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.

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.

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.


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).

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)

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!

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. 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.

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. 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!

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?



 (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!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Race report: Guelph Lake I 5150 2017

When I originally decided on Guelph Lake as my A race for the triathlon season, I was picturing 2017 going in a very different way. Yes everyone is totally sick of hearing about Emma's Alarming Influenza, followed by the Spring of Painful Coughing. I'm sick of talking about it too! While I've settled back into my usual 2:00/100m or so for swimming, and biking is pretty much feeling back to normal, running has, to put it bluntly, been pretty shitty. Getting your run fitness back after a break sucks. Especially when you weren't exactly a strong runner in the first place!

So once again, into a race with low expectations. But I was looking forward to it, too, since Sam and Ivanka would be there, and a bunch of people from Iron Canucks signed up, and it's always a good day when you get to see your tri friends. Plus, having done the duathlon at GLII a few years ago, I was somewhat familiar with the course and knew the bike, at least, could not be better suited to my strengths - lots of rolling hills, but nothing too long or steep. Enough to keep it interesting, but not enough to force me to redzone.

And I was pretty pumped to have Bad Wolf off the trainer and ready to go. The road bike is fun, but the tri bike just wants to go fast. At the very least, I knew the bike leg would be good times.

I got to the race really early after allowing myself way more time than I needed to buy gas. It was opposite land from Milton, in that I scored a parking space about 50 feet from transition rather than two counties away. So things were looking good from the start!

When you arrive early, you get a primo space on the rack.

Kit pick up

Transition setup, just proving I did in fact remember how.

The suckers My awesome friends I talked into doing this race when they could have been getting Lululemon medals and donuts at the waterfront 10k. Uh, yay triathlon?
Usual pre-race nonsense, and what initially seemed like a lot of extra time disappeared somewhere in all the set up, sunscreen applications, and saying hi and chatting with the various people I knew. Suddenly I was half in my wetsuit, walking across the VERY ouchy on the feet gravel road and down the loooooooong hill to the lake, without enough time for a real swim warmup. So I settled for getting water into my suit while I floated around with Sam for a few minutes, and then we got out and waited for our wave to start.

Time: 31:50.3
Overall: 200/390
Gender: 49/111
Age Group: 5/23

This race had a beach start, which I think is only my second time doing one of those. Felt a little weird, to be honest, running into the water, and there were an inordinate number of people all trying to hang back and not be in front! That's my territory, jerks! (I have to stop thinking like that, since at this point I'm clearly midpack). Somehow, I almost immediately had clear water, despite starting from the side closest to the buoys and with the most direct line. Very little contact, so I settled in, followed feet when they seemed useful, and focused on just getting to the next buoy, nice and relaxed.

I felt like I was swimming slowly (my arm turnover felt really slow and lazy), but I was pretty comfortable and focused on sighting every 10 strokes and catching feet when I could. Especially in the back half of the swim I was able to latch on to some faster swimmers from the last wave to pull me for short periods, which was extremely helpful because that was also when my sighting went completely to shit and I kept pulling hard to the right when I wasn't checking every other stroke. Very weird. But overall, an uneventful swim and I was out of the water with 31 minutes showing on my watch - pretty much exactly what I expected.

(the actual time is different because the timing mat was way up the long ass hill at the transition zone, which mucks up the swim timing a bit)

When I made it up that stupidly long hill, I was pleasantly surprised to see they'd covered the gravel road with a carpet. Nice work, Subaru series - I had been dreading running across that, because they were pretty sharp and pointy little rocks. This princess's feet are far too delicate for that nonsense.

T1: 2:39

I noticed my age group's bike rack was still almost full, but I didn't think much of it at the time. Plus I was distracted trying to get my wetsuit off over my giant calves. I have got to practice that, because the damn thing is practically glued to my legs. Now I see I was fifth, which I think is my best swim age group placing ever? All the fast swimmers must have been at Nationals in Ottawa or tapering for Tremblant!

Time: 1:16:48.9 (31.24 km/hr)
Overall: 157/390
Gender: 28/111
Age Group: 2/23

Bike was good, happy place, passed lots of people, blah blah blah blah usual. I like bikes.

Well, ok, except for the last 5k. The road surface was a complete disaster, which wasn't as noticeable on the way out because it was slightly uphill plus fresh legs. But on the way back, ouch. My shoulders were getting sore from gripping the aero bars and all the bone-rattling bumpiness. I was pretty glad when we got to the conservation area and back onto some smooth road again for the last few hundred meters!

T2: 1:28

My thoughts entering transition: Why is there only one bike on the W40-44 rack??! Is there another rack somewhere?? Is it possible I'm actually second off the bike?!

(I know now that yes, yes I was, and in fact I had the fastest bike time in my age group. But I didn't totally believe it at the time)

Time: 1:00:59.2
Overall race time: 2:53:44
Overall: 204/390
Gender: 37/111
Age group: 5/23

The whole second place off the bike thing lasted about 12 seconds. I had literally just crossed the timing mat to leave transition when a woman from my age group flew past like she had rockets on her back. You go girl, I thought to myself, as I clutched the gel I planned to take and reconsidered my life choices.

