Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 Belwood Triathlon Race Report

Winner winner chicken dinner! Wait... what?? No, I didn't win the tri, not even close, but I won this race entry, thanks to a contest put together by Multisport Canada and one of their sponsors, Vorgee.
I received the news that I had won the entry the week of the Toronto Triathlon Festival and in a small measure it contributed to my DNS because I had another race to fall back to. And when I made the decision not to start TTF, I just could not wait to go to Belwood and really RACE! Now where on Earth was Belwood? Was it even in diving distance from my place? Phew, only 70km away, I may even be able to bike there!

I admit that the thought crossed my mind until I realized that it meant carrying my transition bag to Belwood and back. Thanks but no thanks. Zin wasn't going to join me as he'd raced TTF the week before, so I had to find another plan that included a century ride in it, and maybe a partner in crime miles too. Cue in my friend Amanda who is also doing Ironman Mt Tremblant. It was a last minute ask, but maybe she had nothing else to do than join me in another crazy adventure? After all, it was only a few weeks before that I took her up and down the hills of Caledon on our longest ride ever. And she was game! Alright then... How does this plan sound: race the tri at Belwood, then ride 130km extra to get to 160km as scheduled? Isn't it exciting!!? (*evil laugh*)

We left Brampton at 6:15am with the plan of reaching the race site no later than 7:30am. Thankfully we encountered no traffic and before we knew it, we were rolling our bikes into transition. Packet pickup went without a hiccup, then we walked around for a bit to familiarize ourselves with the venue. I took a potty break and ate my banana, then I went to talk to Mike Cheliak, the race photographer, who was supposed to take a picture of me with the Vorgee sign. His son took the photo after all and I was impressed to see that they were both using cameras (Nikon) connected through WiFi. It explains why their pictures make it online so quickly!

I returned in transition and I went to say hi to Cody Beals, with whom I had been talking online for about a year, but never met in person. He's one of the smartest, fastest and funniest (have you read his blog lately?) guys I know and I could not wait to finally meet him and say thanks for being so helpful, supportive and open to give advice to noobs like me.
He was "in the zone" and I didn't bother him for long, but after the race we talked some more and I even asked for an autograph because I believe in him big time. Just watch him, he's turning into a force to be reckoned with.

The pre-race meeting was on too, and I just couldn't focus on the background talk. I was eager to start, but I wasn't even in my wetsuit (like everyone else around me, oops). I had to go back to my bag and look for my sunglasses, and when I finally managed to collect myself (and all my stuff) I noticed that we were 10 min away from the race start. I put on my wetsuit, and I was about to run out of transition when I saw that I was missing my watch. Rats! I had left it in my helmet. More running around before reaching the swim start, like I had legs for it! If you remember my last recap, I had not ran for 10 days coming into this race and I was rather apprehensive about feeling pain in my knees.

Anyway, I made it to the lake (river?) just in time for a quick warmup and 2 minutes later the first wave started. I was in the second wave and I chose to position myself close to the buoys. I believe that both men and women were in my wave and for the first time in my life I got to experience anxiety in the swim. Right off the bat I got shoved under water a few times and I started feeling tightness in my chest and a little panic creeping in. But I collected myself quickly as I decided to steer away from the pack and regroup inside my bubble. Soon enough my breathing returned to normal and I could focus on finding some feet. I found a matching pair at the first buoy and stayed with them for the entire time that we swam across until we made the last turn towards the exit. I passed them shortly afterwards and from then on I tried to keep the pace up and swim in a straight line. I was very curious to see if I swam faster than in previous races. This was my first sprint triathlon after all and I was glad to see that I finished under 14min. Not very fast, but fast enough for a PR!
We had a good run up to transition (150m) and it counted in the swim time. That's ok, I know what my watch said, despite the 1:15 extra that showed up in Sportstats.

I struggled to take off my wetsuit, especially on my leg with the chip, so I ended with a T1 time somewhat slow (2 min). But then I was really happy to be on my bike and start chasing people.
For the entire ride only one other girl passed me on the bike, and she was a duathlete, so that was ok. Many guys passed me as usual, but I also passed back a ton. In the end I am super stoked with my bike split, and with the few rolling hills, it felt like a lot of fun. Absolutely gorgeous course too, which put Belwood at the top of Sprint courses in the Multisport series for me. Will definitely do it again!

