Thursday, June 27, 2013

History in the Making at the Welland Tri

Those of you that know me, know I'm pretty competitive.  I do my fair share of joking and trash talking, especially with G.  A few years ago, that never would have happened but these days, I have become quite confident in my abilities.  To be fair, G is not totally racing at the level he used to either.  He had knee surgery 3 years ago and took his time getting back into running.  He's quick but not as quick as he used to be.  So I have become the fast one on two feet in this relationship.  Throw in a swim and bike and it's a whole other ball game though.  G is a strong swimmer and a pretty good cyclist.  But, like myself he hasn't been training a lot on the bike.  That is slowly changing and I suspect that by the end of the season the gap between the two of us on the bike will be much bigger than it is now.  I'm sure his running will also start to improve as well so I'll have to step it up a notch.  For now, I'd say our abilities are somewhat comparable.  We are similar in speed when it comes to open water swimming however, G is way faster than me in the pool. G is definitely faster than me on the bike and I am faster than him on the run so lately our races have been close.  But I've never actually beat him.

Until this past weekend.

Yes my friends, history was made at the Welland Triathlon.  G got chicked by his own wife.

We have been pretty close in our finishing times over the three triathlons we've done together.  As close as 1/100 of a second, but G has always come out as the faster one.  Saturday that changed.  I beat him by 29 seconds.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's see how the day unfolded shall we?

I had wanted to be at the race site an hour early so I could set up in transition, do a warm up, find Krysten and help her out if she needed it.  That did not happen.  We were late leaving the house, got slowed down in construction on the highway and ended up getting to the Welland Arena with about 40 minutes to spare.  Still enough time to set up and get registered but not at the relaxed pace that I like.  So there was a little bit of rushing around on my part.  I kept my eyes peeled for Krysten but never ran into her.  Before I knew it, G was herding me down to the water to do a warm up.

The water was chilly at first but once you got in it was actually quite nice.  You swim in the Welland Canal which is fairly narrow so it was a long swim along the banks short swim across and then another long swim back.  I like swimming in rivers and canals because you always have a place to sight with the shoreline on either side of you.  A bonus considering I can't seem to swim in a straight line to save my life. 

Because this race takes place in a canal and it's fairly narrow, MSC made this a time trial start.  That meant that the elites and pros would go first, then everyone would line up from youngest to oldest and we'd start 5 seconds apart.  I liked the idea of that immediately because it would alleviate all of the panic and chaos that I don't like about most swim starts.   I wouldn't have anyone beside me and I'd have a fairly clear path in front of me until I caught someone.

Warm ups done, G and I reunited on the bank and waited for our respective numbers to come up.  I was in front of him by 23 people.  I hoped that was enough space to keep him at bay for a while.  I got my customary good luck kiss and jumped in line.  The rest of us 40-44 year old women made our way down to the dock and got in the water.   The girl in front of me went and the fellow on the dock counted down 5-4-3-2- GO.  Off I went.  It was so nice not to have to contend with flailing arms and legs.  I had open water in front of me for about 2 minutes then I caught my first person.  And then another.  Before I knew it, I had swam into a small pack of people.  I had to stop and breast stroke a bit to figure out how to get around them.  Got around them and was back into clear water.  A few minutes later, I came up on 2 other people.  One of them was a guy who was breast stroking.  The other was a woman who was swimming.  I slowed up and tried to figure out if I could go through the middle of them or if I had to try to swim around the breast stroker.  I opted to go through the middle.  There seemed to be enough room.  The breast stroker didn't like that and I got kicked and punched.  That just spurred me on to move a bit faster.  I got through them and came upon another small group as I made the turn around the buoy.  I went wide so I could get around them.  More clear water.  Amazing.  I hit the second buoy and came up on a little bit of traffic.  Got through that and it was smooth sailing all the way back to the beach.  I pushed the pace heading into the beach.  I really wanted to get out of the water.  I was hoping that I was around the 13 minute mark.  I looked down at my watch as I stepped onto the bank and it said 12:48.  YES.  I still had to run up to the timing mat though.  I hit the mat and glanced at my watch again.

