Friday, August 24, 2018

Ironman Mont Tremblant: The run

See the bike post here

I grabbed my bag, headed into the women's change tent, and found a chair. Unlike after the swim, there were only a handful of other women in there, and it was a lot less stiflingly hot! I dumped the bag out on the floor, shoved my helmet, shoes, and bike socks inside, and then spent an inordinate amount of time pulling my compression socks onto my sweaty legs.

It was worth doing, though - with the problems with shin pain I'd been having the week before the race, I knew I'd want the compression if only to feel psychologically like something was holding my leg together!

I got my shoes on, shoved my gels in my tri suit pockets, got my hat and sunglasses and spibelt organized, and was on my way. Unfortunately the change tent volunteers were busy helping other athletes so I didn't get any help with my stuff, but no big deal there; I managed. And then it was out into the bright sunshine to face a marathon. And also find a porta potty because OMG I had to pee so bad.

T2: 7:01

First step out of transition, I spotted my husband waiting for me and rushed over to grab a hug and a  kiss (while he was all, um, go keep racing!! go already!). Then the sweet relief of a porta potty. No, I have not figured out peeing on the bike and frankly I'm not sure I ever will. Triathletes are disgusting but that seems to be my limit.

Whew. OK, physical needs sorted out, let'd go run! Except, boom, there was my parents and kids so another quick stop for hugs and kisses there. So worth it.

My cute butt heading out for a little marathon, which is a totally normal and sane thing to do after already spending almost 8 hours exercising.
Finally on to actually running, which honestly felt pretty cruddy. I was anticipating what my shin would feel like but it seemed fine, and my stomach was ok, but I just felt overall kind of blah and unenthusiastic. Just mentally knowing I had 42 kilometres ahead was so daunting. And I had a bit of a mild headache that I suspected was due to lack of caffeine, since I think I messed up the order of my bottles on the bike and hadn't had any for quite a while.

But this is what I came for, after all! So I jogged easy and quickly came to the Red Bull arch, where I immediately grabbed a cup and downed it, because CAFFEINE. And then came the first significant incline, which I walked up while I sucked down an Endurance Tap gel. My run plan was to walk all the inclines, walk the aid stations, and run everything else for as long as I possibly could. So although there were lots of people lining the hill cheering and encouraging us to run, I stuck with walking.

And so I continued for the first few km, which seemed really fucking hilly. Jogged the downhills, walked the uphills, and then when I got to the first really significant downhill at around 3k ish I realized I was starting to feel a whole lot better. From that point out to the turnaround is a long very gradual downhill, and as I worked through the rest of that first 10 k, I was feeling better and better.

(at some point early in the run, a lead moto went past the other way with Lionel Sanders looking even rougher than he usually does on the run. I hadn't seen the cyclist with the placement sign, so I wasn't sure if he was leading or not, but then the next pro I saw had the 3rd place cyclist with him. I was looking for Cody but when I didn't see him I started to wonder if he'd won the race. Gave me something to ponder for a few km! As it turns out, I must have just missed seeing him running into the village on the way to a massive victory and completely stunning 8:10 Ironman debut. Must have been because of my being such a great babysitter all those years ago. Obviously.)

Must be feeling good if I'm making that face
After getting through the initial hills, my headache was gone, my shin wasn't bothering me other than an occasional twinge, I was feeling very comfortable running. At least once I reached an aid station and completely forgot I was supposed to be walking until I was halfway through it! At every station I grabbed a cup of water, a cup of Pepsi, and a cup of ice. The ice went down the front or the back of the tri suit, depending on where it had previously melted most quickly, and I drank the water and Pepsi.

(Also, Pepsi?! WTF? I mean it worked out for me, but damn it I wanted Coke!)

I was ignoring my watch and paces and focused on running comfortably and watching the people coming back from the turnaround for people I knew and offering up high fives. I couldn't get over how good I was feeling. I could tell the temp had risen significantly but it wasn't bothering me at all (and fortunately, a large portion of the run course is nicely shaded). When I got out to the turnaround  they were playing Lady Gaga and a enthusiastic volunteer was trying to get people to have a little fun with him - he was thrilled when I joined him for a few seconds of what might be loosely called dancing on my part.

