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IMMT Race Recap! {The Bike}

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Bike time: 6:10, average pace: 18.15 mph

All smiles (most) of the time on the bike at Ironman Mont Tremblant!

The bike ride started right after T1 and the changing tent. First of all, the transition in the Ironman is wayyy different than any other race I’ve ever done.  The ‘volunteers are AMAZING.  There is no other way to put it.  Simply AMAZING.

Once I ran my 400 yards from the swim to the transition tent, I grabbed my BIKE GEAR bag and headed into the female changing tent.  Inside the changing tent, there are chairs where you can sit down and put on your shoes and there are volunteers to help you with anything you might need.  I grabbed a volunteer to help me with sunscreen for the bike ride.  She also helped me sort through my things and asked me if I needed anything from my bag.  She asked if I wanted to put my arm warmers on and I said ‘no thanks’ I later regretted this… I could cry just thinking about it.

What the gear bags look like in the tent (changing tents are behind with the black curtains)

I didn’t spend much time in the changing tent at all. Once I had my helmet on and felt I had everything I needed, I put on some chamois butter to help with chaffing and I was on my way.  The changing tent was right next to the bike transition, so it wasn’t too bad going for my bike.  As mentioned before, my bike was near the ‘bike out’ which helped matters.

As I started to pedal, I went through my list of things in my head to think about for the ride.  The goal was to PACE myself and to think about ‘Mile 23’ on the run.  I had to think about what I would feel like 8+ hours from now… not just ‘right now.’ Thinking about Mile 23 on the run, helped me to put things in perspective, reminding myself that I had a VERY long day ahead of me and if I push too hard on the bike, my legs will be toast by the end of that run.  One thing that threw me a curve ball was the colder temperature in the air.  It was around 50 degrees and cloudy when I started the bike ride.  I don’t know the exact temperature, but it felt COLD.  My coach told me that because of the cooler temps, my heart rate data would be a false indication of my effort, and that I needed to go by perceived rate of exertion or RPE scale. He told me the race should be done at a 4/10 for the most part and I needed to think about this on the bike if my heart rate was dipping low.  I am so glad he mentioned this because that was exactly the case.  Since it was colder, I was biking in my recovery heart rate zone (under 125 bpm), but I definitely wasn’t riding at recovery pace.  I kept checking in with myself.. ‘am I at a 4?’ and if the answer was I felt higher than an RPE of 4, I backed off a little bit.

I will get into the course a little bit here, and then I will jump back to how it all went…

First of all, the ironman Mont Tremblant bike course is literally PERFECTION.  It is not only beautiful, but 95% or more of the course is shut off from traffic AND there is new pavement throughout the course.  They seriously shut down one side of the entire highway for the race. They take pride in this bike course and it shows.  I did not encounter a single ‘bump’ during my entire race… smooth sailing, like GLASS… literally the entire time.  They had bike mechanics patrolling the course, but I honestly think I saw them help one person during my entire bike ride. if you like rolling hills, this course is for you.  There was rarely a moment where I stayed in one gear for more than 5 minutes.  You are shifting constantly to go with the changing grade.  I liked the variation because it made it less boring!

The IMMT bike course is split up into four sections.  I read a lot about the sections before the race, so I sort of knew what to expect.  It is a TWO LOOP 56 mile course. Everything you see on the first loop, you get to see again on the second loop.  I really liked this because I knew what to expect the second time around.  The only thing is, the most challenging part of each loop is the last section where is it very hilly!

Elevation Profile

The total elevation gain is roughly 4,000 feet, but that is just approximate. Unfortunately, my bike Garmin did not record the elevation for the course, which is frustrating.

Here is a snapshot of the four sections:

Section 1: Montee Ryan – miles 1-6, 37-41 

As you leave transition, you set out on Montee Ryan.  This section was lots of fun because there are more spectators since it’s close to the race venue, therefore more people are cheering for you. This section is just shy of six miles, with rolling hills. In the opening segment, you zip around two round-abouts, I enjoyed that part. There are also some hills right at the beginning that catch you by surprise.  

