Ironman Mont Tremblant

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.

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.

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.

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


* 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

  Feels like 27°C
 NW 20 km/h