1-10k: 8:57 (porta potty & hugs and kisses!)/6:38/6:58/5:50/6:03/5:46/6:19/6:09/5:51/6:20

I figured the way back would feel harder because it was now a long gradual false flat back to the hills, but it really didn't feel any more difficult. My paces slowed a bit but the effort level felt good. I saw Fab heading out looking like he was running strongly and told him to hurry up and catch up (not sure he appreciated that much, ha!). Soon I was back into the hills (walked them) and then up into the village to finish up the first lap.

Coming through the village I saw my friend Lara and her family cheering for me and telling me I looked amazing, which was wonderful, and I kind of marveled at just how great I was feeling. As I passed by the turn off to the finish line, I knew with confidence that I would be back there soon.

11-21k: 6:11/5:52/6:46/5:53/5:58/6:10/6:43/6:14/6:25/6:31/6:55

Into run special needs, where a volunteer was holding my bag open for me, I glanced at the contents and was like, ugh, I don't want any of this, but thanks anyway (it was just a couple of gels and a can of Pringles - I'd packed light). At this point I figured I'd take a quick look at my total elapsed time and see how things were going - since I hadn't really been looking at my watch much, I didn't really know how fast I was running.


I flipped the screen and saw something like 10:0x elapsed time (can't recall exactly) and had a freaking Moment. Like seriously wondering if I'd accidentally cut the course or something.

When I'd thought about finish times, I was thinking a good day would be 13 hours, and if things went extraordinarily well, I could maybe break 12:45. Maybe get close to 12:30 in my wildest dreams.

And here I was with less than a half marathon to go and only at 10 hours.

If my leg could hold together...

I was excited. And motivated.

Focused. No idea where this picture was taken.
Back out through the hills, walking the inclines as planned. I passed Laurence, who is one of my long distance triathlon idols and was a little stunned that I was now ahead of him! Pepsi and ice at every aid station. That long glorious slight downhill where I felt like I was having an out of body experience because as each kilometer ticked by it was still feeling so easy and strong. I was mentally just living purely in the moment - not worrying about how the next km might feel, just checking them off one at a time and thinking of each one as pulling me that much closer to the finish.

Pretty sure this is the start of the second loop from the Red Bull tent and since my tri suit is clearly soaking wet. But who knows. Nice ski hill in the background!
At one of the aid stations an athlete was kind of frantically asking if they had any salt - I'd transferred my base salt from the bike bento into my tri suit pocket, so offered him a dose which he accepted gratefully. I hope it helped him out! I didn't really use it in the second half of the run because I just didn't even think of it, although I did grab some pretzels at one of the aid stations around 25 or 26k because my stomach was feeling a little sore* and I thought they might help. But mostly I just relied on the cups of Pepsi. I think I only took two gels over the whole run, which in retrospect seems really dumb but it all worked out so maybe not.

*shortly after that I realized it wasn't my stomach hurting, it was my skin hurting from all the ice I had shoved into my tri suit. SO MUCH ICE. At some points I sounded like a maraca with it all rattling around inside my bra. It really worked, though, the heat just wasn't even an issue for me. I guess this long hot and humid summer really was good for acclimating!

22-31k: 6:26/6:53/7:08/5:33/7:09/6:21/6:08/6:05/6:03/6:53

Out at the turnaround the dancing volunteer had disappeared, which made me sad. Also they were playing Take Me To Church which is...not exactly a motivational song? And then I was heading back towards the finish still feeling really good. I was passing a lot of people and getting a lot of 'Are you on your second loop? You look amazing!' comments from people.

I was definitely slowing down, though. From about 32k on things were hurting, but in a 'whoa this has been a long day' sort of way, not a 'your back has decided fuck this shit it's exiting the building' kind of way. It started taking a little bit longer to start running again after walking through each aid station. But I was still passing people and my mental state could best be described as euphoric. I just couldn't believe it was going so well!

Back into the hills again, where my legs really started to hurt but I was getting so close. And I had some extra motivation - namely my Garmin kept sending me low battery messages and goddamnit I needed to finish before it died. Strava or it didn't happen, am I right?

The last hill up into the village to the hotel is just cruel, but I could hear the finish line. Then it was circling around through the cobblestones and starting the final downhill. Saw Lara again and John Murray cheering for me. John had sworn early that morning that I was going to surprise myself when I told him I was hoping for 13 hours. He was right!

32-42k: 6:22/5:51/7:06/6:37/6:05/7:38/7:00/6:52/6:32/7:00/6:07

Pic via John - heading towards the turn to the finish!
Then I was taking the left instead of the right. No one directly ahead of me so the way clear for a clean finish picture (very important in an Ironman, obviously). The path was lined with people yelling and cheering and holding out their hands for high fives.