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Seeing my family while riding Montee Ryan

Section 2: Route 117 – out and back – miles 7-30 a.k.a the wind tunnel

Once you leave the Montee Ryan section, you enter the section of highway 117. As I mentioned earlier, they shut down the entire section of the highway for the race, which means it’s nice and wide.  During this section, you have another series of rolling hills, but there is also opportunities to find a pace and stick to it.  There are some big uphills, with the reward of screaming down hills. There are no technical turns on this section, it’s just an out and back, so you can really focus on your pace and your heart rate. The key here is keeping a steady effort and not push it too hard… you have plenty of hills ahead of you. This part of the course can pack a punch on a windy day (i.e. heavy cross winds).  Luckily for me, it wasn’t too windy, it was just COLD, damn cold at that. Oh and I must mention, the mountain views are breathtaking all around you.

Route 117

Section 3: The Short Ride through Old Tremblant Village– miles 30-36 (just shy of finishing the 36th mile)- out and back six miles

This part of the course was a welcome break from the hills.  Riding through the old section of Mont Tremblant (which I guess used to be the hot spot before ‘new village’ was built), brings lots of spectators cheering loudly and holding signs.  Most of the people yell in french which makes you feel like a bad-ass!

Section 4: Chemin Duplessis – miles 41-56 (end loop) – the big hills

Low res preview: Your order will be delivered in far superior resolution and image quality without water marks.

Chemin Duplessis is definitely the most difficult part of the course.  This hills are challenging but manageable.  If you ride smart and don’t let your ego get the best of you, this section will actually be a lot of fun.  The important thing is, not to get caught up with other people passing you on this section, they will pay for it on the run. For the majority of this section, you are going up a series of hills, one after the other.  The hills twist and turn a bit and you feel like you are in some kind of amusement park:)  I honestly had a lot of fun in the section, I definitely made th best of it. Once you finally get to the way top, there is an aid station at the turnaround, and then you get to bomb down all of the hills you just came up.  There are one or two up hills on the way back, but nothing too bad! I rode with a 11-28 cassette and I did not come out of my saddle until the end of the second loop.

Chemin Duplesis

 What the IMMT bike course was like for me:

I paced myself properly. From start to finish, I made sure to focus on my heart rate and my rate of perceived exertion, making sure not to over do it.  I had heard of plenty of people getting on the run with trashed legs and I did not want that to happen to me.  I can honestly say I maintained just the right amount of effort without going overboard.  I got to the run and my legs felt fresh.

I stuck to my nutrition plan. I knew exactly what I had to eat on the bike and I stuck to it.  I timed everything well and made sure I was drinking enough Power Bar Perform on the course.  The only tricky thing was, it took me a few aid stations to get the whole ‘bottle grab’ down from the volunteers.  Approaching the aid stations can be a cluster f$%k and it gets tricky. The first time I grabbed a bottle of Perform, I didn’t know they were sport tops.  I thought it was a twist off top… I proceeded to take the entire top off and it literally spilled all over me (rookie mistake). You also have a short amount of time to dispose of your empty bottles, so you don’t get a penalty.  They had hockey nets and people would stand with hockey sticks deflecting the bottles.. .this made things entertaining.

Drafting is no joke in the Ironman.  I had experienced referees on triathlon courses before, but nothing like this.  I can’t tell you how many people I saw get red cards for drafting.  I was SO afriad of getting close to other riders because of this.  A girl actually got a penalty for drafting off of me, which I don’t think she was doing on purpose.  For those of you who don’t know the rules, they give you a 30 second window to pass someone. If you don’t pass within 30 seconds and get the proper amount of space, you will get a 4 minute penalty from the ref.  There are actually penalty tents on the course where you have to stand for four minutes and wait out the clock.  It sucks and I hope it never happens to me. I like to think that most of the time, this happens to people who just aren’t paying attention and aren’t deliberately trying to cheat.

