Friday, June 28, 2013

Matt's 2013 Mont Tremblant 70.3 Race Report

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!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013



After falling in love with this race and the venue last year, Matt & I decided to sign up for IMMT70.3 2013 when the online registration opened last September.  I was determined to come back to this course racing better than ever.  Fast forward 8 months.  My yo-yo approach to diet and workouts has been running rampant.  This entire past spring season has been 2 -3 weeks good eating & workout schedule followed by weeks of being off the deep end.  Emotional, stress eating, etc.  I can blame it on a busy work schedule, or other commitments, but at the end of the day I made the decision to have other things take priority over what I wanted most.  Rather than beating myself up over my current physical condition (which is my normal MO), I decided to approach this race being thankful for the best I have to give at this moment.  Since, after all, I can’t change the past.  What’s done is done.  I can’t be upset over results I didn’t get because of the training I didn’t put in.

We arrived in Mt. Tremblant Friday evening after a looong 10 hour drive from NJ- mostly due to rush hour traffic in Montreal paired with construction.  Ugh…  But once we were there, all was forgotten as we settled in.  We met up with Ed & Margie for dinner later that night & then got a good night’s sleep.  We slept in a bit on Saturday morning, had breakfast, then met Ed for packet pick up at 10:15.  After that we took a quick walk around transition & the expo. Then it was time for a quick swim in the lake.  Water was a beautiful 65 degrees and clear. It had been steadily raining all day.  By 3:00pm we decided to rack our bikes as it didn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon.  We went back to the room, showered and got all of our race gear prepped for the next morning.  We met Ed & Margie for dinner at 6:00 and we were back in our room by 7:30. It was a leisurely day.  Exactly what I was hoping for and desperately needed.  You see, as an early surprise (sorry guys… it’s about to get real for a minute here.)  for the month, my “friend” arrived earlier that morning.  Women – you know the 2 days out of the month where you just want to curl up in a ball and cry because the cramps are so bad and ALL of the energy is sucked out of your body?  Yep, this was to be my Saturday & Sunday… race day.  ::sigh::  My mind quickly switched from “just taking it easy because of my lack of training” to “Oh my gosh… I’m really questioning  whether I can finish this race.”  I began pumping large doses of ibuprofen into myself, had a brief pity party and then decided I would do the best I can.  That’s all I can do.  My strategy would not change.  It just involved a few more drugs!
Walking to transition on race day
Mt Tremblant village at 6:00am race day

Ed, Matt and me before the race start
The alarm went off at 4:30am Sunday and the rain had stopped. Hooray!  I got up and ate my breakfast of oatmeal with agave/craisins, slice of toast with pb&j, a banana and a cup of tea. Oh! And a fistful of pills!  Matt & I walked down to transition, dropped of our gear & then walked back up to our room to leave our gear bags, get our wetsuits & walk down to swim start.  (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this race venue because of these simple logistics?  So EASY!)  We met Ed & Margie down by the beach, chatted for a minute & then it was time for Ed’s wave to start.  Matt’s was next at 7:25am, which left me alone until my start at 7:40am.  I got in the water for a brief warm-up swim.  I was relieved to not have my wetsuit feel like a boa constrictor around my chest as it had the day before. For the first time in a long time, I was afraid to start the swim.  Not my normal jitters. I was SCARED.  I had no idea how my body was going to react.  Because of this, I lined up in the back.  I was the very last woman in my wave to enter the water. 

Buoys were to the right and kayaks to the left.  I quickly realized it was a mistake to be in the VERY back.  I swam past a few people & then stayed far left (couldn’t mentally deal with people this day), swimming easily with slow, smooth strokes.  I made my way around the course by way of zigzagging between the safety kayaks.  Luckily each of them was kind enough to keep me pointed in the right direction.  I mean literally pointing me with their paddle in the proper direction! Ah well… I kept catching a glimpse of my silver ring in the water.  It says WARRIOR on it.  So it kept my mind focused.  My swim was terribly slow but I made it out of the water without incident.  Part One of my day complete.

My Warrior ring
After the long path back to T1, I popped some more drugs and started out on the bike.  The start of my ride was one of the worst feeling parts of my day.  I felt as if I had ZERO energy.  I shifted into my easiest gears and told myself to give it time.  It’s a long ride.  See how it goes.  Just keep pedaling.  All while the entire field of racers went zooming past me.  It was difficult to see everyone go by.  For me, the bike is the only time in a race that I feel I stand a chance to be even a little competitive.  But I stayed focused on myself and kept on going.  Slow and Steady.  Once I got out of the village and onto Rt117, it was fun to see all of the pros on their way back in from that first section.  I caught myself with a big grin on my face.  Man, I love to see them out there! I am always amazed at what spectacular athletes these people are!  As I got some nutrition in me, I found a little more energy and in the final miles of the course, I was finally able to catch and pass a few of the people I recognized who had passed me at the start of the ride.  I felt a little vindicated.    But by the end of the ride, my cramps were kicking back in and despite eating 4 Gu’s & a bar on the bike, my stomach was growling.  Part 2 of my day was complete. 

In T2 I changed my top to my Dana Farber running shirt.  I haven’t worn it to race since my first Mooseman in 2008.  It was just the emotional boost I needed.  More drugs, hat, shoes and it was time to “run.”

Even on my best day, I use the term run loosely with myself. I am not fast and I am okay with that.  I knew this day may be more walking than running, so I was already mentally prepared.  As I made my way around the course, I began to mentally make a list of thing I was grateful for.

1.    The rain stopped for the race, but there was still a nice cloud cover to keep the sun away making for great race conditions.
2.    Matt is the best support a girl could ask for.  Seeing him out on the race course lifted my spirits immensely.
3.    The spectators and volunteers at this event are THE BEST!! Cheering and supporting every athlete like they were the winner. It was truly amazing! Like none I have ever seen. Cheering, bell ringing, horn blowing from driveways, windows, front porches and house boats!!
4.    Much of the run course is on a “rails to trails” type path along the water that runs into the lake, so I listened to bull frogs, water birds, chickadees and water running in a stream.
5.    Dragonflies danced around the path in front of me.
6.    I got to see Ed on the run & give him a high-five.  He had a crash AND flat on the bike, but despite some nasty road rash, he was giving it his all! So proud of him!
7.    My heart swelled as I felt the love and support from my family & friends.  It was coming all the way from Western PA/NY and NJ, but I felt every bit of it!  And boy did I need it! Thank you!
8.    Anytime my mind wandered, I found myself thinking of cousin Katie and how hard she has fought to WIN her battle with leukemia! YES!!! And how Judy, Nathan and Dan fought for one day more.  My pain in THIS moment was temporary.  And I drew strength from them.
9.    The determination of the “back of the pack” racers is inspiring.  No matter the age, the physical limitations or even just leg cramps, nothing was stopping them.
And finally my FAVORITE sign of the day, “Your body lies.  You can do this.”  Awesome.  And absolutely true.

As I ran down the chute through the village to the finish among all of the spectators cheering, with Matt waiting & cheering for me at the end, I had to smile!  I did it!!  It was not pretty, but I finished.  It was all I had wanted from this day. 
Crossing the finish line in 7:13:46

It has helped me to re-focus on the rest of my summer.  Getting back on a consistent path of healthy eating and training that I know I can do… one that I can be proud of.  I am looking forward to July as it brings almost 2 weeks in NH.  Our favorite place on earth! And August brings a week in Warren (our PA hometown) with the Tango adventure race kicking that week off.  Then it’s up to Maine for REV3 Old Orchard Beach Half-Iron.  It will be my first ocean swim…. YIKES!!  Can’t wait!!