June 24, 2015

Race report -- Mont Tremblant 5150

June 20, 2015
Sprint (750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run)

Goal: Finish... if possible, run the whole run split
Actual: Check, and check. 1:40:54 (68/257 women, 16/69 AG)

Photo copyright Debra Jamroz. Used with permission.
Goo Mama!

I love this race venue. WTC (the corporation that runs Ironman) is not without its problems, but they know how to put on a good show. And Mont Tremblant is a real treat, for a multitude of reasons including the village, accommodation a couple minutes' walk from transition, a beautiful course, and plenty of family-friendly activities. I think if I slow down my racing ambitions and pare the calendar down to just one or two events, this will still be one of them. About the only drawback is having to negotiate the sale of my firstborn child to afford the hotel. Ah well -- sacrifices must be made!

This was meant to be a dry run of sorts for my A race this season -- the national qualifier at Magog in July. However, an injury this week put a crimp in that plan. After a great, hard, Tuesday evening workout with the OTC, I had just a short run and short swim left in my week's plan before racing the Olympic 5150 on Saturday. I suited up for my 20 minute Wednesday run, and -- found I couldn't. Something weird was going on in my glute/hip. Hmmm. No problem, I'll just walk a few steps, massage it out, I'll warm up out of it. Cue massaging my own butt on the side of a busy road. Tried running again. Made it about 8 steps. This was not good. I jog/walk/hobbled my way for about 15 minutes before throwing in the towel. Walking was still fine, so I figured I'd just take the day off and try again tomorrow.

Fast forward to the next day -- it was worse rather than better. Walking was uncomfortable. I felt a strange clicking of tissue over my hip. My glute was complaining. This is now Thursday, two days before my race. I hustled over to the nearest sports injury clinic, and was able to get in right away to see a physio. Diagnosis: strained piriformis muscle, as well as a ridiculously tight IT band. In plain English, I strained my ass. Glamourous, I know. They threw everything at it but the kitchen sink... heat, ultrasound, rolling, stretching, that electric current thingy. And the manual therapy -- mother of God, that hurt. But I figured if that's what it takes, ok. They taped me up (with blue kinesio tape, naturally, to match my bike just in case this all worked out) and sent me on my way. Friday morning, back I went. More of the same, plus this hellish torture method known as cupping. I know "cupping" sounds a little 50 Shades, but it's really just garden-variety excruciating. The physio I was scheduled to see was named Mina. I envisioned a sweet, small woman. Mina is in fact a large, strong man who made the previous day's manual therapy seem like a gentle spa treatment. "Are you doing ok?" he asked as I clutched a pillow under my face. I replied honestly "Well, I haven't thrown up on your table yet. But I can't promise anything." More tape, and off I went. Grabbed the kids, the bike, the gear, and hit the road -- via Tim Horton's of course. It's a road trip, after all.

New racing stripe

Switching events to the Sprint was completely painless (pun sort of intended) at packet pickup, and once the kids and I picked out our requisite "Ironperson" souvenirs it was time for dinner. I know, I was only doing the Sprint. But I feel like my 70.3 last year gives me license to pick up M-dot gear for at least a little while. Plus, they make you go into the merchandise tent to pick up your athlete bag. It's like exiting a museum into the gift shop. Only it's slightly more tempting, and considerably more expensive.

Making signs

I wore my chip to bed, with a safety pin holding it closed. Slightly paranoid? Perhaps. But after a hotel parking garage mishap that rearranged my bumper (never rely on a grade-schooler hanging out the window to tell you if you've got room to back up), I didn't want to leave anything else to chance.

Didn't sleep very well, and woke up around 4:45 before my alarm. Was the first one in the dining room for breakfast, which I sort of staggered through. Time to get my gear down to transition. Took my first step outside, and the 5 degree air seemed to laugh "You're going swimming in this! Ha!" With my breath visible and my sandals-clad feet cold to aching, I racked my bike and headed back to the hotel to don my wetsuit. Have I mentioned how much I love staying a stone's throw from the T-zone? Was nice to run into some familiar faces from the OTC, volunteering, racing, and spectating. And that is some dedicated spectating, showing up to the swim start at 7:00 on a day you're not racing!

The Frost Fairy hitching a ride on my BTA bottle

With fellow OTCer Curtis at morning transition setup

Swim: 750 m, 18:36
T1: 6:02

I braced for what I thought might be a long line to check my swim bag -- essentially just a plastic bag with my "walk to the swim start" shoes in it, held shut by a drawstring. Nope. We were told to toss them up to a guy standing in a dump truck. Feeling hopeful that I would ever see my shoes again, I knotted the drawstring and gave it my best overhand pitch. I had a good warmup, the water feeling warm compared to the air and the wet sand on the beach. All the women started in a single wave, and I placed myself a few rows from the front at the right hand side. My goal was to simply have a good, steady effort as it would be my first activity after the previous couple of days' worth of physio. In the end I was faster than at last year's 70.3 -- which makes sense since it was less than half the distance. Any other comparisons are tough, since our local races include at least part of the transition time with the swim split. I love swimming in this lake, and the water was calm and comfortable. We were pretty bunched up though, and after taking a hard kick to the abdomen my main concern became dodging the whip-kicks of people who spontaneously started breast-stroking in the middle of the pack. This was definitely more of a problem in the sprint than in the 70.3 last year. As we turned the corner, we caught up to the back of the men's wave. Felt great as I emerged from the water, and the wetsuit conveniently doubled as lower-body compression as I tentatively jogged down the carpet toward transition. So far, so good.

Bike: 20k, 46:49
T2: 2:33

Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby

This is officially my favourite bike course ever. With my new 11-28 cassette, the steep uphills were no problem, even while trying to spare my injured area. Athletes were pretty bunched up after the swim and it took some maneuvering and lots of counting in my head to clear people's draft zones and avoid an infraction, though frankly there wasn't much drafting advantage to be had crawling uphill at 5 km/h. I've got ideas on how some of this traffic might be avoided... stay tuned for the next blog post. I got passed plenty on the uphill sections by folks who were really pushing, which was fine and expected. The nice part was doing plenty of passing on the downhill portions. Grinning ear to ear, I let out a big "Woooooooo!!!" as I started the homeward descent after the turnaround. Reaching the end of the course felt like the end of an amusement park ride. Throngs of spectators and volunteers cheered us in as we reached transition, and I was feeling good to start the run.

Run: 5k, 26:53

This is the first race I've done where I dropped all expectations, and made a conscious decision to take it as easy as I needed to. My gimpy areas felt ok heading out on the run, but I kept the pace conservative so as not to risk re-injury given the inevitable muscle fatigue off the bike. On the uphills and downhills especially, I tried to keep my steps light and my cadence high. The weather was beautiful, the volunteers were fantastic, and I really enjoyed the run. There was a woman who I had run closely with for the last half of the course, and it took all my discipline to not bust into my usual home stretch kick. I let her go... and then another, as I stopped to high-five both my daughters on the final 300 m through the pedestrian village. I finished with a smile, happy to have been able to run the whole way, and having had a great time on all parts of the course.

Photo copyright Debra Jamroz. Used with permission.
Post-race fun

Know the best thing about an early morning sprint race at Tremblant? Plenty of time left to shower, play mini golf, and ride the gondola before checking out of the hotel!

Back at home and ready for bed, still wearing her new visor

Big thanks to Garneau, and to Dr. Patrick Kirkham at Britannia Chiropractic, for their support this season. Another huge shout out to my aunt Debra Jamroz for watching the kids and taking some great photos of our weekend. 

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