Typically I’d have done 2 Olympic distance triathlons before this race. I passed on racing Columbia this year because I just wasn’t ready. Then of course the Newfound Lake Tri/ Mooseman had been canceled. I’d love to say I made the most of those weekends that we didn’t travel but I had a flu of some sort the week of Mooseman. Columbia weekend went better tho'. Genine raced an Olympic on the Jersey Shore and I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon.
I guess if I had to summarize my training lately it would be “Weekend Warrior”. Meaning I barely get any training in during the week, then have a pretty solid weekend of workouts. Because of this, I was very careful not to try and “cram for the test” and do too much training in the final week or so before Mont Tremblant. Better to be Undertrained than Over, I guess.
Even tho I knew I wasn’t going to be having an amazing race, that didn’t mean that I didn’t want to manage the day the best I could for the best possible result.
Side note. This is the first time I’m wearing my CEP calf sleeves under the wetsuit. I’m a believer in compression so they will be on all day long.
Ate an entire pack of clif blocks about 15-20 minutes before my start.
Swim: I’d be lucky if my weekly average swim total has been 4000m. I do hope that I’m swimming a better line because of the changes I have made. I’m not planning on swimming my own line tho’, I plan on finding feet and staying there until the 2nd turn, which is the swim back to shore. Then I hope to turn it up.
I was in the biggest wave of the day, so it was quite an action packed swim start. I focused on staying very smooth and steady. I didn’t get a warm-up swim. Any attempt at being fast early would just end badly for me. I’m guessing 300 or 400m into it I had found some space and was no longer hitting people on either side of me with every recovery stroke. It was then that I started to look for feet. The water had good clarity so I spotted someone ahead by a bit and went after them. Once I got into the draft, the effort felt too easy and I decided to make a pass and look for faster feet. Only, as soon as I left the draft, I really wasn’t able to pass them convincingly. So I decided to fall back into the draft and go back to the original plan.
At the first turn buoy. I checked our line and I felt that my feet were going a bit too far off line. So I looked to the inside and again because of the good clarity, was able to spot some others that looked like they would be good to follow. Keep in mind we were now encountering the weakest swimmers from the previous waves (blockers). When I found the new draft, I was well aware that I now had someone drafting me as well. Not a big deal. He would bump my feet from time to time but wasn’t ever pushing them down or causing any trouble.
By the way, my opinion of a good draft for a mid pack swimmer is: Someone that doesn’t switch to breast stroke to sight. Someone that doesn’t lose much speed when they sight. If they have a tight kick, I find that’s a decent indicator they may just be a better swimmer than I am. And of course, swimming a good line.
As we reached the final turn buoy, the water temperature got noticeably colder. Which for me was refreshing but for people without a wetsuit or perhaps a sleeveless, I wonder if it was cold enough to matter.
So now that I’ve been pulled around the course to this point, I was planning on leaving my draft and make my way ahead. I did leave my draft and start looking ahead to find the next set of feet to pass and intended to do this the rest of the way in. Only I really don’t have the strength to do this AND the waters are getting congested with slower swimmers from the earlier waves. I ended up finding another pack of swimmers from my wave and swam in with them, along with the person that had been drafting me since shortly after the first turn. When I stood up at the end of the swim, I turned around and asked the guy how we did. He asked for the time from my watch. I said 37ish. He said “I found good feet!” Which made me smile. It wasn’t a great swim time for me but certainly about the time that I was expecting. I made my way to the wetsuit strippers. My right hamstring wanted to cramp up on me for some reason. I’ll never understand this, I don’t kick when I’m swimming in a wetsuit! When I got over to the volunteers, I broke my rules of choosing who is going to pull the wetsuit off. Typically I try to find a large adult male, this backfired on me here last year so I went to 2 girls, hopeful that they were working together. Sure enough they were a team and within moments I was jogging to transition. My legs were still threatening to cramp on me.
Swim Time 38:07 (last year 37:44)
(I know I left some time on the swim. My arms and shoulders should be feeling a 1.2 mile raced swim the next day. They didn’t feel sore at all.)
