I did this race last year and enjoyed it so it was definitely going to be on my docket again this year. The bike course is fairly flat with a few small rollers so it plays to my strengths. I've come to realize that I'm much better on the flats than I am in the hills. The swim is a typical conservation area body of water, much like Pittock Lake (in Woodstock). Last year it was quite cold but this year it warmed up quite nicely and we had temps around 20 degrees. Which is a little on the warm side when you're going hard. But as long as it remained a wetsuit legal race, I was happy.
A bunch of my training pals were also doing the race so it was going to be a fun day regardless. I woke up to a beautiful sunrise and we drove out to Binbrook with the top down. I definitely wasn't as nervous about the swim this time around either. I figured I'd go in with the same strategy as Woodstock. The lovely Irina also sent me this amazing article that helped me immensely. I read the first page and a light bulb went on. I realized that I don't breathe properly. I actually hold my breath under water and start to exhale as I'm turning my head to inhale. So. WRONG. This article said that you should exhale as soon as you put your face in the water as it helps to make you relax. So I was actually looking forward to testing this out in my warm up swim.
We got to Binbrook Conservation Area at about 7:30, which was a little later than I wanted but whatever. We ran into our friends Heather and Jordan in the parking lot and made our way over to registration. I got my bib, went to get my chip and body marked when I ran into my friend Joe. Joe is hilarious, he's always joking around. And he's ALWAYS taking pictures. So of course there was a pre-race photo op.
|pic courtesy of Joe Park|
I was surprised at how relaxed I was feeling. I was checking out the ladies around me, trying to see who was in my AG. I had somehow ended up being mixed in with the 35-39 year olds so I didn't have a clear idea as to who my competition was. I looked around and found a few of them racked over in the 200's. Duly noted.
I got everything laid out in transition and then took my bike out for a spin. I double checked my brakes as I didn't want the same thing that happened at Woodstock to happen again. All was good. It was time to make my way down to the water. I regrouped with my friends David & Heather and we made our way down to the swim start. I found G and had him zip me up. The race announcer said it was 8:09 which meant I had exactly 6 minutes to warm up before I had to get out of the water. Ugh. So I made the best of it. I jumped right in, the water was really warm, and started swimming. I made a conscious effort to practice my breathing and I was amazed at what a difference it made. I did a quick swim out to the first buoy and was promptly told to turn around as the race was going to start. So I swam back and got out of the water to look for G and the rest of the crew.
I found G, got my good luck kiss from him and then I found Heather. She was also in my wave so we hung out together and watched all the other waves go off. Our wave was up next at 8:23 am so all of us white capped women got into place. I stood near the back once again and let everyone go when the gun went off. I didn't wait as long as last time though, probably about 10 seconds or so, then I went. I got into a good rhythm right away. There was no panic. No laboured breathing, nothing. I just swam. I thought I'd catch some people early but I hadn't found any feet. I finally looked up to sight and discovered why I hadn't found any feet. I had swam WAY off course. Like out into the middle of the lake, off course. UGH. So I swerved to the right and headed back towards the group. At least I thought I was headed back. And I'm sure I was for a bit but I looked up again only to see that I had veered to the left again. Holy cow. This time I did a 90 degree turn and started swimming towards the pack. A few seconds later, I found them and I was quickly entrenched in a group. I swam right into someone so I stopped to try to get around them. I was almost at the first buoy. Amazingly I found some clear water. I made it around the buoy without any issues and started to pick up the pace.
I found a pair of feet that I drafted off of for a bit, got around them, sighted the buoy and managed to stay on track. I was starting to pass people. Every time I turned my head to breathe, I was passing someone else. I was feeling really good and I felt like I was swimming well. The next thing I knew, I was at the beach. I didn't actually look at my Garmin until I was halfway up T1 and at that point it said 13:46. So, I knew I had a much better swim than at Woodstock, even with waiting for everyone to go.
