Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report
Swim: 1:03:42 12 AG, 222 OA
Bike: 6:49:41, 107 AG/1261 OA
Run: 5:14:14, 108 AG/1308 OA
I felt good going into this race. Training went ok, taper went ok and I felt ready to toe the line. I was excited to race with my Team NRGY teammates and to also meet up with other tri-friends at the venue.
Mont Tremblant is a great venue for Ironman racing. There is a wonderful clear lake, roads as smooth as glass, a great rail-trail for the run, and amazing volunteer and crowd support, all wrapped up in a convenient and fun ski village. I’ll definitely go back to do this race again.
We drove up on Thursday, and went through registration on Friday morning. We spent the rest of the day exploring the village, and taking a gondola ride up to the top of Mont Tremblant. That’s a highly recommended trip as the views from the top are just stunning.
Saturday I got my bags and bike ready, and checked everything into transition. As with most WTC events there are volunteers to help every step of the way and check in couldn’t have been smoother.
Race morning started at 3:30am, with the usual food, dressing and other necessities. I’ve done this enough times that I don’t get too wound up about the whole morning-routine. I try to keep smiling and think back to all the work that I put in to get ready for race day. About a month ago I decided that I wanted to dedicate this race to all the family, friends, co-workers that support me in this event. I never, ever want to take that for granted because without that enormous support, I wouldn’t be able to get to the start line, much less finish. So all morning I reflected back on some special moments with friends and family during other races, training or just talking about the sport. It never failed to bring a smile to my face, and calmed my nerves
We only had a short walk to transition, so we decided to head down at 5:30am. That made for a crowded transition area, but since we had already dropped off bags & bike the night before. I got to my bike to load it up and discovered that my rear disc tire was flat. Not good. It was fine the day before. I pumped it up but it immediately started leaking air. Seems that the valve was broken.
So I go into problem solving mode. I can either (1) change the tire out with my spare, and try to ride on a less-than-solid glued tire for 112 miles (2) have one of the local mechanics make the switch and rely on someone else’s tubular changing skills, or (3) swap out with my training wheel. I opted for number #3. I was just not comfortable riding on a sub-standard glue job on my disc, racing in my “A” race on an unknown course. Fran & I ran back to the hotel, got the training wheel and tools to swap cassettes. Took the cassette off the training wheel in the garage, grabbed the spare wheel from the room and ran back down to transition. I managed to swap the cassette., mount the tire and get out of transition with about 3 minutes before transition closed. Needless to say, this made for a pretty good workout and I was a bit sweaty at the end of it all.
As a result of the fiasco, I got a bit out of my race plan. I forgot to put my Garmin 800 on my bike, and I forgot to grab a gel out my morning clothes bag for the swim.
I handed the disc wheel & tire pump to Fran who got stuck with them both for a good part of the morning. I headed off to get in my wetsuit and try to get wet before my wave went off. I missed the Canadian national anthem, and the 1st flyover from the air force jets. But I was able to get suited up and over to the beach area where I could get wet with a VERY short warm up swim.
I was in wave 5 of 7, so I slowly made my way up to the front of my wave and when we lined up for the swim, I seeded myself far to the left of the buoys. I was still a bit nervous about the start after my big fail at IMLP last year, so I figured I’d have a better chance at getting clear water early.
As each wave went off, they fired a cannon and a couple of big fireworks. That was pretty cool! Each wave started “ankle deep” in the water and proceeded to run into the water. I got clear water within 25 yard (score!) and spent the next hour cruising along in my favorite part of the race. (Don’t hate the player, hate the game) I never felt panicked, was able to sight really well and the Huub wetsuit was da bomb for swimming.
I thought I had scoped out the swim exit to T1 route, but I got it wrong. It was a full ½ mile run to the changing tents. It just went on and on and on (like this report) At least the run was carpeted.
I had pre-ridden a bit of the course on Friday, so I knew the first few miles out of transition and past special needs. The roads were very well marked, smooth as glass and closed to traffic. Once out of the ski village area, the course is on the local highway. I knew that my HR was running a bit high, but I just couldn’t keep pushing the pace. Since this was a highway, the elevation changes were long, but gradual. It is also completely exposed to the weather, (which was GREAT). The course goes a long way out, turns around and comes back toward the ski village. It give you a chance to see all the other races. The course goes just past the road to the ski area, and goes into the village of Mont Tremblant. This is a narrow two lane road lined with shops, businesses and restaurants and was packed with cheering spectators. Even the local heavy equipment company had a couple of cherry pickers making a bit arch across the road for the cyclists. Once back in the ski area, the route takes you into some more challenging terrain. This is when I knew I had overcooked the 1st loop of the bike course and would have to adjust. This part of the course is much more technical, with several short, sharp climbs. I had NOT seen this part of the course before, and it caught me by surprise.
Because I went out a bit too hard on the 1st loop, I was battling GI distress, so I had to go back into problem solving mode. When I got to special needs I took some time in the blue box to get my HR back under control, then made a serious effort to keep it squarely in Z1 for the 2nd loop. The second loop was made more interesting by some serious winds that whipped down the course, seemingly in both directions. It was also starting to get pretty warm, so sustained climbing into the wind meant really heavy sweating. I kept up with the nutrition, hydration and endurolytes as best as possible, but time was slipping away since I was riding a whole lot slower now. By the time I got off my bike, I knew that my time goals had gone out the window.
T2 was a good bit faster, but included a stop to get slathered with sunscreen. I was really worried that I had way too much sun on the bike, and would be suffering soon.
Out on the run the course climbs a couple of short, sharp hills right out of transition, then after about 5k, heads onto a narrow rail-trail with crushed rocks. This section is a about a 5k out and back. At this point in the race I’m seeing a lot of walkers and I’m ducking around them as I’m doing my slow run along the trail. There isn’t any cheering along this part of the course, until you get to an aid station, and then they are going crazy for you. When you get back into the village after the 1st loop you run within YARDS of the finish, and head back out for loop 2. I think that’s just cruel.
My GI problem continued, and there were a couple of low spots where I was doubled over gagging, up gas to relieve the bloating. I kept up with the fueling as well as I could but again any effort above low Z1 shut down any digestion.
The final dash into the finish is right through the pedestrian village, lined with thousands of screaming spectators and then across the finish line. This time I got to high-five Mike Reilly at the end of the venue.
My only real complaint was that the finisher’s area was extremely crowded. Any athlete needing medical attention had to get triaged at a table where everyone else was eating. If further medical attention was needed an EMS tech had to get a wheelchair into the area to cart the athlete out. It seemed like a recipe for disaster. Also, trying to exit the area was really tough as there were hundreds of spectators trying to meet up with their athlete in a very congested space.
There was a LOT of food at the end including local poutinne, sausage wraps with French fries and (surprising to me) beer was handed out.
While I went into this race with higher expectations than what I delivered, I got the race results for the race I ran. Making the mistake of overdoing the 1st loop of the bike cost me a bunch of time, but that’s experience well earned. As with any IM race there are times when you are really wondering why you are doing this to yourself, and doubting your ability to finish. But during those times, I would reach out with my heart and could feel the love pouring in from all the people that were supporting me, near and far. I would smile, and then get right back to work.
The time results puts it squarely in the middle of my 6 IMs. Not my best, not my worst but I still had fun and finished strong. Can’t ask for much more than that!