Monday, September 18, 2017

Tri season is over, now what?

Well, tri season is over.



How I spent my summer
All in all, it was a great summer. I managed to age group place in most of my races, even doing it twice with ‘legit’ 3rd place finishes rather than those slightly odd 5th place ones (I mean, I’m not turning down those medals, but it is a little weird). If Subaru ever updates the points standings I think I ended up placing second overall in the points total for my age group, so that’s kind of neat, even if it is largely because only a handful of people shell out the $$$ to do at least 3 races! I really did enjoy doing the shorter races over the summer, which I think are a little more in my wheelhouse than the longer stuff, if I’m honest.

So obviously the thing to do next year is an Ironman.

I think I almost fainted when that arrived in my inbox.

Still kind of in denial that I really went ahead and signed up for it, but here we are. My focus is now pretty much completely on that beast of a goal and what I need to do to get there healthy and properly trained. I have a rough idea of how I plan to train for it (essentially, focus on the bike and have a strong bike leg to leave myself lots of time for the marathon), but nothing is concrete or written down or official yet. I’m going to spend the next few months building a solid swim/bike/run base, strength training (!!), and having some fun with things. Like bike rides to check out the fall colours and lots of running planned largely around taking pictures of the sunrise, even if I can’t begin to compete with my little brother on that one.



Which brings me to the fact I’m running the Oakville half marathon on Sunday. Which I can’t say I’m feeling super enthusiastic about. I signed up for it way back when because I needed something to motivate me to start building my long runs beyond the strugglebus 8ks I was doing back in June, when every run felt awful. It worked. I slowly (both in terms of # of weeks and the actual paces) worked back up to half marathon distance, focusing largely on keeping my heart rate down and adding 10 minutes or so onto the long run each time (other than race weeks, which sort of acted as cut backs).

I appreciate the sentiment, Waterfront Trail, but I think we can all agree I wasn't looking particularly good 10k into that run.
Running feels decent enough, I guess, and my pace on the 16k I ran this Sunday was down to a not entirely embarrassing 6:14/km, but with no speedwork or high effort stuff in there at all, I have no idea what’s going to happen at Oakville. Clearly I am not aiming for any sort of PB, and the weather forecast looks more like July than September. High of 26, feels like 31, WTF? - and we all know how well I deal with heat, HAHA. Although at least we start early so it shouldn’t be quite that bad during the race.



So my plan is pretty much to flip my watch onto the suffer score screen so I can’t see my pace, keep an eye on my heart rate, and whatever happens, happens. Really, goal #1 at this point is don’t aggravate my sciatic nerve - I had a flare up after Guelph Lake II that is now under control, and after a whole summer blessedly free of back pain, I’d like to get back to that. Slow and steady running seems to be the ticket, so I’ll be sticking with that for a while yet.

So, don’t expect too much excitement in that race report next week. Except for the fact that Sam and Ivanka are also running the race, and Amy and Nicole are lead cyclists! And a morning spent with friends is always a good time. Fun beats out chasing PBs right now for sure.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Race report: Guelph Lake II sprint triathlon

OK, Subaru series, I love your races, but kind of feel like your graphics person ran out of energy by the time they got to this race...
Last triathlon for this year.


It was a good summer, with lots of steady progress after having my training in the winter so rudely interrupted by the death flu/bronchitis. So I was happy to have one last chance to string together a solid sprint distance swim-bike-run, and hopefully improve my series points from the 10th place age group in Milton (best three races count towards the series, and 10th doesn't get you many points...)

Leaving home at the crack 'o dawn

I left too early and scored a sweet spot in transition
It felt ridiculously cold when I got the race site, and after picking up my kit and getting transition set up, I started sizing up everyone carrying a Tim Horton's cup and debating who I could take out and swipe their coffee just to have something to hold to warm up my hands.

Swim start

transition photo I'm too lazy to rotate
Fortunately, before I could get myself arrested for grand theft coffee, some of my Iron Canucks teammates arrived and I was able to distract myself chatting with them and soon the sun had warmed things up enough I was no longer concerned I was getting frostbite on my fingers.

We were all debating back and forth what to wear on the bike - the lake temp was quite warm, but with the cool air temps I wasn't sure how that first few km on the bike would feel. I settled on leaving a set of arm warmers in transition and making the decision on the fly in T1.

Then it was off to the lake to warm up, where I stayed in the water until after the first wave had started, since the water temp was warmer than the air!

