Saturday, August 19, 2017

Like a Fine Wine, Better with Age: Bracebridge Sprint Race Report

Given that I hadn't raced a sprint in 2 years, I had no real goals going into this race other than I wanted to have a faster bike split that my previous 2 years.  I have put a lot of time and effort into my cycling over the last year so I expected to see some kind of improvement.   Other than that I figured my swim probably wouldn't change too much and my run, well who knew.  I knew it wouldn't be as fast as previous years because I haven't been running that fast.  So this was a test to see what I *could* do.

The last time we did this race, we drove up the morning of the race.  This year the start time seemed to be much earlier than previously so we opted to drive up to Gravenhurst the day before and stay the night.  We stayed at the Residence Inn right on the water.   We wandered around downtown Gravenhurst and stopped for a drink at Sawdust City Brewery where I had a most delicious Raspberry Radler.  We made our way back to the hotel and went to grab some dinner.  It had gone from a nice sunny day to overcast and cloudy.   The forecast was calling for a thunderstorm and this time the weatherman got it right.  After dinner grabbed an ice cream and watched the storm roll in.

G watched some TV and I actually sat down and finished a book I'd been reading since MARCH.  We were both in bed asleep just before 10 am.  We were up at 5:15 so we could pack up and hit the road by 6 am.  We stopped at Tim Horton's for a coffee and some carbs and made the 20 minute drive to Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge.

The last time we did this race everyone seemed to show up at the same time so registration got so backed up they had to start the race later.  This year was much better.  We were also there fairly early as well.  We get set up in transition, picked up our kits and got body marked. I ran into two of the women from the Lake Placid Cycling Camp, Carolan and Jennifer.  It was Jennifer's first multi sport event - she was doing the swim bike.  I chatted with them for a while and then went back into transition to finish setting up.  G came over and told me that he saw Paolina and that she was racing.  I started laughing and knew that there was going to be at least one person in my AG that was going to crush me.  I saw her setting up and ran over to her and gave her a big hug.  She asked me what AG I was in and I said hers and she said Oh great.  "Like you have anything to worry about" I said.  It was so nice to see her.  She has such great energy.

She was running late setting up so G and I went into the water and started our warm up.  I did a bit of swimming but felt pretty good as I had done a bit of a dynamic warm up on shore (I am learning this is a good thing for me!).  I did a few pick ups in the water and then found G.  Once we stopped, I quickly realized that this swim was going to be difficult.  It had POURED the night before so the river was high.  This meant that there was a very strong current.  So strong that if you stopped swimming, it would push you down river at a substantial clip.  Fun!  Well, it would have been fun if I had been on a floaty with a beer.  But, I had to swim back into that current.  Oh well.  Nothing you can do about that except moderate your pace accordingly.

Because the swim takes place in a very narrow river, it's a time trial start, which I love.  Even then, it still gets pretty congested and today was no different.   I got in line with the rest of the folks in my age group and waited to for my turn to go.  3-2-1 and I was off.  The first half of the swim flew by, literally, because we were swimming down stream.  I practiced my new stroke / breathing technique and managed to swim relatively straight.  Sweet!  I got into a pretty good groove once I passed a few people.  So much so that I actually managed to pass the first turnaround buoy.  I remember seeing it but I guess because the current was so strong, I overestimated how far it was.  So I had to swim an a nice diagonal to try to get to the other buoy to swim back.

Once I got to the buoy it was like a traffic jam there were so many people.  I swam through a small pack and tried to stick closer to shore where you are less likely to be affected by the current. Swimming back was much more congested than the way out.  Probably due to the current.  I passed a lot of people and I felt like I was actually swimming fairly well.  I'm pretty sure I saw Paolina pass me with about 150m or so to go.  That totally didn't surprise me.  She is a strong swimmer.  Actually she's just strong, period, ha ha.

I finally turned around the last buoy and swam hard to the shore.  I ran up onto the beach and glanced at my watch:  14:53.  W.T.F.  My worst swim at this event.  I ran into T1 and thought I hit lap.  I pulled off my wetsuit, wiped off my feet, threw on my shoes, race bib and helmet.  I grabbed my bike and was off.   As I was running out of transition I realized that I had actually hit STOP on my watch.  So I hit resume, ran out of transition to the mount line on the bike and hit lap again.  One day I will get this right.  Ugh.  I had no clue how long T1 was but it seemed fast.

Sports stats times:  Swim:  15:18 (2:02/100m) and T1:  1:35, which isn't too bad for me!

