My week leading up to my race was full of nerves, deadlines, and wrapping up loose ends. Wherever you look in the triathlon world, it is universally recommended that you sleep as much as you can prior to your race. The benefits are not only for your body, but your mind as well. I failed completely at this. Prior to leaving Thursday, I had yet to accumulate more than 4-5 hours of sleep a night the entire week out. A combination of work and family commitments had me up until 1-2am every night. 

With the drive from Rhode Island to my Dad's place in Knowlton, Quebec being about 6 hours, my goal was to leave around 9am. That way I'd avoid Boston rush hour traffic and be able to take my time driving up during the day. 9 slipped to 10, which slipped to 1, which slipped to 3. As 3:15p came and went I decided to enjoy the start of my trip by not killing myself to get out the door. I called Sara and told her that I would pick Sofia up from camp at 3:45 so she could get some more work done herself. As expected, Sofia was thrilled to see me, and when your Dad surprises you by unexpectedly picking you up, he should also take you out for Ice Cream. After a quick trip to Eskimo King (sooooooo good) and a much needed family dinner at home, I finally set off. Leaving at 7pm I was able to avoid most of the traffic that haunts Boston day and night. I only had to contend with a few stops on the I93 before I was finally north of the city cruising through New Hampshire. 

After listening to a slew of podcasts, including Brandon's Canadiana celebration, The Canada 150 Project, I found myself growing tired and super bored. I absolutely hate driving at night, especially here in the East Coast where the view out your side windows is just trees upon trees upon trees bordering the highway. Luckily I've always found long car rides the perfect time to connect with old friends. So for about an hour, as Thursday turned to Friday, my buddy Aaron, also known as the Best Location Scout in New York, kept me awake with tales of the pervious weekends Kurtstock (party hosted by Kurt on his farm in Woodstock), and us sharing awful yet awesome tales of our youth.

Soon after we hung up I was at the border, which for some reason this took way longer than usual---I don't think the border agent believed that I was going to be competing in a half IRONMAN---He asked me 4 times if I was bringing alcohol, tobacco, or firearms into the country. Finally after my 4th "No" he asked what I was bringing in---my response of my bike, beef jerky and protein powder seemed to finally satisfy him.

Completely exhausted, I finally arrived at my Dad's condo Friday around 1:15am. I tried to fall asleep but mostly failed. Once I was finally able to close my eyes, my back (very aware that I was not in my bed) decided to wake me up at 6:00am. Resigned to the fact that I would not be getting any more sleep, I laid there waiting for my day to start.

Friday:

  • Visited with my Grandmother.
  • Bought peanut butter, honey, bottled water, bagels, throw away flip-flops.
  • Took my Dad to get his new phone unlocked. 
  • Drove 2.5-3hrs. 
  • Arrived in Mont Tremblant.

We began to pass cyclists along the bike course when we were about 10km from the base of Mont Tremblant. It was pretty intimidating watching all these eager beavers flying up the hills past us hardly breaking a sweat. It had crossed my mind a couple times, then and the following days leading up to Sunday, to get out and work my wheels across the course.  But, after much self-debate/doubt I went with the "I'll see it when I get there" route. 

The heart of the Mont Tremblant village is a cluster of well placed restaurants, shops and hotels. If you manage to land a hotel or condo on the hill, you'll be in walking distance of everything from the finish line, to the stage, expo, and transition area. I managed to score a great Airbnb about half a click (km) from the transition area. Now mind you it was straight up the side of Mont Tremblant, but close nonetheless. The village also had/has a free shuttle service running from the base of the village up throughout the condos across the mountain. They also offered free public transportation throughout the weekend, making the experience that much more accessible for race and spectator alike. 

After getting settled in, my Dad and I wandered down into the village to check in and look for something to eat. 

