IronMan Mont Tremblant Race Report

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IronMan Mont Tremblant Race Report

August 16, 2015

This has been a journey and a dream for 8 years. After quickly falling in love with cycling then slowly realizing I was a runner, I had the swim to overcome. It took 3 years and a lot of “facing my fear”, but I would say that after this race, while not the best swimmer, I feel like I can finally hold my own in the water.

We arrived Friday afternoon at Mont Tremblant which is a beautiful ski mountain resort in Canada. Kathy (my training partner) and I had to check in before 4pm. Once we got our families settled, we headed to athlete check in. Just standing in line made me feel a little nauseous. I had a waiver to sign, which was in French, so I decided it was better I didn’t read through it because I knew that the race was risky. So next stop weigh in. Yes, they weigh you in case you pass out and they need to see how much weight you loose. Race bags, bib, swim caps, timing chip, stickers and we are off. Next stop IronMan shopping tent where they give out our complimentary race bag. Which was a total score – roomy, red backpack – two thumbs up!

Friday night is an athlete banquet. Kathy and I went while our families went for pizza. The banquet was a little overwhelming. 2300 athletes, live music, TV screens, inspirational video clips and Mike Reilly, the famous announcer!

Afterwards, we walked to our condo. Luckily it was only a 5 min walk from the IronMan Village. Unfortunately, it was on a hill, but still a total SCORE!

Saturday morning – Kathy and I wake up and are ready for a quick swim and bike. We desperately need this to help with our nerves. When we get to the lake we are thrilled to see our DTN (my triathlon group) about to swim. It was great to get in the lake with them and go for a short swim. The lake was the perfect temperature and pretty clear for a lake. I felt great afterwards. Our bike was short too, but just enough to move our legs and get a feel for the rolling hills.

Saturday afternoon was sorting our bags for race day. Swim morning, bike transition, bike special needs, run transition, and run special needs were the bags that I had to organize. There was a lot to sort out to make sure we had everything we needed for our race. Once everything was sorted, we dropped off our bikes and bags and crossed our fingers that we didn’t forget anything.

Saturday evening we went to Mille Pates for our big pre race dinner. This was the last real meal we would eat before 14 hours of racing! They offered an IronMan special so you can guess what I ate! It was delicious and I highly recommend it!

I was exhausted Saturday so luckily I fell fast asleep just after 9pm. Unfortunately, I woke up at 1 am and stayed up until 3 am. My mind of course was racing. I fell back asleep until 4:15 when my alarm went off. It’s go time!

Kathy and I had coffee and tried to eat a bagel, but we both had a hard time getting it down. So we headed down to transition for body marking. It was a long walk from the transition to the swim start so after we checked on our bikes we headed to the start. We waited on the bathroom line by the lake for a LONG time and then put on our wetsuits and headed to the water. Amazing timing because we saw our families. They had a sign for me from my friends that made me cry. But I didn’t have long to cry because it was time to line up. I saw Michelle from DTN and she reminded me to be calm and breathe and swim my own race – great words that I took with me to the water. We walked toward the crowd of other swim caps and before I knew it we were moving through the coral and the gun went off!

2.4 Mile Swim

I went in toward the back , but was surrounded by pink caps. My age group was the last age group to go – there were about 300 people in mine. I got bumped, was hit in the head and couldn’t find space, but I just kept thinking, today is the day, Nina; just keep swimming; you know how to swim, and I did. There were 13 buoys out, 3 at the turn, and 13 back. By the 4th buoy the crowd started to spread out and I had some space. I felt pretty good and didn’t have too much trouble sighting because there were still enough people around me to orient myself in the water. Once I made the turn around, I started to catch up to other color caps which meant slower swimmers from other age groups. I was trying to stay away from them, but then a guy kicked me in my tennis elbow arm – OUCH – I saw stars, but kept on swimming. The water got choppy at this point, but I stopped kicking and was able to even out.  The swim was long, but didn’t feel too long and then I was able to see the ground, the swim was over – YEAHHHH! I survived an IronMan swim – check – and done!

My family was right there when I came out of the water. I asked about Kathy and she was ahead of me – yeah – we both were safe! On to the swim suit strip and run to the bike transition. This was long, but on a nice red carpet. Once inside transition, I had an amazing volunteer help me. Sunscreen, helmet, socks, and shoes. Then it was onto the bike – my favorite part.

112 Mile Bike

The bike was a 2 loop course which I heard was rolling to start, then a long highway with some cross winds, and then a hill. So I took the first loop slower than I normally would ride, focusing on drinking and eating. I knew it was hot so I wanted to make sure I was hydrated.  I definitely was because I had to stop for the bathroom a few times. (which is an entire story in itself  — let’s just say gross!) I tried to make small talk as I rode and some people responded, but most were pretty serious or maybe they didn’t speak English – who knows! I felt great, passing lots of people even at my slower pace. As I was coming back into town toward the end of the 1st loop I found Kathy – yippee! We caught up for a bit and then I was back to focusing on my ride. The hills were next. They were challenging, but I have been up worse. So onto the second loop. This one I knew what to expect, but I still held back as I knew at the end I had the hills to tackle and a marathon to run. So again, pace, fuel, hydration…I saw the lead cyclist coming in. He had a motorcycle following him with a camera; very cool. On the second loop of the hills, I saw so many people walking their bike. I told myself you are stronger than that, just keep pedaling.  To the top and then a fast down which was nice.  I felt the breeze and saved my legs for a bit.