It was really, really hot. I think we all know by now how well that goes for me. Add to that the fact my longest run since March was a painful 10k last weekend, well, let's just say I didn't have a super great time on the run course.

There were a lot of long gradual inclines, that sucked, and then gradual declines where running felt easy but I sort of hated them because I knew, given that the course was out and back, I'd have to run back up them and that sounded like a terrible idea. I talked myself into eating the gel at about 4k, and that helped, and walked the aid stations to drink and fairly pointlessly splash water on myself (I mean, I was still wet from the swim somehow, so it didn't really make any difference).

I did enjoy spotting my teammates and other friends along the way. At around 7k a guy I'd traded place with a few times (he'd walk, I'd run, I'd walk, he'd run) exclaimed, after I exchanged about my fifth high five of the day with someone going the other way, "do you know EVERYONE out here?". Which was almost immediately followed by me spotting a Tri Chick and yelling encouragement at her. Why yes, it seems I do know everyone! I think my socializing annoyed him enough that he picked up the pace and I never saw him again.

Midway or so I got passed by another woman in my age group, but I was well past caring at that point. Although it did sting a little when yet another woman passed me with about 300 m to go, and she was running way too fast for me to even think about keeping up with her. I really miss being able to run faster, and hopefully over the next few weeks I can regain some of that!

The Iron Canucks cheer squad was waiting at the top of the finish chute, so I grabbed some high fives and wrapped the thing up. Although not before some dude doing his best Andre Degrasse impression went flying past me. I never quite get those guys - if you have the energy to lay down a 100m sprint like you are trying to qualify for the Olympics in the sprints at the end, maybe your pacing sucked the rest of the race!

(I'd put a finish line picture here because my pics are actually pretty good, but I'm far to cheap to pay $50 for them).

Waited for Ivanka to finish, since I knew she was not far behind me, and then wandered up to join the rest of the team and cheer on everyone else finishing.

Iron Canucks cheer squad + sweaty race finishers

Sam heading for the finish line

More sweaty racers + cheer squad. We smelled fantastic, I assure you.
 I checked sportstats on my phone and confirmed that I'd finished fifth for age group (I was pretty sure already, but still was sort of wondering if there'd been another rack of bikes somewhere!), and we headed for the awards because Ivanka had finished 2nd for her group in the duathlon, and Subaru goes 5 deep on their medals if there's enough people registered for the age group. If there's any chance I'm getting some bling, I'm going to the ceremony. Frankly I think Multisport Canada owes me some 4th and 5th place bling from last year!

(ha not really. I'm not exactly sure what kind of metal is supposed to be represented by 5th place - dulled bronze? rust?)
I swear I rotated this photo like six times and it's not going to take, so screw it.

if you give me a medal, I'm going to smile big

So standing on the podium was pretty cool, but also a little frustrating. If my run wasn't such a mess right now... well I doubt I could have held onto second, not with the speed the eventual second place winner went past me. But I could have held fourth and maybe even third. Could woulda shoulda whatever. Curse you flu!

At any rate, on to the Niagara sprint! No more of this running 10k nonsense. 7k seems so much more reasonable. And then Iron Girl, which happens to be 8 weeks away, which happens to be enough time to do a Trainerroad block... New A goal, perhaps?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Race report: Milton sprint triathlon 2017

My expectations heading into the Milton Sprint Tri were not really bottom of the barrel. More like if you took a shovel and dug down 30 feet below the barrel. Not very high, is what I’m saying. While I’m now back to being fully healthy* (yay!), I’ve only got a couple of weeks of real training under my belt, and running in particular has felt mostly awful.

*except for the seasonal allergies. Stupid trees.

So I wasn’t exactly super enthused about this race, and was really regretting having signed up for it. Especially when Sunday morning it was pouring rain. It was soooo tempting to just stay in bed.

But I’d paid good money and at the least wanted my t-shirt, so off on my triathlon training day (that happened to have announcers and several hundred other people participating). Milton is the closest triathlon to home for me, so it was a pretty relaxed morning with no need to rush out the door at a crazy early hour. 20 minute drive to the race site? I’ll take it!

Given the forecast, the thermos of hot and heavily sugared chai seemed like a good idea. And it was. I am a race prep EXPERT now, yo.

Waiting to get into Kelso in the rain. Yeah, this is definitely better than sitting at home in my PJs eating bagels and fruit with the kids. Obviously.
Because the Try a Tri started first, the nearest parking lots were all full, and I basically wound up parking back at home and then doing the long trudge to transition hauling all my gear and bike in the rain. Enthusiasm level, EVEN LOWER. But I checked in, organized my stuff, got that big old ‘40’ marked on my leg (pretend there's a grimacing emoji here), and realized that despite the rain I was feeling somewhat overheated in my sweatshirt and jacket. Hmmmmmm. I’d been concerned about being cold on the bike, but maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.

