Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report – August 19, 2012


Race Details:
3.8K Swim
180K Bike
42.2K Run

I tend to have a habit of going into some of these race reports in a bit too much detail, and it take me days to find the time to get it done.   I’m going to do my best here to cover the day and how it unfolded in a bit more of an abbreviated fashion.

My entire family, as well as my wife Deanna’s parents travelled up to Mont Tremblant super early Thursday morning.   We had a really nice condo close to the swim start that met all of our race needs quite nicely, including a full kitchen.   The only downside were the 3 flights of stairs to get to the condo.   Not a big deal most days, but after the race, it was a bit troublesome.

In the few days leading up to the race, I did the usual race stuff like register, check out the expo and a bit of training.   Steve Good from Waterloo was also staying in the same condo units, so we did a few 25-30 minute practice swims together.

On the day before the race, I got out for a few quick sessions in all three disciplines.   About a 10 minute swim, a 20 minute bike and a 15 minute run.   After that, I got all my transition bags ready and did the bike and gear check-in in the morning.   In the afternoon, I took it pretty easy back at the condo getting in one last NormaTec session and just laid low.  

I had a bit of an early dinner at 5:30 which was some pasta, salad and half a bagel.   By 9pm, I was in bed with the alarm set for 4am, as the transition zone opened up at 5am.

Of course, I didn’t even need my alarm and was wide awake at 3:50am race morning.   I quickly made some oatmeal, had half a bagel and a banana with a cup of coffee.    By 4:45 I was out the door and making the “longish” walk over to the village and the transition zone for body marking and my final bike setup.

They started body marking a bit early and I got that done quickly and began setting up my bike.   Everything was going very smoothly and quickly, until I ran into an issue pumping up my front tire.   I pumped it up, then did the back and checked the front again and it was flat…..ahhhh…..not good!!    I pumped it up again and it very quickly didn’t hold air.  

I had to drop my cycle shoes off in the change tent, so I went and did that and came back, so I could calm myself down.   Once back to my bike, I played around with the valve extender and tried again.   This time, it appeared to be holding air.   I did the rest of the stuff on my bike (bottles, GPS, etc.) and checked again, and it was still good.   I gave it another 10 minutes to make sure, and sure enough, it was still holding air!   After that, I got out of transition, as it was starting to get busy and went back to the condo to get my wetsuit on and head to the swim start.

Back at the condo, everyone was up now so I got my suit on, took in a bit more fluids, chatted a bit and grabbed my goggles, swim cap and timing chip and left for the beach, only 100m or so away from our condo.

The swim start area was filling up quickly, so I dropped off my sandals in the morning clothes bag and headed to the beach.   Unfortunately, they weren’t allowing anyone to warm up, which kinda sucked, but I guess we were all in the same boat.

Shortly before the pros took off, a fighter jet flew by, and then just before we started, it flew by again the other direction.   Pretty cool, but I thought the Snow Birds for the 70.3 was better.

I managed to find a lot of my swimming buddies from KW at the swim start and we situated ourselves more or less on the left hand side, near the front.   I was thinking to myself “Great, OK, let’s stay on these guys feet, especially Bob Dawson, who is a strong swimmer”   Well, unfortunately when the race started, it was absolute chaos as expected and it was purely just survival.   I really wasn’t in much control of the direction I was heading, other than forward.

Swim Start

Another view of the Swim Start

I’d say by 400m into the race, it had calmed down, but unfortunately, I think I was pushed about 30-40 meters to the right.   When I started, I was likely 60 meters from the buoy line, but now I was like 15-20.   Oh well, carry on I thought.   Here's a cool video of the swim start so you can get an idea of what it was like:

video


By now, I was just following feet and swimming VERY easy.   I knew it was easy because of the draft.   I pulled out a few times to check the effort level, and sure enough, I likely could have gone around the guy or girl I was following with some effort, but I was happy enough to just sit in and cruise along.

At one point I remember thinking we were going out forever, as every buoy seemed to be yellow, but finally, we reached the first red turn buoy and I easily made my way around it, 5 or so meters on the outside.

From here on in to the next turn buoy and the final finish home down the other side, I just kept the draft going, and very comfortably cruised to the swim exit.  

When I stood up, I took a quick look on my watch and it was 1:03 something, which was OK, but I was hoping for more like 1:02.   Whatever, there’s still tonnes of racing ahead.   My official swim time was 1:04:13 good for 52nd overall in my AG and 277th overall in the race.   Nothing to write home about, but I felt great and made the long run to the first transition zone.

The LONG run to transition

When I got to the change tent, there were plenty of available seats still and lot’s of support from great volunteers.   I quickly got my wetsuit off, put my sunglasses and helmet on and grabbed my shoes and was off to my bike.   Instead of putting my shoes on in the tent and running with them, I carried them to my bike and put them on there.   I think that saved me a bit of time and decreased the chance of wiping out while running in them.   It was a bit cool in the morning and a lot of people were using arm warmers and toe covers, but I didn’t bother and about 20 minutes into the bike,  I knew that was the right decision.

