Monday, July 22, 2013

Toronto Triathlon Festival 2013 Olympic Race Report

Yesterday was the second running of the Toronto Triathlon Festival and the second time I raced the Olympic Event.  This year the race was host to the Canadian National Championships which meant there were 10 World Championship Qualifying Spots per age group.  It also meant the field was much deeper than last year.  At the beginning of the season, this was my "A" race and I was hoping to make the podium and if I fell short of that, to at least make the top 10 to grab a spot on the Canadian National Team for 2014.  As the season wore on, I lost focus of this race and truthfully didn't train nearly enough - so I had adjusted my expectations for this race and dropped the hope of a top 3, but still wanted a top 10 finish and to better my time from last year.

The day started out nice and early with a 4:40am wake up call.  It's so nice to race in your home town because you have all your normal conveniences of home.  I quickly grabbed my coffee, ate a bowl of leaping leamers cereal, threw on my tri kit and we were out the door at 5:30am.  As we were nearing the top of our street Barry starts asking me if I've got everything ... cycling shoes, helmet, runners ... I was a little exasperated with him and then I slammed on the breaks, threw the truck in reverse - crap - I don't remember packing my goggles last night.  A bit of panic sets in as I'm not sure where my goggles were ... but luckily I found a pair quickly and we were back on the road to transition.

We arrived with plenty of time and I was happy to run into my buddy Erin as I was walking to transition.
The morning air was quite fresh which was a welcomed change after a week long heat wave. I think everyone was quite relieved we were racing in this weather!  Things went very smoothly as we got body marked and heading into transition to set up.  This race has assigned bike spots so it doesn't matter how early or late you get to transition - you hang your bike at your number and that is that.
It was so awesome to see so many TTC kits around.  I think we had over 80 athletes racing between the two distances.  I set up my transition and decided to put my wetsuit on to keep me warm.  I tried a new tip for wetsuit removal that I learned at my Friday night Welland Swim Series race - to put baby powder inside the suit before you put it on.  It made a big mess and I'm pretty sure it did not make it any easier!
Nice TTC Kits! Me, Tara, Clare and Erin
I made my way to the swim start when they closed transition around 6:40.  The first wave went off at 6:50.  I was in the next to last wave going at 7:14.  I ran into Leslie, a lady I had met at the kids triathlon back in June and we all made small talk as we awaited our turn for the water.

After the 7:10 wave went off, my wave jumped into the water and while we were told the water temperature on Saturday was 70*f, obviously there had been a turn over in the lake because the water was the coldest I have EVER raced in!  We were all screaming and fusing over the water temp.  And my plan to relieve my bladder was scratched as there was no way I was going to be able to pee in that cold water!  It seemed like forever before we heard "1 minute" then the horn went off and we were off.
and GO!

Amazing that Barry captured this shot of me!
The swim was crowded and competitive.  There were pockets of nice, warm water but mostly the water was cold.  I settled into a nice rhythm and was able to stay on some toes for most of the race. By the time we had turned and were heading along the backside of the harbour, we had caught up to waves ahead of us and the fast swimmers of the final wave behind us had caught up too.  It was very crowded and physical. The swim is in a harbour and the worst part of the swim was right before we made the last 2 turns for the exit.  It was like we were swimming in a forest - seaweed floating everywhere and debris floating in the water.  I hit a large piece of wood with my right wrist and today I have a nice bruise to show for it!
Always happy to be out of the water
I felt like I had a pretty good swim.  Official time was 30:59 (2:04/100m) and while that was almost a two minutes slower than last year, given my lack of time in the pool, I'll take it.  Unfortunately things started to unravel from here.  I made my way to my bike but I couldn't get the velcro undone at the top of my wetsuit.  I was able to unzip it but could release the velcro.
darn sticky velcro!
Once I got the velcro loose I had even more trouble getting the wetsuit off.  I'm not sure if the baby power caused this or if it was a case of frozen fingers and toes from the cold water.  I finally freed myself then went on to struggle with my aerohelmet and finally put my shoes on and started off on the bike.
Do you see my race belt and bib on my aerobars?
As I'm approaching the ramp to get to the mount line I hear "hey, number 840, number 840 you dropped your race belt".  Crap - that's me!  New this year, you are no longer required to wear your bib on the bike.  However, I still, out of habit, put the race belt on my handle bars so I can snap it on.  I obviously completely forgot to do that.  I had to lean my bike up against the fence and run back to get my belt.