I should have worn my arm warmers. During the first two sections of the first bike loop, I froze my ass off.  I deeply regretted saying ‘no thanks’ to the arm warmers in transition.  I would say for about 30 miles, I was REALLY cold.  I did not change after the swim, so I had my wet tri tip and wet bike shorts.  It was probably in the low 50’s at the time, and gusty on the Route 117 section.  Lots of people were wearing arm warmers, and I wasn’t.  I literally had goosebumps all over my entire body and I was shivering… really shivering.  This is where mental strength became critical. There were moments during that section where I thought about stopping, I was freezing cold and my teeth were chattering.  I worried that I was getting hypothermia (which I later learned a lot of people did!) and I thought I was going to have to get medical attention.  I even thought about asking male riders for their arm warmers (ha, I was that desperate).  In order to mentally get through the pain from the cold, I literally started to envision warm weather.  I pictured myself on the beach in a lounge chair.  I thought of songs about sunshine… ‘you are my sunshine, my only sunshine..’ I was actually singing that outloud.  I was trying to convince myself that it was warm out.  Thankfully, after about 30 miles, the sun started to peak through the clouds and I was off the open highway, but man that was brutal.

I peed 7 times on the bike.  Yes 7 times. Thanks to the colder temperatures, every single bottle of sports drink that I drank, went through me… literally. The first time I peed was when I was REALLY cold and wanted a break.  I stopped at the first aid station and used the porta pottie.  After that, I knew I had to just keep moving, so I proceeded to pee on the bike… 6 more times.  I could not stop peeing.  Come to find out later, this happened to a lot of people that day.  Since it wasn’t hot outside, we weren’t really sweating out what we were drinking… instead we were peeing it out.  At least I knew I was hydrated, right?  It just got really gross by the end… let’s just say I’m getting new bike shoes.

I (almost) met my goal time. Overall, I had a SOLID bike race.  I kept my pace steady and strong.  I did not get out of the saddle once, until the hills in Chemin Duplesis in the very end.  The bike ride went by really fast.. honestly I didn’t know 112 miles could go by THAT fast.  There is just so much going on, that you forget you are in a race or maybe that’s because I was having a lot of fun!

I wanted to break 6 hours on the bike course, but I am happy with 6:10.  As a first timer, I think I had a solid bike ride.  I honestly wanted to keep closer to 19 mph average pace, instead of 18.15 and I thought it was a good possibility, so I was slightly disappointed.  However, I tried not to dwell on it because running is my strongest discipline. Now I have something to work towards for the next IM!

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I had fun and I stopped to smell the roses. As challenging as this bike course was at times, I made sure to really take it all in and enjoy the experience.  I made it a point to be GRATEFUL for what I was doing to be physically able to do such an incredible endeavor.  I enjoyed my surroundings and treasured the moment… the beautiful rolling hills, the farms, the rolling river.. it was all so gorgeous.  I did not take any of it for granted.  I remember being around 80 miles into the bike ride and almost feeling sad about it being close to over. I wanted the moment to last forever.

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My arm ‘ink’ says: Mile 23, Believe and Smile!

I also painted a smile on each of my thumbs to remind myself to smile on the bike course:)  While in aero position on the bike, you stare at your thumbs a lot because that’s where the shifters are:

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Onto the run next….

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IMMT Recap {Race Morning & Swim}

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.

Great shot of my swim wave!

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!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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!

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The walk to the swim start!

Walking to the swim start!

Walking to the swim start! Look at that line of people! Village in the background.

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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:

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Me and my sister!

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!

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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

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Here are some photos of my cheering squad: Kristin’s Tribe

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my mom & dad:)

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Todd and my sister, Jenny

 

Stay tuned for bike and run recaps!!

 

race reports, Uncategorized

IMMT {Pre Race} Report

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It’s hard to believe it’s already been a week since Ironman Mont Tremblant!  While on vacation last week post race, I made sure to write down all of my memories right away so I didn’t forget anything.  I never want to forget my first Ironman because it was SO amazing, in so many ways.  I’m going to start today with the pre race recap, and will continue with the swim, bike, run and post race recaps.  We were in Mont Tremblant for a full week, which gave me lots of time pre and post race to enjoy every minute of the experience!

