This was written about the 2016 edition. The race has had some minor course changes but in the last couple of years and it does not always rain!
The short version…it rained and rained and then it rained some more! Oh and it was windy too!
I can’t say enough great things about all those volunteers and spectators out there in the rain all day. WOW…thank you!
The long version
Looking back I am not sure why but for some odd reason I got the idea I wanted to do one more full Ironman. I picked IMMT because I love the venue and I think they do a great job with the half.
We stayed at Auberge Mountain View between Saint-Jovite and the village. It’s our default spot if we are not in a condo. Supper friendly and they do the little things like leaving us a snack for race morning because they know we will miss breakfast. They also have lots of wildlife
It’s always full of athletes and Andreas tracks the progress of the regulars on race day. It’s pretty social because breakfast is included and you only get internet in common areas. I had a nice chat with Paul Mathews who placed 4th and was staying there. I also met a guy who was looking for a bathroom scale. He wanted to weigh his bike with him and all his gear front and back because a friend had sent him a chart telling how to determine the perfect tire pressure based on exact weight and tire size. I don’t think he found one and I sure hope his pump is more accurate than mine is!
We did not buy anything at the Ironman tent:
But we did think one of these could be fun!
By Saturday the weather was looking pretty bad. Rain and wind. I can survive the heat but I don’t do well in the cold and wet so I was pretty concerned. I actually packed a raincoat in a running belt so I could carry it on the bike just in case. I did not want to have to wait until special needs to get it and they told us pre-race that they were going to throw the special needs bags out. Good to know for next time but with the forecast I brought expensive rain gear not throw away clothes. I also forgot my special needs bags in the hotel room Sunday morning…I never actually use the stuff in them anyway so I did not go back.
Race morning was windy. The plus side is that it blew the fog off the lake so they did not have to cancel or shorten the swim. The minus side was that we all knew if it was windy in the village it was going to be really windy on the 117. They were telling people to pump their tires to 90 or 95 for better traction but I had already put in 105 and I left it.
IMMT put on a great show as always. I don’t know how they do it every year but once again a fighter jet did a fly by at the start. It was perfectly timed to the end of the national anthem and no matter how many times I have seen that it is really cool!
It was a wave start but the waves were big! 2480 swimmers started the race and after the pro starts there were seven waves three minutes apart. I was in the last wave (the old lady start) which included all women 40 and over. There were approximately 400 women registered in those age groups. I am a fairly strong swimmer so I started at the front of the wave and I got out of the wave relatively undamaged but it did not take very long for us to swim into the back of the wave in front of us. I am too tired to do the math but when I got into the water there were probably 2100 swimmers in front of me. I had the 326th fastest swim time of the day so even given the time between the waves I swam over (sorry!) around and through over 1000 swimmers. It was like a washing machine all the way from start to finish. It was the roughest swim I have ever had. Worse than a mass start because at least in a mass start you get clobbered for the first 500-1000m but then everyone is more or less where they should be. I was still trying to get a clear path 100m from the finish line and I have the bruises to prove it. I never thought I would say this but it’s time for a rolling start. As an added bonus the wind made the middle of the lake really choppy. I did not have an issue but I heard other people complaining about getting seasick. The start has since been changed to a rolling start
When I got into T1 it was not raining. I took my raincoat anyway. About 20 minutes later the rain started and it did not stop until I hit the last 10K of the run. Going out on the 117 was not too bad. The wind was at our backs and the rain was not too heavy at first. I stopped just after the turn around and put my rain coat on. We had a head wind all the way back into town and the roads were getting wetter and wetter. I heard a couple of ambulances and I knew they were probably picking up cyclists. There was an ambulance at the turn off for Duplessis and on my first decent of Duplessis I passed a big pile of bikes and cyclists on the other side of the road. Everyone appeared to be moving but my heart just sank. Seeing them all over the road really took the wind out of my sails. There was another single cyclist being picked up from the middle of the road at the next aid station as well. I was riding on GP4000’s and I was not having any traction issues but I was concerned about my ability to avoid someone if they fell in front of me in the pouring rain. Crashing was definitely not part of my game plan.
On the lighter side I was amazed to see how much stuff some people were carrying on their bikes. I saw a guy with a front hydration system, two bottles on his frame, two on the back of his seat post and three in his bike jersey! Harold was working in the T-zone where the announcer found a bike with 16 gels taped to the top tube! I can’t use gels so I eat granola bars on the bike. I have a hard plastic bento box on the top tube of my Trek Speed Concept. I put a couple of granola bars in there and took the wrappers off so I could eat them along the way. Unfortunately, when I went to eat them the rain had turned them into complete mush! Harold picked up my bike after the race and was quite puzzled. His comment was “I know you eat oatmeal before the race but were you eating oatmeal on the bike?” It really did look like a bowl of oatmeal if only I had a spoon!
The second loop was much like the first except it was windier and wetter with bigger puddles. I was amazed to see spectators still out there in the rain cheering away! The bike course was also crowed from start to finish. There was some drafting going on but to the race’s credit every time I passed a penalty tent there were people in it. On my final decent of Duplessis there were Ironman officials (I think it may even have been the race director) out in the middle of the road asking us to slow down. My bike split was not what I had been looking for but given the cold and the wet I am Ok with it.
Another big plus for IMMT is the huge change tent with indoor storage for transition bags. I had dry socks in my T2 bag but I did not bother to put them on. I did get to run in dry shoes for 5 minutes or so! My goal for the run was to finish it without walking at all. I started the run at what I thought would be a slow enough pace. Lap one went well. Lap two was a total slog! I swear they move the km markers further apart for the second lap! I kept running one km at a time and I just kept telling myself running is faster than walking. I had borrowed a Garmin 735xt for the race. It has an advertised battery life of 14 hours with the GPS and the optical Heart Rate turned on. The low battery indicator came on with about 4 km to go. I thought that was appropriate because my battery was pretty low too! By 39 km I was having trouble standing up straight on the up hills. Someone yelled “you are looking strong” and I though liar! Thank goodness the finish is downhill so I was actually able to stay upright when I crossed it. I don’t know how those people who do cartwheels, and jump in the air manage it. I was happy just to get across the line.
I finished in 11:39 and Marc Roy gave me a big high five just as I crossed the line which was a nice touch. I got the usual catcher treatment at the finish line. A nice young lady helped me to a chair. She even got me a chocolate milk and my dry clothes when I confessed that I not think I could actually get back up again. I was offered a trip to the med tent but I declined. I made the mistake of throwing my finishers hat and shirt into the bag with my race gear. I had to wash them before I could wear them for the first time.
I had three goals for this race. I wanted to go sub 12 hours (sub 11:30 would have been better but that’s Ok), I wanted to run the whole of the run course and I was hoping to get into the top 5 so I could get some hardware to take home. I finished 4th in my age group total time of 11:39 with a continuous run of 3:50 so no complaints and no plans to do it again.
Thanks to Colin Liggett from Ottawa Neurokinetic Therapy and Ryan Jankovich from Holistic Clinic for keeping me in one piece. To Graham Clarke from Bushtukah for keeping my bike rolling along smoothly even in the pouring rain. Thank you, Thank you Thank you to all the volunteers out there for hours in the rain and to my husband Harold for his amazing support (no I do not plan to do another one REALLY). Congratulations to all. Some great results from the Ottawa crew once again!