And there was the finish arch ahead of me and those Magic Words.

There's no feeling like it, really.



Run: 4:29:35
Overall time: 12:15:43
Overall: 760/2272
Gender: 127/602
Age Group: 28/131

That run. Where the hell did that run come from? I mean, I know, it was the hours and hours of hard work to improve my swim endurance so that I could come out of the swim feeling fresh, the hours and hours on the bike so that I could do a strong 180k and still be ready to run, and the many 5am run starts to get in the run volume to have the base to run a marathon.

Getting the medal. I wish I knew the name of my volunteer catcher because he gave me the best hug just before he let me go into the finisher tent.
But still. It's hard to believe that the training is really working until you actually do the race. Completely blew away my expectations. It was fucking magical. I worked damn hard for this and it all paid off.

(oh, and my Garmin ended with 3% battery life. Just barely made it! 24 hours in training mode, yeah right, Garmin)

Hugs for my mom and kids after the race. Mom also picked up my gear for me because she's awesome.
Gonna wrap this up here. Maybe a post race thoughts posts in a few days but I'm not making any promises on that. Not really sure where I go from here or what I'll do next, so I'm just going to enjoy this feeling for a little while longer!

Day after feels

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Ironman Mont Tremblant: The Bike

See the Swim post here.

I ran into the transition tent, grabbed my T1 bag (I noted some athletes had added brightly coloured tape to their bags to make them easier to spot, although since they were in numerical order it wasn't tough to find mine), and made my way into the women's change tent. And did my first good deed of the day, grabbing a woman who was about to walk into the men's tent and pointing her the right direction!

It was a bit of a madhouse inside the change area, and it was really, really hot. Too many bodies in too small a space. I quickly found a chair, sat down, and started pulling out my stuff. First I grabbed the Endurance Tap gel I'd left at the top of the bag and sucked it down while I dumped out everything else. Socks, shoes, helmet, sunglasses on, shove the wetsuit/cap/goggles back into the bag. That sounds super simple but in the crowded tent and soaking wet from the swim it took longer than you might expect!

I waved hello to Shea coming into the tent, and headed out towards the exit, dropping my bag with the others as I went. There was also a table full of cups of water that I was incredibly happy to see as I was quite thirsty, so I grabbed one of those and downed it before heading out to find my bike.

It was right where I'd left it (imagine that), and we were quickly out to the mount line and off on the road.

T1: 7:08

Just after mounting I spotted my mom, who got this awesome picture:

The smile of someone who has never gone 180k on a bike before and doesn't know what she's getting herself into
When you are a midpack sort of swimmer, that means you come out of the water with a whole lot of other people - and then you all start the bike at the same time.

It was super congested, and remembering a conversation with my friend Kris Z from the day before, I resisted the urge to go into MUST PASS EVERYONE RIGHT NOW mode like I usually do in races. That works in a sprint, not so much when you are going to be on the bike for 6+ hours. So I refused to let the fact that some people were going OMG so slow bother me and just spun up Montée Ryan, keeping things easy easy easy, only passing when people were really and truly in my way. No bursts of speed or power to sprint past anyone.

Based on the bottles, I can tell this picture is from the start of the first loop! Heading past the golf course up Montée Ryan.
Soon we made the turn onto the 117, at which point I realized I couldn't remember how far we had to go to get to the turnaround. Some day I will remember to make a note of these damn things before the stupid race. The 117 was much more wide open, being a closed multilane highway, and it was much easier to spin past people on the uphills. I kept myself calm and contained and worked on eating the peanut butter sandwich in my bento box and taking in my first bottle of nutrition (I used six bottles total on the bike, each with about 200 calories of Refresh, half in raspberry flavour and half plain. The plain ones I added different flavours of NUUN tablets to to change up the flavour profiles and hopefully try and avoid hating any of them too much).

The hills on the 117 felt pretty gentle and I was feeling fantastic. At some point on the trip out the lead motos started to go by on the way back and the race leader went by so fast that it took me a few seconds to confirm it was Cody Beals on his Ventum. Cody is a family friend (I've known him since he was a baby!) and as much as Lionel Sanders is great, I had to cheer for Cody in this race. So it was a real thrill to see him out in front!

