Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Ice Bucket Challenge: Toronto Island Tri Race Report

The Toronto Island Triathlon is one of my favourite races in the Recharge with Milk race series for a few reasons.
  1.  It's close to home.
  2.  It's pancake flat so you can go fast
  3.  The swim is off of Hanlan's Point which is probably one of the nicest places to swim in Lake  Ontario in the GTA area.
There is ONE issue with the swim being in Lake Ontario though.  Because it's such a huge body of water, you just don't know what you're going to get temperature wise on race day.  Some years the water is perfect, usually around 20 degrees (68 for my American readers).  Other years, it's gotten as low as 12 (55F).  There was one year that they sent the pros and elites off on a shortened swim due to temperature and then actually switched the race to a duathlon after they came out of the water due to the fluctuating water temps. 

This summer hasn't been terribly warm and most of last week was cool-ish, with some rain and a fair bit of wind.  That didn't bode well for the lake being warm enough to swim in.   Sure enough, the Try-a-Tri event on the Saturday was changed to a Do-a-Du because the water temperature was a lovely 11 degrees (54 degrees F).   Sunday racers were told to be prepared for a duathlon and that they'd make the call on race morning.  There were 3 possible scenarios.
  1.  A duathlon
  2. A shortened swim (375m)
  3. The full swim (750m)
A duathlon definitely plays to my strengths I just find it so much harder on my legs so, despite my swimming fears, I actually prefer triathlons because the swim gives me time to warm up, ha ha.  Either way, I went into Sunday's race prepared for a cold swim or a duathlon.

Because the Island is small, they space the waves roughly 15 minutes apart to avoid congestion on the bike course.   That usually means there is a lot of standing around and waiting.  We arrived at the Island at about 7:15 or so and made our way into transition.  G's wave was scheduled to go at 8:45 and mine was scheduled to go at 9:12 so we had plenty of time.  We had been body marked on the mainland before we got on the ferry and we had gotten our race kits on the Friday before, so all I needed to do was rack my bike, set up my gear and get my timing chip.  As soon as we arrived in transition we heard the announcement that the race was going to be a triathlon with a shortened swim (375m vs 750m).  The water temperature was 13 degrees.  THIRTEEN.  Good Lord.  I had a hard time with 16 degree temps back in May so I wasn't sure how I'd fare in 13 degree temps.  Granted I wasn't going to be in the water for very long and they made the course close to shore so there were areas where you could get up and walk it was so shallow.   Needless to say I was very apprehensive.  I knew that if I switched to the DU, any points I got wouldn't matter in the standings and that would mean I'd HAVE to do Lakeside.  So I sucked it up, put on my wetsuit and got into the water.

When I first walked in, it actually didn't feel too bad.  I figured it would hurt my feet but it didn't.  The real shock came when I dove in.  OMG.  I came up gasping.  It was like a punch in the gut, it took my breath away.   We were all going to be doing our own version of the Ice Bucket Challenge.  I forced myself to swim a few meters.  Ugh.  It hurt my hands more than anything.  I forced myself to stay in the water for a while.  Then I got out, jumped up and down and tried to get my heart rate up to warm myself up.  I did this on and off until it was almost time for my wave to go.  By this point though I was shivering so much my teeth were chattering.

The folks in my wave started organizing themselves and I situated myself at towards the back.  There were a lot of folks in my wave and as usual, I wanted to avoid the chaos of the swim start.  The horn went off and everybody went in a flurry of limbs.  I hit start on my Garmin and sat there for a bit.  I started walking into the water.  Eventually I found a bit of room to start swimming.  I think I swam for about 50m before I hit the sandbar and got up and started running.  That was slower than swimming so I dove back into the water and started swimming. I stayed wide to avoid the bottleneck that was happening at the first buoy.  I got around it without incident but got stuck in a huge crowd of people.  I went even wider to get into some open water.  I was starting to lose feeling in my left hand.  Normally I cup my hands slightly when I pull through the water but I found that I couldn't really move my left hand.  My right one was fine which was odd.   I pushed the pace across the back half of the swim but I found it harder and harder to move my arms and getting around that last buoy felt really sloppy.  I was determined to swim for as long as possible though even though I was able to stand and run in shortly after I turned around that last buoy, I didn't.  I swam until my hands scraped the bottom.  Then I got up and started running.  The water got deep again and I dolphin dived until I could start running again.  I bolted out of the water, feeling a little bit woozy.  My hands were frozen.  For once I was thankful we had a long run up to T1 as I figured that would help warm me up.  I got my wetsuit off down to my waist and started running like a mad woman towards T1.  I was so out of it from the swim that I didn't look at my watch until I was halfway up to T1.  At that point it said 6:54. 

