Friday, June 30, 2017

The Comeback: Mont Tremblant 70.3 Run

We go out in the world and take our chances....
Fate is just weight of circumstances....
That's the way that Lady Luck dances.....

Roll The Bones

I ran into T2 in my cycling shoes and shuffled over to my spot in transition.  I racked my bike, took off my helmet and then took off my shoes.  My feet were actually still damp so I had to dry them off before I could put my socks on.  Even then getting my socks on was a struggle.  In retrospect I should have chosen a different pair of socks but these matched my outfit so of course I had to wear them, ha ha.  It took me a solid minute to get both pairs on as well as my shoes and race belt.  I grabbed my hat, sunglasses and gels and started running.   I put my hat on as I exited T2 and shoved my gels in my pockets, keeping one out and ready to go.  Surprisingly my legs felt ok.  They didn't feel tired.  What was really bothering me was my left glut and upper hamstring.  It hurt.  I felt like the nerve was being rubbed.  I didn't want to try to change my gait because that would really mess with things.  So I plodded on.  My Garmin beeped and I looked down to see 4:39 for the first km.  Whoa.  I didn't feel like I was running 4:39/km.  It felt comfortable.  That was a good thing.

Still a whole lotta upper body twisting happening! 
I spent a lot of time running hills in my training leading up to Tremblant and it totally paid off.  I scampered up the first big climb like it was nothing.  I figured the rollers leading into the village of Tremblant wouldn't pose too much of an issue for me since I had done so much hill work.  I was chugging along, passing people, feeling pretty good, other than the fact I had to pee.  I had to pee at about 60km on the bike but I didn't want to stop and by the time I got onto Duplessis, that sensation went out the window, probably because I was working so hard.  But out on the run, I started to get uncomfortable. I thought perhaps I could run through it but I know that when I have to pee, I usually stop drinking and that wouldn't be a smart thing considering I was only 3km into the run.  So just before I started climbing into the old village, I stopped at a porta potty.  Luckily I didn't have to wait.  As much as I love my one piece tri suit, getting  in and out of it while sweaty is a pain in the ass.  I was in the porta potty for at least a minute, probably closer to a minute and a half.   But once I got out, I felt a million times better and started to pick up the pace again.

I had no issues with the hills leading into the old village and my km splits remained in the 4:40 range (other than the porta potty stop).  I knew that once I got onto the rail path, it was a false flat going down hill on the way out so things were going to feel really easy, which they did.  I settled into an excellent rhythm.  I'd grab water and the occasional gatorade at aid stations but what I really wanted was a coke.  I finally got one at the second aid station on the path.  Ahhhh.  So.  Good.

Since the run course was an out and back, I figured I'd see G so I kept my eyes peeled for him.  I saw a lot of the top age groupers on their way back, including Rob Wheeler, a guy we ride with from time to time.  I saw a few other Zoot athletes out on the course as well - easy to spot in our awesome kits!

I was ticking off the kms fairly comfortably.  I didn't feel like I was pushing too hard.  The pace felt sustainable.  I was figuring my average HR was probably around 155-157.  I don't know that my legs could have gone any faster even if I wanted them to.  I figured at the pace I was running I'd probably come in around 1:42-1:43, if I could sustain it for the entire run.  I finally saw G as I got closer to the 9km mark.  He had made the turnaround and was on his way back.  I'd say there was probably just under 2km that separated us.  He looked like he was running really well.  Old me would have had the speed to catch him for sure.  But, current me did not and wasn't even going to try.

I got to the turnaround and started the trek back.  I was halfway done.  Coming back I watched my pace start to drop a bit.  The sun was out in full force so it was getting a little hot and I was running up hill.  It was slight, but enough that it affected my pace.  I grabbed another water, coke, then gatorade.   I started seeing some familiar faces as a lot of my friends were now on the run.  I saw my friend Lois and I saw Nathalie again - we exchanged high fives and whoohoos, as you do, ha ha.  I had actually managed to catch a couple of women as well.  Once again, I wasn't sure if they were in my AG or not but I passed them both decisively.