My heart rate was in a good spot, my average speed was hovering right around 30 km/hr, and everything was pretty much aces. The weather was nice and cool, and I remember thinking how much I was just loving the bike course. Through the turnaround (yay!), heading back towards Tremblant. There was one kind of nasty incline on the way back where I ended up going into a very low gear and spinning my way up, and commenting to another athlete how this climb was going to be fun on the second lap. He sort of grumbled 'I was trying not to think about that' and gave me a dirty look. Oops. Sorry dude!

Back past the golf course - one bottle tossed an aid station is the giveaway.
Back down the Montée Ryan, feeling good. Skirting the edge of the village where there were SO MANY PEOPLE! Oh man, such a boost with everyone cheering and ringing cowbells. I had a big smile on my face. Unfortunately, Steve just missed me coming through that section so I didn't see him that time.

And then it was time to climb Duplessis. I had driven up it the day before so had some idea what to expect, but people talk about it as such a difficult climb that it was still a little intimidating. However, Zindine had assured me I wouldn't have any problems with it, and if anyone knows what I'm capable of on the bike, it's Zin. So I was feeling confident.

I loved it. OMG. My favourite kind of climbing. A few punchy little steep bits, lots of longer more gradual climbing, and even a few little downhills included. It sort of reminded me of climbing Sideroad 1, if you took it and stretched it out a lot longer and increased the overall elevation gain.

Thumbs up on Duplessis the first time through (note the bottles are now missing because I tossed them when they were empty)
And then the descent!!

So good. I was snug in my happy place for that whole section with the biggest smile. And once I finished the descent, it was a quick turn towards transition and a hairpin to turn around, and just like that I was halfway done the bike in 3 hours.

I thought this was me at the turnaround but I can tell by the bottle it's actually more likely from the start of the bike. But I don't feel like cutting and pasting it so let's just pretend.
Going in Zindine had suggested I target 6:15 as my bike time, so I was a little bit worried I'd gone too fast on that first loop, but I was feeling fantastic and had managed to get in my entire sandwich and all three bottles of nutrition I had on the bike, so I figured I was probably in good shape and would just try and keep the effort level the same for the second time around the loop, which I was now looking forward to. The Tremblant bike route is incredibly gorgeous and a complete dream to ride on. The pavement is just stupidly perfect.

Through the roundabout and up a small hill to special needs, which was a model of efficiency. A volunteer radioed my number up ahead and when I got to the special needs area, another volunteer was already there holding my bag open for me. All I had to do was grab my new bottles out of the bag and empty the disposable bottle into my BTA system, then toss that bottle back in the bag. Not sure exactly how long it took, but Strava suggests it was about 40 seconds!

(I can't remember now if it was before or after special needs, but around this time the lead motos came past again going the other direction, and I was thrilled to see Cody still in the lead!)

Up the Montée Ryan to the 117, which is where things started to go a little sideways.

I can tell this was after special needs by the polar bottle I can just see on the downtube. Of course it could really be anywhere on the second lap, but let's put the picture here just because.
The sun was now out in full force, and the highway was completely exposed to the full sun. The wind had picked up and somehow the hills seemed a lot bigger. My speed was dropping from the first loop, and there were a lot less people around which made it a little harder to get motivated. At the first aid station, I saw a cyclist ahead of me grab a water bottle and spray himself down with it, and decided I was going to copy him. I hadn't planned to use the aid stations at all, so fortunately I still remembered how to successfully grab bottles from volunteers! The water was icy cold (they must have been keeping them in coolers) and was pure bliss. It helped cool me down and I repeated the same move at every aid station for the rest of the bike.

Got back out to the turnaround (hooray I don't have to do it again!), and discovered that yep, it's a headwind in every direction sort of day. And around here I noted I was developing a hotspot on the bottom of my right foot and it was starting to get really uncomfortable. Damn it. I wiggled my foot around in the shoe and adjusted the angle of my pedal stroke looking for ways to relieve it, which worked for a bit but then it kept coming back. At every aid station I thought about stopping to adjust my shoe/sock, but I was worried if I got off the bike the motivation to get back on and get going would disappear, so I kept at it. I had a lot of time alone in my head during this section, and I kept looking at the temporary tattoos in Jeff's memory on my arms and reminding myself what a gift it was to be here and be doing this, and to enjoy the race even when it was feeling kind of shitty.

The steep hill taxed my ability to find the good in things. Spun up that sucker in granny gear and was glad to see the last of it! Sorry guy from the first loop, it really did suck a lot the second time around.

