Hamilton Marathon – Week 2

Through 2 weeks of training for the Hamilton Marathon.  This week was tough, but in some ways not as difficult as last week.  I don’t think that the workouts were easier, rather I had a week of training under my belt and not just starting.

Sept 23, 2013 – 16k Tempo

Based on what I learned last week I set a goal of 4:20/km for my tempo this week.  I knew from last week that this was going to hurt, but I was looking forward to seeing my first signs of improvement.  I ran from home this week so I knew I’d have a tougher route.  I was running an 8k out and back, but I’d have a hill to deal with for most of km 13.  I felt good running, it was hard, but it’s supposed to be.  My pace slipped just after 10.5k and I didn’t average below 4:20/km until my final kilometer.  Before this run I secretly hoped that it was just rust last week and I’d crush 4:15 km’s, but that wasn’t in the cards.  I finished in 1:09:36 or 4:21/km.

September 25, 2013 – 6 x 1600hard, 400m easy

Kind of like a track workout, but I was going to run it on the road.  I was hoping for all of my repeats to be sub6:20, but I was running in a hilly area so there were a lot of variables.  My first interval I went out way too hard.  A lot of it was uphill, but I kept pushing and finished it in 6:15.  Great for that one interval, but the next ones suffered.  The 400m between intervals flew by and I was running again in no time.  I rattled off 6:32, 6:49, 6:20, 6:38, and 6:29 in my next 5 intervals.  This wasn’t track work, there was terrain to deal with (as is evident by my up and down times) and I should have been more disciplined in my first interval.  Lesson learned.  I did have to stop between my 4th and 5th to massage my IT band, but there were no lingering effects after the run.

September 26, 2013 – 3 x 800, 1200, 1600

This was a track workout I made up on my own.  I read that my intervals should all be 1km+, but I like 800′s so I decided I’d start each set with one, I find they help me get my foot-speed up.  My goal was to run 1:30/lap (400m) or better.  Mentally I knew these would be more difficult to do. I don’t have a lot of experience running intervals on the track over 800m, and the 1600m at the end of each set would loom over me.  Mindy showed up to do her own track workout, and Ross was in the stands watching us as we went.  Familiar faces always help during a hard workout.  The workout went well, I met my goal, all my intervals were 1:30/lap or better (but I did push that to the limit for my final 1200 and 1600).  I liked this workout and I will do it again, maybe have a little more structure in my rest intervals next time.

Sept 28, 2013 – 32k long run

Today I had planned on doing a 27k long run, but opted to do 32k because it meant company.  We started out with a group, and Steve, Glenn, Nicole and I completed the whole thing.  Long runs are always tough for me because I do them so infrequently.  From 16-19k we did a tempo section.  Again, I planned on long and slow for the entire run, but this was nice to break up some of the monotony.  After that it really started to get difficult for me though.  Once I get into the mid 20′s I can feel my legs breaking down and they were completed trashed by the time we got back to ARF.  Steve had done was water drop the night before, so we were able to refill bottles 3 times, which was great.  I ran with a fuel belt, which I never do, to carry fluids.  It wasn’t as uncomfortable as I remember, though I’d still rather not have to use it.  But I know I need to stay hydrated on these run.  Outside of the 3k tempo I was at a pace that I could hold a conversation the entire time, but it was my legs that help me back from running an extra 5k with Glenn.  After the run I noticed a huge blister on my left big toe (I’ll spare you the pictures), beside that I’m no worse for wear.

* Since this week went well I’m going to go ahead and commit to running the Hamilton Marathon.  At the time of writing I haven’t officially signed up, but I will once I find where I put my wallet.

Hamilton Marathon – Week 1

Week 1 of Hamilton Marathon training is complete.  I am through 4 of 24 workouts.  This week was a really good. I got in all 4 workouts, my goals may have been a little high, but I feel great getting back into pure running.

