Mont Tremblant 70.3 2016

Mont Tremblant holds a special place in my heart. This is where I started to truly believe that I could compete with the best in the world, after finishing fourth at the 70.3 World Championships behind Javier Gomez, Jan Frodeno and Tim Don. It also happens to be where Erin did her first Ironman, and where my mom did her first full Ironman (after finishing the swim cancelled Ironman Florida in 2014). My mom, Erin and myself were all competing again this year in the 70.3, so it was sure to be a memorable experience.

I put in four solid training blocks after St. George. My training blocks look like this:

Day 1: Hard

Day 2: Easy

Day 3: Hard

Day 4: Easy with long run

Day 5: Brick

Day 6: Easy with long bike

Day 7: Hard

Day 8: Active recovery

Day 9: Off

Day 10: Active recovery

I will say, I did not give the active recovery days enough respect after the first two blocks. I went to bed late, woke up early, and did not hydrate / replenish nutrients adequately. By the third block I was feeling very depleted. I felt very similar to the days when I used to do straight 21 day blocks without a recovery period. Fortunately, after I completed the third block, I realized the mistakes I was making and was able to correct them. Despite being four blocks deep, the forth block actually ended up being my best, as I had put a lot more emphasis on properly recovering. After the four blocks were complete I took a six day taper into Mont Tremblant 70.3.

I should also mention that after St. George 70.3 I decided that enough is enough with my current stroke mechanics. There just was no way that I could swim any harder. I had reached the ceiling of my current stroke. There is never a good time to tear a stroke apart, but I figured since it was mid-season, and the big races (Kona and 70.3 Worlds) were still several months away, I just might be able to make some improvements in time for those races. Since St. George I literally have not swam a single hard stroke. Every stroke I have taken has been with conscious awareness of the elements that I am trying to improve upon. As well, I have done underwater video analysis once every three days. In the first couple weeks of this endeavour, I was swimming some of the slowest times I have swam in several years. But slowly, I started to get some groove back in the stroke. I took solace in the belief that the stroke mechanics I was cultivating would have a higher ceiling than the stroke mechanics I was trying to rid from my muscle memory.

The race started at 8 am. The later the better for me, as I usually don’t start training until 9 or 10 am. One of the unique parts about Mont Tremblant 70.3 is that you are allowed to get into the water for a warmup as early as you wish. As a weaker swimmer, proper warmup is crucial for me, so I got into the water a good 20 minutes before the gun. We were pulled out of the water about 5 minutes before the start for the singing of the national anthem. I’m not sure what it was, but the national anthem, mixed with the fighter jet flying over head, stirred up a lot of emotion. So much so that I felt tears streaming down my cheeks.

Swim Start

It was a beach start, meaning we would have to run into the water once the gun went. I lined up right next to Cody Beals. I didn’t have too much expectations for this swim. My only goal was to continue to apply the good technique I had been practicing, but under higher load. After about 50 meters I was gapped by Cody. I knew that was my ticket to the second pack, but was unable to hang on. I took solace in the fact that I could still make out the second group for almost the entire swim, every time I sighted. When I emerged from the water I was told I had a deficit of just under 3 minutes and 30 seconds. I knew there were some very good swimmers in this race, so I figured this was one of my better swims.

It’s a long run up from the water to transition. I ran it very hard and was able to catch some of the people who had swam 15-20 seconds faster than me. Out onto the bike my intention was to push more power than I had ever pushed before in a 70.3. Almost immediately I could tell that this was not going to happen. It was the polar opposite feeling of St. George 70.3. In St. George, I constantly had to hold myself back. Whereas in this race, the average power I held for the entire race in St. George (352w) felt quite taxing. I decided then that I would make do with what I had, and tried to hold 350w as best as I could.

I caught the main pack of cyclists fairly early at around 15 or 20 kilometers. I knew this meant I had swam well because in the past it has taken me 30 or even 40 kilometers to catch them. On the first out and back section I caught a glimpse of the leader. It was Antoine Desroches, all alone out front. I was immediately impressed with the way he was riding. He was laying it all on the line, holding nothing back. Personally, I don’t like the pack riding that you see in many of the big races. I do not believe that everyone is biking to the best of their ability. I realize that this is a tactic many are employing to achieve the best result possible, but I still don’t like it.

