Double Race Report: Wasaga & Guelph Lake Triathlons

Knock knock, anyone home?? I have a couple of race reports to share for the five people who still read this (thank you!) – the likes of which have not been seen around here for a while! Unfortunately my marathon training was derailed this summer thanks to an aggravated hamstring, but this hiccup led me to return to two former favourite past-times in an effort to keep fit and stay sane. Thankfully my trusty bike and goggles welcomed me back with open arms!

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After logging a couple weeks of swimming and cycling, I decided it would be fun to enter a tri to keep things interesting and lift my spirits after backing out of Erie Marathon. I wasn’t expecting spectacular results on such limited training but I felt good about my overall fitness and mostly I just wanted to go out and have some fun.

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so much stuff!

 

Wasaga Beach Sprint Tri

I lucked out with an absolutely beautiful morning for racing. It was cool to start (especially getting in and out of the water) but the sun kept things comfortable without getting too warm. Couldn’t have asked for a better day!

I got there nice and early, as usual, with Mark and Nancy in tow and seemed to remember the logistics easily enough. Number pick-up, body-marking, ankle timing chip, check wave start time, set-up transition, slither into wetsuit and wait!

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The swim start is very shallow and even with us starting in knee-deep water, we had to trudge and splash for a good stretch before we could start swimming. And once we could, it was absolute chaos! I had forgotten just how crazy a triathlon swim is, especially over such a short distance where there isn’t really time to spread out. It felt like non-stop contact and craziness. I had more than one brief wave of panic, but forced myself to keep my head down and ignore it. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. I was relieved after making the turn to head back. We hit shallow water again with a long way to go before reaching shore, but I kept swimming as long as possible with my hands brushing along the bottom because I knew that standing up and running through it would be much more tiring. Finally, I was out of the water!

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750m | 16:22 | 2:10/100m | 185/458 overall | 79/226 females | 15/30 F35-39

Run-up: 0:23 | Transition: 1:49

I tried to hustle through transition although I felt like I was in slow-motion. I managed not to forget or drop anything, so I’ll call that a win!

The bike course was out-and-back, mostly flat with a few gentle inclines, one sizable climb and a net uphill first half. I found it pretty crowded throughout and never really felt like I was settling in. The biggest problem I find with racing on my hybrid is that people seem to feel the need to pass me/do not want to let me pass them. I constantly had someone pull in front of me only to slow down and force me to pass again.

My favourite moment was when a fellow named Jerry hollered out that I “can really haul ass on that thing!” Thanks, Jerry! He also told me to go see him after the race to get a “real bike.” ūüėõ

All in all, though, I was feeling good and having fun out there. Unfortunately I had a mechanical issue in the last 5K – I knew I wasn’t going as fast as I should be, especially for this net downhill stretch, but I had no idea why. I later found out that I had a dented rim, broken spoke and my rear brake was rubbing. Yikes!

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Hybrids have more fun!

20KM | 41:53 | 28.6 kph | 229/458 overall | 92/226 females | 16/30 F35-39

Transition: 0:53

It was a relief to rack my bike and throw on my running shoes. The only real climb on the course is right at the start and it felt like running through peanut butter on my way up, which had me a little concerned. Luckily I found my legs pretty quickly after that, even though my feet were almost completely numb. I hadn’t noticed on the bike, but now they felt like ice blocks and I wished I had worn socks. I kept wiggling my toes around as much as I could and feeling slowly started to return by KM 2.

The run course was pretty busy with just a narrow path open for two-way traffic with a lot of passing, but it made the time fly by. Before I knew it, I was past half way and on my way back. My legs felt heavy but I knew I could probably be going a bit faster so I tried to buckle down and push harder toward the finish. [Laps: 4:53, 4:51, 5:00, 4:43, 4:33]

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5K | 24:13 | 4:50/KM | 180/458 overall | 63/226 females | 13/30 F35-39

Final: 1:25:33 | 179/458 overall | 62/226 females | 13/30 F35-39

Was it hard? Yep! Was it fun? Hell yes! The bug was back and I couldn’t have been more excited that I would get to do it all again the following weekend!