At about the 14km mark, I was starting to hurt.  I told myself I only had 7km to go.  35 minutes or so.  My legs were starting to feel it.  I am chalking this up to a few things, mainly my lack of longer runs off the bike.   The next aid station, I stopped and walked through it, grabbing water and coke again.  I made sure not to stop for too long as it hurts like hell to start running again after standing around.  Soon I was at the 16km mark and the suffering was really starting.

So what did I start doing?  I started smiling.  An IG friend of mine had commented on one of my pre race posts and said "Smile every mile".  That stuck with me and when the going got tough, I started to smile.  It seems counter intuitive but honestly, it made me feel better.  Maybe not 100% but it made a difference.

At the 17km aid station, I stopped to grab another gatorade, coke and water.  I opted to take my last gel and instead of running and eating it, I stopped and stood at the aid station.  My legs were feeling it.  I ate the gel, grabbed another water to wash it down and I was off.  I hoped that it would give me enough energy to power through the last 4km because I was really starting to hurt.  My right quad was feeling crampy and my calves were sore.

As soon as I got out of the village, I knew the end was near.  There were spectators peppered along the road leading into the ski village and I smiled at each and every one of them.  I rounded the bend past the swim start and climbed the hill.  There were people walking.  Once again, I had no issue getting up it and I passed a couple more women.  I could hear the DJ and people cheering.  When I got to the bottom of the hill, there were people everywhere.  I started grinning from ear to ear and high-fiving people.  Anyone that had a hand out, I was going to hit it.  I passed the 20km mark and started to pick up the pace.  I also started to get emotional.  There were a few tears shed for sure.  I couldn't believe that I was almost done.   It felt like my first 70.3 all over again.  I caught two more women as I made the turn around the driveway of Hotel Quintessence.   The crowds were insane along here.   I made my way down the through village, right by the same spot I stood cheering last year and got choked up again.  STOP CRYING.   I composed myself as I followed the turn of the finishing chute.  Only a few hundred meters to go.  I ran into the open area just before the finish line and raised my fist in the air and yelled YES with a huge grin plastered on my face.  I glanced up at the clock and saw 5:35 something but that meant nothing to me because I had no idea what time I started at.

I heard the announcer call my name as I came towards the line.  I jogged down the ramp and started walking.  I had stopped my watch when I crossed the line but was so darn happy I was finished, I didn't even bother to look.  I wanted to find G.   I found him right away and I hugged him and started crying again.   I was overcome with emotion.  What a perfect day.   I collected my medal and my finishers hat and we immediately got in line for poutine.  I wasn't messing around.  I was hungry.  It was only then that I looked down at my watch and saw the total time.

5:09:12.  I blurted out "Holy Shit, I don't believe it!" G said You don't believe what?  I told him my time and I got a big hug and a congrats.   He was 5:06:31.  He took 18 minutes off his time from last year!

My official time was 5:09:44.  I didn't start my watch right away when I went into the water and, I stopped my watch by accident on my way out of transition so I lost some seconds there.  My final run time was 1:44:48 and I went from 10th to 6th.

I was positively gobsmacked.  I was hoping a good day would net me a 5:15 or so.  I didn't think I'd manage anything faster than that.   I went into this race with zero expectations in terms of where I'd end up in my AG.  I knew that I was a fairly strong athlete so I figured I'd probably end up in the top 10-15 at least if I didn't have any mechanical issues and depending on who else showed up.   That time got me 6th in my AG.  If I had raced last year and gotten that time, it would have put me in third.  The top 3 women in my AG went sub 5 hours.   That is just plain CRAZY.

I am absolutely thrilled at how the day unfolded.  We had fabulous weather, I remained calm during the swim, I nailed my power numbers, and managed a decent run.  This gives me a good benchmark for things I can work on for Placid.  I was less than two minutes out of 5th place and I know exactly where I lost it.  So, moving forward, I will be working on faster transitions as well as just making sure I get even stronger climbing on my tri bike.  And of course, I will be putting in a bit more speed work on the run, along with continued hill running because like I said yesterday, Lake Placid ain't flat.  That run course is no joke.

