I spent Saturday in Huntsville (2 hours north of here) to participate in the Muskoka Sprint Triathlon as a relay team (go Cheetah Chasers!) with my friend Erin.
With the race starting at 4PM, we had plenty of time in the afternoon to scope things out, get set up and for Erin to go for a warm-up swim and ride. The temperature felt pretty comfortable with low humidity and overcast skies; definitely decent conditions for racing, though Erin was not-so-secretly wishing it were warmer. Unfortunately (for me) it heated up a lot as the day went on and the sun came out right on time. *grumble*
I ran into Mel a couple of times while we lingered around. It was great to see her again, chat for a bit and exchange good lucks.
We met up with some of Erin’s friends for lunch and quickly found time getting away from us. Before we knew it, we had an hour til the start and we still had to be body-marked (my first time – pretty neat!), pick up our timing chip and get changed. It was definitely more hectic than we had intended, but things went pretty smoothly and we made it to the swim start (about a 1K walk down the road since it was a point-to-point) with time to spare.
We found Erin’s friends again and sat on the grass for a bit listening to announcements and chatting about the race. Before long, the girls wriggled into their wetsuits and made their way into the water. I stood by watching the multitude of colourful swim caps bobbing in the water.
Just after the first wave started, Erin came running out of the water toward me. She looked frantic and asked, “Can you get to transition and back in 9 minutes?” I was off and running as she yelled from behind that she had forgotten her goggles. Crap! I sprinted the kilometre of so down the road and into transition, tossed everything all over the place while rifling through her bag for the goggles, then headed back to the start as fast as my legs would carry me. I was gasping and wheezing, running in a full out sprint against traffic (since most waves had started, everyone was making their way to watch the swim exit). I made it back to Erin with about 30 seconds to spare. The announcer made a big fuss over it as Erin ran back into the water to swim her way over to the starting line.
Definitely not the ideal way to start a race and I was really worried about how tired and stressed out Erin would be starting her swim in such a panic. I made my way back along the river slowly, trying to cool down and catch my breath. It certainly wasn’t the warm-up I had in mind, but I was relieved to have made it in time.
I grabbed some water and used the washroom back at the main area before watching for athletes making their way out of the water. I got to see Mel as she ran toward transition – she was looking great!
Pretty soon I spotted Erin coming out of the water, wetsuit already halfway off. I could tell that she was a little run down from the swim, but she still looked good and I tried to give her some support as she ran by. I knew she was going to make up some serious time on the bike, and that’s what I told her.
750m swim – 23:00 – 8/12
Once she was in transition, I bolted to the bike start so I could see her pedal off. I made sure to check my watch so I would know where to expect her back for my run.
T1 – 1:26
Once the majority of the athletes had picked up their bikes, I was able to head into transition and get ready. There wasn’t much to do except position myself at our rack and fire up the Garmin. I also scoped out the other relay runners waiting for their teammates. Interestingly, Survivorman Les Stroud was competing on the bike as part of a team – we totally beat them!
Preparing for a 5K race so late in the day and not knowing exactly when I was going to start definitely complicated my usual routine, especially when it came to eating and drinking throughout the day. I ate a relatively light lunch and tried to make sure I was drinking water continuously, especially since it had warmed up so much.
I saw Mel again as she ran out of transition and wished her good luck on the run. She asked me not to kick her ass too hard, but at that point she was kicking enough ass for both of us!
Erin rocked on the bike and returned right on schedule. I was so excited to see her coming!
20K bike – 43:21 – 4/12
I was able to remove the timing chip from Erin’s ankle and strap it on mine as she racked her bike. We had planned this out and it went quickly and smoothly. I was out of there in no time.
T2 – 0:35
Now it was time for me to run! I didn’t have any expectations, especially since we were told repeatedly by the announcers that this was “the most challenging run course” in the Suburu Triathlon Series. Based on the tough course, the time of day and my little 2K sprint, I knew a PR wasn’t in the card. I planned to run hard, have fun and do the best I could.
It was a two loop course with two 180-degree turn-arounds in each loop.
And the hills! There were a few good ones on the route and of course we hard to run them twice! This meant we got to run down as well, so I tried to make up time on the downhills as much as possible.
Luckily the course wasn’t too crowded and I was able to find my pace easily. Starting the run as a relay participant meant that I was on much fresher legs than the majority of the runners out there, and I was passing people all over the place.
I was all decked out in my cheetah skirt, pink CEP socks and a hot pink tank top and got a ton of comments from spectators and other runners. Once guy looked at me as I was passing him and said, “That’s a great outfit, but I can’t let my kids see you passing me!” (I still passed him!) It was a lot of fun and helped keep my mind off how tired I was as those hills just kept coming.
I got to see Erin and the gang around 3K. They were cheering and ringing cowbells, which was a great boost. I also got to see Mel a few times on the out-and-backs. She looked strong, although she told me after that she was not feeling well at all.
Finally, the finish line was just around the corner and I was able to give it one final push, with my last kilometre being the fastest (4:40).
As I crossed the finish line, the announcer once again recounted the incident with the goggles and everyone cheered.
5K run – 24:27 – 2/12*
* The fastest relay runner posted a time of 15:02 (!!!) and I figured he had only run one loop of the course. Sure enough, his team’s results were quickly changed to DQ. So technically I finished 1/11, although they did not update the results to reflect that.
Cheetah Chasers overall time – 1:32:47 – 3/12
That’s right, we placed third overall in the relay! They didn’t hand out finishers medals, but I still ended up with some more bling for the collection!
It was such a fun experience and something I would love to do again. Of course, the question of the day was: “So, when are you going to complete a full triathlon?” My answer: Not yet!