Ironman Mont Tremblant

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ironman Mont Tremblant - 2016: The Swim


Goal:  1:10
Reality: 1:17:07

For the last week, everyone was watching the weather forecast for race day.  Accua Weather kept changing their forecast but by early Sunday morning they were calling for cloudy with thunderstorms at 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 5 pm with about 5 mm of rain.  Not too bad.  On the other hand The Weather Network was calling for solid rain starting from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm with 40 to 60 mm of rain.  I believed Accua Weather to be correct.

I headed out of the room at 5:00 am to transition to get set up.  It was very humid and windy.  The wind was not a good sign for the bike or the swim.  If it did rain, at least it would be warm.  I made some last minute changes to what clothing I was going to wear for the bike and run.  Several friends mentioned it would be best for a complete change of clothes for the run.  Therefore I opted to wear my cycling jersey during the swim (under my wetsuit) and change into my tri top for the run.

I headed to the swim start with Tammy and Vanessa.  Nearing the beach, the race for the men's pro was about to begin when a CF 18 fighter jet did a flyover.  It flew much lower than previous years and was ear splitting.  Nice to see my tax dollars hard at work (it costs about $60,000 per hour of flight).


With that, I said good bye and jumped in the lake for a quick warm up.  The water was really warm with a wet suit on and a little choppy.  Two weeks before, I went swimming with Mike M at Jackson's Point on Lake Simcoe.  It was pretty windy and had stirred the water up pretty good.  I was really glad we did that swim.

Last year I had a really great draft in the swim and was hoping for a repeat.  The guy basically plowed through the swimmers from the earlier waves and I just tagged along for the ride.  I kept hopping from swimmer to swimmer looking for a similar ride.  No such luck.  Around the 400 meter mark, I began to catch the previous wave group.  Was it my imagination or was every single slow swimmer swimming along the buoy line?  I can't believe how many times people were crashing into me (or maybe it was me crashing into them).

As we got further out, the waves began to pick up and I began to wonder what I was doing here.  I was getting bored and started counting the buoys.  I thought there were 19 of them spaced 100 meters apart so I was surprised when I got to the red buoy (turn).  By now the waves were quite choppy.  Several times I turned to take a breath, only to get swamped by a wave.  I definitely wasn't having fun.  By now I had caught the slower swimmers from the three waves ahead but still was constantly running into other swimmers.  Why do people who can't swim or need to do the breast stroke swim along the buoy line?  This was by far, the most contact I've had during the swim.  I wondered how Cathy S was doing?  This was not an easy swim.

I had no idea what my swim time was but was pretty disappointed when I looked at my watch and saw 1:17:00.  This was the slowest of four races.  I ran up to the wet suit strippers and sat down while they ripped off my wet suit.  Just then I was struck with a massive cramp in my left hamstring.  I think people thought I was having a heart attack as the medical staff were there pretty quick.  I tried to get up but someone pushed me back down.  The pain as very sharp and they kept asking if I had trouble breathing.  Last year the same thing happened but it didn't last as long.  The medic grabbed my leg and held it up while pushing down my foot.  Finally the pain subsided enough for me to try and get up.  The medic kept yelling at me to stay down but as I stood up, the right hamstring cramped up.  So back down I went until the pain subsided.

Finally I got up and ran/walked/hobbled to transition.  I saw Tammy and the kids along the way. I got my bike transition bag and went into the change tent and it was packed.  There were no chairs to sit on so I changed on the floor.  I put my bike shorts on and stood up.  Right away something didn't feel right.  I had put my bike shorts on backwards.  Awesome.  After spending half the day in the change tent I ran out to get my bike.  At least it wasn't raining.  All right Accua Weather!

Transition Time:  11:09 (one of my worst times)





Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ironman Mont Tremblant - 2016: Getting There


I decided to change things up for training this year.  In the past, I simply used workouts from previous coaches.  But in November, I bought a Kickr trainer, a fully computerized bike trainer however, to my dismay (and astonishment), it can only be controlled using an iphone, ipad or android phone.  Both Tammy's ipad and iphone were too old to support the app and the only way to use my laptop was to subscribe to a third party software, otherwise I just paid $1,200 for a dumb computerized bike trainer.  After a little research (highly unusual for me), I signed up for Trainerroad.  It had over 800 bike workouts including full training plans ranging from Sprint to Ironman.  I started off with a 8 week base building program and then 6 week build and finally into a 6 week Ironman training program.  Some of the workouts were brutal and almost puke worthy.  In fact, later on in early summer I had to change my workouts to allow for more recovery.  I was hoping these V02 max workouts would translate into a faster bike split.

Heading into the final week before leaving to Mont Tremblant, I needed a bike tune up very badly.  In fact, the last tune up I had was a year ago.  I used Velofix the mobile bike shop.  Mike P gave great service and actually came back a couple of times so I emailed him and I got an "out of office" alert.  He later emailed me and said he would be back on Monday.  No problem, I was leaving on Thursday so plenty of time.  I didn't hear back from him on Monday so I emailed again.  No response.  I started to panic.  It would be almost impossible to get a tune up if I took the bike to a bike shop.  Because Velofix are franchises, I emailed another guy I knew of, Nick D.  At first, he was a little reluctant because I lived in Mike's territory.  I explained I emailed Mike twice and never heard back.  With that Nick came over and after a short 3.5 hours and $400 bill, he had my bike cleaned and ready to go.  I highly recommend Nick.

