2014 Ironman 70.3 Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report

Preface

This is the second part of my report of the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championships, if you’d like to catch up on the first part please click here . Before I tell you about the race there were so many people that I'd like to thank, who had a big influence and impact on how I approached this race.
This is the first time for me to participate at a World Championship event, so getting here we more of a team effort. First and foremost I'd like to thank my wife, Christelle, for the way she is able to take care of our two little girls while I train and travel, it's simply amazing and admirable. She still backs me up 100%, she is my biggest supporter and I am very lucky to have her. During races I can always hear her in my head, making me push through the pain, she has literately talked me out of quitting during races, either by yelling at me during T2 or having said something previously that stuck in my head and made me push through the pain. My coach, Eric Kenny, he has made me such a better athlete all around. When I first started training with him 18 months ago, I could barely run 8:30 min/mile for 5 miles. That was basically my threshold, it hasn’t been that long but now I’m able to hold 7:15 min/mile for a half marathon after swimming and biking. He really understands my dynamic schedule and adjusts it to fit my life with family and travel. There are so many things that he's said to me that have stuck in my head, these things come back during the race and they really help. If you are thinking about getting a coach, Marty, one f my team mates has written a great piece about coaching all around. It might help you make a decision whether to get a coach or not, click here to read. Triathlon is an individual sport, but training with someone else makes such a big difference, your training partner is someone that pushes you through workouts and gets the best our of you. For me that person Kenny Withrow, he is not only my training partner but also someone that really helps me believe the "impossible" things are achievable. He's had an amazing year and to top it off he qualified for Kona at the Boulder Ironman. He is very inspirational and has helped me become a better all around athlete. If I’m not training with him, the rest of Eric’s athletes have helped me a lot also, Ken, Russell, Audra, Liz, Marty, Susan & Gene.
Then there are two athletes I don't see often but have had a big influence on me; the first one Kyle Hummel, I met Kyle in Panama for the Ironman 70.3, he won our age group. The first time I talked to him we were in the water waiting for the start, I said hi and wished him good luck, the next time I saw him, he was passing me in the first mile of the bike, he is an excellent cyclist and has become a great triathlete. We've kept in touch and saw each other through out the year. Unfortunately for him in the middle of the season he had lung surgery and was in and out of the hospital for, what it seemed, a long time. He had a full recovery and actually won our age group again at Worlds. He has such an unbelievable story, he is very inspirational to me.
Last but not least, Jared Woodford, he is a professional triathlete, but not like every other pro. He has a full time job, and not a desk job, he is an airline pilot. Which means his schedule changes more than mine. He is still so fast, we haven’t spent much time together but before every big race we talk through my plan and after the race we talk about what went right and wrong. We started doing this after the 2012 Louisville Ironman. He has so much knowledge and shows me that it is possible to be that good and still have a full time job. I'd like to thank all of you, in one way or another you've had a big influence in me, you have made this sport so much fun and have made me believe...

Race Report

Woke up on my own at 4am. I hadn't set my alarm until 5:30am since the start of the race wasn't until 8am. Even though I hadn't had any problems going to sleep, I guess my body was ready to race and I just woke up. Christelle was still asleep, so I got up made myself some breakfast and checked that I had everything in my back pack again:
- Chip
- Swim cap (which I received at bike check-in)
- Goggles
- Wetsuit
- Trisuit
- Pump
- Towel to put in my T1 bag just in case
- Bike Shoes (My bike shoes didn't fit in the back pack so I set them next to the backpack)

Then I went back and looked at some of the texts and social media messages I had received, from the night before since I had gone to bed so early. It was very nice to see how many people had wished me good luck. Transition opened at 6am so by 5:45am there were a lot of athletes already walking to the village. I guess got a little nervous and grabbed my backpack thinking I had everything I needed and headed out with Chris. Halfway to transition I remembered that all of my nutrition was still in the refrigerator at the hotel, so Christelle ran back to get my two water bottles I had forgotten. I kept thinking of other things I could have forgotten, but I figured that the water bottles had been the one thing I was going to forget that day. I even took a picture of Christelle coming back so that I would remember what I had forgotten so it doesn't happen again in the future.

