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Ironman Mont-Tremblant / North American Championships 2013 Race Report

By on September 1, 2013

Ironman Mont-Tremblant is a beautiful, scenic, quaint ski village in the mountains of Quebec, and it’s ONE HARD IRONMAN RACE! I will start out this report by making one definitive statement. Ironman Mont-Tremblant is harder than Ironman Louisville. I looked and looked for comparisons between the courses and there is so much discussion about it but nobody really comes out and says it, well I am.. It was a huge wake up call for me… There was absolutely no comparison between the difficulty of the two courses. I have only completed two Ironman races. I can only compare #IMMT and #IMLou, but it’s a huge difference.

I trained the entire time in the HOT flat lands of South Louisiana, and on my indoor trainer, and I quickly learned a huge lesson, which is, “Train in the mountains if you are racing in the mountains” hahahaha!!!!! Obvious, yes I know, but unfortunately I didn’t have the money or the time to be whisked away to the mountains for that kind of training. In a perfect world I would have taken weekly trips to the mountains to do long climbs and hard training in the mountains but that’s really not possible when you live in South Louisiana and you don’t have a ton of funds. I digress, let’s get to the good stuff…

Arrival: August 14th

We flew from New Orleans, Philly, to Burlington, then drove from Burlington through Montreal and then arrived at Mont-Tremblant. I traveled with my Merrell / Naturade Team Manager Rob Fairburn which made things really nice because he not only kept me company but he kept me focused, organized, hydrated, and fed.

We stayed with a local family that we found through CouchSurfing.com. They provided us a private condo, kitchen, bath, and two bedrooms for free, which really helped make the trip a success financially. I have a rule that unless the race/trip is free, I can’t do it… I am a single dad and I just can’t spend money on doing races unless it’s 100% covered by sponsors or generous people like the ones we found in Mont-Tremblant. Not only did they provide us with a good home but they fed us and we had some great discussions. The family spoke very good english, which was good because neither of us could speak French. While at dinner we discovered that they were all elite cyclists, cross country skiers, mountain bikers, multiple Spartan Race Champions, and pretty much awesome at anything involving endurance. Needless to say I quickly went from being the most elite athlete in the house, to the least elite athlete in the house HAHAHA… It was awesome! I will never forget how loving, caring, and genuinely nice this family was towards us. Merci beaucoup!

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I’ve never experienced a more organized race. Since the race is based out of a self contained ski village it was very capable of handling all of the people with no problem. I wanted to get down to the village and ride a little bit just to see what kind of climbing I was going to encounter plus I wanted to swim a little bit. I shipped my bike via FedEx and when it arrived I put it together and noticed there was some damage so I needed to take it to a bike tech and get it fixed. I did not plan on spending that money so it kind of sucked to have some cash taken from the budget but obviously it needed to be fixed so we took care of that first thing. Once the bike was fixed I rode and really felt confident about the hills. I only rode for an hour and later during the actual race I would discover that the first part is not hard at all. The reality was not totally apparent to me yet, but it would soon come during the race LOL.

The banquet was very nice, food was good, I had plenty of Vegan choices so I felt very accepted and I felt like Ironman had really made sure that vegetarians and vegans would have a good meal. This might not seem like a big deal to most but I was thrilled to have a comfortable dinner without saying, “Man, there is no food here for me to eat.”

The time I spent in Mont-Tremblant was amazing. The people were magnificent, accepting of the Ironman culture, ready to have you in their community with open arms. Ironman Mont-Tremblant is also a super KID FRIENDLY event. I would say it’s the most Kid Friendly Ironman in the world. As a Dad, I was studying the place the whole time. If you stay in the Village (which we did not) then your entire family, regardless of age, would have immediate access to anything they desired. They have little parks, playgrounds, zip lines, rock walls, activities, pools, hot tubs, a billion restaurants, ice cream, treats, coffee, etc.. Anything your family would want is there. If you are trying to do an Ironman but need to bring the whole family then this is your race. The finish line can be viewed from your hotel balcony, CRAZY AWESOME!

