhas, the mosquitoes descended onto the buffet of athletes preparing for the epic day ahead. WHY? WHY? WHY? The answer: This is what we are suppose to do, what humans are capable of. “Deny your nature, and it will erupt in some other, uglier way (BTR).” Personally, this was just one day on a three year journey, a journey that I had distilled down to one thing. A single goal I could pull out of my mental tool kit to overcome moments of self-doubt. During those moments, I would remind myself of this goal… to truthfully say the words, “I am an Ironman.”As the sun started to rise over the horizon at 6 a.m., the first wave of swimmers took off. I was in the second wave with a 6:15 a.m. start. The swim is a 2k single loop. My swim goal is to avoid getting kicked or punched and come out feeling fresh for the bike. Stayed wide and enjoyed the swim.Every single athlete runs barefoot out of the water.The bike is where I just grind out the 90k. I am a good swimmer and a sloooow biker and always save most of my energy for the run.Stopped at all the bike aid stations for a stretch and to use the biffy. Found it helpful to remind myself that this is a dress rehearsal for the full ironman.Came up to a bike accident ~40k into the bike. Someone tried to pass on the inside and lost control resulting in a nasty face plant on the pavement. He was not full coherent. Every five minutes, he would say, " What happened?... I'm fine." He would then try to stand and fall over. I stayed until the ambulance arrived and 911 finished the call on my cell. The accident had put me far enough back in the field that I enjoyed some cat and mouse games with my fellow competitors.I am always glad to be off the bike and back on solid ground. Was more than ready for the half marathon.Shoes for the run were a pair of retro canvas tops, brand name “Pony” model “Feed the dog,” seriously.They have a large toe box, zero drop with a thin flexible soul. $40.After the 5k mark, I increased the speed to my ironman pace. Slow and steady.At the halfway point, I took off my shoes and ran in socks until I had completed the longest downhill section, then took the socks off. Did have minor knee pain before going barefoot, but as I relaxed into my barefoot form, the pain disappeared. I slowed down and chatted with some of the walkers. Many were experiencing lower leg problems. Explained why I ran barefoot, but I found most of them were in too much pain to focus.Then I saw him, the guy I had helped at the bike accident. He looked like a zombie. Apparently, he was allowed to continue after refusing to go to the hospital. For his own safety and others on the road, he should have been pulled from the race.With lots of gas in the tank, I picked up the pace for the last 5k, passing lots of runners and sprinting down the finishing chute, my favorite part.Finishing is the best partFelt good after finishing, so volunteered at bike pickup and wandered around handing out thermal blankets for a couple of hours.Took one day off, then right back into ironman training with a 20k on Tuesday (13 was barefoot).It was time put in the final training for Ironman Canada and finish this thing I started three years ago.