I was starting to have trouble convincing myself to take in my nutrition, but I was drinking water at the aid stations along with spraying myself down. I had a tube of base salt in my bento box, which I don't normally use but had packed just in case, and started taking the occasional lick of salt just to clear the sweet taste out of my mouth from my nutrition mix. Super, super glad I packed it, if only because tasting salt was a nice break from tasting sweet.

Definitely the second loop because now I have my good bottles on the bike. Still smiling!
Finally back onto the Montée Ryan and although I knew Duplessis was going to be a lot less fun the second time, at least it would be out of the wind and the sun! And this time as I came back past the village I spotted Steve by the side of the road yelling 'YOU ARE KILLING IT' and that put a big smile on my face and helped me ignore my painful foot for a bit.

Such a pretty course!
Up the climb, not quite as much fun this time, but climbing I couldn't feel the pain in my foot so that worked out well. Plus I felt like I was passing a lot of people and that's always a good motivator! (I went from 953rd at the checkpoint before the climb to 934th at the top of Duplessis, so yeah, I wasn't imagining it). It felt like forever to the turnaround, but then I was flying back down the hill. Maybe the salt also kicked in because I was suddenly feeling much better. Taking stock of the situation I was glad that other than the hotspot on the bottom of my foot and the usual back fatigue from holding aero, nothing else was hurting at all. Legs were feeling good and ready to run.

And I was heartily sick of my bike and could not wait to get off the damn thing. Made the turn into transition, rode the red carpet to the bike catchers, handed Bad Wolf off and restrained myself from making a 'keep it' joke to the catcher, as I'm sure he'd heard it a hundred times already, and then attempted to follow him to the bike rack because when you come into T2 you go to the bike rack, obviously.

D'oh. Not in an Ironman you don't!

Fortunately there was a volunteer forcing us to follow the red carpet to the transition tent where our run gear would really be waiting for us. Man it is hard to make your brain work properly during an Ironman!

Bike: 6:14:54
Overall: 948/2464
Gender: 127/648
Age group: 25/140

Almost exactly the goal time of 6:15. I was pretty happy with my bike performance overall. Although it was a sizeable positive split of 15 minutes, I felt I'd done a good job keeping the effort level fairly even through the bike. The heat, wind, and fatigue all added up in the back half to an understandable slowdown.

I spotted my husband in the VIP area on the transition stage and Laurence's wife got some great pictures of me waving enthusiastically while Steve yelled at me to just GO already. Heh. Hey it's hard to run in bike shoes, ok?

Just out for a casual stroll, really. Happy to note the hot spot on my foot completely vanished once I got off the bike.

Practicing my Her Majesty wave to the adoring crowds.
And then it was into the tent to grab my T2 bag and face the scariest part of the day: The run.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Ironman Mont Tremblant: The Swim

Pre race post here.

Yeah, didn't so much get a lot of sleep. I fell asleep for a few hours, woke up at 11:30 (OMG it's only 11:30?), got back to sleep at some point and then was wide awake at 3:30. I figured I was best off just lying quietly and trying to relax (fat chance) but by 4:30 I couldn't take it anymore and got up. Got into my tri kit and morning clothes, made a cup of tea, ate a banana, and organized my nutrition bottles and double checked my special needs bags while I waited for the time to pass.

The good news was, that shin pain I'd been dealing with all stupid week was totally gone. So that seemed pretty promising and I put it out of my mind completely to focus on making sure I had all my stuff.

First thing I did on waking up? Put on the timing chip. No way I was going to forget that! Of course it's on the wrong ankle in this picture but I noticed that before the race started and fixed it.
Steve got up just before 5 and we left shortly after that to walk to transition. I dumped my special needs bags, then said goodbye to him before I went into transition to put my nutrition on the bike. He headed down to the swim start to find the VIP viewing area (we bought the spectator pass for him, because we are super fancy like that) and I went to get my body marking, where I ran into Fab. Of course I did. We've done this whole journey together, clearly the universe would make sure we'd find each other at race start!

We walked to the swim start, did the usual line up for the porta potties, I took my pre-race gel, and we got into our wetsuits. I spotted Steve in the VIP section so obviously we got a picture:

SUPERHEROES. (oh, you thought I meant a picture with my husband? Ha. He hates having his picture taken)
I was feeling pretty calm and ready, so we said goodbye to Steve and wandered off, and soon ran into Patricia, Lara, John, and Daphne. Patricia and Lara were ready to swim, with Lara being the swimmer on the Tri4Jeff relay team (and John and Daphne the cyclist and runner). And it was then Patricia told us about the first start delay - 15 minutes due to the fog.