Guelph Lake II Sprint+ Triathlon

Another Saturday, another early morning! This time Andy joined us to play cheerleader/photographer and couldn’t believe how many people were already at the race site with well over an hour to go. Usually I drag him to races so early that nobody else is there yet. ūüėČ

Through the motions again and it was soon time to line up on the beach. It was an even chillier morning, only about 5 or 6 degrees C at the start. Thankfully the water felt nice and the sun was out!

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Guelph has a run-off-the-beach start which brings a different kind of craziness. I nearly chickened out and started off to the side, but put myself front and centre to go barreling into the water with the masses. It’s all part of the fun! I seemed to find space a lot faster this time and the swim felt much less chaotic and congested than Wasaga. I was able to settle in and relax a bit more – I might have relaxed a bit too much because I ended up with a slightly slower swim, but felt much better throughout so I’ll take it!

750m | 17:03 | 2:16/100m | 135/482 overall | 31/167 females | 5/30 F35-39

Transition: 1:42 

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The bike course at Guelph was longer at 30K, a distance I had only covered once in as long as I can remember (3+ years). I knew the rolling hills would provide a good challenge but I had an ambitious goal of completing it under an hour. A brutal headwind through most of the second half ended up making that impossible but I gave it my best effort. Any trace of disappointment was quickly erased when I realized I had the 3rd fastest bike split in my category.

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30K | 1:03:40 | 28.3 kph | 157/482 overall | 24/167 females | 3/30 F35-39

Transition: 0:56

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I could tell pretty quickly that the bike course had trashed my legs and 7K was going to feel long. I also realized the route was a lot hillier than I remembered from doing the relay a few years ago. At least my feet didn’t feel numb this time! (I had shoved my feet, along with all the sand and grit attached to them, into socks before the bike)

The first couple of kilometres ticked by slowly and I thought I was going to be in for a slog, but managed to gradually find a better rhythm. I was looking out for Emma and was excited to snag a high five from her shortly after the turn-around. She was looking strong and I spent the remainder of the run imagining that she was hunting me down to pass (she started 2 waves behind me). It seemed to do the trick! (Laps: 5:10, 5:15, 5:04, 5:07, 5:05, 5:05, 4:38)

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7K | 35:08 | 5:01/KM | 143/482 overall | 24/167 females | 2/30 F35-39

Final: 1:58:27 | 142/482 overall | 24/167 females | 2/30 F35-39

I didn’t think for a second that I might have placed in my age group so we didn’t stay for awards, but it was a nice little surprise on the way home.

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I’m eager to get back to marathon training again soon enough, but this has been a fun little side gig in the meantime. I have actually been enjoying swimming and cycling much more than I thought I would so who knows, maybe I will even keep this up.

Thanks for reading!

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Mount Albert Sports Day 5K

Moving right along… we raced again on Saturday at the Mount Albert Sports Day 5K, a new one for me. The run starts and finishes alongside the fair grounds, and athletes are encouraged to “Come for the run, stay for the fair!” We lucked out with a beautiful sunny and comfortably cool morning, so we did just that.

We scoped out some of the course during our 3K warm-up and quickly realized it wasn’t going to be the flat route we expected. I knew a PB wasn’t realistic, but I thought something around 21:00 should be doable based on recent paces.

The race draws a fast field with lots of youth track clubs, so I expected it to be a fast start and didn’t worry too much about lining up behind a few rows of kids. Turns out, that was a mistake. The first couple hundred metres were mayhem, trying to get around people without trampling anyone. To make it extra chaotic, there’s a fairly steep climb into a sharp left turn right out of the gates. Oof! The way was clear after that, but the hills continued.

KM 1: 4:19

We had an out-and-back stretch on a rolling country road to the turn-around at 2K and it wasn’t long before I could see the lead pack headed back toward me. It was fun to see Andy as well as Instagram-friend Erin for waves and cheers as I made my way to the turn. They were both looking strong near the front of the field.

