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Some sad news + happy news

Hi I’m back!

I was hoping to write a post today about how everything is going for me post IMMT, but that will have to wait…

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Yesterday started as a beautiful day… I was looking forward to my long bike ride and headed out for about 50 miles of bliss… until my phone rang… and then it rang again… and again… I was just 10 miles into my ride and I pulled over on the side of the road. I saw a missed called from pretty much every single member of my family and I knew something was wrong. My heart sank. I felt sick to my stomach. I called my husband back, who then told me that my Grandmother had passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly. Hearing the news, I was in shock, not knowing how to comprehend what I just heard. I thought about continuing to ride, until my lovely (smart) husband told me it’s probably not a good idea to ride when I am feeling very upset. He proceeded to pick me up by car and we drove home together. I’m still trying to process this all and feeling heart broken. I know it will take time… time heals all. But man, it’s HARD.

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Yesterday all I wanted to do was go for a run after hearing the news…I knew running would help release some of the emotional pain. I threw on my sneakers and headed for the trails, I wanted to just run forever and not stop. For ten miles I ran, and I ran fast.. I didn’t think about my heart rate or my pace.. I just ran… and it felt SO good. My legs felt the best they’ve felt since before IMMT. Like a gazelle I ran through the woods, it felt effortless. I chose to run up a trail I don’t normally go on… it’s a beast of a hill and I usually avoid it, ha. Yesterday felt like the perfect time to give it a try and I was glad I did. I was all along up there at the top, looking at the skyline of Boston, bright blue skies… I said a prayer for my grandmother, telling her I’m sorry she had to go this way, so soon… It was the first time I had cried all day and really just let it go. I really think running is the best kind of therapy, the perfect release.

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Later that night, trying to process it all, I finally made a decision on what my plan is for 2015.  I have been wanting to sign up for another Ironman since I finished Ironman Mont-Tremblant!.. let’s just say I’m hooked:)

The thing is… for weeks I just didn’t know if 2015 was the right year… I asked myself (and others) if I should just take a year off and try again in 2016.  Is my body ready for another IM? I thought about all of the ‘what ifs’ and weighed my options… it even kept me up at night. I also didn’t know which race I would sign up for, IMMT repeat or IMMD (the two within reasonable driving distance). I’m pretty sure I was driving my husband crazy trying to make up my mind!  Finally, yesterday, after hearing the news of my Grandma, I took it as a sign… You only have one life, and it does go by fast. You never know what life could bring next week, next month, next year. You need to chase your dreams. 

I decided that 2015 WILL be the year to do another Ironman and I am super excited to take on the challenge again!  I will be dedicating my training to my grandmother, Gammi:)

I will be racing Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2015 for round two! I hit the registration button late last night, and I can’t wait to do this amazing race all over again!

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race reports, Uncategorized

Post Race Fun in Mont Tremblant!

The days following Ironman Mont Tremblant were filled with lots of relaxation, sight seeing, good food and a little bit of exercise.

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On Monday, the day after the race, my family and friends left to go home and it was just us. It was sad seeing them leave because it really hit me that the Ironman was over.  I actually woke up that morning feeling pretty good, just REALLY tired, seriously SO tired. I knew it would be good to get my legs moving and increase blood flow, so Todd and I enjoyed some time around the village. We were lucky enough to have a little vacation post-race in Tremblant!

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Enjoying a delicious recovery smoothie!

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We took the big Gondola to the top of Mont Tremblant and the views were beautiful!  I was in awe the entire time of the beauty around this area!

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Standing in the watch tower with the village down below

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If you look closely, the little peninsula below in Lac Tremblant is where the IMMT swim course was!

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Riding back down!