We arrived in Mont Tremblant on Thursday afternoon and booked the same place as last year.  We enjoyed it so much, we booked before we left, however this year, the room wasn't as great as we were in the basement/ground floor.  It was quite dark and gloomy.  We tried to change but everything was sold out.

One good thing about being on the ground floor is that the deer aren't shy and will come right up to our patio door.

 

One of the things I like about Ironman Mont Tremblant, is that I usually know a couple of people racing as well.  This year, Scobie, Peter A, Cathy S and Mike M were coming up.  Misery loves company.  And Sunday's weather looks like its going to be miserable.  The weather kept changing but it looked like it was going to rain...lots.

On Saturday, I met up with Mike M and we did a quick 23 minute bike ride up Ch Duplessis to the last big descent from the bottom.  I usually hit over 70 km/hr and did so this time.  I warned Mike to back off on the speed if it was raining.  After that, we did an easy 1,000 meter swim to the Kona Koffee Boat. The water was really chilly at first but after swimming a bit, it felt really warm and we weren't wearing out wetsuits.  I hate coffee but there is something about swimming 500 meters and having a coffee while treading water.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Ironman Mont Tremblant: Numba Three - The Run

Its all about the bike......until you get to the run.



I started the run ahem, stroll, around 3:00 pm.  The heat was brutal and with the humidity, it had to be over 35 C.  I ran to the first aid station where Paul and Cathy were working hard as volunteers.  I stopped for a minute to chat with them and then headed off to the old village of Mont Tremblant chewing on some ice that Paul gave me.

The plan was to run five minutes and walk one minute, hills and aid stations but within the first 20 minutes, that plan went out the window.  With a bloated stomach (although not as bad as last year) I wasn't taking in enough calories.  Doing some quick math, according to my Garmin, I burned over 3,200 calories on the bike.  I drank one full bottle of Infinite (250 calories x 3 servings = 750 calories) but only about half of the second bottle (375 calories) for a total of 1,100 calories or so.  That was a calorie deficit of 2,000 calories from the bike alone.  I tried drinking my Infinit run mix but my stomach was too full.  I need to burp or throw up.  In fact, by the time I got to the old village of Mont Tremblant, I pulled over to the side of the road and tried to throw up but hardly anything came out.  A medic came over to me and asked me if I was ok

"Yea I'm ok if I can just throw up" I said
"what??" she asked, "Why don't you sit down?
No way, if I sat down, I probably wouldn't be getting up
"Non, Ca va bien" I replied and started running away

She must of radioed ahead to the next aid station at the start of the Le P'Tit Train du Nord trail as another medic called me by name and asked if I was ok.
"Yea I'm ok" I said as I dumped water down my back and put ice in my bandanna.  The ice felt good but didn't last very long.  My feet were completely soaked from all the water and I was so glad I put body glide on my feet to prevent blisters.

That was pretty much how the first loop went.  Lots of walking and pouring water on myself.  Seeing that I couldn't drink my run mix, I had brought my canister of salt pills from the bike and kept taking them.  If I didn't have them, I would have probably DNFed.

Someone had later said, they have never seen so many people walking on the first loop.  Yup and I was one of them.  Finally I made it back to the resort and ran by the first aid station.  I was surprised to see Paul and Cathy still working hard.  I yelled to Cathy "Chris should have been here to suffer with me!"  Cathy yelled back "he is with you"  The first loop was just miserable.

Just before special needs, I saw Tammy and the kids.  I later found out that they waited 2.5 hours for me.  So much for spending $140 on the GPS tracker.

First run loop: 2:40
Goal:  2:15

The second loop started a little better as it was around 5:00 pm and was getting cooler.  I mentioned to someone that my stomach was bloated.  He said his was as well but was drinking Coke and it helped him burp.  As I got to the first aid station, Paul and Cathy had left and I looked for Doru.  I couldn't see him but grabbed some Coke and washed it down with more salt pills.  I'm so thankful I put back up salt pills in my special needs bag.  I had exchanged bottles of Infinite from the bag but still had a hard time drinking it.  In fact my first bottle was half full and when I finished the race my second bottle was half full as well.  So much for my nutrition plan.

I was able to run a lot more but still walked the aid station.  I was dumping ice in my bandanna and drinking coke.  They also started serving Chicken broth.  The best thing ever.  After the turn around on the trail, I started running with Brian.  He was young (23) and very enthusiastic.  He was from New York City and doing his first Ironman.  Talking to someone helped pass the time.  We would walk the aid stations and hills but he was all smiles.  My mood lifted as well as my pace.  Finally at the second turnaround on the trail outside the old village of Mont Tremblant did I feel relieved that we would finish.

We were walking with a big guy for a couple of minutes and talking.  We were on a second loop almost finished and he was on his first.  He asked if we knew what time the run cut off time for the first loop.  I knew there was a cut off time but wasn't sure.  I told him to keep moving as Brian and I started to run.  We debated if he would finish.  I didn't think he would but did see him cross the finish line around 11:30 pm.  

As we headed pass the first aid station, I saw Doru.  He was pretty happy and started running along side.  I warned him he'd better not get me DQ'd.  He took this picture




Finally as we headed down the chute, Brian said for me to run ahead.  I told him to go ahead as it was his first and he took off.  I saw Tammy and the kids with Cathy and Paul as I headed down to the finish line.