As we attempted to check in what we soon found, and what I assume based off Brandon's race reports is the IRONMAN norm, was a long ass line leading somewhere. We parked ourselves in it and waited, slowly shuffling along at a DMV pace. After about 10-15 minutes, one of the race staff (speaking only in French of course) started asking the line if anyone was racing in the 70.3 on Sunday.  My French is sparse and mainly based in that of Sofia's pre-k curriculum, but I was able to work out what the guy was saying. I asked for a repeat in English, which he happily provided. The gist was, because they had so many people still needing to check in for the next days sprint and 5i50 races, they were giving out front of the line check in passes for the next day's 70.3 registration. "Just make sure you say that you're ehwah" he shared. Not sure what that meant or just how far I actually was from the front, I welcomed the prospect, took the wristband and went off in search of our next stop, food. 

On our way driving in we passed the one chain grocery store located down valley in Mont Tremblant proper. As I gazed over to the strip mall, it looked as if it had been swarmed by a mass preparing for the zombie apocalypse. With zero desire to engage with that bedlam, I decided I could wait and would go shopping for the bit of food left to buy the following morning. For me, my highlight of visiting Canada are always the pubs. The casual not quite gastro pub that is a staple in every town across Canada is always a welcome sight for us expats. We landed somewhere with a seemingly clean demeanor and menu. The food and beer were spot on, and for the first time I felt real promise about the trip and experience.

The next thing on my hit list was to take a peek at the water. We hiked down from the restaurant to the water which took about 20-30 minutes or so. It was important for me not to rush, so we purposefully took our time, taking in the surroundings while walking off my poutine. Of course by the time we did get to the beach, it was closed. We missed it by 15 minutes. When I thought about the swim course and the "beach", it didn’t compute to me that there would be no public beach access. The swim start is held at the Beach and Tennis Club, with "Club" being the operative word. The beach was only open during club hours and apparently closed sometime around 6:30p. We did spot a few of those signature IRONMAN swim triangles bobbing out in the lake. The buoys looked far, but for some reason, I wasn’t overly concerned.

Saturday consisted of waking up and wandering down to the athlete village. With my dad hanging back to catch the morning’s soccer, I was able to cruse around and geek out over the latest and greatest in the Triathlon tech world. I had brought with me a pair of goggles that were okay, but I often found tight. As I perused the booths, the Aqua Sphere Vista swim goggles caught my eye. The salesmen did his dance and I was hooked. The next item on my list was a race belt.  I had brought my fuel belt with me, complete with pouch and 2 small water bottles. But it’s chunky, and during my last race I knew it was there the entire time I was running. I picked up a Compressport Running Belt, which was light, easy, breezy---I was all set.

The longest line in the athlete’s expo by far was for the “Free” Physiotherapy booth. Each time I walked past the booth, there was always 5-10 people waiting to hop on one of the 4 tables to get something worked on/out. We triathletes always seem to have an ache lurking somewhere, begging to be acknowledged. From a combination of sitting at a desk for hours on end, coupled with taking care of our baby boy 4-5 days a week, my back and shoulders have been left in a clover of knots. After purchasing my running belt, the skies opened up, coating the mountain with a light but steady drizzle. I headed over to the Physiotherapy Tent/Booth and was ecstatic to find only one person in line. The prospect of getting my upper body worked on out weighed the rain, so I waited a short time, and some 30 minutes later my shoulders and back felt better then they had in months.

By this time check in was about 20 minutes from opening. With his soccer (futbal) match finished, my Dad had trekked down to the village just in time to wait in the check-in line with me. We found the back of the line and chit chatted with those around us. Soon after a young French woman came out asking if there were any “ehwah” athletes. Sporting my sexy blue wristband that I was given the day before, I made my way over to her, where she ushered me over to the All World Athlete line. I finally put two and two together realizing that “ehwah” was French for AWA. To give you a sense of how long the lines were, the general line on Saturday was about half of what I was waiting in the day before. No joke, sporting my sexy wristband we passed some 500+ people before landing at the front of the AWA line behind 3 lucky others. This was definitely a highlight of the day. Soon the doors opened and us “AWA all-stars” were quickly checked in.