Which honestly was the first time I really noticed just how dense the fog on the lake was. You could only barely see the first buoy! Oh. Yes, clearly that wouldn't work. OK, 15 minutes is not so bad.

Hmmm. Yes that's quite a bit of fog, isn't it. (pic via Daphne)
Which stretched into another delay.

I've waiting this long to be an ironman, a half hour delay is just HILARIOUS. And no I don't have a weird growth on my arm that's just my heart rate monitor. (pic via Daphne)
 And another delay.

You can get a sense of the fog in this official pic - normally you'd see docked boats and lake and mountains and shit back there!
At some point we moved over the warmup area, where we could no longer hear the announcers, which meant I missed that there was yet another delay and the whole thing was pushed back an hour. Super less than ideal, really - I was starting to get hungry! And I was getting cold and was worried about the calories I might be burning shivering. Plus the fog really didn't seem to actually be lifting at all.

Athlete holding pen (pic via Steve, from his VIP spot on the dock. He informs me the delay was very hard on the spectators as well, because the VIPs ran out of coffee and pastries, which was clearly an immensely difficult time for all of them. We should probably have a fundraiser for the poor things)
Finally at 7:35 they started the pros, although I'm not sure the fog had really lifted much. I was pretty relieved they weren't cancelling the swim, because how much would that have sucked. Sure a few athletes might accidentally swim to Montreal, but just don't cancel my swim!

(rumour on facebook is if they'd pushed back another 15 they would have had to cut the swim in half, so thank goodness that didn't happen!)

Male pros ready to start (pic via Steve)
After the fireworks scaring the crap out of me every time (male pros, female pros, age group start, some random ones partway through the age group start), it was finally time to get in the water. I seeded myself towards the back of the 1:15-1:20 group, looked out at the barely visible first sighting buoy, took a deep breath, and somehow all the anxiety and worry and stress of the week was gone. Time to relax and have a nice casual 3800m. No biggie.

Age group start - pic via Daphne I believe
Despite the fact I couldn't see the buoys in the fog, I felt really, really good. Maybe it was just the relief of finally doing the damn thing. Maybe it was that swimming through the fog felt completely surreal, like it was all a weird dream. I wasn't entirely sure I was swimming the right direction, but everyone else was swimming the same way so I figured we'd find the next marker buoy eventually. So I was sighting a lot, hoping to spot that yellow marker, and sure enough it soon emerged from the fog and I was super happy to note they were numbered. Since counting while exercising is not my strong suit, that was really helpful.

Follow the herd, sight, nope no buoy, swim more, everyone else is headed this way, yes there it is! Repeat. Get kicked in the face, damn it, stop and adjust goggles, swim swim swim, where's the damn buoy, ugh, swim swim swim finally there's a buoy!

Wait that's #5? I never saw 4?! Huh. OK.

Keep going. Strong, controlled, happy, ignore the person who just accidentally grabbed your ass, oh my god this fog is INSANE I can't see anything. Just follow the person in front of you and hope this is right. Count off the buoys, nice. There's another one. Wait didn't I already go past #11? Am I just swimming in circles here?! Nah, can't be there's a ton of kayaks out here someone would have noticed you swimming backwards. Probably just can't read.

It really should have felt more stressful than it did, but I guess in some ways swimming through the fog wasn't that much different than, say, swimming towards shore with the sun in your eyes and no way to see a swim exit. With the large number of other swimmers to follow, I found myself pretty on target to hit the buoys when they did emerge from the fog (other than that #4 which I swear I never saw). I focused on swimming complete strokes and keeping things steady, relaxed, and controlled. And almost before I knew it, there was the red turn marker! Whoa. That seemed to go by really, really fast.

Around the marker, where I got hit in the face again and had to stop and adjust my goggles - which is when I noticed the fog was definitely lifting. By the time I reached the second red turn marker I could actually see the line of orange markers stretching into the distance! Yay!

The second half of the swim felt much easier, just because I could actually see where I was going! And it seemed like hardly any time at all and people around me were starting to stand up and I was grabbing the sand at the swim exit. I was almost (almost) sad it was over. It was exactly what I wanted - a controlled, relaxed, easy swim where I didn't expend too much energy and felt good the whole time. I crossed my fingers the time wouldn't be too slow.

