Mont Tremblant Race Report: Trevor Garson, 10:28, 46 minute PR!

Trevor Garson at Ironman® Mont Tremblant

Trevor Garson at Ironman® Mont Tremblant

My natural tendency is to do these things in near obsessive detail, and it’s frightening to consider that this actually my best attempt to keep it “short” (you don’t even want to see the long version!).  Anyway, without further adieu, my 2012 Mont Tremblant Race Report, also known as ‘World’s Longest Race Report: The Sequel’.

The Basics:

Trevor Garson –   Age 27 – 2nd IM

Swim:                    1:07:37    (7 minute PR)

Bike:                      5:36:44*    (8 minute PR, *includes ~24 minute flat)

Run:                       3:35:41     (29 minute PR)

Overall:                10:28:34      (46 minute PR)

Div Rank: 13        Overall Rank: 183/2542

Pre-race Nutrition:

  • No caffeine.
  • Salt-stick, salt-stick, salt-stick!
  • No top-secret magic mojo.

I have to qualify that I’ve had a endemic issue with cramping during racing over the past few years that seemingly never or extremely rarely happens in training. Prior to Tremblant, I had developed a theory that this was in response to the copious amounts of water I was drinking before/during events, much more than in training. Pre-race this meant that I was effectively drinking so much water that I was pissing away my sodium stores (doctors in the house, fact check me). For this race, I still drank a good amount of water in the build up to the event, but began supplementing with Salt-stick 2-3 days out, building the day before, and had a few the morning of.

For food, nothing crazy, did the two larger meals early thing, so had lunch before noon, ordered a second meal to go, ate it around 3. Don’t think I had any other food after that. Didn’t do the 2am smoothie thing. Morning of race, one EFS Gel flask (400 calories, lots of sodium), water, salt-sticks, some bread and PB+Nutella. Was going to eat a cliff bar but forgot.

Another big difference between this pre-race and all my others, NO pre-race caffeine. I strongly believe use of caffeine should be delayed as long as possible in long course racing (for me). Huge qualifier is I’m not a coffee drinker so I don’t absolutely have to my cup of morning Joe. Response to caffeine (again, to me) is absolutely strongest to first dose. Taking caffeine pre-race only serves to give me an absolutely unneeded jolt in the swim, an event where I’m fresh and by all means need to stay calm, smooth and steady, then a post-buzz headache on the bike. Thus starting a cycle from the very beginning of the day where I’m constantly chasing a buzz or suffering from the after effects of one. No thanks. More on this later.

Swim:

  • Tons of contact
  • Beautiful swim once out of scrum

Most contact I’ve ever had at a swim start. One of my few criticisms of the venue, the on beach start was simply too narrow. And for the love of god, if you are going to breast stroke, DO NOT START ON THE LINE. On the beach line-up, I was maybe one person from the water, and it absolutely blows my mind that I was getting kicked in the head by breast strokers and people who kick like their only form of propulsion is their legs. If you can only make it 50 feet before entering into panic mode… again… DON’T START ON THE LINE. Not saying it was unreasonable to be distressed in that environment, but the lack of consideration to other athletes was appalling.

Rant aside, I got my goggles kicked/punched off twice in the first minute or so. Tried to zig-zag towards any spot of water I could see that didn’t look like a frothy maw of violently thrashing appendages. Once things eventually started to open up, which took surprisingly long, I finally got the chance to realize what a spectacular venue it actually was for a swim. The water was near perfect temperature and very clear, visibility was awesome. I remember waving at a diver who was another 5 or so feet below filming us at the turn buoy. That, or it was someone in the last throes of drowning as they were pulled down into the cold, dark, abyss. Either way I gave him an underwater ‘Hi mom!’, and waved as I bid them well to continue filming / demising accordingly.

T1:

Felt fantastic! Historically have felt hypoxic and woozy coming out of a swim, felt really fresh and had no issues on the run-up into T1. Think this reflects a lot on my swim prep this year. My time was faster than last IM, but I also felt worlds better exiting the water. Stroke is just better than it was before, plus a lot more wetsuit open water swims in the ocean, helps prepare you for non-ideal swim conditions. Rest of T1 was pretty slow, wore socks and non-tri specific shoes, also opted for gloves (totally would wear again, worth it to have tissue for 112 miles, but need to put them on while running).