Final Time:  13:23:10
Goal:  12:45:00

Later as I visited the porta potty, Cathy and Paul were kind enough to see if they could tip it over.

My mom saw me cross the finish line in the hospital.  One of my brothers was with her and they watched it on his ipad.  She's better now





Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ironman Mont Tremblant: Numba Three - The Bike

Did I mention, its all about the bike?

The weather was cool, overcast and a little bit misty.  Perfect weather for hammering the bike out of transition.  Ok stupid, don't hammer the bike even if its mostly downhill to Hwy 117.  It was so hard to hold back as pretty much everyone passed me.  I looked down at my Garmin and I noticed I was missing one of the fields.  I screwed around with it but I had no heart rate readings!  Great.  I adjusted the strap but nothing came up.  This was going to be fun.  Of all the times for the batteries to run out in the heart rate strap.

First Loop
I reached Hwy 117 and started heading up the highway which has numerous false flats.  The drafting was incredible.  I've done this race twice as well as the half Ironman and I don't remember ever it being this crowded.  There was absolutely no place to ride as packs of riders passed me as if they were on a training ride.  Several times I had to sit up and slow down to stay out of the draft zone of people ahead of me.  I reached the massive hill on Hwy 117 and headed down.  People have asked me if I've changed my riding style since Chris' crash and I'd respond "sure I have.  I don't take as much chances as I used to."  While I didn't ride in aero position down the hill, I did manage to hit 73.2 km/hr (not my fastest) but the adrenaline rush is unreal and clearly I am an adrenaline junkie.  At that speed, a crash is not survivable and I know that.

The first loop was uneventful as the weather stayed the same.  I couldn't believe my luck as the heat and humidity didn't appear as predicted.  I worked my nutrition just as planned.  I carried enough nutrition for three hours in one bottle and swapped the water bottles at every aid station.  I took a swig of nutrition every 15 minutes and washed it down with water.  Heading out to the turn around, I saw pro triathlete Jordan Rapp blaze by in the opposite direction on his funky looking bike.  He was really smoking.  I totally expected Lionel Sanders to be right behind him but Lionel was about 10 minutes behind Jordan.

Climbing back up Montee Ryan was a grind and as I rode by the Scandinave Spa I mentioned to the guy beside me, what a rip off it was.  Tammy had mentioned several times how good it looked so Saturday morning while she was out with the kids, I booked a massage and bath treatment for $150.  Really, when you think about it, you're paying $150 for a massage and sitting in a hot tub for a couple of hours.  When she came back, I told her and she was so happy.  I dropped her off and took the kids swimming in the hotel pool.  The guy beside me laughed and said "can you say IMMT 2016"?  I said no, that was taken care of by getting the basement finished.  And IMMT 2017.  He laughed some more.  Anything to pass the time of a slow, grinding climb.

I headed passed the village and up to the climb to Lac Superior.  Oddly, it didn't seem that bad.  Just past the turn around at Lac Superior, I passed a guy riding this bike:

Image result for montreal bixi bike
Part of a Telus promotion, one athlete rode a Montreal.Bixi bike.  The entire 180 km!  I'm sure his legs felt fine for the marathon.  Coming down was much more fun.  I managed to hit 68.3 km/hr on the last down hill.  I hit special needs at exactly three hours.  Ohh a little too quick.  I'd better back it off on the second loop.

Second Loop
At special needs I only needed to swap out my bottle of nutrition, apply more cream and grabbed my treat.
Image result for m&m candy

It was a short transition and I headed down Montee Ryan and back to Hwy 117.  This loop was going to be a lot different than the first loop.  I had a couple of M&Ms but my stomach did a flip.  I put the package back in my pocket and later ended up throwing them away.  The sun had come out and the wind had picked up.  I wasn't sure if I had a headwind, tailwind or side wind.  I thought I had a tail wind and looked around for flags to see which way the wind was blowing but there weren't any flags.  Along with the sun came the humidity.  I began dumping the water on my head and wetting down my arm coolers.  I saw Jordan Rapp blaze by again in the opposite direction but Lionel was way back and had fallen to somewhere around fifth place.  He was favored to win.  I later found out he got a flat tire and then the chain got caught in the crank.  His race was over

By the time I reached the turnaround on Hwy 117 it was scorching hot.  The wind turned into a head wind and the humidity became unreal.  I started dumping water on my head and my arm coolers.  Just pass the turn around on the highway, an official on a motor cycle pulled up beside me:

"Peter, are you married to that girl beside you" he asked.
What girl?  I thought.  I said "Nope".
He said, "well then you can't ride beside her.  You have 20 seconds to get out of her draft zone and make the pass."  "
"I'm trying" I whined.  I was bagged but rode hard to get away from her.  The official took off to nail someone else.

The long hill on Hwy 117 was a complete grind.  For whatever reason, the wind completely died down and heat radiated up from the pavement.  Several other riders mentioned the scorching heat as we climbed the hill at 10 km/hr.  At the top of the hill was an aid station.  Lots of people were stopping.  I pulled over and dumped one bottle of water on my head and arms while drinking another bottle.  By now my stomach was getting bloated and was having trouble drinking the Infinit mixture in my nutrition bottle.  Thankfully I put salt pills in my bento box and started wolfing them down.  Last year I ran out of salt pills as I only filled up half of the container.  This year I made sure I had a full container.  After that hill, at each aid station, I started picking up two water bottles and use one for drinking and the other for dumping on my head, back and on my arm coolers.  It didn't seem to make much of a difference.

