Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report

I started writing this race report over two months ago. I can’t believe it is now November! After the Ironman, life was pretty crazy. I hopped on a plane the next day to Denver for a week long work conference, came back to DC for a few days, visited my family in Iowa for five days, back to DC two days, then flew to Vegas for Worlds. Whew! I’m very surprised and thankful that I did not get sick with all of that traveling after putting my body through an Ironman. Since I was so busy after the race, I didn’t really get a whole lot of time to reflect on it until I was done with my travels. I was on my Ironman high the week after the race and then struggled with trying to a do a little training before 70.3 Worlds three weeks later. I opted to not race in Iowa at the 5150 HyVee Championships. There was no way my body would respond well to that!

Needless to say, after 70.3 Worlds, I was ready for a break. Sometimes I have an on and off switch and the past month it has definitely been in the off position. I know I needed that break and I’m finally to the point where I want to work out again. The past month I’ve also struggled with post Ironman blues, coming off of being in the best shape of my life, to sucking wind and hurting when I go for a run. If you have not done an endurance race before, you might wonder where ‘post race blues’ come from. It boils down to this….you work so hard and put in so many hours of training for one race over the course of 6 or so months and then all of a sudden it’s over in one day. So, in a long way of saying it, I now feel like I’m in the right frame of mind to finish my race report.

Ironman Mont Tremblant
I finally have a race to report on! I’ve never done an Ironman without doing some other shorter distance triathlon before it earlier in the season. So, I went into this race not really knowing how I would feel. Luckily, my build in July went well so I had some good distance runs and rides to give me some sort of idea of how I was feeling. I’m not the fastest swimmer and even slower in open water so I was more in the dark about how my swim would go. I just hoped the horrible swim I had at the Rev 3 Williamsburg would not mentally haunt me when I hopped in the water come race day.
Pre Race
Ron and I ended up flying into Montreal the Wednesday before the race. We both had to hop on a plane the Monday after the race to get to Denver for a work conference so driving was not an option as originally planned. Plus, unfortunately, both of our backs can’t handle being in a car that long. We got a ride from our friends, Alejandro and Karen, from Montreal to Mont Tremblant. We were staying in the Mont Tremblant Village and you could definitely feel the race excitement as soon as we got there. I would highly suggest staying in the village where all the race action takes place. It makes everything so convenient! Packet pick-up, transition and the race finish are all within walking distance. The swim start is close as well and about a 10 minute walk.
DC Tri Snapple Teammates with our cool Custom Yogi Towel

Two days before the race, Mindy, Bart, Ellen, Karen and I headed to the lake to test out the waters. We all put on our Xterra wetsuits and hopped in. The water was amazing! You could see all the way to the bottom in the shallow parts! During the practice swim, there was a boat giving out shots of coffee. So cool! I stopped on the way back in for my morning caffeine. Too bad there isn’t someone to hand me a shot of coffee halfway through my swim practices! I might actually swim more often with that service. ;)
The practice swim definitely put my mind at ease. Being able to see in the water makes a lot of my open water swim anxiety go away. I was actually excited for the swim portion of the race now. Whew! Soooo relieved! And the water temperature was perfect!
View of the lake the day before the race.

Race Day

I try hard to make sure I get everything organized the night before a race and have definitely learned from mistakes I have made in the past (like forgetting to bring my race bottles filled with nutrition at not just one but two races! Luckily, Ron saved the day at both those races and got my nutrition in time for my race. I’m so thankful to have such a wonderful boyfriend!!) I forgot to do one big thing the night before this race and that was put my chip on my ankle so I didn’t forget it or lose it. Well, come race morning, after dropping off my special needs bags, I realized I didn’t have my chip! Luckily, we were staying right by the start so I could run back up to the room to get it. Nope…I could not find it anywhere! I thought, ok don’t freak out, you can get a new one at the start. Once we got to the start line I started asking any worker or volunteer I saw where I could get a new chip. No one seemed to know who I should talk to or where I should go. I followed several people around for what seemed like a half hour and then I broke down. I started to cry, telling Ron that I was not going to have a time for the race and running around all over the place. He told me to calm down and said he would get me a chip to have when I came out of the water. I did not want to do that and have to worry about it the entire 2.4 miles of that swim. I didn’t need any more anxiety added to the swim. I walked up to the start line and asked if they had chips, and low and behold, that is where they had them! You would think that would be the obvious place to look, but when you already have Ironman race jitters, anxiety and every other emotion that comes before a big race, you aren't always thinking rationally. I was so relieved! With a few minutes to spare, I ran over to Ron, got my good luck kiss and hug, and lined up with the rest of the women in my age group. I was finally ready to start this race. 
Mont Tremblant Village

