The days leading up to the race were great and stress free.. for the most part. Friday I got hit dead on during our swim by another swimmer who was swimming the opposite way and it was so painful I thought I had knocked out my teeth and had a concussion. Luckily, I was surrounded by wonderful friends who all made sure I was okay. My neck continued to be sore the until Saturday, but after some arnica oil and self-massage, it wasn't anything that was going to interfere with my race. On Friday, I registered, signed away my life on multiple waivers and it was all beginning to feel real that I would be doing an Ironman in a couple of days.
Later that day, we went out for a light spin and my heart rate was extremely high for the effort I was putting out. It made me extremely nervous that it may continue to be high for a low effort on race day, but I just tried to not freak out and tried to put the negative thoughts outside my head.
Saturday was spent carbo-loading, hydrating, packing bags and checking in bikes and bags.
Everything was done pretty early, and was able to get my feet up for the rest of the day. This was after visiting Mc at Fluide Bar a Jus and getting some delicious, nourishing green juice. Mc has the most wonderful, infectious energy and if you visit Tremblant, you need to visit Mc and order some juice or a smoothie. Plus, I helped create some of the recipes on her menu. She cuts all the kale from a local farm and her smoothies and juices are made with a ton of love and energy that will help you go fast on race day.
My alarm went off at 4 am. I slept surprisingly well. The first couple of Ironman races I did, I think I slept maybe an hour the night before and slept only a couple hours each night in the week leading up to it. So, I am always very grateful when I can sleep well during the nights leading up to the race. I instagramed a saying that was my mantra for the day: Be Awesome.I refused anything less.
As I stood on the beach, Oh Canada, was sung. I can't help but sing the words "hail Colby hail" whenever I hear it. My alma mater's school song was to the tune of Canada's national anthem and my years up on Mayflower hill flashed in front of me as I heard it.
U2's Beautiful Day blasted. F16s flew overheard and Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman was pumping up the crowd. I became a bit verklempt just thinking about the day that was about to ensue. All of the hours in the pool, on the saddle, and in my running shoes were all culminating to this moment. Although the journey of Ironman is what makes it so special, so no matter what was about to happen during the day, I already had one heck of a great journey in the bank.
This was the first year of wave starts. Tremblant was an age group start versus the self seeded start done at Lake Placid. I was the second to last wave and I have to say that I initially was not too pleased. I wasn't happy that they changed the mass start. I think that Ironman is meant to be hard and I think that triathletes should work to be strong swimmers before attempting an Ironman. I always loved knowing that we all started at the same time and I knew exactly where I stood out there on the course. That being said, I have had some of the scariest moments in my life during the mass start. I've come out of the water with a black eye, I have had a 250 pound man take two hands and push me under the water and swim on top of me and when I tried to get back to the surface, I struggled to get air due to all the people on top of me. So, despite liking the mass start, I completely respected WTC for making a safer swim initiative. I preferred the age group wave start over self seeded, so that I knew where I stood against my AG when racing.
The gun went off and I tried to stay on some of the girls' feet. That didn't last long as we caught up to the wave in front of us in less than 2 minutes. Soon the fast girls had disappeared in a sea of 50 + men. I just focused on my stroke and swimming strong. I had Jen, my Masters swim coach's voice in my head during the whole swim. I have to say, all my negative thoughts about the wave start disapated. It was the easiest Ironman swim start of my life. No kicks to the face, no one grabbing my ankles and pulling me backwards. I didn't even have thoughts that I might literally drown from big men being on top of me. I didn't get too much of a draft advantage besides from the overall draft of the field. I am still unsure how much of a pull I got. However, I tried to get on the feet of as many people as possible, but would just pass them quickly as I moved up through the waves. Later after the race, I heard from many people that they didn't have this experience and the water was still very crowded.
I started to hear Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman's voice and I knew I was close to the swim exit. I saw that I had done a 1:05. I was content with that. As I ran down the red carpet, I felt like a rockstar. The crowds were cheering. I saw Mc from the juice bar and gave her a high five and was on my way into the T2 tent.
The bike course is beautiful. It is freshly paved rolling hills. I am so impressed with how much Mont Tremblant has invested in repaving all of the roads. It makes a big difference to have a smooth ride. They changed the bike course this year. They paved more of Rt 117 and extended the course past last year's turn around. They cut off some of the course when you went into town. I really liked the change.
