text : Andrée-Anne Kelly & Julien April - photo : Gophrette Power
We’re now entering our 3rd year of racing 70.3, and we can say that every day; we go to bed better than when we woke up. There are so many facets to this sport, thus it’s easy to get lost in comparisons (i.e Strava, numbers, power, etc.). Unfortunately, we got caught into that spiral. At the beginning of the year we were so focus on improving and thinking about Mont-Tremblant that we got lost, almost leaving our passion behind in the process. That’s when the alarm went off and we realized that we needed to go back to the basics. Here is a quote by the World Championship, Daniela Ryf ‘’Pressure as an athlete is something you put on yourself. That is something you have to deal with. I don’t just do this sport to win, but to get the best out of myself. So that is what I need to focus on – why I do this sport”. It sums up pretty well our current mind-set, as we’re now at a tipping point; yes, we do it for fun but we can’t deny that we’ll always want to push ourselves further. The truth is, there will always be someone, somewhere, who’s better than you. But remember, you are always better than the one who’s doing nothing. So with that motto in mind, we started our last training block with a reinvigorated focus. This time, we’re doing it not to compare, but to see how far we can push ourselves.
When you’re waiting for such an event, it never comes fast enough, but it always goes by too fast after the “gun shot”. That’s one of the biggest challenges with racing; you become the race. The beauty of our sport is in the journey to the start line. The past 6 months have been a roller coaster of emotions but we wouldn’t change this ride for nothing. Here’s how this year’s 70.3 weekend went down:
We first drove to Mont-Tremblant bright and early on Friday morning, June 24th. We rented a house, with family and friends, only 10 minutes’ walk from the Ironman Village. At first we weren’t sure if this was a good idea as the house would always be full thus unable to get our head into the game. However, reflecting back on the event, it was one of the best things we could have done. It allowed us to free our minds and sometimes, only sometimes, forget about the upcoming race, so the stress wouldn’t build up. Moreover, we were cheering each other up so the atmosphere was certainly high and enjoyable.
By noon all our people had arrived at the house so we all went together to the Ironman Village to get the weekend started and crank everybody up. Every time we find ourselves walking in the village, we feel like the atmosphere is so energizing.
By mid-afternoon, we went for a quick ride up Duplessis to get our legs moving. Afterward, we all went for a swim at the beach so we could get some nerves out and familiarize with the course.
The day was now coming to an end, it was time to head back to the house, relax and get a nice carb loading meal. The next morning our parents and friends were competing in the 5150 Triathlon. It was their first “tri” experience so we went to cheer them up. It’s always so much fun to see the ones you love push themselves and being proud to achieve a goal they set a year prior. After their event, it was Show Time. It was our time to get race ready for the big day. First it was the Bike Check-In. Then it was time to get our head in the game and focus on the upcoming challenge. Visualization is the key as it helps you to envision all sorts of outcomes during the race, positive and less positive ones. 5.30AM the alarms went off. We both woke up after a wonderful 8 hours’ night of sleep. We were set up for success and it’s exactly what happened. It was by far our best performance on this distance. Here’s how it all went down for both of us:
Andrée-Anne Kelly (37:51) : In the last year, I practiced and tried to improve my strength and speed in the pool. I was able to cut down my 100 meters pace by 15sec, which I am pretty happy about. However, during a race, it doesn’t always go according to the plan and it’s ok, because between you and me; it is not supposed to be easy. My swim went well despite the fact that I had to battle during the entire distance for my spot in the water. I knocked few other swimmers with my elbow and it was seriously not easy. At some point, someone grabbed my ankle and forced me down in the water. I literally panicked, Haha! but I guess it’s part of the game. Overall I got out of the water after 37:51min, not my best time. One good take away is I realize I seriously need to work on my sightseeing to save precious time from going into the wrong direction…that’s a fact!
Julien April (35:16) : I went in the race pretty confident about my swim improvement during the last 6 months. I knew I’d put out the effort to be better. I was aiming for a 30-ish minutes time. However, it didn’t go as planned. For the second year in a row (if you read last year race recap) I placed myself in the front line, thinking I had what it takes to be there. When the gun went off, I started running and felt my timing chip slid off my ankle. Just the idea of losing it got me panicked but after a quick check up everything was find. The next 500m were a fight against survival. I was panicking not able to do more than 25m without stopping. After being able to relax and take my momentum, the swim went great. I got out of the water with a time of 35 minutes. The take away here is I have to practice my race start and go all out for 2-300m then be able to settle for the rest. You want to talk about practice? You know practice? It’s all about practice!
