Monday, June 16, 2014

2014 Rose City (Welland) Half Swim-Bike Race Report

Run up: 2:44
T1: 2:18
Bike: 2:42:19

Yesterday was the newly renamed Welland Half Iron triathlon - now called Rose City Half Triathlon.  This was supposed to be my tune up half iron distance in preparation for Ironman Lake Placid in 6 weeks.  However, on Friday when I went out for my easy run I strained my right soleus (the smaller, lower and deeper of the two calf muscles).  The injury presented itself very early into my run and got worse quickly so I cut my run short and headed home.  I was able to get into see Tracey and she assessed it and worked on and told me to get myself to a Dr.  I was able to get in to see Kris Sheppard at The Runner's Academy on Saturday morning and he confirmed a first degree soleus strain, no running for 2 weeks ...

So my half distance triathlon turned into a swim-bike as long as I promised not to run from the swim exit to transition.  I was so excited for this race because many of my friends were racing and Barry was racing his first half distance run-bike.  I was looking forward to the wonderful run course where you get to see so many of your fellow racers on the double loop.  I won't lie, I was sad.

Anyway, we left Toronto on Saturday afternoon with a truck full of gear, three kids, two long boards and two bikes.  Traffic was brutal and we were all a bit grumpy.  Got to the hotel, unpacked the truck and head to the race site to get our stuff.  Everything went smoothly checking in and it was no problem switching me to the Swim-bike.  We grabbed dinner and then back to the hotel to settle in for the night.  A little too much stress for me pre-race with all the kids but we made it work.

Sunday morning we were up and ready to ride to the race site at 7:30.  I had a bowl of cereal I brought from home and tucked a gel in my pocket to eat before the swim.  We said our good byes to the kids (they were walking to the race a little later) and head out to the race site.  It was a quick and easy ride.  I got into transition and found most of the TTC racers.  I as a bit late to the set up and had to wiggle myself onto the rack.  As always, there are people who need to learn to take less space and for the love of all things triathlon, it's a bike rack people not a wet suit rack!
race day selfie!
I was sort of lost as I have never done a swim-bike and it was just strange not setting up for the full triathlon.  We headed to the swim start and half way there I had to turn around and go back as I remembered my brake was rubbing on my front wheel and wanted to adjust it.  I made it back to the swim start, got barry to zip up my wetsuit and gingerly made my way into the cold water.
that's me and Barry chatting
The pros went off at 8:29 and then the first wave of age groupers went off - it was a huge wave that included men 34 and under and women 44 and under.  We got started and it was pretty messy. Feet and arms everywhere - I took a pretty swift kick in the cheek.  I had forgotten how nice it was to swim in a wetsuit and I quickly settled into my swim stroke and felt good and strong.  I made the first turn, crossed the canal, and turned onto the back side.  I was having a very pleasant swim when the fast boys of the second wave caught up to me.  I must have been smacked on the head by at least 4 or 5 of them as they passed me.  All in all it was a great swim.  Being a canal sighting is a non-issue.  I took the last two turns and headed for the exit.  I would have liked to see 36 minutes but I was very happy with my 38 min swim.
Sure, Nineteen wetsuits, I'll model for you
There is a long "run up" from the swim exit to transition - about 400 meters.  It took every ounce of my will to not run (though when I tried by default my calf reminded me).  I felt like I wanted to hold up a sign that said "Torn Calf, Can't Run" but then I hear Fiona call out "you better get a move on it there LK" which gave me the opportunity to call back "I can't run remember?".  Yeah, in my head I just got to validate out loud why I was strolling up to T1!
longest and slowest post swim run up ever

T1 was a few fumbles. Struggled to get my feet free of the wetsuit, then couldn't seem to get the gravel bits off my feet and my feet into my shoes, and then I grabbed my bike before putting on my helmet!!!!  What was wrong with me!  I finally got sorted and headed for the bike exit and the mount line.  Of course I'm walking, which always irritates me when I get behind someone walking ... I will have patience and respect from now on.  I mounted my bike without incident and headed out on a very fast and flat 90k ride.
always smiling even if in pain

I love this course!  I think this course is a great course to emulate Ironman Florida's course. This course is flat and fast but open and very susceptible  to windy conditions.  Just like 2 years ago, I lucked out and the wind was not very bad yesterday (though some disagree with me - but I guess when you are averaging 38.5 kph even a little wind you feel it eh Hector?).  However, this was not a great ride for me.

I have yet to mention that on Friday I had my bike re-fit - I had been having serious issues with shoulder pain on the bike so we tried to fix it and in doing so we did some radial changes to my fit including raising my seat by some 4 - 5 inches.  I am happy to report we have definitely helped the shoulder issue.  However, my hip flexors are not so happy.