I want to give a massive shout out to everyone that wished me luck - THANK YOU!  My awesome health care crew also deserves special mention as they helped to keep me in one piece this year:  Dr.  Peter Lejkowski at Pivot Sports Medicine and my RMT and pal, David Lamy.  And of course, G, without him, I wouldn't be doing this crazy sport.  He introduced me to it all those years ago and I am forever grateful.  Here's to crossing many more finish lines together.

Thanks for reading!

~ Coach PK xo

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Comeback: Mont Tremblant 70.3 Race Recap - The Bike

Now that my least favourite part of the race was over, I was on to the bike.  This was going to be a solid test of my cycling fitness and fueling strategy.  Because this was an early season race, G and I both felt that we would probably have some room for improvement in Lake Placid.   I knew this course was hard, well, parts of it were anyway, and that you had better not burn yourself out too early because the last 16km of the course is pure evil. 

I came flying into T1 and over to my rack which was very close to the swim entrance.  I had caught Clare, another TTC athlete on the run up to transition and her and I ran to our bikes together.   I dropped my wetsuit, goggles and earplugs, grabbed my helmet, buckled it up and yanked on my shoes.  My feet were a bit cold but I figured they’d probably warm up as the sun was supposed to come out.  It was still overcast when I headed out of transition to start the bike.  I ran out to the dismount line and hopped on Tom Sawyer.  I had put my bike in the small chain ring but realized that even in the hardest gear my legs were spinning too high.  They were raring to go.  So into the big chain ring I went. 

The First 30km:  Pacing myself

Once you leave transition, it’s flat for about 800m then you start to climb a smallish hill.  You descend that a decent clip into a round about and then you start a longer climb up Montee Ryan.  Montee Ryan has two good climbs and an awesome descent.  There is a no passing section on here as well.   I didn’t want to hammer the first climb so I just settled into a good rhythm, ticking my legs over at about 85-90 RPM.   I had taken a GU as soon as I got on my bike.  My plan was to fuel mainly with E-Fuel (roughly 2.5-3 bottles depending on how long I was riding for) plus 2 gels + 1/3 of a Lara bar if I felt like I wanted something solid.  Using primarily liquid fuel meant that I was definitely going to be hydrated.  It also meant that I was carrying all my fuel on my bike, which adds a bit of weight.  But I figured most of it would be gone by the time I got to the really hard part of course near the end of the race.

The first 30km - look at that descent!!! 

 I settled into a good groove, passing a few people, really trying to keep my effort level in check.  My target power was 180w and I figured with the hills on the course, I'd definitely end up somewhere around there.  I find spinning up climbs at a lower power rate really spikes my heart rate so I try to pedal at a slightly lower cadence to keep my HR down, which ends up spiking my power into the 200-215w range.  Yes, that can be hard on your legs if you’re not used to it, but that’s how I’ve been riding for the last few years and it seems to work for me. 

Once we got down Montee Ryan, we turned on to the 117.   This was where I knew I could make up some good time.  I knew there was a long grinder of a climb on the way back but on the way out, you got that amazing descent.  We had one entire side of the highway so there was plenty of room to spread out.  I was very aware of the race marshalls.   The last thing I wanted was to get a penalty for drafting.  It was very difficult to avoid people.  There were draft packs everywhere.   In fact, there were several instances where I was passed by a paceline of guys.  I was so annoyed at one group I said “nice paceline, cheaters!” as they went by me.  The most frustrating part was that even with that pacelining, they didn’t get that far ahead of me.  I caught a bunch of them on a climb again.  Idiots.  I was quite happy to see that a few of them got busted for drafting, as I saw them sitting in the penalty tent on the way back. 

I cooked along the highway, feeling really good.  I tried not to surge too much but I kept coming up on packs of people that were moving much slower than I was and in order to get by them, I had to pick up the pace a fair bit because you only have 25 seconds to make a pass.  When it's a larger group, you really need to make sure you are moving quickly.  This happened a few times in the earlier kms along the highway.  I figured by the time we turned around it would spread out.  