Once I had everything, or at least I thought I had everything, I continued with my routine, went to my bike. Pumped my tires, placed the water bottles in their cages, put my computer on the bike, calibrated it. I looked around and I felt like I was done, smiled internally and went to drop off my nutrition in the run bag, dropped my towel in the bike bag and started walking to the swim start. The walk was amazing, steam was coming out of the lake, we were surrounded by other athletes, the walk we very quiet but I could feel the excitement of everyone. This is the first race where pros were just walking among us like anyone else, usually I never see them, but this time for some reason they were everywhere.
When we got to the starting area, everyone was changing, so I started to put my wetsuit on and made sure I still had my chip on my ankle. Javier Gomez was changing about 2 meters from me also, it was so cool to see him mentally preparing and getting ready. I wished him good luck as he was leaving. After he left, I kissed Christelle and went to the warm up area, I swam about 5-10 minutes and when I heard that the pros were about 3 minutes out I stopped and stood next to the starting line. Next to me was Meredith Kessler just standing there, I said hi and she complemented me on my Roka wetsuit. She is sponsored by them, we wished each other good luck. As we waited for the pros to start, they started naming everyone that was there. There was a French guy standing next to me and we started a conversation about the pros and how fast they were going to swim. He mentioned that one of the French pros was a great swimmer, as he was telling me this a photographer took this picture of us. A coworker of mine, from Germany, was nice enough to share the picture with me. The original you can find here with other pictures taken by ti-mag.de.
The announcer was counting down until it got to 10 seconds, then everything got very quiet and all of a sudden the race got started, not only with the gun, but a big jet flew over at the same time. It was been the most exciting start to a triathlon that I have ever seen. I haven't been to the start in Hawaii, so I can't compare, but this one was truly amazing. Chris took a video which you can see here:

The Swim

After the pro men started, it was the the pro women's turn, then the physically challenged, two of them and then it was our turn, 30-34. I was very lucky this time around that my age group was the first wave. For our start the same thing happened with he countdown, obviously the jet didn't fly over us but at least we had fireworks, I didn't notice them when the gun went off, but then I saw them when I found the picture below.
For all of my triathlons I always have been able to sprint dive in the water and get ahead of the other swimmers. I kind of forgot that I was with elite triathletes, so I got bunched up in a group. I didn't have anybody swim over me but a couple of times as I took a breath, I also swallowed some water and had to adjust, by breathing every stroke to get back on track. For the first 500 meters I could see that our group was very big, as we kept swimming I started to feel more and more room around me, we had started to drop other swimmers. As we made the first turn I could see the first person in my age group, he was maybe 5 meters ahead, shortly after we formed a little pyramid of swimmers, as I had learned from Boulder Ironman, I shouldn't lead the swim, I save so much energy by drafting, so i stayed behind. I think we were around 9-10 in the group. When we got to the second turn I quickly looked back and I had 1 person right on my feet and then a gap. With about 400 meters to go everyone pushed harder and I felt two people bump into me as if we were all swimming in one swim lane, I swam away for 5 seconds to let them pass and then got on their feet. I think we swam at least 4-5 seconds per 100 faster that last portion. With about 50 meters to go the water got very shallow, I swam for as long as I could but it got to a point where I had to stand up for the first time, as I came out, I saw the first swimmer. He was ahead by about 15 seconds. I did a dolphin dive, got back up and started to run out.
As I ran out of the water, to my immediate left I saw wetsuit pullers, I took off the top part of my wetsuit, sat down and in one pull the wetsuit they pulled my suit off. Grabbed it, thanked them and started, what seemed to be a half mile run to T1. I got passed maybe 3 people running to the tent, they seemed like they were sprinting. I certainly wasn't in that big of a hurry as you can see from my T1 time. Went into the tent looking for my bag. Unlike other Ironman events the volunteers here were just there watching, nobody really helped guide you to your bag. They were there more to supervise you were not cheating I think. Luckily I had walked it before so I knew exactly where my bag was.