Once at my bike, I did a quick check of my front tire and was very happy to see it still fully inflated.   I got my shoes on, grabbed my bike and was off!   T1 took 5:06, which wasn’t too bad given the crowds and how far we had to run.

My nutrition plan on the bike was similar to what I did at IM Austria last year.   Start with a normal concentrate Infinite in my aerodrink, a double concentrate bottle on the downtube and a double concentrate bottle in my rear hydration.   At the first aid station, I’d empty my downtube double concentrate into my aerodrink and begin grabbing water at aid stations to supplement.   Throughout the ride, I would supplement that nutrition with some gels, honey stinger waffles and bananas at the aid stations.   I had no issues with this all day, and it worked out great.   I also had a total of 9 salt stick pills on my bike that I would take throughout the course of the ride, about one every half hour.

I knew going into the bike that I really had to back off the watts, compared to what I did in the half back in June.   There I had over 300 watts for the first bit on the bike before averaging with 275 for the total ride.   That wasn’t going to work today.



For the first 30 minutes of the ride, and as we made our way out to 117, my watts were likely close to 260 or so, which I thought was still too high, however, the effort level didn’t seem too bad at all.   Eventually, I let that come down a bit, but surprisingly not much.

I felt really comfortable on the bike and was making my way past a lot of other riders.   After the cool section in St. Jovite and back on Montee Ryan, I managed to hook up with Chris Kraemer from Waterloo, a strong cyclist.   I rode with him back to transition and through the Lac Superieur section of the course, but once we finished the first leg of the bike, he began pulling away at bit.   I ended up riding the first half in about 2:31 with an avg. power of 255.   I knew I had to ease off a bit more on the second lap.



By the time I was back out on 117 for the second time, the race had really spread out.   I think I might have only passed one or two riders from the time I went speeding down the big downhill on 117 until I made my way back to it which was about 25K in total.   After the turn-around on 117 on the second loop, the wind had really picked up, and I was riding this part totally solo.

I finally caught Jeff Beech, also from Waterloo at the big hill on 117, and continued to pass a few more riders now as we made our way into St. Jovite and the large crowds for the second time.   I knew of a few riders that remained up the road at this point, and I passed by Ed Cyr and Scott Dickie, also from Waterloo, as they were making their way back to transition on the final lap of the bike.

Once on Montee Ryan for the second time, I caught up to Scott and we rode together for a little bit until I pulled away just past the huge crowds around the transition zone.  




I rode the Lac Superieur section a bit easier this time, and tried not to fry the legs too much.   After finally reaching the turn-around point here, I knew the hard work on the bike was essentially over, as we got to fly back down the hills to transition.   I kept the cadence high on this return trip to get the legs ready for the run.

Checking my garmin data, I rode the second half of the bike just over 2:35 with an avg. power of 239.   I finished the ride with a total time of 5:06:36 with an avg. power of 249 and feeling pretty good.   The ride was good for 7th best in my AG and 30th overall in the race and I had moved up to 8th in my AG overall for the race.


Once off my bike, I handed it over to another one of the great volunteers at the race and quickly made my way to the change tent again to get ready for the run.   I think someone yelled out before I got off the bike that I was about 33rd overall in the race at this point, so there was obviously no crowding going on in the change tent at this time of day.   Once again, the great volunteers in the change tent helped me with by T2 bag and in no time, I had my socks and shoes on and was ready for the run.   I decided to carry a large salt stick dispenser with me on the run which had 6 salt capsules in it.   I figured I’d take one every half hour or so.   I carried nothing else and would take something from every aid station that I passed.

As I crossed over the timing mat to start the run, the crowds were cheering and since there wasn’t anyone else around, it was all for me.   Very cool and motivating way to start a marathon!  

At this point, there were only two athletes that I knew up ahead of me.   Chris Kraemer, who had a killer bike ride and Ed Cyr, who had a great swim and followed it up with a very solid bike ride as well.

I was feeling pretty good at this point, and just focused on being as efficient and smooth as possible to minimize any fatigue on the run.   As I passed by the condo resort we were staying at, I got a closer glimpse of my family who was there cheering.   My oldest son was on the sidewalk and he came over and gave me a high five as I passed.   I was also told that I was about 4 minutes down on Chris.

Getting a supporting High 5 from Holden


I kind of had the run broken into sections.   Obviously, since it was a two loop course, we’d deal with each loop at a time.   Within each loop, I broke it into two parts.   The section out to the P’tit du Nord railway trail, and then the trail itself.   Going to and from the trail is the hardest part of the course, as there are some nice little hills to deal with (both down and up).



