Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report

21 08 2012

Background

Where to begin? I guess the best way to start the race report is to set some expectations (read excuses!) There have been two events that set the stage for this race:

  1. Plantar fasciitis: My first run since Roth (July 10th, 2011) was in March 10th, 2012… a 17 minutes run! After that, I did a few under 30 minutes easy runs, until finally in May 17th I did a 55min run. After that,  I gradually increased the duration up to 2:30 hours. This was an uphill battle with my feet, but we finally got into an agreement and we have been living happily ever after! What finally did the trick? A sock!Image
  2. Emma: I’m a dad now!!! Yea, how about that for a life changing event? April 2012 I became a dad of a lovely beautiful baby girl! Sleeping became a luxury, at least for the first two months. Having said that, she started sleeping more and more, gradually getting to 8 hours straight when she turned about 8 weeks! In fairness, Beatriz was the one on the night shifts most of the time, I would just wake up and get a bottle ready; Beatriz would then feed her, which was not a quick task. Without a question, this race was only possible thanks to Beatriz, the true Ironmother!Image

Now, with all of that in mind, here goes my race report…

Race Report

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I had a reasonable night of sleep, the best I ever had prior to an Ironman. It was a perfect racing day. The weather was cool, but not too much. I believe it was about 11C, but the water temperature was on the low 20s. Beatriz, Emma and I made our way to the swim start, which is when I started to get a bit anxious… I found a quiet spot to put my wetsuit and started to enter in race mood.

I also looked around trying to find Fernando Camacho, but I couldn’t see him at all.

3.8km Swim: 1:04hrs, 1:41min/100m, 267th out of 2542

A very awesome start with a jet flying over us just as the cannon went off! Very well coordinated!!!

Video: Swim Start by Beatriz and Emma!

The swim is not the part that scares me in the Ironman. I’m a relatively good swimmer (for a triathlete). I’m usually in the front pack  and I always find a spot to swim with a small fast group… but not this time!

I started sprinting for 200m or so, just to get away from the crowd, but it didn’t workout. I was still in the middle of some ferocious swimmers. Although I didn’t get punched a lot, I could feel other swimmers on my legs,  dragging them down, which really slowed me down and made me extremely tired. That continued for another 15 min or so. For the first time ever, the thought of dropping out of a race because of the swim crossed my mind. I even did a couple breast strokes just to pull it together. Then I took a deep breath and sucked it up! To be honest the full contact swim continued till the first red buoy, after that I finally got some space and found my pace. After that, It was way more comfortable and I was feeling confident about the swim again.

I got out of the water checked my watch and it was about 2 minutes slower than I would expect, but still within reason. The good thing is that I got out of the water and for the first time, I wasn’t dizzy or anything. I even ran to the tent (first time in an Ironman, usually I just walk).

800m T1: 12:26min

Video: Running out of the water, unfortunately I didn’t see Beatriz and Emma

I thought the run was AFTER the bike! Yea, 800 meters from the water exit to the changing tent. It took me 3:20 minutes from the water to the actual tent, where I took my time to not just put “almost” all my biking gear on, then I realized half way to the bike that I had lost one of my gloves. I even went back and tried to find it with no luck. Brand new glove… used it 5 times maybe. Oh well, lost a couple minutes there, but no harm done.

Video: Lost my gloves!

180.2 km Bike: 6:32hrs, 27.5 km/h 1199th out of 2542

OK, lets get it out there: I SUCK at hills. I’m not a great rider, but I definitely suck at hills. I made way too many mistakes on the bike. First of all I had no idea what to expect. I thought the course started with the hills, then flats then another loop. Well, not quite… it was like a bit of easy hills, flats (with some long easy hills) then at the 70km mark, a LOT of short steep hills!!! I mean short as in going at 6 to 10 km/h.

My mistake was thinking the hills were over when I got the flat portion at the top. I got too exited I went over my 180W target, finishing my first loop at 192W (normalized). OK, I didn’t go crazy, but once I hit those hills, it took the wind out of me. I was feeling my right knee and I could just thinking about two thinks “OMG, I will have to do this loop again?” and “I wont be able to run after this!”

After the turn around at the top of the hills, I finally spotted Fernando, making his way up the hills. I figured he was about 10 minutes behind me, and judging from how I was feeling, it would take long for him to pass me.

