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Ironman France - Triathlon

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Triangle Sports
28C / 82F
Total Time = 14h 22m 22s
Overall Rank = 2131/
Age Group = W25-29
Age Group Rank = 19/
Pre-race routine:

I picked this race as my graduation present from my parents. The past few months have been a bit chaotic and my move to Prince George for residency from Edmonton added into the mix was a bit stressful but somehow I managed to end up in France!

I did the Honu 70.3 on June 1 as my last big day before the Ironman. Flew back from Hawaii, graduated, drove to Prince George, moved all my stuff in my new place, drove back to Edmonton and took off to France.

6 days in Paris--did some cool runs, one early Sun bike on the Champs-Elysees (which was one of the highlights of the trip for me), did the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Seine boat cruise and some shopppppping!!

We arrived in Nice on June 18, which was the Tues before race day. It was a bit of a gong show leaving Paris because the Air France people didn't know what to do with my bike...but eventually we figured it out and my bike arrived in Nice at the same time I did!

Nice is a beautiful, relaxed place. Our daily itinerary was much more chill than in Paris. We did a day trip to Monaco and my Mom and Aunt went to Cannes...I stayed behind because it was the day before race day.

I registered on the Thurs, got my cool IMF race bag and then we all spent some money at the race expo. Some in the IM store...some in the rest of the expo. I've been enjoying my IMF lanyard these days while at work. Woooooo.

I hung out at our condo the day before the race and stayed out of the heat and sun. My Dad made me pasta and sauce for dinner and I headed off to bed around 9. I ended up reading for a little bit because I was a bit worked up, but eventually fell asleep.

Woke up at 4am and had a toasted baguette for breakfast with peanut butter and a banana. I drank a bottle of gatorade and then headed out to transition.,...
Event warmup:

Now after the fact I should have tried to go to the washroom before hitting transition. My warm up essentially consisted of getting my wetsuit on and waiting in line at the portapotties....there were not enough for the 2500+ that started the race. I ended up in line with two English girls and we chatted for a bit and then eventually had my turn to go to the bathroom....and someone ahead of me had missed the toilet with their contribution to the bathroom....I'm not exactly surprised because it was one of those weird ones that you had to squat and go by holding on to this handle on the door and lean back and squat...and ya...someone missed...haha. But I didn't really have a choice and had to go so I just did my business and got out of there.

Ran from the pottapotty to the end of transition and made my way through the sea of wetsuits towards the start corral. I chose to go in the <1:06 swim corral because I figured with an ocean open water and mass start that I would be around 1:00-1:05.
  • 1h 04m 49s
  • 3800 meters
  • 01m 43s / 100 meters
Comments: things first...If you are not a strong not run into the water as soon as the shot goes off...wait a couple minutes...that's all I will say.

Once I got myself down to my swim corral I had a few minutes to relax and try to find a comfortable position on the rock beach. (Don't go to Nice expecting a sandy's all smooth rock) I kind of had to balance so I was standing on the flat side of larger rocks. I knew that whatever I did once the shot went off wouldn't matter but in the few minutes before the mass start I wanted to be comfortable.

The pros started in the water and head off. We had about 10min and the announcers were getting everyone pumped up in a variety of English/French/Spanish...etc,etc,etc. It is the most multilingual ironman I've done to this point thats for sure. They had a fancy little helicopter camera that was flying around the crowd. It was a sea of wetsuit people ( mainly from what I could see...not many pink caps in the group...more on this later).

The shot went off and OMFG...CHAOS...CHAOS...CHAOS...I have never done a more brutal mass start ever. 1) You have to run with bare feet over rock....slippery, wet get into the water. 2) 2500+ trying to run into the water at the exact same time over probably 100-200m, 3) Wave swells=crazy sighting, 4) 2500+ people running into the water= VIOLENCE!!, 5) 2500+ people trying to figure out what direction to swim in= VIOLENCE!! was an insane washing machine for around 500m...I got kicked in the over multiple times...This one dude I nicknamed "red wetsuit man" kept running me over. I tried multiple times to get away from him, but no matter what I did I couldn't get away!!