KM 2: 4:21

I felt like I was pushing as hard as I could, maintaining effort up the hills and reminding myself not to let up, then trying to barrel down the other side to make up valuable seconds. I didn’t think the numbers on my watch were reflecting my output but there wasn’t much to do about that except keep plugging along (and stop %*&#ing looking at my watch, as Andy would tell me. Lol).

KM 3: 4:22 

At the 3K mark we turned into a residential neighbourhood for a long loop to the finish and I knew from our warm-up that the worst of the hills were over. Unfortunately I was pretty much spent and didn’t think there was a hope in hell of picking it up, so I just tried to hold on. I found myself neck-and-neck with Tyler (whose name I learned learned later when we officially met in the food line) and hung on his tail for a while. I made a move to pass a few times but he always fought back and we found ourselves jockeying for position through most of the final 2 kilometres.

KM 4: 4:21

“Racing” against Tyler actually made the time fly by and suddenly we were making the final turn. I had gained a few steps on him but he flew past me on the home stretch yelling “Let’s go!” as he did so. I tried to chase him but there was nothing to give as I ran down the chute seeing the clock tick over to 22:xx.

KM 5: 4:19 (+80m garmin nubbin: 0:18)

I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the result and may have chucked my water bottle in the ditch during a minor hissy fit (not going to live that one down…). That being said, I put in a solid effort, my splits were consistent and I placed very well so it’s still a good day at the races! And then we went to the fair to eat ice cream and get dizzy on spinny rides. ūüôā

22:01
26/386 overall
12/236 females
2/50 F30-39

 

Race for Plunkett 10K

Just 3 days after Whitby Half, it was time to race again at the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics on Wednesday evening. It was at our local park which gave us the perfect opportunity to run there and back (3.5K) for a warm-up and cool-down. Mark and Andy ran the 5K while I decided to do the 10, and we met up with a couple of our fellow Road Runners too!

I knew I shouldn’t race all out so soon after the half, but I thought a tempo/LT effort would give me a good workout without overdoing it.¬†I made the mistake of not going close enough to the front, so I spent the first several hundred metres trying to weave through people on the path before finding some space. Finally I could settle in!

The lead female wasn’t too far ahead but I tried not to get caught up in racing (yet) and focused on keeping my own pace under control. The 5K had started just after us so Andy soon came flying past me with a huge lead! It seemed like a full minute before anyone else ran by. I soon heard familiar steps and looked back to see Mark gaining on me as well just before the first turn-around.

The 5K was an out and back with the 10K running it twice, so we were soon headed back toward the finish line. I remembered feeling completely spent already at this point last year, at a much slower pace, so I felt pretty good about that as I chugged along feeling strong. It was awesome to see friends Scott and Parastou and exchange some encouragement along the way back.

As we neared the next turn-around (being the half way point and also the finish line) I could tell that I was steadily gaining on the lead female. I got some huge cheers from my crew along that stretch and picked up the pace just enough to pass her as we made the hairpin turn.

making my move ūüėČ

4:36, 4:38, 4:38, 4:36, 4:30

The race took on a whole new feeling and meaning for me in the second half, knowing I was in the lead. I had no sense of how far #2791 was behind me and I had to constantly resist the urge to look over my shoulder. I knew that looking back would do nothing for my own race, so I kept eyes ahead and focused on staying strong. A few times I asked myself if I had enough in the tank to pick it up if she caught me again, and I was pretty confident that I did.

It was such a cool feeling being in 1st place and I soaked up the extra special cheers (“First female!” Go girl!”) from spectators, volunteers and other runners. Remembering the frustration of being unable to close the gap at Whitby only fueled my fire not to let this go. Finally in the last kilometre I allowed myself to peak over my shoulder, just a quick glance, and there was nobody in sight. Holy crap, I was going to win! I knew my team would be waiting anxiously and it felt so good to make the final turn and see them going nuts!

