Friday, August 30, 2013

The Season Finale: Toronto Island Tri

This past Sunday marked the final installment of my insane summer of racing.  I am going to be completely honest, other than the fact that my friends were going to be there,  I had not been looking forward to this race at all.  Mentally I think I had already checked out.  Seven triathlons in one summer is too much for me both mentally and physically.  Too many really early mornings and long drives in the car took it's toll on me.  Racing triathlons can really eat up your weekend.  By the time you drive to the event and drive back, you've lost 2/3 of your day.  I still love doing it but next year, I might tone it down a little and actually spend some time at home on my weekends, enjoying the back deck and maybe paying attention to my garden a bit more so it doesn't end up looking like this.


Anywho.

Back to race day.  I have been super busy at work as of late so I didn't really have time to read the entire pre-race report that MSC always puts out before their races.  I read the bit about the Ferry times and getting your race kit but I didn't check to see what time my wave actually started.  Had I been thinking, I probably should have done that first before I decided that we needed to be down at the Ferry dock by 6:00 am.  My wave wasn't scheduled to go until 9:12 am.  But of course, I didn't find that out until we got to the Island, ha.  On the plus side, at least I had plenty of time to get set up, take some pictures and do a proper warm up for all 3 sports.  Oh the luxury of time!

Because we arrived so early, I got a nice primo spot in transition.  Right by the edge of the rack so no one could jam their bike up beside mine on the one side.   On the other side, I had plenty of room to spread my towel out and set my stuff up.  I set everything up and then I wandered around taking a few snaps of the morning.  It was a beautiful morning.  In fact, I think every time I've come down to this race the weather has always been great.

Perfect morning for a race!

After my little picture taking escapade, I met up with G and we did a bike warm up and a run warm up.  I then ran into Caitlin who was supporting her boyfriend Mike who was doing his first triathlon.  Right after I saw her I ran into my friend David who was also racing.  I chatted with him for a while and then made my way into transition where I saw my friend Heather.  More chatting ensued.  I tried to remain jovial but I was really starting to feel an overwhelming sense of dread.  I did not feel like doing this.  Actually let's get specific: I didn't feel like doing the swim.  That is my achilles heel.  Always has and always will be.  Some days I'm great and other days, not so great.  I know I am my own worst enemy and sometimes I unintentionally set myself up to have these panic attacks.

Heather and I made our way down to the beach.  G and David were already down there.  David's wave went off at 8:15 and G's wave went off at 8:45.  I found G and he told me I should get in and do a really good warm up as the water was chilly.  Awesome.  Heather and I got ourselves zipped up and we made our way into the water.  G wasn't kidding.  It was freezing.  This further cemented my lack of desire to do the race.  But I put on a brave face and wandered out into the lake to let the cold water seep into my wetsuit.  The one really good thing about this race is that the water is really shallow for a large part of the swim.  I doesn't get really deep until about 50m before the first green buoy so you can see the nice sandy bottom for a large part of the swim.  Needless to say, it took a bit of wandering before the water was deep enough that it covered my waist. I slowly sunk in and let the water seep into the rest of my suit.  I then splashed a bit of water on my face to get used to the cold.  Then I stuck my face right in the water and just floated face down for a bit.  I did this a few times to get used to the feeling of the cold on my face.  The cold water can also attribute to feelings of panic because it can literally take your breath away so I find it really helps to get in and get used to the water.

I had plenty of time to get a good warm up in so I took full advantage of that.  I stopped to cheer on David as his wave went off.   I went back in and continued to warm up, all the while trying to think positive thoughts and put myself in the right frame of mind.  G's wave was getting ready to go off so I stopped, gave him a hug and got my good luck kiss and then they were off.   Next up was Heather's wave.  I could feel the butterflies starting in my stomach.  I was seriously ready to walk back up onto the beach and throw in the towel.  The dread was ridiculous and I couldn't shake it.  No amount of self talk was helping.  But, I'm not a quitter.  Somehow I always manage to find it within me to move forward despite what my mind is telling me.

My wave was up next.  I took my usual position off to the side but near the front, closed my eyes and took a couple of deep breaths.  The countdown started.  3...2....1 and we were off. I hit start on my Garmin and as soon as I pushed off the ground, my right calf cramped so hard I had to stop.  I grabbed it and started rubbing it like mad as I watched my wave swim away.  It felt a bit better so I tried again.  As soon as I pushed off, it cramped again.  I turned around and looked at the shore.  I was temped to walk out and call it day but something made me stay in the water.  Pride?  That competitive spirit?  Who knows.  I rubbed my calf some more and tried to push off again.  It was better this time.  I was actually able to kick.  I concentrated on flexing my foot and trying to stretch out my calf.  I looked up to see where everyone was.  The lead swimmers were at the first orange buoy already.  I seriously had my work cut out for me.  So, I put my face in the water and swam like I've never swam before.

During my warm up I experimented with breathing every 4th stroke, so always to the same side vs. breathing every 3.  I found this to be much more helpful in keeping my breathing more relaxed so that's exactly what I did for the first 250m.  I ended up catching the slower swimmers fairly quickly.  Before I knew it I was around the first buoy and there was hardly anyone around me.  I could see a few swimmers up ahead and figured I'd probably catch them at the rate I was moving.  I felt great along that back stretch.  I was definitely working hard.  I caught a few more women just before I hit the 2nd green buoy.  I made that turn and sighted.  I could see a few more ladies ahead of me.  I wasn't sure if I'd catch them but I was going to try.  Sure enough I caught one.  I sighted again and realized that I had started to swim a bit wide so I adjusted my line and continued to plow on.  I pushed for all I was worth.  It started to get really shallow so I thought about standing up and then I looked up and realized that I still had about 50m to go!  I was obviously swimming over a sandbar.  So I put my face back in and kept pushing.  I remember Kim telling me to kick hard towards the end so I started to do that.  Most of my power comes from my kick, at least in the pool.  It doesn't seem to be as effective it a wetsuit but it's hard to tell.  Anyway, I kicked like mad those last few metres.  I looked up again and realized that I could stand up so I got up on my feet and started running to the shore.  My calf was tender.  As I hit the shore I glanced at my watch.

