I qualified for 70.3 World Championship on a roll down spot at Racine 70.3 in July. In Racine I PR’d with a 4:38:24 (ranked 13/279 in the age group).
I used Iron Fit Secrets for Half Iron-Distance Triathlon Success by Don & Melanie Fink as my training manual, using the 16 week competitive plan outlined there.
I fuel with Infinit Nutrition (~300 calories per hour) on the bike and Hammer Gels on the run (1 gel every 30 minutes).
My wife and I flew out of Chicago on Thursday around lunchtime, arrived in Montreal around 6:30pm local time. Her parent’s Anniversary was Wednesday before the race, they had been staying in Mont-Tremblant all week on an Anniversary get-away and were kind enough to come pick us up from the airport in Montreal. We rented a condo across the hall from them through their timeshare deal. This would be the first triathlon they ever spectated.
We arrived in Mont-Tremblant after dark on Thursday, waking to the mountains and beauty of the place Friday morning was wonderful. I went out for a 6 mile run with some short hard efforts to make sure my legs were ready to race. Our condo was right along the river and paved path that I believe is part of the Full Ironman course. It was a perfect running spot.
I unpacked my bike and assembled it in the condo later that morning and headed to Packet Pick-up and the Ironman Village.
I did Packet Pick-up and got my goody bag – I now own more Ironman backpacks than I know what to do with (unfortunately these things fall apart pretty quickly so that probably won’t be a problem). Having Ironman 70.3 World Championship and a custom nametag on my bag makes this one easily my favorite.
The Ironman Village was at the base of the Tremblant Ski resort (like it is for other races there). It had the usual vendors, giveaways and free samples. I bought a race t-shirt and an All World Athlete hood sweatshirt that I thought was pretty cool looking.
Soaking in the atmosphere and hype of the World Championship was fun, but after a few hours I had enough and went for my 30min practice swim in Lake Tremblant. Some folks complained about it being cold, at 68º I wasn’t complaining at all.
At the pre-race meeting Friday night the head official was very strong in his language and warning about drafting – a hollow threat in hindsight.
Saturday I slept in a long as possible, getting a full 8 hours of sleep. Different for the World Championships was the fact that we didn’t transition at our bikes; we had gear bags like you would have in a full Ironman. That meant I needed to adjust my usual plans and pack up my transition bags with some thought. After doing that I headed down to Transition for a quick Bike & Run Safety check. Everything seemed fine and I was running and biking faster than I expected. Tapering is a wonderful thing! (I even snagged a KOM on Stava during my short run off the bike). After dropping the bike and gear bags off I headed back to the condo to put my feet up and relax.
I ate my usual dinner for this season of black beans and rice with salsa, cheese and sour cream with a little red wine and then off to bed early.
5:30AM Wake-up, Banana, coffee and bagel with almond butter for breakfast. Bathroom stop 1.
6:00AM It’s stinking cold and I’m in a tri-kit. Amy runs back to the car to get me pants and a jacket while I visit my bike and put my nutrition on it, visit my transition bags and do bathroom stop 2.
7:00AM Arrive at Swim start after the long walk from Transition. Spend the next hour warming up as the sun rises, getting into my wetsuit and topping off my tank with a Hammer Espresso Gel. Bathroom stop 3.
8:00AM Jet fly over and Pro Men Start. 4 minutes later, Pro Women. 4 minutes later Physically Challenged and Handcycle Athletes.
8:12AM Cannon sounds for my wave. I was 3 rows back from the front (rather than on the front), figuring this would be a faster swim field than I was used to.
The swim course was a “U” shape. The usual melee took place, but mostly just fighting for feet to follow. I was in the mix in a large pack keeping good form until the second turn when all of a sudden the front pack took off and I couldn’t close the gap. For the next several hundred meters it appeared I was leading the pack of mediocre swimmers. I let 2 guys come around me so we could share the pacing and not tire myself out too much. I exited the swim in 30:22. I was pretty happy with that, my swimming has been disappointing much of this season. This is the 2nd fastest time I’ve ever posted in a Half Ironman swim.
It was a long run to T1, passing guys along the way made it easier as did the red carpet we had to run on to save our feet. (Somewhere around 1/3 to 2/3 a mile from swim exit to getting on my bike. I forgot to pack rubber bands for the race so I didn’t mount my shoes on the bike, I grabbed them, my helmet and sunglasses from my bag, put my wetsuit, goggles and cap in the bag and ran to my bike. Helmet and sunglasses were put on while running to the bike. Slipped the shoes on and out to bike 56 miles.
