Friday, 29 June 2012

Mont Tremblant 70.3 - Race day

Mont Tremblant Ironman 70.3 - June 24, 2012, Mont Tremblant Quebec

It was 3 am when I awakened and realized that I wasn’t going back to sleep.  I lay in the dark in anticipation.  My shifts working the overnight help desk have taught me that simply lying quietly is worthwhile even if it’s not actual sleep.  For a week I have been adjusting to an early schedule, and I was rested and ready to go early.  Dawn was just breaking at 4:30 when I got up. 

I finished the Lucky Charms yesterday, so I wondered if a new box of cereal had arrived to replace it.  There’s Shreddies.  The family went on a grocery run yesterday.  I haven’t had Shreddies in years, and pour myself a bowl and sit on the balcony to eat. 
I rented a condo on site at the resort so I would be close to the action.  It’s about a 10 minute walk to the staging area.  The place is lovely.  The kitchen comes complete with dishes and pots, so you can save money by cooking for yourself.  I need to do my own cooking the days leading in anyhow.  I’m not trusting restaurant food to be what I want, and my schedule is odd, so this is ideal.  Saturday I stayed close to home, eating massive bowls of rice.  That’s my food of choice the day before.  Food for race day is a bagel with peanut butter.
After finishing the cereal, I toasted the bagel, and ate it while I dressed and packed.  Everything was laid out the night before, and I stuffed it into two handbags.  One is for the bike and the other for the run. 
At about 5 I woke my squire.  Eldest daughter Jennifer had agreed to walk me to the start, and handle my gear.  We headed out the door at 5:30 to find the shuttle bus going past.  These run on a 45 minute schedule taking people from all the condos to the pedestrian village where the shops and restaurants are.  That’s excellent for us, so we board it expecting a free ride instead of the short walk.  He drove to the main road and ordered everyone out.  Roads are closed for the race and he can go no further.  That’s no good, since the walkway at the other end of the cul-de-sac is closer.  We had even farther to walk for having taken the shuttle across the parking lot.
 My squire has to carry the wetsuit, and I carried the two bags.
Squire carries the wetsuit

Emergency crew at transition
First stop was transition where I arranged everything by the bike which had been parked overnight.  I remembered to crack open my Cliff Bars before putting them in the carrier.  They don’t open easily while riding, since I can only use one hand and my teeth. 

All set
I met up with Jen again.  She wasn’t allowed into transition, to maintain security.  We head over to body-marking in the courtyard in front of the clock tower. 

Body marking
There’s still over an hour before I start, so we sat on the bleachers for 20 minutes or so.  They had music playing from the bandstand.  It’s cool this early in the morning, and my hands started to ache, so we got up and took the ride on the overhead tram to the top of the village and back.

We walked to the beach and I put on the wetsuit.  Standing in the sun with it on I quickly warmed up.  I felt the water.  They said it was 73 or 74.  My open-water swims in the local reservoir were in water at 60 degrees, so this was really nice.  Race start was indeed special.  As if they had been radio contact with the flight crew to time it perfectly, only moments after we finish singing the national anthem the jet planes turned on the smoke trails and zoomed toward us overhead.  It was the Snowbirds aerobatic team on duty for our event.  The military also provided a cannon which fired for the start of the race. 

It was wave 7 for me, starting 30 minutes after the elites.  Heading out into the water I couldn’t catch my breath.  That wasn’t going to turn out well, so I held up to tread water for a few seconds to calm down.  The other men went on ahead, and I started up again nice and slowly.  I was fine after that.  By the first turn buoy the 40-y.o. women caught up to me in their white caps.  At the second turn, the 50-y.o. men did the same, brushing my feet as they overtook the slow guy.  At that corner, I could see bottom, so I held up and dunked to see if I could touch, but it was too deep. 

Transition 1 was better than last year at Welland where I arrived from the swim to find no socks. They were still in the car, so I biked and ran barefoot. Biking was fine, but I wore holes at the achilles from the run. This time I laid out two pairs of socks, in case I wanted to change them when putting on the running shoes. That pair turned out to be a single.
I love my bike.  That’s why I do this sport.  The weather was terrific – sunny and cool with no wind. 
Beware of falling rocks.  The landscape around here is Canadian Shield. It's a vast rocky area running across northern Ontario and Quebec.

Beware of falling rocks

Canadian shield

For expressways like Hwy 117, they blasted gaps in the rocks to let the road be straighter and more level.  It felt like downhill both ways.  There’s some long hills.  They are shallow enough to keep up a good speed on the incline, and go on for so long that on the downhill you can really pick up some speed.  They gave us the entire northbound lane, with automobile traffic bidirectional on the other side of the median.

Highway 117
These two guys in areo helmets would fly by me on the downhills, and then I’d catch up on the climb.  I didn’t like the downhills.  At 60 kph I’d ease on the rear brake. 

Rival in aero
These two guys in areo helmets would fly by me on the downhills, and then I’d catch up on the climb.  I didn’t like the downhills.  At 60 kph I’d ease on the rear brake. 

Bike aid 1
For catching water bottles, they set up hockey nets. 

Bottle catcher
At the third aid station, I had less than half a bottle of Power drink.  On my long rides, it’s essential to keep the bottle carriers stocked when I pass a variety store, since it could be a long hot ride to the next.  I thought of that and picked up a water.  These were big bottles of water, and I was heading into the Lac Superieur area.  I wouldn’t even open that bottle.  The hills are so busy that it’s a bad place to drink. The extra weight wasn’t going to help.

Bike aid 3

Returning from the highway, we rode right through downtown (sorry, no pics).  It wasn’t a big crowd, at least by the time I got there.  Those left still had some enthusiasm.  I rang my bell and gave a good sprint up the narrow road.


In the Ontario triathlon events, one of the cardinal rules is to not cross the center line.  Here, they have pilons along the edge, forcing us over, but it felt wrong.  Then on the bridge, all we had was the left side of the road.

Narrow road

Keep left

Road to Lac Superieur

The road to Lac Superieur isn’t one big hill like some events have.  It’s a winding, twisty, hilly road with an uphill trend.  Both directions have plenty of up and down.  Instead of carving through the rocks, they curl the road around and over them.  I was regularly shifting down to the small (front) ring, but they didn’t feel hard.  Certainly not tough like Bower hill in Woodstock.  The hills were short enough that they didn’t really drain my strength before the next downhill.  A good kick at the top sends you flying.

Curves ahead

Winding road

By Transition 2 my head was in a bit of a fog.  I took off the bike shoes, put on one of the running shoes, put on the other bike shoe and stood up to put on the number belt and the water belt.  That didn't feel right.  I replaced the mismatched shoe and headed to the exit.  The guy held his hands up and pointed over my head.  My helmet was still on.  Back to the bike to drop that off.  I didn't notice that I was still wearing the cycling gloves until I hit the porta pottie.  I secured them to the water belt. 

Le P’tit Train du Nord is a light gravel former railway.  You don’t get much flatter than a railway by a lake.  With the trees there’s some shade depending on the time of day when you get there.  My gel is in the water belt.  I don't know how people did these things before they invented gel.  It took 4 Gu gels to cover the running course.
P'tit Train du Nord

The bad hill of the day is between the resort, where transition is, and the rail trail. On foot, it’s long and steep both ways.

Routing the finish through the pedestrian village was great for us.  It’s a shallow downhill, so you can run fast no matter how tired you are.  Shout to the crowd and they will cheer back at you.

Less 30 minutes