Friday, September 12, 2014

Ironman 70.3 World Championship Race Report - Mike Espejo

When I wrote my last race report, I thought that would be the most memorable moment of the year. It’s definitely up there, but my trip to Mont Tremblant surpassed it. I had only been to Canada once, to Toronto to visit the hockey Hall of Fame. I never thought I would be in Quebec for a triathlon years after my hockey career.

Mont Tremblant was my final 70.3 of the season. I had 7 weeks to train hard for this race following Racine. I took the first week or so after Racine relatively easy to recover fully and then hit it hard for a 5 week block. I took a new approach to my training, with a big bike focus (26 sessions on the bike in the month of August), adding more speed work to my run and joining the Cambridge Masters swim club at Harvard.

Training totals leading up to Worlds 70.3 (Since Racine)

Swim: 29 miles
Bike: 610 miles 
Run: 143 miles 

The Taper:

I held 15-17 hours of training over the final 4 weeks of my training block, then over the last 10 days I dialed my volume way down. My last "big" workout was a double run day, 75 min in the morning and a swim in the afternoon followed by another 75 min run in the evening. Mont Tremblant was the second race I fully tapered for this season, with Syracuse 70.3 being the first. For Bassman and Racine, I trained right through, with a minimal decrease in volume. The first week of my taper I managed 12 hours of training and then cut that in half the following week. My focus was on short workouts all at race pace. The key to success was to not overdue it in the final 10 days. I loaded up on carbs, decreased my fiber and fat content and kept my protein as it had been weeks prior.


I arrived in Mont Tremblant on Friday morning and went straight to check in. After waiting in line to get my packet for 2 hours (no joke) I had all this energy to burn, so took a quick dip in Lac Tremblant.

I stayed in a hostel that was located right on the run course. I was able to hop on my bike from there and ride the run course after checking in and drying off from my swim. I must say, after my preview of the run course I was a bit intimidated by the hills! Saturday was the same asFriday in terms of work outs. I swam and biked with a few good efforts at race pace. Also, how could I not mention my pancake breakfast?? It’s my routine the day before a race and it has served me well.

Bike check in was from 10-4pm and sure enough I waited until the last minute to do so. As I casually rolled up at 3:50pm with my bike, the volunteer asked me where my transition bags were... the run and bike bags both needed to be in by 4pm as well and I didn't have them. I racked my bike, sprinted back to my car and had my lovely chauffeur, Tara, speed back to the hostel to grab all my stuff. I shoved everything I could into each bag, rushing to get back in time. Next time I will have to read the MANDATORY excerpts of the race guide!

Race morning:

This was a little bit of a later start than normal. The Pro waves started at 8am and my wave went off 40 min after. Since we were close, I didn't have to rush over to the start and was able to “sleep in” until 5:00. I took in my calorically dense breakfast of 2 oatmeal packets with a scoop of peanut butter, banana, and a coffee (Tim Horton's, only the best). Transition was uneventful and set up was easy.

Swim - 30:17

This swim was gorgeous. The water temp was 68 degrees, crystal clear and calm. You couldn't ask for a more perfect day to get a swim in on this course. I recently switched wetsuits and started swimming with the Roka Maverick Pro. I must say I am impressed with this wetsuit. I swam in it 3-4 times before the race to get used to it and it took no time at all to feel comfortable in it. The body positioning in the water is outstanding, and what is even more impressive is the range of motion in the shoulders. I have to thank Roka Sports, Collin Swenson and Abe from Cambridge Masters for a killer swim PR (2 min PR). Thank you!

T1 - 4:38

It was a lengthy run from Lac Tremblant to the changing tent, which by the way is very strange for a 70.3. You had to grab your transition bag yourself, so it didn’t make sense why we couldn't have just left our stuff near our bikes. Either way it took me forever to get from the lake to the transition tent and then to my bike. I threw on my XX2i shades and Rudy Project Wingspan, went into my flying mount and was off.

Bike - 2:36:46

My split looked very similar to Racine, the only difference being that at Mont Tremblant I gained 2950 feet of climbing versus 1000 feet at Racine. After leaving T1, I felt awesome cranking up the hills out of town. I took a GU immediately, something I normally don't do but wanted to give it a go. My objective for the ride was to stay within myself. I wanted to ride an even paced bike leg. I kept my power between 195-225 watts on the flats and 230-250 watts on the hills. I took in a GU every 20 min with water whenever I was thirsty. As I headed into T2 I thought "I'm as fresh as a daisy!" and was begging to get on that run course. 

Bike Nutrition: 6 GUs, 1 packet of Chomps, 5 water bottles, 1 bottle of flat coke

T2 - 1:20

Once again I grabbed my bag, packing it back up with my bike stuff and heading out. Pretty uneventful here except they had chairs for you to sit in, which was pretty cool. I slipped on my Topo STs and race belt, toggled with my hat, and headed out for a run.

Run - 1:37:17

Ironman changed the run course from the usual Mont Tremblant 70.3 course to make it more challenging for the World Championships. It looked tougher on paper and I definitely felt it in person. I started the run quite fast, something I didn't want to do but I was caught up in all the cheering from the spectators. I settled into my target pace after the first 2mi. The course has many undulating hills, some steep and short and some longer and drawn out. The crowd support and volunteers were TOP NOTCH. Running back into town on a narrow, cobblestone road with spectators going crazy near the finishing chute was simply unbelievable.

Overall 4:50:18


I was so happy to just be a part of this race, and am beyond thrilled with the time I was able to put down at the World Championships. Post-race food was good... pasta, bread, chick pea salad, chocolate milk and beer. For my post-race meal, I had a Canadian favorite called Poutine. For those who don't know what that is, it’s fries, gravy and cheese, which totally hit the spot.

If you ever get the chance to race Mont Tremblant 70.3 or Ironman MT, I highly recommend you take advantage… you will not be disappointed in the slightest. The town gets behind the race 100%, the lodging is all very close to the start and affordable, and the bike course is paved nicely and in great condition. The entire venue is absolutely stunning.

As a side note, Mike pretty much nailed his pre-race predictions!

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