Heading back up Montee Ryan, I passed the spa again and looked over.  Beside me was the same guy from the first loop.  We had a good laugh as we replayed our conversation from three hours ago.  The climb back up to Lac Superior.  Just after the turnaround there was a bad bike crash.  I found out latter someone went off the side of the road into a small 8 foot gully.  One ambulance was already there when I passed the scene heading up and a second ambulance was on scene when I passed on my descent.  As I flew down the last hill at 59.8 km/hr, there was a guy ahead of me riding all over the road. As I went to pass him on his left, he started drifting towards me.  I screamed "LEFT, LEFT, ON YOUR LEFT!!!!  A crash at almost 60 km/hr on the narrow road would have been ugly.

Bike Goal: 6:15
Actual:  6:25  First Loop 3:00 - Second Loop 3:25

Transition Two
After a volunteer, took my bike, I stumbled/hobbled to the change tent.  The bottom of my feet were swollen from the heat.  Once inside, I sat down and rested for a couple of seconds.  I took my time and put body glide on my feet as I knew they would be getting soaked from dumping water on my body once I started running.  The body glide would help prevent blisters.  The guy besides me was putting bandages on his nipples.  "Oh great idea"  I said.  "You want some?  I have extras" he said.  Gladly I did take them.  In case you're wondering why a guy would put bandages on his nipples, its because a wet shirt rubbing against the nipple for four or five hours will leave them extremely sore or bleeding.

Time 6:32 (slowest T2)






Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ironman Mont Tremblant: Numba Three - The Swim

I woke up at 3 am after a restless night of almost no sleep.  The fear of oversleeping is very powerful.  As usual, I took a sleeping pill Friday night and slept like a rock.  I even went to Canadian Tire the day before and bought an air mattress as the pull out bed was brutal.  By far the worst pull out bed mattress in Mont Tremblant that I've slept on.

I headed down to transition just after 5 am.  Walking around the corner to blaring music and the all the people, I finally started getting excited.  Up to this point, I wasn't even remotely excited.  Worried about the weather but not excited.  I went over to body marking and found Cathy and Paul.  For good luck, Cathy marked me.  After a couple of minutes of chit chat, I went over to transition, dropped my bottles off and pumped up the tires.  As I was leaving transition, a girl stopped me and asked if she could use my pump.  I'm always amazed on how many people come to a race without a pump.  And it happens at every race.  I stopped off at the transition tent and put the bandanna in my bike bag thinking I'd need it on the bike before the run.  As I headed over to drop my special needs bag off, I passed Lionel Sanders bringing his bike into transition.  "Hey Lionel. Good luck" I said.  "Thanks" he replied.  My brush with greatness!!

I headed back to the hotel and got Tammy.  One nice thing about the kids being a little older is that they can stay by themselves and Tammy walked with me to the swim start.  We watched the pros go off and then with 15 minutes before my start, I left her to do a quick warm up.  The air was cool and so misty that the long line of buoys disappeared.  After a quick warm up, I stood on the beach milling around until I noticed all the blue caps lined up ready to go.  I asked someone if there was another wave ahead of us.  Nope, we're up next.  Our wave was pretty big (229 or 10%) and the fireworks went off and I hadn't even crossed the starting arches.

I felt pretty good about my swim and did a lot of work focusing on technique with Max at Masters swim club.  Its amazing how small changes can knock 5-10 seconds off per 100 meters.  I hustled into the water and started swimming.  I hoped to swim straighter and faster this year.  The plan was to stay just inside the buoys.  I plowed thru a bunch of blue caps (my color) and somewhere around the fourth buoy ran into a red cap swimmer from the wave ahead.  I thought, "Boy, its going to be a long swim for that guy."   Shortly thereafter I got passed by a girl with a pink swim cap from the wave behind us, then another.  I thought briefly trying to draft off them but they were moving way too fast.

I swam by myself for the 600 meters or so getting a knocked around a bit.  I was amazed how people could swim into someone else and not move or change their stroke.  I was swimming straight (confirmed by Garmin) but people kept swimming into me.  They probably a treat to share a lane with at the pool.   One guy was beside me and knocked me in the head a couple of times.  I tried to get past him but we were about the same speed.  Then it occurred to me,  "Well duh, it you're swimming at the same speed, why not draft off him?"  So I stopped swimming and let him pass.  This worked well from the back half of the first leg, around the two turn around buoys and then a couple buoys down the back stretch.  I stayed on his feet, in fact literally.  I shortened my stroke but kept hitting his feet.  I surprised he didn't stop and kick me in the head because I kept hitting his feet so many times.  But after the last turn around buoy, he started to slow (thus I kept hitting his feet even more) and go off course.  I ditched him and almost immediately picked up someone else.  This guy was moving along and he was bigger than me.  He was plowing through the swimmers from the previous two waves so I just followed along.  A couple of times he veered off course and I followed him (confirmed by my Garmin) once and then came back to the buoy line.  After that, every time he went off course, I didn't follow him but he'd come back and I'd pick up his feet.

