8/29/16

IMMT race recap - pre-race and swim



Karel came to Mont Tremblant with one goal.
To Kona qualify.
This wasn't a goal that came after his 9th place at Ironman Austria but instead, this was THE season goal, which was established last November, when we planned out our 2016 racing schedule.

Although Karel had a phenomenal race at Ironman Austria, just 8 weeks ago, Mont Tremblant was always the race where his training would lead him to peak appropriately on August 21st, 2016.

Ironman Austria was a bit of a shock for Karel, in terms of his overall time and place, especially considering his back and hip issues in the weeks leading up to the race. Additionally, his coach Matt Dixon did not structure his training to "peak" for IM Austria so he was still in the early phases of his development, without getting into the meat of IM specific training.

Karel is not one to make excuses or assumptions when it comes to training or racing, and although he was carrying great momentum from his previous 3 overall race wins in April and May, Karel has been dealing with some body niggles, requiring some modifications in his training.
Unless you are a very close friend of his, you will likely never hear from him that something is wrong or that things are not going well because Karel loves to train but even more, he absolutely loves racing.
Of course, as his wife, I have all the insider details on his training and like any athletic couple, we both have our share of good and bad days/workouts. But I will say that Karel is not one to complain.

Although yes, setbacks are frustrating for him, he always has a great sense of calm that either everything will work out or he will do the best he can and if things happen, he will address them when they happen.

All things said and done, after we went to the roll down at Ironman Austria, when Karel realized that he missed qualifying for Kona by 3 places (it rolled down to 6th place and he was 9th) and it was only less than 2 minutes separating his 9th place finish from 6th place, Karel told me that he had no idea if he could go through the pain and suffering that he felt in Austria. As much as he was looking forward to IMMT, it was a bit of a let down knowing that he was so close to Kona qualifying at Austria.
In all honesty, at that point, he just wished the Kona qualifying was accomplished at IM Austria so that he could race IMMT without pressure.  

Well, it didn't take long and after a few weeks in Czech with his family, filled with lots of beer, momma's home cooking and pastries, Karel returned home to Greenville, motivated to achieve his season goal of Kona qualifying at IMMT.

There were some setbacks and niggles along the way but with a great coach, a hard working mindset, patience and a controllable ego that never gets in the way of smart training (flexibility is key to consistency), alongside frequent massages and PT to keep his body in good shape (we learned that Karel's body needs help in this area), Karel found himself arriving to Mont Tremblant with several weeks of quality training behind him, a healthy body (minus a few niggles requiring kinesio tape, epson salt baths and manual massaging) and excitement to give it his all, once again this season, for 140.6 miles.


I'll cover all the details on traveling to IMMT, and showcasing our amazing Trimarni athletes in action in IMMT (and all of our fun workouts, yummy meals and pictures from our huge team house) but for now, I'm skipping to the insider details of Karel's race.
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On Saturday morning, I rode with a few of our athletes for their 45-75 minute bike warm-up and then continued on with Trimarni athlete Elizabeth (not racing) to give us 2 hours on the bike.

Karel went out in the morning for his own for a pre-race swim and bike and before he came home, I started on his first of three meals for the day (I prepared all his meals on Saturday), which was French Toast, eggs and fruit. He had that with coffee (of course) and a recovery drink of milk and Clif recovery powder. I knew our athletes would need a satisfying carb-rich breakfast after their pre-race workout so I made enough for everyone. 

We could not wait to watch the women's Olympic triathlon so we all crowded in the TV rooms (basement and upstairs) to watch the coverage (a mix of English and French as we were switching the channels during commercial breaks).


The morning was very low key which was good for our athletes. Everyone just did their own thing and relaxed until it was time for bag and bike check in.

 Around 1:30pm, our athletes made their way down to the race venue (only ~1 mile from our rental home, but this walk/drive includes one long hill to go down/up but the hill sits directly on the bike course (near the overhead walkway).