Bike:

  • Core-ish nutrition approach, very little / NO WATER, lots o’ calories and perform. Still NO CAFFIENE.
  • Aero trumps watts…. but has its consequences
  • Irony is a bitch.
  • Didn’t have to pee myself.

Bike nutrition- This is another HUGE breakthrough for me. Followed some gleaned Core guidance and did no water on the bike. Did 2 flasks of EFS gel (400 calories each) on 117, one on each loop, then ~2 bottles of perform per hour. Perform only, no water! Definitely was burping trying to keep it all down, and it was cool enough I perhaps didn’t need quite that much hydration, but I think this made a HUGE difference actually arriving to the run fueled and prepared to race.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/213882084

FTP: ~285, weight: ~155, W/kg: 4ish

Average Power:       192 W

Normalized Power:         200 W

Intensity Factor:           0.702

Training Stress Score:        245.7

Goal was around 205W, in the low 0.7 – 0.72 range. Figure true FTP was likely higher than 285 (basically didn’t have access to PM entire month before the race), but have never had a race where I thought “oh boy that marathon was too easy, should have gone harder on the bike”. So figured better safe than sorry. Came in under goal watts, lose some power on descents and coasting plus general lack of discipline in the last hour or so.

The story of my bike is one of extreme frustration. The bike is my strongest event and I was exponentially stronger this year than at IMWI. The bike started out very well, worked my way through the faster swimmers, then 2nd half of first loop got caught up in some arrogant Québécois who were blatantly drafting on HWY117 and kept leapfrogging me in a pack. I yelled at them to break it up several times, and they did not appreciate my insight into the matter. First climb up Lac Supérieur was comically absurd as my draft pack buddies went charging by in full out of the saddle attack mode. As the climbs wore on (Supérieur is like a ladder of chained short but sharp climbs), I picked nearly all of them off on each of the intermediate flats between climbs, then bid the last of them adieu as I whipped it around for loop two.
Leaving the resort and emerging onto 117 on loop 2 I was struck by one thing. Silence. I could see virtually no one ahead of me, and at various points I was actually frightened if I was on course. After a ~2:35 first loop split, I was having the race of my life and could not believe how good I felt, and how fast I seemed to be going for the watts I was putting out. Obsessive attention to detail on bike setup appeared to be paying off… then suddenly… hissssss… hissss… and I was off the side of the road. My tire had inexplicably dumped about 50psi and then held. It didn’t flat, it just dumped a bunch of air then stopped half way. I was immediately suspicious of the valve extender, but it seemed to be ok. Hit it with one CO2 cartridge, entire cartridge was expended but didn’t seem to take any air. Only had one other cartridge, couldn’t risk it if it didn’t take, so decided to change the tire. This is where my nightmare began.

My remark about irony being a bitch goes back to my love/hate relationship with tubulars. I’ve raced on tubular for the past 3 race seasons and finally switched to a pair of clincher race wheels (Flo 60’s + aerojacket, which I love), for the PRECISE reason that I was afraid that if I ever flatted on a tubular, I would not be able to change it in a race. Fast forward to me getting a flat on a clincher, that would not have occurred on my tubies (it was either pinch flat, or I think much more likely defective latex tube or valve extender). But good news is it is a clincher, so at least I can change it right?? Well, the Vittoria Corsa Evo is the most difficult tire I have ever pulled off or put on a bike in my life. It is nightmarish tight. It requires at LEAST 2 tire levers to remove, I only had one. (Story of the missing tire lever is also tragically ironic. Realized it was missing when I got to Tremblant, asked my folks to buy me a second one from expo. Shop at expo only had them for $6 CAN per lever, so they didn’t get it.  I told them “well that’s a ripoff, and that’s ok, I just won’t flat”, then we all laughed. F-ck). My one remaining tire lever then partially broke (the hook at the bottom that goes on the spoke), and I spent nearly the next 30 minutes prying the world’s toughest tire off with my fingers, cutting my hands and getting blood blisters under my fingers. Race mechanic showed up right as I had finished putting in my butyl spare. Better late than never I suppose.

The remainder of my 2nd loop is a pretty dark place. I tried to stay inside the box, but the inside of the box was scrawled with obscenities. In the 20-30 minutes I spent on the side of the road, I watched as I went from no-man’s land FOP to fairly middle of the road. I went from the land of $10,000 bikes and disc wheels to bad bike fits and people dilly-dallying. I was convinced my day was over (from a PR standpoint) and my motivations became 2-fold. First get off the damn bike so I don’t have to be reminded of the flat anymore. Second, hunt down and destroy every last person who passed me as I languished on the side of the road.

