Monday, August 17, 2015

A weekend to remember: Orillia triathlon racing!

This past weekend was definitely full of excitement! Saturday was the Kids Of Steel triathlon and the kids were competing. Sunday was my race, exactly one year from my last triathlon and 6 months from my knee surgery. Although the weekend didn't go exactly as planned due to some unexpected events (which I should be used to by now - why don't hateful people let happy people be happy?!). Fortunately, it didn't end up effecting our enjoyment too much. In fact, it was a good test to see if I was able to maintain focus during a time of stress. And I think I did an OK job!

Adam, the kids and I drove up to Orillia on Saturday morning. We were staying at Bill and Lynne's on the Severn River once again, thanks to their wonderful generosity. The kids were in heaven with their trampoline, hot tub, river in the backyard, toys and a big TV! We relaxed for a bit before heading to the race site. The kids were up against other kids who had been training with club teams and had a lot more experience, but that didn't stop them from racing super fast. They did incredibly well and placed 8th and 10th in their age groups! Although they were anxious and nervous at the start of the race, they became strong willed and motivated during the race and all smiles at the finish line. It was very inspiring and we were all very proud :)

All packed up!

Top swim and run in his age group!

Super tough!

On the Sunday it was the Subaru Orillia Triathlon (800m swim - 33km bike - 7km run). I was both excited and nervous for the race! It would be a true indication of how my training was going. It would be a chance to prove the doctors wrong when they alluded to the likelihood that my triathlon career was over. It would be a test of whether my knee could handle the intensity of a race. It was a chance to be a true ambassador for the people who have supported me. It was a chance to show the people who have tried to bring me down, that I can persevere. All of this was at the back of my mind as I went through the motions of the morning and warm-up. Before long, I was on the start-line!

Pre-race shot

Lost in thought in transition

SWIM: We lined up on the beach for the start of the race. I was feeling tough so I positioned myself optimally at the shortest distance to the first buoy. With about 20s before the start, I looked around to realize that I was surrounded by all males that were taller and stronger than me. Too late to change spots now! So, once we entered the water I was consumed by the typical washing machine effect. Limbs flailed at me from all directions, I choked on water and fell behind as I was blocked by bigger, but slower swimmers. Finally I got into some open water and started swimming towards those ahead of me. Then it was a surge - sit on someones feet - surge to the next swimmer - sit on their feet - surge, etc. etc. type of swim. At around the half-way point there was no one in my vision so I put my head down and pushed hard to the swim exit. Swim time: 10:39 (to the beach), 11:39 (to T1) - 1st place female :)

Going through my head at the swim start

BIKE: Summary of the bike -> hills, some bad roads and potholes, descents, fogged up visor, nearly falling off bike while taking on/off visor, getting passed on the hills, low points, high points, pretty scenery, eLoad = more energy, no eLoad = less energy, being sad about not having ridden over 40km in 2 weeks and not being as fit as last year. All in all, I did feel a bit flat on the bike, likely due to lack of sleep the night before. Luckily, I got a bit of a boost in the last 10km and regained my strength. I caught one of the athletes who had passed me earlier on and brought my average power up a little. I finished the bike in 57:42 and my power was a few watts higher than in my swim-bike race last weekend. Still in 1st place for the females.

RUN: I started the run with Adam, the kids, my parents and a lot of spectators cheering me on. This was just the motivation I needed to stay strong starting the run. I had done some training for this race at 4:05 - 4:15/km and had set that as my goal pace. At the 1km mark I saw my watch register 4:11. I thought I could go faster, so I picked up the pace, with the goal of catching the two runners just up ahead. Next km was 4:02, and then I settled into 4:06/km. I was comfortable, but considering my long run has been only 12km and at a much slower pace, I was still holding back a little. I didn't know how my knee would respond to this intensity. About 2km from the finish, I thought about what had been going through my mind in warmup. The following song lyrics popped into my head: "...Ain't nothing gonna break my stride. Nobody's gonna slow me down. Oh no, I've got to keep on moving. Ain't nothing gonna break my stride. I'm running and I won't touch ground. Oh no, I've got to keep on moving." And this gave me another boost, so I started to really push and I finished the final mile of the race at a sub-4:00/km pace. I was so happy to break the tape as the first female over all! And without pain :)

Off on the run

Big hugs at the finish

All smiles!

More smiles!

A special thank you goes out to:

- The volunteers, officials and race organizers
- My parents, the kids, Adam, spectators and fellow racers for being there to cheer me on
- Bill and Lynne for offering their place to stay
- Kim Lumsdon, my swim coach
- My sponsors: High Rock Capital Management, WattsUp Cycling, The Urban Athlete, Altra Running Shoes, Fitt1st Bike Fitting

Interview time

On the podium

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