As a refresher, I went into this year with some goals,
A) Seek redemption at the Vermont 100(I DNF'd after only 30 miles-last time I at least did 88.6)
B) PR at:
1) The mile(I ran three seconds slower)
2) The half-marathon(I ran 1:15 slower)
3)The marathon(On pace for a PR but was sidelined with stomach cramps forcing me to walk the last few miles)
As can be seen by less than stellar completion of my above mentioned goals, I went into Mont-Tremblant with low-to no expectations. Which was good because what a day it turned out...
Amber and I were originally going to go up together, but with her hip still healing slowly, we decided that it wouldn't make a lot of sense to have her sit in the car for six hours and tighten up only to do a swim-bike. So instead, she stuck around and did Timberman which was a good choice because she was there to see her sister, Deidre, qualify for Worlds 70.3.
Just last week, Myles Chase of MC Cycles had put together my new Felt B12 which Amber had gotten for me for Christmas but we never assembled. I only had a chance to ride it once before the race so I was a little nervous as it definitely a more aggressive set-up than I had been previously riding. But more on that later.
I had taken Thursday and Friday off work and made it up to Mont-Tremblant around 2 on Thursday. After checking in at the Auburge Mountain View, I headed over to the resort where the expo was held. Let me tell you: it was an amazing venue. If I had stayed at one of the many hotels at the resort everything would have been in walking distance which makes race preparation so easy. Additionally, the views were amazing and there seemed to be a lot to do. I, however, did not take advantage that Thursday as I was wiped from the six hour drive up. So instead, I just went to the expo, picked up my race packet and headed back to my place. Which was lucky for me, because I found the "aerobic corridor" which is comprised of over 200km of rail trails throughout this part of Quebec. I went for a short run along part of it alongside a river with great views the whole time. I then had dinner and promptly fell asleep for a solid 10 hours.
I awoke and meandered over to the main part of the Inn expecting the traditional Continental breakfast. Oh was I in for a surprise. Many different types of fruits, juices and coffees and breakfast was made to order! While eating breakfast, I met Terry from Georgia, a 27 Ironman Vet, Anna(spelling?) and Franco from Italy(Franco like me usually was there to cheer on Anna who was looking to return to Kona for the second time) and Wey from Singapore who traveled 30 hours to complete his first Ironman. The first day we all sat in our separate tables talking across to each other but by the second morning we all sat together and shared our stories. Terry was recently retired from the Army and I think that he picked up the sport to stay active and got hooked. He now competes in 3/year. Anna and Franco were over from Europe for the first time to Canada(and the 48 contiguous states for that matter) and were concerned about "how flat the bike course was". Anna was used to racing Ironman Nice. Wey, a collegiate Water Polo goalie, stated his concern both about the swim(I can tread not swim) and the temperature. The morning of the race we were up so early that we couldn't go for breakfast, but the owner had made us each a platter of food and left it in our rooms the night before. While certainly not the most upscale digs, it certainly was right up my alley.
After parting way from the breakfast club, I headed to Mont-Tremblant National Park. I had heard there were some cool hikes to waterfalls and I wasn't disappointed. The drive through the park itself was well-worth the six dollars as the road coursed along the river with sheer cliffs on both sides. The hike I chose to do was less than four miles which was a good choice with an Ironman in two days, but what it lacked in distance, it made up for it views. All along the hike, I kept thinking that "this must be the waterfall they were talking about" only to find one a little prettier, bigger or both. I finally came to the finale which was 15m high and rushing like Amber on her way to work. It was definitely a good start to the day.
On my way back into town, I stopped at the casino where I promptly won then lost the money I was willing to spend on gambling which is not very much. The casino was primarily slots but did have a few table games and video poker in the downstairs. While not comparable to bigger casinos in diversity and size, it probably has the best setting as it is nestled in the mountains with an optional gondola ride back to the main Mont-Tremblant resort.
After a hard day of hiking and gambling I decided I deserved to treat myself to a massage. I went to the Spa de Lac which roughly translated is the Spa of the Lake. Well worth it, although I think it was a little too relaxing as I woke myself up snoring with a little puddle of drool by my face.