Karel packed his gear bags after the conclusion of the women's triathlon race (way to go Gwen!) and I made him lunch as he was resting in bed, listening to his pre-race play list.
For his second meal of the day, I warmed leftover pasta (from our team pizza/pasta party on Friday night) with some diced chicken breast, cheese, marinara sauce, tomatoes, a few bread slices with butter, from a fresh baguette.
Karel only ate half of his lunch as he was still pretty full from breakfast.
Although, he did have room for 1/2 of a chocolate stuffed croissant after lunch :) 


Karel rode his bike and gear bags down to transition and I walked and met him down. He was "in the zone" so there wasn't a lot of talking by Karel. Although it's hard for me at times because I like talking with Karel before a race, I respect Karel's pre-race routine and I let him do his thing and I am just there if/when he needs me.
Of course, when we both race, Karel is certainly more available to me as I need him much more than he need me. 


At the mandatory pre-race meeting on Friday evening, the race director discussed the possible 3 situations that may occur due to the predicted storms, rain and fog. I commend the race director for having this plan ahead of time and discussing with the athletes. Although many athletes were concerned about the 100% chance of storms all day, this made for less stress and anxiety for those "what if" situations that may occur on race day. The biggest fear was cancelling the swim (or shortening it) due to fog on the lake (which luckily, wasn't an issue come Sunday morning). 


Karel was able to bypass some lines as an AWA athlete which made it very smooth for getting himself in and out of the transition and transition tent.
Ironman did an incredible job with the race set-up, this race venue was not only beautiful but easy to access (you can either walk from your hotel in the town, take a bus or walk from a house up on the hills surrounding the town). 


After Karel finished his to-do's at the race venue around 2:30pm, we walked back up the hill to our team house.

Karel used the rest of the afternoon to relax and to continue to get into his zone.
To help enhance his race day performances, Karel does a lot of visualization before his race. Not only does he see himself succeeding before the race but he also needs a lot of time, visualizing, to get himself ready for the hurt that he will feel on race day. He puts himself IN the race before the race. This requires a lot of alone time and good music but it's a critical part of his pre-race routine. Incorporating this visualization into his pre-race routine has really helped take his performances to the next level this season. 

For Karel's last meal of the day, consumed around 4:30pm, his pre-race dinner meal, I made him a plate of basmati rice and a chicken breast (small one) and tossed it together with marinara sauce and cheese. It's a simple meal and easy to digest, and it's a typical meal for him on the night before his races.
Of course, there were a few cookies and a glass of milk consumed after dinner to satisfy his sweet teeth. 


As for me, the Trimarni spectators and a few Trimarni athletes, we sat outside, told stories and laughed a lot until it was time for dinner. 

Occasionally, Karel would pop out from our bedroom door, on to the balcony and make us all laugh (he has a great sense of humor!).
Here's one of the songs that had us laughing - it was not on his playlist but just a funny tune

Although Karel spent a lot of time alone before the race, he was also very available to our athletes, as we had course talks every evening, we ate most meals together and we socialized together throughout the day.
Karel even did some bike mechanic work to make sure our athletes all had good mechanical luck on race day.


I just love these moments with our athletes. Trimarni family time. 

Every evening, I, along with Elizabeth, Taylor, Amy and Angela, we would prepare  a meal for our athletes (and us). This made it easy for our athletes to feel nourished and fueled but it also took the stress away from "what should I eat." Food was always ready and our athletes didn't have to worry about pre or clean-up. 


And Taylor (Adam's wife), who is also a great photographer (along with Trimarni athlete Ryan - thank you both for so many great pictures!), made our house smell incredibly yummy with these M-dot cookies.

Of course, a few "accidentally" broke so a few of us had to take care of those pieces before the race (including Karel.)


Karel went to be very early (around 7:30pm) but I stayed up to watch the Olympics, until 10:30pm. It was a different feeling for me to not be racing so although I was nervous for my athletes and Karel, I wasn't able to fall asleep until around 11pm. 

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The athletes woke up around 3:45am to start the coffee and to eat their pre-race meals. I woke up around 4:20 am to start my shuttling services at 4:30 am, to take a few Trimarni's (and spectators) to the bottom of our hill to cut back on walking time.


Karel had all his bottles ready (3 on his bike, 2 for special needs on the bike and 4 flasks for the run) so all he had to do was eat and make his morning bottle to sip on in transition.