With the ocean swells it was really tough to sight for the buoys and people had no idea which way they were swimming. I generally knew the direction and eventually got to the first buoy but my parents and aunt said that there were people who must have swam way off course and needed to be re-routed multiple times. I knew the shape of the course and was rounding buoys, but at one point I kind of lost what direction I was swimming in and I thought I was swimming in a different direction but was heading back to was a cross of relief and confusion at how I ended up heading back to shore. There was a buoy we had to exit the water the go around and they had these strong dudes volunteering to help everyone up the steep slope of rocks...I would not have been able to exit the water very effectively without them.

Few OUCH OUCH OUCH, steps on rock and then ran on the carpet towards the water again...some more OUCH OUCH OUCH and back into the water to swim a shorter, reverse loop to the finish.

By this point everyone was more or less going in the right direction, but red wetsuit man was still banging into me occasionally....BAH....I ended up next to a guy and we swam the final 500m or so back towards the finish line together. We were somewhat sympatico and didn't have any collisions.

Exited with the help of the volunteer strongman and had a quick shower and headed up the ramp towards transition.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Come up with a better strategy for escaping crazy red wetsuit man. I wanted to be under 1:05 and I was.
Transition 1
  • 05m 51s

So longest transition ever and because I was #61 I was on the far side. I didn't have to run with my bike very far...but I had to run pretty far from one side to the other to get it.

Had a quick view of my parents and then I was on my way.
What would you do differently?:

Think it went pretty well.
  • 7h 47m 19s
  • 180 kms
  • 23.09 km/hr

So started off leaving the flats around Nice. Settled in to a comfortable pace for the first 10-15km before the hills started. I didn't have a chance to pre ride or pre drive the course but I figured I had a decent perspective of what it would be

We will split this up into the hills:

Just before 20km there is the Col de la Condaime. It's a 12% grade for about 500m leading into 5-6km at 4-5%. I don't think I've ever done a 12% now that I've done that...even the death hills of California (see the RR for Cali 70.3) have nothing on that sucker. My god. up it...kept moving...Col de Gattieres. Done.

As we started climbing more a chill started to creep in. I understand why in the TdF the riders have to put newspaper into their shirts now. It was overcast as we started the long 20k climb of Col de l"Ecre. AKA. DEATH DEATH HILL. Honestly...Once again the bike gazelles were passing me...and the odd thing was that they were all men...rarely a woman. Odd? So starting up Col de l'Ecre....starts off with a nice 6km at 3.5% and then 3km at 7%....UGHHHH. The thing about it was that you couldn't really tell you were climbing unless you saw the curve of the road and how it went up...but when riding up straight it didn't look like a hill..felt like a it started messing with me to a point that I could have sworn something on my bike was rubbing...eventually I got off to check. Brakes rubbing? No....something up with axles? No...okay back on the bike...grind grind grind..."Something has to be wrong here"....Got off again....nothing rubbing...Got on again.

Had a little break half way up with 4km at 2%...and then 8km at 6%.... :( :( :(....There was a point where I didn't know if I was going to make it up. Then there was a point that I saw a set of switchbacks climbing up the mountain that I almost started crying...pity party on a mountain. NBD. Kept climbing into the clouds...grind grind grind grind grind...

Anyways...finally made it up the mountain (prob took 90min for 20km). I got off my bike and stretched my low was just killing me. I grabbed my extra apricots from my special needs bag because since it took me so long to get up that 20km I figured I would need some extra nutrition. Walked with my bike for a few and noticed when I was mounting that this British guy had 4 rice pudding containers in his special needs bag...(NEXT TIME....NEXT TIME)....I almost asked him for one. lol. I wonder what he would have said??