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Rainy (but beautiful) Tremblant Village

It’s hard to put into words what a PERFECT location Mont Tremblant, Quebec is for an Ironman!  Seriously, you cannot get much better than this place! From the beautiful mountains that surround you to the European feel, Mont Tremblant is truly a very special place.

Thursday 8/14: The Journey Begins… with a long car ride.

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Todd and I left on Thursday morning for Mont Tremblant.  We stuffed my car (small SUV) with my bike and basically everything in my house.. I am not a light packer and just imagine what this looks like for someone packing for an Ironman.  I was so afraid of forgetting things that I literally packed everything x 2 (i.e. 2 HR monitors, 2 wetsuits, etc…) And then of course I bought stuff when I got to Tremblant.

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The ride was about 7 hours (with a few stops along the way).  We live in Massachusetts, so we drove north to New Hampshire and then up through Vermont until we hit the border. I had to drink extra water on Thursday, already getting ready for race day… this did not help with the pee breaks.

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Driving through the beauty that is Vermont

I had never been to Canada before, so it was exciting crossing the border!  It took us about 4 hours from our house in MA to get to the border, and then an additional 3 hours in Canada. Once we entered Quebec we were greeting with a ‘Bonjour!’ sign.  The excitement began…

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As we got closer to Tremblant Village, Ironman logos/signs were popping up on the highway and backroads… super exciting!! I was finally here! We drove straight to our Bed and Breakfast, which was about 2 miles from the main village of Tremblant.  The plan was to stay at the B&B for two nights (Thursday and Friday) and then move to the Condo for the rest of the week.  The weather outlook was not very good for the Thursday and Friday (50’s during the day with rain and 40’s at night… cold!).  I was really nervous for Sunday’s forecast since they were calling for a chance of rain.  I tried not to think about it… but I seriously checked my Weather Bug App every single hour on the hour.

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The view outside our B&B, Auberge du Coq de Montagne

Our B&B, Auberge du Coq de Montagne was adorable! The cutest little couple greeted us at the door and they were so sweet! Their names were Nino and Kay and they made us feel right at home. At this point it was around dinner time and we were exhausted.  We ate at a local restaurant (most of the food in Tremblant was just so-so and really expensive.. actually everything is expensive there). After dinner we got back to the room, and just relaxed.  While browsing social media and #immt I got an itch to go to the race village. The village was so close by (under 3 miles) and knew I couldn’t fall asleep without checking things out!  At around 10:00 PM we drove over there to see things set up and it was so awesome!  Everything was set up for the Expo the next morning, but no one was around.  The best part was seeing the finish line at night all lit up, so cool!  At that moment things became very real to me. My eyes filled with tears as I got a preview of what my Ironman finish would look like.

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Finish line at night… before the madness begins!

Friday 8/15: Bib pick up, carb load, rain, rain go away, training sessions on the course!

Friday we were up bright an early and the carb loading began with French toast, fruit, total deliciousness at our B&B.  Bib Pick Up opened at 10:00 in the village and we wanted to get there nice and early! Waiting in line wasn’t too bad and I met some nice people along the way.

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One thing I love about these races is the people you meet… especially in my case, other first timers!  While I waited in line for my bib, I met a guy in front of me who is 73 years old and has done 12 ironmans (he started doing them when he was 60! So awesome).

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Once I got my bib and all my goods, it was time to go back to the B&B and get ready for my pre-race workouts.  The plan was to get a 15 minute swim to test out the lake, a 30 min bike ride on the course and then a 15 minute brick run… all done at recovery pace. I wasn’t really looking forward to the bike part because it was 50 degrees and drizzling outside, yuck.

Empty bike racks in the rain

Empty bike racks in the rain

Swim Workout: Testing the waters

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Once I got to the lake/swim start area, there were a bunch of other people warming up.  There was a cute little boat house where we could change and leave our things while we swam.  I put on my wetsuit and got in the water…  my first thought was… chilly!  The water hit my face and it felt cold, good thing for the wetsuit!  Swimming for those 15 minutes was very relaxing and it was nice to just to get a feel for the water.  Lac Tremblant is crystal clear and is surrounded by mountains… just beautiful!

