Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2022 Race Report
Banana in my Hair and Egg on my Bike: Ironman Mont Tremblant 2022 Race Report
Race Time: 13:01:53 / 8th place AG / 79th by Gender / 445th Overall
Swim Time: 1:28:00 / 21st place AG / 175th by Gender / 728th Overall
Time in T1: 10:27
Bike time: 6:22:14 / 2nd place AG / 51st by Gender / 372nd Overall
Time in T2: 8:25
Run Time: 4:52:48 (2:35 first loop / 2:18 second loop) / 7th place AG / 95th by Gender / 457th Overall
I picked up my Sherpa on the Wednesday before the race and drove to Lake Morey, Vermont to see my mom before carrying on to Canada.
Thursday morning I had a lovely practice swim in Lake Morey, which is very similar to Lac Superior. This was good for my mental state. I highly recommend getting into water that simulates the race water. The feel, smell and taste of the water matters.
The drive to Mont Tremblant took about two hours longer than the GPS expected due to traffic around Montreal. Unlike the Lake Placid race registration, IMMT said that it closed at five and a closed exactly at five. The hotel ballroom was closed with bolts thrown on the doors and there was no one around by 5:10 p.m.
Friday morning, I went first thing to get my number. I had no issue with the check in as they were not even checking what time you were supposed do you have registered.
During my check ride on Friday, I felt my brakes were slipping. I’d had that issue at Lake Placid and at the time, the shop said the brake pads just needed to be cleaned. With rain in the forecast, I was nervous, so I brought the bike to the bike mechanic on site. It took about five minutes for him to diagnose worn brake pads. I had not replaced the brake pads since I got the bike in 2018, so it made sense to me that they were worn. Honestly, I have been wondering if they were due since before Placid, so it was almost a relief to swap them out.
I went to the race briefing and was happy that I did because there was a course adjustment that I was not expecting. I skipped the briefing at Placid and while I do not think it necessarily hurt me, I was more confident at Tremblant having gone to the briefing. I was probably more lax at Placid because I had raced that course already and I had done the course in practice in total probably 30 times between the simulator and the real thing.
Saturday was a very low-key mini try with a two mile charge up a run, a 30-minute check ride on the bike and a 20-minute swim. I checked my bike and my bike and run bags and settled in for a pretty low-key afternoon. Well not entirely low key as there was a little bit of Alpine sliding to be done. Wheeeeeee…..
Saturday night was my standard pre-race dinner (shrimp and grits). I ate a little bit later than I normally would because I got off schedule during the afternoon, riding the Alpine slide and doing some of the Mont Tremblant activities. I will be honest, I really wanted to have fun at this race, so I put a fair bit of effort into making sure that I did not miss the experience of being at the resort at Mont Tremblant.
Saturday evening, I spent some time in my recovery boots and Saturday night I went to bed at 7:30 PM. I slept hard until the alarm went off at 4:00 AM on Sunday morning.
Sunday morning - typical race day nerves. With my focus this season being on fun rather than on finish times, I tried to be okay with the jitters and adrenaline. In the past I’ve tried to force myself to find some zen and I pretty much looked and felt like:
I had written Sunday morning instructions for myself because I’ve learned that I am a bit of a space cadet on race day. Next race I hope to remember that I wrote the instructions, so I actually follow them rather than leaving them on the coffee table and finding them on Medal Monday.
4:15 AM – the toughest part of any Ironman – eating breakfast. I always have oatmeal with peanut butter, salt and banana and I always think it’s like eating wallpaper paste. Getting it in is the toughest thing I do all day.
5:00 AM – head to transition to put my bottles on my bike and to check my Personal Needs bags.
5:06 AM – realize I’ve left my bottles in the fridge at the condo.
5:07 AM – unplanned pre-race warmup as I sprint back to the condo for the bottles.
5:15 AM – head to transition to put my bottles on my bike and to check my Personal Needs bags.
5:25 AM – bike tires are pumped, bottles of Infinit on the back of the bike and realize I left my water for my torpedoes in the fridge at the condo.
IMMT offers race morning water via a tanker parked by the finish. I had no way to pull my torpedoes off my bike to fill them and I couldn’t take the bike to the tanker so I dumped the little bit of water I had on hand into the top torpedo and figured I’d fill up at that first aid station. Some day I’ll get this right, but this was not the day. I am starting to think that I just need to put water into the bike on Saturday at check in and deal with stale water on Sunday.