Sept 16, 2013 – 15km Tempo

This was my first workout in the plan, and my first run since getting a foam roller.  I had some doubts before the run started, but I knew I needed a good workout to start myself on the right foot.  My goal was to hold 4:15/km, it wasn’t until after that run that I realized what unrealistic expectations I set for myself.  I started out really strong through the first 6km, but then dropped off quickly.  Kilometer 7 had some uphill and I did a 4:35.  From that point I never got under 4:20 again.  Despite not hitting my somewhat unrealistic goal I was really happy with my run.  I had some discomfort in my right knee a couple times, but overall it felt good so the foam roller was working.  I was also able to push myself really hard.  My average HR was 174, which is up in the red zone, but not something that is new to me for a tempo workout.  I completed my 15k tempo in 1:05:53, or 4:23/km.

Sept 17, 2013 – 7km recovery run

I did a 7km recover run Tuesday evening to work out my legs.  It was slow enough that conversation was easy throughout the entire run.  I did have to stop briefly once to massage out some knee pain.  Nothing else of note.

Sept 18, 2013 – 3 x 5km hard, 1km easy

This was my first ‘freestyle’ workout, it entailed 3 5km repeats, with an easy 1km jog in between.  My goal was to keep all my 5km repeats under 21:00.  My first 5km I managed a 20:17 and felt great.  I did a slow jog and rattled off 20:54.  This repeat was much harder.  I had to push really hard in the final kilometer to get in under 21:00.  I was reduced to a walk for most of my kilometer before my final 5km.  My last 5km I struggled to a 22:56, missing my goal, but happy with my overall effort.  This was a hard workout.  I was glad my body responded well after Mondays Tempo.

Sept 19, 2013 – 5 x 1600m track

Thursday was my first time back on the track in a couple months.  I was looking forward to getting back….but that excitement was short lived.  I forgot how hard it was!  My goal was to run the 1600′s sub-6:00, with about 5 min rest in between.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to run 5 or 6 (I ended up doing 5).  My first 3 all came in under 6:00, but I was really gasping for air at the end of them.  My lungs were on fire!  I knew I couldn’t hold this pace so I adjusted my goal to 6:12 for the 4th interval, which I hit bang on.  I decided at that point that I would only be doing 5 of these.  When I started the 5th I had to pull up about 25m into it because my leg was cramping.  I walked it off and managed to get my 5th 1600m in 6:20.  I was happy with the workout, and realized that I need to focus more on getting my leg turnover up.  I have a tendency to let my legs get lazy and take longer, slower strides.  This was really evident at the track.  I need to be taking more steps per minute, and shortening them.

Sept 21, 2013 – 25km long run

Today was my first long run in a while….well besides the marathon at the end of an Ironman.  I had mixed feelings about it.  It was going to be much lower intensity so my lungs and legs wouldn’t be screaming at me, but it can be a little monotonous.  The Oasis Zoo Run was happening about 4km from my house, so I decided I was going to try something new and break up my long run a bit.  I first ran 8km around my neighbourhood.  I finished at home, changed my shirt (cause it was pouring), got some water, then headed the 4km over to the start of the Zoo Run.  I knew a couple people running and got to see them at the start.  I then ran 8.5km, and then went to the finish to see them finish.  From there I ran the 4.5km home.  It was great because it broke up the run into bite sized pieces, and I don’t think it compromised the quality of the workout.  Usually the last few km of a long run really suck for me, but I really enjoyed this.  My iPod was dead for the final 4.5km run home, but I was so pleased with how it went that I barely noticed.

Hamilton Marathon – The Plan

Between the taper for IMMT, then doing Muskoka 70.3 it has been about 6 weeks since I’ve done a hard workout. This week I begin training for the Hamilton Marathon on November 3. This means I have 6 weeks to build, then a week to taper before the race. I looked around online and surprisingly couldn’t find any 6 week marathon training plans, especially ones that involved jumping into relatively high tempo and high mileage right away!

I have lofty time goals in mind that I’m not entirely sure I’d hit with a 12 week plan, this means jumping into higher mileage and tempo right away.  Generally this isn’t recommended, but I’m pretty good at listening to my body, and it wasn’t like I had been doing nothing for 6 weeks, just easier workouts and a couple races.  Oh, and being 24 doesn’t hurt either. Anyways…..every week I have 4 workouts, with optional recovery runs on rest days. Monday is tempo, Wednesday is freestyle (more on this later), Thursday is track, and Saturday is my long run.