My official time with run up to transition was 7:57.

I struggled a bit with getting my wetsuit off and my feet were covered in sand so I took the time to drag them along my towel.  The girl who racked her bike beside me had racked it very close to mine so I had trouble grabbing my helmet and shoes.  I was a little wobbly getting myself sorted but finally got everything on and unracked Tom Sawyer and ran out of T1.

T1:  1:35

I hopped on Tom Sawyer and heard one of the volunteers yell GO Phaedra!  I looked to see my friend Paula standing there.  Oh HEY!  I said.  She yelled "Go win this thing" as I started to ride off, ha ha.  Thank you Paula!  The first bit of the bike is a no passing zone so I had to stay behind the folks in front of me.  As we were coming towards the end of the zone, I could see an ambulance coming out onto the road.  Awesome.  Sure enough it came out in front of me and proceed to block the road.  I looked around it, thinking maybe I could pass it.  No go.  I'd be cutting it too close to the centre line and there were too many cyclists coming the other way.  Great.  I was going roughly 28kph sitting on the bumper of the ambulance.  I kept poking out and trying to get the attention of the driver in their side mirror but they were completely oblivious.  Their lights were flashing so I'm not sure if they had someone in there or what was happening,  all I know is that a bunch of women were stuck behind them for longer than they wanted to be.  The ambulance kept slowing down and then speeding up which was also incredibly frustrating.  Then all of a sudden, it stopped.  I had to slam on my brakes so I didn't ride right into the back of it.  Myself and all the other women that were behind me let out a unanimous WTH?  The driver clearly had no clue there were cyclists behind him.  I pulled out and started to ride around him and only then did he realize that he was in the way so he pulled off onto the grass.  I mashed the pedals and tucked into my aerobars, annoyed.   I had hoped to have a sub 35 minute bike split here and that was not going to help matters.  It was also quite windy on the way out so I was only managing to average around 32-33kph.  I hoped on the way back I'd have a nice push from the wind. 

Sure enough when I hit the turnaround, the wind gave me a nice push but only for the first few km's.  Once we got into the more open areas of the course, I was faced with the wind again.  Dammit.  I looked at my Garmin and saw 37-38kph from time to time but knew I couldn't maintain that.  I motored along, watching for anyone in my AG.  I came across one woman but I didn't know if she was in the duathlon or not.  I passed her and continued on towards the second turnaround.  It's a tight one so I unclipped and put my foot down as I turned.  I know that costs me time but I'm not the best bike handler so that's what I do, especially if it's a narrow turn like this one.  I clipped back in and started hammering again.  Only 10km left.

I kept passing people as I went along.  I didn't see anyone else in my AG so I was really hoping that I was in the lead.  I took a Roctane on the way out as I was actually feeling a little hungry.  My legs were feeling the burn and I really hoped I had something special left for the run.  I think I rode too hard on Saturday as I didn't feel like I had my usual get up and go.  I could feel my energy flagging as I made my way to the final turn around.  I got around the turnaround to see G and my friend David cheering me on.  I rode up to the mount line, unclipped and hustled into T2.

20km Bike:  35.07 -   I should have been closer to 33 minutes but in that situation there wasn't anything I could do.

I racked my bike, pulled off my shoes and saw that my feet were still fairly sand covered.  Another couple of swipes on the towel helped to clear some of it.  I pulled off my helmet and grabbed my shoes.  Normally I have a very hard time getting my zoots on but this time I grabbed the top and the back and forced my foot in, scraping my left knuckles in the process both times.  I didn't think anything of it other than it kind of stung.  I got my shoes on relatively quickly and bolted out of T2.  It was only on the way home that I realized how badly I had bruised my knuckles.  It looked like I punched someone in the face.

T2:  1:01.  That's what happens when you dry your feet!

My legs felt heavy as I started running out of transition.  The first part of the run is on grass so I really had to watch my footing.  I thought about my form as I ran along, focusing on keeping my arms low and my pelvis tucked in.  I was tired so it was difficult and being on the grass didn't help things either.   I motored along the grass as best as I could.  I was grateful when I hit the pavement as that meant I could really start to motor.  The run course is 4 loops that are pancake flat.  I love me a flat run course because I really like to go fast. My legs started to feel better once I got onto the pavement and I really started to fly.  I kept looking for women with a 40-something number on their calf.  I found one and passed her.  Again, I wasn't sure if she was in the duathlon or not.

