Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back to racing: Bracebridge Swim-Bike!

I got my chance to return to racing this past weekend at the MultiSport Bracebridge Swim-Bike! It had been almost a year since I had raced and the experience reminded me of why I love this sport. Everything about it from the people to the venue to the swimming, biking and running was positive for me.

The weekend turned into another weekend away for Adam and I. We have been lucky to get out of the city almost every weekend this summer, thanks to the hospitality of wonderful friends and family. This time our destination was Bill and Lynne's on the Severn River. And what a beautiful home they have there! It provided the perfect setting for relaxing pre-race on Saturday. I played with my wonderful niece, practiced some transitions (it had been awhile!), relaxed in the hot tub, went on a sunset cruise and carb-loaded with Sara and Adam on Bulk Barn chocolates, sun chips, yogurt covered pretzels, Sara's yummy pasta with meatsauce and garlic bread (Kevin's recipe!).

Sunday morning we woke pretty early to get to the race. Sara (my sister) was doing her first ever Olympic distance triathlon and I was doing the Olympic swim-bike. It was a chilly morning, but looked to warm up in time for the race start and turn into PERFECT weather conditions. I was excited and happy to come back to racing with a low pressure event like a swim-bike. Sara was pretty nervous, but I knew she would do so awesome. Despite not running for the past couple of weeks due to a knee injury, she was in top form.

Before long we were ready to start! Bracebridge is a time trial start, so the athletes start the race 5s after one another. This can be great for weaker swimmers (I strongly recommend this race or the Sprint to athletes who are not as strong in the swim or first time triathletes or those who get anxious at the swim start). However, it also means that you don't really know exactly where you stand compared to others in your age group during the race. Sara was #44 and I was #64 - numbers allocated from youngest to oldest. We lined up alongside the dock and John Salt (the race organizer and an all-around super friendly and great guy!) was starting us off. Sara and I said our final good lucks to one another and then it was time to focus...

I started the swim a little tired from a relatively big week of swimming. Also, having not raced in awhile I found I didn't really have an extra gear. So, I just focused on catching the people in front of me and eventually felt like I was moving at a pretty good pace (or maybe that was because I was swimming downstream!) After the turnaround I saw myself being passed by a male swimmer so I thought "this is my chance to pick up the pace." I did everything I could to stick with him. I did end up accidentally touching his feet while trying to stay with him, to which he responded by attempting to kick me (really hard!). I dodged his kick a few times and then made sure NOT to touch his feet again as I followed him to the swim exit. I exited the swim in 21 minutes, which is far from a PB, but a time I am happy with considering I have been swimming at 50% of the volume I have in the past.

I had a fairly smooth transition and then I was off on the bike. The male swimmer I had chased was just up ahead and our spacing was staying the same through the first few kms, so I made it my goal to try and stick with him during the ride. The course was really nice, a few climbs and mostly smooth roads. I did get stuck between a couple cars turning onto Highway 118, which forced me to a stop for 10-20s (frustrating!). But I pushed hard (maybe too hard) once I got passed them to keep the other cyclist in my sight. At the turnaround of the out and back course there were 3 of us riding a few hundred meters apart and, even though my legs were not happy, I pushed hard to continue to ride at their pace. I ended up being the first back into transition in a time of 1hr10mins for 42km - second fastest female bike split. My normalized power was lower than I was hoping for, and lower than my 90km power in past half-ironmans, but very good considering I was doing very little biking last fall and winter :)

After the bike I handed in my chip and then I did an easy 10km run on my own. I ran on the bike course so I could watch the cyclists coming in through the last 5km. As I ran out I cheered on a bunch of athletes, including Sara, who was having an awesome race! I was happy to be running at 150bpm heart rate (Zone 2) and at a pace of 4:35/km. I was even happier to be running with ZERO KNEE PAIN! I finished my 10km in a time of 46 minutes, with lots of energy to spare. I finished my unofficial Olympic triathlon in a time of 2:22 :)

I ended up coming first overall for the females and males in the swim-bike. It was awesome to be standing on the podium again!

After I finished my race, it was time to go cheer Sara on! We weren't sure before the race whether or not she would be able to run. She hadn't been able to complete a 6km run on Tuesday without pain. She saw Greg Lehman at The Urban Athlete on Wednesday and he treated her and gave her the go-ahead to run in the race, with some plans for what to do if she did feel pain. When I saw her in the last 500m looking strong I started to tear up. Not only was she about to finish her first Olympic distance triathlon (and pain-free), but she was going to finish super fast! I ran with her through her last hill and saw her cross the line. In true Tomenson style, she just wanted to know what place she finished! Her time of 2:48 put her as 7th in her age group and 19th female overall. A stellar performance! I also want to mention that she did almost all her training for this race at either 5am or 7:45pm to fit it in!

Sara finishing the bike! - photo courtesy of Kevin

Next up for me: Orillia Triathlon next weekend!!!

Thank you so much to:

- My sponsors: High Rock Capital Management, WattsUp Cycling, The Urban Athlete, Altra Running Shoes, Fitt1st Bike Fitting

- Bill and Lynne for generously accommodating us and cheering us on at the race

- Kevin and Maddy for cheering, Adam for being my coach and Race Sherpa!

- Kim Lumsdon and her swim group for keeping me motivated

- John Salt and the other staff and volunteers at the MultiSport Bracebridge event

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