Monday afternoon was spent on Lac Moore near our Condo… relaxing on the dock. We jumped in the water, chilly but refreshing!  Since I didn’t really shower the day before (gross I know, but chaffing was BAD) this acted as a little shower:)

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By Tuesday I still had DOMS (delayed on set muscle soreness) but honestly, it wasn’t that bad.  It was nothing worse than I’ve experienced doing a  stand alone marathon. The worst part was sitting on the toilet and going down stairs… holy quads! The day started with delicious breakfast, sparing no calories:

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To get things moving, we decided to explore and go for a short three mile hike in Domaine St Bernard.  This place was just gorgeous and I felt like I was on a movie set.

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Dinner that night included the famous Quebec dish called Poutine (french fries with gravy and cheese curds). I’m usually not a ‘french fry’ person but thought I would give it a try… when in Quebec.  It just OK in my opinion.  Let’s just say if I had not done an Ironman 2 days prior I would NOT have been eating this.

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After dinner, we walked to a park down the street and saw this gorgeous sunset over Lac Mercier.

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Wednesday was our last full day in Tremblant and we spend the afternoon Kayaking down the River Rouge. We started at this awesome place called the Kayak Cafe, which got great reviews! We rented Kayaks and then kayaked down the river for 12 Kilometers (about 7.5 miles).  It took ~ 3.5 hours but it was breathtakingly gorgeous.  I was definitely tired by the end! There were all these little beaches to stop at along the way, so pretty!  Once we got to the end of the 12K a bus picked us up and brought us back to the Cafe (about a 10 minute drive).

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Wednesday night was a special dinner at Restaurant Le Cheval de Jade. I recommend this place to anyone who is visiting Tremblant. It was so  quaint and romantic… I felt like I was eating at someone’s home. Not to mention, the food was fantastic.

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Thursday morning is was time to hit the road and head back home.  I was sad to leave, but I am 100% sure I will be back to race in Tremblant, I loved it so much!

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Here’s to the next adventure… 🙂

 

 

race reports, Uncategorized

IMMT {RUN Recap} and the FINISH!

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Once the 112 mile bike ride was complete, I was so excited to be on my two feet again! Running out of the transition tent was a huge energy boost, especially seeing my family cheering for me!

T2 time (Run to Bike Transition) = 5:48

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I raced smart on the bike, and I could tell my legs still felt fresh. All signs pointed to having a great run. After the bike, I headed into the transition tent, threw on my sneakers, applied body glide, grabbed my fuel belt/nutrition and I was on my way!

Right out of transition, the I ate my banana for extra potassium… it tasted amazing after eating all those gu’s and power bars on the bike. Hooray for bananas and the run!

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I felt GOOD and STRONG post bike ride!

I had been looking forward to running all day long… running is my strength and I knew I could make up time here.  I played it VERY smart on the bike and I honestly may have even been a little too cautious.  My legs however, were very happy that I was smart on my two wheels and they were feeling great right off the bike.  Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was the crowds, but my legs felt REALLY good at the start of the run.  All of those brick workouts I did, definitely paid off too! My goal was to run a sub-8 min/mile pace on the run.  When thinking about a time goal, I had the magic number 3:35 in my mind and I thought it was completely realistic.

But unfortunately, other parts of me didn’t not feel as great as my legs did…

My stomach.

As I kind of expected, I did feel a little nauseous after the bike. During the bike portion, I drank about 7 bottles of sports drink (which was the plan) and I ate power bars and gus.  I tend to feel nauseous when racing, so there was no surprise there. Eating the banana out of T2 did help things a little bit. As the run continued on, my stomach did get a little better, mind over matter, right? The goal was to drink Perform at every aid station and take one shot block every two miles. I also was supposed to take one power gel with caffeine (but I just couldn’t stomach it).

My lungs.