The strangest part of the check in was the weigh in. After signing a death waiver, they make you sign/fill out an Ontario athletic waiver something or other form---which asked you for your insurance info and health stats. A female athlete next to me inquired of the purpose of the weigh in and she was informed that they do this to gauge our health and fitness. I joked with her that I had been carb loading and that they should’ve weighed us a week ago. She laughed, agreeing.

  • Numbered Bracelet
  • Race Packet
  • T-shirt
  • Shoulder Bag
  • Redbull
  • Strawberries
  • Athlete Briefing in the Rain

    At the briefing they basically reviewed the digital athlete guide that was sent out a few weeks before. No drafting, pass within 25 seconds, watch the no passing zones, no music, don’t be a dick, etc...

    My Dad and I made our way back up to the condo for lunch and to get my bike all set for the bike check in.

    Having never raced a ½ or full IRONMAN before, I assumed that when you drop off your bike, you drop it off all ready to go. So I took my time filling my water bottles with my super duper Carb Loaded Sport’s drink, stuffed my bento box with snacks, and packed my backpack with my transition mat and all the fixins. When I arrived to the transition area, I quickly realized that you DON'T  leave everything there the night before. When I spoke with Sara later that night, she explained to me that if there were 3000+ bikes loaded with food over night, the mountainous wildlife would have taken over the village and thrown a debaucherous food rave in the transition area overnight. Hearing out loud that leaving beef jerky in your bike pouch overnight probably isn’t the smartest idea in the world brings a certain clarity. I blame my actions/thought process on pre-race nerves. Yes that’s totally what it was, nerves.

    With the biked dropped off, everything back at the condo packed, prepped, and ready to go, all I had to do was wait, eat, and sleep. The waiting wasn’t so bad. I sat out on the deck of the condo listening to various frogs serenade the mountain while FaceTiming with Sara, Sofia and James. Making dinner helped.

    The goal was to be in bed by 8:00p, out asleep shortly thereafter. Of course that did not work at all, so I watched something on Netflix to try and relax. I gave myself 30 minutes, then I figured I should be tired enough to fall asleep. Those 30 minutes flew past and after tossing around for another 30 minutes I still couldn’t sleep. It was at this moment I started to worry. I had to be asleep by 9:00p. If I woke up at 4:30am, that would give me 7 ½ hours of sleep.

    9:30p came and went and I still couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing and I couldn’t seem to relax. So I read, and that didn’t work. It was now 10:30p and I still wasn’t asleep. By this point, I was just getting pissed off. Then as if she was lying next to me, I heard Sara say “it’s too quite, turn on the sound machine or fan.” As the epiphany slapped me upside the head, I realized that ever since Sofia was born, some 5 ½ years ago, we’ve slept with some sort of ambient noise. I flipped through my phone, found a sounds of the ocean track, set it on repeat, took a deep breath, and fell asleep around 11:15p.

    When my alarm went off at 4:30a, I felt surprisingly fresh. I went to the kitchen and ate ½ a bagel with peanut butter and honey, downed a bottle of sports drink, ate the rest of the bagel, stretched and jumped in the shower.

    With my bags packed, bottles refilled and my wetsuit halfway on, I started my trek down the mountain. I ended up arriving in the transition zone at about 5:45a, which was perfect. After dropping my bags, I meandered to the stage to where they were doing body markings. The energy throughout was palpable and my nerves started to kick in. To stave off an oncoming panic attack, I took 20 minutes to stretch again, work on my breathing and calm myself down.

    The space around my bike in the transition zone was super tight. I found a way that made some sense to set my gear and began the long walk to the swim start.

    Many of the athletes seemed rushed on the walk to the swim start, I chose to take my time. As I walked, I found the fog or mist, whatever you want to call it, quite beautiful. The stillness of the trees and the dew blanketing the mountain floor, enhanced (to me anyway) this budding day’s epicness.