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Short Bike Ride: Testing the bike and race wheels in the cold mist.

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After the swim, went back to our room and I got changed to go for my short ride.  I must mention that it was around 50 degrees, cloudy and misting outside.  I was not happy about the cold temperatures.  I wore long sleeves on the bike and rode for about 25 minutes… just to make sure things were in working order.  Some people rode the hilliest part of the course on Friday, I honestly didn’t feel the need (we drove it later instead!).  I didn’t see the point in trashing my legs just to check out the hills on the course.  I would see the hills plently on Sunday:)

Quick run on the run course

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After the ride, Todd came with me on a 15 minute run on part of the run course… it was fun to get a little preview of everything! The place we were staying was on the run course, so that was convenient.

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Once all my workouts were done, it was time to relax and do more carb loading.

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That evening we attended the Mandatory Athlete meeting (being a first timer and all. I found it helpful, but there was nothing mentioned that wasn’t in the Athlete Guide. After the meeting, Todd and I ate a big pasta dinner while watching a concert in the village.

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Saturday: More Carb loading, bike check, gear bag drop off, gondola rides and REST

Saturday was another cold, rainy day in Tremblant.  The morning started early with breakfast at 7:30 with my QT2 Team!  The team breakfast was just a few blocks away from our B&B at the Hotel Tremblant. It was fun to carb load with pancakes and toast while meeting fellow teammates.  I even got to meet some of the QT2 pro’s which was really cool!  Like Beth Shutt who placed 3rd PRO during the race and is super down to earth. Go Beth!

After breakfast, it was time to get all of my special needs and gear bags together. Honestly, the whole special needs bag thing was a little stressful.  I had no idea what I was supposed to put in these bags (funny thing is, I didn’t even up taking either special needs bag during the race).  In the bike bag I put extra chamois butter, shot blocks, sunscreen and in the run bag: extra gu’s, pretzels, tums, body glide.  The good thing is, I didn’t have to put the special needs bags in transition until the morning AND I could also get into my bike and run gear… phew!

so much stuff!

so much stuff!

Once I had everything together, we headed back to the village/transition area (about a 5 minute drive) and dropped my bike and gear bags off.  We had until 4:00 PM to drop everything off, but I wanted to just get it over with.  At this point it was really raining out, so I put a few trash bags over my saddle and handlebars.

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Once everything was dropped off, it was time to just RELAX for the rest of the day and put my feet up.  I got to spend some time with my family/cheering quad who stayed at a hotel right in the village.  One of our favorite things to do in Tremblant Village was to take the gondola ride from one end of the village to the other. So fun.. I could ride the gondola all day long.

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That afternoon we had to move from our B&B to the condo across the street. Thank goodness for Todd and our friend Steve who moved everything while I sat on my bum.  Once in the new place I just relaxed, watched TV, carb loaded and painted my lucky (Ironman) toes.

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At around 9:30 it was definitely time for bed. The alarm was set for 3:00 AM since we planned on getting to the race site for 4:30 AM.  I had to eat my pre race breakfast by 3:30 AM and I didn’t want to be rushed! Surprisingly, I didn’t have too much trouble falling asleep, which is crazy because it felt like Christmas as a kid/my wedding day combined in excitement.

Stay tuned for the swim/bike/run reports!

 

race reports, Uncategorized

Patriot Half Ironman- The Run, Race Results & the Podium!

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Continuing from Yesterday’s Bike Recap…. and onto the Run!

When I got off the bike, I was looking forward to the run, since it’s my strongest event. I was feeling really good on the bike and expected to have a strong run, since I was nailing my nutrition and my legs still felt fresh. My plan for the run was to stay with a 7:30 pace and break 1:40, or faster. This was not out of the question giving my training and my running ability. If I stuck with a sub 7:30 pace, I was would be on track to break 5:00 hours for the race (which was my goal!).

Once I passed through T2, I was on my way. The run course was one 13.1 mile loop, which I liked, because a lot of these races have a down-and-back run or two loops. At this point in the day, it was VERY humid outside and the air was thick… the sun wasn’t out, but it was hot folks.

