To Do’s 1 Week Before Your Race
By: Brittany Berry, 2019 event ambassador for Toronto Island Triathlon
To Do’s 1 Week Before Your Race
By: Brittany Berry, 2019 event ambassador for Toronto Island Triathlon
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Last Saturday March 25 I did my first race for the 2017 season with my daughter Tara here in Arizona. It was a great weather day just a bit cool at 7 am at 50F with the sun rising over the Catalina Mountains for the 800m serpentine swim up and back each of 8 lanes in the Olympic 50m pool at the outdoor Oro Valley Aquatic Center. Then 2 loops on the bike course with a couple of decent hills and 2 loops on the flat run course on the road and park around the pool in quite warm weather by then 70F going towards 80F in the afternoon.
Tara and I started about 7 min apart in the wave time trial like start, but finished with exactly the same time. Actually we were 0.7 seconds apart similar to the Toronto race last year. Guess that’s what happens when you train together.
I did win 2cd in my age group and Tara was 7th in hers.
All in all a great day followed the next day with 2 of my grandkids Natalie and Adam doing the half mile kids race and my son – in – law Jason doing the hilly half marathon in the Arizona Distance Classic. Tara and Joanne and I were cheerleaders for that.
Sadly we head home this week after 2 months in the sun in Arizona just before Greg Pace’s training camp here. We’ll spend a few days in Utah on the way seeing where John Wayne and others shot movies in Monument Valley and the to Moab and Canyonlands.
But looking forward to training outdoors at home and racing with my other daughter Kerri who is getting more serious about triathlon and doing a Sprint in Mont Tremblant with my son Mark in his first ever triathlon.
Today I finished my very first Century Ride. Something very cool and humbling about setting a goal and achieving it. Especially, when it involves others with the same goal.
The first 38 miles were fine, albeit with some wind to deal with. A short stop and off again to 54 miles.
Because of the distance I really focused on nutrition and electrolytes ( the temps were hovering around 85 degrees). I set my Garmin to alert me every hour so I wouldn’t get behind with fuelling. I also went into the ride fully hydrated and carbed up’! The last break we stopped a bit longer to eat. We were at 76 miles. As we headed out for the final push my legs and mind were not in harmony. This was pay back time. So I pushed a super light gear until I felt better and we had a reprieve from the stronger winds.
I kept saying to myself ‘one more mile’.
Staying as present as possible, relying on one another and listening to my body got me through every one of those 103 miles.
So that was my first Century Ride. But what follows is the reason I was able to complete the distance. My longest ride had been 96 ish kilometres in July at 70.3 Muskoka.
First, I think we are all Stronger than we think we are. We ride all year.
And Greg Pace consistently implores us 1. Find a pace you can ride all day and stay with it. 2. Keep that cadence steady. Strong. 3. Move around the seat. Stand up. Do anything to change positions 3. Ride relaxed.
So with those lessons firmly implanted in my mind and body I completed my first Century Ride.
First , can’t believe I did it!! I really had doubts about the run.
Thank you everyone for all the encouragement, support and kind words along the way.
Pre Race Day
Miami. Always exciting to visit. Biscayne Bay is where the swim took place. Saw some manatee in the bay and was comforted at the thought of swimming along side. Water temp warm. Will we be allowed wetsuits? Hmm.
Took a cab to Southbeach. Was going to walk on the beach but my plantar fasciaitis was acting up. Choose to put that out of my mind along with the stomach issues from all the carbs I had consumed. Trial swim for googles in ocean water. No leaks. Hurray!!
Found some great numbing ointment for a persistent sit bone bike seat issue. ( sorry if that’s too much info)
Everything seemed to be falling into place.
Great weather report. What else could go right?
Put all Race gear out. Double checked it all. Decided to give my 2 garmins an extra charge before bed. Set alarm to James Browns song “I Feel Good”, 4:30 AM. Bed at 9:00. Excited for the morning. 😀
Wake up happy and ready. A little worried for my feet. Decided to bring freezer bag filled with ice .
Oatmeal in blender and I’m good to go. Remembering my boys Last words “You got this Mom.”