Long, tempo, and track seemed like a staple in every plan I looked at.  Given my short timeline, and the need to get more quality mileage into my legs before Hamilton, I decided to add a freestyle run.  Basically, these are workouts I found online that I thought looked interesting.  They all involve extended periods of uptempo running, with easy sections built in, kind of like a mix of tempo and track.

A lot of my running gets my heart rate high and has a high perceived effort.  There are many people who would disagree with what I am doing.  Some people advocate slowing down to speed up.  The idea is that you need get better at running below your lactic threshold, which is a pace you should be able to hold for long distances.  Others will say this strategy is too risky.  I will get fatigued earlier in my runs than a traditional plan may suggest, which increases the chance of poor form and injury.  My first real experience running was January when I took on a challenge to run as many times as I could in 100 days.  I ended up running about 75 times.  A lot of my runs were only 30 mins in duration (the minimum for each run) but I would come home from every run exhausted.  In this time I went from doing about 5km in 30mins to over 7km in 30 minutes.  The high tempo strategy worked for me then, albeit over a shorter distance, so I am giving it a chance to see if it will work for me now.

The two biggest question marks for me are rust, and my health.  January through early May I was running regularly, but once the summer hit I spent a lot more time on my bike and a lot less time running.  I don’t expect my uptempo running to be where it was at when I ran the Mississauga half in May, but I will find out very quickly (my first workout is a tempo run) how much rust I have and just where I stand.  Second, with high mileage comes an injury risk.  After Tremblant, and through Muskoka, I had been having sharp pain in my right knee. A friend of mine who is a great runner suggested it could be IT band related, and that I should use a foam roller to roll it out. I’ve been doing this for the last couple of days.  The first time I rolled out my IT bands it hurt…..A LOT!  I’ve been doing it a couple times a day and its become far less painful.  Hopefully this will do the trick, after a disappointing result in Muskoka I would love to finish the season strong with a solid performance in Hamilton.

That’s the plan, we’ll see how it goes.

IM 70.3 Muskoka Race Report

IM 70.3 Muskoka Race Report

Last weekend was my final triathlon of the year, IM 70.3 Muskoka.  I had really high hopes for this race.  I struggled through it last year in my first attempt at the half-iron distance, so I was familiar with the relentless hills on this very difficult course.  I’ve come a long way since I did 6:50:15 here last year.  I knew that I should have no troubles setting a new course PB my a large margin, but that wasn’t the goal of the day.  I went to Muskoka to try to claim a place at the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant.

(If you want to skip ahead to race day scroll down to Race Morning)

Race Week
Going into the race I knew the field would be much tougher than in previous years because extra World Championship slots had been allocated to the race.  I guessed that I would need a sub5-hour race to get a spot in my age group.  I had done 4:57 on an easier IMMT70.3 course in June, but my fitness had progressed since then so I thought I had a shot.

Leading up to the race my biggest concern was that I would be fully recovered from my Ironman race in Tremblant.  There were 3 weeks between races, and from what I read online the recovery period for an Ironman is generally 4-6 weeks.  I figured my age would help me here, and I knew that I recovered from most races pretty well.  Additionally, I called on the expertise of a friend who created an all-natural sports recovery supplement, MojoMax, for some thoughts on what I could do between the two races to have the best chance to recover fully.  I went out for a ride the weekend before the race and I felt good.  I did some hills, as well as a short TT stretch, and even though I could feel I didn’t have everything in my legs by that point (2 weeks post IM) I knew that by the following weekend in Muskoka I would be ready to go.  But then on the Tuesday before the race the wheels started to fall off.  I came down with a cold, I had problems with my sinuses, and a really bad headache.  I also lost my appetite.  I knew this wasn’t good.  I generally try to avoid all pharmaceuticals, but with 5 days to go until the race I knew I had to do something.  I began taking Benylin and Advil, which seemed to help with the sinuses, but it would make me light headed.  I continued to do this, and decided I wouldn’t get concerned until Friday; if I woke up Friday with no appetite and a pounding headache then I would sound the alarm.  Friday rolled around and I woke up feeling much better.  My energy levels were higher, and I was coughing much less.  I was excited and got refocused on Sunday.