By the 10th km I was feeling a sever tightness in my hips and across the tops of my quads.  I struggled with this for the rest of the ride.  I guess I had a great ride even with the issues in my legs and came off with a course record of 2:42:19 (basically the same as my distance record of 2:41:57 at Miami 70.3) averaging 33.3 kph.

It was nice seeing so many familiar faces on the course and I'm happy to report that there was no huge drafting issues like two years ago (2012 Welland Half Iron).  There were however two incidents I saw of male-female drafting.  I am 100 percent for sure that one of the 2 was full on partners but the other could have just been temporary.  But this one couple that passed me, with matching Ironman tattoos on their calf, they were full on cheating.  When they passed me, she was on his wheel, they passed and she free wheeled to drop back 2 - 3 meters.  Just enough to not draw too much attention.  And off they went.  Barry saw the same thing - and he remembered her name and bib number.  She won her age group.  Makes me sick.

I reprimanded a few guys for blatantly littering gel packs.  The first guy I saw had slowed down to take his gel and I was passing when he littered.  I said in a neutral voice "littering isn't nice.  in fact it's a dq".  Not a minute later he caught up to me and apologised.  Said it was his first race and he didn't know the rules.  He asked me what he was to do with the gel package when it was empty. I told him to put it in his pocket or discard at the aid station.  He thanked me and carried on.  He was very sincere at the time but looking back I wish I had asked him waht he does with them when he is training.

I had to stand and stretch my hip flexors quite a few times in the last 20 km.  I probably wasn't pushing as much power as I could have if my legs had been happier but over all I was happy with my bike split.  And then, with a Swim-Bike it is over.  Final time 3:25:29, 4th in my age group, missed the podium because I couldn't run 400m.
I'm done and I'm thrilled to see Calli Anna!

Being done with the race while most others are still racing is strange.  I got to hang out in the Recharge with Milk tent and spend some time in their recovery compression pants!

And spend some time with my race monkey that day!
me and my girl

Now, to the more exciting parts of the day.  Barry not only completed his first half distance Bike-Run - he crushed it!  It was exciting to have him out on the course with me.  They had a time trial start starting at 9:10am - 40 minutes after my swim start.  As I was walking into to transition I heard Barry scream "way to go Linda Kay" and I got to yell back "38 minutes!  By the time I bobbled my way out of T1 Barry had started.  I knew he was having a great bike as I wasn't catching him!  I passed a few guys who I thought were him but it wasn't until 50km in did I catch him!    He laid down a 2:45:55 on the bike so I got to see him in Transition.  He had a very long transition and then he looked good as he was off on the run.  He ran a 2:02:51.  He out biked and out ran the guy who took 3rd but missed the podium (perhaps he needs a refresher on transition).  With a time of 4:53:34 he crushed it!  Now he just have to realize he can swim and he'll be taking away all my Richard Family Records!  Way to go Barry!
Barry looking so strong at the finish!
I'm jealous - Barry crossing the finish line with Calli Anna!
A special thanks to our friends Leanne and Fiona who kept an eye on the kids for us so we could race. And Fiona for shooting some great photos!  To all my TTC mates - what a great race we all had and I loved sharing the day with you!
many of the TTC gang

 And a big thanks to Griffin for coming to see his dad race and for being in charge of Calli Anna and Jensen!  And to John Salt and the Multisport Canada crew who put on a great event and bring the long course to us locally.    Even with a hiccup or two, this is by far one of my favourite races. The staff is great (thanks for the multiple changes of T-shirts and making everything so easy).  And of course a HUGE thank you to all the volunteers who support this race.  It cannot happen without the volunteers - please remember to thank the volunteers!

Ironman Lake Placid is next, in just under 6 weeks on July 27.  I'm scared a bit.  It's been 3 days since the calf injury.  I'm moving away from ice and onto compression and TENS.  I'm taking to Chris and Michael to figure out what to do with my bike fit, and I'm getting ready to spend a whole lot of time in the pool and at therapy.  At this point I have to keep my fitness up and focus on getting healthy and to the start line!

Thursday, June 12, 2014


The Boston Marathon (Yes, I know it was 7 1/2 weeks ago, half was written then, half now)!

What is there to say that hasn't been said about the Boston Marathon?  I'm sure this has all been said before, a million times, but this is my Boston Marathon.  It is the epic marathon of all marathons.  And this year,  with a much larger field than in the past and the weight of the events of 2013, the Boston Marathon delivered everything and more.  I can only hope I do it justice with my following race report.

We arrived in Boston on Sunday just after noon.  I was anxious to get to the expo.  It was crazy! So many people! We got up to the bib collection area and I was happy to see no lines.  I quickly got my packet and my t-shirt and headed into the expo.  I was quickly disappointed to find out the expo sold out of the small jackets which sent both Barry and I into a bit of a negative tailspin.  I ended up ordering it on line and just have to wait to get to wear it - it has already arrived in FLA and should be making it's way up to Toronto in the next day or two.