AAK (03:01:22) :I am really happy with my bike leg. Everything went well; I felt strong on my new Garneau R1 (I’m seriously in love with my new bike), my legs felt fresh and for the first time in a race, I truly mastered my hydration and my nutrition. The only reason why is because I had a specific nutrition plan and most importantly because I practiced. I knew exactly how much water and calories intake I had to consume to avoid a breakdown. It is really easy to get lost in the race and forget to eat or drink. With my past experiences, I knew how much of a major part of the race it was, and that I couldn’t neglect it. I finished the bike leg after 3 hours with an average pace of 30km/h. I worked really hard in the past year to improve my bike and, I guess, all my efforts paid off. I might say that the bike course at Tremblant benefits me because they’re a lot of hills especially in the last portion of the race. I am a good climber, actually better that on the flat compared to others. I could keep a good momentum and passed lots of other cyclists and this helped me built up confidence for the run portion.
JA (02:41:52) : It was my first race riding my new Garneau TR1, one word WOW. This bike is a time machine. I was able to push hard and I felt really great during the bike leg. I was able to ride with 2 other strong bikers who allowed me to push myself and keep a good momentum (without any drafting obviously). As for the nutrition and hydration plan, it went really well. I was able to follow it to the letter; 5 Gels, 1 bar and 4 bottles of water/Gatorade. Then came Duplessis, I had some power left in the tank so I decided to push to get as close as possible of 2h30 goal. Then the unthinkable happened only 2km before the turnaround of Duplessis, I made a miss-shift and my chain got stock between my frame and my pedal axel. You always visualize those situations but you always hope it won’t actually happen to you. I got off my bike, trying to stay as calm as possible and tried to fix it. Rapidly, I realized that there was no way I could pull it out by myself. Fortunately for me, a mechanic on his scooter showed out of nowhere. I was so happy. He tried to force it out like me, nothing to do. Then he took out his tools and started to unclip it. Finally, 5ish minutes later I was back on my bike thinking: well: that was a close call. If he never showed up my race was definitely over. After that break I pushed as hard as possible, finishing the bike leg with a time of 2h41, which I was happy with.
AAK (01:39:28) : The run portion went exactly like I planned it! My race pace normally on a half marathon is between 4.20min/km and 4.25min/km. For this race, I set it to 4.40min/km considering I had just biked for 3 hours. I could maintain this pace for the entire race and I was able to run a negative split. I drank at every water station to stay hydrated as much as possible to beat the sun and the heat. The run course is a 10km loop. After 8 km I saw my boyfriend who was running his 12th km. He looked strong and by the look on his face I knew he was having a good day. Seeing him that close gave me the energy to give an extra push to try to reduce the gap between us. It took me 1:39min to finish de 21km. Finally, hearing my family and friends cheering for me close to the finish line gave me chills; I was so happy and moved to see them all. I finished the race after 5:26.46sec and got the 11 position in my age group…definitely my best performance so far on the 70.3 distance.
JA (01:50:09) : After dropping my bike in T2 I knew I had made the best effort during the bike leg to be able to have a strong half-marathon. As I started running my legs were feeling great. I didn’t have any specific race plan, which might cost me a faster run split. I setup quickly for a strong pace that I was able to maintain for the first half. However, after the turn around things started to get harder, blame it on the heat. My legs were getting heavier with every step and I had a high heart rate that I wasn’t able to sustain. Even though I’m still happy with my run split and the good new is that there is place for improvement. Finally, the finish chute in Tremblant is always special. The last 500 meters will crank you up and that is where you forget about the pain you’re in. It is at that precise moment that you will give everything you got. Running this last section gave me shivers down my spine. I crossed the line in 5h13, which I’m very happy with. Next time I’ll try to beat the 5h mark.
All in all we are both very happy with our performance. We were in the zone from start to finish. Even though there were highs and lows we were able to sustain a good degree of pain. Between us, we all know how we want to look good but deep inside we are suffering haha !! This is what makes this sport truly beautiful.