The short version:
Awesome venue, great event, 2500 athletes from 87 countries and they all looked fast!
The long version:
Living in Ottawa and being involved with Ironman races both as a volunteer and a competitor Tremblant is starting to feel like home. I went up on Thursday, and even then the town was full of fit looking people going up and down the road on foot and by bike.
As always, the organizers did all those extra things they do at Tremblant to make the race special. Free espresso at the coffee boat on the swim course, great performers at the pre-race banquet (including an acrobatic team dressed in the event tri gear – no one I know who actually does triathlon has that kind of flexibility!), an outstanding fireworks show, and a very efficient race check in.
The big tent was up and we had to check all our gear the day before. Lots of mighty fine bikes and a few surprisingly non-carbon road bikes with tri bars. My row was full of very fancy bikes, with very fancy wheels!
Race morning started with an F-18 fly by and the sound of the Howitzer to start the race. It was a wave start, and us old folks started at the end. The pros were out on the bike course before I even got onto the beach!
The swim was rougher than I expected. I still have the bruises to prove it, but unlike the good old mass starts I did not get the feeling anyone was actually trying to drown me. It was more a question of lots of fast swimmers trying to get a good swim. Most people stopped kicking once they had hit me once, and I tried to do the same. The waves were four minutes apart so I was somewhat surprized when we swam through a big group of swimmers from the wave ahead of us and a fair number of swimmers from the wave in front of them. Apparently, although we were the oldest women out there we can still swim.
I had a good swim for me, 30.23 almost 2 minutes faster than my time in June. I had no idea at the time but I was 11th in the AG out of the water. At the 70.3 in June the same time would have made me 1st in our AG by over a minute. I like to think the faster swim time was a result of all the swim training but I suspect replacing my seven year old wetsuit with a new 2XU was also a factor. Apparently you swim faster when your wetsuit is not full of water!
I had arm warmers and a jacket in my T1 bag. I decided to take the time to put on arm warmers. It was probably the right call at the time, but talking to Leslie after the race I discovered she had the perfect solution: A medium size Bushtukah plastic bag under her tri top which she could pull out and dump at an aid station once she warmed up! Pretty sure I can get me one of those for my next race!
I did not have the bike split I was hoping for. I am not sure why. I did everything I had planned and my speedy little Trek Speed Concept was a star but I found the wind tough on the way out on the 117. I got passed (a lot) which is normal for me on the bike but still frustrating particularly when I have spent so much time focusing on riding this year. My one complaint about the event comes in here…there was a lot of drafting going on. There were BIG groups (50+) coming down the highway and even at the back where I was, I was getting passed by groups of 6+ riders at a time. I saw race officials beeping their horns at the packs but when I passed the penalty tent there was one rider in it. Final time on the bike was 2:55:29, 28 seconds slower than my split in June and I was now 28th in my AG. Yikes.
The run is my strength but I knew I was a long way back starting the run and the new run course turned out to be just as tough as we all knew it was going to be. I passed a runner on the first loop who turned and looked at me and asked “is any of this flat?” The run course followed the same course as the 70.3 but when you reached the Hotel Mont-Tremblant in the old village instead of going onto the Flat Petit Train du Nord you turn around and go back up and down the hills to the pedestrian village. When you arrive there rather than going down the hill to the finish area, you get a bonus run up to the base of the chair lift and back down again. Then you get to do it all again.
I spent the whole run focusing on passing whoever was in front of me man, woman, chipmunk I did not care, I wanted to pass as many as I could and I was relatively successful. Although I had no clue at the time I was back in 11th place in the age group as we started the last 1 km up the hill into the village. Jon and Sindy Hooper were on the corner and yelled to me that there was a woman just ahead in my age group. I was not sure that was good news, but I had to try so I caught up with her and passed her as we started the last climb. She then passed me on the way up. I dug deep and passed her at the top and then proceeded to hammer down the hill totally out of control. I passed another woman in my age group on the way down for good measure (turns out she was on her first loop). I was so off balance when I crossed the finish line I thought I was going to trip over it! But the final run let me sneak into the top ten in my age group 10th place by 9 seconds.
Overall a good day. Thanks to everyone who helped/ put up with me along the way: JR and the gang at K2J Fitness, Bushtukah, Westboro Chiropractic, my husband, family and friends. It was a real treat to have my whole extended family there for the weekend.