Swim - 750m
Time: 16:55.9
Overall: 125/482
Gender: 27/167
Age Group: 6/26

I positioned myself in the second row close to the start flag, and soon we were off. It was a surprisingly violent swim - I think I was on someone's feet almost the entire time (including one girl who I swear was deliberately switching to breaststroke and trying to kick me when I'd occasionally brush against her - WTF?! We are all getting groped and grabbed out here! No need for that!). It also ended up being a little bit choppy, and at one point I turned to breathe and unfortunately got hit in the head by another swimmer just as a wave hit my face and I got the fun experience of swimming and coughing at the same time. Yay!

(uh, to those now thinking 'fuck that I'm never doing a triathlon' it's not usually like that! I swear! You don't have to swim in the pack!)

Overall, it was a solid swim - I was out of the water in just over 15 minutes. The time looks longer because it includes a long run up a hill to the timing mat at transition.

T1: 2:13

I felt pretty warm as I stripped off my wetsuit, so I didn't bother putting on my arm warmers. Most of the bikes in my age group seemed to still be on the rack, and I also saw Fab one rack over and aimed to beat him out of transition, because what good is a friendly rivalry if you don't use it as motivation? He'd started a wave earlier so had a three minute head start, but seemed to be busy eating a three course meal or doing his nails or something and I ended up beating him out of T1.

As I exited, the announcer called my name and added 'she's been on the podium this season'. Whoa. That was a weird feeling.

Bike - 30k
Time: 57:28.6
Overall: 93/482
Gender: 13/167
Age Group: 3/26

Ah, the same old story on the bike. Going super fast, loving life, thinking wow I am going to have a fantastic time today!

And then hitting the turnaround.

And discovering the tailwind now turned headwind.

How did I not realize??!


I could see Fab was really close behind me at the turnaround, so kept pushing even into the wind and over the craptacular pavement of the last 5k back to the park, expecting to hear him come up behind me at any second. Sure enough as I reached my transition rack, I heard the announcer call his name and knew I'd have to hustle to get through transition ahead of him!

T2: 1:15

There were two bikes already on the rack (d'oh) but with Fab hot on my heels I didn't pay much attention and switched my shoes as quickly as I could. Would have liked to have had this one under a minute; not sure why it took so long. And I totally forgot to grab my run visor, too!

Run - 7k
Time: 37:54.5
Total time: 1:55:45.4
Overall: 111/482
Gender: 17/167
Age Group: 3/26

The run felt pretty awful, and I'm kind of surprised it took Fab a full km to catch me. Damn. I chased him for a while just trying to keep him in my sight, and listening to the footsteps coming up behind me to see if they sounded 'female'. Mostly it was guys (it usually is), but no girls in my age group went past me. At least as far as I could tell - at least one of the bodymarkers had put on the age groups in miniscule numbering and they were impossible to see!

Spotted Marlene heading for the finish looking great, and sort of marveled at how much smaller the hills seemed compared to running them at the Olympic back in June. The difference in temperature really made a big difference in how painful it felt!

It wasn't a comfortable run but I got it done, and I'm pleased with how steady I held the pace.



Not bad!

Crossed the finish where Fab was waiting, grabbed the nonachoholic recovery beer, took a sip, remembered I loathe beer and got rid of that in favour of a water bottle instead. Checked the results to find myself 3rd for age group! It felt pretty well earned. I raced hard and I'm very pleased with how that last race of the season went.

Iron Canucks Gang

With the very inspiring Esther post race. She just did IMMT and decided at 5 am she felt like doing a triathlon and showed up for GLII!

Awards

Lame attempt at artsy bling photo ruined by overexposure. Ah well.
Now, on to other things. Like that BIG GIANT addition to my race schedule up in the corner. That deserves a whole separate post...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Race Report: Iron Girl Canada 2017




I'd been looking forward to this race for a while, knowing my girls Amy & Sam would be there, along with a whole crew of Tri Chicks, coach Nancy and Natalie, and a few other assorted people I know (Janice, my friend from Milton Kristi, Jana, other people I'm sure I'm forgetting). Annnnd...well to be honest I'd looked at previous years results and had an age group placing on my mind. A hard effort on the bike and a not-entirely-sucky run would likely do it to hit the top 5.