Swim:  13:43.  15:22 with the run up to transition.  I'm pretty pleased with that given how it started!

I flew into T1 ripping my wetsuit off as I went.  I got to my bike, dropped my goggles and cap and pulled the rest of my suit off.  No real struggle this time.  I quickly wiped my feet off and put my helmet, shoes and sunglasses on.  I grabbed my bike and I was off.

T1:  1:22

The bike here is nice and flat but because the Island isn't that big, they have made the bike course into two 10km loops which means that there has to be some slowing down through the turn arounds.  One of the turn arounds you're able to keep up a decent pace because it's fairly wide but the other you really have to slow down and take it easy because it's quite tight.  Of course, I unclip and put my leg out because my bike handling skills leave a lot to be desired.

I was definitely excited to see how I'd fare with my new bike fit and the fitness that should have kicked in from our Lake Placid vacation a few weeks ago.  I hoped I'd be able to average 35 kph.   I booked it to the mount line and got on my bike.  Another woman from my AG also came out beside me and got on her bike.  She got going before I did so I had to play catch up.  The first 400m of the bike is a no passing zone so even though I caught her I had to wait to pass her.  As soon as I was able, I put the hammer down.  I got into my aerobars and watched the speedo on my SRM climb.  30kph, 32kph, 36kph.  38kph.  Whoa.  I really felt that in my legs and wasn't sure if it would be wise to try to sustain that so I backed it off a bit and stayed around 36kph.  About 5km in I hear another cyclist coming and I glance over to see Shelly Obright, the woman who beat me at Binbrook, pass me.  Crap.  I pushed to keep her in my sights.  I made sure I stayed back at least 5-7m.  I did not want to get nailed with a drafting penalty.  We caught this one dude who ended up staying with us.  He spent about 5-6km literally drafting off Shelly's wheel.  I wanted to yell at him but I kept my mouth shut.  If you cheat, you have to live with that, it's none of my business.  I finally got around him after the second turn around.  Shortly after that I passed Shelly.  I hammered along feeling really good when she passed me again.  Ugh.  I didn't want to get into a whole lot of back and forth on this course as it's not terribly wide so I stayed back the requisite 5 to 7m or so and matched her effort.  I knew I was a faster runner than her so I figured if I kept her close, I'd catch her on the run.  I was right on her tail when we ran into transition.  My bike spot was closer to the entrance so I had my bike racked and almost everything on by the time she got to her spot on the rack.  But, she is super quick in transition and her spot on the rack was closer to the run exit so she got out just ahead of me.

Bike:  34:09 - average speed: 35.14 kph.  YEAH.

T2:  00:51s.  Better!  This time I put cornstarch in my shoes so they slipped on easily.  A huge thank you to Tara Postnikoff for that tip and for the cornstarch! 

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I LOVE the run.  I especially love having people to chase.  Shelly was my bunny.  I booked it out of transition and onto the grass right on her heels.  I caught her within the first 500m.  She tried to pass me again a shortly after that but I was having none of it.  I surged ahead and held that pace.  Holy crap did it ever hurt.  I had no idea how fast I was going because, once again, I was having Garmin issues (my own fault this time around).   They changed the run course this year to make it 4 loops on the pavement.  As much as I prefer running on pavement, this was really boring and you had to try to remember what loop you were on.  They had someone helping with that as well as a lap counter from sports stats but as John Salt said in the pre-race announcements, athletes can get stupid late in the race.  I am definitely one of those people.  I get so focused within myself that I don't pay much attention to what is going on around me.  Luckily G was cheering me on from the sidelines so he kept track of my laps for me.  At each turnaround I kept watching to see where Shelly was.  By the 3rd loop I realized that she was far enough back that she wouldn't catch me.  I still didn't let up though.  I kept pushing right through to the finish.  I ran down the finishing chute with my heart in my throat and I crossed the line completely spent.   A lovely volunteer handed me a soaking wet towel and draped it across my neck.  Ahhh--maaa-zing.  I dropped off my timing chip and went to find the gang.

Run: 21:43 - apparently the run was actually 5.4km so that means my average pace was 4:01 km's.  Woohoo!

I found David and Heather and David asked me what my time was.  My watch said 1:13:25 but I wasn't sure if that was actually the right time or not because of all the weirdness that was going on with it during the race.   We found G and we caught up on each others races.  Turns out David had a big wipe out on the bike and his back was totally scraped up.  He also managed to scrape the hell out of the top of 3 of his fingers.  Not the best thing for someone who works as a massage therapist!  His bike was fine and he didn't break any bones so he figured all was good.

Of course we hung around for draw prizes and results.  I was pretty sure I made the podium in my AG I just wasn't sure if there was anyone ahead of me.  I didn't think so but you never know.   We kept checking the results but they were slow in getting them up so David checked online and broke the news to me:  1st in my AG and 5th place woman over all.   Not a bad way to cap off the season!

Happy Happy Happy

Top 3 Ladies 40-44 Age Group
Now it's time to really get down to business and focus on my running.  If only work would cooperate and give me time to get some good solid training in!


















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