So left the top of Col de l'Ecre into the valley. I love mood instantly lifted with the descent. It was during this intial descent that I noticed the lack of women again...I was just surrounded by dudes. As we went by the aide stations and towns people would shout "Une fille!!! Allez! Allez!" "Courage!" SO it finally clicked in that there were hardly any women doing the race...anytime a girl would go by the crowd they would get louder...It was kind of neat...odd, but neat.

We hit the second longer climb around 100km called Cote de Saint Pons. Just before starting to climb I saw this blue thing race by me. This French guy who had a race number was riding on one of those beachside bikes that look the same as the one I rode in this bulky, heavy hybrid style. This guy had something happen to his bike and he was riding a rental communter bike to do IM France....and made it up that 20k climb. So I stuck with him and eventually passed him while climbing up the Cote de Saint Pon...but he had all his nutrition and hydration in the basket that was on the front of the bike...of all the things I remember from this race...I remember that basket. That dude was intense. His name was Patrice.

After the Cote de Saint Pons it was mainly descents with a few climbs...but I was fairly drained. There was a mostly flat section after Cote de Saint Pons and I was feeling fairly nauseous and then all of a sudden: BLECH...I threw up while riding...I just had enough time to turn my head to not get vomit everywhere...bizarre.

Kept descending back towards Nice. There were a ton of hairpin corners and pretty much at every single one there was an accident. My hands were cramping by the time I got back into Nice.

It was such a relief to get back to the flats and towards the crowds....
What would you do differently?:

Bring rice pudding.

Ride a 20k death hill before doing IMF.
Transition 2
  • 08m 56s

Had to take my bike shoes off because as soon as I stepped off the bike the bottoms of both feet were cramping...Walked/hobbled through transition. Sat down. Put my runners on. One step in front of the other.
What would you do differently?:

Not really.
  • 5h 15m 28s
  • 42 kms
  • 07m 31s  min/km

So 4 loops along the Cote d'Azur. Starting off I was once again planning for 9:1 run/walk. Started running and hit 3min and my legs were burning with lactic acid. The bike zapped me quite a bit more than I thought it would.

So I settled on a 5:1 similar to IMLP in 2011. Set my garmin to buzz so I wasn't turning my arm over back and forth too much. It was warmer than forecasted. I think around 28-30C so I took the opportunity to use the cold water showers. Saw my parents and aunt pretty early in the first lap. They were decked out in their Canada t-shirts with tattoos and random flags. Maple leafs everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Haha.

My second loop felt better than my first, but by the third loop I was feeling super nauseous.

It was kind of weird to do so many loops but all the spectators and volunteers would remember my name. Likely due to there being less than 300 women in the race out of over 2500 finishers. They all said something "Courage..." and I know what it's supposed to mean but don't know if we say anything in English that translates?

Had a bit more walking on my third lap but kept trying to stick to my 5:1 plan. It was such a relief to hit the turn around for the final time. They would hand us a wristband every time we finished a lap...first was green, second yellow and third red...all I wanted was my red one and all I had was 10km left.

I put whatever I had left into that last 10km....just wanted to be done.

Hit the finishing chute and crossed the line at 14:22:22!!
What would you do differently?:

More running on tired legs? The heat wasn't too bad due to training in Hawaii but it just did not fit all together like I hoped...
Post race
Warm down:

Saw my parents and aunt through the fence...took my runners off....wandered around...

I sent my Mom to get my bike because I didn't want to walk all the way down transition. I gathered my dry goods and sat down on a chair to put my Toms on and a nice lady asked if I wanted a massage. I apparently had sat down on the chairs for the line up for massage. YAY MASSAGE. I've never had one post race.

Got my massage. Grabbed some food and walked back to the condo with my parents. SLowly walked.

Event comments:

Surprise. IMF is hard. Haha.

