Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 Woodstock Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Holy macaroni, is this a real race report?! Yes it is!! It's not a volunteering, cheering or spectating report. It is true, I completed a triathlon last weekend and I cannot wait to tell you all about it. Sharing pictures though, that's something else. I was truly apprehensive to see myself in race pictures and they did not disappoint. The 10lb that I packed on since last year scream at me from the whole mid section. But now that's out of the way, let's get on with this report. Nothing I can do about the pictures and my stupid weight.

There was little mental preparation going into this race as I had no doubt that I could go the distance, but the big unknown was going to be the run. Before the race, the longest I had run without knee pain was about 4km at the simulation day. However, going even that far after a 40km bike gave me hope that if I stick with my physio program and continue believing that I WILL get better, maybe that would become true eventually. I had zero expectations with regards to finishing times, no podium goals, not even a PR. I did zero speed or hill work this year, and the number of bricks completed can be counted on 3 fingers. I barely maintained my fitness through my emotional ups and downs and truly the biggest challenge has been to keep my head above water.

The morning of the race I woke up at 5:30am with the plan of leaving the house before 7am. I showered, had a big breakfast (as usual) and made sure I packed a banana with me because that's the only pre-race ritual that can mess up with my mojo big time. I also took a gel to eat on the bike and some Gu Chomps in case I needed them on the run.

Zin drove me to Pittock Conservation Area and as soon as I got on site I ran into Ken, Dana and Phaedra. We all lined up to pick up our race kits and managed to keep the nerves at bay by sharing last minute tips and posing for pics. Here are a few of them that Zin turned into a GIF. I like this version much better than the individual ones. Did you spot the chocolate milk ad placement? Haha!!

Then before I knew it, I had to go in transition and set up my stuff. Phaedra found me a spot just beside her and I felt special racking beside a champion.
I also ran into Dave Jenkin, my old coach who moved to Woodstock and started the Woodstock Triathlon Club there. It was great to see him again. I thought it would be cool to take a picture together just like we did last year. We gotta keep the tradition going!
Soon enough it was time to go. I went in the water for a short warm up and I was pleasantly surprised by its temperature. Just perfect, although a little choppy for my liking. I also think the water was slightly warmer than the air temperature, and I was still on the fence about racing in my tri top or add a cycling jersey on top.

I left in the second wave, the yellow caps. I got into a groove pretty quickly and despite being swum over a few times, I only swallowed a minimal amount of water. Yay me, because given the amount of goose poop I walked in along the shore, I was a little worried. Not very surprising, I had the slowest swim ever. I came out of the water in 17min and change, but the disappointment only lasted a second. I was a little too dizzy coming back into transition to worry about paces.

The long run out made things even worse as it elevated my heart rate through the roof and left me wondering how in hell I was going to bring it down so I can breathe normally again. To add insult to the injury, the bike out was up a hill, then I had to face a head wind for a third of the ride at least.
I didn't have to say a lot of "on your left" this time around, as I kept being passed over and over again. I only remember 2 girls in particular because we started and finished the ride very close to each other. The first one was in my AG and she passed me within the first 100m of the run and the second one was a 17yr old, whom I kept passing on the downhills, and she would pass me back on the uphills. She also took off on the run and I never saw her again.

I ate a gel about half way on the ride and drank a little from my water bottle. For once I was glad that I didn't have to pee on my bike as I was working hard to keep up the pace. No distractions allowed! Overall, it felt like a lot of work and not much fun. You really don't have time to smell the roses in a sprint triathlon.

Compared with last year, it took me exactly 3 extra minutes to complete the bike for a total of 43:30min. The HR was exactly the same, an average of 170bpm. It definitely showed how much power I lost on the bike, but I am not going to mourn it forever... it will come back if I put the work into it. Anyway, I consider myself lucky for having had a perfect ride once more, without physical or technical issues of any kind.

Coming back in transition, I put on my socks and running shoes, grabbed my gels and off I went again. The way out of transition is along a wooden path on grass/dirt, then it changes to gravel, then concrete over the dam, then dirt again. Quite the mix of surfaces I should say. Here is what it looks like within the first 200m.
I am posting this picture because I'll have to come back to it in a few minutes. But until then... let's keep running. Again, I felt pretty slow and sluggish, but I remained concentrated on the job at hand.. er, feet. Looks intense, doesn't it. That Imraan guy sure doesn't like it that he's getting chicked.
I did my best not to blow up, but I still ended with a stitch after 3km. I didn't want to stop, so I pushed through, mentally tricking myself into believing that a downhill was going to magically appear and take away the pain. But more realistically, the trick of hitting the ground with the opposite leg on an exhale was going to yield better results, so I tried to concentrate on doing just that.

Maybe the stitch went away in the last 300m, or maybe I don't remember that pain, but soon thereafter I remember falling on my face on that lovely wooden path that I shared with you earlier. Just before turning into the finish chute, I tripped on a root and flew a few feet ahead in a very dramatic display of grace and agility akin to that of an elephant on skates.
I picked myself right up, dusted off and kept running. I knew that I was going to have a nice rash on my left arm and leg, but those were going to be my only battle scars that day.
I'll take a rash over knee pain any day!! Alas the photographer did not get a picture of me with my arms up in victory, but the sentiment was there. I finished my first triathlon of the year, and despite being the slowest ever, it was a huge WIN for me. No pain in my legs, and this, my friends, is the sweetest gift at all. The gift of running with a smile on my face and achieving a goal that I didn't think I'd be able to reach again. Not much else is left to say. I will just sit here inside my little bubble of bliss and allow myself to hope that a pain free racing season may be possible after all.
I'll leave you with a photograph of Phaedra and I while we were waiting for the awards. This amazing lady took the win (again!) and because she's such a great friend, I stayed around to add my cheers to those of the crowd. Any time I can share a race with her, I feel completely spoiled.

And that's a wrap! Next race, IM Muskoka 70.3 where I'll be racing as part of a relay team (I changed my registration because it was not a good idea to do it all by myself and undertrained). Look us up as team "Beets and Pickles". I'll be swimming, Ken (first picture) will be biking, and Robin will be running. This is going to be FUN!! By the way, Ken finished his first ever triathlon in Woodstock (and he kicked ass!!) and Robin will take part in her first ever triathlon in Muskoka, after completing a 100 miles (!!!) trail race last month. Go read her blog, you'll be inspired.


  1. So exciting to see a race cap from you! And a pain-free one, at that - good news.

  2. Congrats, so glad to see you back out there and SMILING and PAIN FREE. Darn roots...they get us all :) Can't wait to see you in July and the relay will be so much fun for sure :) Nice work last weekend, hope it's a huge confidence booster for you going forward.

    1. Thank you Robin! I need to run more trails to learn how to navigate the roots, haha.

  3. So so happy for you! What a joy to race again, isn't it?? Despite our slower times and extra weight (I feel you on that one), getting to do what we love without too much pain and suffering... Well that just makes it all worthwhile! So glad you had such a good day out there. Be proud of how far you have come! Xoxo

    1. Absolutely, could not be happier Marlene! Thank you for stopping by. Hugs!

  4. Yay for no pain! That is a HUGE win!

  5. Great Race report! Where you surprised the run was mostly gravel and trail? I was!
    Sorry I missed you Sunday :(

  6. Wow! This post is full of everything happy! I LOVE it. Wishing you all the very best as you continue your season! Hope to be at the same race as you as well.