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It is finished; and I survived! Actually, more than survived, I had fun. I really enjoyed going to this one with friends. It makes all the difference to have other people to commiserate with and to help keep you calm before the race. (Thanks Tricia and Paul)
This race was a destination race in that since we had to attend a mandatory orientation yesterday we stayed the night in Toronto. So we went to the briefing and the expo and then the three of us went to Milestones for dinner. Nothing like walking around Toronto with a race number inked on your arm and you age on your calf. Oh yeah, I am 42 years sexy and I want you to know it–brutal.

We stayed in a very swanky hotel downtown and it was very comfortable, but I have one regret: I wish we had a different room. Whenever I travel for business I always ask for a room that is away from the elevators and the ice machine. I wasn’t in my regular business travel mind-set (I walked up to check-in with my bike!) and I forgot to ask. Of course, the room we got was right beside the elevator. So Tricia and I had the lovely experience of being awakened (twice!) by 6 very drunk young ladies having a VERY loud conversation just outside the elevator–which was 5 feet from our door. Aaaarg!

In the morning we headed down to the course in time to see Simon Whitfield and Paula Findlay Race. There was some miscommunication about what they were doing. What happened was Simon and Paula did the sprint distance, but they raced BEFORE the Olympic distance and duathlon start. That meant that I didn’t actually get to be in the same race as Simon Whitfield and Paula Findaly, but the upside is that I got to watch them swim and transition onto the bike! Their transition times were crazy fast!

Simon Whitfield

Paula Findlay (second splash)

Then as I was doing a last-minute check of my bike before I left transition, I almost ran into Paula as she ran down the back stretch at the end of her run. I am not sure why she was running at the rear of the sprint transition, but I am very glad that I didn’t crash into the olympian! I had images of angry headlines flash through my brain.

“Age grouper takes out Canada’s hope for a gold medal in women’s triathlon”

Dodge that bullet!

The swim course was right in the marina near Ontario Place. I was a tad concerned about the water quality–there were still boats moored there–but at least it didn’t taste like petrol!

View of the last straight-away on the swim course.

The exit from the swim.

I really enjoyed the swim. It as an in-water start which I found much easier than a run-in start. The swim is my strongest part of the tri and I was able to shave a minute and fifteen seconds off my time. The exit (above) was very steep and required a helping hand from some very strong volunteers.

So to the stats:

Compared to my first tri:  swim was faster, my bike was faster and both my transitions were faster and my run SUCKED! My overall time was 3 minutes faster.

SWIM
I enjoy everything about the swim. Thanks to all that practice in a pool with my tri group, I am very comfortable at the start powering through all the arms and legs and bubbles to get out to a comfortable space. I settle into a rhythm quickly and LOVE passing people! I took special joy in passing women wearing Team Canada suits 🙂 I don’ have any trouble with my breathing or sighting and seem to stay on a very direct course. I found it challenging to not have been able to swim the course before because I didn’t know how it felt to swim to the different markers. I should have just pushed it harder, but I find it a bit disorienting not to know how long each stretch to the next buoy will feel.

BIKE
The bike was fun once I got past the mount point. The run out of transition was straight up a steep narrow hill onto a bridge.  I decided to hold my bike shoes while I ran up to it and put them on at the mount point. This was a good decision on my part; the hill was very slippery and my shoes have a rather pronounced cleat on the bottom. I left them on when I dis-mounted and ran down the hill and it was very hard not to slide and fall down!  It course was a nice wide route–along the closed Gardiner Express Way no less! I was less intimidated than I was in my last race and I felt more confident in my biking skills; although I am well aware that I need a lot more practice to become a good technical rider. I was a bit freaked out before the race about the penalties for drafting, but while riding I found that this inspired me to quickly pass people. And I did pass a lot of people! There were a couple of other women that I took turns passing and being passed by, but for the most part I felt like I held my own and even gained a bit of ground of the bike. I had the added incentive of knowing that my friend Tricia was going to smoke me on the run, so I really wanted to keep ahead of her until that part of the race 😉 I was able to maintain a 30km+ for the better part of the bike route. I want this to be faster in the future, but I am happy with it for this race