I spent the second loop just thinking if I was going to make it uphill again. To make matters worse, the wind  picked up at the second loop too, slowing every one down. What also brought my Average down, was the the two “pee-stops”, which at least meant I was well hydrated.

When I finally got the the hills again, I was still slow, but to my surprise, I made it up OK. I was surprised that Fernando hadn’t passed me as he is a much better climber than I am. Not to mention that I was exhausted at that point, my biking legs were ready to call it a day.

Side note: Interesting fact, my final power average was 178W (normalized), which was actually my target. I wonder what would the bike have felt like if I followed the plan and kept the average at 180W for both laps.

T2: 5:41min

This was a reasonable uneventful transition. Got my bag, put my shoes, deep breath and off I went. Don’t ask me why it took me 5:41, because it felt more like 30s. I only stopped a couple seconds at the “sunscreen crowed”, who were really fast to put sunscreen on my face and arms!

42.2km Run: 4:49:19, 6:51min/km, 1217th out of 2542

This was a good surprise! Not sure how this happens, but after finishing the bike completely DEAD, I actually was able to run. I started to run with a tinny stitch in my stomach, but it wasn’t bad at all. I walked a little bit to take a gel, then I started running as I passed by Beatriz and Emma cheering. Video: I was feeling strong!

As I started the run, I thought that Fernando was right on my tale, and I was expecting to see him passing me at any time. So I took it easy and I decided to follow my original plan: walk all hills and water stations, mind you, there weren’t many hills in the run. In fact it is a beautiful run course, the majority is on a great flat trail, which reminded me the belt line.

When I finally got to the first turn around (~10km), I saw Fernando was about 1.5 km behind me and I decided I wouldn’t make it too easy for him to catch me! I still didn’t go hard, walking hills, walking water stations… and stopping (5 times for the whole marathon) for nature breaks!

Once I finished the first lap, I realized that Fernando hadn’t caught-up too much and I decided to bring it up a notch. I tried what felt like a negative split, and it turned out to be a 2:22hrs and 2:24hrs for first and second laps. Not bad at all!!!

Video: Finishing the first 21km loop!

I actually only lost 18 places on the run, moving from 1199th out of the bike to 1217th, seriously, not bad for the little running training I was able to do.

Finish Time: 12:43:37

The last 300m I was running at 4:30min/km, as it would make a difference! But it just felt right not to leave anything behind! I only slowed down at the end so that I wouldn’t get in front off anyone crossing the finish line and ruin their finish picture.

Once I crossed the finish line, I was handed a beer!!!! Yes, a beer!!! Finishers got a [plastic] glass of ice cold beer at the end, which I thought was an awesome touch. Although I wasn’t able to finish the glass, it felt like I deserved that beer!!!

Rank: 240 of 433 (40 to 45 years)

Overall Rank: 1217 of 2542

This was a great race, with an outstanding organization. Better organized than France by a mile, and also better than Placid, but I have to say Challenge Roth is still the on the organization front!

Unfortunately, Beatriz and Emma were not at the end to great me, since the noise was just too much for little Emma. We also didn’t go back for the last finisher because of that.

I truly can’t express my gratitude to Beatriz who backed me up all the way, before and after Emma was born. It is not an exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t have made it this far without her support. Sounds cheese, but only those who have kids know what I mean, if you don’t, don’t even try to understanding. Parenthood is a beautiful thing, but it is not an easy task, specially if one of the parents is spending so much time training for an Ironman.

Today I have a different theory about child obesity. It is way too easy to sit a child in front of a TV just to “keep her busy”, I just hope we don’t do that when time comes for Emma. Hopefully we will be strong enough to keep up the good job and spend the time to play with her, keep her motivated and healthy. Who knows? Maybe she will be a future ironwoman!

For Next Year

Despite all my efforts on the bike, I’m stuck with the same results over and over. Yes, the times are different, but because of the course, not my performance. If you look at the actual power, it is always around 175 Watts. What really matter is the Kg to Watts ratio, specially on hills:

  • IMFrance: 175W, 7:20 hrs, 23.7km/h, 86kg
  • IMLP: 176W, 6:53 hrs, 25.7 km/h, 86kg
  • Roth: 173W, 6:15 hrs, 28.5 km/h, 84kg
  • IMMT: 178W, 6:32 hrs, 27.5 km/h, 90kg

For next year, I will again try to improve my cycling skills. Not sure how yet, but I will get better on this!!!

Ironman Mont Tremblant 2013, here I go again!!!! 🙂

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