I wanted to thank him as we got closer to shore but it was too congested.  I ran to the wetsuit strippers as I took off the top half of my wet suit except I couldn't get the sleeve over my Garmin.  Doh.  I had to put the sleeve back on and take off the unit and then ran to the biggest guy I could see and pointed at him.  He ripped off my suit and I jumped up and immediately had a bad cramp in my leg just like last year.  I couldn't move and a med came over and asked if I was ok.  "Yeah just a bad cramp" I said.  Last year, I had a bad cramp while they were ripping of my wet suit and I couldn't get up and then someone stepped on me.  At least it wasn't as bad this time.  Within a couple of seconds, the cramp had passed any I started running to transition.  At least this year, they had full carpet all the way to transition and my shins didn't taking as bad as a pounding.  Half way to transition, I saw Tammy and the kids.  They yelled something and I yelled back as I kept running.

Swim Goal:  1:10  Actual:  1:11:54

Transition One
After a change of clothes, I ran out of the tent and there was a volunteer smearing sunscreen on people.  Even though it was cool and overcast, I knew if the sun came out it would be deadly so I stopped and she smeared some on my back.  I took off my sunglasses and put them in my helmet to smear some sunscreen on my face.  I started running towards the bike when everyone in the crowd started yelling at me.  My sunglasses had fallen off and I didn't notice.  Fortuantely, someone behind me picked them up and handed them to me.  I thanked them and ran to my bike which I ran past.  Doubling back, I found my bike and headed towards the exit.  I saw Paul and Cathy yelling at me so I ran over to them with my bike to high five them and almost tripped and wiped out the guy behind me.  Off to a flying start!

Transition:  9:14






Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ironman Mont Tremblant: Numba Three - Preview

I originally signed up for this race as redemption for last year’s disappointing finish.  I didn’t sign up until mid-March of this year while I hemmed and hawed about doing Ironman Muskoka (two hour drive but brutal course).  I even toyed with the idea of doing both two weeks apart and Chris MacMillan was thinking the same.  Chris was a friend of friends and had done multiple Ironmans and although I didn’t meet him until this year, I had swapped FB messages with him.   We did many of the same races but our paths didn’t cross until this year

We started riding in early May and were fairly compatible speed wise.  As a veteran Ironman finisher, Chris was very knowledgeable and open to answering my questions.  And then came the crash.  I was riding about 25 feet behind him with Touraj further behind.  In a blink of an eye, Chris was badly injured.  Even to this day I can’t what happened.

As this would have been Chris’ 12th Ironman and qualifying for Kona, I wondered what I could do for him.  I talked to several of his friends for some ideas but the best idea was have Ironman make up a special bib with his name on it even though his family cancelled his registration.  I sent an email to Marc Roy (owner of Sportstats and sponsor of IMMT).  Unfortunately I used an old email address and didn’t get any response.  After two weeks, I forwarded my email to Dev Paul who is legendary on Slowtwitch.  I knew he knew Marc and thought he could help.  He forwarded my email to Marc (the proper email address) as well as Dominique Piche (race director).  Finally I got a response and Marc said no problem.  He asked what I wanted on the bib so I contacted Paul and Cathy S and they contacted Chris’ family.  Ironman would insert the special bib in my race package.

Thursday
We arrived on Thursday afternoon after a much quicker drive than previous years.  Last year we were stopping almost every hour (around a nine hour drive).  I guess it helps the kids are getting older.   
Admittedly when I was younger, I used to love driving for hours but now I dislike it.  I get very bored and have to be constantly snacking or drinking for the entire seven hour drive.

Seeing that I didn’t register until late March, I was surprised there were still hotels available in the Pedestrian Village.  I booked Ermitage Du Lac which was across the street from Tour des Voyageurs (two minute walk from Transition).   The weather was cool and humid.  Sunday’s weather was looking to be smoking hot and humid (+35 Celsius with the humidity).  This was not going to be good.  This whole summer that’s what the weather has not been and I don’t race well in that type of weather.   I think I only rode twice in that type of weather and the first time I lost five pounds and the second time I lost seven pounds despite drinking over six litres of water.  Each time, I was demolished coming off the bike and trying to run.  This was going to be ugly.

Friday
We woke up to another cool and rainy day.  I wanted to do a swim and bike to check my Garmin after it malfunctioned.   Twice after an open water swim, I couldn’t switch to the next mode and it shut off while downloading.  I called Garmin and they helped me reset everything but I wanted to test it again.  All these gadgets are great when they work but when they don’t, you waste so much time fiddling around with them.

At 10 am I headed over to the Congress Center where a long line up was forming rather quickly.  I normally don’t pick up my race kit until later in the day but was anxious to see if Ironman put Chris’ special bib in my package.  I decided to line up with about 100 people ahead of me and 300 behind.  One guy came up and asked this was the lineup for race pick up?  I told him “this was the lineup for free poutine and beer.”  He didn’t look amused.

One thing I found amusing was once inside registration, at the table where you had to read and sign the usual waiver forms, they had several pairs of reading glasses on each table.  Talk about catering to your clientele!

I finally picked up my bib package and the volunteer opened it up.  She was confused about the extra bibs but I smiled.  This is what Ironman gave me:



As I stood in front of the last table at registration (preregistration for IMMT 2016) I received a text from my wife.  She had forwarded Paul S' text.  He and Cathy were bringing my bike up.  The text said they were in Ottawa but had forgotten my bike back home and was wondering if I could rent a bike for the race.  Stunned, I walked out of the Congress Center and called Paul.  In the back of my mind I knew he was kidding but I know someone that had traveled to Ottawa with his bike only to leave the race wheels on his porch back home.  He had to get his friend's husband to race up to Ottawa barely getting them in time for his race.  I called Paul only to find out he was kidding.  Whew!

