August 26, 2022
View Ironman package vid here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVI6YGKkDJw
View my YT review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_n8PA85whk
It was epicness.
For those who don’t know, an Ironman is a 4km swim, followed by a 180km bike ride, finishing with a gruelling 42km marathon.
My background as an endurance athlete is about 5 marathons, Spartan races, 1 half Ironman and 1 half Ironman.
Although this was the easiest Ironman I did, it was still painful.
Here’s the story.
So planning an Ironman is as hard, if not harder than the Ironman itself, when compiling the pain of the details.
Where to start, in the planning?
My buddy Phil did the Ironman with me and finished 2 hours ahead of me!
Training for an Ironman requires significant time, money and energy, which is why few even reach the starting line.
I already had my bike and stuff, but the subscription costs 1200$. The energy and time you need to dedicate to it is ambitious. More on this later.
Now, the story, the event.
So me and Phil arrived at the event friday, the 19th of August. We had the bikes, the bags and everything in Phil’s car.
Phil rented a last minute airbnb in mont-tremblant so we could stay there and not go back and forth. We had rented another airbnb the 20th of Aug that we’d transfer the next day.
So we arrived there on the 19th and it was our registration day. Aka we needed to go get our race packet containing our tracking chip, race numbers, stickers, and cool merch. They’d give us the 3 bags we’d need to fill with race-day items. 1 bag for swim morning, 1 bag for bike transition, and the last bag for run transition.
Bags in hand, we dropped them at the car, and decided to take the rest of the afternoon to chill in the Mont-Tremblant village. We took a CBD pill + smoke 1-2 puffs of a joint and decided to go buy stuff. To us, the Ironman merch zone is like a candy shop. Anything Ironman-branded needs to be bought. The logo has such a powerful appeal. It represents pride, grit and success.
While having various deep convos ranging from business to personnal life, we bought ironman coffee mugs, water bottles. I almost bought lululemon running shorts costing 100$, but my rational mind brought me back to reality.
We then stopped at a fondue “La Savoyarde” restaurant to eat. I had been there before and it was always a great experience. Obviously they changed management. The service was average. The fondue machine didn’t work a couple times. It cost us 160$ each (yes we ordered fine wine) and the waitress forgot to give us our 30$ discount each.
We still had tremendous conversations during supper. It felt great connecting back with my buddy. I was obsessed with the idea of going to the spa to sweat the beer and the ¼ bottle of wine we drank, but the Scandinave Spa was closing at 9pm and it was already 8:30pm.
So we decided to walk up the village and encountered a spa in the fairmount hotel, the same hotel we went to pick up our race gear. They had a spa. Me and Phil went to the reception but found 0 employees. There’s an insane labour shortage in Quebec, and we would have paid someone something, but no one was there to take our money. So we went in their sauna and pool for free, essentially. I guess we indirectly paid them through our 1200$ ironman fee. So we sweated out the alcohol, did some breathworks, and headed back to sleep to our guettobnb.
Arriving there, I listened to Harry Potter, on a DVD, yes, on a DVD. Called the wife, read. Had trouble sleeping on the shitty bed my gracious friend Phil handed me, but slept. Woke up with back pains the next day from the shitty bed, but it was still great.
We were saturday the 20 of August today, 1 day before the race.
After coffee and arranging the bags, me and Phil headed to the village again, to drop our bags and bikes.
We tried a cold bath immersion (cold plunge), a new company in the village, it was awesome. 5mins gave quick recovery to our body in addition to the sauna. The perfect pre-race routine. We then went for a swim to test the waters. It was a great swim, second time I tried my wetsuit.
We then respectively got to meet our family supporters dropping by. Phil met his at the center of the village, and I met mine at the Marina of Mt-Tremblant. We both headed to our respective airbnb. We planned on eating supper together but that got cancelled.
I ate a steak, salmon, rice, eggs and apple croustade. Drank plenty of water and teas. Tried to go to sleep. Finally succeeded in sleeping.
Woke up at 4:00am on race day. My alarm was set to 4:30am. We were 30mins away from the race, so that was essential.
Changed into race gear. My swimming suit, and later my wetsuit. Filled my coffees, BCAAS, pre-workout. Ate an egg croissant, like the morning before. With 1 cliff bar, to start accustoming my stomach. We headed to the race.
All routes were barred and my dad barely slept, so there was confusion on the way there. I think I arrived at 6:45am, while the race start was at 7:00am. I couldn’t meet Phil as a result.
So here I am, running barefoot in the streets with my wetsuit, searching for Phil. I end up starting before Phil, but he’d finish the swim before me. Lots of people would pass me in the swim, but I wouldn’t go with full intensity.