4:35, 4:38, 4:41, 4:33, 3:38 [820m Рshort course | 4:27 pace]

45:08 (9.82 KM)
5/51 overall
1/19 females

Whitby International Half Marathon

When I was looking for a half to race after my spring goal marathon, I settled on the Whitby International, a first for me. I knew a couple of friends who had run it, the date worked well and it sounded like a good option without going too far from home. It’s a very small race and I knew it was going to be low-key, but otherwise I didn’t really know what to expect. There is very limited information on the website and no pre-race communication; I had to email the race director just to find out if we could pick up our bibs on race morning (thankfully, yes).

We showed up at Heydenshore Pavilion Sunday morning to find a couple of helpful volunteers handing out bibs and cotton t-shirts, and a small handful of runners milling about; it felt more like a community 5K than a marathon which was actually kind of cool! After taking advantage of the indoor washrooms and doing a bit of people-watching, we decided to hide out in the car til start time. It was windy and threatening rain so we waited until until a few minutes before the scheduled start to head over. The race ended up starting late and we also found out at the last second that the full marathon runners (all 36 of them) would go first and we would set off 5 minutes later. I was glad I still had my jacket and left it on until the last minute before handing it off to Andy who was playing chauffeur and support crew for the day.

The route was out-and-back, mostly on the paved waterfront path with a few short sections on roads and some mixed terrain including boardwalk and a steel¬†bridge. It was somewhat winding with lots of small ups and downs – nothing major but enough to challenge the legs. The route is advertised as mostly flat, but I wouldn’t describe it that way personally. All in all I would say it is not ideal for an all-out race effort, but it was enjoyable and only moderately difficult. It was also very quiet with less than 50 people in the half.

With a casual 3-2-1, we were off! I had planned to target about a 4:40 pace to start, gradually working down to 4:30 which would give me a new PB. I knew my fitness level was better than Chilly Half, but I wasn’t quite feeling distance-race ready after several weeks of low mileage and limited¬†workouts in the off season. But, as Andy reminded me just before the start, this¬†was just a bonus race and would give me a great workout regardless. No harm in going out to see what happens!

I realized immediately that I was going to be in for more of a challenge than expected when we were running straight into a strong, gusty headwind which would continue for the majority of the first half. I tried to hold a conservative pace but I was also running in the top 10 and got a bit swept up in that excitement.

1 to 5: 4:35, 4:38, 4:37, 4:35, 4:38

I was steadily passing marathoners who had started earlier – they had to complete¬†this out-and-back course twice and all I could think was how glad I was that¬†I wouldn’t have to face the wind again. It was wearing on me and I faded in the last few kilometres toward the half way mark when the gusts¬†seemed to pick up even more. Nearing the turn I was counting runners heading back and found myself in 6th or 7th place, and 2nd female. The gap wasn’t very big and I wondered if I might have a shot at chasing her down on the way back.

I was surprised to see that Mark wasn’t very far behind me. He’s just getting back in training again and planned on a ~1:45 finish. He was clearly well ahead of that target!

6 to 10: 4:40 (gel), 4:47, 4:44, 4:58, 4:38

I was hoping to feel great and pick up the pace easily with the wind behind me, but it just didn’t happen. I was a bit too spent from the first half and my legs felt heavy. It was a strange feeling because I wasn’t out of breath at all and found myself thanking volunteers and cheering everyone on as they made their way to the turn-around. Usually that doesn’t happen when I’m spent so I felt I should be able to run faster, but I just could not seem to get my legs going.

11 to 15: 4:36, 4:45 (gel), 4:32, 4:47, 4:37

Andy hopped in with me at about 16K and I tried to explain what was going on as he assured me that I was doing great. I fell in step behind him as he pointed out the first place female just up ahead and said that she was in a lot worse shape than I was. I knew I wasn’t going to have a PB at this point so keeping her in my sights and trying desperately to close the distance became the perfect distraction to keep working.

It took a lot of fight not to give in and let up on the effort completely. The little rolling hills felt like mountains and my legs were fighting me on every step.¬†Andy kept encouraging me along and promising that I was closing the gap on the lead female and drawing her in. I didn’t really believe him and knew it was almost impossible as we entered the final kilometre, but enjoyed the fantasy anyway. It’s not every day I get to chase the winner in a half marathon!