I dropped my run and bike special-needs bags at the appropriate spots and said a mental goodbye to the contents since the race organizers were very clear that we would not get those bags back. Then I went back to the condo to get ready for the swim.
One thing that I did at Tremont and at Lake Placid that made me very happy was staying close enough to the start that I could go back to my house between set up and start time.
IMMT offered a swim warm up and I used it to get water in my wetsuit, which I think cuts the shock of getting into the water when the race actually starts. I used my swim bands to warm my shoulders and arms and I did some light jogging in place while the corrals filled.
The start of a race does not usually get me emotional, but Mont Tremblant has been on my wish list since I saw it in 2019 and so this start felt very, very special. When the cannon fired and the fireworks shot into the air, I got pretty teary-eyed.
I hugged my sherpa and stepped into the swim corral. Almost immediately I realized that I could feel my wetsuit rubbing my neck. Happily for me, my sherpa had followed me and she had tri-slide. I put a ton more around my neck. Honestly, I probably blew a hole in the ozone layer then and there.
Last hugs and kisses and then I was about to start. I reminded myself that my goal for this swim was not to panic. This was the day to master the mind. The buzzer sounded and I walked into the water to thigh depth, took a breath and made a surface dive. Here we go.
Nutrition for Swim: Oatmeal breakfast plus water plus two Tums. One Gu just before the start. Felt fine. No upset stomach or heartburn.
Weather for Swim: Clouds / Some Light Rain
The Long Story:
I didn’t panic at 100 yards, as I usually do.
I panicked at 200 yards.
Being a right-side dominant breather, I wanted to be on the far right of the course with the other swimmers and the buoys to my back, but I’d ended up on the left side. In trying to cut right, I got too close to somebody’s feet and swam through their wake. To other people this is prime drafting position, but to me I just went through the guy’s jet wash and now I am in a flat spin and heading out to sea. Yes, that is a Top Gun reference-if you have not seen the movie, you need to.
When the turbulent water got me, my brain flipped out. I tried to get my face up for a breath and I took water up the nose. That’s it! My body screamed for me to roll onto my back so I could breathe. I wanted it so bad, but then I told myself no.
Not this time.
You will not backstroke. If you backstroke, you are swimming to the first boat you see and it’s a DNF. Today is the day that you show up differently. No more freaking out in the water. I went full parent mode. I was one step away from “so help me, if you make me pull this race over…” I basically “mom’d” myself out of a panic attack.
I swam sidestroke for a couple of strokes.
Then I started a little dog paddle as though it was early in the season and the water was cold I was just trying to get my face in.
Dog paddle - dog paddle - dip my chin.
Dog paddle – dog paddle - dip my chin and my mouth.
Dog paddle – dog paddle - dip my chin my mouth and my nose.
Dog paddle – dog paddle – goggles in and let’s go.
Each time I managed to get my stroke a little bit longer and I managed to get a hold of a little bit more water. It worked. I found my rhythm and I was able to keep going. No backstroke.
The water was a little bit choppy, but it was all swimmer generated. I reminded myself it was no different than a choppy day at home. The swim to the first turn buoy went well and I was surprised to realize that I really enjoy a single loop swim. There are fewer turn buoys and therefore fewer opportunities for everybody to get all jammed up trying to make the turn. I don’t care for that mosh pit.
During the swim back toward the finish, there was a guy who kept swimming over me. I know it was the same guy because he was wearing an ORCA wetsuit: black with gigantic neon orange detailing.
He swam over me from the left.
He swam over me from the right.
He swam straight over me.
He dropped back.
He swam over me from the left again.
I can’t sight for s**t, but this guy must’ve zigzagged over me about a dozen times.
In our last coaching session, John told me to put a little bit more work into the second half of the swim and see if I could pull my pace up and Neon Orange Zig-Zag Guy gave me a reason to do so.
I thought very hard about what shape I wanted to make with my arm and how I wanted to grab the water. I was very conscious about grabbing it and pulling all the way through and being calm in my recovery and grabbing it again. I was stunned when I saw my data at the end of the day that I had pushed my pace from 2:06/2:07 per hundred yards to 1:51 per hundred yards. I never thought I could have done that.
