Today was the day! August 17, 2014 Ironman Mont Tremblant RACE DAY! The rain was gone, the clouds were clearing… it was a beautiful (chilly) morning.
The morning started bright and early! I set about five different alarms on my phone just in case. The first one went off at 3:00 AM and I was raring to go! I had organized everything the night before, including my pre-race breakfast (3 egg whites, 1.5 cups applesauce, 1 bottle perform, 1 banana). I made sure I ate everything before 3:30 AM, to leave myself plenty of time to digest before the swim start at 6:57 AM. Once I ate/muscled down my food, got everything in the car, put on sunscreen, etc… by 4:15 AM Todd, my (Sherpa) husband were on our way to Tremblant Village! Todd was such a trooper all morning and in the days before the race. Husband of the year award!
Transition did not open until 5:00, but cars could not drop off athletes after 4:30, so we wanted to be safe #firsttimer. I’m pretty sure I was one of the first athletes in the village that morning, literally. I could see the lights from the transition tent and I was so excited!! As it got closer to 5:00 AM, more people were filing into the Athlete Village and the anticipation was building. There was a guy walking with a puppy, who of course I had to pet… just by coincidence this guy was a body marker and did my marking on the fly, sweet! I think they should have puppies at all Ironman race starts to help ease anxiety… just saying.
After body marking, it was time to wait by the bike area/transition tent for the 5:00 AM opening. It was pitch black outside, but the music was playing and bright lights were on. The first thing I did was put my special needs bags in the trash bins (each labeled by numbers).
Once allowed inside the transition tent, I added some items to each my bike and run gear bags. I also took my bike computer out of my gear bag and put it on my bike (not sure why I didn’t leave it on my bike in the first place). Once we were allowed in the bike transition, I pumped air in my tires, checked the VERY tight spot where my bike was and made mental note of my place in the line. I was very close to the ‘bike out’ which was convenient! When all of my ‘ducks were in a row’ it was time to just sit tight for a few minutes before heading to the swim start.
I was told it was ‘quite the walk’ to get to the swim start and to leave plenty of time. At around 6:00 Todd walked with me to the swim start and I was on my way. Walking to the swim start helped ease my nerves a little bit… better than just sitting around. Thanks to my little practice swim on Friday, I knew what to expect for water conditions on race day. It also helped that I read about the swim course in the Athlete Guide and on blogs of fellow triathletes. The water temperature was (I think) around 68 degrees… perfect for a wetsuit!
At the swim start there’s a little boat house that has bathrooms and a deck to sit on. Todd and I found a spot on the deck and just sat around for a few minutes. I was able to use a bathroom that has flushable toilets before the race (a big deal!). While in line, I met a nice woman who had done IMMT twice before and reassured me that I would do great! She helped relax my nerves about the swim and was just a really kind person to chat with pre-race.
After the bathroom production, it was time to put my wetsuit on. While putting on my wetsuit, I noticed I forgot my body glide in my swim start bag (ugh!)… I put it in my bike and run bags, but not the swim start bag. Luckily, I had hair conditioner in my bag and I smeared that on my neck and my ankles… it worked just fine! I always use conditioner for my ankles, it helps with sliding the wetsuit off. Mike Reilly was at the swim start, which was SO cool. He was generating tons of excitement that morning! Before the Pro start, they played the Canada National Anthem and then it was time to get the day started! Fireworks went off with each wave, which was awesome. One thing I should mention, throughout the race, everything was announced in English and French, since we were in Quebec. I wasn’t sure if my family was going to make it to the swim start, but I was so excited to see my mom and sister there! They caught me just in time before the start! My mom snapped these photos right before I headed into the water:
Soon it was time to get into the water for my wave, women 18-39. Nerves were building, but I was ready and confident. It was an ‘in water start’ and we were standing in about waist deep water (at least for me being 5’4’’). I stood near the front of the pack, but a little to the left, thanks to the advice from another athlete. I knew staying to the left, I would add a little distance to the swim, but it was better than having an anxiety attack. Before I knew it, the minute countdown was on… 30 seconds… 10 seconds… and we were off!!
We had to swim with the buoys to our RIGHT which is the opposite of most races I’ve ever been in. Since I primarily breathe to my right when I swim, this made me happy for sighting purposes. I can totally breathe to my left when I need to, I just prefer not to.. I feel like it throws my balance off. The course is in the shape of a giant rectangle, with 13 yellow buoys going up, 3 red buoys going across, and 13 yellow buoys on the other side toward the finish line. I found it really helped to count the buoys as I swam… 1… 2…3.. etc.. this helped relax me as I was racing.
I honestly had a fantastic swim! The one frustration thing was starting behind the men. There was lots of breast stroke and few men flailing all over the place with their giant feet. At some points I literally could not get around these guys. I was fighting for space as best I could. At one point I got kicked in the side of my head, luckily not too hard.. I just kept on swimming. As expected, I got whacked many times, pushed, elbowed, etc.. but I kept on moving. I am so proud of myself for the confidence I had during the swim. During the second half, I found a girl who was going slightly faster than me and I hooked onto her draft. I swam in her draft for about 10 minutes or so. Besides running into the clusters of men (and women) there were moments where I did actually have a lot of space around me. I knew I was doing well when I started to see lots of difference cap colors… orange, blue, green… I was catching up to people who started before me, woo hoo!
I am so proud of my swim. I did not get scared once and I held my own. I finished the swim in 1:07:55 (1:45/100 yd pace) and I wanted to break 1:10… I was psyched!
Once I could see the shore I was excited for the swim to be over and to get on my bike. The wetsuit strippers were right there at the finish (the best) and I happily jumped on the ground to have them help me. There was a 400 meter run from the swim finish to the transition tent. I heard in previous years they carpeted the pavement… not this year, not really a big deal though. I ran barefoot on pavement for probably 2 minutes to the transition tent. It wasn’t too bad, but it seemed long and added to my transition time.
Official Swim Time: 1:07:55
T1: Swim-to-bike 07:32
Here are some photos of my cheering squad: Kristin’s Tribe
Stay tuned for bike and run recaps!!