I mentioned the COLD temperatures on the bike course in my {bike recap}, but I did not mention how it was affecting my lungs.  Due to the breathing incident that happened during the Patriot Half Ironman in June, I had my inhaler with me and I was very proactive with taking it.  I took two puffs before the swim, and then took four additional puffs, spread out during the bike ride.  I knew with the colder temperatures that Sports Induced Asthma can flare up, and I wanted to protect my lungs for the run.  Despite the fact that I was very proactive with taking my inhaler, I could tell my lungs were hurting from the bike ride.  As soon as I started to run, I felt the shallow breathing that I felt at the Patriot Half.  I was telling myself to just relax my breathing, but it continued to be very shallow.  I felt I couldn’t take deep breaths and I was wheezing and coughing… a lot.  I proceeded to take my inhaler (two more puffs) but it did NOTHING.  You know that feeling when you have a chest cold and you go for a run outside in the winter… that’s what it felt like… for most of my run. For the first half of the Marathon, it definitely felt the worst, then it became a mental game to just try not to think about it. There was seriously a point where I said ‘F’ my lungs because I was getting so frustrated.  I had trained so well and so hard, I didn’t deserve this!  My legs felt great, but the coughing and wheezing was affecting my pace and it was upsetting.

THE COURSE:

As I mentioned in my race preview, the IMMT Run Course is an out-and-back course, that you repeat twice for 13.1 miles.  It is split up into two sections. They call it ‘two loops’ on the race website, but it’s more of an out and back.  What I loved about this is you get to see other athletes and cheer them on/check out your competition as you’re running.

The first section of the loop is Chemin du Village to the beginning of Le P’tit Train du Nord (mile 1-3 and 10- end).  This is what I call the ‘hilly section.’

As I left transition I headed towards Chemin du Village, which took athletes around the side of Lac Tremblant into the charming little town. This section has lots of spectators and I loved the energy! People were holding signs, music was blaring… it was just what I needed. Chemin du Village is the hillier section of the course, and you climb up your first short, moderate hill within the first mile of the run, as you pass by the swim start from earlier in the day. The hills aren’t anything too crazy, but they can pack a punch after riding your bike for 112 miles. After that first up hill, there are some down hills (which I later went up on the return) I saw lots of people walking the hills on the second loop! On this part of the course, half of the road is open to traffic, which got a little frustrating later in the day when trying to go around people. Besides my breathing issues, I felt very strong on this part of the course

The second portion of the run is Le P’tit Train du Nord, miles 4 – 10 (just short of finishing 10th mile)

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A photo from when I previewed the run course on Friday!

Before the race, I thought this section would be an actual ‘trail’ until I heard from a twitter friend that it’s actually a ‘nicely paved trail’ oops!  This portion of the course takes place on a narrow, wooded trail that’s very pretty and shaded, but does not have any spectators. It’s basically brand new pavement and did feel a little ‘soft’ on my legs.  It’s also quite flat and there is a small section (maybe 1/4 mile) of loose gravel/dirt trail before getting back into the Chemin du village. This section is quite narrow and can fit about 2-3 people across on both sides.  It can get tricky when trying to pass people and also around the aid stations. Besides the aid stations, there was no one really cheering for you, which made it mentally difficult, I found. During the first loop. I saw a lot of the Pro’s running by on the other side, that was really cool! I cheered for the first and second place pro female and also for the people on my QT2 team who were running on the other side of me.  It was fun to ‘high five’ my teammates and cheer them on.. definitely gave me a boost!

After Le P’tit Train du Nord I completed the loop and headed back into Tremblant Village. In this section, athletes are routed to the cobblestone walkways of the mountain village of Mont Tremblant (the best part with the most spectators!). This area is all downhill and it feels incredible with all of the cheering fans. There is a sign that says (Right) SECOND LOOP and (left) FINISH. I went right to start the second loop and others went left to finish the Ironman.  It was a little hard seeing that sign, knowing I had to run another 13.1 miles before coming back to this point.

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The best part of the run course!

As you can see in the tracker screenshot below, my pace for the first 13.1 was close to my goal time… I stayed in the 8’s with the exception of mile 13 where I stopped at a porta potty. My lungs were bothering me and I was coughing a lot, but I tried to just ignore what was going on.  My legs also continued to feel great through the first loop.