My plan was to try and run close to 4:30 kilometers as long as I was feeling ok, and this was pretty much what I did through the first 5K over to the railway trail section, when I looked at my Garmin and it showed a 4:27 avg. pace.     Once on the trail, I caught my first glimpse of Ed Cyr a couple of hundred meters up the trail.   I tried to stay as smooth and comfortable as I could and I finally caught him at about the 8K mark.   We had a few words as I passed and then carried on with Kraemer as my next goal up ahead.

I didn’t see Chris until we nearly got to the turn-around point at the end of the trail.   I passed by him as he was on his way back and he was looking comfortable.   I made my way around the turn and through the aid station that was there and headed back.   Chris was maybe 200m ahead at this point, and I finally managed to track him down by about the 11K marker.   We said a few things which I don’t remember at that point, and off I went, with nobody else ahead of me that I knew.

As I headed back on the trail, I passed by many of the other racers from the KW area.   The Team Energi triathlon team had a big turnout at this race and I saw lot’s of them on the course.

Eventually, I got off the trail and back on the streets (and hills) and headed for the village area.   Heading back, there were lots of racers on the course now, and as I passed by our condo for the second time, I got another glimpse of the family and was able to give both my kids a high/low five, which was great!  

I finally made it back to the village area and the huge crowds that lined the run course along the pedestrian village.   There weren't many racers at this point finishing their first loop on the run, so most of the cheering was all for me again.    The crowd was huge and loud and it was a great feeling as I started my second loop.   After going through the timing mat, I checked my watch and my pace was still on about 4:30 and a total time of about 1:35 for the run.   That was great to see.

As I exited the village area, I passed by Chris again, as he was making his way into the village.  I figured I was at least 5-10 minutes ahead at this point.   



Now on the second loop, the course was significantly busier, as I was passing people who were on their first loop of the run course.   It was good that there were always people out there, but it made it difficult a bit on the trail and at some of the aid stations.

I eventually passed by our condo and family for a third time, and picked up a bit of extra motivation from the kids and other supporters that were there.

I was certainly feeling a lot more fatigued at this point, and I did begin walking through some of the aid stations to make sure I got what I needed and took that short little “break”.   Eventually, I was back on the rail trail and was in the thick of things with runners.   Sometimes it was hard to get around people with runners coming the other way too.   When I made it to the 30K marker in about 2:17 I remember telling myself…ok, almost there…a simple 12K run…you do this all the time!....yah right!

After making the final turn-around point at the end of the trail, it was time to head for home.   I started to employ a strategy of running from kilometer marker to kilometer marker and when I hit it, I did a short 10-15m walking break where I would stretch out my arms, which were also beginning to get tight.   In addition, my hamstrings felt like they were on the verge of cramping, but luckily they never did.

Finally, I got off the trail and back on the road, where there continued to be tonnes of crowd support and other racers to keep me moving along.  The uphills seemed especially hard now and the downhills almost as equally hard.   Everything was beginning to hurt, but I knew I only had about 5 more K to go and I was in such a good spot in the race.   My avg. pace actually dropped from 4:35 at 30K to 4:40 at 38K, so things were starting to slow down.

I finally made it up and over that last hill before the village (which at this point seemed like a mountain) and before I knew it, I was entering the narrow running chute of the pedestrian village.   Again, there was a bit of traffic here with people finishing their first loop, so I had to navigate my way through this section carefully.

When I entered the finish line chute all by myself, the crowd erupted and I was so excited to see the finish line!  I ran up to hear Mike Reilly call me an Ironman and I raised my arms in excitement and RELIEF!!!  

I checked the clock and it read 9:44 something, but I was quickly told this was the pro race time, and my time was actually 10 minutes faster, so 9:34 and change!!   Oh yah, I was happy!!





My final run time was 3:17:06, good for the 6th fastest run in my AG and 20th fastest in the entire race.   My second run lap was about 12 minutes slower than the first, but that’s not terrible I guess, as I still got the job done!


At this point, I wasn’t sure how I’d done overall, but after grabbing a bit of food and getting a massage I ran into Deanna and she told me that I finished 2nd in my AG.   This was later changed to 3rd in my AG and 15th overall once the results got updated.   Either way, I was super happy with that, and that meant one thing!!!   KONA SPOT BABY!!!   YAHHHHHH!!   I decided to take my spot so the I'm off to Kona on October 3rd to race on October 13th.   It's going to be amazing!




None of this would have happened with the amazing support of my wife Deanna, who endured the weekend long rides and runs while looking after the kids.   She's been amazing throughout this whole journey.

I'd also like to thank the "Waterloo Guys (and Kim)" for the group support on the hard swim and bike sessions that we've done.   I'm also very thankful to have a great running partner in Darryl Huras from New Hamburg.   We've done plenty of long runs all winter, spring and summer to get ready for the hard work that comes at the end of the Ironman event.   I think the work I put in on the running over the last year really paid off in this race.

After the race, I ran into the race winner, Guillame Romaine from France in the village.  I certainly have a few inches on him!!   But he's got the speed!



Well, time to get back at it.   Kona is only 7 weeks away!   Wow!