This swim was one of the best swims I have experienced in a triathlon! Being able to see to find feet helped out a ton and the water was perfect for my long sleeved Xterra wetsuit. I found a couple good drafts the first half and then the second half I couldn’t seem to find someone to draft off consistently. The water seemed to get a little choppier on the way back in too. It seems like most swims in a triathlon I see something that makes me laugh out loud and swallow a bit of water. This time it was watching someone swim smack into a buoy. I didn’t feel bad laughing b/c I know they are soft and the person didn't get hurt. I like it when I find something to make me laugh when racing because it relaxes me a bit! Once I saw the beach I was so excited. I was at the point where I could stand up but I swam as long as I could. I found the wetsuit strippers and then ran the quarter mile to T1. It didn’t seem as long of a run to T1 as I thought it would.
Swim time: 1:14:48

Everything went smoothly in T1. Then I was off for a little bike ride! This bike course is awesome! I have found over the years that I like rolling hills mixed with a few flats. The course had it all. It was two loops and the steepest hills were in the last ten miles.

The first loop of the course I was surrounded by the 45 and up men since they were just ahead of my swim wave. There were several men out there who did not enjoy getting passed by a girl. I just wish men who feel this way would get over it. It’s so annoying to keep a consistent pace and then have someone push a little bit faster just to pass you and then slow down again. Which means you then have to slow down your pace to keep from getting a drafting penalty. I played frogger back and forth with several guys the first loop. The second loop is where things spread out more and you don’t see the people who started out too fast anymore.
This is what was smiling at me from the roof of a barn...only a lot bigger!

There were several things that made me laugh during the bike portion of the race. There was a HUGE stuffed cornstalk on top of the roof of a barn waving and smiling at us all. It made me smile and reminded me of all my friends and family who were cheering for me from Iowa! I actually have a tiny version of this stuffed cornstalk on my desk at work so I felt like it was put there on the race course to make me smile.

Then on the way back in from the first turn around you get to one of the steeper climbs. I was coming up along the side a group of men and all of a sudden I heard one of them say, “Oh great! Here comes the bitch.” At first I was like what the hell is that guy’s problem. Then I made a joke of it and looked at him and said, “I hope you’re not talking about me.” He laughed and said, “No, I knew once I said that, you probably thought I was talking about you. I’m talking about the bitch of a hill up ahead.”

All of us around laughed a bit and then we all got silent as we started our climb. It really wasn’t that bad! I think the worst climbs of this course were within the last ten miles. That also meant some really fun descents! It was fun to hear the race wheels as they sped down the hills and see the smiling faces of the athletes having a blast descending. I saw my teammate, Mindy, on one of the climbs and we cheered each other on. She had a wicked fast hour swim! Then towards the end of the second loop, my other teammate, Ellen, came up on me. It was fun to go back and forth with each other and chat a bit. We ended up having about the exact same bike time! Once I got to the steep climbs the second time through, my legs were definitely ready to be done with the bike portion! I averaged over 20 mph the first 56 miles and then ended up just under 20 mph the second loop because I couldn’t keep as fast a pace on the steep climbs towards the end. I was very pleased. My goal was in between 19.5-20 mph.
Bike Time - 5:39:12

When you finish the bike, the volunteers take your bike from you and then you run right into transition. T2 went very smooth and actually was a quick transition. Time for my favorite part of the Ironman, the marathon!

Well, let’s just say that the marathon is the favorite part of the Ironman for me if I’m having a good day since I love running. My marathon in IM Cozumel a few years ago was not a fun one at all! I could tell that my body was ready to race hard at Tremblant, and I was pumped that I had achieved both my swim and bike goals so far. The marathon is where you can either reel it in or have everything fall apart. Luckily, my running legs showed up that day! I took off holding a sub eight minute pace. This was a bit fast, but after seeing how I felt the first few miles, I decided I was going to keep that pace as long as I could.