My fuelling was on point, thanks to my new hydration bottle, it was very easy to keep sipping on my drink.  My energy level felt good.  There was never any lag or spike in energy, it remained constant.  I did wish that I had put my socks on as my feet were actually quite cold.  The sun hadn't come out and there was a fair bit of wind on the highway.  The forecast had called for sun in the morning but instead we were greeted with a low lying mist and cloud cover that didn't start to break until we made it into downtown Tremblant.   My legs were also a bit cold but I figured that once the sun came out that would change.

I hit the turnaround and didn't unclip like I usually do.  I can't believe how much better my bike handling skills have gotten.  Thank you Morning Glory!  

The Middle 30km:  Finding my groove

Once I hit the turnaround, I immediately started climbing again.  It wasn't a steep climb, just a bit a long grinder.  I knew the way back to downtown Mont Tremblant was going to be fast, other than the big grinder of a climb.  My plan for that climb was hit the small chain ring and just click over the km's.  Don't burn too much power.   I still had a ways to go before I hit that so I stayed in my aerobars and kept the cadence up.  I was closing in on 1 hour on the bike so I was curious to see how much ground I would have covered when I hit the 1 hour mark.  I got my answer a few minutes later:  33.4km.  HECK YEAH.  That was much better than I had expected.   

I was still feeling really good closing in around the halfway point.  I was starting to get into unfamiliar territory with my tri suit - I hadn't worn it for anything longer than 40km but I made sure I had used chamois cream and body glide to protect my delicate undercarriage.   At 45km I was still feeling ok but I had a sneaking suspicion that things would be different by the time I hit 60km.  I kept trucking along.  The big climb was coming up so I thought I'd take my 1/3 of my Lara bar before I started climbing.  There was a huge group of guys that had passed me on a descent and I caught pretty much all of them on this climb.   When I got to the top, I saw the penalty tent.  It was JAMMED.   The race marshals weren't messing around.

I booked it along the next section of the highway.  It was a long undulating descent that flattened out to an off ramp which we took into downtown Mont Tremblant.  There were a TON of people out cheering.  We did a little u-turn in town and then it was back towards Montee Ryan.  The big descent that I rode down on the way out, I had to ride back up.  So, it was back into my small chain ring again.  I knew what was coming up and I wanted my legs to be ready for it.  The race had definitely spread out by this point.   I noticed that I had only been passed by two women.  Lots of guys, but only two women.  I felt pretty good about that.   In retrospect that didn't really mean anything other than those women started after me and were faster than me on the bike.  I had no clue if they were in my AG or not.  That's the thing about a rolling start is that you have no idea who you're racing.  

The Final 30km:  Into the hills

I was watching my Garmin again as I was getting close to the two hour mark.  I hit 66.8km in 2 hours.  I was exactly the same speed as on the way out, ha ha.  How's that for consistency??  I was still averaging 33.4kph.  My goal was 32-32.5/kph so this was much better than I had anticipated.  That being said, I knew I was going to lose some time in the last 16km of the ride.  

The last 30km.  The km from about 68 to 78 are just plain brutal.  
My tri suit was really starting to be uncomfortable as was my left glut.  That oh so familiar nerve pain was rearing it's head and my glut and upper hamstring were aching.  That did not bode well for the run but I tried not to think about that.  I was getting closer to making the turn from Montee Ryan onto Chemin des Voyageurs so the hard part of the race was closing in.  Aside from the tri suit, I was still feeling pretty good.  I know I spent a large part of my day smiling.  How could I not after last year?

I rode past transition towards Chemin Duplessis.  I was totally shocked at the number of people that were out spectating through here and all the way up the road.  The first climb was lined with people.  It was amazing and it totally gave me an extra boost.  I powered up that first climb just fine.  I was trying to remember how many climbs there were on the way out.  I figured at least 6.  The second one comes right after the first and it's short and steep so I had to get out the saddle for that one, even in my small chain ring.  This section of the course reminds me of the first part of the Muskoka course.  Just bloody brutal.   I passed another photographer and waved and he made some comment about me not working hard enough, ha ha.

