My first 140.6 ♥
She believed she could, so she did. She trained and raced with a grateful heart.
Photo Credit Ken B. on Bike 90 miles to be with me – 8/19/18
Every time I think “I am an Ironman” I smile from ear to ear. Sometimes, I even say it out loud! Becoming an Ironman was a huge goal for me. To have met that goal and had such an amazing experience still feels a little surreal. As I posted right after the race, I’m so grateful for the ability to do this, and the wonderful people that helped me get there. The entire experience at Mont Tremblant was the best. Wendy, Lisa, Tara and Angie were right – it makes CDA look like a BuDu race – don’t get me wrong, I love my local BuDu races and other races I have done, but this was a completely different level of a race experience!
Even before the race, there was so much awesome I just have to mention it. Check in at Ironman village in the Tremblant pedestrian village was smooth and filled with music, and fun. The Cabriolet rides were a a great way to see it all and stay off your feet! We were lucky enough to see a showing of the movie We Are Triathletes at Diane’s hotel, where Meredith Kessler got up and spoke with her new baby Mack, and we participated in a wedding! Friday the Ironkids and family 5k was so well done, Katie had a great run and got to cross the Ironman finish line. Ken got to run most of it with her for the fun of it while Diane and I cheered them on. Our pre-race banquet and briefing for athletes and VIPs was very nice, in a giant white tent with fish, chicken, potatoes, veggies, pasta and dessert. Live music and videos before Mike Reilly was the MC for the athlete meeting with his French Canadian counterpart! My family had VIP so they dined on china and had wine with dinner (as well as salmon and brie) – athletes were paper plates and plastic water cups, but Diane and I snuck in at their table. This was the beginning of hearing everything in French, then English 😉
The Swim – Fog, fog, fog
Race morning began at the usual 3:30am. I woke up excited and still just a tad nervous about all the bags! Transition has never been my strong suit, but I think in the last year I’ve finally gotten in down. But to go from having all of your stuff in one bag at transition to dividing it into 5 bags (2 of which you never get the unused contents of back), was a mental challenge for me. Luckily Diane has the patience of a saint and helped me pack them as well as drop them off. I was so grateful for a special note from my mom in the morning and my step-dad who was up at 4:00 ready to walk down the hill with me to transition. He was excited to be there and it made my morning even more special. We met Diane and made the long walk to to the swim start in the dark. After getting in our wetsuits and saying good-bye, my step-dad headed to the VIP breakfast and we went to the swim start area where it became official – SOS gel, salt pill and a hot shot to start nutrition for the race.
The lake is beautiful, but on race morning it was a fog bank. We did our warm up and then waited. Diane and I hugged good-bye to go to our pace groups, and then we waited. And waited. I was worried they would cancel the swim like they did at Santa Rosa 70.3. You could not see any of the buoys, not even the first one. Anyone who knows me knows this is my least favorite part of triathlon, but after all the long swims and other training, I did not want to be there and not be able to do my full Ironman!
Finally the fog lifted and the Canadian Navy flew over, fireworks went off and the pros (who weren’t allowed wetsuits) started – ONE HOUR LATER! By now, my wetsuit was dry as ever. Silver lining – lots of time to meet the people in my pace group, who were awesome to pass the time with – Kat (also a first timer) and Dan from Michigan. Another sweet man who was a first timer, and happened to have race directed the first triathlon in Canada in the 80s. At 7:45, our AG swim began and I (adult onset swimmer) was so ready to swim. However, the fog was back with a vengeance. It was as bad as it was earlier, with little to no visibility to the next buoy. No surprise, a bunch of us swam and then whoa – where are we? So a diagonal swim back in began. More than once, with sighting every 5 breaths, this happened again. One knock to the jaw, one push at the goggles, and many people on my timing chip (thank you again Diane for the safety pin tip!) and in my friend Joy’s words, I just kept swimming. I’m still surprised how calm I was, and how relaxed I swam, without panic. I’m confident that all of my long swims and Joy and Debbie’s words made this possible. Swim mantra – swimming is transportation to the bike! That’s an Alissa’ism 😉
Finally at the turn around the fog lifted – I’ve never been so happy to see buoys! Each breath after that was spent enjoying the sunlight, the water and the trees. When I got out and climbed up the stairs to the bridge, I was shocked and thrilled with my time of 1:16. With all the mishaps, slower training swims and what ended up being an extra 130 yds, I couldn’t help but smile – sweet! A little jog on the new bridge to the wetsuit strippers – So. Much. Fun. I think all 70.3 Ironman events should have them too. Running to transition I saw Ken in the VIP section cheering for me and that was another smile inducing moment. Into the giant white tent I went, in search of my bike bag!
