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.