Yes, I am alive. I’m guessing you already knew that, though. I got halfway through a training recap post last week and didn’t get it finished, so I’ll take the bones of it and write about brick training very soon. I’ve been doing quite a bit of that lately, and it’s been serving me well, so watch for that soon!
Anyway, I raced the Ontario Women’s Triathlon on Toronto Island on Saturday. I haven’t been talking too much about that one because I had kinda, sorta forgotten about it. I have a little bit of tunnel vision about my first Olympic triathlon next weekend at Wasaga Beach, so that’s been occupying my thoughts as of late. On to the race.
Even though it was a local race (it was held on Toronto Island at Hanlon’s Point), I had to get up at 4:00 to get myself downtown, my body marked, and on the ferry with time to spare before the 8:00 race start. I went with baked oatmeal as a pre-race breakfast this time and ate it just before I got on the ferry, about 2 hours before the race. I got to the island with more than enough time to spare. Once I got to transition, I set up my area and took my time with all my pre-race rituals.
I was milling about and casually half-listening to Steve Fleck doing his emcee thing and chatting with my transition neighbours, when Ryan came into transition and told me he had overheard that the swim was being pulled closer to shore and cut by 150m due to the wind and rough water conditions. I contorted my face a bit as I processed this. Cut by 150m? It was already only 500m to begin with, so I would be swimming 350m? Also, wind? What wind? Things felt perfectly sheltered here in transition, among all the trees, of course. I tried not to panic.
With my transition area completely set up, I grabbed my wetsuit, swim cap, and goggles, and we went down to the swim start to get a handle on what was going on. As soon as we got to the beach and got a glance at the water, I immediately understood why the swim was shortened. It was quite windy, and the water looked rough. Tons of whitecaps and fairly big waves.
My first instinct was to silently freak the eff out, which I did for a hot second. The panic almost immediately subsided when I recalled that I had done a 1000m open water swim in Barbados in similar conditions. In the ocean, I might add. I had survived that (sans wetsuit and lifeguards, thankyouverymuch), so surely I would survive this.
We found a picnic table near the swim finish, and I started to put on my wetsuit as the lifeguards came to set up the swim finish chute. They informed us that the swim was not cut by 150m, rather it was cut to 150m. Just 150m in crazy choppy water? Woo hoo! What better way to ease into racing in tough swimming conditions than 150m hugging the shore? I was ecstatic! Not everyone was so excited about the shortened swim, though. While I understand the frustration of not being able to race the full distance you have trained for, I totally respect the decision to shorten the swim.
Sidebar: As I was putting on my wetsuit, I discovered that I had worn my only pair of socks down to the beach and there wasn’t enough time to return to transition with them. Having never raced the bike and run legs without socks, I decided today was not the day to experiment. I ended up having Ryan hand me my socks as I exited the swim. Ha.
I found Amber (the only other person I knew doing this race), kissed Ryan goodbye, and toddled off into the water. We listened to the pre-race announcements and before we knew it, the horn went off.
*All times and data from my Garmin.*
I was in the first swim wave. I immediately settled into a rhythm, which felt great. I had decided before the swim that, with the rough conditions, I would only breathe to my left to avoid getting tossed around and disoriented in the waves. I breathed every 2 strokes for the duration of the swim, and I am happy to report that I actually felt fantastic the entire time. I sighted every 3 breaths, so I was fairly in tune with where I was. I seemed to be fairly on track, although you couldn’t really tell.
Stop the presses: I did not look at my watch once during the swim. I did not stop once during the swim. Before I had a chance to even get in a panic, I was out of the water. Having not looked at my watch, I had no sense of my swim time. I grabbed my socks from Ryan and got running through T1. As always, my first thought out of the water was, “I can’t wait to get home and see my Strava map for this.”
YOU GUYS. The irony is not lost on me here. Give me a calm lake with a straightforward swim course, and I panic. I have to stop every 75-100m, and I can’t sight for my life. I swim 100+ extra metres. Throw me in rough water with whitecaps and waves galore, and I swim in probably the only straight line I will ever swim in my life. Ha. Don’t get me wrong here; I am so happy that I was able to have a really great swim in rough water (albeit a really short swim). I can’t help but shake my head here. Coach’s response? “Well now I know you can perform really well in less than ideal conditions.” 😐
With my socks in hand, I scurried on up to transition. The run up was partially on grass, so most of the sand from the beach had already come off my feet. I must confess, though, I hardly ever take the time to actually dry my feet. With transition being in a grassy area, I put my cycling shoes on and ran to the mount line wearing them. My clipping in happened much quicker this time around. Although not in any way instant, I would say I struggled for less than half the time as at TTF. Winning.