I made it around the first loop and saw G and David standing along the side of the path.  As I passed there was a lot of yelling:  "Go faster" and "Work harder".  I love that kind of encouragement, ha.  I actually felt pretty good by the end of that first loop and I hoped that I'd be able to maintain that pace.  Thankfully it wasn't too hot out so I didn't have to worry about overheating.  Last year it was stinking hot and I kept dumping water on my head.  This year I bypassed the aid station completely.  I finished my first loop and headed out on my second with more "encouragement" from David and G.  That second loop flew by.  Seriously.  I don't know where the energy was coming from but wow.  I felt strong.  I passed a younger woman who said Go Phaedra - I said thanks - I never found out who that was - but if you're reading - THANK YOU!  On the third loop there was a bit of wind and I felt my energy start to flag a bit.  A quick glance at my Garmin showed me running 4:07's.  I had been running sub 4:00's.  I noticed at that point that my form had started to slip so I focused on dropping my shoulders and holding my abs in tighter.  Much better.  I started to pick up the pace once again.  I was finally heading out on my last loop.  I was hurting but it was like I was detached from the hurt.  I don't know how else to explain it.  It was there but it didn't seem to affect me.  I hauled it around the top end of the loop passing an older guy who said "Nice Work"  as I passed him.   I came barreling down the road and made the turn onto the path, when I heard a spectator yell that I was supposed to go straight and round the timing mats.  I turned and said I was on my last loop.  D'uh.  That was a serious case of the race stupids.  I took two more steps and realized my mistake so I backtracked, got back out onto the pavement, ran around the bottom turn around and the timing mats, THEN made the turn off.  Ugh.  I ran booked it down that path.  As I got closer to the finishing chute, I saw another woman with a 42 on her calf.  DAMMIT.  I found another gear and passed her, not knowing if she was in the triathlon or the duathlon and not wanting to take any chances.   I heard Steve Fleck announcing my name as I came towards the line.  I crossed the line and stopped my watch.  Only then did I realize what I had done.

 I had just set a new PB for 5km.  Off the bike no less.  I was 20:07.  My previous 5km PB had been 20:17.  It's my goal to break 20 minutes for 5km.  Give me a flat 5km with no swim or bike before it and I think I could do it.  I found out after I finished that the run course was actually 4.8k but I think my little mistake added the additional 200m.  It also cost me second place overall.  I missed that by a measly 21 seconds.  Oh well.  I ended up snagging first place in my AG by a whopping 8 minutes and taking 3rd place female overall.  I can't complain about where I placed overall.  I was the oldest woman on the podium by a long shot.  The closest woman to me in age was in the 30-34 year old age category.  The rest of them were all under 30.  

I found G and David right away and chatted with them.  We then ran into Adam, G's friends son who did his first duathlon.  He was pretty pumped with his 5th place AG finish.  Pretty awesome for a first timer!  I saw another friend of mine, Brad, who also had a great race.  G felt he had an awesome race and wanted to go and check the race results because he was pretty sure he podiumed.  Sure enough, he got second in his AG.   I was so happy and proud to see him up there.  He's finally coming back to the form he had before his crash.  As luck would have it, I also ended up winning an awesome draw prize from Rudy Project.  Looks like I'll be getting a new helmet!  Good thing as my old one is REALLY old and definitely due to be replaced.

It was a great day of racing and I got to meet a couple of folks that either read my blog (hey Oscar!) or follow me on Instagram (hi Natalie!).  So FUN!

Chatting with Oscar!  So nice to meet a reader!  Thanks to Mike Cheliak for the shot.
I'm hoping that this AG win was enough to secure top spot in my AG for the overall season winner but we'll see.  I'm mentally preparing myself to do Lakeside.  That will mean an action packed mid September.  There are some other race plans that materialized yesterday that should prove to be a whole lot of fun.  It means that I'm really going to have to get back to 3 days a week of running though.  Don't worry folks, there will be an entire post dedicated to this upcoming adventure so stay tuned!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sleeping in Would be Nice & A Weekly Recap

Well here we are again.  Hello Monday.  Once again, you arrived much too quickly.  I think this two day weekend nonsense is BS.  We should have 3 day weekends.  I'm convinced the world would be a much happier place if it was on a 4 day work week, 3 day weekend.  It would at least give me a day to recover from my Saturday & Sunday, ha ha.  On the positive side, I've only got a 4 day work week this week due to the long weekend coming up.  YAY!  What I'm most looking forward to is SLEEPING IN.  I've been up early every day this week.  Although, truth be told, I got up on Monday to go swimming and was so tired, I went back to bed.   I got up early Saturday and yesterday.  Like 5:00 am early, which is just wrong on a weekend.  It's one thing if you're racing (which we were yesterday) but Saturday was a training day and for some reason G wanted to start early.  It was nice to be done my workout by 9:30 am but still....I think I prefer sleep.   We won't have too many more weekends like that since race season is winding down.

