Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ironman Mont Tremblant 2018 Race Report: Cheers Dad!

I haven't posted since the Mont Tremblant 70.3 in June -damn Instagram! I find that my blog gets neglected because it's so easy to post on Instagram in bite-sized moments. I vow to get going on this more moving forward as it represents my personal time capsule. Anyway, Ironman number 11 is in the books - this one taking place in beautiful Mont Tremblant. Number 11 is significant for me for two reasons:

1) Number 11 was somewhat of a self imposed mental hurdle. When I did my first Ironman in 1989, I set out with the lifetime goal of completely 10 in total. Back then that seemed like a stretch goal. In many ways it was. I had gaps that were dictated by life - kids, work, not feeling it. In fact, my second Ironman (Lake Placid) did not come around til 2000 after an 11 year break.

2) This was my first Ironman since my Dad's passing. He loved these events. The scheduling on Ironman Mont Tremblant 2018 was two weeks from the one year anniversary of his death which made my day a little bittersweet. Needless to say, I had many conversations with him on the day.

 This race was very cool for all the friends that were racing as well. My coworker from Alberta, Cory Spooner, brought his family and his parents. They were an absolute blast to hang out with. Sara, in particular, enjoyed the daily margaraita celebrations! All my friends from SO-TRI, TCoB, IronCanucks, TriHart, and Chris Dolson. I believe in the community of triathlon  and this race was unique for me in that there were so many participants I crossed paths previously. It made it all the more enjoyable looking out for and cheering on everyone.

 Sara in her happy place!

 The leadup to race day was good. We stayed at La Bete golf course condos. This was our third time staying there and it's great. Easy access to the race plus quiet and peaceful. My prerace activities kept the motor warm and I felt ready to go. My internal motto for the race was "be grateful, give to others, and get after it." I'm grateful to be able to do this. Give encouragement and help others in need. Get after it in the sense that it's just another day and don't let fear guide the day.

 All racked up and ready to go. I did not go with my race wheels as I wanted more control on the dsecents with the cross winds.

 Like the tent setup - kept everything dry.

I don't have any pics from the swim. I had Sara drop me off and head back to the condo to look after Logan. The swim was significantly delayed due to fog. We started the swim over an hour late. Ironically, when they announced the delay the visibility was so much better than we actually started the race. Once I got going, I found the first kilometre challenging as you (and everyone else) could not see the next buoy. A couple of times a kayaker redirected us as we were off course. By the the halfway point the sun was burning off the fog and we were good to go. The other challenge during the swim was being hungry half way through. With the delay I was now needing some calories and could not wait to get to transition for some much needed nutrition. My swim time was 1:12.47 - not bad for 4000m covered instead of the 3800m. Oh that fog!

Once on the bike I realized that I didn't have the same pop in my legs that I had in training leading up to the race. Not sure if it was the delay or the nutrition deficiit early but I just didn't feel strong. I decided to keep things steady and within myself for the day and not try to force it. My goal was to "be boring" all day long - stay aerobic and keep my heartrate in check.

The Tremblant bike course is awesome. It feels like two courses in one - the highway section with long hills and more wind exposure and the Duplessis section which is more Muskoka like. The wind on the second loop definitely impacted the race and it was pretty hot as well. I focused on my pace, hydration and nutrition. I was way off my goal for the bike. I was targeting a sub 6 hour ride which was where my training showed but ended up with a 6:23. Again, I felt a little flat but I did not let any of this faze me - I was grateful for the day.

 Once on the run I had the same strategy as I did for the bike. I focused particularly on kilometre 1-5 and 21-26 as there was significant climbing. Once onto the bike path I kept it steady. It was here that I got to see all of the friends and family. This was the best part of the race for me. I've never been at a race where I knew so many people. It was so cool to cheers each other on. It definitely kept me going - I looked forward to seeing each person. Sara was in her usual spot around kilometre 12 and 30 which is ideal as there is not many spectators in that area. It aslo allowed her to look after Logan as well. Once she saw me go by on the second loop she was able to get down to the finish.

