Updated: Nov 29, 2020
Mont-Tremblant, Canada - August 19, 2018
1:08:17 Swim (1:46 / 100 Mtr or 1:37 / 100 Yds)
6:01:56 (18.57 MPH)
6:06:24 (13:59 min/Mi)
217th of 332 in Age Group
1089th of 1669 Men 1367th of 2272 Overall
3rd Best Swim
Hardest Ironman race, with by far the most elevation (bike and run) I have ever done.
The day started with heavy fog, which ended up delaying the start of the race by about an hour. When we got going, I lined myself with the 1:05 - 1:10 group, thinking that I would be a bit slower than them, which should allow me to find an open area to swim in. When I finally got started, the fog had come back. The first 500 yds was rough, was there were many people swimming the same speed, which meant we weren’t getting any separation from each other. And with the fog, there was absolutely no way to sight the buoys, which made for a lot of zig-zag swimming during the entire out portion of the swim. The water seemed quite choppy, maybe because of all the people around me, but I swallowed more water in this swim than I ever had before. For some reason, I felt that I was low in the water, even with the wetsuit. As we made the turn and started heading back to the beach, sighting became much better, and I was finally able to swim straight. I felt I slowed down a bit with about 1000 yds to go, but still felt good. As I exited the water, I saw 1:08 in my watch, and was quite pleased with my performance, as I was expecting to be somewhere around 1:10 to 1:15. This is my 3rd best Ironman swim! T1 was quite a ways from the beach, although the entire way was carpeted and felt nice. Once I got to the tent, I quickly finished removing my wetsuit, got my helmet and shoes on, and off I went.
The bike was supposed to be tough, with 6000 ft of elevation. We rode the hardest hill a couple days before and had an idea of how hard it was going to be, so my goal, knowing that I wasn’t in the best shape, was to take it easy and not push on the bike. I had a wattage goal, but I never really even bothered to try to follow it, and chose to go by feel. As always, I would go easy uphill, and push downhill, where I have the advantage. The first part of the bike course, a 20 mile out and back, is not really that bad, with just one long incline that is not too steep. The hard hills were towards the end of each lap. I was doing well, feeling good all throughout the first lap. Got to Chemin Duplessis (the hard hills) and kept to the strategy... waste as little energy as possible going uphill. This was a real hard 5-6 miles, with a good 3 miles of climb, with harder grades thrown in, and few breaks. As someone said, it is climbs on top of climbs. Once we got to the turnaround, then it was mostly downhill back to the village, for the 2nd lap. I felt good after completing these hills, and head on to the 2nd lap, still at about the same average as the first. The winds had picked up quite a bit, and we had a head wind going back into town. Everything was well, I was still on pace for around 5:40 hrs, which was better than I originally imagined. Then, at around mile 75, inexplicably from one minute to the next, I had nothing left. I bonked. The tank was empty. I have no idea what happened, or why. But it didn’t bode well for what was still to come at the end of the bike ride. So from there, I dialed it all the way back, and started conserving as much energy as I could, keeping the wattage as low as possible, coasting downhill, etc...
I finally hit the Duplessis again, and it was as bad I it could be. I had nothing left. I was going uphill at barely 4 mph, just trying to keep moving. During those 3 uphill miles, there are 2 sections of two double digit % hills, with a really short break in the middle. It took every little bit of what was left in the tank to get me up that first set of two hills. When I got to that 2nd set, my legs were burning, I was exhausted. I was able to barely get through the first part, but I had to stop before completing the 2nd part of the hill. I just wasn’t able to keep going. I told myself I was not going to walk up the hill, but there was no way I could keep going. So I stopped, and took a 2 min break at the small easier grade. I composed myself again set to get up that last hill. It wasn’t easy, but I did, and got the turnaround. From there, again, it was mostly downhill to T2. I finished in just over 6 hrs, which was just about what I had predicted originally.
At the tent, I took my time getting my shoes on, trying to catch my breath. All I could think was “How I am going to get through a marathon, when I have nothing left? Especially one with 1500 ft of elevation?”.
As I walked out of the tent, I saw Jenna. I told her I about the bike, and how I had nothing left. I said this would be a very long day, and I thought I was going to be walking the entire 26 miles.
The run course was an out and back, with, as it turned out, all elevation in the first couple miles as we exited the village. Once we went about 3 miles out, we entered a bike/trail pass which was flat for almost 4 miles to the turnaround. Plus it was completely shaded. Really beautiful. I walked most of the first 3 miles, and of course, each and every uphill. I tried running on the downhill, and flat areas, as much as I could. As we got to the trail, I stopped at the Medic tent. My feet were hurting above my toes - as it turned out, I wore new flip flops all that morning, and they cut me on both feet above my big toes. So at the tent, I got some vaseline, and rubbed it everywhere. That solved the issue. At the flat bike trails, I felt a bit better, and tried to run/walk, where I would run for a while, as much as I could, then walk a bit, then run again, then walk, and so on. I would walk the aid stations, getting a lot to drink, as I knew I was behind on hydration (my urine was already really dark). As I got back to the village to finish the first lap, I was surprised to see that I was on pace for a 6 hr marathon... that is surprising, because if you know me, you know I am not a runner, and have done several IM marathons at and around 6 hrs before. So this was somewhat positive. I saw Jenna again, and told her that I was feeling ok and was hoping to be back in 3 hrs. And off I went on to the 2nd lap.
Again, not much happened. I kept run/walking the entire way. I just kept admiring the beauty of this place, and because it was an out and back, I got to see my friends and teammates each time. That made it fun. As I made my way out of the bike trails and back onto the hills for the last time, heading back into the village, I was really tired. I was walking a bit more than before. It was getting dark. Slowly but surely I kept moving. Got into the village and the crowds were everywhere. It was magical. Such an amazing place. A great venue for an Ironman. The finish line was downhill. That was awesome :)
I finished the run in 6:06 hrs. I had predicted 6 hrs.
The music, the people, the lights... it was a party. It was amazing. Mike Riley was at the finish line and I heard him say those magical words: “Ricardo D’Amico, You Are An Ironman!”.
Number 13 is in the books. 13:31:49. I had originally predicted 13:30. Given that I went into this race 12 lbs over my normal race weight, and with just a bit over 2 months of full training, due to my achilles injury earlier this year, and this being the toughest IM I have ever done, I am very pleased with my time.
Weird thing... I cant figure out... my Garmin says I finished the race in 13:26:38. I started it before the swim, and turned it off after crossing the finish line. Where did I lose 5 min??? The big difference seems to be in the run, where IM has 6:06 and my Garmin has 6:02. But again, how did that happen?