Saturday I woke up and I had some congestion but I was feeling pretty good.  The day before a race I generally try to get in lots of fluids, some carbs, and very little meat. I spent the morning shining and re-shining my bike, she has to look good for race day!  In the afternoon I had to pick up my race kit and check in my bike.  As I was checking in my bike I got to meet Andreas Raelert, one of my favourite triathletes.  I was really stoked for race day and continuing to feel better.

Race Morning
I woke up race morning just after 5:00AM.  I still had some congestion to deal with but was excited it was race day.  I love to race, and I’m always really pumped up race morning.  I had a bagel with almond butter for breakfast (I have toast with almond butter almost every day, this was basically the same).  I washed it down with a big glass of water and a tablespoon of chia seeds (also regular staples for breakfast).  We were out the door and on our way to transition around 6:00AM.

When we arrived at Deerhurst it was still really cold out.  I gave my bike a once over checking the brakes and gears, set up what I needed, pumped my tires, and then headed to the swim start.

I was familiar with the swim course and recalled that citing wasn’t very difficult with the shore so close.  I was hoping for a sub-33min swim and lined up near the inside 4 people deep.  The horn sounded and we were off.  About 25m into the swim someones arm came down and knocked my goggles askew.  Luckily I had the strap of my goggles under my swim cap so there was no risk of me losing them.  I flipped over onto my side and continued to kick hard as I got them back in place on the fly.  From that point there was some contact, but nothing too serious.  There were so many people moving around on the way to the first buoy there was no point in trying to draft one person.  Like most races the first turn was pretty congested.  I did my best to work my way around as quickly as possible, there was a lot of pushing of feet as other people tried to do the same.  The pack began to thin out into 2 or 3 lines as we crossed the lake towards the second turn.  I got onto someones feet that I followed to the second turn and around onto the ‘back-straight’ of the swim.  I felt like the person I was drafting was a little slower than I would have liked, but whenever I would pull out to pass him I got a feeling in the centre of my chest as my breathing picked up and I began to work harder.  I decided to continue to follow these feet until about halfway along the back-stretch when we came upon a big group of swimmers from an earlier wave and we got separated passing them.  I also lost the guy who had been hitting my feet for the last 600m or so.  For the rest of the swim I was solo.  I made it to the final turn and was headed for home.  I always take the last stretch of the swim to think about transition and the race ahead of me.  I was happy with my sighting on the last leg of the swim, I felt like I was pretty straight all the way in.  I don’t wear a watch when I swim, and I didn’t see the clock, but I figured I was still in the hunt for a WC slot.

(Looking back on my swim after the race my time was 1:30-2:00 slower than I would have liked, but on an otherwise good day it would have been good enough.)

Swim: 33:59
Age Group: 9
Overall: 295

Coming out of the water I was coughing quite a bit and I could feel that my heart rate was really high.  I tried to concentrate on slowing down my breathing and focusing on what I needed to do to get through transition smoothly.  They had wetsuit strippers to help everyone out of their wetsuits, followed by a fairly steep run up to transition about 400m away.  I had my bike in a good spot on the rack and was able to find it no problem.  I had some trouble stuffing my waffles into my jersey pockets, it was still cool and my fingers were moving slowly.  I managed to stay calm and get them in there and I was off running out of transition.

