Mont Tremblant 70.3 Race Report
The body passed the test at Hawaii 70.3, I was not very fit yet but there was no sign of injury after that first big effort. It was time to make a plan and allow myself to aim for worlds. I was pretty much going to have to race myself into fitness at this point. I decided that it would be: Tremblant 70.3, Muncie 70.3 and finally Racine (8 days later). That would leave enough time to do a training block before worlds, if I qualified or for a backup race, if I didn’t manage to get enough points for worlds with the three first.
This plan meant I would travel back to Quebec and stay there to train for Muncie. I would have to leave Dan behind for 5 weeks as he had to stay and coach in Victoria.
I was stoked when I landed in Montreal on the 16th, I hadn’t been “home” in a while and had not seen mom in months!
I do love Victoria but it’s special when I go back out east. On the way home, we drive by St-Sauveur where I spent my summers and week-ends growing up. We go by Mont Gabrielle where my ciblings and I first started skiing. We are headed north in the direction of our old house on the lake, at Ivry-Sur-Le –Lac. Great memories surround me. I notice the Polar Bear Club, a spa type place that I fantasize about during hard workouts. The ultimate reward is certainly to alternate dipping your legs in the cold river and hot tubs. I’m smiling deeply as we finally drive up to mom’s house.
It’s time to get ready to race. I am home here and I want to race strong but I also know I am far from being as fit I would have liked to be, I have had to be patient. I was also sick the week prior with some stomach flu, which was frustrating. It was now Tuesday though and it was all in the past.
Lance had prescribed a 30K run that last week (1.5weeks out), I had been looking forward to doing it now that the ankle was healthy but it had not been possible as I was sick. I just had to sleep and recover for a few days. So anyway, there was a lot of uncertainty about my –performance- so I only had one choice: to calm down, go with what I have and take in the good things.
Thursday was a day for interviews in Montreal. It had a short interview with Karine Champagne at TVA Sports news and it is pretty much impossible to be stressed doing an interview with her. She is so REAL.
She is also a triathlete and she talks about the sport with energy and passion. Talking to her made me feel stoked about racing. I wanted to high five her soon, on the course.
There were several other moments to come in the next few days. On the Friday, I did the coolest pre-race recovery ride with the crew of the –Culture Velo- show.
We rode along a river new Tremblant with a great group (on a road I was just discovering, actually!). The interview was done while riding, I thought that was just great!
Soon enough, it was Friday, I went to the expo to meet the crew from Argon 18 before heading to the pro panel and meeting.
At the Argon 18 booth with Leon Griffin.
At the meeting, I learned that the course at worlds would be slightly modified. At worlds, the run would be more challenging (the long flat -petit train du nord- would be taken out). I think the changes would make the course tougher, more entertaining and there would be more time spent around the beautiful village at the foot of the ski hill. There would be more time on the cobble stone road lined with spectators to keep us going strong.
It was soon time to step up to the line.
It was my third time doing this race and it felt familiar. The water was on the cool side but felt perfect in a wetsuit. After a good warm-up and a wait, it was time to start.
I thought I had a good start, I thought I was swimming well. My arms were heavy but it felt like I was holding good water, I focused on being efficient. I exited out of the water 3rd to hear I was 2:30 back. NO WAY. I have to admit I have yet to have a good swim there in Tremblant. But 2:30 was a shock. I should have swam better then that. The only thing I could think of now to explain that I had only swam twice with the wetsuit in training.The swims I did in Lavaman and Hawaii were solid and my pool times are significantly stronger since last year. I was hoping for better.
I could not let that affect me though, I had to re-focus. Out of transition, I stayed on task. Ahead were Julie and Meredith but I could already not even see them on the climb ahead.
I looked back down at the road and just thought: I am feeling pretty strong and my cadence is good. I had to trust that feeling.