I was a little worried about the bike course since it had around 2800 feet of climbing in the 56 miles. We live in flat farm fields. Apart from HHH earlier this year and riding loops at Kickapoo I don’t really have much hill training I can regularly do. I planned to ride 235 Watts and stuck to it for the most part. On some of the hills you just have to make it over the top and some of the down hills I was spinning out my cassette and barely hitting 200 Watts. It was a challenging course. You leave the ski area and head up Highway 117. There are some smaller rollers along the way and one larger climb. Around mile 23 you turn around, and head back to the ski area, pass it and head out for a 12 mile out and back – which is pretty much 6 miles of climbing, turn around and coast back. This section included the most grueling climb of the ride at 12% grade.
Despite the warnings from the officials on Friday night I saw several packs, including one that had at least 20 riders and no draft marshals to be seen. It was disappointing to see at the World Championship race. It didn’t effect my race at all, I choose to race clean and when a pack of 8 guys came past me riding my pace, I dropped back, passed them and said “Let’s keep it clean guys, it’s the World Championship.” They immediately went single file and dropped back 7 meters apart. We didn’t stay together long as a legal group since some of the guys obviously weren’t riding a sustainable non-draft pace for them.
Drafting would be a topic I heard a lot of complaints from other racers on. I choose not to let it effect me mentally; I wasn’t going to place in the age group anyways. I see it as a Triathlon Canada failure or WTC whomever should have allocated more draft marshals on the course and competitive riders getting swept up in group think.
At about halfway I had some trouble with my shifters – they come loose from time to time and shift on me whenever they feel like it. It was annoying, but I was able to deal with it by hand tightening them while riding. I’ll be replacing those next season for sure. I’m tired of messing with them.
I finished the bike in 2:31:23. (Normalized Power was 240 Watts, close enough for me.)
Barefoot dismount, bike to volunteer to rack it and ran the gear bag line picking up my run bag on the way. Xtennex laces have been my quick transition laces of choice this season. It makes quick work of slipping on the shoes. Helmet back in the bag and visor and race belt in hand I was off to start the run.
About a half mile into the run I realized I was going to have to stop and pee. I made it to the first aid station, ran through it and stopped at the port-o-johns there. I was working hard to keep the pace easy the first 5k, then speed up to tempo pace for the middle 10K and hold on for whatever I had left on the last 5k-ish.
The run course was a two loop, mostly out and back. We ran from transition to the river path and turned around. When we reached the ski area we had to run up to the big hill to the base of the mountain and then back down and repeat for loop two. Within 5k of running I could tell that my hamstrings were having trouble with the down hill sections. They were threatening to cramp or lock-up. I didn’t have any salt tablets with me since I don’t usually mess with them except in marathons and full Ironman. I tried drinking some coke to see if that would help. It just makes me burp a lot so I only grabbed 2 cups throughout the whole run.
I stuck to my plan and moved up to tempo pace for the middle 10k, with the hills it didn’t really alter my average pace much. I stuck to my nutrition plan and sipped water to thirst. Like usual I kept a constant supply of ice down my pants to cool my legs and numb my quads and hamstrings as much as possible.
About 8k into the run we were on a path parallel to the main road, it had a spectacular view of the mountain. It brought a smile to my face both times and took my mind off the pain of racing.
After the final climb in the ski area I made the turn to run the steep down hill and enter the finishers chute. About halfway my hamstrings cramped like I’ve never felt before. I was stopped dead in my tracks right in front of a volunteer in excruciating pain yelling “OUCH! I CAN’T MOVE” the cheers from the crowd grew as they told me “just keep going, you can do it.” But I literally couldn’t move. My legs wouldn’t respond. The volunteer told me to just breathe deep and keep doing it. I bent over at the waist to stretch my hamstrings. That seemed to help. After what felt like forever (probably only 20 seconds) I was able to bend my legs again and start my shuffle down the rest of the hill and across the finish line.
I ran a 1:36:12, which I am pretty happy with given the 1,228ft of elevation gain.
Age Group M30-34
Age Group Rank 136/186
Overall Rank 724/2235