Monday, June 25, 2012

Ironman Mont Tremblant 70.3 Race Report

This race is epic,

There, I used the "E" word.

But I can't honestly think of a better word to describe the experience of this race. The resort is top notch. The 1500 volunteers to 2100 racers is top notch. It is as if the race organization is doing EVERYTHING for you over the weekend, minus doing the physical part of the race for you.

So, what I am getting at, is that I HIGHLY recommend this race!! They have poutine for Christ's sake! I am giving this race an A+++++ for the organization and just shear confidence you have in everything they do. It is as if they have been running this race for 20 years. Nope, they have been doing this race for exactly 1 day.

This race was my 8th 70.3. I love the distance, and it sometimes loves me back. Today was no exception, other than the end of the run. But what a bike and course!! OH MY!!! I have a new "top favorite" bike course now.

The Nitty Gritties:
Total Time: 4:54:42
Overall Placing: 171/2068 (top 8.26%!!!)
Age Group Placing: 25/136 (top 18.3 %)
New PR by:  5 mins, 8 secs
Satisfaction level. EXCELLENT!

Pre race:
I stayed in the resort. If I threw a rock hard enough, I might be able to hit transition with it. So no drive to the race site = sleeping in till 5! Even with that, I was standing in transition staring at my bike thinking, "Uuuuuuuhhhhh, this is weird I have nothing to do!"

And it was cold. 47 degrees out, and it was a good 10 min walk to the swim start. So I put on my wetsuit up to my waist and wore my long sleeve shirt and hoofed it over. Even on the beach, the sand was freezing cold. The water temp was in the low 70's, so it was one of those cases where just standing in the water warmed you.

While warming up, waiting for the race to start, they play the Canadian and American national anthems, and suddenly they say, "look up!" We see this:

The "Snowbirds"
 And we saw it 3 times!!!! How can any race possible top this off?!?! Basically the race director sent a message to all other races in the northeast area: WE HAVE THE BEST RACE IN TOWN. WATCH OUT!!!

Placid might need the Blue Angels.....just saying...

The Swim: 32:04
This is my fourth tri of the year, and I usually only do 4 a year, and the fact that it is only the end of June shows that I have done three of them this month alone, so I have gotten pretty used to the swim start, and it showed today. 32 mins?!?!?

My sister and I
The thing about this lake is this: It is shallow, warm, and super duper crystal clear. It is SO easy to draft off people in this race, which is exactly what I did till about halfway through the swim when my leader faded and I took off. I apologize to the wave ahead of me! I didn't mean to trounce some of you!

Courtesy of Tremblant
The course is cool. You can't see the swim finish, because its on the other side of this peninsula, which you swim around. It was well marked, and the only time the sun is in your eyes is if you are breathing to your right on the outstretch and when you swim the cross stretch. But still, wasn't bad at all!

This was a new 1.2 mile swim PR by about 90+ seconds. I was off to a good start! And I didn't even realize it at the time.

T1: 4:13
Unfortunately it is a loooooooooong run from the swim exit to transition, hence the long T1 time. Maybe as long as Placid? Felt more like NYC Olympic. It woke my legs up! I got my suit peeled, then carried it as I ran. As I was starting my run, I saw my sister, asked her what my time was or what time it was, she didn't know, but another spectator yelled out "7:41!" and I started at 7:10, so I figured I put up a low 30's.

They have VERY soft carpet for the bulk of this transition run, thank god!

In transition itself, I made sure to be calm and relaxed and it worked. Everything went on flawlessly, and I didn't even lose my balance. I redeemed myself after the last race!

The Bike: 2:28:59
Like that time? Can you explain how I did it? In May I did 2:39 at MonticelloMan. 10 mins faster on a hillier course in 6 weeks? YES PLEASE!!!

Other than biking the Lac Superior out and back, and driving the rest of the course (minus into town) on Saturday, it was a new to me course. I felt like I killed this course, and then some!!!!

I also hit the lap button every chance I could get for recon, not only for myself for August, but also for you guys! Aren't I nice. This is how I broke the course up, and it went by quickly.

Bike Elevation: 2664 feet
Bike Out > Start of 117 (Monte Ryan) - 6.11 miles, 16:20, 22. 5mph avg, 241 watts avg
With a 272 elevation gain to 315 foot loss, this was a net downhill, and great way to start out the bike. There are still some ups that will slow you down, but you can cruise this first section quickly and with ease. The turn to get onto 117 was funny: We rode through the parking lot of McDonald's and a Tim Horton's! What an aid station that could have been!!