After the massage, it was time for the athlete dinner and meeting. I met up fellow Concord-area triathletes, Lisa Ransom, Keith Shields, Gina Whipple, John Rymes, Regi Kavadinas and Dave Gagne and his wife. It was a good enough dinner for me to go up for seconds but would have probably preferred a few more choices for pastas. The meeting commenced with a drumming band whose members looked a little like blue birds(not sure what they were going for) coming in performing a few numbers before the usual The Who song took over indicating it was time for Mike Reilly to come on stage. Apparently this was his 115th Ironman that he has announced. He did his usual bit and we were introduced to some local politicians etc, but also had one of the original guys who did the first Ironman in 1978. He presented a slide show with some pretty funny slides of his outfit during the race. After coming out of the water is a speedo, this guy decided wearing jean shorts(or jorts) over the speedo would be a good idea. His bike, a Sears bike borrowed from a friend, held no water bottles but he assured us that was okay because he made stops at several grocery stores and even a McDonald’s. Awesome. The funniest thing? He still managed to do a sub-13 hour Ironman.
With that in mind, I spent the next day mentally preparing as well as staying off my feet as much as possible, basking in the sun at the resort, poaching a hot tub and reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King. If you haven’t read it, you should. Very enjoyable. I had a dinner with Scott and Kristie Ennis(who traveled with Amber and I out to Wisconsin for that Ironman back in 2009) then got a pretty early bed time.
Morning came, as it always does: about two hours too early. I had given myself abundant time to get from my place to the resort thinking that, as with most inaugural events, traffic would be backed up. Couldn’t have been further from the truth. I cruised right in, had great parking attendants and made it over to the bike transition within fifteen minutes. This race was so well-run that they actually probably had too many porta-potties. Well that’s not true but I couldn’t believe that I didn’t have to wait at all in line.
It was good that everything went smoothly with transition because about twenty minutes before the start of the race, I ran into Wey whose wetsuit zipper had apparently broken. He and a volunteer were frantically trying to get it back to working order. I came over and tried unsuccessfully for several minutes to help out. Knowing his fear both about the length of the swim and the cold, I was about to offer him my wetsuit. I am very glad I didn’t but more on that later. Luckily, right as I was about to give up hope, I was glad to get the zipper working and with the aid of a few safety pins I had keeping my timing chip on, we got it in working order. He gave me a huge hug then we made our way to the swim straight.
As mentioned earlier, I will be retiring from Ironman races after this one. It was not because of the organization or quality of this race but there were several factors that drove me to this point. 1)The swim, 2) The bike, and 3)The run.
The swim was a rectangle course with only two turns. I had done a 1:18:03 at Ironman St. George and was shooting for a similar time here despite not having been doing much in the way of swimming. Instead, I experienced the closest near death experience that I have ever had.
The swim start was on the beach which, if you can imagine 2,500 athletes all rushing in the water at the same time, was pretty hectic. This, I had expected. I gave plenty of room to the first few rows of athletes thinking I’d be giving myself plenty of space. I did expect the typical kicks and jostling that always occurs at the beginning of a triathlon. What I didn’t expect was the near-drowning experience that ensued. For probably the first fifteen minutes of the swim, I struggled just to keep my head out of the water no less making forward progress. I was swum over, dunked, and couldn’t even more my arms because it was so crowded. I luckily had my wetsuit on which somewhat helped keep me afloat but it was horrible. It got so bad that I tried to signal a rescuer kayaker. Couldn’t. Every time I tried to raise my arm, it got shoved under by another person. I finally made a bee-line, not towards the next buoy, but to the side(probably more of an S-line). I thought to myself that this could in fact be hell. No wait. Hell would be if my calf cramped up. Which, of course, it did. I was left to breast stroke for another few minutes way off to the side until I could get it from cramping. By this time, I had been passed by everyone and there grandmother. It’s true! I saw a woman who certainly someone’s(if not everyone’s) grandmother scoot by me doing the dogawl which is some combination of the crawl and the doggy paddle.
Luckily, I no longer was being drowned nor experiencing the calf cramp so I decided to pick up the pace and get going. I still had a time to beat right? After another few minutes I felt someone drafting off me, which for those unfamiliar with drafting in a swim, can easily amount to having to work 5-10 percent less. I pulled this person along for another fifteen minutes, before doing the ol’ famous roll to the back to allow this fellow swimmer do a little pulling. After all, I had gotten us back into the race. However to my chagrin, when I rolled on my back, I did not see another swimmer but rather the safety kayaker trailing me. Yikes! Apparently I was going slow enough or looking like in enough agony to warrant my own safety kayak. Quickly overcoming my distress, I joined the land of the living and followed behind other swimmers. I emerged from the water thinking I was going to have finished in over 1:30 but saw the clock which said: 1:20:27.