I continued chugging along, trying to spin my legs as much as possible through here.  Even in my easiest gear, I still had to get out of the saddle to get up some of the climbs.  This section is SO hard.  My quads were absolutely screaming at me towards the last big climb.  I was lucky if I was doing more than 10kph.  I was a little concerned that perhaps I had gone a little too hard earlier on.  Nothing I could do about that now except hope that I don't cave on the run.  I noticed that my Garmin wasn't matching the signs on the race course.  I seemed to be roughly 2km behind the course signs.  Oh well,  that just meant I'd be off the bike sooner, ha ha.

I hit the last climb and as I came around the bend I saw the turnaround.  Once again, I made it around a turn without unclipping!  WHEEEE!   I knew the way back to transition was going to be way faster than the way out.  When I looked at my Strava results for that segment, I was over 4 minutes faster on the way back, ha ha.  There was another no passing zone on Duplessis, at the big sweeping descent due to a couple of very serious accidents that have happened at previous races.  Luckily when I hit that zone, there wasn't anyone in front of me so I took full advantage of that and pedalled like mad.  Before I knew it, I was back into the crowds along the bottom of Duplessis and turned back in towards transition.  I jumped off my bike at the dismount line, glanced down at my Garmin and was shocked at what I saw.   2:42 and change.  Holy crap.

I crossed the timing mat and ran into T2.  

Official bike time:  2:43:01 for an average of 33.13 kph.   For the data geeks out there, my normalized power was 182w.  Pretty much where I thought I'd be.  I was hoping I'd have HR data to share but for some reason my HRM didn't work after the swim.  Probably due to the amount of body glide I put on in the morning, ha ha.  

I consumed 2.25 bottles of e-fuel, 2 GU and 1/3 of a coconut Lara Bar.

I managed to gain 13 spots from the swim to the bike.  I exited the swim in 23rd, came off the bike in 10th.  

Not too long ago I could only dream about holding a pace like I did for 90km.  My cycling has seen massive improvement in the last year.  Looking back on last year, had I not gotten injured, I don't know that I would have put as much time in the saddle as I have.  It's certainly paid off and I still feel like I have some more gains to make, especially climbing.  Which is good because Lake Placid ain't flat.

I'll be back tomorrow with the final leg and some post race thoughts.....

Thanks for reading!

~ Coach PK

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mont Tremblant 70.3 Race Recap: Pre-Amble + Swim

We had originally planned on heading to Tremblant on the Friday but a few weeks ago G thought it would be better if we left on Thursday so we booked an extra night at the Tour des Voyageurs where we had booked the rest of our stay.  That actually worked out really well as we got into Tremblant by about 5:30 which gave us time to check in and pick up our race kits.  Picking up our kit on Thursday meant that we avoided the complete insanity that we saw on the Friday and Saturday.  The line up to get race kits was ridiculous both days, probably due to a few things 1) the fact that there was a sprint and olympic race on the Saturday and the fact that they increased the number of people racing the 70.3.  We looked at the numbers in comparison to last year and last year there was just under 2500 people that finished and this year there was almost 2900.  That's HUGE.

As usual, the check in process was smooth and efficient and the volunteers were amazing.  So friendly and enthusiastic.  This years swag ended up coming in very handy.  It was a small over the shoulder pack which I ended up using pretty much every day.  The race t-shirt was kinda gross and was actually too big for me, even though I ordered a small.  I think they do that on purpose so you go and buy Ironman branded race stuff, ha ha.   We went for dinner and a beer at La Diable and then went and met up with Irina, Zin and Louis at La Forge.  We were sitting on the patio and the bugs were brutal and the temperature really started to drop so we called it a night and headed back to the condo.

Friday was overcast and rained on and off for most of the day.  We lazed around in the morning while it rained and as soon as we saw a break in the weather, we walked over to the swim start and went for short swim to test the water.  It was chilly but once you got used to it, it was lovely.   We swam about 600m and packed it in.   It was looking like it was going to rain again.