Out section of 117 - 12.04 miles, 31:31, 22.9 mph avg, 235 watts avg
As soon as you get onto 117, you start climbing, and slowly. Its one of many of those long slow gradual climbs where you get consistent and hold it. Nothing too bad, just a bit of a grind. After two or three of these LARGE rollers, you bomb down "The Hill", as I call it. Hit 40mph on the way down just coasting. Wished I had a standard crank to power a bit more and not spin out as fast, but whatever, I took the break in peddling.

Then you hit the flats of 117!. There was NO wind and I got consistent and held it.

Back section of 117 - 12.10 miles. 32:28, 22/4 mph avg, 235 watts avg
I was convinced that I was going to have a headwind after turning. Nope! ZERO wind that day, which is strange because it is SO wide open out there! Prolly just good luck for the day?

Now this section in the half is ok to burn up, but in August? TAKE THIS WHOLE ROUTE 117 SECTION EASY!!! I can already see it now. People will be FLYING on this out and back, hammering back up "The Hill" (I big ringed it for this race, but will be small ringing it in August) not realizing they are mortally wounding themselves. By the time they hit this hill on lap #2, its gonna be a death march with another 50K of biking to go, not to mention a marathon to run.

"The Hill" I think is the biggest tactical hill of the entire course. This hill will either ruin your day, or just sorta slow you down. Take your pick! I say be be conservative on this hill on both loops. I think this hill is way harder than the stair steppers on the Lac Superior out and back because with those, there are breaks in between. This is literally 1.5 miles, while not long, of a gradual grind that is at "that right annoying" pitch.

So I can already forsee GIANT draft packs in August on 117. There just won't be enough time and elevation to break everyone up. Because I was at the front of the pack on the bike, we were stretched thin and it was never an issue. When the masses were going in the opposite direction, there was a LOT of congestion. I am sure nobody was blatantly drafting, its just that through shear physics, people are going to bunch up, especially for all swimmers in the 1:05-1:15 range. Nothing can be done about it. Just watch out for the race officials!

Out and back of Mont Tremblant Village- 4.62 miles, 12:12, 22.8 mph avg, 235 watts avg
I never previewed this section, and just figured it was flat. Nope! It is uphill through town! With a tiny climb that will you get out of the saddle by the turn. Fortunately you zoom back downhill through town. It was an alright section. It had the worst pavement of the entire course, and there was some fan support, but nothing like at the resort.

Monte Ryan back to Resort - 5.66 miles, 15:58, 21.3 mph avg, 231 watts avg
Overall net uphill, but there are still some downhill sections. Funny that I averaged lower watts going UP this section than down it. Guess I was pushing it a bit hard on way out. Oops! I was exited! Haha!

Out section to Lac Superior - 6.88 miles, 21:26, 19.3 mph avg, 241 watts avg
Looking at my speed, this was by far the slowest portion of the course, and on paper the hilliest. I agree with that, but the hills aren't bad! You get LOTS of breaks between each little up. Nothing is too long, but that one section is just steep enough to warrant small ringing it. I am glad I did. And! I am glad I biked this section. There are still some fast downs on this section too, and by far the most fun of the entire course

Back to transition - 7.02 miles, 18:49, 22.4 mph avg, 213 watts avg
Obviously the lowest wattage section because of the net downhill. You can stay in aero the entire time on the downhills. There aren't any twisty turns that will send you flying. I actually passed two pros on this section! But I think they were having a bad day because they weren't really working it, so I don't really count it as "Yeah, I burned some pros, I am awesome."....haha! Hope they were able to finish and rest up.

Then you come into transition. PLENTY of space to get out of your shoes on the bike and do a flying dismount.

This is now my favorite bike course! Flat, no wind (hopefully this will be the case in August), scenic, and did I say FAST? This course is WAY easier than Lake Placid! It actually reminds me of Timberman in a lot of ways. Climbing plus the fast and flat out and back section. Even the lake swim was similar to Timberman.

I basically have a new FTP in the range of 274 - 290 watts. Helllooooooo!!!!

(Click here for Garmin Bike file)

T2: 1:47
Just a normal T2. Nothing special happened other than entering it in 12th place in my age group! YEAH!!!

I don't need ground to run.

View from most of my competition. Ha! Until that run....