T1: 3:58

I mounted my bike and was off.  I love getting on my bike because I am very comfortable riding, and usually able to claw back time and positions from the stronger swimmers.  I knew I had some climbing ahead of me, especially in the first 10km, and I was a little concerned that my breathing was still really shallow.  When I tried to take in deep breaths I would feel a pain in the center of my chest, and my throat would make a raspy sound.  I realized just how difficult this was going to be about 3km into my ride.  I was riding uphill, and I usually try to take advantage of steep uphills when I’m not in aero to eat.  I was working as I was going uphill and as I began to eat I realized my nose was clogged and I could only breath through my mouth.  All my calories on the bike are solid so eating and breathing because a challenge that would last the entire bike leg.  By the 15km mark I was feeling pretty down on myself.  I hadn’t faced adversity like this in any of my races in 2013, and this was a race I really wanted.  I spent the next few km’s thinking about everything that had happened over the last 12 months, and how far I’d come from where I was when I did this race last year.  I got a second wind (though my heart rate was still very high) and tried to focus all the positive energy from my races in 2013 into my current situation.  I was feeling better and was able to pull my mind away from my breathing and focus on my legs and the road ahead of me.  I made it through the first aid station at about 35km and noticed I hadn’t taken in much in the way of fluids.  I was reluctant to drink for the same reason I wasn’t eating as much as I should, it made breathing more difficult.  I knew I was going to have to change this if I wanted to survive on the run.  By this point a headwind picked up and I noticed my speed start to drop.  Negative thought began to creep into my head again, but I did my best to stay focus and keep moving forward.  By the time I had reached the second aid station at 62km I was sure I had lost considerable time to the people in front of me, but I had done a better job at keeping up with nutrition.  I got a big boost as I went past the aid station because I saw my parents at the side of the road cheering (though I found out after the race they didn’t see me!) at the turn onto Brunel Road.  After I made the turn yelled a little “Come On!” out loud and picked up the pace.  I think the last section in the most difficult.  By that time you’re more than ready for the relentless hills to stop, but they don’t.  There are also some short steep climbs that make you feel like you’ve stopped moving.  I kept positive, and stopped thinking about where I stood relative to the rest of my age group.  I focused on spinning up the climbs with good technique, and enjoying the scenery.  This final 32km seemed to go on for ages, and I was very happy when Deerhurst was back in sight.  There’s lots of people that line the final climb back to transition, and with everything going on I forgot there was a bit of a flat after the climb, before transition.  I took my feet out of my shoes a little early, but no big deal, I was off the bike.  I missed my goal by about 9mins, but nothing I could do about that now.

Bike: 2:52:02
Age Group: 8
Overall: 168

I racked my bike, put on my socks, shoes, race belt, and I was off.  I don’t carry any nutrition with me on the run, though I still had a waffle in my jersey from the bike.  Usually I’d count bikes as I went through T2 to figure out approximately where I was in the AG but I didn’t bother.

T2: 1:07

The run started off well.  Pre-race I wanted to break 1:40 with a goal time of 1:38.  I was no longer sure how realistic this time was but I would just run and see how I felt.  My first 2 kilometers were both around 4:30/km, but from there the suck really started to pile on.  The pain in my chest was the worst it had been all day at this point.  I could only take half breaths and on the steep downhills I struggled to take any breath at all.  By the 2.5km mark the idea of walking had already popped into my head.  I walked the 3rd aid station, and had to stop at the 4th aid station for a minute to catch my breath.  I gained a better understanding of what people with asthma go through when they experience shortness of breath; I wasn’t thinking about my time or where other people in my age group were, I didn’t think about what nutrition I needed, I was solely focused on breathing.  After a minute I was able to resume a jog, but there were 3 more hills on the way out to the turnaround that I had to walk on the way up and the way down (going down was more difficult for me than up).  I reached the halfway turnaround in 53:54 and set my sights on a new run goal of 1:50.  It seemed like I had just made the turnaround and I saw Lisa.  It was good to see a familiar face, and knowing she wasn’t far behind me helped keep me pushing to the finish line.  A little further down the road I saw Jenn who was doing her first 70.3 and crushing it!  Not long after I saw Martin, also doing his first 70.3 and looking strong.  I must have overexerted myself during this stretch because not long after I saw Martin I found I had to walk one of the hills.  I was happy that the pain was gone from my chest when I would breath, but I still felt like I was sipping air.  I then crossed paths with Mindy and Mark, both looking good, and a little further up the road passed Nicole, who had the biggest smile on her face.  Seeing so many familiar faces after the turnaround was a great moral booster.  I usually know very few people in a race, or nobody at all.  After Nicole there was only about 3km to go.  I could get through 3km, no problem.  I even began to pick up the pace.  I skipped the final aid station because I had a good pace going and I saw a group of 4 guys in front of me.  With about 1.5km I was within 20ft of them and thought I could make out a 22 on one of the guys calves.  I wanted to beat this guy, but I didn’t want to risk a sprint.  There is a downhill then uphill leading into Deerhurst.  We were about 200m from the start of the descent and I decided I was going to run as hard as I could and not stop until I got to the bottom of the hill.  My hope was that he either wouldn’t be able to see my age, or ‘break the elastic’ if he did.  I was tempted but I didn’t look back until I was most of the way up the final climb to Deerhurst and there was nobody within 50m behind me.  All sorts of spectators lined the final stretch into the finish chute and I was really happy to have this little victory of passing this one competitor in my age group.  The finish chute wraps around transition and I was able to see my parents as I ran by.  When I looked up at the clock I wasn’t thrilled with the time I saw but I was happy to get through the day.