T1: 6:55 (Last Year 6:37)
Onto the bike: Compact Crank with a 11-28 cassette. I didn’t make time to tech my bike to be ready to ride the Hed3 Tubulars. So I’m riding the Shimano Clinchers, probably my heaviest wheelset.
Last year I pushed myself hard and my legs were cramping badly in the last 6 miles of this ride. I’ve got to be smart this year. I’ve recently had a Quarq Power meter installed on the bike. (less than 2 weeks ago) I haven’t had it long enough to have any serious metrics. This ride will be the first big step in getting the required data.
If it wasn’t for the swamp like humidity. It would have been perfect racing conditions. Low 60s and cloudy skies. The bike starts out with a relatively easy but long climb out of town. I got myself into humble mode early and watched a lot of people ride by me. I forget how many waves/minutes behind me the women were but they were already passing me in the first couple miles.
Within the first 20 miles I got very familiar with how the ride was going to go. Flats, holding position reasonably well. Climbs, the entire field would slowly roll past me. Significant descents I would quickly pass many of those that slowly passed me on the climb. I think this must be “Life in the Fat Lane” as a cyclist. The good news, unlike last year, I wasn’t being blocked on most of my descents, so I was really getting to make the most of my weight with a gravity assist.
My one problem was that I needed to find the aid station with a bathroom. I had figured there would be one at the first turn around. There wasn’t. I saw one person run up the embankment and I almost stopped there. I figured there had to be one somewhere soon, so I kept rolling. Not long after that, ahead of me I see a guy pull over and walk down an embankment where there was reasonable cover from car traffic and bike traffic. I was at a point where I definitely felt that the situation was truly slowing me down. So I stopped. Next thing I know a motorcycle is pulling over. Ummm. Is there going to be a time penalty for this? Then I noticed he was the bike support with the extra wheels. He hopped the barrier for some relief as well. Ha!
Back to racing, with it now being much easier to keep up with my fluid intake.
I knew the next challenge was going to be the long climb ahead on the highway. Last year I definitely pushed way too hard trying to keep up. Not this time. Looking at my HR I already knew I was pushing harder than I typically do when I’m training. The good news is that everything was still feeling good. Upper body was comfortable in Aero, Lower Back is good because I’m not hammering, Legs are happy because I’ve got the 28 cheater cog for the climbs.
As we rolled through town I was surprised to find that they removed a small loop with a quick steep climb at the turn around. It had changed to a simple U-Turn on the main street of town. Next thing you know, you are heading out of town and heading back towards transition. I hit a bit of congestion early here which was unfortunate because it was a descent. I just sat back and waited for it to open up. Which may have been a good call because the official came riding through right about that time.
As I rolled past transition, Ed’s wife Margie spotted me and gave a cheer. Always good to hear a cheer out on the course! Ahead of me is the big test, the 3+ miles of climbing. I felt like I was in a much better place than last year in terms of leg fatigue. Also knowing the course helped keep me from thinking I should put everything I’ve got into it seeing how we’ve only got about 6 miles left. This year I only saw one person fall over from lack of momentum. It was someone I had been seeing on/off for the last 20 miles. They were very unhappy about it and was quite vocal about it. (I’m not sure what she was saying, I don’t speak French). I kept looking over at the people flying by on the down hill headed back to transition. The fun part wasn’t far off now.
I had no problem reaching the top this year. I had paced myself well. Now to reel in as many people as I can in about 3 miles by descending like a mad man. For me this is one of the great things about this race, a closed bike course with really nice pavement and good sight lines ahead. I was surprised to find that I had caught up and passed the first woman cyclist to have passed me at the very beginning of the course. I had figured she was long gone. I also ended up passing 2 people that were riding the same bike frame as me in the last half mile. Kind of funny how close we were to all finishing together. We would have looked like the Yellow Cervelo Gang. Only once on the way down did I have to use my brakes. Someone with nobody around them had set up shop in the middle of the road. Which eventually lead to someone passing on the right. Which pushed him further left… But he finally got the fact that he shouldn’t be where he was and moved over. An opportunity lost for me tho’. My top speed according to my garmin was 48.5 mph.