I had 2 goals with this race:
Both being interrelated. So I didn’t stress too much during the swim, even though a bunch of people pushed and shoved me. I remember a fat guy just swimming across everyone as he realized he was not aligned. I had to pull him back and stuff. I was calm, but also, the animal in me kept anyone at bay.
The beginning of the swim was dark. It was a cloudy day, so no sun. Only greenish water. There were 10 swimming buoys, and I passed them all.
The water was great, it even tasted good, compared to sea water. I think I gulped water once vs. 2-3 times in my last Ironmans. The waters weren’t that choppy either.
Once coming back the 10 buoys, there began my meditation. I was also swimming on 1 side, away from humans, as I’m a tad claustrophobic and never liked being surrounded by lots of humans and not having my space.
I started cleaning my goggles only when coming back, just to bring “clarity” back to my brain and eyes, and to see the finish line. The finish line came quick. I remember being frustrated in my last Ironman, not seeing the finish “man this is taking forever”. It didn’t happen this time.
So I got out of water, victorious, calm, and ready for the bike ride. It took me 1hr40, around 10mins longer then my last Ironman Cozumel, but we were swimming with the currents in Cozumel, so it was easier.
In every transition, I took my time, a lot. I was calm and transitted peacefully, which was also my goal.
So the bike transition, this meant, getting my bike shirt on (with 4 Cliff Bars). My glasses, my helmet. My gloves (which I’d later take off). My bike shoes. Solar cream. Clip on my shoes, and off we go.
I had done the bike course 2 weeks prior with my buddy Phil, so I knew how I’d go. A long-ass autoroute segment, mostly flat, a tad uphill, finishing with a gruelling mountain section.
Oddly enough, I’d do bad on the autoroute, the flat course, and I’d do very well on the hills. How do I know? I’d just get passed by at least 5 persons on the autoroute segment, and pass them back in the hills. Why? I think it’s my bike. But also, I think I operated well in higher heartbeat zones since I trained lots of bike HIITs.
What did my mindset look like on the bike? At first, it was negative. I remember having a song stuck in my head, “Tout l’temp high”, by Sans Pression, a local Quebec artist. The song’s about getting high basically, it’s a song me and Phil would listen to laugh, but fuck, it got stuck in my head. “J’en ait rien a foutre, moi pis mes boys”.
So finally the song got unstuck when I crossed Phil on the bike, and it switch to GOATS by makeup “partis en prince avec des bons principes”. Phil was quite jovial the first time we crossed but second time I sensed he was like me, KO’d by the race “Aweille mon gars”. Ironman gets the best of you.
I bunked a couple of times on the bike, aka no fucking energy left in the tank, then I knew it was time for another cliff bar / something solid with carbs/glucose. My plan was to not drink gatorades the guys on the course offered, but I quickly realized my 2 electrolytes pills wouldn’t be enough to keep me going, so I began drinking gatorade. I also splashed ice on my back every station I crossed. The stations were every 10-20km on the course. I pissed myself on the bike. I didn,t want to stop, my time was already super slow.
I took time every now and then to stretch my legs, especially in the second loop. I was quite happy to reach the second loop, it’s always a huge moral boost.
A very special episode came on my way back of the second loop, the mythical experience. I had a similar experience on my last loop in cozumel last year. So much euphoria that tears come. I remembered how the mexican people always accepted and helped me in the last few years, it was epic.
This one was quite special. So the temperature was high humidity, quite stormy. And the storm finally hit down on me. Most Ironmans didn’t get wet, as the storm happen like 10-15km from the run sites which most ironmans were at the time I was finishing up the bike course.
I was quite demoralized on the bike at that point, bunking and just being passed by folks. I sensed the rain. And then torrential rains began. With strong wins, almost knocking me off my bike. It was mythical. I needed that. I always thrived in storms, chaos and actions. This was nature helping me to finish this up. As the rain poured, so did tears from my eyes.
This was emotion that I had retained lately. All the stress, in the business, from managing employees emotions, but also managing my family’s stress, my wife’s stress and the preparation of this Ironman, leading to more stress. It went all out and it felt so good. I had shivers.
Then a thunderbolt snapped 30m over my head, making a bomb noise. I let out a battle cry at this moment. I was released from these negative demons. I could now go on with the race.
I remember laughing from the comments of some bikers “we’re paying for this shit!” and connecting with some of them. Encouraging one another. I was in the back of the pack, with the old grannies and fat people. A very humbling experience as I always how they do it vs. me a young guy in great shape.
The rest was easy. I again killed it in the mountains, and finished the bike course in around 8hrs. Longer than Cozumel, but Cozumel was flat.