Afterwards I went to the merchandising tent to pick up my Ironman bag when I got an email from Paul, one of my brothers that mom had collapsed and was being rushed to the hospital.  She barely had any pulse.  I could barely think and went back to the hotel room.  I called Don my other brother who had not seen the email and explained the situation.  He said he would head to the hospital and let me know.  I took the kids down to the pool with my phone and waited anxiously for an hour.  Finally I heard back that mom was ok and the doctors were running a battery of tests to find out what happened.  I asked Don if I should come home and he said don't bother as there was nothing to do but wait.  In my mind, I could fly home on Porter and be back late Saturday for bike check in assuming everything was ok.  This was exactly like June 2013 when earlier, my Dad fell down the stairs and broke some bones in his neck.  I was racing Mont Tremblant 70.3 and he was in the hospital.  Again my brother told me to go as there was nothing we could do for Dad.

Later in the day, Environment Canada released this report:    

Special Weather Statement: Saint-Donat - Mont-Tremblant Park area
Hot and humid weather for the next few days... Daytime temperatures will near the 30-degree mark during the day and Humidex values will reach 40. Nights will remain warm, with minimum Temperatures expected around 20 degrees. A hot and humid air mass will affect Quebec until Wednesday. The hottest day will be Monday, as temperatures may rise beyond 30 Degrees over several regions. Temperatures will return to Near-seasonal values on Wednesday. Issued at 21:00 Saturday 15 August 2015

What a crazy summer.  Most of the times its been cool and come race day, its smoking hot and humid.  This is going to be a sufferfest of immense proportions and I actually brought my cold weather gear based on last year's temperature.  I won't be needing my arm warmers, booties, gloves, or rain jacket.

Saturday
After picking up my bike from Paul S who had graciously brought my bike up, gave it a tune up and cleaning.  I rode down Montee Ryan to Hwy 117 and back to make sure everything was working as well as the Garmin.  It was only 10 am but smoking hot.  I came back from the 45 minute bike ride dripping wet.  And tomorrow was supposed to be hotter.

Cathy S had suggested using a bandanna and fill it with ice during the run to keep my head cool so I went to the Ironman store and saw one for $28.  I passed on it but bought arm coolers instead.  They were slightly too long (XL) but I think were worth it.  When I got back to the hotel, Tammy had bought the bandanna for me.  



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

By The Numbers - 2015



Its hard to believe but its race week already.  I signed up for Ironman Mont Tremblant on March 16, 2015 (right before it sold out) but started training back on January 2nd.  I swear the summers go by faster and faster when training for Ironman.  

Although this is my third Ironman, it is the first time I've gone self-coaching.  Like everything in life, there are pros and cons with coaching.  By going on my own, I can take the best of each previous coach's plan and apply it.  The downside is the self doubting sets in.  "I didn't run enough" or "I should have done more strength training"

Below is the tally of my training.  For 2012 and 2014, I used different coaches

2012
2014
2015
Swim
Distance
44.2*
151.2
168.0
Hours
59:56:00
62:45:00
71:34:00
Bike
Distance
3,897**
4,122
4,482
Hours
173:33:00
150:22:00
162:46:00
Run
Distance
504
767
559
Hours
62:11:00
76:03:00
56:31:00
Strength
Hours
15:23:00
26:44:00
20:45:00

* Didn't keep track of distance until July 
** Powertap wasn't tracking mileage properly while riding indoors

At least the weather looks half decent.  Two weeks ago, it was calling for 80% rain.  But it looks like there's going to be a nasty headwind riding out to the turn around point on Highway 117 on the second loop.

Sun Aug 16
Mainly sunny

23°C
  Feels like 27°C
 14°C
 10%
 -
 NW 20 km/h


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Catching Up


As I head into my third Ironman race, I realize how little I know about racing an Ironman.  Case in point, several weeks ago I was riding with the mighty Peter M (a multiple Ironman finisher and strong biker).  We headed out for a 5 hour ride when my rear water bottle holder broke.  I need to ride with four water bottles (600 ml) as I drink a lot of water even if its not hot.  Unable to fix the holder, I gave Peter one of my half filled water bottle to carry while I carried the other one in my jersey.  The first thing he said was, "Wow, this is heavy."  I thought to myself, "what's he complaining about?  Its only half filled."  I started thinking, when I race, I'm carrying three bottles of nutrition (250ish calories each) and one water bottle which I swap out.  At the bike special needs, I swap three new bottles of nutrition.  That's a lot of extra weight to carry over 180 km but how else would I get 250-300 calories per hour?  Gels?  Ugh.  Three gels per hour for six hours?  Barf.

As we rode, I talked to Peter about how he carries his nutrition and he uses Bonk Breaker.  I wasn't sold on eating solids during an Ironman and while I have a pretty strong stomach, coming off the bike last year at IMMT, my stomach was bloated.  I emailed Scobie about nutrition and he reminded me of the conversation we had several years ago.  He uses one super concentrated bottle of nutrition and picks up water at the aid stations.  Why carry all that extra weight?  Later I weighted a full water bottle and it weighted 1.5 pounds.  Last year I used the store bought Infinit.  It worked ok in training but not so great in the race.  I was bloated and wiped out coming off the bike last year.  With only 70 odd days to go to IMMT, I had to figure this nutrition problem out so I called Infinit Canada.  I spoke with Darcy Haggith CEO of Infinit Canada for about 45 minutes.  He was most helpful in explaining how he used Infinit at IMLP.  As Scobie said, "why make things so complicated?"  Darcy recommended loading one bottle super concentrated of Infinit and carry the other three bottles of water.  One sip of Infinit every 15 minutes and two sips of water.  I ordered a bag for the bike (a different mix for the run).  I told Darcy about my last couple of long rides (150 km+) I felt like crap and Sunday's long runs were a disaster.  He told me I wasn't fueling properly during and after Saturday's long ride.  Nuff said, I ordered a bag of Ride Infinit and Darcy threw in a couple of packages of recovery mix.