T1 wasn't too much of a gong show this time around. Although the visor on my aero helmet did pop out as I was trying to put it on, so instead of fiddling with that I grabbed my sunglasses. I did forget to hit lap on my watch as I came into transition so I did that just before I picked up my bike. Then I hit it again just after I crossed the timing mat on to the bike.
I had a solid bike here last year and I hoped to improve on that this year. As soon as I started pedaling hard, my legs weren't happy. They were tired, there was no if ands or buts about it. Oh well. Coach had told me to ride at a certain wattage (160w) but I completely forgot about that and rode at whatever pace I felt I could sustain. The first 10km were fairly unpleasant but then something clicked and I started to feel better. I made a point of drinking every 10 minutes or so. I got into my aero bars and stayed there for as long as possible. There are a lot of turns in this race so it's difficult to stay down for the entire ride. Just after the15km turnaround, I got stuck in a pack. All of us were going about the same speed and none of us seemed to be able to go much faster for too long so we kept leapfrogging each other. I was getting really annoyed. At one point I yelled "we're all drafting". I gave up trying to pass people and hung back until we got closer to the park entrance. Then I put my head down and hammered. Once you get to the park entrance, you have to slow down and I wanted to get ahead of the pack. I glanced at my watch as I came up to the dismount line and I saw 51 minutes and change. Holy smokes. I was cooking.
I ran into transition and promptly racked my bike. I then took off my shoes, then my helmet. I reefed on my zoots, grabbed a gel and started running. My stomach had been feeling a little weird towards the end of the bike and as soon as I started running, it really didn't feel good at all. Awesome. My legs were also not happy. Ugh. That first km was incredibly unpleasant. Once I got out of the park and on to the pavement, I started to feel a bit better. I was passing guys on a regular basis. There was lots of "nice work" as I went by. I settled into a good groove and started watching for the women. I saw my friend David and we waved to each other. Shortly after I saw him I saw the first woman, then the next. And then the next. By the time I got to the turnaround, I had counted 6 women in front of me. Now, I had no idea what wave they were in or if any of them were in my AG. There were two that I figured I could probably catch. Sure enough just after I rounded the turnaround, I caught one. Then just past the 4km mark I caught the other. Had I been running my normal pace, I might have been able to catch another but I was only managing 4:16's-4:20's. At the 6km mark, my stomach developed a huge stitch and I slowed down a lot. Every breath hurt. I worked at breathing through it and as I climbed the hill back into the park, I could feel the stitch releasing. With less than one km to go, I really started to push. I was hurting.
I ran around the bend and as I came to the line, I heard Steve Fleck announce my name and say that unofficially I was one of the top 3 ladies. Huh? Cool. Hopefully that held up.
I wandered out to see Joe and G standing there and then David made his way over. G looked up the results and confirmed that I was 2nd in my AG and 3rd place woman overall. The woman that beat me was amazingly fast. She crushed me by 3 minutes. That's a LOT on a short course. Whatever, I still made it on to the podium. G then informed me that I averaged almost 35 kph on the bike. Whaat??? Wow. I was pretty pumped about that. Heather and Jordan finished shortly there after as well as the other David so we milled about waiting for the awards to start. Of course there was more picture taking and some goofing off.
|This wins for Best Pic of the Day. The folks at Recharge With Milk weren't laughing though.|
|We look pretty good considering how sweaty we were.|
|Joe finally won his AG. He's pretty fast for an old guy (he's 51!). Pic courtesy of Joe Park.|
All in all it was a super fun morning. Nothing beats racing with friends. I'm definitely going to do it again next year.
I'm really excited about my newly acquired swim tricks. I'm actually looking forward to getting into open water again and testing them out on a longer swim. Looks like I'll have another date at the Quarry this weekend. Bring it on!
A huge thanks to Real Deal Racing and all of our sponsors: Gears, WASPcam, Fieldgate Homes, Iler Silva Law Offices, Toronto Sport and Social Club, Morning Glory Cycling Club, Champion System (love my new race kit!), Powerbar, Balance Physiotherapy, RMP Total Fitness, Spin Kicks, Kenzington Burger Bar and Barnstormer Brewing