Ok, so I spent a little under 1h on the bike for 30km, I had a gel if I am not mistaken, and some water because I forgot my Endura at home. It was overcast and not too hot, so I didn't need the extra electrolytes anyway.

Coming back in T2, I didn't have to struggle with any pieces of equipment and quickly started the run. This course was an out and back along the dam and onto a limestone covered trail. It was beautiful, however the trail was rather narrow and I'm glad that the race wasn't too crowded. I ran the best I could and pushed the effort, but never looked at my watch because it was all screwed up. I wrongly assumed coming out of the water that if I was going to change sports it would save the previous activity and start a new one, but after leaving on the bike I noticed that despite having the watch in the right sport, it was still showing the fields from the swim and it was rather useless. So I decided to keep it rolling so to speak, and hope for a different outcome when I downloaded the activity.
I was still pretty darn happy when I started the run. These pictures were taken about 0.5km out as we crossed the dam. That lady with the number 215 passed me shortly afterwards, as many other people after that. I am definitely not a very strong runner, but in retrospective I am very happy with my effort as I managed to run the 7.5km (I think it was shorter by 300m by the way) in 39min.

And what about my knees? They hurt. Yep, started bothering me after 2km and the pain intensified as I kept running, but not to the point of taking my smile away and the great feeling of accomplishment.
According to Sportstats I finished in 1:56:38 gun time (1:53:45 chip time), enough for a 5th place out of 12 in my AG. I was stoked! I will take a top 5 any time!! And guess who beat me by 18 seconds? Cody Beals' mom with a run split of 32:49. Here's proof that the fast gene runs in the family!!

Another speed demon, Amanda, also finished ahead of me, by 9 minutes nonetheless (told you she was fast!). You can see her in the Coeur top and purple hat to the right of the previous picture. She took 3rd in her AG, so medal oblige, we stuck around after the race, waiting for fresh pizza and taking advantage of the compression boots in the Recharge with Chocolate Milk booth.
I think it was around noon when we finally decided to leave the race site and continue onto our long bike ride. We drove to a sports complex in Fergus and the plan was to do 2 loops of 65km through Elora, Kitchener and Guelph countrysides. However, as soon as we rolled out of the parking lot, we started having some difficulties reading the map. Alas some of the steps that were accompanying the map were not quite right and we found ourselves in a few dead ends and construction areas before making it out of the city and onto the country roads.

But eventually we got to the scenic parts and it was a treat. However, ominous clouds kept following us and we were expecting the skies to open up at any time. We took the time to stop and say Hi to the cows because they were oh so pretty!

By the number of people dressed alike and horse carriages around, we understood that we were passing through Mennonite Country. It was quite a strange feeling to be immersed into this world, and all I could think was that I wouldn't have minded if someone invited me to lunch. I was getting hungry, alright.

I kept munching on my Clif bars, but I was getting more and more tired of them. This whole day was starting to feel long and tiredness was taking over my brain. Amanda's company was great as we chatted every once in a while instead of staring at the back of our wheels the whole time. Our legs were not cooperating as much as we thought they would though. As we arrived on the last stretch before coming back to Fergus, we ran into a dirt road again, but this one was frightening. It was covered in big gravel and we could only ride in the middle of the road on the tire tracks.
We had to walk our bikes for a bit, then we literally started seeing our lives flashing before our eyes as cars were coming fast and furious in the opposite direction and did not care slowing down or moving over to leave us more space. 6km of dirt, that was a LONG LONG time riding with the heart in our throat. By the end of this stretch, we were mentally exhausted and absolutely DONE for the day. We decided to put an end to our misery. 100km in the saddle, and what we did not cover in distance, we certainly made up for in intensity.

Although this day was all worth it and it taught us more lessons than we anticipated, it asked for a lot of mental fortitude. All in all, a good training for the Ironman, but I'm not ready to repeat the experience any time soon.

I loved the race and will do it again, but it took all energy out of our legs. This shall be a good lesson in pacing ourselves, otherwise we're going to crash and burn.

Another epic day in the books!


  1. Congrats on winning the entry and finishing in the top 5...awesome result. I love that you are always smiling in your photos...nice work. Hope the knees are better soon.

    1. Thanks Robin!! I don't always smile, but it's not my fault that I love this damn sport too much! Haha. Well, it might be my fault after all, I chose to do this, pain in the knees or not.