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The best part of the first loop was seeing my family when I got back to the race village to begin the second loop.  I wish I could put into words how amazing it was to see them cheering for me. I think you get an idea of how happy I was by the look on my face in these photos:

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The good thing about two-loop Marathons, is you know what to expect the second time around.  The bad thing is, things feel a little more painful the second time around. By the time I got back into Chemin du Village for round two, I was no longer wanting to drink perform or eat my gels.  It was getting more muggy outside and warmer. I took the advice of my peers and started to drink Coke.  All I have to say is, thank God for Coca Cola on this run course.  Honestly, I think it saved my life.  I had heard about people drinking Coke during an Ironman but didn’t think I would want it… boy was I wrong!  The change in taste plus carbonation really gave me a boost! I made sure to still take my Clif Shot Blocks and Salt Tabs, since it was getting warmer outside.

Once I entered Le P’tit Train du Nord for the second loop, there was a TORRENTIAL downpour when I was at around mile 16/17.  It was raining so hard that I couldn’t even see in front of me. I think the rain was a blessing in disguise because it helped me to forget about the issue with my breathing and also helped take my mind off the fact that I still had a ways to go. Here I was running on this dark, wooded trail, pouring rain… I was running with thousands of other people, but somehow I felt all alone and in the moment, it was pretty cool.  The rain probably lasted for about 30 minutes to an hour, just enough to make my sneakers completely soggy and heavy. Once I got out of the trail section for the final time and headed back into Chemin du village, the rain stopped and I was almost home! This time in the village was a little different than the first.  My legs were heavy and I was tired.  I was still coughing a lot and my mind started to go into a dark place, a place I didn’t want it to go.  My pace at mile 20 was 8:15, still doing well, but I was getting tired.  I just kept plugging away, drinking coke and smiling, trying to ignore the pain. There were many points where spectators told me to ‘keep smiling’ and I could tell they were happy to see I WAS actually smiling!

It all happens at mile 23 

As I mentioned in the bike recap, I wrote ‘mile 23’ on my forearm, to remind myself to think about this point of the marathon and to pace myself appropriately.  Around mile 23 is when I hit the difficult hills in the village and also a dark place in my mind. Running up those hills in the Chemin du Village was twice as hard this time around and things were starting to break down.  My feet were burning, my knees ached, my breathing felt labored again… I so badly wanted to walk.. but I didn’t.  People were walking all around me, but I refused… I kept going.  I’m proud to say I did not walk once during the entire Marathon. I knew I was headed to the finish, but that didn’t make it any easier.  One thing that gave me a little boost was seeing Nino, the owner from our Bed and Breakfast earlier in the week, he was cheering ‘go Kristin!!’ and that was just what I needed.

The last three miles were BY FAR the hardest part of the race.  As you can see in the tracker photo above, my pace dropped into the ’10’s’.  I tried not to get discouraged, since I was still running, but it was hard feeling like I could NOT go any faster.  As hard as I tried, I literally could not go any faster in those last three miles. It was also very hard not to get discouraged when other women were passing me… I hate getting passed on the run!

Miles 23-26 were without a doubt the most difficult miles of my life.  Those miles in an Ironman are the definition of mental toughness.  At this point, my body had been racing for 11 hours and I was forced to DIG DEEP more than I ever thought was possible.  I thought about all of my training hours and all of the sacrifices I made to get there, this is what got me through.

I looked down at my watch and I knew I wasn’t going to break 11 hours (my original goal) and I was ok with that.  At this point in the race, I was so close and I just wanted to finish… I was about to be an IRONMAN!

As I approached Tremblant Village, I knew I was SO close! I could hear Mike Reilly announcing finishers and I got chills down my spine… I was almost there. Once my feet hit the cobblestone for the second time around, the finish line was just yards away.  I thought about the advice you (my readers) and friends gave me, to take my time approaching the finish and to savor the moment.

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My cheering squad in bright green!

Todd waiting for me to come down the finish chute!

Todd waiting for me to come down the finish chute!