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As soon as I started to run, I could tell something in my stomach was NOT right. I felt REALLY full and I had upper stomach pain and acid reflux. I have struggled with nausea before during a race, but this felt different. I felt like there was a giant air pocket in my stomach that could not get out, and I was sick to my stomach. On top of the stomach issues, I was having trouble breathing. Before I even got to the first aid station at mile 1, I started to get really wheezy with my breathing. I felt like something was closing my airway and I could not for the life of me, take a full deep breath. It felt like I had bronchitis, but I wasn’t even sick. I started to panic a little bit, worried that I was having perhaps an asthma attack (but I don’t have asthma, I thought…) Feeling frustrated and scared, I stopped before the first aid station and walked, trying to catch my breath and relax. I was wheezing like crazy, so I stopped and leaned over trying to breathe. A girl running by asked if I was OK and even offered me water, I told her I was fine (even though I definitely wasn’t). I struggled to get to the first water stop, and once I got there, I asked everyone around me for an inhaler, no luck. The volunteers asked if I wanted to sit down and they could call someone back at the race site, but I declined. I thought about stopping for a moment, but I knew if I stopped, I might not be able to finish. Thinking about how frustrated I would be if I gave up, I continued on, feeling like absolute sh*t. For the next couple of miles, I struggled, hard. I took mini walk breaks at each aid station and continued to ask everyone around me if they had an inhaler. I was coughing a lot and my breathing was fast… and I was still incredibly nauseous.

There were SO many times during the first 3-5 miles of the race that I wanted to give up. I knew what was happening to my body was NOT good and that I could potentially be putting myself in danger. I probably should have stopped at those first couple of miles, but I wanted to finish the race… every competitive bone in my body wanted to finish the race. I kept saying these mantras in my head: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, “Mind over matter…” I was averaging around a 8:30 mile and was trying hard not to get pissed off about it. At that point, I was throwing the idea of PR out the window and I just wanted to finish and be OK.

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At mile 5 things started to change slightly for the better.  A guy ran from behind and said he was also coached by QT2 (my tri team/coach).. he knew I was on the team because of the tri kit. He asked who my coach was, and it turns out we have the same coach! This guy was my saving grace and I met him at my lowest point the race, when I wanted to give up. He asked how I was doing, I told him I wasn’t feeling well and he told me to just relax my breathing and try to burp and get some of the air out of my stomach (I found out later after the race that he’s a Doctor!). He was going at around a 7:45 pace, and I decided I was going to try and stick with him. Running with him helped take my mind off the pain, big time. We talked about what races we have this season and it turns out we are both racing in our first Ironmans this year, he’s doing Lake Placid and I’m doing IMMT. I took water at every aid station and tried to eat my Shot Blocks. I was supposed to eat a shot block every mile, but I felt so nauseous that I could not stomach eating one that frequently… I probably ate one block every 2 miles. I stuck with my runner friend for about 3-4 miles, until we got to a hill and I told him to just take off and not wait for me. Finally at around mile 8, I was feeling slightly better. My breathing was relaxed at this point, still coughing a lot but not as wheezy.  I got a surge of energy during the last couple of miles and was passing people left and right (it’s too bad this didn’t happen from the beginning, ugh). I saw men on the run course that told me they saw me on the bike course and were impressed with my speed… I also got comments about my great clip on the run… if only they had seen me in the first 3-5 miles. I was watching my Garmin closely, and knew I wasn’t going to break 5 hours, but I also knew I was darn close to my time at Timberman 70.3, which was 5:08. My goal at that point was to hopefully PR and break 5:08.

When I approached mile 12, I forgot about the pain and gunned it for the last mile. I remember a guy saying to me ‘this is the easy part.’ I don’t know if I agree with him about that, but I did cruise to the end. I was so excited to see the race venue and all of the spectators as I approached the finish. When I got to mile 13, I took a right onto a dirt trail and actually ran onto grass for the finish chute. Sprinting down a finish chute is probably my favorite thing on earth… it’s just so exciting! The adrenaline at the end of the race took away my stomach pain and I was able to forget about the breathing.

