Ironman Mont-Tremblant Race Report. August 18, 2013
I don’t really write long race reports but since my coach put it on my plan for this week, I’ll give it a try. I’m more of a bullet-points kind of guy but here it goes. This was my fourth Ironman, having participated in IMLP (July 2011), IMCdA (June 2012) and IMNZ (March 2013)
1. Training Plan (accéléré)
I registered for IMMT a year ago with a clear understanding that I was going to have to begin my training while still on sabbatical in New Zealand, or that I would have to do an expedited training plan (3 months). I chose the latter and my awesome coach (Rob Falk) was on board. While I was in Middle-Earth I kept a very active lifestyle so my fitness level going into training was good; I even did IMNZ without really training for it. I swam, biked, and ran as I felt like doing it. But I did a lot of hiking, including several multi-day tramps, and this strengthened my core a lot. I also did a lot of swimming because I liked spending time at the awesome pools down under, and contrary to gossip going around my motivation had nothing to do with the patrons...I promise...really….I swear...OK, fine, a little….OK, a lot.
During the 3-months of training I didn’t skip any long bike rides or runs and did most of my short workouts. There were a few shorties here and there that had to be sacrificed due to work or weather or other mishaps; but I was really good about following the plan that was given to me. This was also the first time I trained almost exclusively based on heart rate (HR) zones. (This will become relevant later on)
This time was also the lightest I’ve been since high-school; about 10 full pounds lighter than I was for IMCdA last year. And I could feel the absence of those pounds on the runs and going uphill on the bike.
2. Taparing (ouverture)
So after 3-months of focused training I emerged injury free to the best time in a triathlete’s life: tapering. This was the healthiest, fittest, lightest, happiest, most confident I had ever arrived at it. I couldn't believe it! No IT-band issues, not a single cold/flu during training, no bike crashes, no sprained ankles..this was totally sweet as, bro!
Well...with 2-ish weeks before the race it appeared that I had been training in all the wrong HR zones. This news was absolutely devastating to me (which in hindsight was absolutely ridiculous). So I changed by HR monitor settings with my appropriate new zones and did a few workouts with them. It was a disaster. I had to slow down so much that my running form was a mess and my knees/hips began hurting; my bike rides were so slow that if I raced with the new zones I wouldn't make the bike cut-off. So I decided to stop wearing my HR monitor and just worked-out by feeling.
3. Venue (There’s no Canada like French Canada)
Ironman Mont-Tremblant takes place at a wonderful ski resort town in the Laurentians mountains. The ski town is pretty much self contained and once you get there you can park your car and forget about it. There are lots of restaurants and shops and activities, all no more than a 5-minute walk away. The town revolves around the race. They LOVE having Ironman there (e.g., they repaved all the roads). And the race seems to love the town. Absolutely everything is first class. This is the best venue I have ever seen for a race and the best race organization of any event, by a lot.
4. Pre-race (les préliminaires)
Fortunately or unfortunately I’ve become quite methodical about my pre-race rituals; beginning the week before: salty diet, adjust wake-up time to match race wake-up time, write race plan, etc. I did the usual since it’s worked for me in the past.
I wrote my race plan (with lots of input from my coach and his boss) and I did it using HR zones. Bike on Z1, only Z2 on the hills. Run the first 4 miles in low Z1, then the rest still in Z1, and go crazy with 4 miles to go if I had the legs. However, the night before the race I re-adjusted my garmin to the old HR zones, the ‘wrong’ ones I had used for all my training. This was my own decision, and I was ready to live with it. I decided to follow my heart (bazinga!)
The morning of the race I had my usual stack of pancakes and 3-4 cups of coffee exactly 3-hours before the start.
5. Race (Mon ‘fréquence cardiaque’ survivra pour toi)
Swim: The swim had the age-group start experiment WTC decided to test. I’m still decided how I feel about it. It made the swim a bit less crowded but took away from the experience. It also meant that once your wave had self-sorted by speed you then bumped into the slower swimmers of the earlier waves and were swam over by the faster swimmers of the later waves. All the swimming I did in the last year has made me a faster and more confident swimmer, so I position myself in front at the beach. I also learned how to do the dolphin dive start in NZ so I had a clear path almost as soon as I got going. Lake had crystal clear water, big buoys, and easy sighting. I had a fun swim. Goal: 1:05; Actual: 1:03:21.
