Friday, September 19, 2014

That's All She Wrote: Lakeside Sprint Tri Race Report

The last time I did this race was in 2008.  And back then it was a 750m swim, 30km bike and 7.5km run vs. the 20km bike and 5km run that it is now.  I had also registered for it in 2011 but bailed at the last minute due to the freezing cold temps and the fact that it was only really a "C" race for me.  I had my eyes on a bigger prize at that time.  Being that it's in September, you're pretty much taking a chance that it's going to be chilly.  At least in the morning.  Luckily MSC has caught on and has now pushed the start up to 10:00 am, which is great and usually makes a difference when it comes to temperatures.  Except for this year.

We haven't really had much of a summer here in Ontario and it seems to have made a very hasty departure.  I figured we'd have a few more warm lazy days but no, Mother Nature has other plans.  At least she did this past weekend.  The first half of last week was lovely.  Perfect summer weather, albeit a bit humid.  Then it rained and with that rain came cooler temps, which wasn't too bad.  Until those cooler temps became even cooler.  I checked the forecast for the weekend and Saturday looked pretty dismal:  a high of 14 and rain.  It had the potential to be like IM Switzerland all over again.  At least I only had to ride 20km vs 180.   I made sure I packed a jacket, gloves and arm warmers and resigned myself to the fact that my T1 time was going to be atrocious.

It was the last race of the season, everyone's last kick at the can for some more series points.  I was leading the points standings by 70 points.  If I didn't race this and the girl in second place did and got 4th place or higher, I'd be booted off the top step.  So, I bit the bullet and signed up.  Luckily all my tri gang pals were planning on racing so I knew it would be fun from that stand point at least.

G and I hit the road at 7:00 am under cloudy skies.  We figured there wouldn't be much traffic on the roads at 7:00 am on Sunday.  And there wasn't.  Until all of a sudden there was.  We got on to the 401 and almost immediately hit a traffic jam.  There was construction in the westbound lanes by the 403 and they only had ONE lane open.  The back up was huge.  Thankfully we were in the passing lane and we happened to notice people somehow getting through into the express lanes.  We figured there had to be an opening up a head.  Sure enough a few minutes later we see it.  Along with about 8 other people that all rushed it.  You had to drive over a little curb, into a small ditch and over another little curb.   Done.  See ya later suckers! 

Shortly after that the rain started.  Lightly at first and then it just got downright awful.  It wouldn't have been so bad if it was warm out but the temperature was reading 8 degrees.  Ugh.  Once we got off the highway the rain didn't seem so bad but it had done it's damage.  The road we run on was a mess as was the parking lot (a.k.a someone's back yard).

Stupidly I wore flip flops as I didn't want to bring an extra pair of running shoes.  Dumb dumb dumb.  My feet were gross and cold.  And the bottom of my warm up pants were soaking wet and covered in mud.  This was starting off to be a great day.  To add to my stress, it took us a while to get our race packet etc so by the time I got into transition, I didn't have a whole lot of time to get myself sorted out.  Before I knew it they were telling everyone to get out of transition. Ahhhhhh!

I grabbed my stuff and made my way through the muck towards the water.  I got my wetsuit on and had G zip it up.  He went off to do a warm up and I put the rest of my stuff on.  I found Irina coming out of the water and she said the temperature was perfect.  Nice!  I waded in, let the water seep into my suit and dove in.  I had forgotten how shallow this lake was.  And how mucky the bottom was.  Irina also mentioned there were some weeds.  Ugh.  I hate weeds.  I swam out a ways, through the weeds, stretching out my arms.  My shoulders were really tight.  Nothing I could really do about it at this point.  I saw the boats jockeying for position so I figured that the first wave was going to be heading off soon so I made my way back to shore.  I had to find G for my good luck kiss too.

I wandered around the shore and eventually found him.  I got my smooch and it was time for him to head out.  Irina found me again and we hung out in the water, totally goofing off.  We did some jumping jacks and busted out a few dance moves to keep warm.  Our wave started moving forward and I took my usual position off to the side and back.  I figured we'd have a lot of room to move once things got going.  The gun went off and I waded into the water until it was just past my waist.  Then I started swimming and I almost immediately got caught up in a huge crowd of people.  I tried to swim away from them but I couldn't seem to shake anyone.  I started to feel panicky so I stopped and breast stroked for a while.  I finally put my head back in and started to swim.  I got around the first buoy without incident and figured things should finally spread out.  Nope.  I kept finding bunches of people.   I just wanted clear water.  So around them I went.  There seemed to be a bit more chop going this way and I lost my rhythm again so I stopped to catch my breath and calm down.  I put my face back in and started breathing every other stroke until I got to the second buoy.  I made my way around that buoy and resumed my normal stroke.  I was shocked to find that I was STILL in a crowd of people.  I kept swimming and then noticed that the crowd disappeared.  That usually means I need to sight because there's a good chance I've swam off course.  Which was exactly the case.  I righted myself and continued on.  I could see the shore so I started to push the pace.  I swam until my hand scraped the ground then I got up and ran, pulling my wetsuit off as I went.

Swim:  14:07

I knew T1 was going to be a gong show as I was going to putting on socks and a jacket due to the cold.  I was totally discombobulated and almost missed my spot when I ran in.  I took the time to dry my feet before I yanked my socks on.  Getting my jacket on was also a bit of a joke.  But I got it done.

T1:  2:09 - not too bad!