As I approached the finish line, I held my arms up in the arm, as I always do! You can see by the photos though, I was in quite a bit of pain… I looked down at my Garmin and it said unofficially, 5:11… not the PR I was hoping for, but at least I finished.

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As soon as I stopped and received my medal, I couldn’t breathe. I literally could not inhale and was struggling to take air into my lungs. This was probably the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me at a race finish. I felt really dizzy, almost like I was going to collapse. My poor husband, Todd, ran over to congratulate me and saw me struggling to breathe, being helped by a volunteer. The volunteer who helped me was fantastic. She sat me down in a chair at the finish line and put a cold towel with ice around my neck. Crazy enough, I had packed an inhaler in my transition bag, but did not take it at any point during the race. I only packed it last minute in case I wanted it afterwards. I sometimes have coughing fits after a hard race or from the cold, but have never been diagnosed with Asthma… and I have NEVER had breathing issues during a race, until this day. I mentioned to the volunteer that I had an inhaler and Todd sprinted over to transition as fast as he could and grabbed it for me (thank god I packed that thing!). Once I took the inhaler, it was like night and day, I could breathe again! I was still nauseous, but at least I could breathe. I was so angry at myself for not taking my inhaler with me on the run, but I didn’t think I would even need it. I also wish I had turned around at mile 1 to go back and get it… oh well.

I’m not sure what caused the breathing episode, but I am going to follow up with my Doctor about it. Part of me thinks it could have been the pollen (I am allergic to pollen), and perhaps I inhaled a lot of it on the bike? Part of me also thinks I might have sports induced asthma and will need to have me inhaler with me at all races going forward. I have also heard another opinion that it could have been a horrible case of acid re-flux from the sports drink and this could have impacted my breathing. Whatever the cause was, it was awful and I don’t want it to ever happen again.

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After I gained my composure, we walked over the post-race area and relaxed. I took my recovery drink (3 scoops of Cappuccino Ultragen), hoping it might make me feel better, which it sort of did. I did not want to eat anything AT ALL after the race. This happens to me often… I see everyone eating the post-race grub and I never want to eat it, I always feel queasy. Since I was still feeling crummy, I had Todd go over and check the race results, I wanted to know if I placed in my Age Group, but was scared to know the answer. I saw there nervous, waiting for him to come back with the news. When he came over, he said I was 2nd in my Age Group! I was relieved and really excited. Of course I wanted to win my age group, but given how I felt, I was happy with 2nd place. The awards ceremony was not for another hour, so Todd, Oliver and I hung out and relaxed. I snacked on pretzels and raisins, and drank some sprite (hoping it would help my stomach).

When it was time for the awards ceremony, I made sure I put on my QT2 podium T Shirt!

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They called up the female age groups first and gave us our awards. Standing on the podium is always a goal of mine, it is honestly the best feeling being up there. When I stood up there on the 2nd place podium box, my smile was beaming and I was so proud of myself. All of my hard training paid off and despite not having the run I wanted, I still had an incredible race!

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The award was a RacePak box, which I am pretty much obsessed with. It’s a wooden box that they stamped with ‘Patriot Half Ironman.’ My box said 2nd place Female 30-34. Inside the box was tons of goodies like dried fruit, sports drink, cookies, etc… totally awesome! Race Pak is a subscription service, similar to birch box, that you can give to yourself or your favorite athlete.

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After the podium, we snapped lots of great photos with my award and then we were on our way.

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Official Stats:

Finish Time 5:10:22
2nd Place 30-34 Age Group
10th Female overall (out of 239 females)

Hours Trained the week of Patriot Half Ironman: 15.5 hours (including the race!).

Todd and Oliver had a great day spectating! Oliver met lots of other doggies, including a golden retriever puppy, needless to say, he was almost as tired as I was… he even decide to ‘cool off’ his tail;)

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Sharing one last photo with you… my favorite of the professional photos (that I plan on purchasing)

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Next up: Mass State Triathlon on July 13th.  After that, it’s onto IRONMAN Mont Tremblant!