Thanks to my good friend Shannon for coming out and snapping this pic!

16 to 21: 4:56 (1/2 gel), 4:48, 4:39, 4:45, 4:37, 4:38

Finally the finish line! Mark ended up finishing just seconds behind me – he had a great race but¬†held back at the end like a gentleman so I could “win.” ūüėČ

I collected my prize (sadly no podium!) and congratulated the winner. It wasn’t quite the run I hoped for but after spending 6 years with a 1:40:06 monkey on my back, it feels pretty good to finish a second half marathon well under 1:40. It’s a good place to be as we kick off summer training!

Sporting Life 10K

On¬†Sunday I ran my 8th Sporting Life 10K with Nolan’s Dream Chasers. Together we raised almost $15,000.00 for Camp Ooch this year and not-so-little-anymore Nolan completed the entire race for his second time!

I seemed to recover pretty quickly from Martian and surprised myself with a strong workout last week, so I thought I might have a good chance at beating my ancient PB of 43:08 from 2011 (even though the pace still seemed insanely fast if I let myself think about it).

Mark dropped a few of us off near the start and we killed time with several pit stops, photo bomb ops, chatting with Jonathan (so nice to finally meet you!) and finally a short warm-up jog. Soon it was time to line up in the red corral and we were off!

I knew I needed better than 4:18/KM in order to PB and my plan was to pretty much run like hell and try to hold on¬†– very scientific and strategic! In the past I have often¬†found that the first few kilometres fly by almost effortlessly and if anything I need to hold back to make sure I’m not overdoing it. This time I felt like I had to work for it right out of the gates. I guess that’s to be expected running at paces in the ~4:15 range which is a whole new territory for me right now.

The course is significantly downhill, especially for the first half, so I tried to take advantage as much as possible and avoided hitting the brakes. There’s something so magical about this race – tearing down the middle of Yonge Street in downtown Toronto knowing that there are over 20,000 runners following behind. I loved everything except the strong, lingering smell of bacon wafting out of some restaurants. I tried to take it all in and enjoy myself while sneaking glances at my watch just often enough to keep myself honest. Several times I looked down and thought “I can not run this fast!” Except I guess I can!

4:16, 4:12, 4:16, 4:08, 4:19

I felt like I was working a bit harder than I would have liked hitting the 5K (21:17), but it’s also been a long time since I’ve raced this distance so I just pushed that thought right out of my head and kept¬†working. Shortly before 7K we made the turn off Yonge Street and I knew the course would be mostly flat to the finish – which basically feels uphill after so much downhill. It suddenly felt so hard and I had a minor meltdown in the 8th kilometre, slowing way more than I should have. Thankfully seeing that 4:26 split pissed me off enough to dig deeper and find my pace again. I was even¬†chanting (softly) aloud to myself “Come on! Come on!” as I worked to convince the legs to push just a little harder.

I was so happy and surprised to see my good buddy Quinton around the 9K mark. He seems to pop up at every single race I do and I love it! He gave me enough of a boost to haul ass toward the finish.

At last I was crossing the bridge on Bathurst and making the turn into Fort York. My friend Erin (Nolan’s Mom) was cheering in her usual spot on the home stretch and gave me the biggest cheers. Thank you Erin!

I knew it was going to be close and had to bust my ass down the home stretch. When I was close enough to see the clock I looked up and there was Andy jumping up and down waiting for me just over the line. I think I must have run straight into him without slowing down, squeaking in just a hair under 43.

4:14, 4:19, 4:26, 4:19, 4:12, 0:15 (80m garmin nubbin)

42:59
536/18500 overall
82/10552 females
16/1687 F30-34

The best part was meeting up with our Newmarket Road Runners gang after the finish, all of whom had great races. We are so very proud of all of them and I can’t even express how it feels to see our athletes¬†proudly wearing our team shirts.