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 

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