Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Where Did That Come From? - The Bracebridge Sprint Race Report

It's been a couple of years since I did this race.   G and a bunch of my friends did it last year and I went out to cheer them on as I was racing Iron Girl the next day.  I had forgotten how much I actually quite like this race with it's time trial start in the river.  It makes for a much more civilized swim experience.  They line everyone up youngest to oldest, although the elites go first regardless of age.  Being at the top end of my AG, I figured I'd be last in the group of ladies and sure enough I was.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I had been feeling pretty crappy leading up to this race.  Low energy, really bloated, generally gross. We had also been away so I hadn't done any riding or swimming.  I managed to squeeze one ride & one swim in after we got back and both were ugly.  I was so tired, I actually slept for most of the drive up to the start.   G woke me up so I could see the sunrise and then I fell asleep again.

Red Skies at Morning, Sailors Take Warning....The rain didn't stay away....
We got to the park with about 50 minutes before the race started, which I wasn't happy about.  I know G doesn't like to get up too early but I hate being rushed.  I like to have at least an hour to an hour and 15 minutes to sort myself out race morning.  Seems like everyone else had the same idea because the normally short registration process took forever.  So much so that they ended up pushing the start of the race back by 15 minutes!  That at least meant that I could get a decent warm up in.

I got suited up and made my way down to the river.  I spotted IG / Facebook pal, Christa Davidson before I went in so of course it was time for a selfie, ha ha.  I look like a spaz.


G had gotten in the water ahead of me so I got in and swam out looking for him.  I found him down the river so I swam over to him.  He was testing out his new sleeveless wetsuit.   We swam a little further down the river and then turned around and made our way back.  The race had started so we milled about off shore for a bit until we could see the lead swimmer coming back.  We then shuffled over towards the dock and started filtering into our respective age group places.  Sure enough I was the last one to go in my age group, ha ha.

I kissed G good luck and got in line.  I had no idea what bib number my AG started at so there was going to be a whole lot of calf checking once I got out on the bike.  The line up moved along and then it was my turn to go.  Jason Vurma counted me down and I hit start on my Garmin and off I went.  I took a few strokes and glanced at my Garmin to make sure I had actually pressed start.  I hadn't.  Surprise!  So I hit start and continued on.  I was feeling a little rough.  Definitely not very smooth.  Guess that's what happens when we take a week off swimming.  I caught several people fairly quickly.  I had forgotten just how narrow this river was so there were small packs of people that were pretty much everywhere, that I had to swim through.  I slowed down a couple of times to try to avoid the packs but my goal was to swim the entire thing without stopping, just like I did in Bala.  I was focusing on my breathing and trying to remain calm.  It seemed to work.  I got to the first buoy made it around, swam across to the second buoy, 30m across the river.  It was a bit chaotic.  I had caught a pack of people and there were some people that were back stroking.  I slowed up and navigated my way through the crowd.  I had swam at a comfortable pace on the way out but wanted to push the pace on the way back so I started working harder.  I was also working against the current a bit so I tried to stay closer to the shore.  Everyone else had the same idea so I ended up moving out a bit.  I found some clear water and got into a groove.  I kept my eyes peeled for bubbles, which meant that someone was up head or nearby.  I was hoping a faster swimmer would pass me and I could hop on their feet, but no such luck.  I could see the last green turn around buoy a few meters ahead.  I started to pick it up a bit more.  I made my way around the buoy and swam to the shore, kicking my legs hard as I went.  I stood up and started running.  I glanced at my watch as I came out of the water and saw 13 minutes and change.  Not bad!  I ran into T1 pulling off my wetsuit.

Swim:  13:38

I ran into T1, dropped my goggles by my bike and struggled to get out of my wetsuit.  I could see that one of the ladies in my AG had already gotten out on the bike.  I finally got out of my wetsuit, grabbed my helmet and pulled my shoes on.  Off I went.

T1:  1:33.  The wetsuit struggle was real ha ha.

I had forgotten about the long run up to the mount line here.  I shuffled along in the dirt and then on the paved path to the mount line, crossed it and then got on my bike.  I was in my big chain ring which meant that I had to grind it up the small incline.  I picked up the pace as soon as I got out of the park and onto the road.  I remembered that there was at least one big climb on this course.   I wasn't sure I'd be ready for the hills, but whatever.  I tucked into my aerobars and started to hammer.  The skies had been grey and cloudy all the way up and sure enough, the rain started about 2km into the bike.  Awesome.  At least it wasn't cold out.  I started passing people and calling on your left.  I was about to find out how many women were ahead of me.  With a time trial start, it's even harder to catch people in your AG because there's 5 seconds between each person in your AG.  I came up to one woman in my AG at around the 4km mark.  Caught and passed.  I chugged along and hit the climb.  I had forgotten how flipping hard it was.  I thought maybe I could do it in my big chain ring but my legs were having none of it.  Into the small chain ring I went.  I got up it, flipped back into the big ring and hammered the downhill.