Swim:  13:02

The one annoying thing about this race is the very long run up to T1.  It's so long, they actually time it separately from your transition.  It's close to 500m.  I made it up into T1 in 1:37.  Yeah, I hustled.  I got out of my wetsuit quite quickly and managed to get myself sorted a lot faster than normal.  I knew exactly where I had to run out so as soon as I was sorted, I was off. 

T1:  1:30.  Getting faster!

I hopped on the bike and started hammering.  My legs didn't like that so I backed off a bit and let them settle down before I started to push again.   I caught a few people here and there but never came across any large packs like I did at Binbrook.  So much nicer!  I was just getting into a groove when I came up on Krysten.  She looked good and was moving at a good clip.  I yelled Gooooo Krysten as I went by. I settled into my pace.  I was definitely working.  The bike seemed harder this time around than it did at Binbrook, even though the course was completely flat.   It was nice to be able to just get into my aerobars and ride though.   I settled into that sweet spot, toeing the red line and stayed there for the entire 30km.  My friend and RMT, David, was also racing.  He's 5 years younger than me so he had a pretty good head start.  I wasn't sure if I'd catch him on the bike or not, but I kept my eyes peeled.  Sure enough, just past the 10km mark, I caught sight of him.  I reeled him in and as I passed him I said "See you at the finish line".  I was greeted with a whole lot of "yeah yeah yeah".   One dude down, another to try to keep at bay.   I was racing scared, wondering when G would catch me.  I had a feeling it would be around the 20km mark but I figured I'd have a better idea at the 15km turn around.  I hit the turn around, went out a little further than I needed to and settled back into my groove.  Shortly after that I saw G.  Crap.  I put my head down, rode like a mad woman and waited.  The km's clicked by.  No G.  I hit the 20km mark.  Still no G.  What the?  I was closing in on the 25km mark when I heard "On your left Team Running Free".  Aha, there he was.  G flew by me.  I responded to him just like David had responded to me.  "Yeah, yeah yeah".  Although, I have to say, I was quite pleased with myself.  I figured he'd catch me a whole lot sooner.  I only had to cover 5km before I could try to chase him down on the run.   I pushed the pace a bit harder on those last 5km.   It was also starting to get really warm out, which I figured would make the run really tough.  I made a last minute decision to bring a couple of salt pills and I'm glad I did.  I took one before the race and then took my last one just before I got off the bike.  I figured it wouldn't hurt.  I jumped off my bike at the dismount line and ran as fast as I could into transition.

Bike:  53:48 - once again I averaged 33.4 kph.  This time around it felt a lot harder.

I racked my bike, took my helmet off and grabbed my visor.  I started putting that on while trying to take my cycling shoes off.  Kind of stupid but whatever.  I yanked my running shoes on and made my way out of transition.

T2:  00:52s  Not bad. 

I've run the Welland course in a relay so I know it's very flat with very little shelter.  I figured this was going to be a scorcher and I wasn't wrong.  My legs felt a little rubbery but that didn't stop me from seeing sub 4 min km's on my Garmin for the first half km.   In fact my first km split was 4:00 on the nose.  I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain that for the rest of the run, especially given the heat but it was a good start.  They changed the run course slightly and made it a bit more winding so it was hard to get a gauge on where people were.  I didn't see G at all until just past the 1km mark.  He had made it to the first turnaround and was heading back.  I wasn't sure how far up the first turn around was so I didn't know if I'd be able to catch him or not.  Much to my surprise, it wasn't too far up.  I started to think that perhaps I just might catch him.  

Sure enough just as I made my way toward the 2km mark, I spotted him.  That spurred me on to move a bit faster.  I caught up to him and smacked him on the butt.  He said his calves were cramping.  I said my right one was as well (it was getting ominously tight) and then I said "See you at the finish!" and passed him.

Now I just had to hope I could hold him off.   Talk about running scared.