Coming off the bike, the volunteers were waiting to take it from me. I saw my family again. Love that! The announcer called my name and then said something about me looking 18 instead of 42. I’ll take it. Again the volunteers in the tent were amazing and helped me to get my run gear and sunscreen on.

26.2 Run

The run is a 2 loop course that starts and ends with hills and has a long out and back in between.  I couldn’t think of it as a marathon, but instead station to station. They had a station set up every mile with fuel, drink, and medical attention. My plan – run until the station, walk through – hydrate, fuel and run after the station.  I got in this rhythm and was feeling pretty good considering it was already 3pm. I was salting, taking in gu, and happy to know that I was getting closer to my IronMan goal. I saw all of the DTN group one by one on the run. It was awesome to have familiar faces in the crowds. I made friends with another runner wearing a RWB (red white blue) jersey. His kit read airforce which is what I called him since I didn’t have the capacity to remember anyone’s name.  We paced well together, talked some and ran some in silence. As the miles wore on, I started to feel it and began to pray. I talked to my angels, my Dad and Cousin Maica. I took comfort feeling them with me. It was still very hot, so as we passed people with hoses, misting stations, etc. I let myself get wet, not smart though because I could feel the chaffing begin.

Airforce and I were going strong and we ran through the village past the finish after the first 13.1. I saw my family stopped to kiss them and he waited for me. He loved that they were there for me. He hadn’t seen his yet. We both had a goal of under 14 hours. We were both on track. Since he started earlier than me, I would have to finish early to help him hit his goal.  So we kept on running. I started to not feel well as the miles hit the upper teens. I got quiet and tried to figure out what was going on. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to stop. I told Airforce I was going to get sick. There was a porta potty. He said he would wait for me. I knew he could still hit his goal, but not if he was waiting for me. So I had to convince him that this was his race and he couldn’t wait. I could tell he didn’t want to leave me as he was definitely trained with military mentality, but he finally did.  After getting a little sick  I walked. Every step hurt. I was dizzy and clammy. I knew if I kept walking I would hit an aid station. My plan was chicken soup. I read on other race reports that this helped. When I finally got to the aid station I went to the medic tent and began drinking it it. It tasted like heaven. Someone offered me coke since I was nauseous. At this point I knew it couldn’t hurt. I was still walking. Feeling sick and also worried about my time. My pace was an 18 min mile in my walk. I decided to try to run. It wasn’t easy at first, but I finally made it to the next station. More soup and coke. Then walk and run as much as I can. Everyone around me was walking or speed walking. We all played the game of pass each other as we took turns running and walking. I was passing special needs and realized I was thirsty for water, but there wasn’t a station there. A woman who was in that area gave me her bottle that was half empty and I drank it! (Yes, me the germaphobe)

I caught up to a woman who asked me if I started at 7am. She said that we could make it in by 9pm if we ran so off we went. I could hear the crowd, the music and Mike Reilly calling names. I couldn’t believe my dream was near. The crowds were still cheering even though it was dark.  I was still walk running, but trying to run more than walk. I kept telling myself the more you run, the faster you will get there. Then it happened I saw the entrance to the village and the chute. I was elated. Emotions ran over me. I thought I saw Marty from DTN in front of me. Now we were both running down the chute. High fives to the crowd that lined the chute. Lights, music, it was insane. Then the words I wanted to hear for so long…Maria Nina DeLucia from Hillsborough, New Jersey, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.

The years of thinking I could never be an Ironman because I can’t swim, the fear that racing for that long would leave me walking a marathon, the fear that something might go wrong and it wouldn’t happen. It was all overcome with teaching myself that anything is possible and showing my kids, family, and friends that dreams can come true!

With a total time of 13:56, I reached my goal of 14 hours. I had a secret goal of 13:30 if everything went perfect, but my dizzy spell threw it off. It’s ok, it gives me another goal for next time!

I couldn’t have done this without the support of my husband who helped me with the kids and was great about my early bedtime, lack of wine drinking, and my disappearing on weekend mornings until the afternoon for long rides and runs. My kids who at 13 and 15 saw how hard I was working and helped me around the house. They didn’t understand my goal, but they respected it and fully supported me. My Mom who cooked meals, did laundry, helped with dishes and the kids. My coach who gave me the plan, confidence and a sense of peace as I moved through the weeks of training. My friends who trained with me in the water (Kate, Natalie, Jenn and Sue), on the bike (Kathy, Tonya, Bill, Jenn, Sue, Robyn, Megan, Tammy and Jamie) and running (Lisa, Robyn, Laura, Natalie, Nancy). The many miles we spent together were priceless. I enjoyed the company and the push whenever I needed one. All the Pink Ladies who supported me emotionally. My BFF’s who understood when I couldn’t hang like a rock star and slept and ate the same time as a senior citizen. Katherine S, who introduced me to IronMan in the first place. (and yes I had the same response everyone has – you do all that in one day?) All my friends and family who texted, posted on my FB or called with messages of encouragement and congrats. Finally, my training partner Kathy who inspired me to start this journey this year. I was going to wait another year as I wanted to make sure I could conquer the water. With much less racing experience she was all in and inspired me to take the leap. Last, but not least – God – for answering my prayers! THANK YOU!

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