So the bike to run transition. Lots of doubts on the bike still, you never know if you’re gonna finish the thing. The run, I was like okay, let’s hope my knees don’t give up like they did in Cozumel. Read about my experience there, but it was hellish, I really didn’t know if my knee’s tendon’s were gonna give up. It was that bad, causing major stress/anxiety, and stomach issues, etc.
So I took my time, again in the tent, and I remember old folk’s butt in my face. In the swim transition, there was a guy, no joke, that stayed naked for like 10mins. I don’t know why, maybe he was confused or something. But hey, I was there, in the tent, changing, taking my time. Drinking more BCAAS, putting my shirt, running shoes, 2 cliff bars in my pockets.
I started the first 10km, super easy, I crossed Phil, he was coming back from his ½ of first lap. I was like “fuck dude, you’re doing a great fucking time!” Phil looked great at this time, still. I was like, “this is going to be easy”. I had a good pace. And the course was pretty flat. I crossed Phil a second time coming back from my 2nd, him from his 3rd, respectively. He looked tired. I was like “oh shit, this is gonna be me, soon”.
Energy goes down quickly running. The knee pains began to appear around kilometer 21. Then it was around this time I saw Phil for the last time, his last loop, I still had 1 and a half loop left. He was finishing.
There was still a bit of light back then, but it started going dow real quick, especially when you’re in the woods, which I was at this point. Things started to go dark physically and mentally. Almost in a dreamlike/badtrip/nightmare kind of.
Running alone in dark woods, seeing people pass by every now and then, it was 10:00pm around that time. I had been going for around 15 hours up that point.
The reaching back point took forever to get to. Fortunately, there were stations every 2km, which I’d stop, drink water, gatorade, and splash ice on my back. The occasional redbull and eating cliff bar to keep me alive and not bunk.
People from the medical team were becoming enemies: “are you okay?”, they’d ask people around this time. I’m guessing that lots of people fall in combat at this time. Not me, I can go forever, granted the adequate calories.
I’d walk more, and I finally reached the 30km comingback point. I was relieved by then. Even though I knew I’d checkmated the course after the thunderstorm mythical moment, now I knew this was in the bag. I had like 2 hours to finish the race up, which was possible, even walking.
But I still decided to go on and run. My legs didn’t hurt that bad to be honest. It was more general fatigue. Kind of dizziness when I’d stop. I wasn’t that much in a badtrip mode in my last lap. When I reached the city I felt the comfort of being back in the civilization once again and being “out of the woods”.
It was pretty much downhill from there, physically, and uphill, in my mind. I reached the Marina and I knew I’ve fucking made it, so I was quite happy at this point. I heard the announcer at this point too.
I reached the last station and emotion welled up in me. “This is my victory lap” and I thought about the mythical Nipsey Hussle. I was quite very much happy. I ran to the stage and celebrated.
Grabbed my medal and my stuff. Then went to see my dad and wife, whom had been there the full day. They were tired too.
I ended up looking for them for 40minutes and used 4 stranger’s cellphones, it was quite ridiculous. I got quite angry at them in the end, but yeah, it was done. We got back home, I apologized for snapping at them, and told them the story of my day. They told me there’s. I ate another croissant and got to sleep, with lots of caffeine in my blood.
Woke up the next day, early, to checkout the airbnb, ate lots of Subways, ate pizza. I was really tired that day, even dehydrated. But my legs quickly recovered and although I had pain in my right knee, it recovered quick.
I’ll remember this Ironman as less painful then others, so I’m not disgusted by Ironmans as I was after Cozumel. So yes, I might do another one in 5 or 10 years. My next focus is my ultra run in Bromont, 80km in the mountains. This is gonna be beautiful and hard at the same time. But just for the mythical experience I had in this Ironman, I’m all fucking in for another one in Ultra Bromont. I do these things for these mystical experiences + the mindset they provide to me.
What’s next after these ultra runs is more Spartan Race. All do the legendary Spartan Ultra. I excel at Spartan’s while I do quite bad from a time perspective in Ironmans. I want to compete, not just complete. I think I can also do quite well in trail running as it’s easier on the knees + I feel at home in the woods.
My climbing career is quite young and I will summit Everest in less than 7 years. I also want to create my own endurance events and do crazy batshit events like running or cycling entire countries. Drop in the middle of jungles and survive. Swim entire islands. Paddle entire oceans. I want to push my limits, experience and live.
I will forever remember this Ironman as an epic experience.
Special thanks to my wife Nadia for her love and support. My parents. Richard that attended and gave me the car rides and cooked me great food. My great buddy Phil for inspiring me to book the Ironman, and for coming get my stuff in his car, for spending good time with me. And to all my friends, employees! Thank you :) I am super grateful.