It was stinking hot out on the run course.  I took fluids at almost every aid station.  Mostly just to dump on my head.  There was an awesome aid station manned by a bunch of 12-15 year old girls (I'm guessing) that were dumping water on folks if they wanted it.  I didn't take them up on the offer the first time but I told them they were all awesome and that got a big woohoo back from them.  I chugged along at roughly a 4:10/km pace.  Sometimes slower, sometimes faster.  I was definitely having a better run than at Binbrook.  The course was also flatter and all on pavement which is helpful in terms of maintaining a relatively consistent pace.   I could feel my face getting really hot.  I didn't even want to look at my heart rate as I figured it would be way up there.  I was running at what felt like 5km pace.  I hit the 2nd turnaround and started with the self talk.  I was really hurting.  As soon as I hit the 5km mark, I started doing finishing calculations.  I figured I had roughly another 10 minutes or so to go.  I could suck it up for another 10 minutes.  I saw G at about this point and we exchanged a high five.  I knew at that point that he wasn't going to catch me.  Shortly after I saw David and another high five was exchanged.  I kept trying to relax my shoulders because I could feel them starting to drift up to around my ears.  That always happens when I'm really pushing the pace.  I decided to ease up a little bit.  I was heading towards the Awesome Aid Station again when I saw 2 old ladies in their scooters sitting on the edge of the path watching everyone.  As I passed I thanked them for coming out and they laughed out loud.  Gotta thank the spectators too, they are an integral part of any race!  

As I came towards the Awesome Aid Station the girls were ready with cups of water.  I yelled out "Go ahead, give me all you've got! Bombs away! and was promptly doused by 3 enthusiastic volunteers.   I can't even begin to tell you how good that felt.  I was soaked but I didn't care.   I glanced at my Garmin and saw 29 minutes and change.  I was really close to the finish.  I was hoping to come in under 32 minutes.  I figured I should be able to do it but it might be close.  I turned onto the path and really started to push the pace again.  I almost missed the entrance to the finishing chute on the grass.  At that point I knew I was going to go sub 32 minutes.  I didn't even look at the finishing clock when I crossed the line so I had no idea what my finishing time was.  As soon as I gave my timing chip back, I paid a visit to the sponge man and had him completely soak me.  I was drenched, so much so that my shoes were squishy.  I grabbed 2 cups of Heed and wandered over to the finish line to watch for G.  Just because I passed him on the run, didn't mean I actually beat him.  This was a time trial start so I had no idea how he did in the swim.  I knew his bike was faster than mine and I knew my run was faster than his but how would that pan out overall?

Run:  31:26

G crossed the line and we wandered over to transition, gathered our stuff and went into the arena to change out of our sweaty clothes.  We then headed over to Hero Burgers to get our usual post race burger, found a place in the sun and flopped down.  Food inhaled, we went back to transition and took everything back to the car.  Just as we finished, I spotted Krysten with her mom.  I asked her how her race went and she seemed quite happy.  She was very happy to have been able to borrow a bike from Christina (The Athletarian).  Now that she has sampled the kool aid, I think she's a convert.  I suspect I'll see her at another race or two over the course of the summer.  It's always so nice to hear that someone had a great first experience!  I could tell by the smile on her face that she was really pleased.  Welcome to the club Krysten!

I figured the results would finally be up so we went back to the finish line area.  Sure enough I spotted the crowd as soon as we walked back in.  I edged my way in and started looking at the first page of results.  To my surprise I found my name on it!  That was a bit of a shocker.  I was actually 34th overall.  WTH??  I looked across to see where I was in my AG and to my surprise I saw a 1.

YES!!  FINALLY!  An AG win.  I had been really hoping that today would be the day.



Next I looked for G's name.  It wasn't too difficult.  He was listed directly below me in 35th position.
Say what?  I couldn't stop laughing.   I finished in 1:42:13 and he finished in 1:42:42.  29 freaking seconds.  I'll take it.

I may actually print this out, laminate it and put in on the fridge because I'm not sure it will happen again.


I looked again and realized that I had made the top 5 female finishers overall.  Another first.   I was the oldest woman in the top 5.  All the other finishers were under 35.  Gotta love that.

Overall Winners
Age Group Winners
All in all a great day for me.   I really like this race course, especially the swim.  It will definitely be a part of my race calendar next year.

I don't have another race in my schedule until Bala on July 28th.  A whole MONTH away.  I am contemplating doing Belwood on July 20th but we'll have to see what happens with work.  July could potentially be a very busy month and I don't want to commit to a race unless I know for sure I'll be able to do it.  I'm really looking forward to Bala.  I'll have another solid brick of training under my belt (hopefully) and that race is always a lot of fun.  It's a great venue with a nice hilly bike course and it's Retro Day, which means speedos and neon.  Good times.
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