Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report 2018 by Roger Barker

Background:

I decided several years ago that I would compete in the 2018 Mont Tremblant Ironman, this race because I heard good things about the race, it is driving distance from home, and this year because I age-up, and at my age (75) it is a significant advantage to be one of the youngest athletes. I had entered IMMT in 2016 in order to reduce the time interval between my last IM, Austria in 2014, and the next. In training for this event I suffered a hamstring injury just weeks before the 2016 race and went as a spectator, not as an athlete. I also decided that 2018 was to be the last year of ironman for me and, with that in mind, I hired my first coach, Greg Pace. In my previous 7 ironman races, my runs had been inconsistent, some good and some poor, which I attributed partly to sub-optimal pacing on the bike; in order to improve my bike pacing and training I invested in my first power meter, a Garmin Vector 2S.

 

Pre-race:

Training went well. Several of my Toronto running friends made the effort to come and support both me and another Toronto friend, Martha doing her first ironman. My daughter, husband and 3 grandkids aged 12, 10 and 7 also came, which was really neat, plus coach Greg and several other Tri Club of Burlington members were competing. My wife Mary and I drove to MT on the Thursday before the race, got settled in the condo and rode most of the way up the chemin duplessis hills; they were even steeper than I remembered from a training weekend back in 2012! Friday I registered and did the Expo thing in foul wet weather. Saturday the weather was good and the forecast for race day Sunday was good. There were only 3 of us in our age group, Graeme, Howard and myself. Greg, Mary and others had all of us plugged into Athlete Tracker so that they could update me on our relative positions as my goal was to win the age group and qualify for Kona.

 

Swim:

Thankfully the water temperature was in the wetsuit allowable range for age-groupers, but not for the pros. Race day was fine, except for fog over the lake. At times only one buoy was visible from shore, at other times a few were visible. The start was delayed by about an hour, and then they decided to start and get everyone in the water by 8am. This resulted in more congestion than normal and we subsequently talked to 2 athletes who suffered concussions from being kicked in the head; one was unable to continue. As one of the slowest swimmers, self-seeded as 1:40 to 1:50 estimated time, I missed the worst of the congestion, but couldn’t see buoys 2 through 4 at all – I just followed the feet of other swimmers. It gradually cleared with buoy 5 and visibility after that improved rapidly. I wasn’t very successful at drafting, but I had a comfortable swim in 1hr 47 min 59 sec, not my best but OK for me. As I jogged to Transition, Greg told me that Graeme was 30 minutes ahead; this was not a surprise or concern as I knew that he was a good swimmer but usually slower than me on the run. Transition 1 was longer than it should have been, 11:32, partly because I picked up the wrong numbered bag, then repacked it and exchanged it for the correct one! I also forgot to look for the volunteer with sunscreen so set off on the bike with no sunscreen.

 

Bike:

I set off conservatively, trying to stay within my targeted wattage zones. The sun came out and the temperature climbed to 27 C, warmer than ideal but not nearly as hot as many of our training days. There was a slight tailwind heading north on Rte 117, it seemed to be a stronger head wind coming back! It was great to see all the family and friends at the end of the first loop. The hills were tough, even tougher on the second loop and I wished that I had invested in an 11-30 or 11-32 cassette instead of my 11-28, to reduce the wattage on the steep bits. I was standing up on my pedals and was way above the wattages that Greg had recommended. Several riders were walking the steep bits on the second loop.

I was happy to finish the bike in 7hr 22min, 57 sec and was very happy to learn from Mary that Graeme’s lead was only 15 minutes. T2 was an OK 7:00, I prefer to run in running shorts, and the extra time to get out of my bike shorts is well worth it.

 

Run:

It is always a relief for me to get off the bike and run, as running is my strength, but my legs were trashed from those damn hills on duplessis. I walked with Greg for a while, who confirmed the gap to Graeme and gave a description of him to help me spot him. Greg also told me that Howard had dropped out after one lap of the bike. My legs were cramping a little, so I took a couple of the sachets of mustard I carry just in case. I tried to walk just the hills and run the flats and downhills, but there was a lot more walking than planned. I wasn’t too worried and was confident that Graeme was also walking. This was confirmed when I spotted him at about 10K close to the turn-around on the petit train du nord trail. I caught and passed him at about 13K; we chatted briefly and I made my best effort to open the gap between us decisively and not look back! It was great to see the grandkids on their bikes in the village and the message they recorded on the Telus big screen. My pace improved a little on the second loop of the run as it cooled down in the dark and the biggest challenge was seeing the edge of the trail in the dark. Mary ran the last 500m with me, then peeled off before Mike Reilly told me that I was an Ironman and everyone else that I was 75 years old. My run was my worst-ever time of 5hr 26min 24 sec, but I was happy with my overall time of 14hr 55 min 49 sec. Graeme finished in 15:38:31.

 

Post-race:

Former TCOB athlete Helene Desrosiers gave me my finisher tee shirt and cap, and I made the mistake of taking a beer instead of chocolate milk in the food tent; I waited for my Toronto friend Martha to finish, just minutes after me. We hugged, grabbed some food and sat down. Needing a pee, I got up and almost immediately felt dizzy; another athlete asked if I was alright, then sat me down and got the medics to take care of me. They were great, ascertained that my blood pressure was low  (69/38) and blood sugar was low, so gave me hot chicken broth, a dextrose tablet and apple juice and wrapped me up in a hot blanket. After an hour, or 90 minutes, I was released to Mary’s care and she went to fetch the car and pick me up. I was fine and slept well.

I think that I didn’t take enough nutrition late on the run – I was fed up with gels, and didn’t think that I could digest orange or apple segments, so was drinking flat cola, even my first ever Red Bull. Otherwise my nutrition worked well and I took about 8 or 10 (250mg) salt tablets combined on the bike and run.

 

Awards brunch:

I always enjoy the Awards banquet. It was great that Canadian Cody Beals was the winning male pro in his first Ironman race, with Lionel Sanders second. Beals gave a good speech, partly in French, very humble and giving a lot of credit to training partner Sanders. I was able to have a nice chat with Graeme while we were waiting in line for our awards. He told me that he would have turned down the Kona spot (which I took); his main reason for racing IMMT was that his son was also racing. So now I get to do it all over again in Hawaii in 8 weeks!

 

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