Last updated: 2012-07-02 12:00 AM
01:04:49 | 3800 meters | 01m 43s / 100meters
Age Group: 6/
Overall: 422/
Performance: Average
Suit: Ocra Razor
Course: Two loops with a water exit to start the second loop
Start type: Run Plus: Shot
Water temp: 18C / 64F Current: Medium
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 05:51
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:47:19 | 180 kms | 23.09 km/hr
Age Group: 19/
Overall: 2144/
Performance: Below average
Wind: Some
Course: Single loop through the French countryside. 1 cat 1 climb, 1 cat 2 climb and multiple 3 and 4s.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Below average
Race pace: Too hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 08:56
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Bad
05:15:28 | 42 kms | 07m 31s  min/km
Age Group: 19/
Overall: 2136/
Performance: Average
Run Details Division Rank: 19 Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Div. Rank Overall Rank Gender Rank 5.3 km 5.3 km 36:40 9:43:35 6:59/km 10.5 km 5.3 km 37:53 10:21:28 7:12/km 15.8 km 5.3 km 36:19 10:57:47 6:55/km 21 km 5.3 km 39:44 11:37:31 7:34/km 26.3 km 5.3 km 43:38 12:21:09 8:18/km 31.5 km 5.3 km 44:06 13:05:15 8:24/km 36.8 km 5.3 km 40:17 13:45:32 7:40/km 42.2 km 5.4 km 36:51 14:22:23 6:46/km Total 42.195 km 5:15:28 14:22:23 7:28/km 19 2136 138
Course: Flat, 4 loops along the Cote d'Azur
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Too much
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2013-07-14 6:15 PM

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Subject: Ironman France

2013-07-14 6:21 PM
in reply to: #4803775

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2000500100100100100 home in The ATL
Subject: RE: Ironman France
FIRST! (OK, now I am going to go back and read your report...)
2013-07-14 6:41 PM
in reply to: #4803775

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PEI, Canada
Subject: RE: Ironman France

I hate red wetsuit man!

Patrice is cool!

Great job Melissa, sounds like a super tough course and conditions and you conquered it all!  

2013-07-14 7:01 PM
in reply to: axteraa

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Ironman France

Wow, only 300 women in a race of 2500?  Must be one bad-a$$ course!  

Love the guy on a rental hybrid with a basket full of special needs and nutrition stuff!  COOL.

2013-07-14 8:50 PM
in reply to: QueenZipp

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Payson, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman France
Awesome job.  I'm super impressed with what you managed to do given how crazy your last few months had been leading up to this race
2013-07-14 9:25 PM
in reply to: bzgl40

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Ironman France

IMF sounds like it was more than just hard!  Where else could you find a DEATH DEATH HILL???  

Congrats on finishing so well.  Smile

Now off to find some rice pudding, for which I have a strong and inexplicable craving...


2013-07-14 9:54 PM
in reply to: #4803775

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Subject: RE: Ironman France
Great race report! Let's see....Death Death Hill, red wetsuit man, Patrice (that is one cool Frenchman) and rice cake envy, Sounds like an amazing day. Well-done!!! Congrats.
2013-07-14 10:03 PM
in reply to: #4803775

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Subject: RE: Ironman France
Awesome job Melissa.  Congrats on IMF and just a great year overall for you so far in racing, travel, school, and career.
2013-07-15 1:31 AM
in reply to: #4803775

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Calgary, AB
Subject: RE: Ironman France

What a great way to put a capstone on medical school.  Congratulations!

Forget red wetsuit man... I'm having nightmares about the 20km hill!  

"Death hill" < "Death Death Hill" << "DEATH DEATH HILL"   -- the all caps makes it that much steeper Smile

2013-07-15 5:49 AM
in reply to: Hoos

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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Ironman France

Congrats on your great accomplishment!
2013-07-15 8:44 AM
in reply to: mtnbikerchk

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ann arbor, michigan
Subject: RE: Ironman France
A very cool and entertaining race report. This is one of those things you will remember forever.