The Run: 1:47:39
Weeelllll, there always needs to be one bad part of a race, and this leg was it. In fact, I was doing pretty well until the halfway point when things started to deteriorate, and deteriorate, until the very end where I just wanted to stop. Here are my splits so you can see why:
Mile 1: 7:31
Mile 2: 7:53
Mile 3: 7:41
Mile 4: 7:41
Mile 5: 7:48
Mile 6: 7:55
Mile 7: 7:47
Mile 8: 8:11 (things died here)
Mile 9: 8:27
Mile 10: 8:26
Mile 11: 8:43
Mile 12: 9:03
Mile 13: 9:47 (ouch!!!!)

And HR graph to also see why:
You can see where I was falling off....
I finished the swim in 26th, finished the bike in 12th, finished the run in 25th. Haha!

Sooooooo, this is a classic case of not eating enough. I should have taken a Gu at the start of the run, and every 45 mins. I only took two small swigs of my leftover EFS on the run, and that was at 45 mins and with 2K left to go. NOT enough. I was drinking liquids, just no food. It wasn't a "couldn't stomach it" issue, it was a "I feel fine issue" and then WHAM! Game over. Damage was already done. Ooops!!

So for the run itself, the course is a gigantic out and back, with one mini out and back along the way:

I would say you can break it up into 4 parts: Transition to the gravel path. The gravel path out. The gravel path back. Back to Transition.

From transition out to the gravel path is 5K. Simple. But! Its mostly uphill. Those ups are at that stubborn pitch that.just.hurts. But your legs are fresh(er) and its not so terrible, just stick with it.

The gravel path section is physically the easiest, but mentally the hardest. It is flat, but half unshaded, half shaded, but DEAD QUIET. Other than other runners (nobody is talking) there is nothing out there and the path is straight as an arrow. I liken it to "The Labyrinth" at the beginning when she is traveling through the brick sided alley where there is no end in sight and the catepillar asks her in for Tea, but otherwise gives her a way out. Unfortunately there is NO way out, other than to keep running.

Run Elevation. 933 feet
Once off the gravel path, I was ready to be done. I was falling apart rapidly at this point and not moving fast downhills because my legs were so shot from not eating enough. I was really disappointed in myself for making this critical mistake. I even had two Gu's on me which would have TOTALLY helped me along. I just wasn't comprehending the situation! GAAAHHHH!!!! Oh well, glad it happened here rather than in August (as long as I don't make the mistake again!)

Genine saw me somewhere near the finish. I was in such Zombie mode that I couldn't believe she spotted me!

(Click here for Garmin Run file)

The Finish: 4:54:42
You run through the bottom half of the resort through a gated alley. It was sooooo cool! Spectators going nuts cheering you on! Unfortunately I was so dead and wanting to die that I just couldn't smile. I was at zero energy and still facing. Good thing it is all downhill!!!

After crossing the finish (and wanting to retire from the sport) the medical dude grabbed right onto me and was like, "Are you alright?" because I was walking funny. I responded with, "I am just REALLY hungry, and I need to eat some poutine." He said, "Eh, you are fine. Go eat!"

I was soooooo hungry! My sister was right there (she snapped all of the AWESOME pictures above!) and we went straight to Smokie's and got the traditional and soda. My first soda in a loooooong time too.

OMG Poutine is the literally the BEST post race food ever. Loaded with salt, more salt, fat, carbs, and cheese curds and gravy all smothered together. I felt like a brand new person after finishing!!

After eating, I sat down for a bit, then headed back to the finish to see in Matt and his wife, Genine. Both had a great day as well!!! The first words out of Genine's mouth where: "Matt, we ARE coming back for this race next year!"


That night we all celebrated over amazing sushi, beer, and ice cream. Perfect post race!

OMG Our legs were SO sore!!!
Final thoughts:
I have now shaved an hour off of my 70.3 time in just under three years. I like improvements like this! I love the distance, as I have done this distance the most out of any other distance in the sport. I will continue with more and more 70.3's in the future for sure, and even have thoughts about repeating this race again. That bike course is SO awesome that it is addicting. Not to mention the post race poutine ;)

For those of you racing in August, I hope this aids you in your final 8 weeks of training. And for those of you considering doing the 70.3 or 140.6, you can't go wrong doing this race! Beautiful venue in a small village with every kind of restaurant with shopping non tri-related things to do.

Shoot me any quesitons you have via a comment or email.


  1. Well freaking done Jon! That's a helluva PR and you bagged that even with a rough run leg. Your progress in the sport and this distance is truly inspiring. Congrats!

  2. 8.26%? Round the down... top 8% bitches!

    Love, love, love how close to transition the hotel is. Looking forward to that on race day.