I entered the lead around 40 kilometers. For the remaining 50 kilometers I allowed myself to have a little fun. Whenever the speed went below 25kph I got out of the saddle and spiked the power. I climbed almost the entire mountain section of the course standing. TrainingPeaks did an analysis of my power file if you are interested in a more in depth look at the ride:

http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/power-analysis-lionel-sanders-win-at-ironman-70-3-mt-tremblant

We are starting to get close to the big races, so I do not want to accumulate any unnecessary fatigue. For the first half of the run I strived to hold sub 3:30 kilometers. Once I reached the turnaround I was able to get a split on second place. At this point I had about a 4 minute and 30 second lead. I decided to relax a bit more, stop looking at my watch, and just run by feel. I must say, it is amazing how much quicker time goes by when you don’t look at the watch and just listen to your internal sensations. It was starting to get rather hot at this point, so I took it as an opportunity to practice my cooling strategies, and put ice down the front of my shirt and cold water on my head through each of the aid stations.

Run Course

Coming through the finish line was amazing. The sides were lined several people deep, and the sound was deafening. I made sure to slap as many fives as possible, and soak it all in. I stuck around the finish line for the rest of the day as both my mom and Erin were racing. My mom worked here way up from 51st in her age group out of the water, all the way up to 7th by the end. Erin was in much better shape this time round than in the Ironman and was able to finish in just over seven and a half hours, completing the half-marathon throughout the hottest portion of the day. I think her proudest moment this time round was not having to walk her bike at any point up Chemin Duplessis. I am very proud of both of them for how hard they worked to achieve their results.

Tremblant Finish

I have to give a huge thanks to everyone who cheered and followed along during the race. I heard many cheers throughout the bike and the run and this helped me to stay focused and continue to push myself to the very end. Next up will be Racine 70.3, and then I will do my final preparations for the 70.3 World Championship. I apologize for taking a bit of a hiatus from the blog. I have a few posts that I have been working on, so will get back on here more regularly from now on. Thanks for reading and following along!

Photo credit to Trimes.org.

9 thoughts on “Mont Tremblant 70.3 2016

  1. I am so intrigued to hear what you’re doing with your swim stroke. Maybe you don’t want to reveal trade secrets … but anything would be tantalizing to a weak swimmer (1:45/100m) doing two halves and a full (Louisville in October) who would love to learn from your years of struggles.

  2. These are great posts, the insight into your race strategy and how you adjusted on the day is very interesting.

  3. I was running in St-Donat (1 hour away) the day before the Mont-Tremblant 70.3, so i was excited to be present with my camera on Sunday. There were two things I wanted for the day. The first is that you win Mont Tremblant and the second that I get a decent photo of you. It was a success on both accounts! I posted the photo to your timeline on FB.

    I’ve been following your career for a while now and you do not cease to impress. Your dedication, persistence and work ethic are really paying off this year and I’m really happy for you. Keep the posts coming. Your thoughts and insights are really interesting. For what it’s worth, I’ve also been swimming with my GoPro above and under the water. I don’t know if that’s what you’re using, but it’s pretty amazing to see what your actually doing vs. what you think you’re doing. Good luck in Racine!

  4. Great writing once again, Lionel.

    While injured in the Olympic (twisted ankle) I still got up early since I wanted to be at the transition zone to get to see the Great Lionel. I was lucky enough to exchange a few words with you while you were setting up your gears and you sure looked fit and ready. We really enjoyed having you (and Erin and your mother!) racing here, you are Bienvenue forever in Québec! You give it all in all races and for us, as spectators and fans, we can only but appreciate the complete athlete you have become. Bravo and all the best for the season!

  5. big !!! my sincere greetings from Argentina !! you are a strong and kind of face regarding what comes !! do not lower the machine arms !!!!! a huge hug from this side of the world, a triathlete friend like you !!!!!

  6. Congratulations man!!! It’s great to see athletes like you who takes performance to a higher level … not clinging only to the result but by the spectacle. Your post is very detailed and certainly adds a lot to who is reading. I visit your blog regularly.

    From Brazil, Alexandre Dourado

  7. What’s the difference between your easy days and active recovery days? I also see you do take one day completely off every ten days.

    • On Easy days I am still looking to achieve a training effect. Will do a 1.5-2hour bike ride at 240-280w. Will do a 14-20km run at 4:05-3:55/km. And will still do a 4-5km swim. On Active Recovery days I am not looking for a training effect, just looking to speed up recovery. So will do a 30min ride at 180-200w, a 5km run at 4:10-4:20/km and a relaxed swim.

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