Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report 2012

We arrived up in Mont-Tremblant on Thursday and the town was buzzing with triathletes. You could feel the excitement from the whole community about Ironman week.

 I was feeling great about my training and nutrition and was arriving with no regrets or thoughts of " I should have done more/should have done things differently". It was my first year using QT2 Systems for an Ironman training plan and it was just what I needed to take me to the next level.

We spent the next couple of days prepping for the race. The days prior to Ironman are filled with registration, prepping transition bags, checking in our bikes, grocery shopping and most importantly- resting, hydrating and nourishing our bodies.
We brought most of our food from home (yes, it is not a problem bringing perishable food across the border), but from the recommendation of MC who owns Fluide Bar a Jus-  the local Juice Bar in the village, we did find a local farm for local vegetables. A wonderful spot for local organic meat raised right on the farm was Picardier.  27, route 323, Brebeuf, J0T 1B0 819-425-8922 www.picardier.com . We didn't make it to Rachelle-Bery, but it is the local health food store and good alternative to the IGA grocery store.


Fluide Bar a Jus is right in the heart of the village and is a great place to stop for green juices or healthy smoothies. And the owner, MC, is so sweet and knowledgeable!


We faced race week with the attitude that "things happen for me, not to me." When things didn't go exactly as planned, instead of getting worked up about it, I viewed it as a blessing in disguise. It was a small shift in thinking, but helped me stay even during the days leading up to the race and during the race itself.

When the alarm went off before dawn on Sunday morning, I was ready to get this party started. We headed to transition and did final prep for the day. I still get intimidated by all of the fast looking bikes, wheels, and triathletes. I still need to reassure myself that I am a strong athlete and I have come a long way from being the girl who couldn't swim 50 yds without stopping, who would fall over in my driveway on my bike with my feet still attached to my pedals (ok sometimes even on my trainer) and who thought running 8 miles was a triumphant feat. 
My dad met us so we could hand off our bike pump before we headed down to the water.


The start is always emotional. The music is blasting, the announcer is psyching up the crowd and 2300 people are anxiously awaiting the start of a long day. The swim was a beach start. I had never done a sand start for Ironman before and I was a bit nervous. But decided I was going to just go and get right in the mix of it and see what would happen. 

Here is a video clip of the swim start:

When you are in the water with 2300 other people, there is chaos. I did get hit a lot, 
kicked in the eyes a couple of times really hard, but I only had an incidence of true panic once while struggling to get a breath when there were so many people (majority of whom were strong men) around me and on top of me. Somehow someone managed to pull my cap off half way off my head. I still don't really understand how that happens, but I fixed it and was on my way. I was able to get some clear water for most of the swim and was latching on to toes and drafting as much as I could without being overly committed to one set of feet. As I swam, I thought of all of those mornings of getting into a cold pool at 6 am Masters. I thought of swim coach Jen and how much she has helped me improve my swim. I thought of my lane mates Pam, Cynde and Linda and how I just had to stay focused since I knew they would all be checking my swim time. My goal for the swim was to come out the water feeling strong, not overly exerted and ready to tackle the bike- and if I could do that in 1:06/1:07- then I would be even more happy. When I saw 1:04 on the clock I was thrilled. I didn't feel like I had just swam a 1:04- but swimming with a wetsuit and with a draft certainly does help mitigate perceived effort. 

The run from the swim exit to transition was somewhat far, however, this was one of the highlights of the day. The red carpet was lined with screaming fans. You just feel like such a rockstar.  I took it all in and before I knew it, I was in the changing tent getting ready to ride. As I ascended on the course, I heard Tim Snow's voice in my head- "have the courage to let people pass you on the first part of the bike. You will see them later". It is no secret that riding is not my strength, but it is still hard to have all these people flying by you. I just kept my focus, stayed in my zone and tried to ignore what the people around me were doing. The first loop of the bike felt good and I was ready for loop number two. All was good until the turnaround on Rt 117. The wind had picked up big time. I kept cranking away. There were a couple gusts that gave me a scare and pushed me across the road. Several packs of people went flying by me. It was frustrating to see such blatant drafting, but I told myself that the day was long and if Karma didn't catch up with them on the ride, it would on the run. Sure enough, 2 minutes as I was telling myself this, I saw the marshall give penalties to a whole pack of riders. I was happy I resisted the urge to hang onto their wheels. 
The rest of the bike was uneventful, though as I approached the end,  I was so happy to be getting off my bike on my two feet. A guy riding next to me looked at me at mile 106 and said " I want to get off my bike, but I don't want to run". Yes, I wanted to get off my bike too. The good news was- unlike that guy- I was looking forward to the run. I started to psych myself up and reassuring myself that "I know how to run, I feel comfortable running- I got this."


As I approached transition, I dismounted, did a quick bike hand off to a volunteer and ran into the transition tent to change into my running shoes and I was off.  I had wanted to do 6 hrs on the bike and my bike split was 6:09. I rode smart and steady and set myself up for a good run. It was still a 30 minute bike PR for me and I knew that if I had pushed it on the bike to hit that desired 6 hr split, it may have cost me a lot more time later in the run, so quite frankly I wasn't too concerned and was content with that 6:09,  It is still such a surreal feeling to be in that tent as you are prepping your body to run and telling your mind that you just have to run a marathon and you are done. Just a marathon?? I don't think I have ever let my mind fully comprehend what I was physically about to do, or I might not ever head out on the course. As simple as it is, I just try to focus on staying in my zone, keeping my pace and getting to the first aid station. Mentally, it was so great to have QT2 teammates and Minuteman Road Club and Nantucket Triathlon Club  teammates out there on the course with me. It was such an energy high every time I saw someone I knew. I was running steady and strong and was just hoping I could hold on. There were plenty of aid stations,  the volunteers were awesome and the course was great. As I ran back into town and ran through the village, the course was filled with spectators. It was such a high to run through there- feeling like a rockstar again. I didn't even care that I had to go out and do the loop again. I saw my parents jumping up and down cheering. It means so much and helps so much mentally to have them there.  I can't imagine spectating an Ironman, it is a very long, draining day for spectators. The pugs wouldn't move by the end of the day. The put out there legs in resistance to boycott any type of movement in fear that they would have to go back out on the course. They were quite the hit though with the fans. Even Iron Fan himself wanted a picture with them:




I saw Paula, Walter and Deb Pickett in the crowd and gave them a high five for a final energy boost as I headed out to the second loop. I was still running even splits and can typically keep an even pace for run races, I was just hoping this would be the case today as well.  There were times when I would look at my Garmin and my heart rate was creeping up higher than I wanted to be, so I would back off a little.  The last thing I wanted was to blow up. My average pace stayed consistent for the full time. It was so encouraging not to see that pace slip. I continued to see teammates on this out and back course. On my way back into town, my smile was getting bigger, I knew I was almost there. I was passing a lot of people at this point and passed several in my age group at mile 25. I ran right through the last aid station, not grabbing anything because I knew at this point it wouldn't do anything- I was going to be done in a matter of minutes. There was a final hill climb back into town. As I started to ascend, I heard "Katie Weiler! Katie Weiler!" being chanted. A guy with a bull horn and Tim Snow were at the crest of the hill cheering like crazy. That gave me all the energy I needed to go up that hill, I felt like I was floating, though I am sure I looked like I was trudging. It was so awesome to have Tim out there on the course throughout the day. His simple, yet powerful advice at the QT2 breakfast on Saturday kept my mental game in check during the whole race. As I descended into the finishing chute, people were screaming. I was loving the down hill finish and was giving it all I had. I saw my parents jumping up and down and cheering, which brought a bigger smile to my face. I couldn't wait to cross that line and give them a huge hug. I crossed the line, I vaguely remember Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman saying my name. I couldn't believe I had just run a 3:51. That was what I had wanted to run, but breaking 4 hours in an Ironman marathon just seemed like a stretch. 11:13 (1:04 swim, 6:09 bike, 3:51 run + transitions)- a 59 minute PR and a 2 hour 25 minute improvement since my first one. Going into this season, I wanted to do an 11:30. Going into race week, 11:15 was my goal. Ideally. if stars were aligned, I would have liked to go closer to 11:00. Being closer to 11:00 just wasn't in the cards on Sunday. I nailed my nutrition, I paced a really smart race, but I left everything I had out on the course and that gave me a 11:13. I was 12th in my AG, 48th woman overall and 480th out of 2542 including the Pros. I had hoped to have placed higher up in my age group, but all I had control over was my own race execution, which I couldn't be happier with. But boy- those Canadians can race!
The next couple of hours were filled with a trip to medical (don't worry I am fine), an extensive search for my parents and by extensive I mean staring out the window of the conference center sitting on a set of stairs wrapped in a mylar blanket and hoping I would see them walk by. The skies had opened up with torrential rain and I knew I would be much better staying inside. I finally reconnected with my dad and we went out in time to watch Joe run down the finishing chute. I was filled with joy when I saw the bright green shirt come flying around the corner. People laugh when I tell them that 3 years ago he couldn't run a mile. But I am not kidding and I am not being hyperbolic- I am serious- he couldn't run a mile. And not only could he not run a mile, he couldn't swim 25 yards or bike more than 5 miles. So to come across that line in 13:08 was even more incredible. To say I am proud is an understatement. And the best part- he loved every step.


Overall, this is a must-do Ironman. The picturesque scenery, the gorgeous lake swim, the beautiful bike course and run combined with the excitement and passion from community made this one special Ironman. The athletes felt so welcomed and the whole village was focused on making the event special.
There are way too many people to thank for helping along the Ironman Mont Tremblant journey that officially started back in January. Getting to the start line of an Ironman ready to race is not easy and takes a whole slew of people to support you. A special shout out to QT2 Systems and Pat Wheeler whose coaching and training plan have taken my racing to a new level. Running 12 minute miles back in January took a lot of trust and discipline, but let me tell you- it worked. Thank you to Michael Oxman, Susan Feist, Ride Studio Cafe and the lululemon crew. To coach Jen Dutton who has taken my swim to a new level and to Pam, Cynde and Linda for making this triathlete feel welcomed and make swimming fun. I love the pool now and don't dread it. To all of my QT2 Teammates, MRC teammates, Nantucket Tri Club peeps, and the HTH Southboro crew it was such a a fun journey training with you. From 6 am cold winter morning basement spins at Ted and Pattie's house and Ian's house to the long hot summer workouts out of Concord Center, I look back at this Ironman knowing that the training, the training partners and the relationships formed along the journey are unlike anything else. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
And most of all, thank you to my family- Mom, Dad, Michael and Meghan- thank you for your unconditional love and support. To my parents who still show up to these things with bells on and stand on the side of a road for hours anxiously waiting to see me fly by for a total of 10 seconds, then do it all over again on repeat for 11 hours. I can't even begin to describe how much helps to have you on the side of the road and to have you there to greet me and hug me at the finish. To Joe- words can't express how grateful I am that we were able to share this journey together. You are my rock and keep my balanced every step of the way.



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