    During my prep, I had read that it was a good idea to bank your own soundtrack/playlist in your head, something that you could call upon to move you forward or inspire you when needed during your race. I started looping the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End soundtrack into my life a few days before I left.  If I was doing dishes, mowing the lawn, folding laundry, driving, or any/every other moment I could find, I had the soundtrack playing. Tracks 10 - 12 are my particular favs. As the march of the rubber athletes squeaked towards the days beginning, I softly sang the soundtrack to myself.

    A time later, I arrived at the Beach Club. To be expected the lines to the bathrooms were beyond long, so I skipped them and decided to squeeze the rest of myself into my wetsuit. Nobody tells you how to put on a wetsuit, and as a mid 30's guy I'm not looking to ask. In a prior race I found that I couldn't move my arms during the swim, and that my wetsuit was doing more harm than good by restricting my shoulder rotation. Kinda need that to swim... After that race I expressed my concerns with Trev, who then informed me that I probably didn't have the wetsuit on properly. Again, when said out loud makes perfect sense. Here I thought all wetsuits just restricted arm movement, a design flaw of sorts. Trev went on to explain the proper technique of putting on a wetsuit: pull it up so high that you give yourself a wedgie, then grab every little bit of rubber you can and pull it to your shoulders. You should also wear it to bed, shower with it, drive around town in it, shop in it... His advice totally worked btw.

    After you pour yourself into your wetsuit and gather up the bare essentials needed for your swim, the race organizers give you an opportunity to toss your swim clothes bag into the back of a large dump truck, which will then take your bag back to the finish line tent. Sounds good right, no bag left behind...

    About 20 minutes before the official start of the race the dump trucks carrying off the swim bags started to pull away. This caused a ripple effect, and all of a sudden several hundred plus barefoot rubber athletes awkwardly began chasing down the last dump truck while flinging their bags over it's 8 foot tall walls. Being a part of this wave was not fun. Once I got my bag safely launched into the back of the truck, it was hilarious to watch though. Finally the race volunteers/directors started to slam on the back and side of the truck to get it to stop, but that broski driver had other plans and was clocking out. As the truck (which never did stop), disappeared up the road, the organizers were left with about 200 bags to contend with. Thankfully no one rolled an ankle.

    The Canadian anthem was sung and most of us, myself included, removed our swim caps out of respect. At this point I still had no real idea of where I should be going, so I just shuffled along with the other penguins. By the time I made it to the backside of the start, an unseen jet ripped the skies apart. After that moment passed, I was finally able to see where I supposed to go. Extending down the beach towards the mountain there were a series of posts with times listed above. The idea is that you figure out how fast you think you're going to swim, line up in the appropriate cluster and wait to jump into the water and start your race. Once in line, you then have the chance to hop in the lake and warm up just off course. Again I've read in the past that this is a good idea, and wanting to make sure that I had indeed properly put on my wetsuit, I welcomed the water.

    Finally touching the lake felt great. I dove in and swam about 200 yards, working through any kinks I may have had. While I was out, a gun went off and fireworks popped overhead. The Pro Men's swim was off, a few minutes later the Women Pros. As I slowly made my way back to the sand, the line began to move... SAF.  That's an acronym BTW. I found myself very conflicted on how I felt about the process of officially getting into the water. On one hand, I loved being just one of three at a time, getting in and having space/a slight delay between myself and the swimmer in front and behind me. On the other hand, it took 40 minutes to get into the water---and the only reason I finally got in when I did, was because I grew so frustrated with waiting that I just cut my way to the front.

    By the time I finally started the swim my body had completely cooled down and I needed to restart everything. In Trev's last blog before my race, he spoke of how you need to figure out your swim within the first 500 meters. For the first time ever I actually felt incredibly good about my swim. My body and mind were in sync and with every stoke I felt strong and in control. By the time I reached the third buoy I was in cruse control. A few days prior to the swim I had read that you should think of swimming as pulling yourself through the water, instead of gliding. This concept really hit home with me and I think it's why I was able to be so successful during this part of my race.