I gave high fives to people cheering me on, I held my arms up in the arm, I was so excited!  I had a permanent smile on my face and I did not let it go. I really took it all in and wanted to remember this moment. As I ran down the hill in the village, I saw the finish chute in front of me, wow that came up fast, I thought! All of a sudden I was RIGHT there in the finisher chute!  I got really chocked up at this moment, almost hyperventilating, so emotional!

These photos say it ALL:

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Honestly, I have never felt so proud of myself.  It’s hard to even describe what I was feeling at this moment, but it was electric, I felt like I was on top of the world.

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I crossed the finish line by myself and heard Mike Reilly call my name:

KRISTIN LAWHORN YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!! 

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RUN TIME: 3:57

My goal time was 3:35, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed with 3:57. However, when I thought about what I accomplished, especially as a first timer, I was still very proud of myself! I also realized that an IRONMAN Marathon is nothing like a stand alone Marathon;)

OFFICIAL FINISH TIME: 11:28:36

If there was ever a moment where I felt I could accomplish anything in the world, this was it.  After I crossed the IRONMAN finish line I felt unstoppable!

Once I crossed, I did have some issues breathing and the volunteers were fantastic in helping me. I took my inhaler again, I was ok, but still wheezing a lot.  They put the medal around my neck and gave me my mylar blanket… I was DONE!!! I couldn’t believe the race was over.

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I walked through the finish line area, got some snacks and saw my family and friends waving me over!

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Hugging Todd when I finished! I couldn’t have done it without this man.

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Me & Dad

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Me & Jenny

Here are some photos of me and my ‘tribe’ after the finish.  They all wore matching shirts that said ‘Kristin’s Tribe.’  My parents, sister, husband, friends Steve and Emily, made up my amazing cheer squad! I saw them throughout the race and I have them to thank for all of my race photos:)

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Me and hubby

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My parents, sister and I

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Me and my Tribe!!!

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Dad, Mom, me, Jenny and Todd

And some father daughter moments…

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After the race, we all went back up to my parents hotel, which was at the top of the hill in Tremblant Village. All I have to say is, thank goodness they have the gondola that took us from the bottom of the hill to the hotel at the top!

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Gondola ride post race!

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And then when we got to the Fairmont hotel, my lovely husband carried me up the stairs!

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Husband of the year

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After we got back to the hotel, I rested for a while. My appetite was a little funky and I wasn’t hungry for dinner until later in the night.  I attempted to shower, but it was SO painful because of all the chaffing.  I seriously could not shower… I will spare you the details, but I was literally screaming from pain.

After some rest and food, we decided to go down to the midnight finish line celebration! I heard this is a MUST do when you do an Ironman, especially your first one.  I didn’t want to miss it!  As exhausted as I was, I was so glad I went down to the finish line for midnight, it was incredible.  Mike Reilly is phenomenal.. the energy he brings.. he’s honestly quite the entertainer! There was music, fireworks, dancing, so awesome! Seeing the last finisher cross the finish line melted my heart. It was amazing to be there with so many people who raced that day, we were all celebrating together and supporting the final finishers.

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Me and our friend Steve!

The last finisher was brought in by ‘angels’ people who wore angel wings and literally ran out to her on the course and ran back with her.  How cool is that?!

Ironman Mont Tremblant was a day I will forever keep close to my heart.  I came, I saw, I conquered… I had FUN!

Thank you to all of you for following my Ironman journey and for tracking me on race day! Thank you to my husband who was nothing shy of AMAZING throughout this process.  To my parents, sister and brother who cheered for me in person and from afar (my brother lives in Chicago), I am forever grateful.  Thank you to all of you I have met via this blog and social media for your support and advice leading up to the race.  Also, I am forever grateful for my chiropractor, massage therapist, and acupuncturist for getting me to the start and finish line!

It’s hard to believe my Ironman Mont Tremblant journey is over… but my life is just beginning as an IRONMAN! Next challenge… to be determined…

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race reports, Uncategorized

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

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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.

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 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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race reports, Uncategorized

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!!