This was a lighter week of training for me.  Left to my own devices, I usually tend to back things off the week of a race.  During Mingsanity there was none of that, ha ha.  This is how last week looked.

Monday:  slept in!

Tuesday:  90 minute strength & mobility in a.m. + Tempo Run in p.m - one of the best runs I've had in a while! 

Wednesday:  2300m swim

Thursday:  60 minutes strength & mobility in a.m.+ 25km trainer ride in p.m.

Friday:  2100m swim

Saturday:  50km ride.  Once again in cloudy crappy weather.   But at least it was fairly warm.

Sunday:  Toronto Island Tri - race report to follow!


Swim:  4775m
Bike:  95.23
Run:  15.70

Total time:  8h 53 minutes.  I'm thinking between 7-10 hours of workouts a week will probably be where I keep things for the next little while.  That seems to be where my body is happiest without overloading it too much. 

Anyone else race this weekend?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Winding Down

I can't believe that summer is coming to a close.  Sure technically it doesn't end for another month but as far as I'm concerned as soon as school starts, that's the end of summer.  Things get "back to normal".  That means my gym will get busy again and my commute to work will double.  So many great things to look forward to, ha ha.

Aside from the weather being less than ideal, this has been a pretty good summer.  I didn't race my butt off like I did last year so I'm not feeling the burn out I was feeling this time last year.  It was a busy summer but I actually got to enjoy it.  I think the three weeks in Europe definitely helped in that regards. 

I've got my last official race this weekend.  I say "official" because as of right now, that's the last thing on my calendar that I've registered for.  There is one more triathlon in September that I may do depending on where I stand in the points after this weekend but things are definitely winding down.

Normally I'd have committed to a fall half marathon by now but I haven't just yet.  I'm holding off for a bit longer just to see how all this knee & hip business fares.  I feel like I've been getting better but for the last few weeks,  I've only been running twice a week so that might be why.  I may be able to get away with two days a week of running if I continue to ride on a regular basis although I may have to adjust my expectations time wise.  Last year I was putting in a lot of time at the track.  This year I'm not sure I see that happening until I can start a run 100% pain free.  I'm slowly getting there.

I've had several people as me what my plans are for next year and for the first time in a long time, I'm not really quite sure.  I do know what I WON'T be doing:  another spring marathon.  I've run a spring marathon every year for the last 3 years and I think it's really taken a toll on my body.  So next year, I don't plan on running any early season long distance races.  No Chilly Half Marathon, no Around the Bay.  Nada.  I'm thinking I might actually tackle some shorter distance races (5, 8 & 10km) on a more regular basis. 

As for triathlons, I definitely want to get some help with my swim issues.  I may go back to see that Cognitive Behavioral Therapist I saw two years ago.  I also think I need to get to some open water swim clinics so I can learn to stay calm and focused at the start of the swim.  The swim is my weakest link of the three.  I'm not bad but I know I can be so much better as long as I don't let my head get in the way.   Distance wise, I'm not sure what I'm going to do next year.  I love racing sprints so I'm sure I'll continue to do that but I may look at different races next year.  I also really enjoyed racing the 70.3 distance so who knows, maybe there's another one in my future. 

Normally I feel a little bit lost without a major goal but right now I'm ok with it.  These last few years have been pretty action packed.  Your body isn't the only thing that needs a break.  Sometimes you mentally just need to step back and chill out. 

That being said,  I'm sure by the time Christmas rolls around I'll have half my 2015 race calendar filled out.

Who's started planning their 2015 races already?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekly Recap & Saying Goodbye

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! Mine was jam packed as usual.  No racing this weekend but this was the last big weekend of training for G so that meant a big bike ride on Saturday, followed by a long brick on Sunday, of which I did not take part in.  Not after Saturday's smackdown on the bike.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.   Let's see how this past week unfolded.