Up early to go pick up Sam and drive to the race, snag a parking spot, and fortunately we got there early enough I was able to get a decent spot on the rack in transition. As I memorized the location of my rack, I started counting and realized there were five full racks of bikes for women 40-44. Holy crap. I've done races where there have barely been five racks for all women total! It was at that point the sheer size of the race started to sink in, and I was feeling some pretty heavy doubts about that age group placing thing. Really, you think you can be a top performer when there's this many people here? Over 700 women and over 180 registered just in your age group? Come on!

The Iron Canucks racing - Amy, Sam, some girl who looks weirdly tall in this picture, Louise

Can you spot Sam setting up her stuff in the background?

It's like 'Where's Waldo?' but with Iron Canucks around here.

So many 40-44 year olds
The news from the L.O.S.T race in Oakville the day before had been 8 degree water (yikes!) so we went to check out the swim exit and get our feet wet. Fortunately, because wind patterns weather blah blah blah stuff I'm sure a meterologist could explain, the Grimsby section of Lake O doesn't roll as often as the northern shore of Lake O, and it was downright pleasant. Probably 20 degrees (doable without a wetsuit, although I wore mine because security blanket).

So much calmer than at Niagara two weeks earlier!
Since the lake was looking calm we decided to swim the 500m from the swim exit to the start as a warm up, which I'm really glad we did. I was a little panicky feeling at the start and it gave me time to get my nerves settled down, plus observe the landmarks on the shoreline so I'd have some sense during the race about distance.

Shook out my pre-race nerves, watched the first wave start from the shore, then got in the water to make my way out to the deeper part of the start area. Floated (and let's be honest here, peed - we were all doing it, guaranteed) while the next two waves went off. I wanted to start further out from shore since the race encourages weaker swimmers to hug the shoreline and walk when they need to, and Coach Nancy had told us to make sure to stay further out with the stronger swimmers, and we'd be less likely to be caught up in congestion and flailing limbs.

Swim
Time: 10:26.9 (2:05/100m)
Overall place: 152/704
Age group place: 53/143

10 second warning, and we were off. I started at the front which was the right move - didn't get tangled up on anyone, and no one swam over me. Wasn't able to latch on to any fast feet, unfortunately, and just focused on trying to swim straight for the distant swim exit buoy. It was a very undramatic swim, except every time I turned to breathe towards shore I could see what looked like a seething mass of yellow and white swim caps. I was very glad I was clear of that!

At the swim exit I hit a bit of a traffic jam and used the opportunity as I was standing there waiting for the exit to clear to hit the lap button on my watch. I was a little disappointed to see I'd been longer than 10 minutes on the swim - I had tried to swim pretty hard and was hoping to be 9:xx. Ah well. My swimming remains competent and unspectacular!

I have no memory of Coach Nancy taking this picture. Post swim delirium?
T1: 1:48

Achieved my goal of beating my T1 time from Niagara two weeks ago (same transition set up, right down to being on basically the same bike rack in both races!). It felt like everyone else in my age group had come out of the water at the same time and it was kind of mayhem. Wetsuits and swim caps flying everywhere. I skipped putting on socks, which saved some time, but my wetsuit is still a huge pain in the ass to get over my feet. I really need to try some surgery on it to see if I can't improve things there.

Looks like I'm about to drop my bike here. Thank you Danielle for the picture!
Hit another bottleneck leaving transition when the two people taking up the whole road in front of me were sauntering towards the mount line like they were taking a Sunday stroll. I managed to sneak around them and get safely mounted and on my way. Eventually.

Bike
Time: 36:03.9 (speed 33.27 km/hr)
Overall: 17/704
Age group: 2/143

And this is where I really felt the difference between a mixed gender race and a women's only race.

I said 'on your left/thank you' a lot.

No one passed me.

It was pretty awesome. Although my legs were like 'um you know we have to run after this, right?' and my heart rate, once my HRM finally started picking it up properly, was up in scary 'how long do you think you can really hold this?' territory. Shut up legs, just push as hard as you can and we'll worry about the run later.

Heading out on the bike; photo via Ted.
I was definitely in my happy place. Once I hit the turn around, the number of people in front of me had really thinned out, which made things a lot easier - less having to pass clumps of people, more just passing individuals. I hadn't been able to see the numbers on anyone's legs due to the bright sunlight, but I was pretty sure I'd made good headway through my age group. Coming in towards the finish there was one woman wearing a brown tri suit who caught my attention because she looked really fast, but I couldn't quite overtake her and she got into the chute slightly ahead of me. Then we both got tied up behind someone who had full on dropped her bike on the ground. Bike in and out was just not destined to go well for me!