RUN
I ran at a 6:45 pace and really didn’t feel like I had a thing left to give it. The km markers where off and so it was hard to gauge where I was in the run: just after the 1km mark there was a 3km marker and then at the turn around point a volunteer announced “you are at the 2.5 km mark–half way there”when it was not even at the 2 km point. I felt quite awful on the run. Tricia passed me almost immediately and I then watched many others pass me. I really hated it when someone in my age group or above passed me. Mentally this was really hard to take and I ended up just concentrating on not walking and trying to let go of the fact that I had been so far ahead in the swim and now everyone was catching up and passing me. I wish the swim was the last event! I feel like I could really pull it out if I had a change to run on fresh legs and then swim at the end, but nobody else seems to think that this is a good idea. I am really not sure if I could have run any faster if I had been able to get myself out of my mental funk. I really did feel pretty cooked. At one point when I really felt like stopping I remembered a tweet from SW yesterday that said something like, you might feel like you are going to die, but you won’t. So I kept running.

Once thing I really would like to obtain in the near future is a gps watch.
I have a really hard time gauging my pace. I just have no idea how fast or slow I am running if I don’t have some sort of GPS-Oracle telling me. These devices are quite pricey, so I don’t think one is in my near future, but I think I will ask for a communal Christmas gift this year and then I will be set up for next race season. Of course, the one I want is the most expensive one: Garmin 910, but it is the only one that has a swim component built into it. I always forget how many laps I have done, so that part would be really helpful, plus it will map open water swim routes. Oh yeah, and it will tell me my run pace; I have a really hard time gauging my pace. I just have no idea how fast or slow I am running if I don’t have some sort of GPS-Oracle-thing telling me. These devices are quite pricey, so I don’t think one is in my near future, but I think I will ask for a communal Christmas gift this year and then I will be set up for next race season. Of course, the one I want is the most expensive one: Garmin 910, but it is the only one that has a swim component built into it. I always forget how many laps I have done, so that part would be really helpful, plus it will map open water swim routes. Oh yeah, and tell me my run pace which is what would have been really helpful in this race.   Maybe if I had could see how far I had to go and what my pace was I would have been able to manage my run better.

Upon consultation with my Tri coach Vy it would seem that some speed work is in order. Uh oh, that sounds hard, but I totally want to have a respectable run time. My swim was the second fastest in my age group and my bike was in the top ten. My run needs some work, but I am willing to put that in. I would be thrilled to get a top 10 age group finish in a race!

So here is the run down:

Sadly, Simon was whisked away at the end of his race and I did not succeed in my goal of having him sign my race shirt. So Simon, if you are reading this I am happy to drive down to Hamilton and buy you a beer and get you to sign my shirt! Get your people to call my people!

At every race I am so inspired by the people at triathlon events: people of all ages, shapes sizes and life stories compete. One fellow was doing his first race since his cardiac arrest at a tri in 2010 and while the paramedic in my was a trifle nervous for him, if that doesn’t put things into perspective I don’t know what will!

A big THANK YOU to all of the volunteers (especially the very small and very strong woman who hauled me out of the water!). They show up early and stay late and we often forget or are too fatigued to thank them during the race, but without the volunteers I would have been stuck in the water, not known which way to turn and been very thirsty so THANK YOU ALL.

I have to give a special shout out to the group holding signs on the run. These two made me laugh even though I felt miserable:

Have a three way every weekend: swim, bike, run!

My pace or yours?

Before a race I always question my sanity and wonder why I put myself through this stress and then after the race is over I am immediately thinking about my strategy for the next one. In fact, after I finish writing this post I am going to go look for my next race! All I need is a little hill training, a little speed work and some good friends to race with! Triathlon is not for the weak of heart, but it is certainly for those full of heart!

Race well my friends!

 

Do you get pre-race jitters?

Have you ever regretted a race?

What inspires you along the course?

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