On Sunday, June 22, 2014 I completed my fourth 70.3 Half Ironman event in beautiful Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Placing within the top 20 in my category out of 145 other female competitors aged 40-44, I had absolutely no idea that there was that many of us in this event. By far, Mont Tremblant is the largest triathlon event I have completed to date.
I wasn’t the slightest bit nervous as this event was a “tune-up” for the forthcoming 70.3 World Championships that I had qualified for last September at the Muskoka 70.3 event. I had fairly reduced expectations due to a recent hip injury residual of the Toronto Half Marathon in early May (see my earlier post Bleeding my Bursitis with Castor Oil). I knew that I did not have the endurance of all three events down pat, nor had I completed enough specific hill or hilly brick training sessions. I was very happy just to be able to get my race on – period!
I had the best swim that I have ever had at the Half Ironman Distance (1.9km) and pretty close to my very best all time bike time-trial at the Half Ironman Distance (90km). The swim wouldn’t have been my best, if it wasn’t for Coach Pierre Thiffault, owner of the Triomphe Triathlon Club based in Montreal. Coach Pierre and I met in our hotel parking lot and within 5 minutes of conversation we determined that my short farmer john wetsuit was not going to cut it for the 63 degree celsius Lake Mont Tremblant water temperature. Coach Pierre was happy to lend me his old Orca wetsuit – a men’s medium, which fit me perfectly!
Coach Pierre – THANK YOU!!!
I averaged a comfortable 2:00 min/100 metre pace for the swim and a speedy 36.5 km/hr for most of the bike until leveling out to a 34km per hour on the last bit of rollers. I knew that my legs were not worthy of my 5:00-5:15 min km running pace during the last 15 km of rolling hills on the bike. Not to mention the dyslexic moment where I found myself at the wrong rack spot (I was at 1675 and my number was 1765).
Thank you very much to the most wonderful volunteer who directed me to the right area.
Until this point I was having the best 70.3 of my life. Now, with my stiff legs in addition to the 1 minute I just lost fishing around for my rack spot, I had to pull it together to run a hilly 21km to finish the event. In order to make it into the top 10, I would have to run at roughly a 5 min km pace. This is a 1:45 Half Marathon time.
At 7:44 a.m. when the gun went off for the swim, it was approximately 14-15 degrees Celsius. Now close to the noon hour, the temperature was closer to 25 degrees with not a cloud in the sky. Off I went to try to find my 5 min km pace. By the third km, I found a 5:04 km pace. However, by the 4 km mark, I was defeated by going out too fast coupled with the blazing hot sunshine on a newly paved black asphalt trail, running on fairly new shoes, and a fairly necessary porto-potty stop.
When I began my final journey once again, I couldn’t figure out if I was on a downhill or an uphill. It felt like I as on a downhill, but when I hit the turn around I knew I was on a downhill now, and that the last bit must have been all gradually uphill. My asthma had begun to bother me again (probably from the trees and flowers along the trail line) bu it did not phase me to use my inhaler, even though I had it with me. Probably because I really don’t like to use Ventolin 2xs during an event anyway, and I had already used it before race start and then again near the end of the bike. Follow up with my doc this week confirmed all should be cleared up for the next race with an additional longer acting corticosteroid inhaler – Symbicort.
I chose the 12 km mark where I would begin to try to find my pace again. As I had been allowing myself to walk every now and again up until this point I declared an oath to self – no more walking from hereon! I got as close as I could to a 5:15-5:20 min km pace until the finish. There was a very big light at the end of the tunnel for me as I decided that the last 4 km was really 3 km because the very last km would just be too fantastic with all of the fans to count as a working km. I was right. Coming down the finishing chute was a fabulous experience.
An even more fabulous experience was the Genuine Health “Ca Compte” booth staff whom were more than happy to fill my empty bike bottle with freshly mixed cold ActivRecover on my way out of the transition area.
I am very happy with my overall time of 5:28:29 and my top 20 category placement. Unbelievable with all of the walking I did and my porto-potty stop that I still managed to squeeze out a 5:45 min km run pace.
All considering, I am on track for a great experience at the approaching world championships come September at the same location. My fitness level is there, but my endurance and specific (hill) training on both the bike and run, including some good brick sessions are not. Good thing is, I have 10 weeks to pull it together.
A huge thank you to Genuine Health and their products ActivFuel and ActivRecover, and to Coach Pierre Thiffault for the wetsuit loan. Another big thank you to my coach Erik Seedhouse of Triathlon Pro for getting me fit enough for this event in just 2 months, including working around my hip injury and all.
Congratulations, Erik! 2nd Place Men’s 50-54