Run: 1:47:57
Age Group: 7
Overall: 204

Finish time: 5:19:02

Post Race
I was disappointed in the final results. I missed my goal time by about 20mins and a spot at the 70.3 Worlds by about 11:30.  I didn’t have the race I wanted, but I really was due for a bad one.  Every race to that point in 2013 exceeded expectations.  I kept crushing my goals and truly surprising myself.  I look at what I can learn from this experience, and figure out how I can become better.

IM Mont Tremblant Race Report

IM Mont Tremblant Race Report

IMMT 2013 was my first crack at Ironman distance racing.  Over the past two years I’ve completed 2 70.3’s, 3 Olympic distance, and a sprint.  I felt good about my training and barring any technical issue with my bike or an injury I was confident that I’d finish.  I didn’t really have a firm time goal in mind.  I’ve been able to make huge improvements over the last year (was 6:50 in Muskoka 2012, and 4:57 in Tremblant 70.3 2013) but I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to perform over 140 miles.  If I had a near perfect day I knew sub 11 was a possibility, but there were also scenarios where I could have a good race and just break 13 hours.

Race Morning
I woke up at 3:45.  I managed to fall asleep around 9:30 and was well rested for the race.  I had my normal breakfast of 2 pieces of toast with almond butter, pomegranate juice, tablespoon of chia seeds, and water then I was off to transition.

The nice thing about an Ironman is that there really isn’t anything to set up in the morning.  I pumped up my tires, and checked my gears and brakes.  Someone must have bumped my bike because the rear brake was rubbing the wheel.  This was an easy fix and I was off to the swim start.

Before I got into the water at the swim start I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle.  I never do much of a warm-up before the start of any race.  I just got myself wet and made sure my goggles were adjusted properly.

The jets flying over prior to the race was a really cool touch.

I’m in the M18-24 AG so I was the first wave after the pros at 6:42.  I figured I’d swim anywhere from 1:06-1:11.  I didn’t put as much thought as I likely should have into where I positioned myself at the start.  I was middle-ish along the beach 4 or 5 people back from the front.  The first 200m of the swim was relatively uneventful for me.  There were swimmers all around me, but I wasn’t being hit or kicked by anyone.  Just as this thought popped into my head someone’s hand came down on the back of my head.  The next few hundred meters had a lot more contact, but I managed to stay calm and just keep swimming.  It was nice to feel a really strong draft at the start with so many swimmers all around me.  The turn and coming back to shore weren’t too eventful.  I had some trouble swimming straight, and it seemed like the other people around me did too because a couple of swimmers crossed back and forth across me.  My goggles were tinted so the rising sun wasn’t much of a problem.  I finished in 1:08:43, which I was happy with, but I think I gave up some time swimming back to shore since I wasn’t swimming straight.

Swim: 1:08:43
AG: 11
Overall: 486

From the swim exit all the way to the change tent the red carpet was lined with spectators 3 deep.  It was great to see so many people up and cheering so early in the morning.  T1 went as planned.  I put on my Garmin watch, shoes, helmet, glasses, and stuffed my pockets with my food for the first loop of the bike and I was off.

