Tuesday, July 22, 2014

2014 Toronto Triathlon Festival Race Report (DNS)

TTF has always been one of my most anticipated races. I'm pretty sure that I was among the first 10 people who signed up when the registration opened last year. How could I miss it? By now, I have an emotional connection to it as it was my first ever triathlon in 2012 and I always loved everything about it. I raced it every year since, so it was unfathomable that I skip it. I got my Olympic distance PR there last July and it still stands by the way. However, this year it was going to be all about having fun given that IMMT is only a few weeks away. Besides, it was Zin's A race and I really wanted to be there for him instead of stressing my brains out.

So it would be pretty accurate to say that I almost didn't care. I didn't obsess over the weather, I didn't think about what to wear, other than I wanted to put on a new Coeur kit that I had ordered and could not wait to receive. I had a fancy race helmet, a bike in perfect working order with speedy race wheels, new road cycling shoes which I learned to clip in without a hiccup. All I needed was for Zin to come pick me up from work on Friday and drive downtown to retrieve my race kit.
We arrived at Coronation Park where the expo and the pre-race meetings were organized under big tents, as opposed to the fancy Westin Harbour Hotel in the years before (no big deal, it was actually better because we didn't have to drive through the construction clusterfuck around Union Station), and we had to wait for the next meeting to start, or no race packet pickup for us. I also found Carol (is she following me or what?! :-)) and altogether we went to listen to Steve Fleck go through the 10-12 min of slides that turned into 45 min. Get me outta here!! I knew each slide by heart. However, there was one slide that literally jumped at me as it talked about the swim conditions and the fact that a swim warm-up was NOT going to be allowed. WTF?! At least in the years before we had about 5 min to splash around. Not this time. This slide also mentioned a water temperature expected between 13-15C. Double WTF!!

I felt compelled to write this tweet.
You may remember that I skipped the swim at Woodstock for the same reason. Under 16-17C, it's too damn cold for my noggin. And so the doubt started creeping in. Why would I subject myself to this if I already declined to swim in similar, yet slightly better conditions (thanks to the allowed warm-up swim) at Woodstock? What if I get a cold? Last year my hands and feet already went numb because of my Raynaud's, what if I get impaired and unable to steer my bike properly? I already had a near miss last year because I was so dizzy coming out of the water.

Anyway, thanks to the company, I didn't have much time to stress about the what ifs. Not until I got back home, but then I looked at the weather app. Thunderstorms and rain and wind, oh my!! I proceeded to organize my transition bag, put the tri kit beside my bed, my change of clothes, my nutrition, every single detail was ready and then I decided to call it a night. As I lay down in bed, staring at my ceiling, I let the thoughts sink in.

My knees were hurting and I had not been able to run more than 3km without pain. I should be resting instead.
It was going to rain. A lot. And I was going to remain soaked for hours.
It was going to be freaking cold in the water. Colder than I could handle.
I was going to fly down a highway on my bike, with puddles everywhere and water in my eyes and slippery oil patches and O M G. What if I crash?!!

And at that moment I knew that the risk was not going to be worth the reward. Most likely I wasn't going to get a PR and worse, I may even get sick or DIE. Yes, I do think about dying on my bike a lot. I would be stupid not too. Have you ever launched yourself head forward on a slope? The tiniest error can end in a LOT of hurt. Have you seen the Tour de France this year? Let that be an eye opener. If you crash, game over. No more Ironman and all training, all sacrifices thus far, gone down the drain. So I posted a status on Facebook saying that I was reluctant to start, but then my mind was already made up. I turned off the light, counted down to 5 and I freed my mind. I slept like a baby and the night went by in a blink.

Next thing I know, the alarm clock goes off, it's 4pm and I'm at peace. I get up, put on city clothes, I don't even look at my tri bag. Hubbs and I go to the kitchen, we have breakfast. Hey, I can even have coffee! Isn't that a treat?! If I were racing I would have had to skip. Bike comes out of the car and I don't even sigh. All I care from now on is seeing Zin SMASH it!!

I drive us downtown again and I drop hubbs off near the transition, then I go park the car. As I started walking along the canal towards transition, I looked at my wristband. I had not removed it. That's ok, it was going to give me in and out privileges and I was glad for the opportunity, I could be much closer to Zin and to all my friends racing that day. If I dare to say, I has happy and content with myself.