The expo was incredibly crowded and frustrating.   We picked up a few things  then decided to get out of the craziness and grab a late lunch at PF Changs.   Along the walk we got to take in the sights and crowds of Boylston and the finish line area.
That's the Finish line!

Signs like there were everywhere in Boston

We made our way back to the hotel and had a relaxing night with room service and Amazing Race on the TV.  I was in Wave 3, corral 2 with a start time of 11am.  I was instructed to load the busses at Boston Commons between 8 and 8:30 and we had made arrangements to meet up with some other Torontonians at 7:45, so it was not an early morning race start that I'm so very used to.

Race morning was quite relaxed.  I had a fitful sleep as to be expected pre-race but woke feeling particularly rested and very excited.  I had laid out all my gear the night before so I just methodically got dressed and then got dressed even more in an old pair of sweats that would be ditched at the start line.  I wasn't looking particularly runner like when I left the hotel!
Looking very runner like no?

We grab bagels and coffee on our way out of the hotel and headed to Boston Commons and the incredible line of school buses that would take us runners to the start line.  I cannot stress how efficient the entire process was.  I met up with Rob and his buddies so I wasn't on my own for the long couple of hours ahead waiting for my start time.

The bus ride was uneventful but a tad long and a bit warm.  By the time we were pulling into the Athlete's Village I was ready to hit the potty lines.  Even though I'm pretty sure every port-o-potty in Massachusetts was there, the line ups were long.  So long that one of the gals in our group went and then got right back into line! 

We all sat and chatted and ate and drank awaiting our turn to walk to the start line.  Finally our wave and corrals were called and we all trotted off.   It's about a mile walk to the start line and there were spectators along the route!  It was pretty amazing!  

if you look closely I have a Mike's Hard Lemonade in my hand.  Yes, I had a sip.
Before I knew it we were lined up and awaiting our start.  The energy was amazing, the weather was amazing and not once did my head go to that place of "why do I want to run this far".

We were off and the next 3 hours and 43 minutes were some of the best running minutes of my life.  I high fived hundreds of kids, I had a silly grin on my face for the entire time.  I was moved to tears at various points, like passing amputee runners, survivors from last years bombing.  And passing the Team MR8 cheering zone on the route.

The race went by in such a blur.  I ran it too fast out of the gate.  When I hit my first 5km split I thought, oh dear as I was averaging sub 5min/km.  Then I hit the 10k split, still running too fast.  I said to a fellow runner, My husband is probably screaming at his phone "slow down" as he sees these splits.

The course was lined with spectators the entire way.  The first part of the course is very fast and mostly down hill.  I felt great and enjoyed the run.  Around mile 18 there is a very steep and long decent and this is where I started falling apart a bit.  The down hill crushed my quads and I felt it for the rest of the race.  But the spectators made this race.  I wish I had finished writing this piece earlier because it's now been over 7 weeks since the race and my memories are already blurring. Some times the noise from the spectators was deafening - especially the "kiss me" girls from Wellesley Collage and the frat boys from Boston Collage at the top of Heartbreak Hill.  

By the time you get into Boston the crowds are even more amazing and even though physically you feel like you've just ran a marathon, emotionally I was feeling like a million bucks.  I made that final turn to the finish line and started looking for Barry and Leanne.  I was over joyed when I saw them there screaming my name and cheering.  I was well on my way to finishing the Boston Marathon and qualifying again!

The finish line is all but a blur.  I crossed, I got a medal, there were photographers everywhere.  Someone handed me a bottle of water and by that time things were getting a little foggy.  I was also dressed into a thermal cape by another volunteer. I was hyperventilating and my legs were more than wobbly.  As I headed toward the barrier to grab before I fell, a very young, very good looking doctor with an amazing Australian accent came to my aid.  He asked a few questions and we both realized I was ok so he picked me up and got me walking again.  Someone handed me a bag of food and there was the most delicious packaged bread product in there that was to die for.  I made my way to the corner where I was to meet Barry and clung to the wire fence.  A nice old lady who had run her 20th Boston Marathon chatted with me and I sent BBMs to Carole and Barry.  Barry was waiting for our friend Rob to finish so I just held tight, snacked on the yummy bread and watched the hundreds of runners reunite with their loved ones.

my finish line selfie
What an amazing race and what an honour to run Boston this year.  I will forever hold this as the most special Marathon I have ever run and I hope to run it again in the future.  I'm not sure it will be in the plan for next year but I will be back!  Thank you to the BAA for putting on such a great race and to all the volunteers that support this very well run race.  And to all the spectators not only cheering like crazy but offering fruit, water, baby wipes, tissues and candy.  Most Awesome Marathon Ever!

Thanks to my hubby and number one fan for for all his support and thanks to my favourite race volunteer and ever supportive friend Leanne for coming out to cheer me on and join me for my post race beer!