After the swim we went back to our condo and got ourselves sorted to head down to do some shopping at the Ironman Village.   I have gotten to the point where I don’t feel I need anymore Ironman branded race gear, I’m happy with whatever swag we’re given in our race kits.  That being said, IF the race shirt design is really cool or I really like the colours, I’ll buy it.  The stuff at Tremblant wasn’t bad but I didn’t love it.   I was happy to see a bunch of Women for Tri stuff there so I ended up buying the trucker hat I had been eyeing on the IM website.  I had also wanted to try Roka goggles and there were a TON of them there so I ended up buying a pair.  I liked them so much I wore them on race day (I did a short swim the day bfore to test them out and I loved them so much I opted to wear them).  We wandered around the rest of the booths that were set up and G scored a sweet pair of Zoot Solanas for $70.  There were a ton of Zoot shoes on sale probably because Zoot has stopped making every model except for the Solana and the Ali’i.  So there were deals to be had for sure. 

We hit up Le Shak for lunch and I got a message from a fellow instagrammer / blogger that she was heading into the Village.  I have been following Nathalie on Instagram for a while (and just started reading her blog a couple of months ago) and we had said we should try to meet up.    So G and I wandered over to the Grand CafĂ© for a post lunch cappuccino and she met us there.  What a lovely woman.    I felt immediately comfortable with her.  It’s funny when you meet online people for the first time, sometimes it’s just awkward.  You feel like you know a lot about the person but then when you meet them, they seem different than what you see on social media.  Nathalie was exactly the same as her social media voice.   We chatted for quite some time about where things are at for her in terms of her health.   She wanted to talk to me about the potential of working together once things get sorted out with her health.  I hope that I we get that opportunity.  

We parted ways and then G and I went back to the condo and started organizing our race bags.  This was a new thing for this year.   We had done a couple of races where you had bags for each leg of the race and while it keeps things organized, it was a bit of a pain in the ass having to rummage through each one in transition.   We made up all our race day bottles, lounged around and then went out to dinner. 


I slept like a log on Friday night.  I don’t think I got out of bed until 7:30 on Saturday morning.  I could hear the  sprint and Olympic distance races happening.    G and I made breakfast, had some coffee and generally lazed about for a couple of hours.  I had wanted to do another swim to test out my new goggles but we couldn’t get into the water until after 11 am so we opted to take the bikes out for one last spin to make sure everything was a-ok.   We rode up Montee Ryan and turned right at the roundabout  and made our way into the old village of Tremblant.   There’s a bike / coffee shop there that does excellent cappuccinos so we stopped to have a coffee on the deck.   We ran into Irina and another FMCT athlete, Mellen.  We chit chatted a bit and then I went out on the patio to sit in the sun.    After our little pit stop we rode back into Tremblant, took the bikes back up to the room, threw on our running shoes and did a 2km run off the bike.   My legs felt good.   4:45-4:50/km pace felt comfortable.  That’s exactly what I was hoping for.    When we got back in, I grabbed all my swim stuff and we booked it down to the beach.  I had to be at the 70.3 sign for 1:30 for the Toronto Triathlon Club picture   I did a quick swim, which totally sucked and put me in a foul mood.  It was choppy and I swam really slowly, even though I felt like I was swimming well.  On the plus side, the new goggles were awesome.   I put the bad swim out of my head and we hustled back to the condo so I could change and run downstairs to join the group.   My swimming had been bothering me as of late, I felt like I was struggling in open water and I was swimming so much slower than I normally would.  I was trying not to let it bother me too much.  There was nothing I could do about it at this point except give it my best.

I met the TTC group and we got our shot done.  It was nice to meet a few more club members and see some familiar faces (hi Brenda, Nancy, Clare & Andy!).    

We ended up winning first place in the Division 1 Tri Club points!  woohoo!
I went back to the condo and G and I got our bikes and brought them down to check them in.   With that done, we were off to the 4:00 pm athlete briefing.  We met up with our friend Deanne and her friend Barb.  It had to be the fastest athlete briefing ever because it was going to POUR.   