The exit to Lac Superior is very shallow so people were standing up quite a way from the exit. I swam as far as I could and when I basically hit dirt with my chest, I stood up.
Tremblant is nice in that the exit is a staircase. There are people ready to catch you if you bobble when you make the transition from horizontal to vertical.
Swim Time: 1:28:00 / 21st place AG / 175th by Gender / 728th Overall
The run to transition is very long. I saw my sherpa and one of my friends. We had hugs and kisses and honestly, I was super happy to see them. It’s always such an adrenaline boost when you see the people who are supporting you on the side of the course.
I grabbed my bag from a volunteer and headed into the changing area. This was the first shock to me. There was no room. I mean *no* room. There were chairs, every one of them full, and unlike Lake Placid where transition was on grass, the only spot to sit was on asphalt. I looked and looked and looked and decided all right, I guess I’m on asphalt.
I dumped out my bag and dried off as fast as I could. It was humid but chilly and I had been worried about being cold on the bike. I thought about wearing a vest on the first loop but decided against it, choosing instead to go for a hat under my helmet. It turned out to be the right call, at least for the first part of the bike. I downed a Gu and headed out.
Time in T1: 10:27
Nutrition for Bike: 1.5 bottles of Infinit (220 calories per full bottle) per loop plus 1 honey stinger waffle and 1 Gu per 30 miles. One bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel plus one iced coffee. One snack bag of GF pretzels on Loop 2. Really enjoyed the Loop 2 buffet.
Took 3 or 4 bottles of water into the torpedoes and another 2 or 3 dumped over myself when it got hot. Packed but did not need 5 other waffles and two packs of electrolyte chews. Felt fine.
Weather for Bike (all alternating): Sun / Humid / Clouds / Wind / Rain / Thunderstorms
The Long Story:
The bike course climbs at the start, and I used the first 30 minutes or so really to get comfortable and get warm after having been in the lake. Even though the water temperature was very warm, by the time I came out I had my usual frozen hands / frozen arms and really needed to get my body temperature up.
The ride out of town is nice, excepting for a couple of bridges that have pretty large seams in them. I had noted them during my check rides on Friday and Saturday, and I had tried to figure out a good place to cross those seams so I wouldn’t get a flat or lose my bottles or knock my own teeth loose.
I managed the bridges well and headed out on the highway.
This was my second opportunity to manage my thoughts. I have not been looking at my data as I race this year. I twist my watch so I cannot see it and I just go on feel. This worked really well for me at Placid, and I never felt like I was working hard. My brain kept on telling me that I was working too hard this time. I would back off a little bit, and my brain would tell me that I was in too easy of a gear and I was being lazy, so then I would push a little bit, and then my brain would tell me I was working too hard, and I would back off. You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out, you put your right foot in and you shake it all about. It was the bike course Hokey Pokey.
I spent a little bit more of the time thinking about where my effort level was then I would have liked, especially on the first loop. This meant that I missed some of the jaw-dropping, breathtaking vistas that you get to take advantage of when you are on the highway portion course. I’m happy I noticed these on the second. The weather forecast had called for overcast all day, heavy clouds and afternoon thunderstorms, so you can imagine my surprise when I got out onto the highway on loop one and the sun came out and the humidity was up as well as the heat.
I went into condition management mode. I started grabbing water bottles from the volunteers to pour over myself in addition to filling my torpedoes. I regretted the hat under the helmet, especially on climbs on Chemin Duplessis, which are definitely steep. They’re manageable because they’re short, but there were people walking their bikes, especially on the second loop.
At personal needs, I was happy to lose the hat, swap bottles and grab my bacon, egg and cheese sandwich and iced coffee. Oh my gosh, that food made me so happy.
I put on sunscreen and forced myself not to look at everything else in the bag. I wasn’t getting any of it back.
I had to put a hat in my back pocket of my kit and keep it with me the entire second loop. That was not comfortable, but I was not ready to throw away the hat. I was slower in special-needs than I would like to have been, and I need to figure out a way to make that smoother. It’s on the list for next year.
Heading out on the second loop, I felt a little bit stronger. This was probably more mental than physical and stemmed from the fact that I had done the course once, so I knew what to expect. No matter how good the simulator is, nothing compares to knowing how it feels to ride the real thing.
Out of town, back down the highway and the ride felt a bit easier which made me suspect that I had a tail wind. It would turn out that I was right.