Last week I kept getting these annoying emails from Iron Girl Canada – then I remembered that way back in January I signed up to do this sprint triathlon, ooops! I didn’t train. At all. I haven’t touched my bike since I wheeled it into the garage after Iron Man 70.3 Muskoka in July 2015. I also haven’t touched my swim goggles since 2015.
So did I bail on the race?
Nope – I’m not one to back down from a challenge. I knew this was going to be a tough race but since I had already registered I decided to be like Nike and just do it. I also figured it would be good as a hard training/weight loss workout.
The night before the race I decided to try and find all of my triathlon gear and try on my old tri suit. I also pulled the bike out from the back of the garage and took it for a spin to make sure things like my brakes were still working, and to practice clipping in and out of my pedals. Lucky enough everything worked on my bike, and I was able to find everything I needed.
One thing I like about this race is the logistics. The drive to Grimsby is uneventful early on a Sunday morning, unlike going to Toronto for a race, or trying to get into the Park at Guelph Lake There is plenty of parking in a nearby field, and you can ride your bike along the road to the start line if you pack your gear into a backpack.
This race is super organised – I was able to get right into the transition area and set up my area, then I headed to the registration area to pick up my timing chip, helmet sticker, bike sticker, bib, swim and race packet. One thing you have to remember if you ever do this race is to bring your ID – you won’t be able to pick up any of the essentials for this race without ID.
The swim is 500 meters along the shore of Lake Ontario with an in-water start. In previous years I was able to walk along the rocky shore to get to the start, but this year the water was so high that you had to go along the main road and down a side street to get to the beach where the race starts.
I was in the 40-44 wave so I got to watch several waves start before it was my turn. I had plenty of time to adjust to the water temperature (after my near drowning panic attack in Ironman 70.3 Muskoka I no longer even try to swim with a wet suit).
Finally the gun went off and away I swam. I haven’t been swimming in two years so I took it easy with breast stroke away from the crowd so that I wouldn’t kick anyone into unconsciousness with my whip kick. Most of the swimmers stayed very close to the shore, and I was way out in la-la land. I probably would have been able to draft off of the other swimmers had I stayed with the crowd – oops!
Finally after what seemed like an eternity I made it to the swim end. The hill to transition was BRUTAL but not as bad as Muskoka. I think the uphill runs to transition are like a must have in the sport of triathlon. I understand that in order to get out of the water you have to go up, that is just how Earth works, but a bit less steep and shorter hills could be nice.
Running through transition I counted the rows until I got to the row where my bike was. there were quite a few bikes already unracked, but there were also quite a few still there so I knew I was probably about mid-pack for my age group. This is not surprising because I’m not a great swimmer. I quickly dried off with my towel, put on my helmet, shoes, and sunglasses, then unracked my bike and took off.
The minute I mounted my bike and began riding I knew I was going to have a good bike. I felt great and was passing people already – keeping up with the people on “good” bikes. (Bikes that probably cost 10x more than I my used bike cost me). I glanced down at my watch and saw that I was riding at 30 km/h – yay! This is a flat bike course so I tried to hold that pace as long as possible through the 20km bike. I unfortunately slowed down in the second half, but was still able to pass people.
When I returned from the bike my heart was racing so fast that I was dizzy. I had forgotten to take in any nutrition besides the nuun in my water bottle. I took the transition slow to get my heart rate down and to eat some shotbloks. I spent a good 2 minutes in there.
When I started running I felt good. 5 km is my normal run distance so I told myself I was just out for a jog. My heart was still pounding so I jogged and made it my goal just to finish the race. I had nothing left in my tank so I couldn’t race. Halfway through the run I checked my phone and saw that my husband had sent me a text message to encourage me. This was a nice change because in 2013 he sent me a message part way through the race to ask when I was coming home! I was happy so I slowed down to a walk to text him and let him know that I was still alive and might actually be able to finish. I then jogged the rest of the way to the finish.
Finally I was finished!
Before I even stopped my watch I was handed an Erdinger alcohol free bear to celebrate – now that’s my kind of race!
This race ended up being 8 seconds shy of a personal worse. I knew I hadn’t trained going into it, so it’s not a surprise. It’s actually more of a surprise that I didn’t do worse! I can’t believe that 4 years older and 15 lbs heavier I finished with almost the same time as I did in 2013!
Total time: 1:30:24
All in all I had a great time and would love to do the race again next year – I’ll even actually train! Finishing this race reminded me of how much I enjoy triathlons and how much I like cycling and swimming.
Have you ever forgotten that you registered for a race?