T2: 0:59

Transition was empty.

Like, really empty. I surveyed all five 40-44 bike racks.

No bikes.

WHAT.

The Tri Ontario official standing near my rack saw the expression on my face, laughed, and gave me a thumbs up.

Oh boy. Time to fly through this transition and see how long this lasts..

(I was, in fact, second off the bike - that woman right ahead of me coming into the chute? She was in my age group, and also a cancer survivor, so her bike was racked on a special rack for survivors right by the bike out/in, which I think is a pretty awesome thing for the race organizers to set up! Survivors also get special bibs and swim caps, and an awards category to themselves as well).

Run
Time: 26:13
Overall time: 1:15:29.8
Overall: 21/704
AG: 3/143

I got out of transition before the woman in the brown tri suit, but she caught me pretty quickly, running at a blistering pace. She didn't have an age written on her leg, so at the time I didn't know she was in my age group, but I had a feeling (she ended up winning not just our age group, but also the survivors category as well). I settled in to what felt like a maintainable pace and braced myself for a stream of people to start coming past me - but it didn't really happen. In mixed gender races I can count on a pretty much never ending series of guys blowing past me, but without the men, I found myself actually catching up to and passing people! That just does not happen to me on the run!

I wasn't looking at my watch (although I did take a few looks at my heart rate monitor until I decided that that was information I was perhaps better off not knowing, because dear god how am I not dead?!), and just focused on trying to catch the people in front of me. I could see someone not far off who I was pretty sure was Jana and focused on her, trying to slowly reel her in. At the turn around a woman with a 41 on her leg went past (damn - but she was motoring and I mentally congratulated her) and then shortly after I saw Natalie heading the other direction, looking unbearably cheerful and like this was the greatest thing that had ever happened to her. 'This is so FUN!' she yelled to me. I was like WTF dude no it isn't it HURTS SO MUCH. But knowing she wasn't far behind did help motivate me to maintain my pace. If they are going to catch you, I said to myself, make them work for it. Don't make it easy!

Amy wasn't far behind Natalie and we high fived, and then I was looking for Sam but somehow missed her completely. Probably too focused on not having my lungs forcibly exit my body. Sucks I missed her, that's the best part of the run out and back! Getting to tell your friends how much racing sucks!

I caught Jana around 3k in. I can't remember exactly what I said to her (something about it hurting, probably), but she seemed to agree with me on the subject.

Finally I was into the final km and coming up the hill that is way bigger on the way back than it was on the way out. Coach Nancy was waiting at the top to yell encouragement at me, which I was completely incapable of absorbing because all my brainpower was being used to just keeping my legs moving and all I managed to say was 'can't.....breathe....' and then she left to encourage a TriChick going the opposite direction while Ted took my picture.

This actually looks a lot better than I was feeling at this point. Note Coach Nancy is ON A MISSION to motivate everyone. She's the best!
And then I was sprinting for the finish and I could hear people yelling my name and Oh Thank God that's over.

Heading for the finish, pic via Danielle and the awesome Iron Canucks cheer squad.
Guys. You guys, these splits.



I mean, on the one hand, I've run a half faster than that pace, but after having to completely rebuild my run fitness since March? I'm over the moon happy about running that speed over 5k after a hard 20k bike. And negative splitting! Things are starting to come back together!

I downed the bottle of water I was handed at the end in about 12 seconds, got my medal, got congrats from Danielle, waited for Natalie and Amy and Sam to finish, and checked the results.

Age group place achieved, and almost cracked the overall top 20.


Wait for it...

Amy, me, Sam, back in the lake after to try and cool off and de-stink a bit before the drive home. I was terrified the entire time we were taking this picture that Sam's phone was going to fall in the lake!

Picking up the Big Bling (thank you Amy for taking the pic!)
Enjoying the podium a little too much (pic via Nancy)
Sparkly!

You guys the back is engraved! I didn't even notice until this morning!

Still can't quite believe it, really. I'm pretty proud of this race. Swim was fine, I pushed hard on the bike, and I didn't blow up on the run.

So of course I signed up for Guelph Lake II. I'm not ready to be done triathlons for this year, and these shorter ones are just too much fun! One more go around at the whole 750/30/7 deal until I pack up the wetsuit for this year!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Race Report: Stroke & Stride Race 3; Gulliver's Lake



Held off on writing this up since I was hoping the race would add some pictures to their facebook page, but nothing yet and I'm starting to forget what I was going to say! Added some pics to the post via the race facebook page - thanks to the volunteers who took photos!