For breakfast, Karel had a few sips of a Bolthouse protein drink (vanilla) along with his typical pre-race meal - a fresh croissant topped with jam. He also had some MUD, along with coffee.
For this race, Karel did almost everything the same as his prior races as it worked before, so why change it now.

Karel wore my dad's favorite had for good luck and continued to listen to his music throughout the early morning hours. 

I gave Karel a big hug and a kiss and told him to be safe and to enjoy the day. Karel has never had a bad Ironman performance so I never worry about his race performance but instead, I just always hope that he can race to his full potential -it's a long day and anything can happen. 


After everyone was out of the house, Elizabeth, Ryan and I walked down to the swim start (and met up with Trimarni athlete Mike, who was not racing and his girlfriend - who both came to cheer on his teammates).



So far, the weather looked good but with the dark clouds moving quick, it was only a matter of time before the rain came down. Thankfully, no fog on the lake, so the race was to go on as planned.
The weather was comfortable (air and water). The pros had a non wetsuit swim and the age groupers could swim with wetsuits. 
It was an incredible sight to see all the athletes and spectators walking to the swim. 





We met up with everyone (all 7 Trimarni athletes) at the swim start for a few last minute good luck wishes. 





Elizabeth, Taylor and I made our way to the swim start to see our athletes in the corral, before crossing the chip mat to start the swim. 


I was able to see Karel one last time which made me relieved that I could give him one last hug. I was SO nervous for him and all our athletes but I knew everyone was ready.





We found the perfect spot right at the fence to see the athletes so we were able to cheer for every Trimarni athlete, in his/her wave.




I was not able to see the swimmers start in the water so after we did a head check of all 7 Trimarni athletes, who we saw in the swim corral, we made our way to the swim exit.


Because of the extremely long run from the swim exit, to the transition tent and then to bike out, 
us Trimarni spectators split up so that we could see the Trimarni athletes at various spots from swim to bike. We set up a group chat (via text) on our phones ahead of time so that we could let each other know when x-Trimarni athlete was coming. 

I had predicted my athletes swim splits ahead of time just to have an idea of when they should be finishing the swim but when I didn't see Adam (first wave) and Karel (5 minutes after Adam, at 6:48am) in the times that I had predicted, I figured it was a slow swim.

Although we swam on Thurs in very calm water, race day provided very choppy water for the athletes, which resembled the waves you would experience in the ocean.

Karel told me that he felt great the entire swim and felt extremely strong in the water. When he saw his swim split of 1:06, he didn't get worried that he was going to have a bad race because of the slower than anticipated swim time (we were thinking he would swim 1:03-1:04)  but instead, his first thought was "well, I guess it was a slow swim for everyone."

Although the swim time may have been "slow" for Karel on paper, this was actually his best swim placement in an Ironman (22nd AG, 155th male). Typically, he is is at least 60+ place in his age group after the swim (in Austria, he was 63rd AG out of the swim and 319th male).

This is why we always tell our athletes to never make assumptions and to not let a swim time affect the rest of your race - when you see your time after the swim, it's time to forget about it and move on (a main reason why I don't wear a watch for the swim when I race - my swim time will not tell me how my race is going). 



After seeing all 7 Trimarni athletes, it was nearing 9am when we started to walk back to the team house. Elizabeth and Ryan were by the round-about to catch the athletes to start the bike.


Karel told me that he was determined to go through T1 as quick as possible. He wasted no time and transitioned from swim to bike in less than 5 minutes. He said he treated it like he was on the track and ran as hard as he could from the swim to the changing tent, in order to pass as many people as he could.
Transitions are free speed!

While walking back, we felt a drizzle of rain which eventually turned into a rain shower by the time we got back to the house. We knew the rain would be coming and my only thought was that all Trimarnis would be able to safely finish the bike with good mechanical luck. I knew the bike times would be affected because poor weather conditions don't reward great fitness levels but instead, those who are smart and avoid taking risks.

After a quick breakfast (my spectating diet consisted of several PB and J sandwiches, fruit and Mojo, Clif nut butter filled bars and Kits organic Clif Bars) I changed my clothes for the cooler temps and rain, grabbed my umbrella and made my way down to the bike course, out and back section, with Mike, Erin and Taylor to cheer on the Trimarni athletes in action.