When the race doesn’t go to plan…. Ironman Mont Tremblant
This season has certainly been one of learning. When I talked about it with Jenna and my coach Noa at the beginning of the year that was the goal for the season, to continue to develop as an athlete, to gain experience and to learn how to race as a Professional triathlete. Despite that being the ultimate goal for the year and part of a greater long term plan, it’s hard not to get really down on yourself when a race doesn’t meet your expectations. Training for any event like an Ironman that requires an insane amount of work and sacrifice is hard, I mean it’s REALLY freakin’ hard. Myself included, the majority of people that race Ironman’s have day jobs, many have families and kids, some even have high maintenance dogs, my point being is that there generally isn’t a whole lot of downtime between training and day to day life once you’re within a few months of the race. What gets you through those tough days is visualizing how awesome it will be when you nail your race…. Right?!
What I’ve been trying to process this week is how to deal with it when you don’t nail your race. I learned a lot last Sunday in Mont Tremblant, that was the goal, so why do I still feel so gutted.
Jeff Symonds wrote a great article about how to get over a bad race. You can check it out here. The part that really helped me is writing out ten things that went well and ten things that didn’t go well. A big part of the healing process for me has been trying to figure out what went wrong.
To give a bit of background, I raced Ironman Mont Tremblant last weekend. It was my sixth Ironman and first as a Pro. I had process goals for the day that I won’t get into but if everything went to plan expectations were Top 5 on a perfect day, be happy with a Top 10 and go sub 9hrs. Realistically with where my current development is at, Top 5 would have been very hard to crack even if I had a perfect day with the depth of the field; however, I definitely could have been racing for a 6th or 7th place finish.
The swim went well, I swam in the 2nd pack comprising of the male pros I wanted to be drafting behind in the swim. I set a PB coming out of the water in 55:30 but more importantly it didn’t require much effort once through the first 800 meters. I don’t put that much emphasis on swim times anymore, I’m more concerned about how much time I’m back from certain individuals. My swim has definitely continued to improve this year which is really positive as it’s such as integral part of the pro race.
Out on the bike I felt solid. At one point I rode into 5th place. Though the overall effort was well within what I have ridden in races before, I learned some lessons on how NOT to distribute my efforts in a race at this point in my development as it definitely had a negative impact on my run. It was my most variable Ironman ride ever and I’m left wondering if I had paced it differently would I have possibly biked faster and had better legs for the run as well. I finished the bike in a great position coming into T2 with 6th place in 4:42:34.
Ultimately the real killer for me was not preparing for the humidity. Naturally a heat wave warning was issued the day before the race. Sunday was the hottest day of the year in Mont Tremblant topping 30 degrees Celsius with humidex values near 40. I can race in hot conditions with minor impact to my race, but add humidity to the equation and it’s another story. The only other time I remember suffering like this in a marathon was on Alii’ Drive in Kona last year on the first half of the run. There didn’t seem to be any air flowing and my pace was steadily decreasing. When I got up to the Queen K Highway where the wind was blowing things turned around. Unfortunately in Mont Tremblant there was no breeze at any point on the run. My run pace was on target until 11k but after that the wheels steadily came off and that’s putting it lightly. I had done some heat acclimization training before Kona last year which seemed to help but I didn’t include any before Mont Tremblant. Definitely a big oversight and a lesson I won’t forget.
I’m proud that I got through it and finished. I took inspiration from my experience at Ironman Canada a few weeks prior watching so many people endure such terrible race conditions. If they could get through that, I could suck it up and get it done. I finished in 9:28:58. Not my slowest Ironman finish but by far my slowest marathon.
It’s interesting seeing where I would have placed if still racing amateur. I still would have qualified for Kona and may not be scrutinizing my race in the same manner. I would still be disappointed but I may not be looking over every fine detail the way I am now. Racing this year has been extremely humbling. If you make a mistake or you’re off your game by the slightest bit it’s magnified tenfold. It has forced me to take a good look at where I need to improve. Racing Pro has been the right decision. It’s what I need to become a better athlete. This year has been REALLY tough mentally but I may look back on it as a year where I learned a lot about myself.
The next step in the healing process has been to look ahead. I had originally planned to race Ironman Cozumel, but Tuesday I decided to sign up for Ironman Arizona instead. Though Arizona is typically an insanely competitive race, I want to take humidity out of the equation and see how I go. I’ll also be racing Ironman 70.3 Silverman in October so I better get back to training!
Though I didn’t have the race I wanted in Tremblant, I had an incredible experience there. This was largely due to the amazing and extremely generous family I stayed with. Xavier, his wife Pilar and their three boys hosted me in June for the 70.3 as well as for Ironman. They were such great people to stay with and I now feel like I have a second family in Quebec. Fun fact about Xavier, he didn’t tell anyone other than his coach that he was racing Ironman Mont Tremblant until a week before the race. What a CRAZY guy!! He finished his first Ironman this year in 14 hours, I’m so stoked for him!
I want to thank everyone that followed my race last week. It’s always great knowing I have so much support. Thank you Jenna for continuing to push me, you don’t seem to ever accept my excuses, I wouldn’t be able to persevere without you. Coach Noa and my Pacific Tri-Works peeps, thanks for always pushing me to the limit in training. To all my amazing sponsors, you guys rock. I feel so fortunate to be able to train and race with such amazing gear and know everything’s dialed when I show up on race day. A special thanks to Main Street Automotive for helping me get to the race!
After a complete week off I feel refreshed. I’ve come to terms with the race and am excited to get back training and implementing what I’ve learned. As far as I’m concerned, I have nothing to lose in these last two races of the season so I’m interested to go out there with a bit of a different mindset and see what happens!