Last Wednesday I went out to Gullivers for something I'd never done before - a swim/run race. It was a spontaneous decision to sign up the week before, and I almost immediately had serious regrets. What on earth was I thinking, doing a race with my worst sport and the one I'm struggling with mightily lately? Plus I looked at some results from race 1 and 2 in the series, and it was looking like there was a good chance I'd be dead last. Some of the local ultra fast clubs were entering a lot of racers into these races and I was worried I'd be majorly out of place.

I watched the weather all day, since it's been a weird summer for weather with lots of thunderstorms popping up all over the place. I was almost hoping it would be stormy so I'd have an excuse to bail without guilt. But things seemed clear so with some trepidation, I was off to the lake.



The race site was full of very very very fit looking young people wandering around, and a distinct lack of anyone carrying wetsuits. That did not help my confidence levels much! But shortly after that some people I knew via my tri club arrived and it became clear I wasn't going to be the only one in a wetsuit. Whew. Still didn't help with the feeling I might be dead last and have everyone waiting on me at the finish, but at least there were other 'normal', non ultra competitive people there!

Managed to add the appropriate multi sport activity to my watch! Although I'd have set it up differently if I'd realized certain things about the swim...
Dumped my stuff in 'transition' and soon it was time to get ready. One of the race organizers explained how the swim would work - two loops, and at the end of the first loop we had to exit through the swim arch, run along the beach, re-enter the water at the start point, and swim the second loop. Hmmmm. If I'd realized that earlier I'd have set up my watch to time the two swim loops separately, but no time to fix it now! The race is about to start!

I don't know why this makes me laugh so much, but it does.

A much larger group set off in the shorter race (750m swim/5k run), then we waited for our smaller group (18 athletes). Most, if I'm remembering correctly, did end up wearing wetsuits.


Pic via race facebook. Standing and contemplating before the start.

Pic via race facbook. Discussing the course with some other competitors as we tried to figure out which buoys to swim around. I'm pretty confident I have it right, hence the pointing.


To my surprise when we started I wasn't immediately left in the dust, and in fact spent almost the entire first loop drafting another athlete. Unfortunately, when we exited the water at the end of the loop he got ahead of me and I wasn't able to take advantage of the draft on the second. There was a female swimmer near me and I was able to draft a bit from her, but then my sighting went haywire towards the end and I lost her as well.

Hitting the water at the start
One valuable thing I learned - when you have to exit the water halfway through the swim, maybe don't all out sprint the 50m between the exit and re-entering the water. I was so out of breathe that I could barely manage to dog paddle at the start of the second swim loop! I was not expecting that short run to affect me so much. Filed that away for future reference.

1500m swim: 29:22

Pretty happy with that swim, really! Any time I can get under 2 minutes per hundred I'm satisfied. Plus I suspect I swam some extra distance with my massive sighting issues over the last few hundred meters.

Into transition, got off the wetsuit, tossed a tank top over my bra (I wore tri shorts on the bottom), and off to do 4 loops around Gullivers for a 5k run.

Leaving transition to start the run. Pic via race facebook page.
I had decided to experiment a bit at this race and wore the shoes I plan to wear at Iron Girl without socks. They were fine up until about 4k, then I could feel hotspots developing. Had a solid, steady, unspectacular 5k run right up until there was 400m left when the ominous clouds that had been building to the west seemed to sweep closer and the wind suddenly picked up from nothing to 'oh shit this might blow me right over'. I hustled my butt over the finish line!

Running through transition on one of the loops. Pic via race facebook.


Total time: 59:01
Place: 13/18; 2/6 women
(I'm not really sure of these stats - they are the results on the race website but I think the time may not include transition, because by my watch it should be 1:01. and I'm almost positive the 'unknown participant' who finished just ahead of me was female and I should have been 3/7).



Maybe 5 minutes after I finished thunder was rumbling in the distance and I got out of there just before the heavens opened up and it started to pour.