Make my way to transition area. It was a bit overwhelming. Everyone looked so strong and serious. Felt like I didn’t belong. Was getting very nervous. When I saw Anna I felt better. She really knew what she was doing.
Go back to my bike for final check before leaving transition. Someone is adjusting their Garmin. Felt sick to my stomach. My Garmins were at the hotel plugged into the wall!!
20 minutes till transition closes. Should I go back? Too stressful. Decide to just get over it and concentrate on what’s ahead.
They announce no wetsuits. Ok. Not a problem.
Find Deb, Sam and Anna. Sam is nervous too. I tried to focus on the water. We were following the Pros (except Sam). Having the girls beside me helped with my nerves.
Swim was wonderful in that the water was warm and route clearly marked. Being with younger 45 and up women was more competitive. Punching,kicking, and shoving the entire swim. These girls were out to win. At one point during the swim I noticed no one was kicking me. It was a nice few minutes until I realized I was off course. All in all was a pleasant swim. On later review I thought my time was a bit slow. Looking at all the times I realized all were slower probably due to the current.
Bike was great. Flat and windy on way out. Not nearly as humid as I expected. Nothing like the Welland Long Tri this past summer. Everyone was fast. I realized there were many groups of men that followed our wave. Decided to relax and not worry about the massive amount of people passing me. I concentrated on counting gels to figure out how much time was passing. One gel took 10 minutes to dissolve. Then counted 500 peddle strokes, followed by two gulps of water. Waited a minute or two then started all over. Half way through I had finished 7 gells. That’s how I figured out I must have taken about 1 hour 45 minutes on way out. About right going against wind. I really had no idea of course how fast or slow I was going but the counting kept me busy. A very pleasant 62 year old German woman passes me. I was thinking I probably was not doing too well considering I only passed about 3 women the entire way. Anna passed me early and Deb a bit later. Sam was a later wave. Overall I could not have gone faster so I decided to be happy with my unknown progress.
Once we reached transition I realized I had a problem. My legs were finished. Barely functioning to walk my bike. I hoped for the best. Finished my water, took another few electrolyte caps and a gel with caffeine hoping to get some sort of energy to finish. Remembered what Margaret said. “Just keep moving forward.”
Walked for a while then ran, if you can call it a run. Hobbled is more like it. I really missed my garmin now because I knew I could walk fast and was thinking if I was running slow I would rather be walking.
No more pity parties for me. I had to get this done. I thought of my new outfits just purchased with Miami 70.3 Ironman written across the front. I wanted to wear those clothes proudly !!
I had given myself max 2 hours 30 minutes for this run but was hoping for 2:15. Decided to let go of that thought. Concentrated on Margaret’s many mantras.
2 very long loops seemed impossible. Everything marked in miles. Could not convert. My brain would not work. Saw Deb and Anna. They were, I think, almost finished the first loop. Considered briefly hopping over to their side. It would be so easy to cheat in this Race. Decided to make a washroom stop instead. Just wanted to stop. Probably had two more hours to go. Considered quitting again but wasn’t sure how to get back.
I saw Sam. I was confused and was not sure If she was ahead or behind me. Didn’t matter it was just nice to see her. She looked as hot and tired as I felt but was still smiling. She just had a baby. She was going to finish. I had to finish.
First loop done. Lots of walking and two bathroom breaks. First half of last loop was unbearable. Decided to count my steps (think that’s what Greg does) up to 3000 between water stations?? I kept loosing count. Darn brain wasn’t cooperating. Then somehow got some energy. I ran the last 5 K without stopping. I thought I was going fast but actually was my slowest pace. Maybe I am a faster walker??
So happy to be nearly done. I saw Deb and Anna cheering me on. My eyes welled up and a few tears were shed. Couldn’t believe I had any fluid left in me. The Ironman bridge was up ahead. I passed under in disbelief. Final time about 6:47.
Next, directly to my ice bag, sat and sunk my aching feet into the cold. Bliss.
What a great day!!!
Participating in Tcob is something I dont think i could do without. It offers a hugely supportive environment creating a team atmosphere for what most people would think is an individual sport. The feeling of community at any TCOB event is so strong I think of the group as my other family... My super fit family! I am not just a better athlete for being a member but a better version of me.