    Swimming in a cluster is always a challenge, and I really really hate bumping into people. Not only because it jacks my flow, but also because the Canadian in me feels bad. Nobody likes a salty toe to the face. All through the swim I made sure I was on the outside edge of the pack. During the way out I was able to hug the buoys inside and have a pretty straight line. Once I made the first turn I began to find myself wondering through waves of people. Every time I hit someone, it threw me off, causing me to pull up. About 100 yards after the turn I kicked someone again with my inside leg, which caused it to cramp up. Despite the cramp I kept my arms moving, essentially dragging my out stretched leg along. The 2nd turn was clean and I was thrilled to have the swim exit in my sights. For the duration of my swim I put my head down and dug in, pulling myself with everything I had. While my pace ended up being 02:10/100 yards - my spotting was way way off and somehow during this back stretch I added 445 yards to my swim. Regardless, I felt great, made it to shore, and was ready for whatever was to come next.

    Swim: 00:54:59 - 2521 total yards.

    As I exited from the water, I felt great. My swim felt strong and I was eager to jump on my bike. As with everything I experienced here in Mont Tremblant, the swim exit was well crafted. As you cross the transition mat, you're immediately consumed by a wave of cheers. Spectators and volunteers congratulated us water logged seals, ushering us towards the half ring of wetsuit removal assistants. Of course this being my first time experiencing any of this, I had no idea what was going on. There was just a lot of French being shouted, arms waving, and cowbells ringing.

    Finally I grasped the concept and ran over to two volunteers who quickly helped me out of the top half of my suit. Top half free, I was then about to run off, when again, my lovely French women helpers aggressively shouted at me. In the right circumstance, French can be quite sexy, soothing even. At this moment it was absolutely terrifying. Our game of guess the phrase then turned into charades. With large hand gestures I finally understood that I needed to get my butt on the ground so they could yank me out of my wetsuit. A second later I was free, off and running to the transition zone. The whole process from exiting the water to getting out of my wetsuit off felt like it took at least 5 minutes, where in reality it probably only took 60 seconds. Thankfully I can now check this off my IRONMAN bucket list and will be a little more aware/prepared next time. The run from the water exit to your bike is a ways, and I remembered when walking the route the days before that it seemed long. But when you're in it racing, time seems to standstill and rush past all at the same time.

    My feet were very thankful for the red carpet to the transition zone. When I finally did get to my bike, I was a bit irked because the faster swimmers had dumped there gear/wetsuits all over mine, even getting my well placed towel and shoes wet. So without care, I pushed their stuff away and worked on preparing myself for the bike.

    While I had brought my compression socks with me, I hadn't planned on using them. During the swim my calves had cramped up several times, making me weary of how they might hold up on the bike. So for the second time since exiting the water I plopped down to the ground, this time fighting to get my compression socks over my damp legs. A staff member came over and asked if I was okay, and I flashed him the peruvial thumbs up, jumped to my feet, tossed on my helmet, my shitty $10 shades, bike shoes, and off I ran.

    For some reason this entire race, from the swim exit through the bike and run, I rocked a thumbs up to everyone that acknowledged me. I have no idea nor why, but I did. A lot. Strange.

    Clipping in, still strong from the swim, I felt tremendous. Prior to my ride I looked at the coarse, the ups and downs, the there and backs, but I never really comprehended what all those peaks and valleys meant, and honestly I'm glad I didn't.

    Somewhere around mile 10 I hit the zone. I found that sweet spot where everything syncs up in perfect unison. My legs welcomed the challenge, my back felt loose, and I was able to settle into my tri bars and just pedal. This was all a first for me. Over the past year of racing and logging miles on my trainer, I've never truly felt comfortable. In the past I based my fit on what books and youtube told me was the best position. But I'm not a small triathlete, I'm 208, 6'1" and I like to use my legs for power. So about a week and a half before I left for this race, I spent a good 2-3 hours just working out my bike fit---and somewhere along the way I actually found what worked for me. #sweetspot #toosweet

    I've never trained with my heart rate in mind. Many of you out there are probably the same way. We pound it out, logging dirty miles, more concerned with distance and time, then whatever our heart is doing. This became a problem for me during my Olympic Triathlon at the beginning of June. During that race I went hard out the gate and gassed out on the run. Again, after a little chitty chitty chat chat with Trev, I was enlightened. Watching my heart rate was probably the only thing I should be really concerned with. Well that and fuel/nutrition. So when I clicked my sexy little 920XT into race mode at the start of my swim, I scrolled to the heart rate monitor and left it there.