T1 – Beginning of the Bags
T1 was a tad longer than I’d hoped but I’m cutting myself some slack as a first timer! I put on my RTB shirt and bike gear, all of us in there wished each other luck, had another hot shot, I handed a Starbucks card to the volunteer who helped me (another great tip from Diane, one in each bag) and off I ran through cheering crowds to Sassy Slice. Sassy and I got to spend some time together at the rack as I had to turn my Bolt on and acquiring GPS was not speedy. Rookie move? I debated for many minutes in the morning if I should turn it on and leave it, but with the early departure to the swim and then as it turned out an hour delay, a few minutes was worth it instead of risking a low battery when I got there 3 plus hours later.
The Bike – 5,335 ft (according to my gadgets)
Biking out of transition was so fun! The crowds cheering lining transition and the road out were amazing cheering in French and English. It was a nice easy start, comfortably cruising. Sunshine, everything. Just smiling, I’m on my bike – I survived the swim, woo hoo! Grateful my bike is working despite the Di2 wire drama and rebuilding of it 2 days before the race – all is good. Happy Sassy Slice, happy Lisa!
I worked really hard on my bike this year to increase my FTP and get stronger and happily I did just that. Riding per my race plan at an IF of .69 took restraint to be sure. I love rolling courses with long gradual climbs and descents. The first out and back of the course is like that, partially on closed highway roads, smooth as can be. I felt strong and reminded myself of two things: bike the bike I should (Alissa’ism), have my nutrition no matter what (Katie T). Officials not only on motorcycles but on road bikes. They rode up behind you like any other cyclist and I saw a few citations handed out. They were especially diligent in the downhill no passing zones and I appreciated that very much. I saw lots of people who had flats or mechanicals and I did see a crash or two. Each time I thought I’m sorry and I thanked Sassy for working so well. I’ve been that person before and it is not something I like to see. The last part of the loop is a 6 mile out and back on Chemin Duplessis. Luckily, I rode this in Trainer Road so I knew there were some 8% grades and several other hills. I’m happy I trained for it, because it wasn’t easy. On the way out the up felt a bit relentless, but it was doable.
Special needs was quite a stop for me, but the only one. Bag #2! Refill my Infinit bottles, time to pee and grab extra bloks, a salt pill and off I went. It was warm, so I was going through my Infinit and grabbing water at aid stations, drinking as much as I could. On lap 2, Chemin Duplessis was again a bit of a challenge, but I knew what to expect. I saw people walking their bikes, and I thought ok I’ve got this, just power through. Again, happy for the training! The way back out felt quicker and was more fun on the downhills than lap 1. That no passing zone on some twisty turns once again I was thankful for and I was sure to get where I could go my speed without feeling like I needed to pass. In my last few miles on that road before transition, unfortunately I heard skidding and what sounded like several bikes crashing behind me. It took my breath away, I felt so sad and hoped everyone was ok. I was grateful to be upright and about to be running. Happy with my time, right on plan at 6:23.
Things I loved on the bike – my shadow in the sun, the skinny poplar trees, riding along the river and the gorgeous mountains. Smiling often as I thought of people and thanked them. Seeing Ken B. all over the course was so fun and a reason again to smile, for both happiness and the camera! Of course I loved Sassy, my Selle Italia saddle and the pure ability to be able to do this and love every minute of it!
T2 – Another Bag…
T2 was a bit faster for me, and again running to the tent with cheering crowds, music and fanfare was so fun! New rule, no unclipping your helmet until they take your bike. That was something I repeated the last mile or two of the ride. They gave a lot of citations at the 70.3 in June… Slap on more sunscreen, SOS gel, hot shot, get my Boston visor and hand carry and I’m off. And coming out of the tent to start the run – my Mom! Cheering and calling my name, taking a video. The best.
So excited to run! Another exercise in restraint to stick to the plan. I came bounding out at my regular pace, feeling great. I told myself this is 26.2 lady, don’t mess this up! I wanted to run happy and not be dreading every step the last few miles.
