Monday, August 5, 2013

Race simulation day

I knew this was going to happen, it appeared in my August schedule highlighted in yellow. I could only imagine what simulation meant... Other than doing all three sports in order, the lengths/durations were left to coach Dave's last minute decision. One thing for sure, I was going to start by swimming at the quarry at 7am, then take it from there. Our friend Carol joined us, as well as another dozen of brave souls who also decided to put their fate into the hands of the coaches, be it for fun or not. One thing for sure, there was going to be sweat (and no blood, fingers crossed).

We woke up at 5am, knowing that we needed at least one hour to get ourselves ready, including shower, breakfast and coffee. The drive to the quarry took about 25min and we found lots of people getting ready to put their fish on, most of them being members of the C3 triathlon club. It was their turf afterall, so I felt a bit like an intruder for a moment, but once in our wetsuits, it no longer mattered, we were all there for the love of the triathlon. The quarry loop is 1km long, so I decided to go the full 70.3 distance and some more. The water was very warm but quite rough in some spots, so I was glad to be done with it after 2 loops. 46min, not too bad, given how much I felt like going off course, over and over again.
Which means that maybe, just maybe, I could finish the Muskoka 70.3 swim in 45min or less. Wouldn't that be great?

Anyway, as great as that sounds, I still need to work on it. The pros do the FULL Ironman swim in the same time, but who am I to compare myself to them? Just wanted to point that out... I am a slow poke in the grand scheme of things, if you count them turbo engines in it, that is.

After the swim, I changed into my biking shorts and jersey and drove with hubbs and Carol to Inglewood, where coach Dave and Lorene had set up a true transition zone with a bike rack, food and drinks for us. Just like in a race, I took possession of my little piece of real estate, ate a banana, put in my pocket one of the 28k loop maps (I was planning on doing the loop 3 times), filled up my bottles, then at 9:15am sharp I started my ride with Carol and Tammy for company.

Right off the bat, I noticed that my bike gears were skipping. This wasn't new news, but I realized that I had not fiddled with my rear derailleur in almost a week (I know, I should not have to!), and it had probably gone out of alignment once again. Anyway, the train was in motion so to speak, and I told myself that it's not a big deal, it was happening at random anyway. Suck it up and don't sweat the small stuff. Alas with the wind and the constant change of pace, the skipping never stopped and by the second loop I was ready to throw my bike in a ditch and cry on the side of the road until someone would stop and give me a hug and an ice cream.
Winston Churchill, a mean combo of head wind and hills.
Are we there yet? Get this wind off my face!!
More Winston Churchill because I'm so slow, it hurts.
Carol and hubbs weren't having the greatest day either, the wind was truly testing their patience. To add irony to our misery, Carol and I also missed a turn on our first loop and ended on the 21k loop, which included a long stretch of shitty pavement and twice the distance facing the relentless head wind. The only reward of this course was the descent on Old Base road, which we got to do thrice in the day. Faster and faster each time. At each loop, I tamed my anger with adrenalin, it worked like a charm. I ended biking almost 78k in 3h07 and that was more than enough for both my legs and nerves.
When coach asked me how I was doing when I stopped to refuel in between loops, all I could say was "I hate my life and everyone in it". He replied, "one of these days, eh?". But by the end of the third loop, I had managed to empty myself of negativity and embrace the serenity now, most likely thanks to the top speed of 64.2kph in the last descent. Almost empty, actually, I still wanted that ice cream. I had another banana instead, then asked coach, "what now?". He said that I should do an 8k run, which was spot on what I was hoping for. It was 1pm by then and the sun was bright and mean. But I had asked for this, I had even paid for it.

Put on my running shoes, had some fluids, emptied my bladder, then off I went. The run was going to take me on the Caledon Trailway, for an out and back of 4km. I could not wait. I absolutely adore running there, it's so peaceful and there is SHADE (on some stretches, not all the time, unfortunately)!! Oh how I miss the shade... in my burbs there is none, unless you adventure yourself on one of the wooden trails, which isn't very convenient or safe for someone who easily freaks out. But here I had no fear, I knew I wasn't going to be alone and all critters were most likely having a nap.
Shade? Right on!!
Bridge? Uphill? Nooooooo!!
Almost time to turn around? Yeaaaahhhhh!
Because I was the last one to start the run, I saw Carol coming back after 1km, then hubbs just before the turnaround. I was finally having fun, yet I was looking forward to being done with it. Too much pressure knowing that I was the last one out there, I was feeling somewhat of an inconvenience to all those waiting for me. So I put on the turbo and ran even faster than the week before with an average of 5:34/km and without feeling my heart ready to explode.
And there you have it. A 4h40 monster workout and enough good and bad moments to mimic the stress of race day. The coaches put on a great simulation day, with well marked routes, a safe and well positioned transition area, water, Gatorade, technical and even moral support. We even had burgers, salad, watermelon, pineapple and cookies at the end.

Am I ready for the real thing? Hell yes I am! And someone better get me that ICE CREAM!!


  1. Wow, that's a super workout! How cool that you got to do a race simulation with support! I'd love that. I'd hate to be last...I feel like I'm always last and have been in several workouts with friends or small races. It's mentally tough sometimes, but way to have fun with it!

    1. Michael, it is indeed mentally defeating sometimes, but at the same time I keep on repeating in my mind: you are doing the longest distance today, don't fret it. It's like that eCard: "whenever I see someone running faster than me, I assume they aren't going as far". ;-) Being in a triathlon club helps too, there is always someone who is just starting and is slower than you ;-)