The bike course was two loops of approximately 10km. It was a great bike course. Very flat, and scenic. My only complaint is that I passed a participant on the course who was WEARING HEADPHONES. It goes without saying how freaking dangerous this is, and my only regret was not having reported it to a volunteer or the series manager. I also didn’t say anything to her directly myself, although I doubt she would have heard me. It made me pretty mad, to be honest. I pedaled like a maniac trying to get away from her, and prayed that she wouldn’t catch me and luckily, she didn’t. I wanted her as far away from me as possible for safety reasons.
I had no problem drinking an adequate amount during the ride. I paid attention to make sure I was taking a generous swig from my bottle every 10 minutes. I took a gel with about 10 minutes left to my ride. I had a much easier time with bike nutrition this time around. My dismount was quick and smooth, and I felt pretty good about my ride overall.
19.5km//46:28 (25.2 km/h)
My second transition was pretty quick. As soon as I took off my helmet and changed my shoes, I was off.
With a few brick workouts under my belt over the last couple of weeks, I was feeling better heading into the run than I have in a while. The run started on grass, and I hate running on grass. It seems to instantly zap all my energy, so I was careful to keep the effort super easy until I reached the pavement.
Once there, we had to do four (yes, you read that correctly – FOUR) loops of just over 1km each. You all know how much I struggle with looped courses. I tried to put it out of my mind. It was also at the start of the paved course when I realized that I had forgotten a wristband to cover my watch. Well, shit. I resolved not to look, and to run by feel. I couldn’t resist looking when the kilometres beeped, although it didn’t negatively affect me on Saturday.
In my brick workouts lately, I’ve discovered that I’m much better off starting out slow for the run and ever-so-gradually picking things up, rather than starting off strong and trying to hang on. I concentrated on doing that, and I had a good run! The first kilometre was 5:45, which I was afraid was still too fast, so I just concentrated on staying consistent, and not walking.
Aside from the water stations (when I took a drink each time and dumped the rest over my head), I didn’t walk once during the run. That’s the first time I can say that in a triathlon. I was very proud of myself when I finished. Kilometres 2-4 were all bang on at 5:53, and I was able to pick it up to a 5:44 for the last bit, even on the grass. That seems to be a smart racing strategy for me right now, so I’ll stick with that. 🙂
Moar bricks! Moar bricks!
Overall: 1:24:21 (16/25 AG; 71/145 Overall)
A very friendly face was waiting for me right at the finish line for sweaty hugs and high fives – Coach PK! She was the Honourary Race Director on Saturday and did an awesome job of welcoming us all across the finish line. She had a big day, and then went on to kick ass on Sunday at the co-ed sprint triathlon!
I found Amber (4th in our AG, by the way! Fierce!) and Ryan, and we got some post-race snacks. It wasn’t quite 10:00 at that point, so I passed on the pizza. I ate some orange slices and pretzels instead. Multisport Canada has had pretzels at both events I’ve been at this year, and it’s been my favourite post-race snack. Can’t get enough of the pretzels. Moar pretzels!
Amber and I took advantage of the empty photo area, and went to take some shots of us with our medals. We hammed it up a bit on the podiums. The official race photographer came over, and took some glamour shots for us. A good time was had by all. We hung around for the awards and draw prizes before getting the ferry back to the mainland.
I have to be honest and say that when I saw the condition of the water, I was less than enthused about doing the race. I questioned why I was giving up yet another weekend to race when I should be resting and putting in quality workouts for Wasaga Beach. As usual, once I got going, I felt better about the whole thing. I know that practicing the motions of triathlon racing is helping me for the Olympic this weekend.
I really enjoyed this race. Like at Welland, things were organized and my race experience was a relaxing and positive one. Knowing it will be equally organized and well-resourced by Multisport Canada is putting me at ease for this weekend.
Seriously, though, how awesome is this medal? Like Welland, the race shirt was also super nice. For the second time this season, I was kicking myself for not having opted in for the shirt and instead saving money on registration fees. I never thought I would say that. You should see the shirts, though. Some of the nicest race shirts I’ve seen! I’m on a mission to track one down, and I’ll definitely opt in for my shirts next year! Our race photos were free, as well, which is an added bonus. Another great event by Multisport Canada!
Once again, I’m ever grateful to Ryan for sacrificing his weekend and his own training for me. He had a long run on his schedule that day and ran 16km in the dead of the afternoon heat to be at my morning race. I returned the favour the best way I knew how – I rode Black Betty alongside him for his run and showed him a new-to-us trail a couple of kilometres from our house.
Next up: Wasaga Beach!