This was my third Ironman and I think the first thought that will come to my mind or anyone else that did Ironman on this day is the weather. All week long the weather was predicted to be rain/thunderstorms. I was just hoping for no Thunderstorms early because I didn’t want the swim to be cancelled. The rest of the day I would just adjust to weather and have to accept whatever came. Well, rain and more rain is what came and lots of it!
The swim is a wave start at Tremblant. They have the Pro Men and Women and then they had the age groups go out, the men and then the women. I think I was probably the 5th wave to go. I didn’t really like this start at all, it meant that I would have to swim through all of the waves in front of me. I would have much preferred the rolling start or mass start that I have experienced at Lake Placid. At least with those starts you can seed yourself or get out in front of all the novice swimmers.
The swim itself for me was nice. My plan was to relax and enjoy the swim and be ready for the bike. The beginning of the swim was probably the worst part of it with trying to navigate around the large pack in front of me. By the time I was about halfway down I had already passed probably every color cap but the pros. The water itself was about 72 degrees and with the wind there was some chop and swells. Nothing really all that bad though. Total time for the swim was 1:10:04, so about 5 minutes slower than my IMLP times. I think most of that time was wasted navigating around the other swimmers.
I came out of the water and jogged up to the wetsuit strippers. They had me lay down, quickly pulled the wetsuit off and had me back on my feet in a few seconds. As always the volunteers are awesome at Ironman. The transition took me 7:21, exactly the same time it took me at IMLP 2013. Heading out of T1 Kelly and the kids and my father-in-law were cheering me on as I headed out onto the bike.
This time around on the bike it wasn’t raining when I started it and after all the predictions of rain I thought we might get lucky. Well, that luck rain out about 20 miles into the ride. Actually probably a little sooner but because the wind was at my back and didn’t realize just how hard it was raining until I turned around out on 117. At that turn around is when the weather turned around as well. The rains came and the wind and it was just a miserable ride after that. There were times when it was raining so hard that it hurt.
I’ve done plenty of riding in the rain and I don’t enjoy it. It just comes with training for Ironman, if you have a ride scheduled and it is raining, you just head out and ride. However, I’m a lot more cautious rider when it is raining. On the downhills I did a lot of breaking, I just don’t feel the need to end my day early. I did ok in the beginning of the rain, but by the time I got to the short turnaround on 117 before coming back on Monte Ryan was I getting cold. I had to sit up out of aero position and work harder to generate some heat. At the time I was getting worried about having to do another entire loop in the pouring rain.
By the time I got to the end of Duplessis I was warmer and feeling a little better. I started to eat the Cliff bars they had on the bike course because I just couldn’t drink enough because I was cold. I knew I needed the calories so I started eating the bars through each of the support stations along the bike course. I had planned on taking in 6 bottles of nutrition and ended up only drinking 4 of them.
The second loop of the bike was just rain, rain and more rain. I saw my family again at the short turn around on 117. They all had on rain gear and cheered me on. It lifts your spirits momentarily, then it rains a little harder to ruin the moment.
My total bike time was 6:13:55, this was a little faster than IMLP 2013, but considerably slower than what I had trained and planned for. I just wasn’t willing to push the envelope on the downhills in the rain and I paid for it in time. I’m ok with that, considering that there were some pretty nasty crashes on course and people didn’t get to finish because of it.
The transition to the run was pretty easy, the awesome volunteers grab your bike and rack it and you just head off to change. For me I changed everything. I just wanted to start out the run feeling a little dry. I ran out of T2, stopped to pee and then headed out for 26.2 Transition was 6:31.
When I got off the bike my legs felt cold and tight. I figured they would loosen up a bit once I started running. The other thing that I was a little surprised about was that my lower back was really tight. I started out jogging a long and felt ok at around a 9 minute pace. Just before I got to the trail out and back Kelly and her Mom were on the side of the road and they cheered me on. I think I remember telling Kelly this just sucks. It was still raining and would rain even harder.
Around mile 4 I felt better and was averaging around 8:30 pace, that had been my target. I manage to run and not walk for the first half of the race. At that point my legs hurt too much and I would walk through each of the aid stations. I was still taking in plenty of calories and water and of course the rain was keeping my cool. I made sure to have a gel every 30 minutes or so and I had water and Gatorade at each of the aid stations. The back half of the marathon was just very disappointing. Total time for the run was 4:20:16. Over an hour slower than my standalone marathon time.
The sun did finally come out for the last 3 miles of the run.
I want to thank my family for all of their support. Kelly, who has put up with all of my long training rides on the weekends. Mackenzie and JP have been great throughout the training, of course they just figure Dad must be out on his bike somewhere if I’m not in the house. I keep asking Mackenzie when she is going to do an Ironman with me. She says she will, but I think she is just humoring her Dad. This time around my in-laws made the trip to see the Ironman. I’m not sure they realized what they were getting into with all of the walking around, but I appreciated the support.
Thank you to Julie Valenti, Melinda Vaturro and Mike Yako for training with me. A big part of the journey that is Ironman is having some good people to train with. Congratulations to Mike on having a killer first Ironman, next time around try not to get hit by a car in the middle of training! Congratulations to Julie and Melinda on finishing what I think is their 3rd Ironman.
The other group I would like to thank is Breakthrough Performance Coaching. I had decided to write my own plan this time around, but I have to give them credit for being able to do that since I learned so much from them when they worked with me while training for my last Ironman. They were and are always super supportive at the races and it was great to see and hear them cheering out on the course. I did ok on my own, self evaluation is tough. If I do another and I’m hiring a coach, Dave Sek and BPC would be my first choice. Thank you again for all your support Dave Sek, Jeff Capobianco, Jonathan Steeves and all the rest of the BPC athletes. Also Congrats to Dave on his 1st place AG, awesome!