I recall the bike being somewhat hilly but couldn't really remember much other than two good climbs.  Well, I was wrong.  It's very hilly.  There are two good climbs but there are a bunch of unpleasant rollers as well.  I went out hard, big chain ring, head down, hammering.  There was a fair bit of "on your left"for the first bit but then things spread out nicely.  I was so focused on the hurt I was feeling and the people in front of me that I didn't pay attention to the people coming back so I had no idea where I was in relation to Paolina.   I was riding hard.  My legs were screaming at me like they haven't screamed at me in a while.  I was actually dreading the run because I knew my legs were going to feel like garbage.  I passed a couple of ladies on the ride, but mostly guys that had started earlier.  I got passed by a couple of other dudes but no women.  Whew.  I knew G wasn't too far behind me so once I hit the turnaround, I kept my eyes peeled for him.  It didn't take me too long to see him.   He was about 3 minutes behind me which I figured he'd make up no problem so I was riding scared for sure.  I didn't want him to catch me.   I kept my head down and hammered away.  The next thing I knew I was turning back into the park.  I rolled up to the dismount line and jumped off my bike.  I really need to learn how to do a flying dismount because running in my cycling shoes is annoying and slow.  Things to work on for next year!

Garmin time:  20km:  36:31 / average speed 33.6 kph.  Sports stats:  36:48 / 32.6 kph.  Not sure how I lost a whole km per hour but whatever.  This was officially my fastest time on this course.  :)  What I was even more thrilled with / surprised by was the fact that my normalized power for the 20km was 215 watts and my watts per kg (W/kg) was 3.53!  Woohoo!

I ran into T2, racked my bike and pulled off my helmet and shoes.  I wiped my feet again and yanked on my running shoes.

T2:  53s - not bad, probably one of my faster T2's.

The run starts with an uphill and normally I will plow up this hill but I just don't have that speed right now.  So I ran up it but not all out.  As we exited the park there was a huge puddle and a lot of mud so I slowed down through there so I wouldn't slip.  Once I was through there, I got into a good rhythm and started passing people.  My legs actually didn't feel too bad.  The first km passed in 4:36.  For the first time ever, I didn't go out like gangbusters in the first km.  I was actually able to start picking things up and I felt stronger as the run went on.  I kept my eyes peeled for Paolina as I was running towards the turnaround.  I saw her when I was probably a good 600-700m away from the turnaround.  She was making her way back.  I yelled WOOHOO and she waved.  She had at least 1km on me, probably more.  I passed a couple of other ladies on the way back in but none of them were in my AG.  I was hoping that put me in second at least.

I made the turn into the park and ran down the big hill to the finish.  I'm always thankful that downhill is on grass because if that was pavement, it would be brutal on your quads, ha ha.

Me and my wonky arms! 

I crossed the line and hit stop on my Garmin.  I wandered back around and waited for G.  He wasn't that far behind me.   I was chatting with a couple of ladies at the finish when he crossed the line and came over to me.  We commiserated about our horrible swims and then went over to get some food.  I ran into Paolina and we sat there talking for ages.  I then ran into Meg, a physiotherapist that I used to see at Synergy.  I hadn't seen her in years so it was really nice to catch up with her.

G and I finally wandered over and got some food and then we sat down and looked at our respective times.  My Garmin said 1:15 and change which was wrong because I had stopped it in transition.  I skipped through everything to see what my run time was and it was 22:05.  Gary wasn't that far behind me.  We grabbed some food and then it started to pour so ran for shelter.  The rain let up shortly thereafter and G said he was going to get his stuff from transition.  I finished eating and went to look at results.  My overall time was 1:16:39 and I was second my AG and 3rd overall.  It wasn't my fastest time there but it wasn't my slowest either.  Paolina was 6 minutes ahead of me.  She was the women's overall winner which is totally not surprising.  She's such a strong athlete!  I looked below my name and who so I see, but G, listed right after me.  I beat him by 7 seconds.  W.T.H.  I didn't think that was going to happen.

We stuck around for the awards since G got on the podium as well.  When I checked the results afterwards, I noticed that 4 of the top 5 women on the overall podium were over 40.  OVER 40.  Heck YEAH.  Proof right there that like a fine wine, us ladies get better with age!

It's nice to see some new sponsors at the MSC races, F2C nutrition and Martin's Apple Snacks.  I sampled some F2C recovery product as well as their greens product and I quite liked both of them.  the greens product was especially good, no chalky or gritty taste and the flavour was really nice.  I need to get more greens in my life so that may be something I look an incorporating into my diet.

As usual the race was very well organized, the volunteers were awesome and the free finishing photos are always appreciated!   Next up, my favourite race of the series - Toronto Island.  Here's hoping there's no wind and the water isn't too cold!

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