Monday:  2400m swim

Tuesday:  90 minutes strength & mobility in a.m.  10.47km tempo run in p.m.

Wednesday:  1850m swim

Thursday:  90 minutes strength & mobility in a.m.  massage in p.m
Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  100km on the bike - legs felt horrible.  Probably due to my massage on Thursday and the fact that I didn't ride at all during the week.  To add insult to injury, it was cold and windy for the entire ride. It's AUGUST and I was wearing armwarmers for the entire ride and a vest for the first half.  WTH??

Sunday:  19km run.  Probably ran about 4km longer than I should have but I got into a good groove and actually felt ok.  Until I didn't, ha ha.  That was my longest run since my 70.3.  If I can keep my knees in decent working order over the next month or so, I should be in good shape for a fall half.

I love my injinji socks!

Total time:  10h 49 minutes.  The bulk of that was the weekend.  I didn't think I was going to have that big of a week!

Swim:  4250m
Bike:  100km
Run:  29.48km

I'm close to hitting 300km of riding for the month of August so I'm going to try to get a ride in during the week as well as Saturday and then we're racing Toronto Island on Sunday so that should put me hopefully close to 400km for the month.  YAY!

On another note, I'm officially putting Scotty up for sale.  It's time for me to say goodbye.  We shared a wonderful 7 years together but we've grown apart.  I've changed as have my expectations in a bike.  So if anyone out there is thinking about getting into triathlon, or, has done a few triathlons and wants a new to them bike without shelling out a ton of cash, look no further.

The bike is a size small which roughly equates to a 52cm frame.  The specs are as follows:

Frame: Scott CR 1 Plasma Pro Carbon technology TRI geometry with Intergraded Headtube
Forks: Scott Carbone CR1 Pro
Gears: Ultegra FD-6600 front and Ultegra RD-6600 rear derailleurs
Shifters: Dura-Ace SL-BS 78 Bar End
Chainset: Ultegra FC-6600 Hollowtech II with 39/53 tooth rings
Brakes: Ultegra BR-6600 Super SLR Dual pivot
Wheels: Mavic Cosmic Elite wheelset (700 C)
Handlebars: Profile T2 wing & T2 Cobra
Stem: Profile Hammer OS – Saddle: Fizik Vitesse HP

I'm asking $1200.  Which is a pretty sweet deal for a full carbon bike!  I've put regular pedals with cages on the bike + there are also two water bottle holders on it as well so it's ready to go!

If you, or someone you know is looking for a good entry level tri bike (and they happen to live in southern Ontario), drop me a line:

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? 

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Weekend of Racing + A Weekly Re-cap

G and I certainly know how to jam pack a weekend.  Between my 4:30 am alarm on Saturday and full day out and yesterday's 5:30 am alarm and race, I was completely wiped out.  I was so exhausted yesterday afternoon, I had an hour long snooze on the couch.   Not a cat nap, a full on sleep, drool and all.  But I woke up feeling refreshed so obviously I needed it.  I spent the rest of the afternoon lazing around and we finally took the time to chill out on our back deck.  It was the first time this summer I sat out there! 

It was a fun weekend though.  I really loved cheering my friends on at Bracebridge on Saturday.  They're all doing Muskoka 70.3 next month and I had thought about going up to cheer them on.  Now, I'm definitely going because G signed up for it!  YEAH!  I'm so excited for him.  He had a great race on Saturday (4th in his AG) and he was really happy with how it all went.   He's starting to get back to his old self, which is so nice to see after his injury earlier this year. 

Yesterday I raced my first Iron Girl event, which was fantastic.  I'll write up a full recap later on this week but for now I'll say it was AWESOME.  I'll definitely go back and do it again.  I'm hoping that maybe I can get a group of my girlfriends to do it next year.  THAT would be fun.  It was also Tom Sawyer's first race and he did not disappoint (35kph average on the bike, heck yeah!).

I had a good week of training, scaled back a bit from last weeks big week.  But there was some much higher intensity work in there, like my Thursday night TT and yesterday's race.  I'm finding these days that I can't have high volume and high intensity without feeling like I got hit by a Mack Truck so there has to be some balance. 