The Bike

Once I had my bag I ran to some chairs towards the exit. Sat down, put my socks on, grabbed my helmet and before I could strap it the visor came off. I decided to put the helmet aside and deal with it on my way to the bike. I then had a hard time putting the wetsuit into the T1 bag, the bag is not very big and the volunteers were just standing there with their arms crossed. I so wish I had my camera then to take a picture, it was a funny scene, about 5 of them just standing there. In other Ironman events volunteers almost dress and undress you and always help you put your gear in the bag. I guess this is Worlds and nobody should get an advantage over anyone else. When my wetsuit was finally in the bag, I tried to give it to a volunteer that was next to the bin, he shook his head and pointed to the bin. I understood that I had to physically put it in myself. I couldn't believe how strict the French Canadians were for the race. Finally I came out of the tent and on my way to my bike I struggled to get the visor on the helmet, I was not able to get it all the way in and a couple of times the visor fell again making me have to stop and go back to get it. Once I got to my bike, I took my time to put the visor on. Unracked my bike and that's when I noticed the biggest mistake I have ever made in a triathlon. My shoes were not clipped on.
A thousand things went through my mind at that instant. "Wait, did I leave the shoes in the T1 bag? No it was empty when I was trying to put the wetsuit in it. Did I accidentally put my shoes in the T2 bag? No, only my running shoes are there." That's when I realized that I had left them in the room. So then I had to make a decision: "Should I run to the room barefoot and get them? No, this would put me too far behind and probably get disqualified (DQed) for leaving the area. Should I just stop and call it a day? No, this is World Championships, I'll never forgive myself. Do I go to T2 and get my running shoes? No, my chip is going to go nuts and I'll get DQed, this is just as bad as not finishing. Should I try to just ride barefoot? OK, let's do that, I'm sure I can tell Chris and I'll have my shoes in later on the bike. 10-20 miles without should should be OK." I was running through the transition area and there were so many things I was thinking that I didn't realize that I had gotten on my bike. If you don't know this is a big no no. One of the volunteers looked at me and she was just shocked I was on my bike I guess, that she didn't say anything. When I realized what I was doing I immediately stopped the bike and got off. Ran the bike to the mounting zone and started biking without my shoes, just with socks on. As I got on my bike I'm sure people thought I was crazy, because I was looking for someone familiar, someone I could tell about my shoes, but to them I probably just looked very confused. In the first mile I got passed by so many people, I was going slow debating whether I should continue or just stop.

I finally came out to the main road still looking for someone familiar, I finally heard Chris yelling very excited and then I saw her and yelled in Spanish: "I don't have my shoes!" She looked at me like I was crazy or stupid, probably both and lifted her arms in disbelief. She took a picture of me, which I posted on Instagram and then sprinted to get my shoes. This last part I didn't see or knew. I figured that she would get them and on the way back from the first out and back I would get them from her. She actually ran to the room, got my shoes and gave it to someone in bike support, gave him my number, the brand, color of my bike and kit I had on. He left immediately and she thought I would have my shoes soon. This person never found me. I was still hopeful that I would be able to get the shoes on the way back, before the second out and back. Which I rode the previous day and I knew was going to be he hilliest part of the course. http://instagram.com/conradrodas

The first 5 miles went by very quickly as I was insulting myself for being so dumb. Who forgets their shoes? At a World Championship race! Certainly someone that has never raced before...but that's not me. Once I had finished insulting myself, I started to feel a little pain in my feet, this is when Kyle passed me, he was riding fast, I still was able to recognize him and yelled at him to keep it up and kept riding strong. After another 10 miles all I could think of was getting to the turn around. I figured that if I got there the rest was going to be downhill, for the most part, except for the longest hill on the whole course. As I was getting closer to the turnaround I got to see the pros come back. They were so impressive that I almost wanted to stop and just watch them, this distracted me for another 10 minutes. During that time I saw the women pro and the lead pack of men in my age group, this gave me hope that I was very close to the turn around. I finally got to the turn around and as I was riding back I saw that there were still so many guys from my age group behind me, that made me happy. I was not last!