 What’s next on your race agenda? Have you ever suffered with breathing issues during a race? How did you cope?

 

race reports, Uncategorized

Patriot Half Ironman- The Bike!

Yesterday’s post was all about the Patriot Half Ironman Swim Course… Today’s post is continuing with a recap of the Bike course!

The Bike- 56 miles, two 28 mile loops

Once I got out of the water, I was excited to be on land and on my bike!  I am always relieved when the swim portion is over.  It’s funny though, by the time I get comfortable on the bike, I often forget that I just swam 1.2 miles (or whatever distance it might be). My goal on the bike course was to break a time of 2:44 (my bike time for the Timberman 70.3 last August).  I raced Timberman with racing wheels that I borrowed, and I did not know if I could maintain the same pace without the fancy wheels this time. Even without the race wheels, I went into the bike with high expectations, since I have been training so much!  I also wore my new Rudy Project bright pink Aero Helmet, which I’m totally obsessed, with by the way.

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As soon as I got comfortable on the bike and my heart rate was steady (about 10 minutes in), I took my four Power Bar Blasts (think shot blocks).  Through out the ride, I  drank my sports drink at a rate of one 24 oz bottle per hour, as I was instructed to do. The first loop of the bike course went really well and I was cruising along.  I noticed a lot of men on the course and not many women.  I actually passed quite a few guys who said they were impressed with my speed! Only one girl passed me the entire time, I was happy about that.  There were two aid stations on the bike course, but I did not stop at either of them, since I had all of my fuel with me on the bike.

The course was absolutely beautiful.  Think ‘mostly’ flat country roads with rolling hills (some that packed a serious punch).  I heard it was an ‘easy’ bike course, but I must say, I disagree. At one point on the course, we had both sides of the ocean around us, loved it!  At around the halfway point, at probably mile 27 there was a big hill that was killer at the end of the loop! The turns were all VERY well marked and there were volunteers and police officers at every turn.  There were a few sharp turns that required me to slow down and lay on the breaks quite a bit.. but nothing too crazy.  At the end of the first loop I got to see my husband Todd (and my puppy, Oliver) on the sidelines.

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After the halfway point, I knew my average pace was over 20 mph and my goal was to keep it that way for the second loop.  The good thing about two-loop bike courses, is you know what to expect the second time around.  I figured that if I kept a steady 20+ mph pace during the first loop, that it would be possible to keep the same pace for the second loop. At around 2 hours into the race, I took my three additional Power Bar Blasts and continued to drinks lots of sports drink.  I was drinking at a race of one bottle per hour (or more) and I could tell my bladder was getting full.  Once it got to the point where I really had to pee, I thought ‘now’s my chance to pee on the bike!’ This was a goal of mine going into the race- drink enough sports drink so I HAVE to pee on the bike.  I looked around me and no one was close by, or behind me.  I will spare you the details, but I did it!  It was really weird and pretty gross, but funny enough, I felt a sense of accomplishment!  I now know I can pee on the bike during my Ironman!

The majority of the second loop felt really good and I held my pace.  One thing that went awry, was I bit down too hard on my SpeedFill Aero bottle straw, and I actually broke a piece off of the straw!  The piece that broke off is what helps slow down the flow of fluid as I’m drinking from the straw.  At first I thought it was completely broken and I wouldn’t be able to drink my water, so I panicked.  Luckily, this was not the case.  My back of plan was to drink from one of the bottles that I keep in the  bottle cage behind me, but it is too much of a pain and takes a lot of coordination.  It all worked out in the end and I got the proper amount of fluid during the bike.

As I neared mile 56, I was excited to get off the bike and start the run (my favorite part), I was feeling good and strong!  I heard Todd, cheering for me as I neared T2 and I was happy to almost be on my two feet again.

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Official Bike time: 2:45:06, Average Speed: 20.4 MPH.  (I was hoping to break 2:44, but I’ll take it!)

At T2, I popped another Salt Tab, threw on my running sneakers, grabbed my gels and I was on my way!  I felt good getting off the bike, but my stomach felt really full.  I figured it was just the sports drink and I shrugged it off… stay tuned for the run…