Thursday, August 14, 2014

Iron Girl Canada Race Recap

First off, a huge thank you to skinnygrape for sponsoring me into this race.  It was a fantastic event and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to participate.  If I can swing it next, year, I'll be back to do it again, hopefully with a bunch of girlfriends.


I was both nervous and excited for this race.  I think I was nervous because I knew I'd be racing against some really strong women (I checked out the times for the previous year, wowza) and to this day, I still kind of question my ability, because 1) it just doesn't seem real and 2) despite the fact I've been racing a long time, this speed is all still relatively new to me.  But that's another story for another day.  I was excited because it was a new venue and I was going to be taking Tom Sawyer out for his first tri.  On a nice flat course too.  Woohoo!

I had spent a good part of Saturday on my feet cheering on G and my friends at the Bracebridge sprint so by the time we got home, I was pretty tired.  A 4:30 am wake up call will do that do you I guess.  I packed everything up and hit the sack early because I wanted to get to the race site with plenty of time to set up and check things out.  I didn't have any problems falling asleep, probably because I was so tired, ha ha.

We made it out to Grimsby in about 45 minutes, found parking and walked over to transition.  I'm glad I was insistent we get there early because transition was already fairly full.  I found a spot to rack my bike and set out my stuff.   I then went and picked up all my stuff and got body marked.  Since we had plenty of time before my wave went off, G went and did his long run, promising he'd meet me on the beach before I started.  I finished setting my stuff up, instagrammed Tom Sawyer and decided to make my way down to the water.

The swim was a point to point swim and you had the option of taking a shuttle bus to the start, walking along the road, walking along the beach or, if you wanted a good warm, swimming to the start.  I opted to walk along the beach which probably wasn't the best idea as it was covered in rocks and I wasn't wearing shoes.  But whatever, I made it without incident.   The water was beautiful.  Lake Ontario has some really nice areas to swim in.  They said the swim was shallow and that you'd be able to touch the bottom the entire way depending on where you swam.  I'm totally down with that.  Anything that makes the swim a bit less "scary" is good for me.

I got to the swim start and started to get my wetsuit sorted.  I saw a woman walking towards me that looked a lot like my friend Tara Norton but figured it wasn't her because Tara would have been running towards me grinning.  I then figured it must be Elise Yanover, a fellow twitter peep that I was tweeting with the day before.  Sure enough it was.  We chit chatted for a bit and she gave me some good tips for the swim as she did the race last year.  Of course there was some picture taking and some tweeting. 

I got myself suited up and went into the water to do a warm up.  The water was absolutely perfect.  The temperature was great and the bottom was sandy once you got past the slightly rocky beach.  The buoys were quite a ways out from shore but Elise had told me to stay towards the middle because there was a buoy you had to swim around before the swim exit so if you stayed towards the middle, you'd swim straight to it vs coming at it from an angle.  Perfect.

I swam around for a bit but kept scanning the beach for G.  I got out wandered around, didn't see him so I got back in and continued swimming.  Shortly after I got in, I looked up to see him on the beach looking around.  I jumped up a waved and waved....and waved.  He didn't see me.  Or rather probably couldn't pick me out in the water.  So I had to scramble back to the shore and make my water out of the water.   I couldn't miss my good luck kiss!  I ran over to G got my smooch and chatted with him for a bit.  I was starting to get warm so he wished me luck and I headed off into the water.  The first wave had already gone off and the second wave was getting ready to go.  I was in the fourth wave so I jumped back in and floated around for a bit.  We cheered the next two waves out and then it was my wave.

I originally situated myself towards the front with a completely clear path in front of me but then more and more women started rolling in and I started to doubt my choice in position as I didn't want to hold anyone up if I happened to panic, nor did I want to get caught in any sort of melee.  So, I started moving to the back.  Kevin MacKinnon started the countdown and then we were off.  I hit start on my Garmin and waited a few seconds then started swimming.  Amazingly I had a pretty clear path.  I got into a bit of traffic but quickly made my way around folks.  The line that I chose was darn near perfect.  The water was shallow enough I could just touch the bottom if I stood up so I could see the bottom the entire way which was reassuring, even though I'm a decent swimmer.  The water a was a bit choppy and I didn't feel like I was moving quickly even though I was working hard.  But it's Lake Ontario, it's rarely ever going to be smooth as glass.  The buoys were 100m apart which was also fantastic because you knew exactly how much you had covered and how much you had left to cover.  I chugged along with no one in front of me for what seemed like the longest time.  At just after the 300m mark I found a pair of feet.  They were going a bit slower than I wanted to go so I went around them.  I figured I should probably sight as well so I glanced up to see where I was at in terms of the turn around buoy.  It was a bit off to my right but not by much.  I felt like I hauled it for those last 200m.  I could see a couple of other white capped ladies around me so I hustled to try to get out of the water first.

Swim + run up to T1:  10:33

The run up to transition was brutal.  It was a short really steep hill that was partially cement and then grass.  Once I got onto the grass, I started booking it towards my bike.  Judging by the number of bikes still on the racks, I was in a decent position.  Someone had racked their bike very close to mine at the last minute which impeded my ability to get to my things.  Ugh.  I had to yank my towel forward and move her bike over a bit.  I got out of my wetsuit fairly quickly, pulled on my helmet, yanked on my shoes and grabbed my bike.  I ran out of T1 towards the mount line.

T1:  1:29 - not bad!