T1: 5:48

Bike pacing isn’t always my strong suit.  I’ve been known to push too hard uphills, and burn matches early.  I rode a 2:35 bike split at the Tremblant 70.3, but I knew I’d have to hold back if I wanted to survive the marathon.  I figured if I rode a split under 5:30 I’d be in trouble, and was shooting for 5:35-5:40.  The first loop went really well.  I rode out of transition conservative and was keeping my pace in check through the first few rollers.  Through the first 40 minutes my nutrition had been a bit of an oversight, but no big deal, from the moment I realized I hadn’t been eating or drinking I picked it up.  I’d eat 2 Stinger Waffles, a bottle of a sports drink (started off with Scratch, but would take Perform from aid stations) and a bit of water every hour. I continued to pace well on the 117; the riders were all pretty well strung out.  Coming into St-Jovite was a great pick-me-up, so many people in town cheering.  At the end of each loop there is about 9km of climbing followed by 9km of downhill along Chemin Duplessis.  I really backed off the pace on the uphill and took the time to assess how my first loop had been going, as well as to do a systems check of my body to see how I felt.  The back of my neck was a little sore from being in the aero position for so long, but otherwise I was in good shape.  I rode about 2:46 on the first loop.  I stopped at special needs to pick up 2 new bottles of Scratch and 6 more waffles.  I also went to the bathroom while I was there.  When I got back onto my bike my legs felt really heavy and I thought I might have just used more energy than I originally thought.  I decided to stop at the first aid station on the 117 (about 20km away) to see if it was a bike problem, and sure enough my rear brake was rubbing.  It’s an easy fix but I wish I had checked sooner.  Just after the second aid station on the 117 there is a long downhill.  I was shifting into my 11-tooth as I was going downhill and dropped my chain.  Fortunately I was able to reverse pedal and get my chain back on.  By this time the wind had picked up.  There were a few strong gusts that pushed me around a bit, but nothing strong enough to make me second guess running a wheel cover in the rear.  I stayed on top of my fueling and was in good shape until I got back to the final out and back along Chemin Duplessis.  The crowd support along the first kilometer here was incredible, so many people cheering all the athletes up the hill.  About 3km into the climb up to the turnaround I was riding up a section that was about 400m long and really steep when I dropped my chain.  I was moving far too slow to pedal backwards to try to get it back on.  I quickly unclipped and got my chain back on.  Then without thinking I hoped back on my bike and tried to clip in.  I still had about 200m of this steep section to climb, and tried unsuccessfully 3 or 4 times to clip in and get going.  I finally wised up to the situation and ran my bike to the top of the hill and clipped in up there.  This should have only cost me about 1:30 but in the end cost me closer to 3:00.  It was time to refocus, I made a mental mistake, but there was nothing I could do about it now.  I took in lots of water and an extra waffle after the turnaround as I made my way downhill towards the village and I began thinking about the run ahead of me.  At this point I still didn’t have a game plan for the run, and I wasn’t sure of my overall time.  I was feeling alright, but I’d only completed a marathon once in my life and it wasn’t pretty (I’m talking 4:47, excruciating pain not pretty).  I had been so caught up thinking about the run that I was less than 1km from transition and I realized I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to keep my shoes clipped into my bike as I dismounted.  I usually would leave my shoes on my bike, but we weren’t allowed to keep them clipped in as we mounted the bike, so I wasn’t sure we could leave them clipped in as we dismounted.  The guy in front of my unclipped his shoes from his bike and ran in them so I decided to do the same.  As it turns out you are allowed to leave your shoes attached, but ultimately this cost me very little time.  I was off the bike in 5:45:46, missing my goal time, but feeling good about the marathon ahead of me.

Bike: 5:45:46
AG: 8
Overall: 409

T2 went smooth.  Nothing really to report, thanks to the volunteers who helped me switch from bike to run swiftly.