    PS: Seeing "Satisfaction level. EXCELLENT!" requires a giant TWSS! after the Nitty Gritties.

    Better brush up on my "O Canada!"

    We had a fly over at IMWI, that is bad ass.

    Way to rock the swim!!! Better check you for gills (or a snorkel).

    Alright... bike course...

    What gearing did you end up having? Compact w/ 12-25? Do you think the same gearing will be good for the full?

    Holy FTP!!!! Your power/weight ratio must have skyrocketed! I think you need to provide a blood sample.

    The 70.3 distance is fun isn't it? Long enough to take endurance, but you can still race it hard almost the whole way through. Love that about it.

    This post has been bookmarked, so if you see a visit from GR, MI, once a day between now and August, don't worry, it's just me.

    1. Yes, a compact + 12 x 25.

      I should lose 10 pounds in the next 8 weeks. Gotta pad that W/KG ratio!!

  3. Awesome job man!!!

    Way to recon for everyone haha. You crushed the bike split, that is amazing you held those paces w/ the climbs!

    Yeah, I still haven't figured out eating on the bike to properly fuel me for the run yet. Work in progress haha.

    Keep up the great work, Poutine is on my list of MUST HAVES!

  4. Your bike split was INSANE! I saw the first split before I got in the water and couldn't believe you were holding 37 km/hr... nevermind that I don't know how fast that is in real measurements :)

    Congrats on the PR. I can't wait for IMMT in August!!!!

    1. "real measurements" - Yep. I spent all morning on Google doing searches like "37kph in mph". And the he started the run. WTF is a 4:54/km?? Ended up using to get some real data.

  5. Way to go, Jon! That course looks like an incredible one, and you made it look so easy. With a little better nutrition, you would have killed it, but I guess you've got to leave something for August! Great job! Enjoy the rest and recovery.

  6. So glad that the stars aligned for you this weekend! And I'm so glad you're as big a fan of poutine as I am! Way to go, Jon!

  7. Great job buddy!

    You just smashed the bike. Just how good are the road conditions?
    Based on those pics, you are looking lean, W/Kg around 4.0-4.2?

    Dude, your recon is going to be invaluable, thank you, and thanks for hitting that lap button for us!

    Congrats on the smoking fast PR!

  8. Fantastic race!! You are going to have an amazing race up there in August! Congrats!!!

  9. way to sandbag the end of that run for some extra buffer time to PR next half.

    nice race!
    awesome all the way around - congrats on ANOTHER PR
    and that venue sounds unreal


  10. Congrats on a really fantastic performance! You did extremely well and can just go even better from here.

  11. This race looks so nice. I am thinking about it for next year.

    Awesome job on your PR!!

  12. Great job brother.

    As I mentioned Kevin and I were emailing all morning tracking you. Thank goodness he can Google with the quickness to calculate km/Hr....WTF is that about? Don't they know we need MPH and /mi splits?

    Seriously dude it is amazing to see how fast you are getting and in such a short period of time too.

  13. Awesome job! Sounds like the race is seriously the best race I've ever heard of. Jets flying over the competitors? No race out there has that. Sounds like whatever the entry fee was, it was worth it.

    Sounds like the swim and bike went awesome, and with a few more calories on the run that would have gone perfect too. Great job.

  14. Thanks for the details. I'M SO EXCITED. Congrats on an awesome race, it must be a huge confidence boost before the full.

  15. Hey. Great report!

    I've been training on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (Virgina) for the full IM in August.

    I've read you've biking Skyline do the hills there compare to Mont Tremblant?

    1. Skyline is WAY harder!!! WAY WAY WAY harder!

  16. Congrats on gutting it out at the end. Looks like a great time!

  17. Such a great race report and a awesome job.

    1 hour progress in such a short period of time really shows what dedication and hard work can do. Congrats man!

  18. I think you just made a lot of people very very happy with this race report. Yes, they are thrilled for you, but I think your recon is making them think that they won't die! :) Good man, Jon!

    As for your race - dude, you CRUSHED it! I don't know what speedy enhancer you are drinking, but I need some of it! Amazing what you have been able to do in three years!!!

    Congrats! Can't wait to see what August brings!

  19. Congrats on the strong race and new PR! Watch out IMMT!

  20. sounds like a solid race! maybe they need a poutine station early in the run portion. and the run wasn't all downhill, you had to run up that ramp remember!

  21. holy crap, nice swim! what happened to you there?! congrats on an (epic, ugh) race!


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