It was pouring but oddly still sunny? I dunno, this summer weather has been super strange.
It was an experience - and I enjoyed it! Good organization, low pressure, and it was fun to do something a bit different. I'm considering signing up for race 4 in September; maybe do the 750/5k and do the swim without a wetsuit, just to push that comfort zone a little bit. Someday I may end up doing a race where wetsuits aren't legal and it would be good to get a little low-pressure experience swimming open water without one. No promises, though!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Race report: Niagara Sprint triathlon 2017


So the best pre-race prep is spending the Friday night staying up way too late and hanging with your tri/running girls, sleeping in a trailer, and then going for a 60k bike ride where the last 30 were uphill, right? Followed by a hike later that afternoon?



Right?



Anyone?

SUPER SMART.
 (It was TOTALLY WORTH IT. Grown up camping is awesome.)

In the interest of not completely self-sabotaging, however, I did leave girl’s weekend Saturday evening to spend the night in my own bed (plus, much closer to the race site). Unlike my usual meticulous triathlon race prep, I totally half-assed things and just crossed my fingers that as I randomly tossed shit into bags I wouldn’t forget anything. I didn’t even bother to test ride the tri bike after swapping out the trainer tire! Living dangerously!

Fortunately, when I got to Grimsby and set up in transition, all the important stuff was there. Whew. I did have to stop at the vendors and buy a couple of gels (and some elastic laces for the shoes I want to use for Iron Girl), but that was reasonably painless.

Couldn't even be bothered to arrange this nicely for the picture. Also I forgot my transition towel and ended up using a cloth bag instead.
  
Let's take a slightly closer look. Ohhhh, a red swim camp! That's a first! And what's that next to it?

That would be my swim goggles. THIS IS IMPORTANT LATER.

Yay Iron Canucks!

Fab had been successfully talked into doing the race too. And we managed to get him off the idea of doing the duathlon, what the hell man. Although I suspect he regretted that choice once we got a load of what Lake Ontario was up to.

Um guys? This is the swim exit? WTF?
Since the swim had been changed to a straight line swim, we had to walk a couple of blocks to the new swim start – originally I'd been planning to swim it as a warmup, but once I got a load of the wave action there was no way that was happening. We grabbed our wetsuits and….

I couldn't find my goggles.

I have photo proof they were there, but at some point they just completely vanished. I'm not sure if I dropped them or what (I swear I picked them up with my swim cap when we were getting ready to leave transition), but transition just isn’t that big and I couldn’t find them anywhere, even retracing my steps.

And of course, given my entirely half-assed approach to packing my stuff, I hadn't brought any spares.

Fortunately Fab instantly revealed he had a spare set I could use. CRISIS AVERTED. Also his goggles turned out to be way better and more comfortable than mine, which I'd been planning to replace anyway because they’ve been leaking like crazy lately. So now I know what kind to get! Triathlon teammates are the best.

We walked to the swim start, got into the wetsuits with the girls from Fit 4 Adventure (so hard to get into a wetsuit when you are already sweating your ass off in the humidity), and I attempted a short warmup. The waves were really high (although Goderich two years ago was much worse, so I knew I could handle it). However, just standing in the water I was starting to feel a little sick to my stomach from the up and down, so I got out and waited on the shore for our wave to be called.

Swim (750m):
Time: 17:28
Overall: 150/335
Gender: 36/94
Age Group: 5/16

I was in the third wave so had to hang out for a bit watching the first two. Finally, the horn sounded. The first 100m were a mess – the wave action was crazy, and everyone was kind of bunched up together because you'd basically have to stop to sight the turn buoy and hope you could catch a glimpse of it before it disappeared behind a wave. And when I got to the buoy it was so congested with swimmers I literally had to tread water for a few seconds because there was nowhere to swim! One of the guys near me yelled something about the swim being crazy, and another guy commented that this was the first time he'd ever had a conversation during the swim leg.

I got free of the group after going around the buoy and went a little further to the outside to try and get clearer water, but I was still in contact with other swimmers the entire time. Either having someone run up behind me grabbing my feet, or running into the back of people stopping to try and sight. The buoys weren't hard to spot (the sun was reflecting off them really nicely, making them quite visible), but if you tried to look at the wrong moment all you'd see would be waves and red caps.

The wave action felt less further out from shore, and I settled into just plowing along to the next buoy. I never really got into a rhythm, though, and I knew it was going to be a slow swim. However, my tendency to pull left seemed to work in my favour since it compensated nicely for the waves pushing me right!