This is how last week went down:

Monday:  73.74 km bike ride
Tuesday:  90 minute strength / flexibility work in a.m. + 10.7km Tempo Run
Wednesday:  2500m swim
Thursday:  1h upper body & core / flexibility in a.m. + 15km Bike TT in p.m.
Friday:  2000m swim
Saturday:  OFF
Sunday:  Iron Girl race:  500m swim, 20km bike, 5km run

Total:  7h 30 minutes

Swim:  5000m
Bike:  108.74km 
Run:  15.70km

I've joined a Strava challenge for cycling and my goal is to ride between 300-350km this month.  Right now I'm at 192km and trainer km's don't count.  Not that I have a trainer wheel for my bike anyway, but, it means that I need to get out on the road.  I've signed up for another TT this week with the Toronto Triathlon Club.  It's only 13km but it's got a good climb in it and it's closer to home.  YEAH.  Right now the forecast is calling for rain so I'm crossing my fingers that changes. 

How was your weekend?   Did you manage to get out and enjoy the awesome summer weather?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

All Triathlon, All Weekend Long

You know you love triathlon (and your spouse for that matter) when you get up at 4:30 am on a Saturday to go and SPECTATE at an event, even though you're slated to race the next day.  Yes folks, I rolled my sorry butt out of bed at ungodly o'clock this morning to head out to Bracebridge to cheer on G and my pals at the Bracebridge Sprint.  I did the race last year but opted to skip it this year as I didn't want a repeat of last summer (racing every other weekend).  I had an absolute blast spectating (all cowbell, all the time!) and I got to meet another twitter / instagram follower as well (Hi Christa!)
G heading out on the bike!
Speaking of racing, it's funny how your perspective changes as the summer rolls along and you get into a groove.  I was actually contemplating signing up for Bracebridge (especially with the arrival of Tom Sawyer) when the folks from Skinnygrape contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in racing in the Iron Girl Triathlon on the Sunday of the same weekend.  Well let me see....Ok twist my rubber arm.  They made me an offer I couldn't refuse.  They sponsored me into the race, sent me some excellent wine (review to come soon!), some cute swag, gave me items for a giveaway AND they've given me a gift certificate to Body Blitz to enjoy after the race.  I call that winning.  Thank you Skinnygrape!  I'll be stopping by the booth at the expo tomorrow for sure!

I'm really looking forward to participating in this event.  There are a couple of other ladies I know from various social media channels that are also doing it so to anyone that follows me on instagram, I'm apologizing in advance for blowing up your feed, ha ha.  I've done women's only running races but I've never done a women's only triathlon.  If the vibe is anything like the women's only running races I've done,  I suspect it's going to be a blast.  I love that it's also fairly close to home, which is a really nice change of pace (no cottage country traffic, yeah!)  It's in Grimsby so we'll be swimming in Lake Ontario.  Here's hoping it's not freezing cold!  The weather looks fabulous AND it will be Tom Sawyers first tri.  I can't wait!

Friday, August 8, 2014

What Do You Mean There's No Swim or Run?: My Very First Time Trial

In the cycling world it's commonly referred to as The Race of Truth, also known as the Individual Time Trial.  Road cycling is a team sport and the team works together.  In the individual time trial you have no teammates to help you out.  There's no peleton to protect you and there is no drafting.  It's just you against the clock. 

This is not unfamiliar to me as that's essentially the bike portion of 99.9% of triathlons.  What's unfamiliar to me is doing this without a swim before it and a run proceeding it.   That's just plain weird.  But, I'm game for trying almost anything once and I really wanted to take Tom Sawyer out for a rip.  So, I decided to head up to Markham to participate in the Morning Glory Cycling Club Championships, sponsored by my race team, Real Deal.  Real Deal holds a regular Time Trial series every Thursday night during the summer.  It's open to anyone with a valid Triathlon Ontario or Ontario Cycling license. 

G was doing it along with my co-worker Tom, who rides for Morning Glory.  My Real Deal teammate Graeme Rivers was also racing.  Graeme met us at the studio and we fought our way through rush our traffic.  If you live in the west end, it's a bit of a hike.  But I totally get why they hold it out that way.  The roads are great, there's a decent shoulder and not a whole lot of traffic. 

I was really nervous.  I figured I was going to be racing against some seriously strong women (which I was).  When we registered we were asked to give an estimated time.  Since I had never ridden the course and didn't know what the weather conditions would bring, I guessed at 27 minutes for 15km.  I figured I could pull off 33kph for sure, maybe 35 if it wasn't too windy and the course wasn't too hilly.  You get seeded by estimated finishing time, slowest to fastest.  I ended up being right smack dab in the middle of the group, which was great as I prefer to have someone to chase. 