Registration, bike check in, bag check in all went very smooth and they had everything nailed down to an exact science.

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RACE MORNING

Before I get fully into the details I want to say THANK YOU to my sponsors Merrell, Naturade, Specialized Cycling, Lock Laces, GU ENERGY, and Varsity Sports.

I also want to say THANK YOU to my Team Manager Rob, my Coach Greenie, and to my mom Julie.  You have all helped support me through this journey and without you I wouldn’t have made it, period. Love you guys!!

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Woke up at 3:45am, drank my iced coffee with soy and 2 raw sugars, I ate a PBJ & Banana sandwich, a cliff bar an hour after that, and sipped on water all the way up until swim start. Rob drove me to the transition area, dropped me off, I got my water bottles topped off, aired my tires, met back up with rob, and we proceeded to the swim start. Rob kept me on track and I was super relaxed, excited, and happy. This was the first 100% stress free race start and it was mainly because I knew Rob was there and no matter what he had things under control with any logistical issues or last minute things.

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IRONMAN MONT-TREMBLANT SWIM : 1:30:11

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The swim start was completely amazing. Unlike Louisville, you get to warm up in the water and get ready for the race. I think this was the reason I PR’d my swim by 7 mins this year. Last year I jumped in the water without warming up and that made me nervous. I hope all races in the future allow us to warm up a little because I think it’s a HUGE deal for me. The Canadian Air Force flew jets over at the start of the race to lead us into the water and the energy was amazing.

The swim was the easiest, fastest, most relaxed open water experience of my life. I never got bumped, slapped, kicked, or anything. I stayed just on the outside to the left of the big wave of people and caught their drag and had a relaxed swim. I definitely know what to do from now on with IM swims. The water was so refreshing and the visibility was so clear that you could easily see anyone around you. The swim exit was a little bit of a run but nothing super crazy.

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T1: SWIM-TO-BIKE 10:38

IRONMAN MONT-TREMBLANT BIKE: 7:28:19

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This is where the party ended and the suffering began LOL. I trained in Louisiana with no mountains and I paid for it on the 2nd loop. The first loop was not bad and I felt pretty confident, except for the beginning section of the Chemin Duplessis which was very insane with 17%+ climbs. When I got out on 117 during the second loop the cycling cramps on my quads near my knees started getting antsy, then worse, then REALLY REALLY worse. I kept moving but geared on the little wheel pretty high so that I could spin them out and try to work it out a little. It didn’t work because the climbs kept coming and they were longer stretched out climbs so there was no way to relieve the stress. I would change positions a lot and try to get comfortable but at some point I just knew this was going to be the level of comfort throughout the rest of the bike. I had 40 miles left and my legs were already cramping out of control, good times… LOL… I just kept saying, “This is Ironman bro… deal with it… get comfortable being uncomfortable because this is gonna be a LONG day.”

My heart rate was perfect and my fitness was there BUT my legs were not conditioned and ready for the climbing. Lesson learned, the hard way! Next time I will be more prepared for the mountains. I trained everything really well and showed up at this race a better athlete than I was at Ironman Louisville. If I would have picked this race LAST year it would have probably been a disaster. Very happy I chose Ironman Louisville as my first race after experiencing this extremely difficult bike course.

The last loop was pure survival mode and when I hit the Chemin Duplessis the worst nightmare EVER began. The slow, grinding, out of the seat, non-stop, never ending, teeth gritting, cramping, tears in my eyes climbing began. This last 17km would end up being the biggest accomplishment of my race career so far. I saw SO MANY stopping, getting off their bikes, and walking them up and I swore to myself that I would not get off of this bike, regardless of cramps, or ANYTHING else. One by one I knocked out each climb… They got worse, then better, then worse, then worse LOL.