Luckily the first part of the course is like Lake Youngs rollers which I love, so while I enjoyed the downhills I tried to stick to the plan. The hills were tough. Nutrition was again on my mind. I was starting to get tired of shot bloks, so early on I had a few oranges at aid stations and took some ice just to hold in my hand or put on my face. It wasn’t super hot, but quite warm with humidity. Nuun in my water hand carry was also good for a change from the Infinit on the bike. I started to think about my special needs with my GF pretzels a bit earlier than I thought I would!
The longer out and back part of the marathon was so nice, on a rails to trails converted path. Shaded by trees, along a river and many spectators – including Ken B. We got to turn around in a short tunnel so we all did a whoop whoop for the echo effect which was fun. Running through the village the first time to special needs was inspiring with all the cheering for us and the people finishing. I thought I’d have that “oh man those people are done” feeling but I didn’t. I just soaked it all up and again saw Ken B. before I had my GF pretzel stick stuffing at special needs – wish I had a video of that! The volunteer and I laughed together trying to communicate. I wanted to eat them all but knew I had to get going. More water and Nuun, cooling towel for my neck, more shot bloks and a salt pill and away I went. Half way done with the marathon, no way! Right on track with my time. I was a happy girl!
Back over the rollers to the beautiful trail. With the hour delay of the swim, my plan of finishing in daylight looked bleak. But good news, they had giant lights on the trail and it was getting cooler. Smile. My cooling towel was awesome even though it wasn’t very hot anymore. Wiping it on my salty, sweaty face was the best. About mile 19 is when things started to not go as planned. Be the hub, you are right on track she said (Julie). I was ok, but the shot blok that went in felt like it might come right back out. It didn’t, but dry heaves happened and they are also no fun. So, next I tried a banana. Nope, same thing. New plan! I knew it would slow me down with no more caffeine or calories, but water with Nuun was it for me from this point on. I was otherwise feeling good, so I stuck with it. I started thinking about Mike Reilly. I’m coming, Mike Reilly, get ready to try and pronounce my name! So excited thinking of turning left this time into the finishers chute – me, I’m going to be an Ironman! Smile.
Things I loved on the run – the river, the black squirrels crossing the trail, the waterfall sound, seeing Diane on both loops and the hugs and smiles we exchanged middle of the path, the guy with the Betty Boop tattoo on his calf, people I biked with saying hello as we passed each other, cheering in French (sounds so pretty), passing two feet from Meredith Kessler when she was in 2nd place headed to finish and being able to cheer her on, my video from family and Diane twice on the course such a wonderful boost.
The last few miles aside from being excited to hear Mike Reilly call my name, it hit me like it did at the end of Boston when I ran it last year at 50. It’s almost over! Happiness to be done but also bittersweet. Sadness that this awesome experience was going to be over soon – it was everything I’d hoped it would be. Joy and gratitude for this amazing thing I’m able to do. I get teary thinking about that emotion as I write. A little off plan, but happy with my time at 4:36.
The finish OMG, no way to properly describe it. Pure joy and happiness running through the chute, the cheering crowds and music. Such a fun setting that I can’t imagine a better finish line anywhere. Smiling from ear to ear, heart so full, heading down the chute, hearing Mike Reilly say “Lisa Blauvelt, you are an Ironman!” almost all my heart could handle…so grateful, so happy, so full. But then there was Katie reaching out to put that medal around my neck and give me the best hug ever – heaven on earth. To have her here with me in that moment, was everything – it felt a bit like time stood still. Never, ever will forget it. Within minutes, seconds? Ken, my mom and step-dad right there taking videos, photos, and hugging me. Walking arm in arm with my mom, back up the hill to the condo after the race. Complete!
Thrilled with my time, 12:30:31, and 15th/78 in my AG, who would’ve guessed? I did it! Crazy to think, best shape of my life at the age of 51.
Considering Mont Tremblant?
I highly recommend this race if you like to travel to races. Amazing venue, fabulous place to vacation and the Canadians are just special. They do it right from start to finish. Think about it!
- Lionel Sanders Mom finished in my AG 14th, a couple of minutes ahead of me. I’d call that genetics!
- 581 first timers, 500 finished.
- Youngest was an 18 year old boy, oldest a 77 year old man. Not to miss the 70 year old woman who competed – you go girl – how awesome is that?
- 92% finished. I don’t know, but it sounds high to me.
- Cody Beals who won, it was his first Ironman. An amazing IM time of 8:10, he ran the marathon in 2:49. Also an amazing humble human, who went to greet the last finishers in at 1:00am (an hour later than usual with the swim start delay). He talked about how fantastic that was at breakfast the next day – another amazing meal we got – and took photos with those finishers as well. First class.