The lead in to Mont-Tremblant 70.3 was very different than my typical approach. Having raced two weeks previously at Eagleman 70.3, there was a matter of balancing recovery and getting prepared to race again, something I failed at miserably last year in the same situations. Having looked at the very competitive start list, I already figured that even on an incredibly fantastic day I would not end up in the prize money, so taking some risks was not going to affect my earning potential. It took an astonishingly long time to recover from Eagleman, and I spent the entire week feeling pretty beat-up- however instead of trying to rush back in to training I respected that my body was telling me it needed recovery, with my first workout back in to things being at the Guelph Lake triathlon- it still felt crummy but things were improving. From there I built into Mont-Tremblant, with more volume and intensity than I have ever had before leading into a half-ironman, a plan that had the potential to back-fire and leave me very tired on race day- but with great risk comes the potential for great reward 🙂
The race started at 8am in Lac Tremblant- it is a massive lake and quite cool, so I allowed extra time for a swim warm-up to adjust to the temperature. With such a quality field of women and some great swimmers, I had no idea if I would end up swimming with anyone. The gun went off and we ran in to the water, and I was almost immediately gapped by a handful of women. I focused on settling in to my own rhythm and eventually found myself swimming on my own. The lake is pretty calm so the only challenge was to not be blinded by the sun. In the last couple hundred meters I caught up to a group of 3 women ahead of me and we began the long run to transition. While the swim time itself looks pretty decent, no swim course is the same, and if they are short (or long) it can have a pretty dramatic effect on the swim time. I was 4 minutes down on the leader, 3.5 minutes down on the eventual race winner, and 2 minutes down on the chase pack- in other words, I still have a lot of work to do on my swimming.
My plan for the bike was to ride at a lower effort level than I typically do. Having been using a power meter occasionally in training I became aware that my perceived “90km race effort” was bringing me in at about 93-94% of my FTP, potentially even higher in an actual race situation. That is, by all research that I can find, too high, so my goal was to be closer to about 90% and see if that had any effect on my run time. I never looked at my watch (since with a stages power meter my watch has to be placed near the seat post in order for it to be close enough to pick up the data from the power meter), so I was still going by effort level. Starting out a group of 4 of us were riding close to each other with a bit of back and forth happening as we tackled the hills going out to the first out and back section. Once it flattened out I was at the front and only one of them stayed with me. As we came back to town and had the last 30km of hilly terrain she went ahead, but I was willing to bet money that she was going to suffer from that effort on the run (fyi, I was right). I potentially executed my best ever 90km ride as my power was pretty even throughout the race, with the end result being an average power a couple watts less than 90% of my FTP and normalized power a couple watts higher.
The run course is fairly challenging with the first 5km and last 6km being “rolling” hills (they seem pretty big when you’re running them). However, the crowds are amazing so with all the cheering it made things seem a lot easier. I had no idea what place I was in so I just concentrated on running the best 21km I could. I passed the woman who had taken off on the bike for the last 30km about 3km into the run and heading into the rail trail for the middle 10km I started to feel really good. I do 99% of my running on the rail trail in Hamilton, so it was familiar terrain and felt like I was just doing what I do every Sunday morning. A few more kilometers in I passed another athlete who said I was in 6th– I was shocked, I had thought maybe I was getting in to top 8 at that point. Because it is an out and back course I could see where the other athletes were, and 5th place was a long way ahead (at that point probably 1.5km ahead), but there were some quick moving athletes behind me too. I just focused on keeping the turnover high and the last 7km or so really hurt, but I did not want to get caught. The crowds were incredible as were the other racers out there cheering me on as I headed back in to town, and I finished strong, only 90 seconds back from 5th place.
I am really happy with the overall result (probably the happiest 6th place finisher on the day 😛 ), but the highlight for me is that for the first time in a very long time I actually ran well. I have struggled with confidence on the run after having so many injuries in university and then repeatedly running like garbage in races, creating a vicious cycle of negative thoughts. While having a fast bike split is great, getting passed by many athletes on the run is not fun, so I will continue to work towards finding the fastest overall combination of swim-bike-run.
I can’t give enough thanks to the town of Mont Tremblant and the incredible race they put on, to the volunteers, and to my incredible homestay who not only put up with me all weekend but came to the race and took pictures and cheered me on. And thanks to all those supporting me: C3 Canadian Cross Training Club, Skechers, Rudy Project, Alto Cycling, Kristen Pawlick at Wishbone Athletics, Riplaces, and Neworld Cycle.