T1: long run to the tent, but uneventful. Got everything done. Time: 7:21.
Bike: My plan for the bike was simple: Z1 all the way, with Z2 on the hills OK; lots of Perform, some salt tabs, one HoneyStinger every hour, AND….one McDonalds burger and a coke at mile 56. I stuck to the plan, even when I didn’t feel like eating or drinking.
The course is 2 loops and it has a bit of everything: flats, hills, crazy hills, false flats, wind at times, calm at times. All the variation made it really fun. Pavement was absolutely perfect and the roads had no debris. It is not easy but not terribly hard. Goal: 6:00; Actual: 6:00:19. (Note: I blame the extra 19 seconds on a misunderstanding about where the dismount line was. It turns out it was inside transition, so you had to ride into transition. It seems to make sense now but not when I had hypoxic brain)
T2: Almost uneventful. Got everything done. Time: 2:38
Run: The run is two loops. The beginning and end of each loop is hilly and through town, with a long out and back on a wonderful trail (unpaved but perfectly smooth) on an old railroad right-of-way. I felt great most of the way but my quads were burning on the last hills so I walk a few metres here and there on those on the second loop. Drank coke, had some GUs, and had salt tabs every hour. No stomach issue, no bunking, no mishaps. Goal: 4:00; Actual: 3:57:01
6. Post-Race (saluant)
I finished the race in 11:10:40 which is almost a 30-minute PR, and I PRed each individual sport. I was absolutely overwhelmed with joy. I couldn't believe that I had met all my 3 goals and that I had no problems at all. Running that finishing chute was great. There was no one in front of me, and no one behind. The crown was all mine. Mike Reilly called my name and called me an Ironman; and they also narrated my finish in French. I was also so thankful to the wonderful people of Quebec that as I was about to cross the finish line I turned around and bowed. It was my way of saying thank you!
Check out the finishing at about 01:14:40 of this video http://new.livestream.com/accounts/3678055/events/2310616/videos/27662093/player?autoPlay=true&height=360&mute=false&width=640
7. Highlights (crème de la crème)
Seeing so many of my friends on the course (racing and cheering) was absolutely great. This race really solidified my belief that when choosing an Ironman the deciding factor should be the number of friends doing it.
8. Regreats (Non, je ne regrette rien)
None….well...just a little one. I wish I had finished 1 minute and 32 seconds faster to make it an even 30-minute PR. I had promised myself that if I shaved half an hour from my previous PR I would buy a Garmin 910XT. So Christmas did not come early.
9. Merci beaucoup
First to my coach Rob and to Debi for awesome guidance. To Dena for taking care of ATC. To Ron, Ryan, Mike, and Karen for being awesome sherpas. To Mont Tremblant for existing. To Ty for the speedy wheels. To my Kiwi friends for keeping me in shape during my Sabbatical.
Here are a few odd things that happened to me during the race:
- Kisses on the mouth: 1 (finishing chute, with about 100 meters to go)
- Marriage proposals: 1 (not accepted).
- Seeing a friend on the course and without thinking saying “Hi bitch”: 1 (sorry Andrea, it was all love)
- Friend demanding I run faster: 1 (Darren Rentch)
- Cursings at friend that demanded I run faster: 2 (one verbal, one non-verbal)
- Fellow participant asking me (joking) to please stop smiling: 1 (on the run)
- Gangnam style dances: 1 (at about mile 12 of the run)
- Groove Armada serenading: 1 (to a friend on the run: I see you baby shakin that ass baby)
- Flirty volunteer: 1 (hence T2 described as ‘almost uneventful’)
11. Moving on (les prochaines étapes)
Going into this race I was very vocal at saying that this would be my last Ironman for some time. I’ve already received emails from friends about the races ‘we’ should do next year. For now, I still think I want to get faster at olys and half. I would like to do a 2:20 oly and a sub 5-hour half. But I am not good with peer pressure.
Amazing race! Congrats! Next Ironman we expect a KQ!
Congratulations, Alejandro and a PR and a great race! I could tell you were in fantastic shape at Placid when you were on the 'Bears' cheering us on. Even though the thought of doing an IM next year is intriguing, think I'll shelve that and work on halfs and olys.
Kevin, you funny man. Thanks Hugh, I had so much fun I 'almost' want to do it again.
Beast Mode! Sexy beast that is. Such an impressive race you put together, Alejandro. Congrats!