So I made my return to long course racing this past weekend after a 4 year break. I only did sprint races during the past 4 years and, during that time, had no desire to go long. I signed up for Tremblant 70.3 because I've heard it's a wonderful race and I wanted to check it off my list.
Lake Placid and Mont Tremblant are similar for their environments and the multisport vibe. Mont Tremblant, in particular, has really embraced Ironman and have gone to great lengths to support athletes and their supporters and make their experience top notch.
Sara, Logan, our neice Stephanie and I made our way to Mont Tremblant. We were staying, once again, at La Bete Golf Course which is about 9km outside the resort village on the bike course. Our condo faced the 7th green and was spectacular. The golf resort also had two heated pools that were not used at all so we had full reign - awesome!
The new swim exit with stairs and new bridge. The lake is so clean and clear. The first two days were as the picture left shows - not a cloud in the sky. Race day had a mix of sun and cloud initially and, by the run, was cloud covered.
Sara dropped me off race morning and headed back to look after Logan. The new Ironman App is great because it allows supporters to monitor their athletes progress in real time. It makes it easier for sure. I warmed up in the water before the swim start but other than getting wet it was not effective as we had to wait over 30 minutes to get to the rolling start. The fighter jets and fireworks after the national anthem were pretty cool though.
My swim turned out really well. I navigated well, did not go out too fast, and stayed out of traffic for the most part. My time of 33:37 was a significant improvement for me - totally unexpected. I made my way through transition and headed out on the bike.
The bike course is amazing. It feels like two bike courses in one. The highway portion has longer hills but also areas where you carry significant free speed. I hit my fastest speed of 71km per hour on the highway and high 60s on a few other parts. Once off the highway we head back towards the resort and on to Duplessis which is more Muskoka like with more punchy hills. I felt good throughout the bike and finished up in 2:48 with an average just over 32km/h.
Next came the run. I was a little anxious for the run as I had calf problems that complicated my training over the past two months. It really hampered my long runs. A couple of weeks before race day I managed to get a 21km run done but it was slow. My strategy was to go as steady as possible for as long as possible and manage the rest. What I didn'e anticipate is how freakin hilly the first/last 5 km of the run course was!!
The hills leading to the bike path are very challenging. Once on the bike path you run 5.5k out and back - it feels like a long time and did get somewhat congested at times. The good part is that it did provide opportunity to see friends who were also racing.
My run fitness started to show around 12km in and I knew I would struggle from there. My struggles were manageable on the bike path but once back on the hilly road section it was compounded. The last 5k is more net downhill which I could manage but several of the uphills required my walking them. Walking eats up time but it was a necessity to stave off cramping.
I look down but I did celebrate! This picture (found on the Tremblant Facebook page - thanks Mark Trafford for alerting me!) missed my arms in the air smiling that I demonstrated as I crossed the line. The athlete jumping in the background gave me a tap of encouragement on the back as I walked the last steep hill a few minutes earlier. It was a simple supportive gesture on his part but it gave me a huge boost to get to the line. I thought a lot about my Dad who passed last September during the race - I read this gentleman's pat on the back as a sign my Dad was there in spirit. I thanked him right after this pic was taken. My Dad loved being at the races and we would talk about everything post race. This was the first event without him but I feel his presence in my mind and that gives me comfort.