We all lined up and watched the first rider go off.  We were leaving in 30 second intervals so I got to watch a couple of the girls go off first before it was my turn.  I rolled up to the line and Mike gave me some last minute tips on the course and how to tackle it (he's so awesome!).   Then he counted me down.  5-4-3-2-1 and I was off.  I had to clip into my left pedal which is sometimes problematic.  Then I hit my Garmin.  Yes, I wore my Garmin because I'm a data junkie and I was curious to see what my average watts would be. 

The first part of the course is an uphill.  It's not a crazy uphill but it's enough that you're really working right away.  I had TS in the small ring just to get my legs spinning.  I flipped it to the big ring as I crested the hill and started to hammer.  I flew by the Church parking lot where the registration tent was and I heard G yell GO Phaedra!.  My legs were screaming and I wasn't even 5 minutes in.  I knew I should have done a better warm up.

As luck would have it, it was also pretty windy.  And of course, that first part of the course had us riding uphill into the wind.  Why would it be any other way? This is what happens on the bike, ha ha.  I figured when I made the turn onto Stouffville Road that I'd have the wind kind of at my back.  So I sucked it up and pushed as hard as I could.  My mouth was dry and pasty and I was really wishing I had drank more before I started. 

I could see the girl that had started two people in front of me up ahead.  That spurred me on to work harder.  My legs were totally on fire.  We were coming up to our first turn and I was gaining on her.  As soon as we made the turn I put in a surge and I passed her.  Tom Sawyer was flying.  Holy smokes.  That bike.  It's like riding a rocket ship.  I could see the next girl a bit of a ways away but I thought I might be able to catch her.   I was cooking along at a good pace. (my Garmin showed 42 kph when I dared to look at it).  I heard someone coming and thought Oh crap but then I turned to see it was a dude.  He was f-l-y-i-n-g.  He blew by me like I was standing still.  I was getting close to the next turn and I really hoped that I'd be able to keep the momentum I had.  I figured since we climbed on the way out that this road should offer a bit of downhill.  It did, just not right away.  I turned the corner and had to climb a bit.  I was determined to stay in my aerobars for all the climbs no matter how much it hurt.

I could see the girl in front of me getting closer with each pedal stroke.  I finally caught and passed her.  My breathing was heavy and my chest was on fire.  I was turning myself inside out.  I had one other girl in front of me but I wasn't sure if I'd catch her.  I was going to try.  The back half of the course was slightly undulating.  There were a few good opportunities to get some solid speed but there were also a couple of small climbs that kind of sapped my energy.  I turned onto Kennedy road, knowing that I didn't have too much longer and pushed the pace as much as possible along here.  The road was bumpier than the others so I tried to steer clear of the bumps as much as possible.  There were a few more cars along here as well but they gave me a pretty wide berth.

By this point I felt like I was starting to lose a bit of steam.  My legs were starting to object to the effort.  I channeled my inner Jens Voigt and told my legs to shut up.  With an f-bomb in there for good measure.  I turned the final corner, expecting the finish line to be there.  It wasn't.  Ugh.  Which meant I had to climb the hill again.  I had lost sight of the girl in front of me as well so I didn't have a bunny any more.  I crested the top of the hill expecting the finish to be at the Church.  It wasn't.  My oxygen starved brain was totally not functioning so instead of continuing to ride, I slowed up and asked some of the other girls that had finished where the finish line was.  They yelled and pointed down to road.  Oh crap.  I tucked back into my aero bars and hammered, my legs and chest burning.  At least I had a bit of a downhill coming up.  Two seconds later, I heard someone yelling that they're coming up behind me.  I turn to see Michelle Pearlman.  She yells words of encouragement as she passes me, urging me to go with her.  I tried but she is much too mighty on the bike.  Her catching me, motivated me to dig deeper.  I didn't want to get caught again this close to the finish line.  I saw her fly through and then a few seconds later I crossed the line and waved to the photographer.  Because that's what you do at the end of a gut busting time trial, ha ha.

I did a slow ride back to the parking lot to cheer the rest of the riders on.  I stood and chatted with Nicole, one of the girls that had ridden in my group (we both had matching P3's!).  The final riders filed in and Mike and Barbie came in to announce all the times and then do the awards.  My Garmin had clocked me at riding 15.13km in 24:59.  But, I didn't start it right away, nor did I stop it right away so who knew how accurate that was.

Turns out it wasn't that far off.  I was 24:57.  A whole two minutes and change faster than what I had estimated, ha ha.  And, amazingly, that time was good enough for 3rd place overall!  YAY!  What really blows my mind is that I was able to average just over 36kph.  WTH?  Tom Sawyer really knows how to rock! 