I got the package last Friday and mixed up one bottle of super concentrated bottle Infinit (which was about 95% powder and 5% water).  The first thing I noticed it was super salty.  I'm a heavy sweater and have not been taking salt pills on my long ride.  Saturday's long ride was 164 km and I felt great.  I'm pretty sure I was drinking more nutrition and water than normal.  In fact, coming off the bike I ran a 6.60 km hilly run (well as hilly as this area gets) and I still felt good.  I used the recovery mix and couldn't believe what a difference it made.  On Sunday I didn't feel as crappy as the previous two weeks and was able to run 25 km at a half decent pace.  Lesson number one learned.  I ordered the run mix and a bag of recovery mix as well.  I"ll try it next week (this week is a recovery week).

Lesson Two - Body Weight

Last year I didn't really pay attention to my weight.  "Hey, I just rode 160 km.  I deserve a steak dinner and a couple of pints of beer!"  Needless to say, I only lost five pounds from January 1st to August 17th (race day).  Stunning, considering I swam 160 km, rode 4,200 km and ran over 840 km.
On January 1st this year, I tipped the scale at 185 pounds.  Oink oink.  This morning I weighted just under 175 pounds.  I hope to get down to 170 by race day.  The less junk in the trunk, the faster you go...........

That's all I got.  Ride safe


    

Friday, June 5, 2015

Chris Mac

Sadly, Chris has passed away.  Unbeknownst to me, Chris was an eleven time Ironman finisher.  This August at Mont-Tremblant his finish would have been number twelve thus allowing him to apply for the Kona Legacy Program.  Anyone who has completed twelve Ironmans and never qualified to get into Kona or win the lottery could apply.

I've only rode outside once since the accident.  It was either too cold or I was sick so Wednesday morning I wanted to get "back in the saddle" so to speak.  I headed out at 5:30 am to go straight up McCowan Road to do some hill repeats.  It was a balmy 8 degrees but felt good to get out.  It was only a 95 minute ride but I think it put my mind at ease

Today we say good bye to Chris.  Here is a story written up in the local newspaper.  Rest easy Chris.  You've earned it.


Humble triathlete mourned in Markham

Fond memories


Chris MacMillan relished the challenge of competing in athletic endurance competitions.
In the 20-plus years the Markham resident took part in such endeavours, he was an 11-time Ironman finisher and reached the finish line in numerous marathons before his untimely passing after being involved in a cycling crash May 30.  MacMillan was 56 years old.

Fellow local athletes who competed and trained with MacMillan were sad to hear of his passing. Many of whom had fond memories of the times they interacted with him.

“Chris will always be someone that I remember with nothing but fondness,” said Justin Jakab. “He spent countless hours selflessly helping me to achieve my own goals, and I could always count on him to wait for me at the finish line with a big smile.”

Rommel Domingo was quick to point out MacMillan preferred to keep a relatively low profile and did not boast about his accomplishments.

At the same time, Domingo noted MacMillan made safety a priority whenever he competed.
“He was a humble guy. He never talked about having completed 11 Ironmans. Most Ironman competitors always want to talk about how man races they did, how much mileage they trained, and what race they have coming up. Not Chris though. Ironman was a big part of his life but, he didn`t let these accomplishments define the person he was. He was one of the safest riders I know, which is what makes his accident so tragic,” he said.

Often training with MacMillan at the Stouffville pool, Murray Cass felt his success stemmed from a strong work ethic he possessed.

During competitions, Cass recalled they would often motivate each other.
“Unlike me, Chris always arrived early.  When I met him on the pool deck, invariably he greeted me with a warm smile and often a nice compliment,” he noted. “He was a faster swimmer, so once in the water I rarely saw more than a flash of his feet.

“My fondest memory of Chris was in 2012 at Ironman Mont Tremblant.  As I recall he got on the run course before me.  I caught up with him and we shuffled along together for a bit.  Then I faded and told him to go ahead.  Sometime later I again caught up with him.  We repeated this for probably a couple of hours, one going ahead and then the other.  I think our game of leapfrog managed to keep both of us motivated even though we didn’t really run that much together.  It was almost as though letting the other guy go ahead motivated the laggard to dig deep and catch up.  We even caught that speedy Carol McQuillan and the three of us ran together near the end.  

“The next race I’m going to be playing leapfrog with Chris in my mind.  On the lonely marathon, his company will be a beautiful inspiration.”

