“It was a rainy day.”
This sentence sums up The Toronto Triathlon Festival 2014 perfectly! Never have I had to complete a triathlon swim in such conditions as we had on Sunday, July 13, 2014. Every wave started about 10 minutes later than the planned times as the organizers made sure we were not racing in a full on thunderstorm.
The morning rain had settled to a drizzle be the time my swim wave was to start. We were a group of about 60-70 women – two age categories together 35-44. Enough to catch a good draft all the way through, or so I thought.
The start of the swim was fairly smooth until we hit a bit of waves around the 400-500 metre mark. The group was beginning to split up. I was at the back of the main pack just about to pass a vertical yellow cap on my right (a girl in my age category who had stopped and was treading water) until at that moment she went horizontal and began to kick once again, kicking my goggles off as I passed her. I have always feared losing but have never lost my goggles in a triathlon swim.
Alas, today’s motto of “stay calm and carry on” brought my heart rate back down as I swiftly put the goggles back in place and began my journey once again.
Now it was just me and the kicker who was swimming quite a diagonal. At first, I tried to guide my new friend to swim a straighter line but then I remembered that we had a southwest wind today that would be pushing us to shore and away from our markers. This girl was smart! I am going to stick with her. To our markers we go!
Hitting a huge swell with 1-2 foot waves just before the turn around, my race goal of finishing today’s event in under 2 hours and 30 minutes was washed away and survival was the only thing on my mind.
I was wearing a 2XU Velocity V:3 wetsuit in a lake swim for the first time and I have to admit, I felt safe and very buoyant. Nonetheless, I had to resort to a few breaststrokes as it was hard to breathe during the swell. This wasn’t an ideal swim to try my new V:3 out for speed, but in terms of safety and warmth, I give the suit an A++
Once we hit the police boat at the turn around it was home free. The wind was pushing us now toward our markers and toward home! Fantastic. I began to pick up my pace and pass many pink hats and men (the waves that would have been sent off 5 and 10 min ahead of me).
I did it! I conquered this!
Getting out of the water was a challenge as we had a slant board rather than the stairs the organizers promised us.
I didn’t so much have a problem with the slant board but those struggling from the earlier waves were having problems and, rather than barging through and potentially causing them to fall backward into the water, I waited patiently until I could safely get by and sprint my way in T1. I was a little off my game getting out of T1 by about :21 seconds slower than my 2o13 time but when considering my overall swim time, I had gained an overall 2 minutes and 5o seconds.
It was time now to gain that :21 seconds additional time spent in T1 back on the bike and then some. My goal for the bike this year was to average 36 km/hr, one km faster per hour than last year. I was confident I would hit this pace no problem with the new adjustment I just had with Heath at La Bicicletta (www.labicicletta.com) . The southwest wind certainly also helped to push me all the way out the slight uphill toward Eglinton Avenue. Coming back, this rendered a bit of a headwind, but I pretty much ended up meeting my goal, settling in at 35.9 km/hr, a gain of 1 minute and 33 seconds on last year’s bike time.
Getting off the bike and into T2 was just as tough as the swim exit as the conditions were slippery and there were some unstable folks in front of me slowing me down the hill toward my bike, adding :43 seconds to last year’s transition.
Not to worry, I had already made some good gains on the bike and swim by now. My Zoot Ultra Race 4.0s slipped on perfectly as usual and off I went out to complete the final 10 km of today’s event.
My Garmin had malfunctioned since the swim, and the run is the main piece where I tend to rely on the device in order to pace myself as I have only two running gears – fast and slow – and now I needed to go kind of fast, but steadily fast so as not to ruin the whole thing. I found a girl in the younger age category to run with for a while but although I felt good, I was scared off by her pace of a 4:36 km/hr. So, I backed my pace off a bit, all based on my going out to fast that backfired at my earlier race this year, the 70.3 Ironman Mont Tremblant in June.
My timer girl caught up with two other girls up ahead and I kept this threesome within my reach, pretty much the whole run. Problem is I should not have kept them in reach, I should have joined them! One of the girls in the threesome was in my category!
This is where my race report sadly ends as she would get second place and I would get third.
Third place is still admirable by all means. It is a podium finish after all and my net gains on last year’s time was an overall 5 minutes and 41 seconds. As much as I would have liked to have placed second, the only thing I can do now is set my eyes on second place at my next race – the Bracebridge Olympic Triathlon on August 1oth.
A big thank you again to La Bicicletta #PuveyorsOfAwesomeness, Genuine Health #ItMatters #CaCompte and, to my coach Erik Seedhouse, Team Triathlon Pro (www.triathlonpro.org) .