T2: 2:24

Coming into the race I planned on following a run/walk strategy.  Most of my weekly long runs were in the 21-24km range, I did one longer 35km run.  I felt good out of T2 and was able to check the clock to see my overall time about 7:03.   The thought of running a 3:56 marathon to come in under 11-hours flashed through my head, but it was still way too early for me to seriously consider it.  I was really excited to be running, and there are lots of people that line the first km of the course.  I also knew that I had a number of friends working aid station 2 and I was really excited to see them.  It’s a sweeping downhill turn and I had a huge smile on my face as I saw so many familiar faces at the aid station.  It was a shot of adrenaline that helped push me up the hill right after the aid station.  It was getting hot so my plan at aid stations for the first loop was to take in a mouthful of water, 3 of the energy chews, and a cup of water or ice over my head.  By the 6km mark I had settled into a pace of about 5:15/km.  I knew this pace was a little fast and I was breaking one of the rules of marathoning (don’t try to bank time in the first half) but I felt good at this pace.  From the couple longer runs I did I noticed that things got really rough for me at about 2.5-hours weather I was running 5:00/km pace or 6:00/km pace.  So I decided I’d keep moving at this pace and reassess as I went along.  As I passed the 10km mark and approached turnaround for the first loop the idea of a sub-11 Ironman began to feel like something that was achievable, and something that I really wanted.  I’d run my first 10km in about 51mins.  This left me 3:05 to run the remaining 32.2km, or a pace of 5:44/km.  As I was running I was doing the math in my head to try to distract my mind from the pain that was building through my lower back, quads, and feet.  Also I began to pay close attention to my split every kilometer.  The second aid station, where I saw friendly faces, was also the second last aid station on each loop.  It was great to run through there and get all sorts of encouragement, as well as know that I would see them again in just 6 kilometers.  Running through the village at the end of my first lap was an amazing experience.  A couple of the male pro’s had lapped me and were through the finish, and Mary Beth Ellis, the female winner, was a few minutes behind me.  The finish chute, which you run most of before veering off to run a second lap, was buzzing with people cheering.  It energized me, and reaffirmed that I really wanted to finish sub11.  The second loop also meant that I would begin taking Coke at aid stations.  I really like Coke when I run, but I made a conscious effort to avoid it until the second half of the marathon so I would have something new to look forward to.  Back at my favourite aid station on the course, aid station 2, I got to see my friends again, and they were shouting all sorts of words of encouragement.  I don’t remember if I said it out loud, or if I just imagined it, but I told them “see you soon” as I collected my Coke and water and kept on running.  I knew I was past the point of no return at this point.  If I stopped to walk I would not run again all day.  By this time the bottom of my feet were waterlogged from all the water I had been pouring all over myself, and shriveled up like a prune.  I could feel that skin had folded and there was a pain in the middle of each of my feet just behind my toes every step.  I knew I couldn’t do anything about it, and I couldn’t slow down if I wanted to beat the clock to 11:00.  Something that really helped me on the second loop was that I felt like the course was shortened to 39km’s instead of 42.2 because of the friends I had at the aid station on course.  I don’t have much to say about the run along the trail to the turnaround and back other than it hurt.  I stayed on top of water and Coke at every aid station, and seemed to be checking my watch 10 times per kilometer.  I was trying to keep my mind busy so that it wouldn’t convince me to stop running.  It wasn’t until I got back to the 39km mark and aid station 2, seeing so many friends that I let the thought that I was going to finish my first Ironman, and that I’d do it in under 11-hours, sink in.  The final 3 km’s were amazing.  I reflected on the past year; how far I’ve come, all the people who helped me get to where I am, and the support I’ve had from friends and family.  It was really special for me to have this time on course while I was still running to let everything sink in and enjoy it.  The finish chute at Tremblant can’t be put into words.  There were people everywhere.  I spotted my parents just before the finish line, as well as a couple friends.  I managed to give some high-fives and then cross the finish line in 10:57:31.

Run: 3:54:49
AG: 6
Overall: 309

Finish Time: 10:57:31

Post Race
Right after I crossed the finish line I was happy to be done, but I didn’t have a single moment of elation.  I had let it sink in for the last 17mins as I ran the final 3km.  A couple of the catchers walked with me after the finish line, but decided I was fine to be left on my own.  After making my way through the post race food tent, and stopping for a massage I got to see my parents and friends.  Their support had helped me get through the day, and really helped me push when it hurt.  I haven’t named names, but to all of you that have helped me get to where I am I want to say a big thank you.  Ironman Mont Tremblant was an unbelievable experience.  The town, the volunteers, and the race itself were all amazing.