MacMillan is survived by his mother Carole, brother Stephen, sisters Susan, Amy, Barb and Sarah, Clark Watters and Tim Hardie , life partner Stephanie and was a father to two daughters Katie and Elizabeth.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Chris' Crash

It has been a while since I've posted anything.  After my disappointing finish at Ironman Mont Tremblant last year, I decided to reload for 2015 and sign up for my third Ironman.  Trouble is that most of my friends have dropped out but Chris Mac who has done multiple Ironmans was planning to still race.  Chris is a friend of Paul S and I connected with him a couple of weeks ago to have someone to ride with during the long rides on the weekend (100-170 km)

On Saturday Touraj and I met at Chris' house at 7:30 am.  It was freezing cold (5 degrees) but sunny.  The plan was to meet up with Rom and ride up to Lake Simcoe as Chris wanted to get in a 150 km ride. We rode north up to Udora where Rom turned to head back home.  Chris, Touraj and I head up to Lake Simcoe and then headed west along Lake Drive until the road looped back up to Metro Road.  We'd been riding for about 4.5 hours and I was starving as I did not eat a lot for dinner the night before.  We decided to head east back to Kennedy and Metro Road where there was a little corner store to refuel before heading back home.

Metro Road is a nice flat road with a wide shoulder.  We had a tail wind so with Chris in the lead, I was about 20 feet behind him and Touraj was about 200 meters behind me.  We were doing about 40 km/hr when I saw Chris in aero position, run over a piece of metal.  I saw the metal fly in the air and at the same time I saw Chris fall forward and then to the left.  The left side of his face hit the ground and his bike cartwheeled towards the middle of the road.  Chris was lying on the ground, half on the road and half on the shoulder.  His bike was in the middle of the road but only about three feet apart.  Because I was so close behind him, I had no time to brake but managed to steer through the small gap of Chris and his bike.  I stopped as fast as I could and dropped my bike.  I ran back to Chris who was lying in a fetal position, not moving but bleeding badly from his nose.

At the same time, there was a motorcyle gang riding in the opposite direction.  They saw the crash and stopped.  I yelled at some of the bikers to call 911.  One of the bikers said he was a fireman and immediately began to assess Chris.  He was relaying information to the 911 operator when he started asking questions about Chris' age, allergies.  I pointed out Chris has Road ID which has his vital information.  I guess Chris had a slightly different version than mine as he had a 800 number and the firefighter/biker talked to the Road ID operator to get more information about Chris.

By this time, there were a group of bikers around us directing traffic.  After what seemed like an hour, several police cars showed up.  They blocked the traffic at Warden and Woodbine.  Finally the paramedics and fire truck arrived.  They quickly took over the scene and loaded him into the ambulance but did not leave.  I took Chris' Road ID and called his house.  I had only met Chris' wife very briefly and couldn't remember her name.  I explained the situation.  She was pretty calm and not freaking out but obviously worried.  Originlly the parmedics said they were going to take him to Southlake hospital in Newmarket but after assessing Chris they changed their minds.  They called in the air ambulance to airlift him to either Sunnybrook or St Mike's Hospital in Toronto (75 km away).

The helicopter arrived and circled around for several minutes.  The pilot was trying to find a landing spot as there were trees on either side of the road.  Finally they settled on a golf course beside the road.  Several police, firefighters and paramedics hustled Chris out of the ambulance and to the golf course.  They hoisted him over the fence and made their way to the helicopter.  The weight of the helicopter sunk the wheels half way into the fairway.  The helicopter took off but we still didn't know which hospital they were taking him.  I had Chris' wife on the phone and she was near Sunnybrook Hospital but then we found out they were taking him to St Mike's Hospital downtown Toronto.  Both hospitals have world class trauma facilities.

After the helicopter left, the police said we had to stay for statements except they didn't know whether traffic officers or the regular officers (ie the ones on the scene) would take our statement.  So we waited, and waited and waited.  In the mean time, I called Paul S as he was friends/neighbors of Chris.  At first he joked asking if I had a flat tire and need a lift, but I explained the situation.  They were out of town at a race but would head back the next morning.

I also called Tammy to come pick us up (we were about 50 km away from home) and not really in the mood to ride back.  I told Tammy to drive up Hwy 404 and then go over to Woodbine Ave and drive north until she hit Metro Road where the police had blocked the intersection.  She made it up to Keswick and then got lost.  Despite asking for directions several times, she couldn't find where we were.  While we were giving our statements to the police (they finally decided the local ones on the scene would take our statement), Tammy called very upset.  She was at Metro Road and Kennedy.  How she got there is beyond me because she some how bypassed us and went too far east.  I told her she was only two minutes away but drive west on Metro Road.  After I finished my statement she arrived to the accident scene.  The police said we were free to go but Touraj said he wanted to ride home.  I was starving and stopped off at a Harvey's Hamburger.  I cleaned up in the washroom and then ordered a giant hamburger and fries to go.  I wanted to get downtown to see how Chris was doing.

After a quick shower and more food, I headed to St Mike's hospital.  I went to emergency and asked for Chris M but they told me they had no one by that name.  I said he came in by air ambulance around 1 pm today (Saturday).  They couldn't find anyone by that name so rather than waste time arguing, I called Chris' wife and she said they were on the 9th floor of ICU (Intensive Care Unit) so I headed up where she met me by the elevator.  She seemed to be in control and not freaking out and took me into ICU.  Chris was in rough shape but didn't appear to have any other broken bones.  I only stayed in ICU for a couple of minutes and then we went to one of the private lounges where Chris' family was waiting.  I told them what had happened and were very relieved to know that help was almost immediate.

Sunday morning, I went for my long run and as I was running across McCowan at Major Mackenzie, a speeding car turning southbound onto McCowan decided she didn't have to stop for me (I had the green light) and just missed me by three feet.  Maybe I should buy some lottery tickets