Turning back towards shore things got a bit messy. There was someone breaststroking that seemed to be deliberately shifting their direction so I couldn't get around them (I know they weren't but at the time it sure felt that way!), and I could feel the waves making my stomach really unhappy. But soon enough I was at the shoreline and very carefully hauling myself onto the rocks and out of the water. All things considered, not too terrible a time! Given the conditions, I'll take it.

T1: 2:19

Into transition not moving real fast. Always with the hills into transition. Most of the bikes seemed to still be on the rack, but since they had multiple age groups together and a sizable overflow rack, that didn't mean much. Not my smoothest transition but not my worst, either. As I ran with my bike towards the exit, I saw Fab coming in from the swim, so I knew he wouldn't be far behind me and I’d have to work hard if I wanted to keep ahead of him.

Bike (25k)
Time: 49:10 (avg speed 30.51 km/hr)
Overall: 114/335
Gender: 19/94
Age group: 5/16 (sensing a pattern...)

I knew this race had an escarpment climb, and if I'd planned better I'd have driven it pre-race to know what to expect. Alas, when I got off the QEW I had no idea which road was the one for the race and didn’t want to fart around trying to find it. So the hill was a mystery until I got there 4k into the ride.

As escarpment climbs go, not bad. Steepish-bit at the bottom, long not so steep bit in the middle, another steepish bit at the top (with a guy standing there promising it was in fact the top, not the fake top like after the first steep bit!). Not overly pleased with my time up the segment (my hill climbing skills seem to have deserted me this year), but I'm sure I'll get over there to tackle it again sometime.

Once at the top, things were pretty much flat flat flat so I settled into aero and focused on bringing my average speed up over 30 km/hr. While also trying to hold back a little bit to avoid totally cooking my legs for the run. Yes, I know, I never try and strategize the bike! What! But I knew it was going to be hot on the run and I wanted to try that whole crazy strategy of 'pacing yourself'.

Coming back down the big hill was far more fun than climbing it, although I rode my brakes a little too much. Now that I've done it I know the curves aren't as sharp as I thought and it would be doable at full speed. Left a little free speed on the table there, unfortunately.

T2: 1:33

Back into transition and time to run. Quick change of shoes and I was out.

Run (7k)
Time: 39:25 (avg pace 5:37/km)
Overall: 150/335
Gender: 27/94
Age Group: 5/16

I started the run feeling…pretty good?

Comfortably uncomfortable?

I kept running (as a gazillion dudes motored past me, as is usual), kept waiting for the implosion…but it never came. Spotted Kristin heading back towards the finish, then Anna. Every time I heard footsteps behind me I expected it to be Fab, since I knew he was probably not far back and he’s a faster runner than I am.

Hit the turnaround, and then shortly after spotted him. Uh oh, he's getting close. And naturally that helped a bit with motivation. If he was going to catch me, I was going to make sure he had to work for it!

I pushed towards the finish, including up the two inclines that sure didn’t seem that big on the way out but somehow had gotten steeper, and crossed the finish just under 1:50. Even managed to lay down a 5:22 km at the end – all this slow running stuff I’ve been doing is paying off. The base is coming back!

Finish time: 1:49:54.8
Overall: 148/335
Gender: 26/94
Age group: 5/16

Grabbed my medal and water, saw that Anna had a snowcone and demanded to know where that came from because that looked like the GREATEST THING EVER. Fab finished within a minute or so (too close for comfort! Damn I gotta work harder to keep ahead!) and we were all GIVE US ALL THE SNOWCONES.

I demand snowcones at all the triathlons now. BEST THING EVER.

Hanging out post race with the Fit 4 Adventure girls

Waiting for the awards and goofing off with the amazing Kristin (4th place for her age group! Going to be cheering so hard for her at IMMT next month.)

So so so thrilled with this race. I paced it well, everything felt really good, and I finally feel like I'm a real triathlete and fit person again. Nothing like a really good race to help you feel motivated for more, more, more!

And, you know, the whole extra hardware deal. I do not object to this 5 medals deep thing.
Next up is a swim run race on Wednesday night (1500m swim, 5k run), because clearly cutting out my favourite part of the whole endeavor is a good idea. That race report should be amusing. Then I have Iron Girl in two weeks where I will a) actually be tapering for it! And b) going flat out. Looking forward to going deep into the pain cave on that one.

Then I have the Oakville half marathon, where my basic plan is just to keep working on base running and then see how the race goes. No goal time at this point. And then I’ll likely do the Road 2 Hope half if Oakville goes alright.

It feels good to be an athlete again!