I can’t believe I have not posted since Carlsabad…back in July. But it was been quite the season and I have much to share. So here is Segment #1 of Late to Post
The show had been on North American soil to date and so it was time to up the game and go for trans-continental. You will notice I did not go “international” given the Canadian race, so the bride and I packed up my gear, bike, food, clothes, etc. and her suitcase and set off for Vichy, France.
The flight plan was SAN-ORD-FRA-LYN. It would take us 3 days and 3 flights (simple math I know) but we would find ourselves in France on Wednesday with a race days set for Saturday. Zero complaints on the travel to France as we were upgraded to 1st class on Lufthansa to Frankfurt and enjoyed the experience to the max…some, more than others, but that was fine as one was racing and the other was in charge of relaxing!!!
We pulled into Vichy mid-day on Wednesday and grabbed some really good food at our circa 1983 hotel. The town grew on us, but our initial impression was that not much had changed from when they invested a lot to create the infamous spa town. Regardless, we were very happy with our accommodations and the proximity to the race venue. It is hard to complain when you can see the swim course from your room and the run loops past your place twice!
Our plan to drive the course was thwarted by a flat tire on the rental car but I think I got the gist of things once we arrived.
French food is sooooo good given your goal is to add weight. As a pre-race build-up, not so good. And to compound that was the fact that we were off schedule and constantly missing the opening hours of lunch. Don’t get me wrong…each bit of food was amazing, but the timing and construction of the meals did not align with my race preparation. Despite that, we had a great time walking around the town which was covered in Ironman flags and banners. I have never seen anything like this in the US, and really think that in Europe they do such an incredible job captivating the host city in supporting the event. It feels so much more like a festival, rather than an inconvenience.
I was able to check in and was surprised to be assigned #18. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty close to pro, but WTH? I guess one of the perks of being IM AWA was that they sort of seeded you. That was quite a lofty target, but I guess I was all in to do my best.
They hosted an amazing athlete dinner on Friday and the bride and I made our way there in out hatchback rental (now with repaired tire). I would have been happy with the salad round but then there was pasta as well as desert! We had a great time watching the inspirational videos, eating, drinking and just kicking back. At the end of it all, we made our way to the IM sign…I have never seen this in the US, and then back to the hotel where we made sure everything was all prepped for show time!.
Beep, beep, beep….alarm time!!! It is race day and I feel meh! I did my best to have some food early, topped off with some coffee. I grabbed our rental and we loaded the last few items into the car. Once at the race venue, I made some final adjustments to my gear, heard the choir sing out “wesuit legal”, made a quick change into my Team Zoot Speed Suit and got ready to race!
I make my way out into the mosquito water which looked much cleaner from afar. But no worries, this was race day and the plan is not to drink the water, but race in it. There were three waves and I was in wave #1 which meant a lot of bodies. I originally placed myself in the front row, but was soon pushed back a row or two by the time the gun/cannon/horn went off. Right from the start I felt like a sloth…why!!!! Anyway, I pondered why I do this for the next ten minutes while I swam. I finally pulled myself together and got down to business. The swim was fine. Against the current out, the with it back. I surfaced and emerged from the water with a respectable time.
This was such a well organized race….out of the water, grab that T1 bag, enter the steam chamber (aka, changing tent) and blitz out to find my bike. I grab my Cannondale Slice, strapped on my Smith helmet, slipped into my new/dap Shimano Tri shoes and did that dance to the mount line.
Finally, on the open French road…oh wait, we need to first navigate the forest trail path with roots penetrating the surface…whoa that was bumpy!!! Hold on everyone, this is going to be a wild ride!!!
But let’s not dwell on that portion of the course…because the rest of the course was spectacular! After leaving town (which required a few hills, up and down, and some technical turns) the course opened up and it was time to deliver!!! I felt like I was shot out of a cannon on the first part of the course. It played to my strengths by being slightly uphill. I was rolling along at 24 mph taking in all the sites and beautiful countryside. I hit a short hill and was swarmed by a big group and let this get to my head. I’m not sure why, but I was discouraged that I consider I myself as good climber but I did not want to go that hard at that point on the course. Passing through the first aid station was amazing!! The town we passed through was out cheering us on and the line to get into the penalty tent was a mile long…so long suckers!!!
Through mile 42 I was still rolling at 24 mph but knew we had the hill. I got caught up in a few draft packs but did my best to navigate those and keep my own effort. The last 14 miles were either up or down, and not by a percent here or there, but by significant numbers. So I fixated on my power meter and just did my job. I got yelled at in french for cutting off another athlete by a referee, but since he didn’t go down, I motored on. Sadly, our last fun downhill as speed restricted so I could not really enjoy it. After navigating a few technical turns and poles in the road I hit the rough return to the finish. The course was a little long, but I really enjoyed it! Time to dismount and hit the run!!!!
I had a quick T2 (my specialty) and hit the road…13 miles and this baby was wrapped up!
Mile 1 – Smoking!!!!
Mile 2 – 5 – ok
Mile 6 – uh oh
Mile 7-11 – ouch…just call me la douche! Water everywhere I don’t care where it comes from! Hose -fine, sponge -fine, bucket – ideal!!! KEVEN (the french pronunciation of my name) coming through!!!
Despite popping at mile 6, the crowd support was great. At brief moments I hydrated the plants rather than myself (not the way you are thinking). If I ever slowed, the crowd was there to push me!! I can not thank all of the local volunteers!!! They kept me going when I wanted to quit and die. Through town I got a second wind! So I slowed just a bit through the next two aid stations but motored to the finish!! And what an amazing finish it was!! Stadium!!! Bleachers!!! Crowds!! MC!!! Me and the race clock!!!!
Did it!!! #18 #TeamZoot put that race in the bag!!! Food tent, shower tent, Euro vacation!!!! #Beerme!!!
I can not thank my fantastic sponsors enough!!! They are the best and help me achieve each and every goal!!! So thank you Zoot, Huub and Skratch Labs!!! You are the best!!! My coach Grant Burwash keeps me focused and on task. Accountability is so critical in this sport so thank you for believing in me and continuing to push me to new levels! And my team’s corporate sponsors!!! You are the best! Garmin, CarbBoom, Smith! You deliver me in style (like that was an issue!!!)
One last shout out to my bride!!! Best travel partner, cheerleader, sherpa, and bland pasta enjoyer the world ever created!!!!
Next up Chicago!!! ITU Worlds!