My legs were burning.  I was definitely working hard but I didn't feel like I was going that fast.  I don't have my watch set to see speed, only power, distance and time and I had messed up my bike time because I didn't hit lap, I hit stop, then lap, which meant I was still technically in T1.  I realized that about 1.5km into the bike and rectified the situation.  Normally looking at my bike time I'd have some idea as to how fast I was going but because of that screw up, I had no way to figure it out.  I put my head down and kept grinding.  I could see a Team Canada uniform up ahead and I realized it was a woman in my AG.  That spurred me on to dig deep.  I was slowly but surely reeling her in.  I caught her and passed her.  A minute later she caught me and passed me back.  DAMMIT.   She stayed in front of me until we passed the turn around.  The turn around was at the bottom of a climb so as soon as I got around the pylon, I started to really hammer up the hill.  My Morning Glory rides have been starting to pay off.  I caught her and passed her.  I was fully expecting her to catch me again a few minutes later but she didn't.  I settled back into my aero bars and watched for any other ladies.  I knew that one was still out there as I hadn't seen her or her bike yet.  As I was coming up to the 15km mark, I spotted her.   I put my head down and hammered, caught her and passed her.  I was really hoping I was in first at this point.  My legs were screaming at me and I still had one climb left.  I rolled up to the climb and about halfway up it, someone came up on my left.  I glanced over to see the woman in the Canada tri suit.  DAMMIT.  She blew by me.  I had nothing.  I got up to the top and hammered the descent in the hopes of catching her but she was at least 20-30 seconds ahead of me.  She had started 5 people ahead of me which meant that she had a 25s to play with.  I hoped she wasn't a super fast runner.  I kept her in my sights for as long as possible until she turned into the park.  I got stuck behind a very tall guy when we were turning into the park.  I didn't realize it wasn't a no passing zone so I didn't hammer through here.  I got to the dismount line and went to get off my bike when I heard someone yell "Coming through!" It was G who completely blew by me.  Damn him and his awesome flying dismounts, ha ha.  I shuffled awkwardly along the dirt into T2.

Bike:  37:23 for 20km

I racked my bike, pulled off my helmet and dried my feet off.  They were soaking wet.  I then quickly applied some body glide.  My feet blistered really badly at Bala and I didn't want to have a repeat of that.  Just as I was yanking on my shoes, the girl I had passed on the bike (Jordie) was racking her bike.  I grabbed my sunglasses and started running.  I knew she was a really strong runner so I was going to have to book it to keep her at bay.   She had a 40s head start on me so me being ahead of her meant that she had her work cut out for her.

T2:  57s  

The first few hundred meters of this race is uphill.  On grass.  It's kind of brutal.  But the spectators hang out by here and cheer you on like crazy so it's also pretty cool.   I was dying as I came out of transition.  My heart was in my throat.  You can see how tired I am by my horrible posture.

I knew once I got up the hill, I'd have flat and then downhill for a while so I should be able to get into a good groove.  As soon as I got out of the park, I really started to push the pace.  I caught another woman in my AG.  WTH?  She had a 41 on her leg so she was probably up near the front of our group.  I motored along the road, really pushing the pace.  I knew G was ahead of me as well so I kept my eyes peeled for him.  I hit the first km in 4:18.  Sweet.  I was hurting but at least I was moving well.  And, I wasn't in pain.  My glute was fine.  I felt the occasional twinge but it wasn't affecting my run at all.  YES.  The course goes downhill until the turnaround so I was going to push as hard as possible and hope that I didn't implode when I started climbing back up.  My breathing was ragged but I felt like I was running well.  I could see G up ahead.  I slowly started to reel him in.  He was running well so it wasn't easy.  I hit the 2km mark and saw 4:05 when my watch beeped.  Awesome.  I could see the girl in Canada tri suit up at the turnaround.  She became my carrot.  I figured once I got to the turnaround I'd be able to see where Jordie was as well.  I ran around the pylon and saw Jordie about 250-300m back.  Crap.  She had 2.5km to catch me.  It might be close.  I ran along past the aid station.  I was tempted to grab something but I didn't want to slow down.  I was so focused on catching the girl in the Canada tri suit.  As I passed the aid station the road started to rise.  The girl in the Canada tri suit was slowing down.  I powered hard up that hill, wanting to barf.  She had turned onto the main road and was heading towards the bridge.  I was closing in.  I looked for a place to pass and saw an opening on the inside.  I don't know where it came from but I found an extra gear.  I caught her and passed her.  Both her and the other girl I passed said nice run and I said thanks.  I really hoped she didn't have anything in the tank.  I crested another hill and made the turn towards the park, mentally calculating how much time I had left to suffer.  I didn't let up through here but was a bit careful on the descent to the finish line.  I was sprinting hard when I glanced to my left and saw a familiar figure.  It was Jordie.  She caught me at the line.   She's behind the woman in the black.


I patted her on her shoulder and said nice run as we went through the finishing chute.   Thankfully I knew I had made up about 40s on her so I knew I wouldn't be giving up any points.

Run: 21:23

Final time:  1:14:55 - which was a course PB by about 2 minutes.  Most of that time was made up on the bike but I actually had a faster run this time around than last time!  Not bad for not running much, ha ha.

We milled about for a while, waiting for the results to be posted.  We packed up our stuff, cheered some more people on, got some food and then went to check the results.  G got 3rd in his AG!  He found me, listed a few spots below him.  I was 4th female overall and 1st in my AG.  Sweet.  Another 100 points!  I was really happy G got on the podium.   It makes me really happy to see him up there.  And it made for a cute post race selfie too.


Next up is Toronto Island this weekend.  I'm really hoping it stays warm and doesn't get too windy.  I don't want a repeat of last year.   The weather forecast is looking perfect so hopefully the water stays warm! 
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