Kept riding until I got to the big hill and all I could do was get on the easiest gear and grind it out. So many people passed me here, but I couldn't get off my saddle, it simply hurt too much. After the hill on the way down I started to stretch my feet, took them off the pedals and pointed them backwards, this is when one other athlete noticed I didn't have any shoes on and cheered me on. After that the pain started to come back but by this time we were entering the small downtown area of Mont Tremblant, tons of people were cheering and this distracted me, so it helped. After going through town I only had 5 miles until we got to the area where I was hoping to see Christelle and get my shoes, this kept me going. Another guy passed me and said: "Dude, no shoes? Keep it up, you are doing fine." Once we got close to the transition area to head out for the other out and back I slowed down and all I did was look for Christelle, I couldn't see or hear her anywhere. I passed the whole area and people started to thin out until there was nobody left on the sides of the road. This is when I realized that I would have to finish the bike without shoes. The problem was that these last miles were the hardest because they were the hilliest. After the second big hill I was hurting pretty badly but all of a sudden I remembered something Christelle had told me the previous day, she said: "Have you seen the medals? They are awesome and I want one. So no matter what happens tomorrow, even if you have to crawl you have to finish!" This helped me get through the last couple of big hills. Finally I got to the turnaround and for the first time I felt like I could finish but as soon as I thought that, new thoughts started to creep into my head: Will I be able to run a half marathon with this pain? Do I have blisters? Since I've probably been using different muscles, am I going to cramp? This kept me entretained as I counted down the hills. Finally I had gone over the last hill and I started stretching out my feet again. When I got to T2 it felt weird not to have to take my shoes off and as I handed my bike to the volunteer, he asked: "No shoes?" I said "Nope" half smiled and kept running to get my bag. Again none of the volunteers helped, they just stood around to make sure you didn't grab someone else's bag. Went to the furthest chair, sat down grabbed my running shoes, put them on, put on my sunglasses, number, struggled to get my helmet in the bag again, took a big breath and started running. The first mile was the hardest as I could feel the bottom of my feet in every single step.

The Run

After that first mile my feet went numb and then I started to be able to run. The course was more challenging that I had expected by looking at the elevation map, but there were so many people throughout the course that the half marathon didn't really feel long. I got to see the pros flying, going the other direction and also Kyle, he was leading the amateurs. Seeing him doing so well, made me put my mistake into perspective and it helped me to push a little harder. Once I got back into town I had to go up a this little hill, that's about 24% grade. The nice thing is that there were so many people cheering at that particular spot that it made the hill feel easier, at least the first time around it did. After going up the hill I felt a little pinch in my lateral hamstring, I think I needed more electrolytes because as soon as I took some, about 5 minutes later the pinch went away. The run was uneventful, it just felt great all around. I was really happy that it seemed that my feet were going to hold up. Once I went up the hill for the second time I knew that I had less than 1KM to finish and it was all downhill. Finally I took a left into the finishing shoot, there were so many people cheering and I was so excited, lifted my arms as I crossed the finish line and felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

So how bad were my feet after the race? Surprisingly they were not too bad, just bruised and very sore. I am the type of person that really never bruises, so for me to have those marks it means that they had to go through a lot of pressure.

I am not happy with my mistake, but I'm very happy that I was able to finish. It was a great learning experience, being around all these excellent athletes. I can't wait to go back to another World Championship. Thank you for reading.

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