I was soon up onto the stairs, hit my watch, and saw... 1:17.

Get out of my picture, dude! Damn it!
Yes!! Pretty much my best case scenario prediction for my swim time. I was totally thrilled to see something under 1:20. The swim really couldn't have gone any better! I even managed to clock pretty much exactly 3800m on my watch!

Time: 1:17:07
Overall: 1034/2272
Gender: 217/602
Age group: 36/131

Got my wetsuit stripped and ran the carpet into transition (oh man, how nice is it to run on carpet instead of the usual run along sidewalk or concrete or gravel!). It was a bit of a long-ish run and also my first taste of what the crowds are like at Tremblant - the whole run up was lined with people cheering and screaming. Such a mental boost!

Screen grab from the live broadcast running along the carpet into T1 - thanks Zindine!
Quick turn into the change tent to grab my T1 bag, and we will pick things up there in the next post!

See the bike post here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Ironman Mont Tremblant: Pre race

Oh man my thoughts are such a jumbled mess right now I can't even. Just going to start typing here and see what comes out. First things first, I AM AN IRONMAN now, so spoiler alert if you haven't been following along on my instagram, it was kind of the most awesome race ever and now I'm going to write about 30,000 words about it. Figured I'd sprew out some pre-race stuff while we wait for the official race pictures to show up. Also writing this is far preferable to unpacking my bags full of what I'm sure is now super gross and disgusting gear.

The week of the race I was a bit of a mess. I mean I was holding it together, but man my stress levels were just insane. Fortunately it was all kind of in waves. Monday I was starting to see friends post on instagram about already being in Tremblant and that was stressing me out a bit (OMG am I late? Should I be there already?!!), plus trying to organize all my gear and junk and worrying about forgetting something important. And what if the AirBnb was a huge scam? And why is my back hurting? What's going on with my shoulder?! Aiiiiiieeeeeeee.

Tuesday night (I think it was Tuesday?!) I was able to get in a short but very calming open water swim with Amy. Plus get everything packed up and ready to leave on Wednesday, and just being able to organize everything into bags and bins and check off the lists helped me settle my nerves down a lot.

Wednesday morning a short run, then we packed up the car and the kids and headed for Ottawa, where we had decided to spend the night to split the drive a bit and also to visit my brother in law and his wife. Plus my kids had never seen the parliament buildings before, so that seemed like something we should do. Getting on the road felt really good, even if the drive was exceedingly boring. Even the momentary sight of the Big Apple wasn't enough distraction.

I thought 'spot the triathlete' would be a good game to play on the way, but alas this was the only obvious one we saw.
We had a nice night in Ottawa (ate dinner at a really good pizza place in the Byward Market), but my shoulder was still bothering me and even though we did pretty minimal walking around my shin started to feel achy too, which was a real concern. The shin pain is tied in to the pinched nerve in my back and my physio had done so much work to eliminate it (successfully!) that having it come back was really demoralizing. But there wasn't much I could do about it other than my physio stretches and getting into the trigger points with my foam roller and spikey ball o' pain, which naturally I had brought with me. Always fun to do those on the floor of a hotel room!

Thursday we headed out with a stop at one of my husband's favourite craft breweries (seemed like the least I could do, what with the whole rest of the trip being ALL ABOUT ME). Then we crossed the border into Quebec where I immediately got chills.

yep really going to do this
It was such a beautiful drive to Tremblant. I can't imagine how stunning it would be to do it in the fall! Soon enough we arrived in town and since we were a little early to check in to the AirBnB, we hunted up some poutine for the kids. Yeah, for the kids. Let's go with that.

I was later told by someone that this place is the best poutine in Tremblant, so go us for stumbling onto it largely because there was parking available.
The it was off to the resort area to check in to the Ironman, which I completely neglected to take any pictures of because I was so freaked out by the whole process (they weigh you? why do they weigh you??!).

The orange band is for first timers. Really cool way to kind of recognize each other and exchange nervous smiles
Then we checked into the AirBnb condo, which was both not a scam and also completely freaking gorgeous. It was so spacious and well appointed and just absolutely perfect for us.
Just so lovely. I can imagine being here in the winter with the fire going, it must be a dream.
Oh just a whole separate master suite up there with ensuite bathroom and king size bed. No biggie. (I would later have reason to regret those stairs, but still, SO NICE)
After getting groceries and settled, the littler kid and I walked back down to the village because I was super antsy and needed to do something. It was nice to spend a little time with her. And, of course, take some very important pictures:

You aren't really in Tremblant until a deer nonchalantly walks out of the woods next to you and is like, yo what's up. Then it started peeing, which my 9 year old thought was the funniest thing that had ever happened in the history of ever.