We found out that we only had to use the transition bags to bring our gear into transition.   They wanted to avoid having big bags and boxes etc around bikes.  We were allowed to have a mat or towel by our bike with our stuff on it.   WHEW.  With that done, all that was left was a nice dinner at Coco Pazzo and hopefully a good night’s sleep, then it was GO time.   In retrospect, I would have saved dinner at Coco Pazzo for post race.  It was a great meal and one that definitely warranted a glass or two of wine.  Next time, ha ha. 

I was actually pretty tired so I went to bed at 9:30 and fell asleep right away.   I woke up at 1:44 am to go to the washroom and that was it.  I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning.  I couldn’t turn my brain off.  I’ve finally figured out that the stressful part of racing for me is race morning and remembering all the things and making sure I leave myself enough time to get to the start to warm up.  Once I’m down at the start, I’m good.  There is sense of calm that comes over me.  It’s like my brain says ok, you’ve got everything, now it’s time to get down to business. 

The Swim

Despite getting up really early, G and I still had to hustle down to the swim start.  I felt a bit rushed and freaked out a bit about the possibility of not getting a warm up in.  They were singing the National Anthem which meant that the pros were going to start right after.  I was wedging my wetsuit on in the parking lot while G was in the porta potty line.  I ran into Irina, Zin. Mellen and Louis and wished them good luck.  G finished up and we ran over to the last pick up truck and tossed our swim bags in there.  We made our way down to the beach and had to shove our way through all the spectators.  The beach was packed.  This year they had decided to try a rolling start vs. wave starts so there were signs all along the beach where you needed to seed yourself according to your expected swim time.  It was a bit chaotic.   G and I made our way through the crowd.  I wanted to get into the water so I kissed him good bye and gave him a hug and we wished each other good luck.   I went into the water and got acclimatized.  I swam out a few hundred meters did some pick ups, breast stroked a bit, swam some more and then turned around and made my way back.  I ran into my friends Linda and Lois and we swam back into shore together.   As I stood up, I heard my name and turned to see Jody, another friend I’ve met through social media and whom I’d see regularly at MSC races.  I gave her a hug and we wished each other good luck.  I turned to give Linda a hug and high five and I gave Lois a big hug and wished her luck.   Her and I were both injured last year so we sat on the sidelines together and cried at the start.  Not this year.  Both of us were grinning from ear to ear. 

I scuttled off to try and find out where I should seed myself.  I wove my way through the dense crowd on the beach.  It seemed so much bigger than last year, especially when you were looking at it from the water.   My plan was to seed myself with the 32-35 minute group, towards the back.  Well, there was one problem with that, I had no idea where the back of that group was.  So I pushed through a few people along the shore until I could see the 32-35 minute sign, I then stopped and asked a couple of people around me what they were planning on swimming.  One person said 36 minutes, someone else said 35 minutes so I thought ok, I’ll just stay here.    The next thing I knew I was being funnelled into a smaller chute and we were making our way to the edge of the water.  We stood under and arch and there were three openings that looked like subway turnstiles.   There were two volunteers with long flags that were letting people through.  Before I knew it I was standing there waiting for the flag do be raised.  1-2-3.  Go.

