Again, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to go top-5 or top-3 or even win the damn thing. I came close, closer than I have before. At the end of the day, I was 2nd at Ironman Mont Tremblant, the North American Championships. One of 3 regional championships, and I was 2nd behind Luke Bell, who won his 2nd Ironman of the year.
IM Mont Tremblant - Review
My 2nd place finish moved me from somewhere in the 80s on the KPR to 16th. That should secure my spot to Kona unless there is a hole in the current rankings process. The not-so-long of the race follows. It might not be an 80 second Team-Wuertele blog nor will it be a literary masterpiece like some of the Rappstar's, but it'll be the old skool written word, and I'll give some brief thoughts on the race.
Prior to this my best finish was 5th at Ironman Texas last season. I followed that up with a 6th place at Ironman Cozumel at the end of 2013. This race had, at least on paper, a better field and several athletes more than capable of winning. You race for years and you get to know the athletes, their supposed strengths and weaknesses. You hope that those outside of the athletes you race, the media etc., have paid attention to the season that you've had. Thankfully Matt Lieto and Michael Lovato had and they picked me as the 'dark horse' and '4th place finisher', respectively. Kudos for those two being a bit up on what's really going on out there.
Mont Tremblant is a stellar location for a race, whether a championship or 'regular' event. Being in Quebec, and the French region of Canada, the village has a very European feel to it. A ski resort by winter, the event has now attracted WTC to host the North American IM Champs for 2013 and the 70.3 World Champs for 2014 in their off-season. It is a village worthy of a World Championship. The lake is clear with great water. The roads are really nice. The course is challenging. If there is a demerit in regards to the course it is simply that it is a bit narrow at times on the 2nd loops of the bike and run. But, the village infrastructure for the event, hotels, etc. are all first class. I was fortunate to stay with a great group of folks that I met virtually who made their homes in Ottowa. Special shout out for the pre-race dishwasher, Doug. On to the race...
As usual, there were absences in the pro field, leaving name placards and bike racks empty. Come on guys. We lined up and were off to the sound of a cannon and air force jets flying overhead. I had a very clean start and had a clean line following the buoys and paddleboarders. I'm not sure what Luke was doing, but he was zigging and zagging to my right. I led out of the swim with a larger than expected group of 10 more behind me.
The start of the bike, as expected, was fast and furious. I had a seemingly rookie issue with the ear flaps on the Selector helmet I wore, lost some time in T1 and ended up tossing the bottom fairing of the helmet in my bike spot. I hung about 30-40 seconds behind the group, but gradually rolled up on them about 30k into the ride. About 70k into the ride, the group split and Romain, Luke, Ambrose, and Dominik headed up the rode. Once we hit the special needs area, the front 4 had nearly 3 minutes on the group of 7 that we had. Suddenly everyone seemed to just simply stop riding their bikes. For the majority of lap 2 I drove the pace holding the gap to 3 minutes for the majority of the ride with some help from Rhodsey to keep us moving forward. The other 3 in the bunch seemed content to ride like little girls. With 20k to go, we'd lost additional time, and Bert Jammer and Rhodsey pushed the last 20k harder than I wanted to, and I started the run in 8th probably 5 or so minutes off the lead.
I headed out on the run with the intent of running as evenly as possible, fueling well, and again focusing on the process as opposed to the outcome. The run course at IMMT is deceivingly difficult though there is the advantage of running almost ½ of the course of an old railway line that is a crushed rock, packed path. It saves the legs a bit and feels generally flat, but it likely very slightly downhill going out and very slightly uphill on the way back. All told, the first and last 5k of each loop are hilly.
I passed Rhodsey about 4k into the run. I would pass Dan Halksworth right around the halfway mark, and Dominik after and moved into 5th probably 15 miles into the run. I'd pass Ambrose and Romaine before the 20 mile mark of the run with Bert not too far ahead. I was in 3rd now, and for me a podium finish was a reality. Bert was not slowing much, and I bid my time and ended up making the pass into 2nd with about 5 miles to go. With 4 to go, I saw Luke and he was on the order of 4+ minutes ahead, but in the last miles anything can happen. Little did I know that Luke was cramping up ahead. I was reaching for salt, coke, anything to keep rolling and maintain 2nd.
In the end, I finished 2nd with the fastest swim of the day and the 3rd fastest run of the day with just over a 2:56 on the course. Luke maintained his lead and Bert followed up less than a minute behind to finish 3rd. Overall, I was very pleased with the day. A 'PR' of sorts, though really I don't believe in race PRs since courses are notoriously different and at time inaccurate. It feels like a very long journey to get to this point. To finally have a podium on a race outside of a popcorn triathlon in the pro field. My plan is to toe the line in Kona and try to once again put my best foot forward focusing on the process as opposed to the outcome.
Thanks to all of those who have supported us over the past few years and this year. The number really is too numerous to mention. You can take a look at our sponsors page for those local and global companies who stand by us and help us chase the dreams of being professional triathletes. Friends, family, coached athletes, and many others as well. I'd certainly be remiss if I didn't at least write a thanks to Amy as we try to be the best Team we can be. Thanks for reading.
PS. Nutritional Info for those interested:
First Endurance Pre-Race, finished 2 hours before start:
3 slices GF free bread with almond butter (~500 calories)
1 serving First Endurance Ultragen (320 calories)
1 cup of coffee
First Endurance Optygen, Multi-V, and Pre-Race (40 minutes prior)
100 calories First Endurance EFS
On-Bike nutrition (4:41 bike split):
6x200 calories First Endurance EFS (picked up 3 new bottles in special needs)
2x Bonk Breakers (440 calories total)
~0.75 bottle Powerbar Perform from on course (~130 calories)
~0.75 bottle H2O from course
2x Pre-Race at end of bike
5x Salt Stick tabs on bike
On-Run nutrition (<2:57 run split):
1x flask First Endurance liquid shot during 1st ½
11x Salt Stick tabs
Water alternating with Perform on 1st loop of run
Coke/Perform at every available station on 2nd loop of run