Saturday, 18 October 2014
0. Before the race
This year my family decided to accompany me part of the way. My wife, my son, my daughter and her boyfriend were there with me at the Verdun Auditorium right before six am for the start of the Défi.
We were only eleven skaters in total, the lowest number of participants since 1996 (the first year, when there were only eight people finishing the Défi).
Before the start we had a small ceremony where M. Belisle (who no longer runs the Défi, but is now volunteering) presented a commemorative plaque to M. Fortier, the founder of the Défi.
1. Phase 1
Two minutes after six am M. Fortier did the countdown, I said goodbye to my family and we started the Défi.
It had rained the previous days, the pavement was wet most everywhere, dangerous conditions to be skating.
In less than five minutes I was already by myself. Most skaters were already far in advance, there were only two behind me that I could no longer see.
The first half of the phase 1 was all fun and games despite the dangerous pavement, my pace was good, I was feeling quite well. But the troubles started around km 15, my skates were already "eating" at my feet and legs, even though I had generously applied moleskin everywhere.
I was not carrying my Camelbak, I had agreed with my wife that she would be waiting for me at the end of phase 1 and I would take it there. I did feel a bit thirst, but nothing that could not wait until meeting her there.
Unfortunately for me, when I arrived at the St Jean checkpoint (at 7h28), my family was not there. I talked to a volunteer, he gave me water and I continued.
2. Phase 2
My ankles were already hurting a lot, I wanted to apply more moleskin to them, but they were in my Camelbak, with my wife. So, I continued limping ahead...
At around 8 pm my wife reached me and parked the car in a small street to wait for me.
I sat down in the luggage compartment of the car and surveyed my legs: my skates were hurting me even on the places padded with moleskin, so there was no point in doing anything, I would have to face the pain.
At this point it started raining a lot. It was a quick shower, but I was totally wet now. What a wretched day to skate.
I got my Camelbak and continued forth. I saw my family once more under the bridge of the 20 a few minutes later, but we just waved, I did not stop there.
I did my traditional stop right before the Senneville hill to eat my first bar of the day.
The hill was not so bad this year. I did it very slowly, of course. With the wet pavement and all the pain in my lower legs it could not have been different, but it wasn't particularly difficult.
When I was approaching the end of phase 2 I was already thinking of giving up, but then I looked at my watch and I saw that it was just 9h10. I thought "I have done much worse than this in previous years and I finished, so there is no point in giving up now".
I stopped at the end of phase 2 and talked a little bit to M. Belisle, who was the volunteer at that point. I also checked my lower legs again to see the damage done so far by my skates.
3. Phase 3
I continued through the Boulevard Pierrefonds but when I was getting to the end of it, I had enough and called it a day. I called my wife and she came to pick me up on Gouin and we went back home. Another unfinished Défi for me... What a horrible feeling it is...