The two athletes with me took off into the water.  I waded in and started my watch.  Once the water got up to my waist I started swimming.   I gotta say, the start was very civilized.  Yes, there were people around me but not once did I feel like I was caught in pack or boxed in with slower swimmers.  I got into a good rhythm right away.  I was remarkably calm which made me smile.   Of course I had a Rush song going through my head – I had the chorus of Roll the Bones on repeat  .  Those of you that follow me on Strava were probably wondering WTF I meant with my post titles.  Those were the lyrics I had on repeat throughout the swim and the bike.  “We go out in the world and take our chances, fate is just the weight of circumstances, that’s the way that lady luck dances…”  I can honestly say that was probably one of the best swims I have ever had in a race.  There was ZERO panic.  None.  I was relaxed, my breathing was regular, there was no gasping, nothing.  I was really surprised when I started catching people.  I can only assume that people didn’t really seed them selves all that well.  Realistically I probably should have seeded myself a little further up, but, I never felt like I got held up by anyone slower.  It would have been nice to have some fast feet to follow though.  My watch buzzed signalling 500m and it seemed be really fast.   I wanted to look but that would have meant stopping.  So I kept motoring on.  I didn’t sight much because we basically swam up inbetween a row of boats.   I would sight every so often to see how far the red turn buoy was.  As I got closer to that buoy, I could feel the chop in the water increase.  I’m not sure what was going on there but I was getting smacked in the face every time I tried to see where I was going.  I slowed down a bit here to get my bearings.  I got around the buoy and got back into my rhythm.  I was staying a bit far out from the buoys.  There were a few other folks that were out with me, the majority of people were sticking closer to the buoys.  My watch buzzed again and I couldn’t believe I was already at 1000m.   I came up on a guy that was breast stroking and as I passed him he decided to start swimming.    He swam right up beside me and got right in my bubble.  He then started swimming at me.  I don’t think he had any idea that I was even there.  I stopped, popped my head up and waited for him to pass then I went around him and settled back into my groove.  I felt like I was swimming really well.  I felt strong and I felt in control.  I’d feel the occasional twinge in my right calf but nothing major.  My last long open water swim at Barrelman, my right calf cramped so hard I had to stop swimming.   I could feel that starting to happen when I swam at the quarry the week before so I was a bit worried that would happen again.  I stopped kicking with my right leg for a bit and that seemed to help.     My watch buzzed again to signal 1500m.  Only 400m left.  I started working a bit harder.  My right calf started to get crampy.   I stopped kicking and just started pulling to try to hold off the cramp.  I could see the shore and hear the announcer.     I started kicking again and my calf cramped.  Not super hard but enough that it hurt and I couldn’t kick with that leg.   I could see the water was getting shallower.   I was so close.  I could see people starting to stand up.  I felt that the water was still too deep so I kept swimming until my hand almost touched the bottom.  I stood up but it was still a bit too deep so I did a dolphin dive and that caused my right calf to really cramp.  I stood up and started to unzip my wetsuit.  I glanced down at my Garmin as I touched the shore and I saw 34 minutes and change – YESSSS!!!!  I got the wetsuit off my arms as I came out of the water and luckily got the first two wetsuit strippers.   They yanked it right off me and I grabbed it and ran.   I sprinted by so many people on my way into transition.   The hard part was over and now the fun was going to begin.

Official swim time:  34:56  1:48/100m - squeaked in just under my goal time of 35:00 minutes!

I’ll be back tomorrow with the bike and possibly the run.  We'll see how long winded I get!

Thanks for reading!  

~ Coach PK 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday Musings: The Post Race High

Happy Monday Gang!

This is going to be short and sweet because I'm still processing yesterday's race.  All I have to say is what a day.  What a day and what a race.  The full report will come in pieces over the next few days, I promise.

Tremblant is an amazing place.  They do this race up right for sure.  The volunteers are amazing and the course is fantastic.  It's tough, but it's absolutely beautiful.

Yesterday went far better than I ever expected.  I seem to under estimate my ability A LOT.   I still can't believe I pulled off what I did.   I'm really proud because the field was incredibly competitive this year.   The top woman in my AG went 4:36 and finished 11th OVERALL female.  Behind her was an ex-pro, Darlene Hall, whom I used to swim with.  In fact the top 3 women in my AG all went sub 5:00 hours, whereas last year, NONE of my AG went sub 5:00.  So to even crack the top 10 against talent like that makes me feel really proud.

I went into this race with zero expectations.  I didn't think I was going to be that competitive, especially because I feel that my training wasn't where I had hoped it would be, especially with my swimming and running.  My run was just starting to come around but I still feel like I have a little more work to do.   And my swimming, well, let's just say yesterday really surprised me, ha ha.

It was so nice to race with friends and G of course.  G also had a spectacular day, taking a whopping 18 minutes off his time from last year.  Gone are the days of me beating him at races, ha ha.  His cycling is super strong and his run is coming around.  I'm going to have to bust my butt to keep him at bay on the run in Lake Placid!

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for all the well wishes and the congrats!  Stay tuned for the race day play by play later on this week.

~ Coach PK xo

Happy Finishers!