The hills on the bike sound just brutal. Great job keeping tough and powering through to the end.

2013-07-15 8:58 AM
in reply to: #4803775

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Marietta, Ga
Subject: RE: Ironman France
Very cool. I have always wanted to do this race...congratulations on a wonderful accomplishment.
2013-07-15 9:29 AM
in reply to: #4803775

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2000500100100100100 home in The ATL
Subject: RE: Ironman France
Melissa, what a great race, and a fantastic year so far: New Orleans, California, Hawaii, and now France (not to mention finishing school, moving, etc, etc). It has really been fun to follow you along since we were in that IMLP group together back in 2011! Way to stick with it even through the rough parts, and to find humor and joy in the little things along the way. The guy on the rental tourist bike is a reminder that there is always a way no matter that happens,you just have to roll with it and enjoy the journey. And I don't know why, but last night when I read your report for the first time the rice pudding cups just sounded like pure ironman genius. I might have to track some down for lake placid in a couple of weeks... As for the red wetsuit guy, that is just crazy that he was with you almost the whole way on a get-out-of-the-water-two-lap-swim. I mean hat are the chances??? Nice job just shaking it off and not letting him get to you. FWIW he is probably posting on some French triathlon blog about this crazy Canadian woman that kept attacking him on both laps of the swim....

Really great job - I cannot wait to see what is next for you. You have definitely put IM France on my list.

2013-07-15 10:53 AM
in reply to: #4803775

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Subject: RE: Ironman France
Best race report ever--Melissa you rock. wondering if you ever found red wetsuit man?? Rice pudding? who knew, though maybe that would have come back up too. Quite inspirational for an FOG like me--off to the pool here in CA.

Best, Tim
2013-07-15 11:30 AM
in reply to: #4803775

Northern IL
Subject: RE: Ironman France
Great job Melissa! And nice writeup of the hills!
2013-07-15 1:00 PM
in reply to: #4803775

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Ironman France
Great race and race report, Melissa!  It's been really fun following along with your (very busy!) first half of the year.  Congrats and best wishes for residency and future races!

2013-07-15 1:58 PM
in reply to: ligersandtions

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Williamston, Michigan
Subject: RE: Ironman France

Congratulations and Well done!!!

2013-07-15 2:13 PM
in reply to: Socks

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Subject: RE: Ironman France
Awesome!! Extra impressive with everything you have been balancing!
2013-07-15 3:18 PM
in reply to: #4803775

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Ironman France
Congratulations! This race is on my bucket list, but having looked at the bike profile last year I've been wussing out so far. I love your description of the route and the people you encountered along the way.

Congratulations on completing a very challenging event, and being one of the few women - that just shows how hardcore you are. You've achieved so much this year and I hope you settle into your new life well after all the excitement!
2013-07-15 7:51 PM
in reply to: chapfallen

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Verona WI--Ironman Bike Country!
Subject: RE: Ironman France
WOW!  That bike sounds EPIC, like a real Tour de France rider!  Great job powering through the swim (such a beast!) and that bike to finish strong.  Impressed!
2013-07-15 9:55 PM
in reply to: SSMinnow

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Almaden Valley, San Jose, California
Subject: RE: Ironman France
GREAT rr!  Felt like I was there......without the vomit!  Congrats on a very tough race, and an amazing finish.  Keep up the massages-it's a good habit!!!

2013-07-16 10:57 AM
in reply to: velcromom

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Science Nerd
Redwood City, California
Subject: RE: Ironman France
Congratulations!!  That bike sounds crazy hard!  I try to avoid death hills in my races.  The fact that you were one of only 300 women is so impressive!  You know you're tough when you do that. 
2013-10-03 11:53 PM
in reply to: #4803775

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Lethbridge, Alberta
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman France
I just stumbled across your report here: Awesome job on both the race and the report!! Congrats on med school too!
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