At least we don't have to climb up that?

But my birthday isn't until the end of the month! Waaaaaaaa!
(There would be a pic of my transition setup here but I covered it with a garbage bag to keep my shoes dry, so it would be a weird looking picture. Also I forgot to take one.)

Watched the start of the Try a Tri, hiked back across the province to the car to drop a few things off, and then it was time to struggle into the wetsuit. Chatted with Kristin, Anna, and Kyra (& Alisdair!) at various points, and realized as I waded into the lake that the rain had stopped. Hey, this might be alright!

Try a Tri swimmers swimming. Swim courses always look so very very long.

I was in the second to last wave, so there was a lot of standing around waiting. The water was nice – not too cold, but not overly warm; about perfect for wetsuit swimming. I was starting to feel positive and optimistic about this whole triathlon thing again!

Swim (750m)

Time: 16:20 (2:10/100m)
Category: 11/17
Gender: 58/116
Overall: 236/424

Eventually they counted us down and we were off, with only a little kicking and grabbing until we thinned out enough to get clear water. The overcast day meant the orange buoys were easy to see, and my sighting was decent. I just tried to keep relaxed, follow feet when I could, and not scream like a small child every time I grabbed a handful of weeds or had some sort of hideous water grass slime its way across my face. So many weeds in the first half of this swim, which I was not expecting at all! Usually those are just closer to shore, not out in the middle of the lake!

Informative Strava Screenshot. Yep, it's a box.

After what felt like about 40 minutes, I was finally on to the beach and running up to transition. I don’t know why that swim felt so long (first race of the year?), but it went well and I can’t complain about any of it. Except the slimy face-grabbing weeds. Those I could do without.

T1: 2:21

Training day, remember? I’m surprised it’s only 2 minutes, considering I took the time to dry my feet off with a towel and put on my socks and road cycling shoes!

Bike (30k)

Time: 1:00:32 (grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr damn that 30 seconds!) (average speed 29.74 km/hr)
Category: 8/17
Gender: 46/116
Overall: 228/424

About 30 seconds into the bike, when I made my first pass, I remembered why I do this.

I really, really love bike racing.

30k of fun. I decided a few weeks ago I’d use Foxy (my road bike) for this race, since she has better gearing for the Big Fucking Hill that comes at about the 4.5k mark of the bike course. Then I saw the weather forecast and that confirmed my decision, as I wanted to have hands on the brakes if it was pouring rain during the race.

Bike course elevation - let's just say the second half is a lot more fun than the first half!
Of course, it totally cleared up and the sun even came out during the bike (!), but I was still glad to have Foxy for the hill climbing. I could really feel how much fitness I’ve lost over the last few months on the climbs, so having the lower gears was a help. I pushed fairly hard, trying to keep as close to a 30 km/hr average as I could, and although I didn’t quite get there, I’m really happy with how this bike went. The base is still there; the speed and strength will come back. 

(If I had any sort of bike handling skills at all I’d consider actual bike racing, but I seriously suck at cornering so I’ll stick to triathlon, thanks.)

T2: 1:59

Taking my time, Sam style. Definitely in no rush to start the run.

Run (7k)

Time: 41:58 (pace 5:59/km)
Overall time: 2:03:09
Category: 10/17
Gender: 60/116
Overall: 279/424

Took off out of transition, sucking on a gel, and was surprised to feel pretty good.

That lasted about 500 meters, where I encountered the first steep climb on the run course. The Milton run doesn’t have any particularly long hills, but hooooooo boy were there some steep ones. I just tried to run steadily and not look at my watch, grabbed water at the aid stations, and started really wishing the run course had been 5k. Or 3k. 3k would have been great.

So it wasn’t a super enjoyable run…but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d been expecting. I had enough mental energy to trade jokes with a guy who was behind me most of the race (lots of short out and backs on the route, so we saw each other a bunch of times). If I'm being sarcastic out loud instead of just in my head, it can't be that awful! I was really expecting to have to walk a lot more, but I kept the walking to the aid stations and the couple of really steep climbs. But I was mostly able to run, and I didn’t feel like death! I will absolutely take that as a victory!

(trying not to think about having to add 3 more km onto that in two weeks at Guelph Lake. That’s Future Emma’s problem)

Post race smiles are the biggest smiles.

So, all in all, I'm really glad I did this one. I remembered how much I like this stuff, and although I can feel my lack of fitness and it's driving me slightly crazy, it's a nice confidence boost to have a decent result after not a lot of training. Guelph Lake is still going to fall on the side of  'let's just have some fun and get through this thing in one piece', but I'm kind of eyeing Iron Girl in August as a potential 'let's go all out and try and puke at the finish' sort of race. And I might just have to tack Guelph Lake II onto the schedule. Stay tuned!

Oh nice got the thumb in the shot. I ain't editing it at this point.