I had brought gloves but really didn't want to fuss with putting them on so I left them in transition.  5 minutes into the bike I realized that wasn't the best idea.  My hands were cold.  My arms and chest were fine.  My legs, on the other hand, were not.  They were completely frozen and they never seemed to warm up.  I tried to push the pace and I just couldn't.  I wanted to hammer the flats and downhills but my legs wouldn't let me.  The Lakeside course is fairly hilly and you are heading downhill on the way OUT so you know you need to save something for the way back, so I guess it's just as well I didn't have it it me to hammer.  As I was heading into the first downhill, I saw Axel from Iron Rogue and I said Hello!  He said hello back and I think he wished me well, I couldn't hear anything due to the water in my ears and the fact that my aero helmet covers my ears.

I finally got into my aerobars on that downhill and stayed in them until we hit a turn.  For once I didn't get caught behind people who were blocking or drafting.  Everyone seemed to be playing nicely.  There were a few folks that I really had to holler On Your Left to when I passed because they were bobbing and weaving everywhere.  I never really got stuck behind anyone until the last climb about 5km from the finish.  There were a couple of dudes who insisted on riding in the middle of the road.  I had to yell on your left twice to one of them.  I passed both of them and pulled over to the right, figuring they'd catch me on the flats.   I made the last turn and tucked into my aerobars again.  One of the guys I passed earlier, passed me on my RIGHT.  I wasn't THAT far out in the middle of the road so I'm not quite sure why he did that.  He's lucky there wasn't an OAT official there.   I rolled up to the dismount line and jumped off my bike.

Bike:  38:07

I figured T2 would also be a bit slower than normal due to my frozen hands and the fact that I had to remove a jacket. But.....

T2:  1:02 - not as bad as I thought!

As soon as I started running, I realized that I couldn't feel my feet.  They had gotten a bit wet on the bike.  I could feel the cold on my feet towards the end of the bike but didn't think they were that bad.  Apparently I was wrong.  They felt like bricks for about the first two km.  To top it off, the surface we were running on was hard packed gravel that had potholes everywhere and these potholes were filled with water.  I was soaked within the first km.  Not only that but I was covered in mud. My legs were also not happy.  They were still cold and it took a while for me to get into a good stride.  The Lakeside run course is a bit hilly, not like Bala but there are some small climbs that kind of suck.  Especially since it's a gravel surface.  I got into a good groove by the 2km mark, trying to spot any one in my AG, which was pretty much impossible given the fact that everyone's calves were covered with mud.  So, I just ran hard. I saw G coming back in and he looked strong.  Shortly after G, I saw my friend David.  He yelled Go PK as I ran by him.  As I got close to the turn around, I spotted a woman up ahead.  She became my target.  I ran up the hill to the turnaround, thanked the volunteers that were there and flew down the hill, keeping my bunny in my sight.  She had turned the corner and was making her way up another hill.  I busted out the shovel and started digging.  I had to find another gear.  My legs and lungs were screaming at me but I was gaining on her.  Half way up the hill I caught her.  Her leg was covered so I didn't know her AG.

I crested the hill and eased up a bit to catch my breath.  It was a nice long gradual downhill to the finish so I let momentum carry me.  On my way back, I saw Lionel Sanders out on the run course doing his cool down.  I caught up to him and ran beside him for a minute.  As I ran up to him I said, OMG, I'm running with Lionel Sanders!  He started laughing and said Good Work.  I then pulled away from him and said OMG I'm leaving Lionel Sanders in my dust!  He laughed out loud again and said Go Get 'Em!

I came barreling along towards the finish and I saw G, David, Jordan & Zindine all cheering, I said oh heyyy it's all my favourite people..!  They all stuck their hands out for high fives as I ran by.   I turned the corner to head down the finishing chute and I heard someone say Go Phaedra!  I caught up to a really tall guy as I came down the chute and I think we crossed the finish line together.

I crossed the finish line and went to find the crew.  I ran into my sister in law and nephew on the way out - she was the person I heard yelling Go Phaedra.  I had also seen them while I was on the bike course which was a nice surprise.  We met up with the crew and then went back to transition to see about getting some warm clothes on.  I was FREEZING.  I toweled off the mud on my legs, put on 3 tops layers and then wandered over to the awards area.  I checked my results and found out that I had won my AG.  SWEET.  Talk about ending my season on a high note!  That finish should have secured my top spot in the overall points series.

Despite the crappy conditions, it was still a pretty fun day, made so by the fact that all my pals were there.  It was fitting to share the last race of the season with these guys as they were all so much a part of my racing year.  Triathlete friends are the best!

Can you tell we're all freezing?
The last kick at the can for me this year is the Real Deal Showdown at Barrelman and I'd be lying if I said I felt 100% prepared to do this.  I don't.  My training has sucked over the last 3 weeks and this past week has been brutal in terms of my work / life balance (all work, no life).  On the plus side, my knees don't hurt but I'm sure they will after Sunday.  But at least after Sunday, I know they're going to get a well deserved rest. 


christina @ The Athletarian said...

Just another casual WIN.
Holy smokes, woman.
You never cease to amaze me.
Those conditions sound like they were absolutely terrible. I know I don't do well in the cold and would have bailed before I even got in the car.

Sam said...

LMAO you look like a little girl beside that tall guy!! Congrats on an amazing performance on a horrible day! I was out on the MEC 50k ride that morning and that was completely miserable, I can only imagine how things were for you guys! Good luck tomorrow! I hope that you can wrap up this amazing season on a high note!

CheapRunnerMike said...

I did the sprint race at Lakeside as well and I'm pretty sure we had the exact same experience! I knew my T1 would be awful as I tried to put my fleece-lined jersey on with wet arms, but I knew the ride would suck if I didn't. In hindsight I could have just went with arm sleeves...what I should have done was put socks on like you. You don't realize how ventilated those tri shoes are until you get a cold day! I didn't feel my feet at all until after the run.
Nice job on the AG (and series) win!