 The finish at Mont Tremblant is amazing. Once you enter the village near the top it's a meandering downhill. The crowds are big and loud and the setting in the village is spectacular. Sara surpised me with being right on the barrier so close to the finish. Her pics have been better than my FinisherPix. I was grateful for my day overall. Not my best time, not my worst. While I didn't meet my time goals I was completely satisfied. I was off my run goal by 11 minutes and finished with a 4:26 marathon. Given the heat and hills I was good with that. My overall time was 12:13:55.

 This pic was from the Ironman website just after I crossed the line. Sadly I didn't have the stomach to drink the free craft beer offered in the food tent. I did grab the poutine but ate it once my stomach settled and it was so good!

 Always happy to be done. It's a long day with so many thoughts and highs and lows.

 Putting medal #11 into the cabinet. What's next?

Ironman #12 is coming up November 18th this year in Cozumel. If I'm able to get it done I will be able to apply to the Ironman Legacy Program at the end of the year. My journey has taken 29 years to get to 12. The closest I ever got to qualifying in my age group was 35 minutes in 2011. I've had to go a different route but the trip has been fun. Once I apply, I will receive a timestamp for my entry to the Ironman World Champs in Hawaii. It will likely be at least two years from now and I will have to complete a 70.3 to maintain my validation. The good thing about Cozumel is that I will have some time to enjoy the island, the beach, the margaritas and reflect on a great year.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Mont Tremblant 70.3

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.

 Locked and loaded!

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.

 How about this for reward?! It was delicious!!


Monday, June 4, 2018

Oh the Places I've Been

My job as a specialty pharma rep has taken me to many wonderful places. I've been to Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Mexico, all the provinces, and now Whitehorse. Bonus for my Whitehorse trip? I got first class for the Toronto to Vancouver leg!

One thing I've learned from my travel is that the best way to see a place is to go for a run. Exploring on two feet has never disappointed. Check this pic from St. John's at Signal Hill - amazing.

 Newfoundland is beautiful!


 On route to Vancouver - hard to see but lots of mountains below.

 After 7.5 hours of flying I arrived in Whitehorse. Pictured her is the Yukon River which intersects Whitehorse. The area around Whitehorse is spectacular - nature at its best. There was a nice paved trail that followed the river on both sides (connected by bridges) that was well used. One thing is for sure, people around Whitehorse are very active.

 The local craft beer - I rather enjoyed the Arctic Red!


Triathlon Community

I've been thinking about the triathlon community in my neck of the woods lately. I admire many things in the community, many of which I have zero involvement in. There are now a few groups I participate in that I enjoy and have found rewarding. Having many dedicated training groups or squads (whatever you'd like to refer to them as) in our area is good for the growth of our sport. While we love the process of training and racing in the sport of triathlon, we must remember that, in the grand scheme of things, triathlon is still very much a niche sport. The fact that I can enjoy it with other like-minded people is pretty cool.

Each group has its supporters and it also tends to have an area of focus. Some focus on the beginner triathlete, some are female only, some cater to long course racing and many focus on all aspects of racing. In every instance the organizers and coaches are doing their best to provide support, education, and training opportunities to get the individual prepared to meet the goal of making it to their finish line in a healthy state.

In southern Ontario we are spoiled when it comes to racing opportunities. We have independent races, the Subaru series, the Multisport series and Ironman branded racing within driving distance. Some of the clubs in my immediate area include Triathlon Club of Burlington, SO-TRI, IronCanucks, TriChicks, Blast, Finish Line, Tri-Hart, Edge, Fighting Koalas and many more (my apologies if I've missed others - it's unintentional).

For myself, I currently belong to Triathlon Club of Burlington and, most recently SO-TRI. I joined SO-TRI recently due to its focus on long course racing and training opportunities on weekends - the part of the week I have most time available due to family and work commitments. I am also on the TRI365 Core Team for 2018 which is another amazing community with incredible sponsors. I will also be seeking out swim instruction from Tri-Hart.