I really enjoyed myself and would definitely consider doing it again.  Real Deal does a great job at keeping it low key and fun yet still competitive.  They handle all the timing so you don't even need to have a timing device.   I'd highly recommend this to Toronto area triathletes.  It's a great way to see what you're really capable of without having to worry about running afterwards.  You can do that if you want but be prepared to be heckled.  Good naturedly of course.

Thanks to Morning Glory & Real Deal for putting on a fun event! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


So, last night, I get home from my tough tempo workout to find this waiting for me (not the best pic, but that's what happens when you instagram it).

I was pretty excited to add that to my collection of stuff.  I'm going to have to start getting some frames!

Shortly after we got home from our run, a friend of ours came by with his son, who is interested in buying my race wheels.  He's 16 years old and really into cycling.  Coincidentally he emailed G on Friday asking his advice regarding a pair of lightweight race wheels.  G offered up mine at a reasonable price so he came by last night with his dad to check them out.  He took them.  YES! 

After I showered, I came back downstairs to eat dinner and then G asked me to come downstairs with him because he needed my help with something.  I said ok and I wandered downstairs with him.  As he turns into the basement, he steps aside and gestures to the far wall.  I look over and what do I see but this:

Of course I start crying.  I was not expecting to have this guy until this evening and I certainly wasn't expecting him to come with RACE WHEELS.  Holy Frig.  I was speechless.  And then I couldn't stop smiling.  Much like a car, I believe that a bike needs a name.  So, without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Tom Sawyer.  He's my modern day warrior, all kitted out and ready to go. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Weekly Recap and a New Ride

Oh Hiiii Tuesday.  Damn, those four days just FLEW by.  On the plus side, at least it's only a 4 day work week.  I mentioned last week that we were heading up to our friends cottage for the weekend.  What a weekend it was.  Finally we had some beautiful summer weather.  Friday was sunny and hot and we drove up to the cottage with the top down on the EOS.  Sitting in traffic with the top down seems so much more tolerable.  It's almost enjoyable. 

I was really looking forward to this weekend.  Firstly because we were getting to hang out with our friends Rick and Sue, whom we haven't seen in ages.  Sue was my training partner for the longest time.  Now she's got two little ones so it's hard for her to get out and do things.  But she got out with us on Saturday for our ride.

Secondly, my local bike shop, gave me this beauty to test ride.

OMG.  I am in love.  I have been coveting this bike ever since G got his but I kept telling myself I'd wait until next year to get a new bike.  Riiight.  Don't get me wrong, I love Scotty but he's 7 years old. Let's just say we've outgrown each other.  When it comes right down to it, he's no longer suited to my new found bike strength.  He's still got a lot of life left in him so I'm hoping I can find him a new home.  In the meantime, I've pulled the trigger on the Ultegra version of this bike.  The one pictured here is the fully tricked out electronic version.  I loved riding it and shifting was a dream but in my opinion, it's not worth the extra $$.  I'd rather use that money to buy race wheels.  

This week ended up being pretty decent in terms of training volume.  I'm still not running as much as I was this time last year but it's probably for the best as my knees seem to be getting better.   They get a little cranky if I've done too much (like my hilly long run on Sunday) but they seem to sort themselves back out with some good stretching and foam rolling.  This is how my week rolled out:

Monday:  2000m swim
Tuesday:  Strength & flexibility workout in a.m.  7km tempo run in p.m. - was still feeling pretty tired from Sunday's race
Wednesday: 2050m
Thursday:  Strength workout in a.m. followed by a 20km trainer ride. I would have done a brick but I didn't have time.
Friday:  OFF
Saturday: 84km hilly bike ride.
Sunday:  17km hilly run

Total time:  9h 27 minutes.  Wow.  But at least that includes 2.5 hours at the gym.  

Swim:  4050m
Bike: 104.43 km
Run:  24.40 km

I'll be getting my new steed tomorrow and then baptizing him by fire in the Morning Glory CC 2nd Annual Time Trial.   My race team, Real Deal, sponsors this time trial as well as the regular Thursday night TT series that they run all summer.  This will be the first time I've ever raced a stand alone time trial (i.e. no swim to warm me up) so it should be interesting to say the least, ha ha.  Unfortunately I won't have race wheels for my yet to be named steed so we'll see how that affects my time.  I do have an aero helmet and a high tolerance for pain so hopefully that helps. 

How was your week of training?