I jumped onto Tom Sawyer and started pedaling.  It was pretty congested so I didn't get into my aero bars right away.  About 1km in I got into my aerobars and started the "on your left" and "Thank You" loop.   The course was flat but it was a small false flat all the way out.  And it was a bit windy.  As soon as I started pedaling hard my legs pretty much flipped me the bird.  I think Thursday nights TT took a lot more out of me than I realized.  My legs felt dead.  Still, I pushed as hard as I could but there were points where I backed off because it really hurt.  I had to remind myself I was running 5km after.  I was hoping to be able to ride on the shoulder where it was less bumpy but there were so many ladies on the road, I couldn't.  It wasn't until I hit the turnaround that things started to spread out.  I moved over to the shoulder whenever I could, kept my head down and hammered.  The way back felt much easier than the way out.  Yes I was working hard but I was going faster than the way out.  The wind was at my back which helped immensely.  Tom Sawyer was flying.  I could see the parking lot we parked in and knew that I wasn't far from transition.  The crowds got bigger and I heard a guy yell Go sweet P3!, ha ha.  I rolled up to the dismount line pretty quickly, putting a large amount of trust in my hydraulic brakes.  They didn't let me down!  I unclipped and was off and running into transition.

Looking pretty bad ass! 

Bike:  34:15 for an average of 35kph flat.  I'll take it.

I had a bit more room to work this time around so I racked my bike, pulled off my helmet and grabbed my shoes.  My feet were still kind of damp so my first attempt and pulling my zoots on was brutal.  I finally got my right shoe on and then opted to wipe my left foot off on my towel.  That shoe went on a little easier.  But I was still slower than I should have been.

T2:  1:12.  I should be under a minute.

The first few hundred meters of the run was on grass which was nice.  We basically wound our way out of the park and onto pavement.  I saw Victoria, a fellow IG'er and twitter peep as I was leaving the park.  She drove in to spectate and cheer on her friend.  I waved to her as I ran by.  I also saw G just before I hit the pavement.  I smiled and waved.  Or maybe I grimaced, I'm not sure.  I wasn't even 1km in and I was hurting.  I knew the run course had a few small rollers in it + one decent short steep climb so I wasn't expecting a super fast run time.  I spent a good portion of the run thinking about my form and trying to keep my arms loose and my pelvis tucked under.  I could always tell when my form was slipping.  My running would feel sloppy and slow.  Once I re-focused on my form, things felt better.  Yes, I was still working hard but it didn't feel sloppy and I actually moved a bit faster.  I made of point of encouraging the girls I passed.  There was lots of "looking good!"and "Go Ladies!", especially on the way back.  I was having fun and wanted to spread the joy. 

The run went from pavement to trail for about 1.5km.  It don't mind running on trail and I think that really helped save my knees.  The only thing I didn't like was the twisting and turning.  You couldn't see who was in front of you or where you were going so I slowed down a bit.  You don't want to go barreling down a trail and trip on something you didn't see.  I saw the 4km marker come and go.  More twisting and turning and then I saw the hill that took me back up to the road.  It was short and steep much like the hill coming out of the swim.   I pushed up it, gasping for air as I got to the top.  It was also slightly uphill to the finish line.  Awesome.  I cheered on the women that were heading out on the run as I busted my butt towards the finish line.  There was lots of woohoo-ing.  The next thing I knew, I was entering the park.  I saw G who yelled GO FASTER (of course) and I heard a Go Phaedra! as I came racing down the finishing chute.  It was Elise who captured this awesome action shot.


 I heard Kevin MacKinnon announce my name as I crossed the line.  I hit stop on my Garmin, collected my cute finishers medal and handed in my timing chip.  I had no idea what my final time was other than I ran 5km in 22:14.

I found G and he said I was either the 8th or 9th woman to cross the line.  Woohoo!  I figured I'd won my AG for sure and hopefully had at least a top 5 finish.  I wandered over to the skinnygrape booth to say hi to the ladies there.  They were going to officially open the booth for tastings at 11 am so I said I'd be back.  After that I went over to get some food.  While we were sitting down G went online to check results.  He told me I was listed as third overall.  Um, what?  Nicole Van Beurden had won the race and Sheri Fraser was second.  Then little ole me.  To be in THAT kind of company was pretty amazing.  My final time was 1:09:41.  I had hoped to come in under 1:10 and I did...JUST.   I was PUMPED.

On my way back to transition, I ran into Victoria so we chatted for a while.  Once again so lovely to meet a reader!  This was definitely a weekend to remember in that regards.  Transition re-opened and I went in to collect my stuff.  We wandered over to the picnic tables by the podium and I told G I was going to go back to the skinnygrape booth.  I had been looking for Janice (Fitness Cheerleader) before the start of the race but there were so many women it was next to impossible to find anyone.  So, I get on twitter and tweet her that I'm at the booth and we need to celebrate with a glass of wine.  2 minutes later, there she is.  Of course we have to document the occasion.


We shared a glass of wine and chatted about our race experience.  We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and Janice took 6 minutes off her time from last year!  On a BORROWED bike no less.  Pretty freaking awesome if you ask me.

It was a fantastic event, incredibly well run and well marshaled, not to mention FUN.  To end up in 3rd place overall was really special, and made even sweeter by the fact that the legendary Lisa Bentley gave me my award.  So awesome.
pic courtesy of skinnygrape wines
G said I'll have to go back next year so I get to wear the number 3.   Given that's my lucky number, I may just have to.

Have you ever done an Iron Girl event? 


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