I didn't have any trouble running up the ramp this year in my shoes.  I found if I ran on my tippy toes I was fine. I finally made it to the mount line and got on my bike.  It's a slow exit as you ride through the twists and turns of Exhibition Place and I was able to take some water and try to collect myself.  Then we take the on ramp to the Gardner Expressway and the real bike race starts.  We headed directly into a very strong easterly wind and there is a nice climb right out of the gate so I decided to downshift to my small ring and CRAP - my chain dropped!  I tried to shift back up and get it to catch but I was floundering so I stopped and manually put the chain back on.  At this point I was pretty deflated!  I had a terrible T1, I dropped my race belt and then I dropped my chain!  And to make things just a bit more miserable, my feet were numb from the swim!

It took me a couple of minutes to regain my composure and put the mistakes behind and focus on the bike. Heading into the strong headwind was tough and seeing my speed hover between 25 and 28 kph was depressing.  I had hoped to average 33 kph and at this rate, with the dropped race belt and the drop chain, I wan't going to make it.  The course turns North onto the DVP and is generally up hill.  When we made the turn around at Eglington, I think my Garmin said my average speed was 27.9 kph but now it was game time with a mostly downhill with a tail wind return.  I tucked down into my most aero of aero positions and focused.  And I made up a lot of ground and ended up with a bike split of 1:16:31 averaging 31.4kph.  Not what I wanted but given I gave up at least a minute each with the fumbles, I'll take it. I had expected to beat my time from last year by a nice margin, but in the end I was less than a minute faster.

I dismounted and took my shoes off before I ran down the ramp into transition.  When we entered transition they made us go to the left and around to the middle which threw me off and for some reason I forgot my number and my transition location!  I ended up at the 540 spot, confused and then frantically looking for my transition spot.  You would think this was my first triathlon for goodness sakes!  I finally made my way to my spot, racked my bike, helmet off, socks and shoes on, sunglasses and visor and I was off.  I ended up with a disgraceful T2 time of 1:45!

"it's just not my day"
It is so great to have Barry on the course.  I actually felt really great physically heading out for the 10k run but mentally and emotionally I was down on myself because of my blunders.  My feet were still numb but not to the point of being really painful. It was sunny and was getting warm but nothing uncomfortable.  My legs felt good and my heart rate was good and I pulled it together.  I knew I was able to run a sub 50 minute 10k and was hoping for a 47 minute run split.  I gave it my all, I ran as fast as I could, and I'm happy with the outcome.
about 500 meters to go, focusing on breathing, no time to smile

getting ready for the finish - money shot Barry!
Barry captured some great shots as the runners turned into the park area, about 500 meters from the finish.  I knew the end was near and I just put my head down and gave it my final kick.  I remember seeing Chad and I think Michael or maybe it was Trevor as the cheered me on.  It's a long run around the outside of the park then into the finishing shoot - I gave it my all!
I managed my jump across the finish line

and for the very first time, collapsed after crossing 
Luck for me, my club mate and friend Leanne was volunteering at the finish line and was there to help me up and give me my medal.  While not pleased with my performance at the "easy" parts (T1 and T2) of the race, I know I gave it my all and left it all out on the course.

My results barely made my goals!  I finished in 2:38:08, a mere 29 seconds faster than last years 2:38:37!  And while my 2:38:37 finish last year gave me 6/18 in my age group.  My 2:38:08 finish gave me 10/30 in my age group!  I made a PR by the skin of my teeth and I snatched a spot to go race Worlds in 2014 representing team Canada!

I have to say, the race organizers did a good job of listening to feedback from last years race (here's last years race report).  The run course was much improved with the inbound run in the curb lane of Lakeshore, well manned aid stations and less confusion with the signage.  However, they could give us more markers on the run course - they marked 2.5km, 5km and 1km to go only.  The finish line amenities were much better this year with a free Hero Burger to athletes and other food truck options near by.  There was still a lack of adequate port-o-potties at both the transition and the finish line - hopefully they will get that right next year!

I will most likely race this race again next year - only because it is our Club's home race!

post race celebrations!
A HUGE thank you goes out to all the volunteers (especially Leanne and Hector!) who have to get up so early to support the race.  These things can't happen without you!  And as always THANK YOU to my biggest fan and ever helpful, patient and loving sherpa Barry - I hope you know how much having you at my races means to me!
Barry in his bright shirt so I can always find him!
And finally, thanks to the Toronto Triathlon Club for having a post race tent with water and fruit and cookies!  It's a wonderful feeling being a part of such a wonderful organization!  Thank you to all the board members and other members who gave their time to support the efforts at the finish!

No comments:

Post a Comment