I can’t say what my precise time would have been without the flat because my bike computer paused when I was on the side of the road and I missed a chunk of the course when I got going again. By looking at all my splits, the number of miles I missed, and my average speed during that section of the course, I estimate that I lost between 24 and 26 minutes due to this flat. That would put my hypothetical bike split in the 5:10 range, which is exactly where I think it would be based off my first loop split and the rest of my loop 2 ride.

T2:

Just happy to be off the bike, still felt great, but could not focus on anything other than my mechanical as long as I was on the bike. Took the world’s longest leak in T2, had to pee so bad the last half of the bike it hurt. However, I kept telling myself, “Look, you just lost 30 minutes, what’s another 2 minutes for a bathroom break matter vs pissing yourself”. So my dignity continued its frail existence for yet another day.

Only other note, I usually wear 2 watches in IM. One with my overall time, and my Garmin for my run splits. I tossed my Timex (overall time) off in T2. I didn’t want to know the race clock, I didn’t want to spend the next ~4 hours worrying about what could have been. What’s done is done, and only thing that matters now is the run.

Run:  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/213884728

Heading out onto the run was a tremendous relief after the bike. Shoes don’t go flat, and no technicality could rob me of the hard work I had put into the race now. Furthermore, I felt absolutely fantastic, worlds better than I did at Wisconsin. Really, compared to the bike, my run was extremely uneventful. I took it very easy the first half of the run. My body wanted to run low 7’s – 7:30s, but I held myself off at 8:00 as much as I could. I drank Perform at most aid stations, I chatted with a lot of people who seemed like they were working way too hard for the first loop.

2nd loop, back through the hilly section on the way to the trail was less fun. Stopped to pee, good sign coming off the bike! Still won’t piss myself on the run either, though it cost me ~2 mins by my watch. Started to rain, my spirits started to diminish some, “the suck” hadn’t hit full on yet, but it was looming. Wheels fell off at mile 15, just slugging in the woods in the rain on the trail, just started to feel my pace fall off. Somewhere at the mile 15 or 16 aid station I made the executive decision and deployed my secret weapon, the very reason I had been avoiding the use of caffeine all day long. I switched to coke. It’s caffeinated sugary goodness coursed through my veins and I was born anew. I went from hating life to hailing people as I passed them by, gleaning a number of encouraging “looking strong” and other congratulatory gestures. I proceeded to run the remaining 10 miles fueled on nothing but coke and water, but eventually even its corn-syrupy elixir of the gods gave way to the pain of the final 3 miles of hills.

Finish was fantastic but less mind blowing than my first Ironman, don’t think any race will ever compare to the feeling of my first time across the line. However, much like the first race, the finish was a complete blur. For the 2nd time in a row, I have zero recollection of Mike Riley saying my name, and I also somehow crossed the line without looking at the clock at all. Chatted with the finish line volunteers who asked me how my race was, lamented the mechanical, and they made a comment about still having a great time then. All the sudden it occurred of me to ask what my time was, they said “Oh under 10:30” and I was ecstatic. Still not as ecstatic as I would have been, and I immediately began crunching the numbers about going 9:59:XX, might have been possible without mechanical + pissing myself, which would have exceeded my wildest dreams, literally would have blown my mind. But it was not meant to be. Not this time.

Summary

  • Fantastic venue, this definitely should be on the team radar. RnP, you guys are making a big mistake if you ignore this one!
  • Don’t piss away you race—drink sports drink or use salt tabs pre-race
  • Caffeine is the nuclear option—far better used as your secret weapon, not your opening salvo
  • Aero-geek details make a huge difference, but they are always a gamble. In this case, low Crr tires and latex tubes cost me, cost me big time.

And finally

  • Screw all that other crap, I ran a 3:3x Ironman® marathon, HUGE PR for me. For the first time, I’m starting to believe that I actually have a shot at this. Will require hard work, harder than I’ve ever worked before… but former fat kid who played too many computer games might have a shot at Kona one of these days.

Lastly, a big thank you to my family, the EN crew, all the racers, the spectators, volunteers, and all of my friends cheering for me from afar. You guys remind me of the important things, and thus find a way to keep an extremely selfish pursuit like Ironman® in perspective.

Listen to Trevor’s interview with Coach Rich here

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