Ironman Mont Tremblant

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ironman Mont Tremblant...Part Duh - The Swim

The Swim (1:14:32 / Goal 1:10)

Prior to coming to Mont Tremblant, I had bet Doru that I could beat him…again.  In 2012 I beat him by about three minutes and so we bet for 2013’s 70.3.  He totally crushed me and so this year would be a “double or nothing” bet but I needed a handicap as he is several years younger than me and a very strong runner.  In fact, he qualified for the Boston marathon earlier this year.  After much bantering back in forth we agreed on a 75 minute handicap.  He was planning to go about 11:30 and I figured I could go about 12:30 based on my training.  I felt fairly fast in my new wetsuit and if I could bike a 6:15, that would set me up for a 4:30 marathon.  That meant running a 6:24 min/km pace.  Piece of cake based on my “new and improved” running.  I could easily run a 5:30 min/km during my “slow runs,” so I should easily be able to run a 6:24 min/km pace for the marathon with lots of room for error.  Famous last words…………..

It’s about a 20 minute walk to the swim start and after doing this race twice (Ironman and 70.3), it’s really not fair for the family to join me for the start.  Its early in the morning (I was in the 6:51 am wave start), the kids aren't walking as fast as I am (they’re wandering around) and once you get to the beach, you can’t get close to the water as it’s so packed with athletes and spectators.  It would be much better for them to wait as we ran by to transition near the hotel.  Once I got to the beach, I saw Lindsay who looked like she was going to be sick (she was) so I made my way to the water for a warm up swim.  I saw Rom and we watched the male Pros start at 6:30 am followed by the female Pros at 6:40 am.  They had a flying drone that hovered about 15 feet above the water and followed the swimmers for a couple of hundred meters.  I assume they were filming and that would be a very cool angle.

The next thing I knew, the Age Groupers were lining up on the beach.  Rom was in the wave before me and had a three minute head start.  The water was cooler than 2012 but was ok.  My wave was massive with over 350 athletes.  With the waves only three minutes apart, we could see the faster swimmers overtaking the slower swimmers from the previous wave in a matter of a couple of hundred meters.  I guess it’s less congested than the mass start of 2,300 all at the same time but the faster swimmers will always be running into the slower swimmers.  In fact, about 300 meters out, I ran into a guy swimming backstroke.  Not sure if he was planning to swim the entire 3.8 km on his back but I wondered how he was able to swim straight.  I didn't see a lot of people doing breast stroke either. 

I didn't really think about any swimming strategy but as we stood on the beach, you could see the bulk of the people were to the left of the buoy line.  The swim course was a rectangle shape with 1.7 km straight out and a right hand turn for 300 meters and then 1.8 km swim back to shore.  I started swimming to the right of the buoy where there were less swimmers but as we got out near the turn buoy I cut across the buoy line and ended up too far left of the line.  I probably swam an extra 300 meters zig zagging across the line.   On the home stretch, someone swam in front of me and I immediately arched up and brought my legs back.  I got a nasty cramp in my calf.  I couldn't do anything but tread water for a couple of minutes.  A couple of people swam around me but the cramp went away when I started to swim again.  I finally made it to shore and glanced at my watch.  It read 1:13.  I was ok but was really hoping for 1:10.  Perhaps some “tune up races” would have helped my swim strategy.  I wasn't sure where the timing mat was as I made my way to the wetsuit strippers.  I undid my Garmin as it was too big for the wetsuit sleeve to get over.  It was pretty crowded but I found two ladies to help me.  I already undone the top of the wetsuit and I sat down while they ripped off the lower half.  I went to get up when I had a searing and painful cramp in my calf and quad muscle.  I couldn't move for about 20 seconds and someone stepped on me.  The ladies helped me up and I hobbled my way to transition.  I made a mental note to start taking salt pills right away.  Now how many salt pills did I pack in each film canister? 

Transition (9:24) - 2012 (11:51)

The run to transition is about 400 meters on a road.  In 2012 they literally had a nice red carpet the entire way.  For 70.3 in 2013 they had about half of the run with the red carpet.  Running barefoot on the road hurt.  This year, they had about 200 meters of carpet right before the tent.  I saw Tammy and the kids on the way.  I noticed the crowds lining the route were not as big as 2012.  I grabbed my transition bag and ran to find a spot to change.  It was chaos in the tent but not as bad as previous years.  I guess the wave starts on the swim helped spread the athletes out more.  I was really hoping for a quicker transition than 2012, which I took forever.  I stuffed everything I didn't need back into my bag including my wetsuit.  A volunteer grabbed my bag and wetsuit and said he would take care of it for me.  I headed out of the tent to find my bike.  I undid my Garmin from my wrist and put it on the bike…upside down.  I didn't notice until after I started riding.  

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