Before I could find hubbs, I ran into Margarita, she is one my long time blog readers who won a top at a small contest that I ran on my blog last year, just before TTF. We met back then and stayed in contact since. She has stayed true to herself in her pursuit of endurance challenges, and I could not be more proud of her. She did TTF last year and came back for more!
As you can see, it was still dry when I met her, but not for long. Literally 5 minutes later the skies opened up and it started pouring. Here's what my hubby's transition spot looked like:
I bet putting on your wetsuit was the best course of action for everyone, but also the most challenging. Oh well, people seemed to do just fine. I followed Zin to the swim start, but I was trailing a bit behind as I kept looking for Carol. And then I found her!
Big MUAH under the umbrella. This girl had a lot more courage than me for sure! I found Zin too, and then things got a bit weird, of course.
The swim was on hold and people were getting anxious. Those two seemed to be doing just fine though. But soon enough, or maybe after what felt like an eternity, they got to jump in. Blue caps, Zin's wave.
Then the yellow caps, Carol's wave. Look at them go!!

As for me, I stayed on the shore, taking pics. It was a hoot. Look who I even ran into!! Simon Whitfield, who even offered to take the selfie himself. He's got it perfected to a science! And it just made my day. Best perk of a DNS, ever!! :-)
I waited for everyone I knew to get out of the water and it was very painful to see so many people returning by boat. I knew at that moment that I had made the right decision. NO REGRETS. I was having a great time cheering on my family and friends and getting to watch the TTF operations from a different perspective. As a matter of fact, I realized that most people were taking me for a volunteer since I was wearing the same tshirt as them. Thankfully I knew so much about the race that I had no problem answering their questions. I even got a volunteer confused when I returned in transition and he asked me if I was there to guard the bags. Apparently he was assigned to this job and wanted to make sure we weren't both doing the same thing. No problem buddy, it's all yours!
In transition, I found other friends from FMCT tri club, including my coach, getting ready for the sprint race. Look at them proud members of the Team Canada (psst, they are all going to the World Championships in Edmonton)!
Then I waited for Zin to come in from his bike, worried that he may have crashed too. But oh relief, there he was!! He made a grimace while running towards his spot, but overall he T2'd like a champ so I didn't worry too much. Honey, don't leave your gels inside your shoe next time.  ;-) And wait, you're not gonna eat anything?
Apparently not.
Soon it was time for the sprint folks to swim, so I returned by the water where I could also see the oly people leaving the transition to go on their run. I saw Margarita again, followed closely by Carol. They were safe too, phew!! Then I did a quick mental calculation and realized that time had flown by and that I should make my way towards the finish line to see hubbs bringing it home. I must have run backwards the entire km that separated Ontario Place from Coronation Park, but I could not see him. Was starting to get worried again. Did he bonk? Did he trip? Did he get abducted by the aliens or fall into a sinkhole? Eventually I arrived at the entrance of the park and saw people coming in who had left way after him on the run and then it stroke me that he must have finished already. That's what he gets for being too fast! Yeah, well... he was not impressed. But he looked good with the medal!! 9th in his AG with a 2h24 time, in a super packed field! He smashed it, alright!!
Soon afterwards it started dumping buckets of water on us. Torrential downpour!! My umbrella could barely do the work. But as long as my iPhone was dry and I could keep taking pictures of my friends coming down the finish chute, I was going to be ok.
We stayed around until everyone finished and the awards ceremony got under way. Some of our friends placed in their age groups and we wanted to be there for their podium. I could also not wait to congratulate John Young, who has also been doing this race for as long as I've been. We were even in the same wave in the inaugural year. Finally, we could connect again after being Facebook friends for a while. Look at those smiles!
He is such a smart, kind, and genuine soul and I have the utmost respect for him and his drive to complete endurance events such as the Boston Marathon and the Ironman. Just watch him! I know he will do great!! Here is a story that Toronto Star wrote on his race that day.
And that's a wrap, my friends! I had a super awesome day at TTF, cheering rather than racing, but without any sort of regret. Hearing from everyone how harsh the conditions were and how dangerous the bike was, I know that I made the right decision. I am proud that I could think clearly and did not get carried away with emotions or guilt. Being in control means that you have to make the decisions that you believe are the best. Ironman training is definitely a learning process.
(To see all pictures I took at TTF, go here).


  1. I admire how easily you make these tough decisions! And OMG those conditions look terrible. The rain - brrr.

  2. Sounds like you made the right decision. It's often tough to know what's the best thing to do as sometimes, as competitors, we have short sight. But really, we need to have a longer vision plan most of the time so good for you! Congrats again to Zin for a great event on not such a great day.

  3. Thank you girls! Two weeks later and still no regrets ;-) Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Sounds like you made the right call! Have you tried putting Vaseline on your hands and feet when you swim? I too have severe Raynaud's. It makes a world of difference.

    1. Natasha, I never tried! That sounds smart! It reminds me of a story about people living at the North Pole who were protecting their hands and feet with animal grease... Thanks a lot for the tip! I shall try some time. Does it make you faster too? ;-)