Last week we travelled to Quebec, Canada for Ironman Mont-Tremblant – the North American Championships. Quebec was amazing and it would have to rate one of my all-time favourite places I have been to. The pristine lakes (over one million in Quebec alone!) and mountains of Mont Tremblant provide such great scenery everywhere you look. I feel lucky to have been able to race the North American Ironman Championships on the spectacular course.
We arrived on the Wednesday of race week and were staying with a local homestay family Mark and Caroline. Mark was competing too, and this would be his first Ironman. Their house was a beautiful place out in the country and only 25 minute drive to the race start. The set up they have at their place was awesome with a huge private lake right out front, an endless pool, wind trainer, gym, and nice packed gravel roads for running. Mark and Caroline were incredibly helpful and made us feel very welcome. They made us some awesome meals, Mark gave us a guided tour of the course, and they insisted that we use their new Volvo SUV to transport our bikes and that they would use our little rental car. On Monday after prizegiving they took us up to the top of the mountain for some sightseeing and we finished off an amazing week in Canada with a beautiful dinner at an Italian restaurant up the mountain with champagne to celebrate. We are lucky enough to have been provided with homestay families to stay with at both of our overseas races and both times we have met amazing people and had such an awesome time! It has made the race week experience much less stressful and a lot more fun! It was also great to be able to offer some advice and assistance to Mark on his first Ironman experience.
The course at Mont Tremblant is amazing. The lake swim is an out and back in a clean warm lake, followed by a 2-loop hilly ride (>2000m elevation gain) and finishing up with a 2 lap rolling run over a variety of terrain including a packed gravel track! It was a warm day and this Championship race had drawn a solid field of over 30 males including multiple Ironman and 70.3 champions, along with some talented locals.
My day went great, I stuck to my game plan and was happy with how it played out, I lead the 2nd group out of the water, bummer that we had already given up 5mins to the top 11 guys who flew around! It would always be a bit nicer if I didn’t have to ride entirely solo, but I knew what power I wanted to hold and did just that. The hills on the 2nd loop were a bit more challenging as all the long climbs seemed to be accompanied by a head wind! The road conditions were near perfect – would have been a different story for everyone on the bike if we had to contend with the chip seal from NZ! Off the bike and I got into my stride nicely, holding my goal pace throughout the first 25kms. The 2nd time around the hilly section in the heat made for a challenge and damaged the average pace a wee bit….. but the others were suffering more than I was and I kept pushing on. I passed a couple of guys in the last 10kms to finish up in 15th place and with another 3 guys only 5mins up the road.
I am pleased with how my race went but also disappointed that I missed the 9th place finish I would have needed to secure that Kona spot! When I look back over my season, I have had consistent results (2nd kiwi in the Kona ranking points) and am continually learning and improving over all 3 disciplines. The 15th place at the North American Champs capped off my 3 top 10’s and an 11th over the Ironman distance for the season.
The next challenge
We are back in Wisconsin now, and coincidentally the first race of the 2013/2014 season kicks off here in Madison in just over 2 weeks. So I thought why not! It will be an awesome test to see how my body handles 2 Ironman events so close together. My focus over the next 2 weeks will be on recovery, good nutrition and to get to the start line as fresh as possible. My legs seemed to have pulled up pretty good, and mentally I was already prepared for one more big race! It will also be a good opportunity to get some early Kona points for 2014 and get a race in before I ease off and build up for the season back home! It will be hard travelling to Kona and not competing but will be nice to support Larisa and return the help she has given me on this trip so far, and also to catch up and support the big Kiwi contingent taking part this year!
Thanks again to my sponsors for all their support :
Orchard Gold berries, Endura sports nutrition, Saucony, Tri’n’Run, G2 Personal training, Rocktape, Smith Optics, Timex, Compressport, Schwalbe and Sugoi.