    Starting my race later in the day gave me the opportunity to ride alone, which I loved. I ended up passing quite a few people out on the course, much more than those who passed me.

    The bike out to the first main turnaround at Labelle on Route 117 was awesome. I was having such a good time, singing my Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, that I didn't realize the whole thing was basically uphill. The views were picturesque enough that I was able to just lose myself in the moment. Well, that was until I realized how much I had to pee. Trev's guide to racing had me chugging about 4 bottles of my fancy carb sports drink before I hit the run. The thought being, all the nutrition I was taking in on the bike would set me up for my run. He was right btw - it totally worked - I just had to stop to pee at the 2 middle Bike Transitions. I thought of Brandon telling me just to go then and there while on the bike, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Maybe during Arizona I'll make that step up.

    During my ride I was always about 10+ish mins behind the main pack of a couple hundred athletes. As I passed in their accordion wave, I couldn't help but think how awful that looked. Fighting for a space to ride, constantly passing and being passed. Every 5-10 minutes or so a moped would whip pass me, traveling one direction or the other. By the 3rd time I realized they were the judges zipping past, and I wondered if they would be handing out violations to the large tour-de-Quebec cyclists.

    Traveling through the town of Mont Tremblant was awkward. While it was nice to see spectators again, cheering you on, it felt almost out of place. To me the bike was consumed by long sweeping farm field views and dense layered mountainous terrain. Prior to this point, the only time I had experienced any heavy human presence was in the village of Mont Tremblant, which feels romantic and simple. Also, by the time you cross the U-turn at Rue Leonard, just past city hall, you're off and out of town, hardly able to process what just had happened. 

    The ride to along Montee Ryan brings a false sense of accomplishment. The route takes you back towards the village just past the transition area before ripping your heart out and feeding it to a bear. Mile 42-52 is horrible, hitting you with the most challenging climb of the day up a 8% slope. 8% doesn't sound steep, but trust me, it is. Over 70% of the people I encountered on this section of the course were walking up the hill. Checking my watch, safely in my target HR zone, I stood up on my pedals and jogged my way up the mountain. Going down is fun, but the descent on Chemin Duplessis which banked heavy to the left over a long curve, was marked by a large no passing zone, which I get. So I complied, slowed it down, watching my distance between myself and the rider ahead of me. Better safe then sorry, right?

    I finished my bike in an official time of 03:45:12, with a top speed of 39.2 miles/hr. 

    Arriving back at transition I settled my bike into place, ditched my helmet, put on my sweet TUSA hat, swapped my shoes, inhaled a mouthful of trail mix, grabbed my pre-loaded water bottle, and took off. Crossing over the transition line onto the run course I was hit with another strong desire to pee. So many fluids!!! To my right I found a bank of port-o-potties, did my thing and finally took my first real steps on to the run course.

    A simple out and back course with a few hills for flavor, the run was everything you'd want it to be; scenic, charming, quaint. When I arrived upon Chemin de la Chapelle, 3 different RedBull ambassadors did their best to shove their elixir down my throat. Because it was important for me to control my heart rate I stayed away from caffeine the entire day. I really didn't want a false sense/surge of energy to highjack my race. Waving them off, while flashing a super lame "thumbs up" to all the people, I settled into my run.

    Trev's guide to finishing included one final bottle of my carb heavy sports drink to be finished off by the time I hit the half way point of the run. My heart felt great, my legs not that bad, and I was so damn close to finishing this race. By mile 3 I quickly became tired of carrying my water bottle, which pushed me to drink it faster then I probably should have. I soon then passed the wave of the majority of racers going the opposite direction again. Most looking pained with many walking, but all finishing with a time between 6-7 hours. I was happy for them, and shouted words of encouragement (in English) while waving my thumbs around. This probably scared more of them then helped.

