Its funny how things work out. When I arrived in Mont Tremblant on Thursday of race week and saw all the Ironman branding, Subaru Cars, the Expo & finish line, I felt flat with no real desire to race in an event that I knew I wouldn’t be finishing but had been training for, for 8 months. Nevertheless I decided to go to register for the race as soon as we arrived and as usual they couldn’t find my name on the registration list so I was shepherded into the back room to resolve the issue.
But first – 3 weeks prior to race day (and 11 weeks from the Hawaii Ironman World Championships) I was out for my last long 180k (112mile) ride when after 35k I crashed. I didn’t know I was crashing, I just crashed. People who have crashed bikes before sometimes know a crash is coming for a split second before it happens and then down you go. Not this time, one minute I was riding downhill quite happily, then the backwheel snapped around and I was sliding along the ground into the opposite side of the road where thankfully there was no traffic. Turns out my back wheel came out, no warning, no rattling, just came out and down I went and I knew right away as I sat on the side of the road that Tremblant was over for me.
3 weeks later at Race Registration – The folks around back had a fantastic attitude and couldn’t have been more helpful. So I took the plunge and asked if I could upgrade my registration to a Relay with my wife running the marathon due to a bike crash. Without a moments hesitation the lady said yes, absolutely. That kind of stumped me as I was expecting the usual “No”. Anyway Helena agreed, we signed the paperwork, paid the extra dollars (by the way this was the bargain of the year) and suddenly Helena was struck with the realization that she had a marathon to run in 2 days. Luckily she had run 4 miles that morning so she was all trained so we went straight into carbo loading and taper. Even better was that I had been revitalized and felt like I was back in the race again with a purpose.
Swim – a 1 hour swim delay due to fog did not help the nerves and the fog was just as bad when the race started as when they announced the delay, go figure. It was a congested start and as soon as we swam past the first buoy we were completely unsighted for the next one resulting in a wonky swim and a few nervous moments as everyone tried to figure out how to swim straight with nothing to see for the first 1.6k. It was sketchy like this to the turn but the swim back to the exit was smooth and pretty easy. I get bored quickly while swimming so I was checking out the million dollar homes nestled in the trees in the distance waiting for the next big red buoy to come along. Very happy with a 1hr 11min swim, if only I could swim straight.T1 – my inability to swim and pee at the same time (yes I know, men can’t multi-task) results in a never ending pee in T1 and a rather slow 12 minute transition but it was a no rush kind of day for us anyway.
Bike – out on the bike I felt strong and decided to hold back on the first lap and then push the pace on the 2nd lap with the aim of trying to ride below 6 hours which was a big target as a result of my bike crash 3 weeks prior to race day and the resulting hospital trips. By the time the 2nd lap came round I was starting to tire and just wanted to get off the Highway section and back onto Montee Ryan as psychologically I would be on the way back to T2 even though there was the daunting Chemin Duplessis hilly section to come. I felt as if I was riding each lap with this section looming over me and by the time we came through here for the 2nd time there were guys ahead of me walking their bikes up the hills. I’m still not sure if I was pleased to see this or if it disturbed me, I know that for a split second I though about it but just kept plodding on. After the hills we had the no passing zone on the way back to T2 and the usual idiot who thinks the no passing rules applies to everyone else but him, passing 5 of us at a time. I caught him on the next climb and we exchanged pleasantries. If Ironman are going to put this in place they should really enforce it. Back toward T2 and a slow and painful dismount, hand the bike to a volunteer and walked down to meet Helena in the Relay zone to hand off the timing chip. Once Helena was underway I was given my finishers medal, t-shirt and ball cap – very cool. Bike split was 5hrs 55min.
Run – Not many people are fortunate enough to have a wife who will sign up for a marathon on 2 days notice but Helena is a lot fitter than she gives herself credit for and I knew she would be smart enough to walk, run without hurting herself and yet she still managed an impressive 5hr 11min marathon. In between spotting Helena we moved around the course looking out for Heather Redding and John Parks at the end of their bike ride. Helena smiled all the way around (which I find rather annoying as I don’t race happy – but I am going to make a big effort to do so in Hawaii) and crossed the finish line to all the glory and hoopla of Mike Reilly shouting “Helena Millar, you are a 1/3 of an Ironman today as you ran a marathon while your husband swam and biked”. He didn’t really say that but it capped of a glorious, fun day for us at Ironman Tremblant made all the more enjoyable as my brother Keith and sister-in-law Florence were with us.
Unsuprisingly I was rather chipper the next morning and walking around quite easily. Helena on the other hand was struggling to do steps, get out of bed, squat on the toilet etc, etc, I think we have all been there.
In truth though, Helena made the weekend for me as there is no way I was finishing this race and if I had tried there would be no possibility of completing Hawaii in 8 weeks.
Congratulations to everyone who toed the line at race start. You never know what is around the corner on race day but the hard part is having the courage to register in the first place and all the sacrifices made along the way over 6 or 7 months of training. The journey of training is where all the hard work is done and just because there is a different result from the one you anticipated does not detract from the effort just to get to the start line in the first place.
Big shout out to Heather Redding for rooming with us for 6 nights and putting up with our clever sarcasm and completing her first ever Ironman in 14hrs 54min and 12 sec. It was great to have Keith & Flo with us for race weekend and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Daryl Steeves for all his coaching skills over the last 7/8 months – its so easy to just follow a program and offload all your frustrations to your coach – thanks.
Starting to prep now for Hawaii, its been 4 weeks and I have not run a step so its going to be a long day in Kona but one that I am going to enjoy. Kona has the 3 things that I like the least, a non-wetsuit swim, strong winds and heat on the run. But, whatever happens it will be once in a lifetime experience and I am going to race happy.