My point is this: I enjoy meeting all sorts of people in the sport. I wear a uniform representing a club while racing but I am no less supportive of my fellow local club representatives when I cross paths either in training or at races. Whenever I've been a spectator I make sure to take pictures of many local club participants and post them accordingly. Again, for me, it's about the community and less an us vs them outlook. I don't judge those who have that competitive team outlook - I'm only speaking for myself.

I will participate with groups that help me to grow as a person and an athlete. If I belong to one, great. If I belong to several that's fine too. It's my journey and I will seek out opportunities that help me to enjoy the process.

2017 is a season I'd like to forget personally. Injury and personal loss contributed to that. The loss of a family member particularly caused me to pause and take stock of my life and where I spend my time. I vowed to make sure I squeeze whatever life has to offer moving forward as you just never know how much time is left. So for 2018 I will look after my family, work commitments and, beyond that, seek out experiences that will take me outside my comfort zone. Only there can I continue to find my best self.

Thanks for reading - I hope our paths cross lots!

Cheers  - Rob

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Come On Spring!!

Margarita anyone?! I cannot wait for spring. Although it is officially spring, the weather has been anything but. While it hasn't been snowing, the winds have been cold which combined with the humidity of southern Ontario makes for chilly runs.

 Hopefully the snow will be intermittent from hereon in - hell, I've seen snow on the May long weekend so anything can happen. I just want dry roads and tolerable temperatures for riding outdoors.

 Sara and I have been sick for an extended period which has put a wrench into our training. Sara has been significantly affected for going on 5 weeks now. It's really zapped her energy. She is slowly coming around but like everyone who loves training and not having the ability to do it SUCKS!

 I did have a work trip to break up winter which was nice but also picked up the a bug at the tail end of the trip. The Florida warmth did feel great and I was able to squeeze in some training around meetings.

 The resort had a nice pool with a 28m length. Here I am all seal like - I literally had the whole pool to myself and this thing was huge.

 True that! I'm enjoying training and I'm looking forward to some long distance challenges. I can honestly say I had no interest in long distance since my last Ironman in 2014. I did sprints since then and have enjoyed not having to log big hours. The difference this year is a change in attitude towards these challenges and meeting more like minded people.

 Success is achieved in those moments when no one is watching where you are accountable to yourself. Nobody can face challenges for you. The cool thing is that everyone's journey is unique - how we get to the finish line is different each time we toe the line. We prepare, strive to stay healthy, and collect memories along the way. I tend to enjoy the process more than the racing. I view my racing as a celebration of the build. Come on spring, it's time to play!


Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Swamp Thing!! Don't be alarmed. It's just me in a pool, getting wet, and doing some swimming. I have been inconsistent with my swimming so far in 2018 but I'm working on it. If I get two swims per week I'm currently calling that a victory. I wish Hamilton had a one or two pools that had lane swims throughout the day. The challenge is making the swim times at lunch as this homey cannot get up early to jump in water.

Cycling on the other hand has been good. I'm spending lots of time in the Lavender Room. We converted our basement bedroom into the "cycling studio" and it's working out nicely. I've started to dress up the walls with medals and posters from my previous Ironmans. It's nice to have the motivation. Combined with a 42 inch plasma for YouTube and Netflix and I'm good to go.

How did this get in here?!! All work and no play as they say. I love me my margaritas - my fave summer beverage. I enjoy cranking up the machine occasionally to make these magic elixirs. It has been said that tequila is a natural detoxifier and is good for your health. I totally agree!

Been seeing a little too much of this lately. Nevermind, it's been like this most of this winter. I was even looking up snowshoes online. The conditions have been tough for footing and it's been slippery. I have used the treadmill more than usual but I'm not a big fan. I prefer running outdoors. I leave for a work trip to Tampa in two weeks so I will get a little break from the white stuff.

Training, overall, is becoming more routine and consistent which is nice. Long distance racing is not complicated. You bear down, do the work, and prepare to execute - it's that simple. "Chop wood, carry water."