Bike: 3:08:46 This was well within my expectations. I was just pleased with how my legs were feeling. Last year was so painful. This year I felt ready to run. (Last year 03:02:16)
Note: My entire speedfill of gatorade endurance + one bottle of perform and 4 GUs taken in during the bike. (So about 3 bike bottles of fluid)
T2: 3:00 (Last Year 2:02)
Carrying a hand bottle of Gatorade with me so I can always have fluid with me.
The Run: I left T2 feeling pretty good about everything. To make things even better you get to run out of transition through tons of spectators cheering. You are high fiving kids and people are calling out your name (it’s on the bib), you can’t not smile. Unfortunately there are still some hills ahead that you’ve got to run over and I’ve still got to take it easy to avoid cramping up.
I think I was about a mile and a half into the run when I caught up to Ed. I really didn’t expect this. In fact I figured he’d out swim and out bike me and I’d be down 20+ minutes starting the run. But an early crash and a flat on the bike changed his day. He gets the big extra points for keeping going and finishing the race. I always question whether I would do the same. After a quick chat I got back to running my 9:30 pace. Only they ended up being more like 9:45’s or worse. Which I suppose is alright, because I was still feeling good enough to bust out some dance moves at the 6 mile mark where they were playing Rock Lobster. Which then got the volunteers dancing as well. Good times!
Then I got to see both Ed and Genine on my way back towards the finish. I was slowing down into the 10-10:30 range but I didn’t start cramping up until mile 11. As soon as I had to start dealing with any type of hill I was in trouble. I doubt this is nutrition related simply a lack of training. So once again, I got humble and just walked the inclines to save myself from the days of pain that I had last year after the race.
The funny part is once I got into the crowds in the village, everyone is cheering and shouting for you. But you are running down a pretty steep downhill. So there’s plenty of impact. So naturally as I’m running through, the cheers suddenly stop short as my hamstring cramped up on me and I had to stop for a moment with a look of pain on my face. Ha! Immediately they start yelling you’ve only got 200m to go!! I was laughing at the sudden change in the crowd. Grimacing, but it was funny. Mont Tremblant definitely has one of the best finish lines.
Run: 2:12:31 (Last year 02:22:14)
Total: 06:09:19 (Last Year 06:10:53)
The next few days, the inside of my calves were quite painful. It was very tough to push them into their regular extension while stretching. I definitely should have had a massage scheduled to help with this but didn’t. Need to plan better next time.
I definitely owe Ed and Todd a thank you. Ed for getting us to sign up for the NJ Fondo in the fall and taking us out on some challenging training rides the last few weeks. Todd, for keeping our weekend runs at 10 or more miles the last month or so. Both of them could go faster if they were out there on their own. I appreciate that they drag me along.
The best thing that has come out of this race is this. It’s completely changed my state of mind. For the life of me, I have not been able to get my diet/calorie count under control the last couple years. Jan to June this year has been the worst. Partially due to several colds and my back going out on me several times. So I just couldn’t string together more than a couple weeks of good training before it would fall apart. Unfortunately, my eating follows my training. If my training is on, I eat really well. But if I’m not training well, I don’t eat well. I know, it makes no sense but that is the reality of it.
But as I’ve said, this race has put me back on track. The fact that I can finish a 70.3 with a really weak training plan helped remind me that I’ve come a long way in terms of my overall fitness. Now I feel like I OWE it to myself to get my weight back down and put a schedule together to prepare for the Fall events. Rev3 Maine Half , Grand Fondo NJ, NYC Marathon. That is a heavy-duty lineup in my opinion. The only way to make it more fun or easier is to get the training in and keep my eating under control. I’m really looking forward to all of it. I feel like I’ve been sandbagging the last couple years and it’s time to start putting up some good numbers again. Wish me luck!