I woke up at 3 am after a restless night of almost no sleep. The fear of oversleeping is very powerful. As usual, I took a sleeping pill Friday night and slept like a rock. I even went to Canadian Tire the day before and bought an air mattress as the pull out bed was brutal. By far the worst pull out bed mattress in Mont Tremblant that I've slept on.
I headed down to transition just after 5 am. Walking around the corner to blaring music and the all the people, I finally started getting excited. Up to this point, I wasn't even remotely excited. Worried about the weather but not excited. I went over to body marking and found Cathy and Paul. For good luck, Cathy marked me. After a couple of minutes of chit chat, I went over to transition, dropped my bottles off and pumped up the tires. As I was leaving transition, a girl stopped me and asked if she could use my pump. I'm always amazed on how many people come to a race without a pump. And it happens at every race. I stopped off at the transition tent and put the bandanna in my bike bag thinking I'd need it on the bike before the run. As I headed over to drop my special needs bag off, I passed Lionel Sanders bringing his bike into transition. "Hey Lionel. Good luck" I said. "Thanks" he replied. My brush with greatness!!
I headed back to the hotel and got Tammy. One nice thing about the kids being a little older is that they can stay by themselves and Tammy walked with me to the swim start. We watched the pros go off and then with 15 minutes before my start, I left her to do a quick warm up. The air was cool and so misty that the long line of buoys disappeared. After a quick warm up, I stood on the beach milling around until I noticed all the blue caps lined up ready to go. I asked someone if there was another wave ahead of us. Nope, we're up next. Our wave was pretty big (229 or 10%) and the fireworks went off and I hadn't even crossed the starting arches.
I felt pretty good about my swim and did a lot of work focusing on technique with Max at Masters swim club. Its amazing how small changes can knock 5-10 seconds off per 100 meters. I hustled into the water and started swimming. I hoped to swim straighter and faster this year. The plan was to stay just inside the buoys. I plowed thru a bunch of blue caps (my color) and somewhere around the fourth buoy ran into a red cap swimmer from the wave ahead. I thought, "Boy, its going to be a long swim for that guy." Shortly thereafter I got passed by a girl with a pink swim cap from the wave behind us, then another. I thought briefly trying to draft off them but they were moving way too fast.
I swam by myself for the 600 meters or so getting a knocked around a bit. I was amazed how people could swim into someone else and not move or change their stroke. I was swimming straight (confirmed by Garmin) but people kept swimming into me. They probably a treat to share a lane with at the pool. One guy was beside me and knocked me in the head a couple of times. I tried to get past him but we were about the same speed. Then it occurred to me, "Well duh, it you're swimming at the same speed, why not draft off him?" So I stopped swimming and let him pass. This worked well from the back half of the first leg, around the two turn around buoys and then a couple buoys down the back stretch. I stayed on his feet, in fact literally. I shortened my stroke but kept hitting his feet. I surprised he didn't stop and kick me in the head because I kept hitting his feet so many times. But after the last turn around buoy, he started to slow (thus I kept hitting his feet even more) and go off course. I ditched him and almost immediately picked up someone else. This guy was moving along and he was bigger than me. He was plowing through the swimmers from the previous two waves so I just followed along. A couple of times he veered off course and I followed him (confirmed by my Garmin) once and then came back to the buoy line. After that, every time he went off course, I didn't follow him but he'd come back and I'd pick up his feet.
I wanted to thank him as we got closer to shore but it was too congested. I ran to the wetsuit strippers as I took off the top half of my wet suit except I couldn't get the sleeve over my Garmin. Doh. I had to put the sleeve back on and take off the unit and then ran to the biggest guy I could see and pointed at him. He ripped off my suit and I jumped up and immediately had a bad cramp in my leg just like last year. I couldn't move and a med came over and asked if I was ok. "Yeah just a bad cramp" I said. Last year, I had a bad cramp while they were ripping of my wet suit and I couldn't get up and then someone stepped on me. At least it wasn't as bad this time. Within a couple of seconds, the cramp had passed any I started running to transition. At least this year, they had full carpet all the way to transition and my shins didn't taking as bad as a pounding. Half way to transition, I saw Tammy and the kids. They yelled something and I yelled back as I kept running.
Swim Goal: 1:10 Actual: 1:11:54
After a change of clothes, I ran out of the tent and there was a volunteer smearing sunscreen on people. Even though it was cool and overcast, I knew if the sun came out it would be deadly so I stopped and she smeared some on my back. I took off my sunglasses and put them in my helmet to smear some sunscreen on my face. I started running towards the bike when everyone in the crowd started yelling at me. My sunglasses had fallen off and I didn't notice. Fortuantely, someone behind me picked them up and handed them to me. I thanked them and ran to my bike which I ran past. Doubling back, I found my bike and headed towards the exit. I saw Paul and Cathy yelling at me so I ran over to them with my bike to high five them and almost tripped and wiped out the guy behind me. Off to a flying start!