As I was riding, my heart rate was super high. It was much higher than what it should have been. I was having the same issue I had had earlier in the week. However, my power and pace were right where they should have been and my perceived effort was where I wanted it to be. I even felt like I was holding back, but my heart rate just didn't seem to want to lower. I weighed the option of over riding and running the risk of suffering on the run, or pulling back and playing it safe. I decided that I was going to go for it and ride on perceived effort and take my chances. There was a point that I literally said out loud "screw you heart rate you aren't going to mess up this race for me". I do know that I can hold a high heart rate for a long time and I was confident that I could do it again that day. I finished the first loop and was feeling good. The wind picked up on the second loop, but even with the wind, I was feeling stronger than I was on the first loop. Jen and Della and I went back and forth for a bit on the bike. It was good to see the two of them and they gave me some motivation. I ended up finishing really strong on the bike and passed a lot of people at around mile 100 that had passed me earlier in the day. I ended up riding almost an even split. I was 2 minutes slower on the second loop, but I was extremely pleased due to the wind being a huge factor. I was ecstatic to have ridden a 5:49. I wanted to break 6, so I was well under that. And I was exactly 20 minutes faster on the bike this year over last year. All those hours on the saddle paid off.
I had a fast T2 and was off to run the marathon. My legs felt pretty good. My heart rate was strangely fine while running and I was able to keep it right where I wanted to at the pace I wanted to run. The weather was gorgeous with the temp now being about 80 degrees, probably the coolest race I had this year. I absolutely love this run course. It has some rolling hills until you get out to a packed trail where you do an out and back. I love it because it is soft on the legs and I love the out and back because you get to see so many people. All was going well until about mile 14 where I hit a dark place. I wanted to slow down, dark thoughts of not being able to finish crept into my head, my legs wouldn't turn over at the rate I wanted. My typically permanent smile had disappeared. A distinctly remember a guy saying "Hey! You are my smiley girl- best smile out here- where did it go? Smile - it will make you feel better!" And so I did.. he was right... to a certain extent. I thought of all the 4 am training sessions, all the hours logged and knew that I would get through this rough patch. I refused to let the last 10 miles be bad. Then all of a sudden it was like someone flipped a light switch at mile 17- I was able to run again. Maybe it was the coke kicking in, maybe it was a second wind, but my legs felt great, my pace picked up and was going to finish this thing really strong. I was so happy as I entered into the finishing chute.
It is a feeling like no other to be running down the chute in the middle of Mont Tremblant's pedestrian village with the crowds screaming. I was so so happy to be crossing that line.
I hung out for a while and saw some friends who had finished, ate some food. I went to go collect my bags and change into dry clothes. I got my bike and started heading back to the hotel with a stop along the way to get some juice from Mc. Celery, Kale, Carrot and Lemon. It was just what my body wanted after taking in sugars all day. I checked my race results and was thrilled with my 10:47. I was not so thrilled when I saw 7th place. I didn't have too many expectations, but I did have a secret, ok not so secret goal of getting to the podium and was hoping for a 5th. But I had one hell of a day and if a 10:47 got me a 7th place, well then 7th was what it was. I couldn't control who showed up.
I found Tara and Stan who had come to cheer me on. It was so wonderful to see them and I was so grateful that they made the trek to cheer me on. I have a great video of Stan telling me exactly what he thought of the drive to Tremblant, but it isn't exactly appropriate for the blog, although hilarious. Let's just say, don't try to get into Tremblant on the day of the race.
With my 7th place, I decided to go to the Kona Slot roll down. Chances were slim, but you never know. They plowed through the younger age groups, all the slots had been taken. They got to my age group... there were slots. They called the first girl and she was crying she was so happy. Shoot. Ok. I needed one person to to show or to pass. They called the next girl. Annie Jean. Silence. "Annie Jean??" Silence. The french translator started calling her name. I'm thinking you know your name no matter what language. This was all of a sudden getting very real. I was in shock. The girl didn't show up. I was getting a slot. Holy goodness. I was going to Kona. Mike Reilly called my name and I was in disbelief. A life long dream accomplished.
A huge thank you to everyone for all the texts, Facebook messages and the love. I have a ton of people to thank who have helped me a long this journey. By no means did I get my ticket to the Big Island alone. First off to Tim Snow and QT2Systems, I can't believe how much QT2 has helped me get to the next level. I wouldn't be performing anywhere close to where I am if it weren't for them. And to my QT2 teammates, I am continually inspired by the dedication and passion for this sport.
To my whole crew of training peeps, but especially Jeff, Demello and Jimmy Lew. Words can't express how appreciative I am of you guys. Not only pushing me physically, but always being there through the ups and the downs of the journey. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. To Jen for believing in the girl who couldn't swim and taking my swim to a whole new level. To Pam- I can't thank you enough for your friendship and hospitality of Pam's Pond and the rest of the lakers for making swimming fun. To my lululemon family- words can't express how grateful I am to be part of such an inspiring, understanding, loving, supportive group of people. To Susan for keeping my body in top condition and always believing in me.
And finally to my family: Mom, Dad, Michael and Meghan for always believing in me, supporting me, and inspiring me. I'm so grateful and feel so lucky to have you all as my family. I can't find the words to give enough justice to how grateful I am to you four. i love you.