I enjoyed this marathon course. It’s a two loop course. After about three miles, you get to run on soft, finely crushed gravel. You go out three and continue back in three with about another half mile or so until you get back to the pavement. The transition to the pavement hurt a bit, especially the 2nd time around! The few hills didn’t bother me a whole lot. I made sure to train on similar terrain and if definitely helped a ton! I got to see so many of my friends on the run course which helps a ton to encourage each other! I knew I was hydrated and have never peed so much in a race before! I decided since I was throwing my shoes away after this race and I was trying to get a Kona slot, that I would just pee when I needed to and not worry about stopping. Yeah, sounds gross but at that time, I didn’t care! One thing I did find out though is you will feel wherever you are chaffed from the bike when you just decide to pee in your tri shorts. I know TMI but just a heads up if you ever try it. ;)

When I started the run I took a couple Advil and pepto bizmo pills. I had done this at IM Louisville so figured I’d try it again. It worked for the first loop so to be on the safe side, I took one more Advil and one more Pepto around mile 17. This might have been a bit too much. I ended up getting a side ache around mile 19. It wouldn’t go away, so I walked for just a little bit to try to shake it off. It went away enough to run without side pain to the end. My pace definitely slowed the last seven miles. I wasn’t too worried though. I saw Ron the end of the first loop as you run through the village. (This is one of the best parts of the run where you can feed off the crowds energy, get chills and prepare yourself for the second loop!) Ron didn’t tell me what place I was in for my age group, so to me that meant I wasn’t close to top three. I told myself to just run how I felt the last few miles of the marathon and just get to the finish line.

I ended up passing a few other girls in my age group within the last two miles. Sometimes I fear doing that with that much distance left, because you never know when someone still has some gas left in the tank to give you a chase if they see you are in the same age group. Luckily, none of them wanted to battle it out with me. Whew! I didn’t have too much speed left in me for two miles. However, when I had half a mile left ,when I entered the village with all the cheers, the adrenaline took over my body! I absolutely love the feeling of the last half mile of an Ironman! The Ironman finish is not something you can really describe and you just have to experience it. I ran with my head up, smiling ear to ear, knowing that I was going to PR and go under 10:40! All muscle pain left my body that last half mile and as always, I just soaked it up and enjoyed one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever experienced. I crossed that finish line with tears of joy and with my arms raised in the air. I was a four time Ironman finisher! My marathon ended up being 3:33 just a few minutes over my goal of 3:30. I’m completely satisfied with that, because I thought shooting for a 3:30 was a bit fast. I’m happy that it wasn’t too far out of reach!
Marathon time: 3:33:55
So happy to finish!!!

A volunteer put a finisher medal over my head and walked me over to where we could get food and sit down. For a little bit, I just sat there in a zone with tears streaming down my face. I was so ecstatic that I felt great throughout the race, ended up with a PR, didn’t have any mechanical issues and for being healthy at the beginning and end of my race. I must have worried one of the volunteers because he came over and asked if I was ok. I told him I was just emotional from finishing and just thinking about the day. He said he would keep an eye out on me until Ron showed up to be sure I was ok. This is just one of the many great examples of the wonderful support the volunteers give to all the athletes!

Ironman time: 10:37:39 - 6th in 35-39 AG

I found Ron and we hung out at the finish line for a little bit. I asked him what age group place I ended up in, and he told me 6th. I tried to not be disappointed because I know 6th place is great, but I also knew that there were probably only about three Kona slots to be given out in my AG. I tried not to think about it until the next day when slots were accepted and would head to the roll down.

I did not feel the best after the race so couldn’t stay at the finish line too long. I found out that if you take pepto during the race, it can have bad side effects after. My stomach hurt so bad, and I couldn’t go to the bathroom (you know what I mean) to feel better. I had to lie down in bed most the night and didn’t even eat dinner until about 10pm. I really wanted to go down and cheer for my friends finishing and see the last finisher at midnight. Unfortunately, my body did not allow me to do that this time. I might have to rethink my strategy with taking certain pills during the run. I don’t train this way knowing taking Advil and Pepto is not the best for you body when working out but it has worked for me at long distance races in the past.

The next day was roll down. This is where you might get a chance to claim a slot that one of the other athletes didn’t claim. I saw that my age group only got three slots. I knew that meant a very slim chance one would roll down to 6th. I have to admit, my heart sank when I found out that all three slots were taken. I sooo wish I hadn’t aged up to 35 this year. There was one slot that rolled to 4th place in the 30-34 AG and that would have been my placing! Ah well…it just wasn’t meant to be. In the end, I met my personal goal of getting a PR in all three disciplines in an IM and an overall IM PR, while feeling great and had a blast sharing the course with so many friends. I’m so thankful to have finished injury free and healthy and just feel blessed to have the ability to train/race this distance! There’s nothing like an Ironman high! 
I'm also thankful for my wonderful family, friends, Coach Mackenzie and Ron for all your support. Training for an Ironman takes a lot of time, energy and dedication! It can be hard at times to fit everything in, so all the patience and support is very much appreciated!!

Off season is here and it's now PUPPY TIME!!!!
Our new puppy Oreo! I love this little guy!

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