August 23, 2016 -
This was my A race of the season. Last year it was also my A race but I didn't get to the start line because of a stress fracture, but had been up to train on the course and loved it so wanted to go back and see what I could do.
Earlier this year I was due to do Muskoka 70.3 but ended up with some knee inflammation so couldn't make it to the start line. That left a less-than-ideal but still-everything-to-shoot-for build-up to IMMT. The aggravating factor on the knee was high intensity or long runs, which meant that my long runs were done on the Altra G treadmill which allows you to run at less than 100% of your body weight. This was great as I was able to run at 85% without aggravating the knee but also meant I was doing my runs at very low intensity (i.e. recovery zone). Thankfully the swim and the bike was not causing any damage.
I got to Mont Tremblant almost a week early and by Thursday midday I was registered for the race and had my transition bags all ready to go. This was the most prepared I had ever been for a race! I slept well in the lead up to the race, dropped the bike off as soon as transition opened and the night before the race I was in bed by 7pm and asleep shortly after! I woke up refreshed at 2:30am and by 4am I was ready to get out of bed.
Breakfast: Croissant, Bowl of cereal and a banana. Then a gel before the race.
The race report:
Swim: I got into the middle of the group but was stuck in the second row. When the gun went off I ran into the water with everyone else and the washing machine got going. The first 100 metres were marked by me trying not to drown and getting hit from all angles. I kept calm and kept swimming but wasn't able to find my rhythm. After 300-400 metres it started clearing up and I was able to find a few feet to get onto. I had no idea if I was swimming well or badly. Occasionally I found feet but let some of them go as they weren't really swimming straight. Some feet came by too quickly for me to even to think about getting onto them. On the way out it felt like there was a bit of swell but on the way back it was very choppy! I swam a 1:11 which I didn't know until the end of the race. Everyone's swim was slower than normal including the pros but looking back at previous results I didn't come out of the water any higher up in the ladder, 50th in my division.
I kept my transition bag simple: socks, shoes and a helmet. I ran with my shoes in my hand, took my bike near to the mount line, put on my shoes and got going. My heart rate was sky high at the start of the bike. Normally my heart rate would be low 140s for ~200 watts but at the start of the race my heart rate was in the 160s riding at 160 watts. As I saw my heart rate gradually coming down I gradually let my power come up to 180 watts, and once settled I went by heart rate. After an hour the rain started coming down and the wind was blowing. I looked down at my lap speed and it was up at 26mph! I knew the return of the loop was going to be slower. A few km from the turnaround I saw a friend of mine coming back the other way, and I knew I had a crappy swim! I didn't reflect on that. I just had three metrics on my computer, heart rate, 3s power, 30s power.
There isn't much interesting to say about the bike. It's a fun course and well worth riding. There are flat sections and hills. Over the course of the bike I gradually picked people off and as I moved up the field, it took slightly longer each time to reel in the next person. At the end of the bike leg I was ready to get off the bike, mostly because I was sick of sitting in the aero bars and keeping my head down. I didn't quite hit my heart rate numbers towards the end of the bike, but my power had gradually been increasing. I figured the wet conditions might have been cooling me down and keeping my heart rate low. After the race I checked out the power and I managed to increase my power more than 10 watts on the second half of the bike versus the first so I'm happy I packed it well. Normalised power was 208 watts, and my average power was 203 watts so I was happy I paced it evenly.
At the dismount I barely remembered to press stop on the garmin before getting off so didn't have a chance to check my split or the time of the day. I quite enjoy not knowing as it lets me focus on the next steps. Unfortunately the next steps in T2 hurt like hell. I felt like I had a rock on the inside of my left foot and I limped into transition. Again, my transition bag was minimal: running shoes, running number, hat and a bottle of infinit that I had frozen before putting in the bag.
I started the run in a lot of pain and had no doubt that I would have to pull out. I figured I would start out and see what happened. In my first IM my knee was killing me at the end of the bike and after a mile I felt like a new man. This time proved to be similar, after a mile the pain was gone and I was going. I settled into my starting heart rate and was chugging along like a diesel engine. I caught a guy in my age group (Scott Dickie) who was going about the same speed and after a pleasant hello we settled into the same pace. My heart rate was exactly where it was supposed to be so I was very happy to have the company. My girlfriend Lindsey was waiting the 5km and gave me the first progress report all day, we were in 10/11th spot. 3 of the guys in front looked in rough shape! Scott was going a little faster on the uphills and I was going a little faster on the downhills but we were pretty much running together.
At the end of the first lap there is a downhill section coming through the town, at the bottom I turned my head and Scott was a bit behind so I figured I would just keep going. I looked around a few times hoping he woiuld be right with me to keep company but I didn't see him. I plugged away, although I could already feel my quads not enjoying the run. My energy levels felt great but didn't want to risk going harder because I didn't have the long running miles in the bank and didn't want to run them on credit. I kept my heart rate the same and tried to engage the glutes as much as possible. The pace was gradually becomiing a bit more difficult to maintain but once I hit the hills on the last 5km of the course my pace really went downhill. I wasn't able to fake it up the hills any more. I walked the last two aid stations and power walked up the the last two hills. I lost all the positions I had made up in those last few km, and when Scott D came past he gave me a tap and a few words of encouragement.
I managed to keep running and celebrated on the finish line by crawling across the line and then rolling. I managed to stand up but couldn't walk, so went to medical and lay on a bed while they fed me chicken broth. Eventually we went back to the hotel, I had bath and then we went back to have a beer while people gradually streamed through the finish line as midnight approached.
All in all I'm happy with the result. I still need to figure out the swim for sure, but I was happy with my bike split and I don't think I made any big mistakes on the run; just that I didn't have the running endurance on the day.
Here's a bunch of stuff you probably don't care about:
Had an energy gel 15 minutes before the race. On the bike I had 260 calories per hour, like I do in training. Apart from one energy gel they were all in the form of Infinit energy drink. I don't think I could have taken in any more as a couple of times I started getting a bit burpy! I pee'd twice on the bike, both on downhills to minimise the slowdown. On the run I had a bottle of Ininit with 300 calories of Infinit in it. On the first lap I sipped on that intermittently and took in water at every aid station while running through. The first cup of water at each station went into my mouth, the second cup went over my head. I finished the bottle of Infinit part way into the second lap. I dispensed with the bottle and also my cap - things got serious. I needed to pee, but couldn't run and pee at the same time so just kept running.
I had a store of salt tabs tucked into my sleeve of the tri suit since getting on the bike. I switched to course nutrition: basically water and coke. I gnawed on the salt tabs on the way to the aid station, then took in water and coke at each station. I don't think I made a mistake on nutrition but it's worth checking out. Despite needing to pee during the first half of the run, it wasn't unitl an hour or so after the race that I actually needed to pee again.
My knee inflammation didn't hurt at all during the race. Hopefully it's gone. I can't tell right now because everything is sore! Will see how it goes over the next couple of days!