When I arrived at bike transition my legs were TOAST. I walked in the tent and luckily there was a PT there to massage my legs and loosen me up and relieve the cramps. I don’t know what his name was but he beat the living crap outta me LOL… He put some serious tears in my eyes while working my quads out. But he did an awesome job because I was able to get up feeling a little better and start the run.

T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 14:32

IRONMAN MONT-TREMBLANT RUN: 6:42:29

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This past year I worked extremely hard on my run and really made some awesome improvements. I was hoping to show that hard work off with a great run time at Ironman Mont-Tremblant. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be on this day. Not being prepared to climb the mountains took it’s toll and my legs were trashed. I was walking and running the whole time, sometimes even having trouble walking because of the cramps. It was not fun by any means but I did the math and I knew that as long as I kept relentlessly moving forward that I would make it with plenty of time to spare. It wasn’t plan A, plan B, or Plan C, but Ironman has a funny way of making you change plans regardless of how you feel about it LOL.

While on my walk/run I got to spend some time with Fireman Rob. I knew all about him, his cause, his journey and when I started talking to him he instantly became even more inspirational.

He was such a nice guy, down to earth, genuine, sincere, and he quickly didn’t want to talk about himself, he wanted to know something about me. He said,  ‘it’s the best part about Ironman, everyone has an incredible story.” So I told him a little about me, he shook my hand and told me how cool my story was, then we talked about IronDad stuff for a minute (because he is a big time family man). Rob would continue walking but I had to start my running again and move along so we parted ways. What a nice guy. (To find out more about Fireman Rob and his cause please click here: http://www.firemanrob.com)

THE IRONMAN MONT-TREMBLANT FINISH: 16:06:09

I decided to run the last 5km regardless of how I felt… I was just ready for the day to be over at this point. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ironman, but I wasn’t having a ton of fun at the moment LOL. So I took a big drink of water, ate some orange slices, and starting running. The closer I got to the Village the faster I ran, I was definitely barn sour. With about 2km left something very cool happened, my friend Simon, the guy behind IMMT Social Media, was running around looking for me, and he found me. He told me my Team Manager Rob was waiting for me to the left of the finish line, he ran on the sidewalk (off the course), and kept yelling encouraging words. He was taking pictures and video and then said, “Dude, you are running fast I am trying to keep up”. Simon is a pretty in shape guy so I knew I was running decently fast and I just wanted to keep moving as fast as possible until I was done.

I ran up through the Village and into the chute. The chute was amazing, lined with people, lights, music, screaming fans, high fives, and BEST OF ALL, IT’S DOWN HILL!! LOL.. So I was really moving fast.. I felt like I was the winner of the race, like a million bucks!!! This is what’s magical about Ironman you see, I WAS the winner… The race was not against the other people, it was against me. I started, changed plans, changed plans again, I had adversity, I had struggle, pain, PAIN, P-A-I-N!!!, I had tears, happy moments, sad moments, nervous moments, scary moments… But in the end the pain went away, I was here, at the finish, about to cross. I ran down the last little bit and stepped up onto the stage and heard those sweet words, “Dustin Hinton, you are an IROMAN, You did it buddy!”

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So that’s it, another Ironman in the books. As always the best part of the trip was arriving home and picking my son Boston up from school with HIS medal. He was not extremely happy that I did this Ironman without him because last year he was at the finish line. unfortunately, there was no way to bring him this time logistically, financially, and with school starting that week. Pictured below was the moment he got the medal…

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And that’s it folks… That’s why I do it.. His little brain started spinning, started thinking, started DREAMING. You could see it… About Ironman? Maybe not.. About DREAMS? absolutely! Regardless, he knows he can do anything because his old man is doing just that. I want my son to grow up knowing that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!! 

Thank you for following along my journey to the KONA Ironman World Championships. 2 down, 10 more to go 😉

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Please take a minute to check out the companies that have helped me get here:

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