When I crossed the finish line at Ironman Mont Tremblant in August 2016, I would have never guessed it would be almost two years before I would cross the finish line at another triathlon.
That fall I started a new job in a new field. I threw myself into work 100% and was working a lot of extra hours. I stopped training. I gave up my coach. And the one triathlon I had registered for in 2017, I DNS-ed and volunteered instead.
I was able to get back into running seriously enough to finish some races as 2017 came to a close, including the Cloudsplitter 50k, but it was a triathlon-free year. One of my best friends, Megan, and I joked that 2017 was “the year work won.”
During my volunteering stint at the 2017 iteration of Tupper Lake Tinman, I signed up for the 2018 race – frankly, because it was so ridiculously well-priced, in addition to knowing I wanted to get back into triathlon in 2018.
Fast forward to this year. I’m trying to get myself back into shape for Ironman Canada, but dealing with some other stuff (as we all are). I headed to Tupper Lake not sure what to expect of myself. At the very least, I was looking forward to a week away with my mom and Megan.
My mom and I drove up to Tupper Lake on Thursday and the weather was GLORIOUS! We stopped for lunch at the Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake. We could look right out at the water and it was amazing.
We left there and headed to Tupper, where we checked into our hotel. We were there all of 30 minutes and I was already in a lawn chair by the lake soaking up the sun.
Friday was another beautiful day. I went for a short spin on the bike around Tupper Lake to make sure everything was okay with my race wheels (which have also been sitting around for 22 months…) and my new cassette. I went for a short shakeout jog with Megan and then we got into our wetsuits and went for a short swim to one of the race buoys and back (one of the many benefits to staying at the motel next to the race site). The water temperature was perfect and we both felt good.
We went to lunch at Big Tupper Brewing (get the apple pie bites if you go there!!) and then to packet pick-up at the local ice rink.
Megan and I registered so early for the race last year that we were bib numbers 12 and 13 – AND THE NUMBERS ONLY STARTED AT 10! As has been my experience in both of the years I have come to the race, everyone associated with the race is SUPER friendly and the vibe is very low pressure, which I love.
On race morning, we only had to wake up at 5:00 (VERY late in race day terms), since we were so close to the race site. Even though the weather forecast had predicted otherwise, it was raining when we got up. We knew we had plenty of time so we tried to wait-out the rain before setting up transition. Even though the rain did let up a bit, we decided to just put all of our stuff in plastic garbage bags like you would do at an Ironman to keep everything dry.
The nice thing about having such low bib numbers is that we were in the very first row and wouldn’t have any problems finding our stuff!
The weather was chilly on race morning and we were glad to be in sleeved wetsuits to keep us warm before the start. I had the pleasure of meeting Amy Farrell from the Coeur team, who I follow on social, before the swim start. Megan and I said our good lucks and waded into the water.
So, issue number one for me was that the water is really shallow where you start and I should have filled my wetsuit with water, but I didn’t because of the fact that it was only to my knees. I should have known better, but this is why you have a race to shake off the cobwebs before doing your first IM in two years!
Additionally, I did not listen to my coach and start at the back of the swim, so that’s on me. Hand up. I wanted to swim with Megan, so I lined up with her mid-pack and that was dumb. The swim start was quite rough and I immediately regretted that decision. It really through me off and it took me a long time to recover. #listentoyourcoach
On top of all of this, 1.2 miles was much longer than I remember! I’m kind of kidding, but kind of not!
Suffice it to say my swim this year was SIX MINUTES slower than my 2016 swim. OUCH! I will leave it at that.
I was so thrilled to get out of that damn lake and move on to my bike. Megan was still in transition when I got there and was waiting for me. If you know her at all, you know that is SO Megan! She is too nice for her own good! I yelled at her to go (twice!) and she finally obliged.
I tried to move swiftly to get everything out of my garbage bag. I struggled a bit to get my bike gloves on, but with the rain I really wanted to wear them to help me grip my bottles.
I ran out of transition, said “hi” to my mom as I mounted my bike, and then off I went. Shortly thereafter an ambulance came by – lights flashing, sirens blaring – and the only reason I mention this is that the bikes that didn’t pull over for the ambulance to pass encompass everything everyone hates about triathletes.
The bike course has some notable hills, but going out, I was able to keep a strong effort once I got going post swim (that always takes me some time). My race plan did not include going all out on the bike this time around and I did feel like I was able to strike a good balance between working hard and holding back ever so slightly. I was trying to remind myself to drink, even though it was cold.
On the way back, my speed slowed and I’m not sure whether that was a result of all of the passing I had to do on the way out (#shittyswimproblems), a nutrition issue, and/or a result of the wind, but knowing my goal for the day was to come in around 3:00, I wasn’t overly concerned. That being said, I know my biking is stronger than that right now, and I hope that shows in Whistler. I did have some issues getting into the big ring on the ride, and I will obviously get that looked at before Canada next month.
One thing I should note is that the roads are open to traffic for the race and in some places the shoulder is quite rough. If you haven’t ridden around a lot of cars, you should before the race, and you should get used to looking for traffic before passing (I cringed a few times as I saw athletes oblivious to what was happening around them).
The bike was relatively uneventful. I had one guy who kept passing me and sitting up. I really wanted to say “Bro, you doing intervals?” but I didn’t. I also saw one young woman with an older guy (her dad?) pulling her the entire way, which really pissed me off, but what can you do?
I came in from the bike, saw my mom again, racked my back, grabbed my bike stuff, made a quick porta potty stop, and off I went for the run.
I did not feel great for the first few miles. This is not an easy run course and I was feeling that. The negative thoughts started rolling in. Then I remembered the old “smile even though you’re feeling shitty” trick. I started talking to the volunteers and other runners and sure enough it worked. Around mile five of the run I reminded myself I was supposed to be trying to run fast and I snapped right out of my funk and started moving. It was bizarre. It was as though I had the longest warm-up ever to an 8 mile run.
I definitely do not remember the run course being this hilly in 2016, but it was a bitch. I was so proud of myself for keeping up a strong pace even with the hills. one of my miles was an 8:37, which is great for me on a hard course in a 70.3! I ended up with a 2:03 run, which I was quite pleased with.
I ended up with a 6:00:12 total race time compared to 5:56:51 in 2016, which, all things considered is pretty good.
I can’t say enough about how much I love this race. There is TONS of on course support – plenty of aid stations on the run (which is such a huge help to the athletes), and during the swim you are never far from a paddle board or canoe. The town really seems to support the race, which I always love to pay back in turn by patronizing all of the local businesses that support the event. Huge thanks to the race director, volunteers, sponsors, and the town of Tupper Lake for another great race! I will most definitely be back in 2019 for the 37th Tupper Lake Tinman!
If you want to join me, you should sign-up soon. If you register between now and Tuesday, June 26th, you can use the code RACEDAY10 for 10% off the earliest registration. Guys, that’s 145 bucks (including all fees) for a 70.3!! Registration is available at: https://register.chronotrack.com/r/40259.
Hope to see you in gorgeous Tupper Lake next June!