I was now alone in my effort no one ahead that I could see. The motorbike that gave us splits during the ride showed at about 10K that I was 2:37 behind the lead so I figured I was doing pretty good, not lost too much time. That was the first –good sign- I got. And that last –good sign- I would get on the bike ride. As I went on with the ride, I felt flatter and flatter. Not dramatic but not quite strong. Meanwhile up ahead, the girls where getting away FAST. To the point I had to stop looking at the splits when they showed me the board. I needed to stay positive and focus on providing my best. The worst thing about it was that I had no idea what would happen on the run. I could not allow myself to think about the run during the bike though. I had to focus on having a solid bike. Each time that, by reflex, I took a moment to analyze how I was doing, it was disappointed so my struggle during the rest of the ride was to hang on and keep on bringing myself back to: How is my effort? And staying in the moment as much as I can. Anything can happen. It’s not over until it’s over.
Finally, before the last hilly section, Laura rode by and there was nothing I could do but stick to my best pace. I was now in 4th and about 15k from transition.
Off the bike:
I started running and to my surprise, I actually felt pretty light vs Hawaii. I notice, often when I feel flat on the bike, I start running and feel pretty good. That was the second great feeling in my race. I think running is usually my stronger of the three sports and in more then a year, I have not been able to train so much on the run. However good I felt in the start. I knew I did not have enough volume to even try pushing the run in the first 10K. I had to make it through to 10k feeling quite comfortable and then see. I didn’t want to turn it into a shuffle like it was in Hawaii. My longest run in more then a year had been 2h a few weeks ago and there were only a hand full of 2h runs in the last year. Another scary moment was when I reached what I always call the old railroad track. I realized that –petit train du nord-that used to be packed dirt had been paved!!!! I mean, that is a great thing that they paved it for the race! Beautiful quick and smooth. Only….I had only been running on packed dirt for a loooong time. Part of me hoped I would make it through the 21.1K okay.
The other part of me told that part to be quiet and focused on getting the person in front of me and the next. I started passing some guys on the run. Things heald together okay! I had a moment where I smiled inside, feeling I was more dynamic on that run then I had been in a long time. I ended up with one of my slower run times but still, 10mins faster then at Hawaii 70.3 and definitely feeling much stronger.
When I reached the finish line, quite FAR back from Meredith, Julie and even Laura who had stayed very strong on the run, I was stoked to see how much energy there still was in terms of cheering for my late arrival. I got to give some high fives and just enjoy the moment. I think the Tremblant finishing stretch is the absolute best on the circuit and if I can, I always try to enjoy that moment. It was just great!!!!!!! And…I deserved to reward myself and take it in. It’s special to race at home.
At the finish line, I saw my uncle Charles(my dad’s brother!), I hadn’t seen him in years! He had driven up from Montreal and taken the shuttle to be there when I crossed at the finish and it was a wonderful surprise. One of those special moments.
I had to be satisfied with effort on the day and it was okay. I had some moments of doubt and lost focus once or twice during the race but I didn’t give up or stop when it got scary and brought myself back to my effort continuously. It was a good exercise.
A photo at the finish with Pierre Lavoie! (Pierre is definitely an athlete and person I look up to. He has raced the Hawaii Ironman 8 times, hitting the podium three times in his age group, including a world record in the 40-44 age group in 2005. Pierre is very involved in the community. He leads the fight agains Lactic Acidosis, a condition that took two of his children. Pierre also encourages youth to a healthy lifestyle in many ways. Particularly through his very popular event -Le Grand Defi Pierre Lavoie-.)
I have to look forward to the next race and think of things as a continuum. Muncie 70.3 is next, mom and I will drive there from Quebec just like last year. The adventure continues. In Muncie, I will be able to take more chances on the run. This was a necessary test. I should be able to get a long run in for confidence before Muncie and a few wetsuit swims at the lakes here in the Laurentiens. It should be good!
To all of the athletes and friends who cheered me on, even as I was falling behind, I owe you a very big thank you. It all definitely helped me keep on pushing and get the best out of myself. To my sponsors: Shimano, Pearl Izumi, Argon 18, Aquasphere, Powerbar, Rudy Project, computrainer, I could not do it without you.
To Dan and to my family, to my coach Lance. Merci!
I’ll push on!