First off, this is my unofficial plug for anyone wanting to do an Ironman distance race to consider Mt. Tremblant. The vibe, energy and setting of this race were unbelievable. Just as impressive was the community support and the week long show put on by the residents and the Village of Tremblant. The entire week was really about the athletes and we were all made to feel like rock stars in the days leading up to and following the race.
This was my second Ironman distance race and I went into the race feeling very fit and confident that I would have a great day and a new best time. I knew that my swim and bike would be strong and that the run would be a bit of an unknown due to an injury which had prevented me from doing very much running for five weeks prior to the race. I was really looking forward to race day, the cannon going off and the waiting to be over.
As a general comment I really enjoyed this swim. I parked myself front and centre of the line and had a great start, swimming just to the left of the buoys until encountering the back end of the age group in front of us (wave start) which had left 3 minutes ahead of my age group. I found this a little chaotic so moved to the right and swam inside the buoys which left me with lots of open water, just the way I like it. After the turn around I noticed that the water was quite choppy with some swells which, if timed right, you could surf which was kind of fun and something to do on the way back to the beach. I felt really strong and relaxed throughout the swim with a nice easy tempo as I came into the beach, right on the same time as last year but with much less effort.
I was a little worried about the 400m run from the lake to T1 but found it to be one of the highlights of the race. After you come out of the lake and have your wetsuit stripped you get to run down the “red carpet” which is lined with spectators all cheering you on. Not only was this energizing but it helped get the blood moving and my legs felt better than they usually do for the start of the bike.
I worked hard on my biking this year and it is starting to pay off! On the first loop I felt like I was riding on the edge of what I could maintain for the entire ride. My legs were feeling good but I was a little hesitant to ride much harder for fear of a long and painful second loop and a potential death march of a marathon afterwards. This meant I had to let a few groups (drafting is stupid) pass me and stick to my own plan which was hard at times. Much to my surprise on the second loop my legs felt great. My energy level was high and I felt very positive, never experiencing any of the “darkness” or negative thoughts which I experienced last year. As the second loop wore on I managed to pass several groups of riders who had passed me on the first loop, I rode into T2 feeling good.
Nutrition on the bike was spot on, remember when you are feeling good, eat, and you will keep feeling good. For variety I like to mix it up a little: CarboPro mixed with Perform, Stinger Waffles, Stinger Gels, Perform and of course a Snickers bar.
T2 Was a bit of a blur as I handed off my bike to a volunteer and made a mad dash to the change tent. It always feels so good to get off the bike. Not much to mention here, socks, hat, sunscreen, fuel belt, get moving.
Ah the run. My approach to the run was to run conservatively and to see what would happen. All things considered it went well and I felt good but wasn’t able to get the turnover I needed to run the pace I wanted. Halfway, my split was 1:50 which had felt easy but I could tell that the back half was going to be tough. After kilometer 22 I started to feel quite strong again had 10-12 really good kilometers. The last 8k was tough, as it is for everyone. It was great to see so many friends out there on the course and to cheer each other on.
Overall, this was a great race! Not only did I get a PB by close to 30 minutes but I learned a tonne along the way. First of all I learned that choppy water (swells) can be really fun during the swim, don’t dread them; embrace them. Second, on the bike a Snickers really satisfies. Third, if you want to race at this distance you have to stay engaged in what you are doing and maintain that level of awareness throughout the race.