I remember when I signed up for my first triathlon in 2011, it was a sprint triathlon at our local YMCA and I was so excited! I wanted to learn everything I could about triathlon so I went to a “Transition Clinic” and one of the first things the speaker told us was, “Nothing new on race day”. I even wrote it down in my formal triathlon notebook, as I was a bit obsessed. However, I have to admit that I thought this was pretty obvious, why would you wear a new pair of sneakers or a new outfit on a race day? Try a new gel or fluid? Never!!
Flash forward to 2016, countless triathlons, including a full Ironman race later, and I have been steadfast to this rule… until last week, at Ironman Mont Tremblant 70.3. I signed up for the race within a week of completing the full Ironman there last August (2015). I had worked my tail off for months upon months before the 140.6, only to have a bad accident 7 weeks before, which I sustained several injuries including a broken arm. Fortunately, I was able to rally and make it to the start line with a goal to finish. The day went sour when my shifter broke on my bike; however, I was able to get through the course and cross the finish line well before midnight. Despite, finishing, I was left with a very unsettled feeling. It was not the race I had wanted or trained for and I needed a bandaid to fix it. Somehow, the best solution at the time was to sign up for the half Ironman in 2016 to make peace with it all. I had not really thought much about what 2016 would look like when I signed up, but was sure I could “fit it all in”.
Spring 2016: … I was feeling overwhelmed with the training, as I had some heavier commitments at work and my kids each had super busy schedules. I was struggling to fit in the training, but trying to do the long run & bike each week. (Honestly, I am still amazed that I was able to train for a full Ironman in 2015, but I think I just said NO to anything that came along with work or volunteering for the kids, etc.) I began having heavy regrets about spending the money on the race (I had bought a Foundation Slot). However, my family loves Mont Tremblant and the kids were looking forward to a fun end of school year vacation there. I discussed it with my coach and we decided I had done enough long bikes and runs to “get through it”. Let’s call it a good training day or a “C” race event to prepare for my 70.3 at the end of August.
My family and I arrived in Mont Tremblant the Wednesday before the race. I can not say enough wonderful things about the community there! The entire town is so enthusiastic about the race, they truly roll out the red carpet everywhere for the athletes. I started to get very excited that I was going to swim, bike, and run on this beautiful and challenging course. Also, I have connected with may different women over the past year through my blog and the “Women for Tri” Facebook group, so it was fun to meet up with them throughout my time there. Although, I knew it was going to be a tough day, I had embraced it all in the exciting atmosphere I was enveloped in.
The day before the race, I took my bike early to transition to rack it. As I put it on the rack, I noticed the front tire had a bit of a crack in it. It was not a hole, but there was a 5 inch spot that was very worn. (Of course, I am embarrassed that I had not noticed this before, but this is life and I am telling my story for others to learn and not make the same mistake.). My gut told me not to worry about it, but my mind went elsewhere with safety, especially after having huge mechanical issues here before. I talked to my husband and he urged me to have it looked at. So, I went back to transition and took my bike to the mechanics there. Honestly, I thought that they would say “It’s fine, just get a new tire soon after the race.” However, they took one look at it and said “No, you need a new tire, that is overdue. It’s probably a good idea to do the back one now too.” I agreed and they told me to come back in 2 hours to pick it up.
When I returned, it was close to transition closing time, but I wanted to give my bike a spin with the new tires. Unfortunately, I did not get to do this, but the head mechanic checked the tires, checked them again in front of me and walked my bike over to transition with me. I left my bike feeling as I had made a good decision for safety and headed back to meet my family. That night, I enjoyed an early dinner with my family and was in bed at 9 pm.
My alarm was set for 5am, but I had woken up at 4:30am and just rested for a bit before getting up. My husband was so supportive and got up with me and headed off to bring me back a cup of coffee while I got ready. I felt good and I was ready to enjoy the day! My only concern was the predicted heat of the day, as temperatures were to reach 90 degrees there.
I headed to transition for body marking and to set up my gear. The area was buzzing with nervous triathletes getting ready for a big day. I borrowed a bike pump from the person across from me and as I started to pump up my tires, I heard another tube POP!! It was loud and I felt bad for the guy near me that had to quickly change out his tube. However, this did make me think twice about the heat of the day that was coming and to be cautious not to overfill mine. I checked my bike, checked it again, and a third time…everything looked good… Aero Bottle in place, fuel in my bento box, running shoes, socks, number belt, helmet…Check, Check, Check!!! It was time to get out of that space before I made myself crazy with some form of T.O.C.D. (triathlete obsessive compulsive disorder).
It was only 6:30 and my Swim Wave was at 8:32, so I decided to walk back to our hotel room for a bit. I hung out there until 7:30, my kids were still asleep, so I kissed them goodbye and headed to the swim start. It was packed, I had not remembered this from the Ironman, but I have to say the wall to wall people there was a bit stressful. I worked my way through the mass to find a spot where I had enough room to don my wetsuit. I found someone to zip it for me, then I got in the water for a brief warm up. The water was cool, but it felt good, and I knew I would be fine once I started swimming. I also ran into one of my Team Smashfest Queen sisters, which totally brightened my day!
I lined up in my wave and positioned myself near the back. My swim training had been very poor for this event… I have to admit, there were times that I would miss 2 weeks of swim workouts, but I was comfortably able to do the distance, just at a slower speed. The gun went off and I eased into the water, I took a breath every stroke until I felt my heart rate settle. The swim was very crowded and it never eased up. At one point I was hit 3 times by someone doing back stroke: once in the face, then the head, last they tried to swim over me. I swam out from the buoys to get away from it. Then, I looked down and saw someone underneath me, I was freaked out a bit until I realized it was a SCUBA diver checking the waters for safety! Next, I got kicked in the chest by someone in the wave ahead of me doing breast stroke. It hurt and I was getting a little irritated, so I swam out a bit further so that I would have space. I was not worried about my time and just wanted to make it out of the water safely. Soon I could hear the crowd cheering and I was out of the water and getting my wetsuit stripped off. My husband and 2 little ones were there to cheer me on! I also had a few Women for Tri ladies that were volunteering cheer me on, which was quite a boost!!
Next Up: The Bike…