Okay, so we all know I've not been doing any swim or bike training. Let's just be clear about that from the get-go. I swam twice all year (once in the pool and once in the freezing cold ocean) and biked maybe a dozen times before this race (max of 45 miles).
I had been recovering (aka drinking beers) from the 24 hour race and this week was my first week back to actual full training mode. I had been doing an average of about 40 miles per week running up to this point with maybe a bike mixed in. So when I looked at my training for this week and I saw that I would have to run 67 miles before the race, including a 15 miler the day before, I was a bit surprised (thanks coach!?). I got out for my miles during the week and early Thursday morning before we headed north to Canada. Got in 10 miles Friday then my 15 Saturday before the race then tried to relax a bit. And by relax I mean more beer...
Race Morning came and I woke up and my legs felt surprisingly fresh (thank you TranzendBody). Though, I was more nervous that I have ever been for a 70.3 race. I knew there were 3,000 other people on the course and I was one of the last swim waves so I knew I would have a lot of work to do. Woo and I woke up at our tiny little condo on the mountainside (with no AC!) and headed down for body marking and to set up our bikes. Once we got everything in place at our transition zone we headed back to the condo because our wave starts weren't until 9:00 and 9:04 am. This meant we would miss Hugh, Alett, Sebastian, and Linda heading out for their races, but we thought getting the extra time to relax would be best.
We went down to the start around 8:30 am and got a quick practice swim in for a few minutes then kissed Woo good bye and good luck and got in line for my wave start. The water was cool (64*F) but not quite as cold as I thought it would be. Either way it was chilly.
The pro men went off at 8am and were well into the bike before I even dipped my toes into the icy cold water of Lac Tremblant. As I neared the water at the start I knew that I had not been swim training so I eased to the back and outside of the pack so that I could swim at my own leisurely pace. The first 500m or so were very calm and enjoyable. I was wondering why I was worried in the first place. Until I came up on the slower swimmers from the wave(s) ahead. As I approached a group of swimmers I began to get into a traffic jam that I couldn't get out of. I was in the middle of a pack getting kicked and punched and gulping up water. I began to realize why I was worried about my lack of swim training. I looked to my left and noticed a kayak there with a volunteer chilling out watching the crowd. I thought to myself this wouldn't be so bad, I would just grab onto the kayak for a minute (or ten) and catch my breath. Then I began to think that I could just quietly swim back to the shore and head our for a 30 or so mile run and nobody would notice. Then I could come back to the finish to see all my friends complete their races. After all I wasn't really triathlon training anyway...
I think I got kicked in the head once or twice more and realized that was crazy talk. I had never quit a race in my life before today and I was not about to do so now. I was able to tread water for a few seconds until I got out of the group I was stuck in and made my way to the outside of the pack and was able to get into a nice smooth rhythm again. I stayed here until the first turn buoy and made the right turn on the back stretch of the rectangle swim course. There was some traffic at the turn but it wasn't too bad. From there it was pretty smooth sailing to the swim finish. I came out of the water with my slowest 70.3 swim time ever, but I was not upset about about it. I peeled off my cap and goggles and let the strippers do the rest.
Swim - 36:27
I made my way down the .6 mile run to transition area and grabbed my bike and gear and headed out for the hilly 56 mile ride. I knew I had not been in good bike shape but hoped to still make about a 3 hour bike (my slowest 70.3 bike split before today). The first few miles were quick but I realized I needed to get my heart rate down if I was going to continue on even a semi-respectable bike ride. The hills were rough and the temperature was heating up quickly. The bike course is compromised of about a 40 mile loop then an 8 mile out and back by the transition zone. As I rolled by transition for the last 16 miles I thought maybe, just maybe I could still go under 3 hours. Then I got to the first miserable hill on the out and back. It was more horrible than I remembered (from when I competed in the 70.3 World Championship race 2 years ago). Then another hill, and another, then another steady uphill to the bike turn around. As I came up the last up hill I noticed a massive bike crash off to my left on the way back. The carnage was indescribable. It was the worst crash I'd ever seen on a race course. Maybe a dozen bikes on the road and athletes just laying on the pavement with medical help around taking care of everyone. It was scary coming up to the turn around where I would soon be heading past the crash. As I made my way around and back to transition I remembered that the way back was more downhill than the way out and that I could probably break 3 hours if I pushed it. I decided not to because I really wanted to go into the run with some good legs and run strong. I came into transition with a surprisingly smooth flying dismount and ran my bike to the rack.
The great thing about this bike course though is the ability to see teammates and friends out there along the way. I saw Linda in the first 10 miles or so, then I noticed the Canadian Betty outfit ahead of me and rolled up to Alett for some good luck knuckles. Several miles into the bike I still had not yet seen Woo, and my neck was starting to get really sore watching up out of aero for her to go by. Finally on my back to transition shortly after passing the crash I saw her heading toward the last turn-around. It was a good thing I yelled at her because she would have been very worried that I was involved in the wreck.