    My big issue on the run, besides having to pee again, was the fist full of trail mix I smashed into my mouth during my transition was now looking for a revival. When I was putting them in my mouth, I knew it wasn't the best idea having read Trevor's own experience with chocolate covered nuts, but I did it because I thought that I felt hungry. And I really thought (at the time) that it was a good idea. There were peanuts, chocolate things, peanut butter things, sugar and protein, what could go wrong? Between forcing sports drink down while peanuts were coming up, my run quickly became less than. Around mile 5, I found a spot, ditched the trail mix (and a good amount of sports drink) and continued on. I finally polished off the bottle at aid station 7, leaving it there.

    With "killing in the name of" by rage against the machine blasting the countryside at the turnaround with its alt-rock awesomeness, I found a rush of energy. I was ready to do this, to be done with this, to go home and go to bed. It was GO TIME!

    For the majority of the run I had been cooling down with water from the aid stations. Then the rain presented itself. It started as a light tease, a cool misting then turning into a slow sprinkle. Then at mile 7 it waved hello, opened up the skies, drenching everything and everyone. No longer was it a nice enjoyable run on my way to completing this huge life accomplishment... No no no, it was a sign to hurry the f*ck up. 

    I made a promise to myself at the beginning of the day, that no matter what, I was not going to stop (besides to pee), and I was not going to walk. And I didn't. I fought for each of those 70.3 miles, over the hills large and small, through the water, and across the now soaked pavement.

    The finish line/gate at Mont Tremblant is something to be experienced. After climbing up the backside of Mont Tremblant, you come down through the heart of village. The clock tower off to your right waits down in the distance, supporters drink and cheer from patios and pub windows, out stretched arms usher you along with high fives. Claps and cheers warrant weird "thumbs ups". And then you see it, you see the finish line... and everything, the rain, your aches, the whole day washes away off into silence. You're alone, making your way to the clicking red clock and bright lights.

    This experience is different for everyone, but what hit me as I came up to the finish line was how I felt as if I was coming home. Blood rushed throughout my body, chills flashed up my spine, my throat felt heavy as I choked backed tears. I was so thankful. I was so thankful to have such a wonderful group of people supporting me, there with me as I crossed the finish line. And yes, my one supporter who was actually on site was turned away by the weather and unable to see me cross. But despite that, despite knowing that I was physically alone at that moment, the love and support being sent my way was palpable. And that for me, made finishing the race a transcending experience.

    My final time was 07:18:06

    After crossing the finish line, receiving my medal, finisher hat and space blanket, I could feel my body slipping into shock. It was cold, the rain had dropped the area temperature quite a bit. So I got in line for my poutine, ribs and brisket basket, found a seat and slowly ate. When I finally felt strong enough, I went and took a finisher photo, found my morning swim bag, swapped my space blanket for my sweet TUSA jacket, and made my way over to the post-race massages. I probably could've done away with a massage, but I still had a 2-3 hour drive ahead of me and it was free.

    This race is so well run that when I spoke to Sara and the munchkins on my drive home, I told them how much I wanted to do the race again, but this time with them by my side. So the moment I was emailed an advanced link to sign up for next years race, I jumped all over it. My goal next year is somewhere around 5:30-5:45. After I complete IRONMAN Arizona, my training will then shift to this new goal, and fingers crossed I'll hit it.

    If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend you race the IRONMAN 70.3 Mont Tremblant course. But make sure you do more than just show up for race day. Take it all in, it's one incredible experience.

    If you feel inspired to continue with me on this Journey to becoming an IRONMAN, please consider making a donation to my IRONMAN Foundation’s Community Fund Fundraiser at: https://www.crowdrise.com/2017-ironman-arizona/fundraiser/mathewprovost. Thank you, Mathew

    GO TEAM UNICORN SPARKLE ADVENTURE!!!