The good news was at some point on Thursday the weird shoulder thing cleared up and I was feeling fine there. The bad news was my shin was still bothering me, which was not helping with the nerves at all. I just had no idea how it was going to react to running, and tried to keep the walking minimal and very easy. Plus more time with the foam roller.

Friday back to the village to poke around the expo and the merchandise, and watch the littler kid run in the kid's race. She was pretty mad at me that I signed her up for the 1k and not the 5k! 

Obligatory I'm on the list shot
It sort of poured rain off and on so after her race we headed back to the condo to wait for my parents to arrive (which was of key importance because yay I love my parents but also they were bringing my bike and maybe don't ask if I was more excited to see them or my bike...). And I tried to figure out what would be a good time to go get in a short swim by the swim start based on weather radar and the availability of Fab because we've done all the rest of the training together, naturally we'd go together to get in the last swim!

Swim training area. I have an annotated version of this that refuses to load, but just behind the volleyball net post is Lionel Sanders heading in to do a training swim. Pros: Just like us! But way faster! And accompanied in this case by his own personal videographer. 
We got our swim in, which helped me relax a lot, then I walked back to the condo with my wetsuit only half stripped because it had started pouring rain again and really, what would be the point of changing? I got some weird looks walking back through the village, but I think the athletes understood.

Oh you don't wear your wetsuit walking around in the rain? Why ever not?
In the evening I left the family to dinner while I went (late) to the banquet because the athlete briefing was right after. Managed to get some food which I was far too nervous to really taste, but I think it was ok? Then the briefing which didn't really say anything I didn't already know, other than some info about the no passing zone on Duplessis that was quite useful just to understand what the signs would look like. 

Massive tent waiting for the briefing. The apple crumble bars they'd put out on the tables for dessert were pretty good. I may have been having trouble eating due to nerves but I will always make room for dessert.
Fab and I decided to meet up around 8 Saturday morning for a short bike ride just to make sure everything was mechanically in order, and I made the decision to skip the short run I'd planned for after the bike because I just didn't want to risk doing anything to my shin, which was still aching. The way I figured it, if I had a limited number of kilometers in that leg, I didn't want to waste them on Saturday when I'd need them on Sunday!

one more post ride selfie. I'm not sure either of us really pulls these off successfully
Then it was time to prep the bags, take the bike to transition, and meet up with the Burlington group of triathletes for a photo. It was nice to have stuff to do to take my mind off the whole holy crap you are doing an Ironman tomorrow thing!

Bad Wolf all ready to go

Oh god don't forget anything. Please don't forget anything. It's so complicated!

Hydrate, relax.

Transition! The venue for this race is seriously just so freaking beautiful.

My helpers bringing my bags for me
Try not to get into any trouble, Bad Wolf

So many gear bags
Nancy and I freaking out about how we actually HAVE TO DO THIS now. Note: people had so much trouble recognizing me because I had my hair down. My tri friends never see me with anything other than a ponytail!

Photo op with the birthday boy. 

So, this group photo was special. Jeff should have been at Tremblant racing. Everyone who knew him gathered to take a picture together, including the trio racing the relay in his honour. He touched a lot of lives and it was nice to get everyone together in his memory.

A member of the group had temporary tattoos made up for us, which I put on my forearms where I could see them on the bike. Jeff was always such an avid cyclist that it seemed appropriate to make sure I would think of him during that stage of the race.

Then it was back to the condo to relax by the pool and attempt to keep from jumping right out of my skin. My parents made dinner for us, which kept me off my feet and I greatly appreciated (honestly having them along to keep an eye on the kids and deal with a lot of the cooking was such a gift and I'm so grateful they were there).

Sunset from the condo. Go to bed, soon to be Ironmen.
Time for bed, to try and get a few hours sleep before the big day. I settled in and tried not to think about my shin (still aching) and what might happen with that, because it's not like I could do anything about it. I wasn't worried at all about the swim and the bike, but oh boy, the run was scaring me. Somehow, I did manage to drop off to sleep for a few hours, then tossed and turned until the alarm was about to go off at 4:40am.

Next up: The swim!