My favorite part of the day and why I race triathlons in general. It was GO time! I had goals of breaking 1:30 for my first time in my 70.3 distance history, but with the 90*F temps I knew that was going to be a very aggressive challenge. I started on the run course conservative and slow until I crested the first hill about 3/4 a mile from transition zone. As I passed other runners coming out of transition I quickly realized that there were not many people around that still had fresh legs. I hit mile 1 in just under 7 minute pace and my heart rate was not crazy high. I had run the race course the past 2 days and knew where and when I could push it which was a big help. The first 3 miles were a rolling mostly shaded road over to a nice smooth multi-use path in town for the out and back. Once I got to the out and back I knew there was a gradual downhill to the turn around then a slight uphill on the way back. I was in the zone and passing several of people at once. "On your left, on your right" I would shout coming through the crowd picking wherever would be the most efficient place to split through the walkers (reminder: I had a slow bike and was one of the last waves so there were a lot of people ahead of me at this point). I saw one guy running about 2-3 miles ahead who looked to be moving at a nice pace. He was wearing a black/white Zoot singlet and I picked him out and thought to myself "self: you better catch him by the end of this race."
I hit the turn around and was moving quickly on my way back to the finish line when about I saw the Woo about 3-4 miles behind me. I shouted to her and kept moving as best as I could. I knew I was getting tired and needed to consume a 2nd gel which my body definitely didn't want any part of. I shoved the 100 mg caffeine double espresso gel down my throat and knew I would make it from there. My legs still had some juice and my HR was not maxed out so coming off the out and back was my time to shine. I hit the gas for the last 3 miles to see what I had left. Again I passed group after group making my way to the final two hills and the finish line. I hit the final up hill knowing I would not make sub-1:30, but knew I would have a great race and be pretty close. As I crested the top of the hill in the Mont Tremblant village I passed Zoot singlet guy with maybe 1/4 mile to go and knew I felt as good as I could at this point 5+ hours into the race. I crossed the finish line with a 5:15ish finish and I was surprisingly happy with the result. I took it easy on the swim and bike then left it all out there on the run course. It was my 2nd slowest 70.3 ever, but my fastest run split; so exactly what I set out to do.
Run- 1:32:08 (I think was about the 7th fastest run split in my age group of the day)
Once I crossed the finish line I knew I had about 45 minutes or so before Woo came across. I figured that Hugh and Seb had already finished so I looked for them in the finishers tent, but no luck. I started feeling very light headed and tingly (my body always gets like this when I start to get dehydrated). I knew this may be a problem because of the heat and because I missed the Gatorade at the last 3 aid stations. I sat down next to a couple of very friendly Boston Triathlon guys who had just finished ahead of me. One guy grabbed me a Coca-Cola which tasted like the best thing ever (sugar?) as it had been probably years since I have consumed any soda. I told them I knew I was dehydrated and in rough shape because I forgot my salt and missed the Gatorade. To my surprise one of the guys had a pocket full of salt tablets left and gave me 4 of them. I think this saved my day! From there I caught my breath and got re-hydrated and headed over to the truck for some fresh Canadian poutine!! I mean if we're being honest, that's the only reason I signed up in the first place.
As I was coming back from the food truck I saw Sebastian and we chatted a while. I couldn't decide if I wanted to leave the finishers tent and go find Woo on the course or stay there and wait for her to come through the finisher's chute. I knew I wasted a lot of time sitting, chatting, and re-hydrating so I didn't know where I could find her on the course. At that point I figured it would be better to wait for her at the finish line instead of trying to find her on the course and then miss her. At about 6 hours and 5 minutes I saw her coming down the hill toward the finish. Woo finished in 6:06:06 well ahead of where she thought she would finish. I grabbed her in the chute and we sat and relaxed a bit.
After Woo caught her breath we rushed out to try and find Alett for her finish. So we brought our bikes and gear out to about 1 mile from the finish. Unfortunately we must have missed her because sitting on the sidelines I got the final update that she had finished. From there we walked back across the race course up the massive hill to our condo to grab a recovery Garden of Life Raw all natural plant-based protein recovery smoothie, then beers and a quick shower before meeting Alett and Hugh for dinner and Seb and Linda for drinks and ice cream after that.
Overall I was very happy with the race and had a great time. I forgot how much fun the triathlon community is and how great it is to race against some of the fastest guys in the area. I ended up passing about 58 people in my age group and 799 people overall from the time I got off the bike to the time I made it to the finish. Having a strong run made my day and really made me realize that my legs are in great ultra shape and ready for the challenges I have in mind for them this year.