Two minutes down from St. George but I nearly drowned. Not bad! Only later did I learn that I also was 1364th place out of the water and 147th in my age group. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, while other times it tries to drown you.
Getting from the swim to bike involved a ½ mile run which gave me time to calm my nerves and get me ready for 112 miles on the bike. Let me tell you. Nothing gets you ready for 112 miles on the bike!
As I mentioned before, Myles had put together my bike for me and as I rode out of T1, I could immediately feel the difference. I was flying! It felt so good to be in aero position and not experience neck, back or shoulder pain. The course was two loops and that first lap was great. The first half of it is an out and back on a highway which made for some fast riding. The second half(of the first lap) was another out and back through some windy roller-coaster types roads, which while making for a little slower riding, also was amazingly fun. I was enjoying myself on the bike! Yippee! I went through the first lap in 2:41 which is probably my fastest 56 mile ride ever.
And then I blew up. The wind had picked up the second lap so when I hit the highway again, instead of cruising I felt like I was barely moving. I kept on waiting for the back portion so I could have the wind at my back. As I finally made it to the turn-around, I felt that old familiar wind in my face and realized that the wind had somehow shifted so I had a headwind AGAIN! (NOTE: Amber had informed me that the likelihood of having either a true head or tailwind is very low and it is usually off to the side but is just perceived as one or the other. NOTE to the NOTE: That kind of information does NOT help!)
By the time I had reached the “fun” part of the second loop I was singing a popular Queen song. No, not “We are the Champions” but rather, “Bicycle Race”. However, my lyrics were: “Don’t want to ride my bicycle, don’t want to ride my bike. Don’t want to ride my bicycle. This is something I do not like.” There’s more but I’ll spare you.
I finally rolled into T2, five hours and forty-one minutes after leaving T1 which meant my second lap was 20 minutes slower than the first. However, this bought me some time in regard to St. George. At St. George I had biked a 5:52:05 so now was up about about eight minutes on my overall time. I had also biked myself from 147th place to 71st in my age group and now was 522nd overall. Going the right direction.
Plus, if I ran well I could break 10:30!
Well that kind of talk didn’t last long. The first 10k went pretty well but then I hit a wall. Who knew you could blow up on the bike and then AGAIN on the run?
The remainder of the run, I kept on having to convince myself to run to the next aide station and then reward myself by walking. However, my mind knew this trick so it soon rebelled and I was left walking where I should have been running, and running next to nowhere. As I kept checking my watch, I saw 10:30, 10:35, 10:40 all fleetingly wave goodbye. Well, at least I could get 10:45! And with that I started up running again and probably could have made it if I a)wasn’t a sissy, and b) didn’t have a recurrence of my (L) ankle cramp from the swim. That did it. I settled back into my comfortable walk and shuffled my way to the finish. The finish, by the way, is amazing, coursing through the cobblestones of Mont Tremblant, lined on both sides by hundreds, if not thousands, of cheering fans. And there I was walking in those last few kilometers. I finally finished and now can say with moderate certainty that I am finished. From Ironman races. As a competitor. However, I plan to be back(and better than ever) as Amber’s number one fan
My marathon was 3:36:12 which brought me in for a 10:50:13 which was good enough to beat my St. George time as well as move me up to 47th in my age group and 302nd overall.
So that should be my last race report from the eyes of an Ironman triathlete. I’d like to say it was fun while it lasted but I suspect you wouldn’t believe me.
|S2 Members(Past and Present): Keith Shields, Gina Whipple, Dave and Mrs Gagne, John Rymes, Lisa Ransom, Reggie K, Danny|
Danny and Wey's Race Results:
|Ong, Wey Yuan||SGP||01:12:19||08:02:22||06:55:10||16:33:17||186||2084|
Concord Area Athlete's Results:
|Rymes, John||USA||01:01:53||05:26:03||03:50:31||10:25:25||37th||164 Overall!|