Sunday, September 13, 2015

2015 Lakeside Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Here we are, last triathlon of the season. The months flew by and just a few posts ago I was still wallowing in self pity. Things are better now and it's been a while since I felt my knees hurting while running or biking. Am I completely healed? I don't know, and to tell you the truth - I am, and will forever remain cautious, I guess. If I don't do my strength and maintenance workouts, there are consequences for sure. But I digress. I don't know where I was going with this... a sort of conclusion to my season or a preamble to my race? Come'on thoughts, make up your mind!

So, Lakeside Sprint Tri. It was also the season ender last year, and since I like competing against myself, going back was a good way of seeing if I've improved in any of the disciplines. The week before the race was a sort of mini taper, but sprinkled with a few quality workouts, such as 6x400s on the track or the Truuli-2 workout on Trainer Road, that I did the day before the race (like you're supposed to, according to the Trainer Road gurus). I was skeptical at first, but as soon as I finished this workout I was so pumped up and ready to go, that I was almost bummed that I'd have to sleep on it instead.

I prepared my tri bag the night before and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the race start was once again pushed to 10am (thank you Multisport!!) and I would not have to wake up at ass-o'clock to make the 2h drive to Lakeside. Sleeping until 6am on race day, what a treat!! I was super tired anyway, and by 10pm I went to bed and fell asleep immediately. The alarm clock rang in the middle of a nightmare that had me following the GPS to Lakeside, but ending in Woodstock instead. The dream was so vivid, that I woke up sweating and on the verge of having a panic attack, but I was instantly relieved to see that I was still in my bed and Mr. Google did not send me to the wrong race site.

I showered, put on my Coeur team kit, then had breakfast: a slice of bread with margarine and a thick slice of ham, 2 boiled eggs, and a Portugese egg tart that I had bought the night before. Nothing new on race day? I love living dangerously, what can I say?
Took my water bottle, my Gu Espresso Gel (for the buzz effect on the bike) and THE banana (my only pre race ritual that I cannot live without), and started driving at 7am sharply. The roads took me through long stretches of farm country and I had to trust my GPS that it would get me to destination on time, despite the road closures that I ran into and put me a little on the edge.
I made it to Lakeside with plenty of time to set up my transition spot leisurely and even chat for a while with my friends Carly, Dana and my old coach Dave.
Yay for a selfie with Carly!
And yay for a selfie with Dana!
I even had a rack with my number (163) on it! Despite the record number of women in my 40-44 AG (31), I found the transition not being as crowded as in previous races, so maybe we were spread out better, who knows. And despite the cold, the sun was poking its rays through the clouds and made the conditions look rather promising. It's always a good feeling once everything is under control and you're only minutes away from another adventure and hopefully, a lot of FUN.
I visited the portapotties for a last time, ate my banana, then put on my wetsuit. It was the best way to stay warm anyway and from what I had heard, the water was much warmer than the air as well - a balmy 22C, about 10C higher. With 15 minutes to spare I went to the lake to do my swim warmup, but it may have been a mistake because it only took me about 5 minutes and then I shivered for another 15 until my wave was sent off. Must have been the cold because I peed no less than 5 times in the water. Everything to keep myself warm!!
The swim was very crowded, and my strategy this time was to concentrate on doing long, powerful, and complete strokes instead of the high cadence motor boat. I also sighted less than usual and kept my head low. All this made the swim less strenuous, in spite the moments when I was literally grunting and swallowing mouthfulls of weedy water. It kept me hydrated though, and that was a plus. I didn't find any feet to follow, but I think I passed quite a few people, especially from the wave before. I finished the swim feeling the most relaxed this year and that's a good sign that whatever I was doing worked to my advantage. It was also the fastest swim this year, on par with the Muskoka 70.3 relay (actually even faster).
Look at all the white caps still swimming behind me, and the blue ones from the wave before. Booyah!
The transition was short and sweet and I hopped on my bike in no time... so fast that my heart was still up in my throat. I also forgot to change sports on my watch and found myself fiddling with it while riding and that seemed as dangerous as driving and texting. I gave up after a wind gust almost pushed me sideways and scared the crap out of me (not literally, jeez). Once more, I found the route extremely crowded and for the first 5km I kept passing people without a chance of moving to the right that much. I was getting really worried that I may get a penalty, but it's not like I had where to go without hitting the brakes or getting myself within someone else's drafting zone. The crowds thinned out by the time I reached the 10km turnaround, and for the rest of the race another girl and I kept passing each other back and forth - but thankfully she was not in my AG (but looked very legit in a Team Canada tri suit). According to Sportstats, I passed 31 people on the bike and 5 of them were in my AG. Not bad me thinks, especially with all the rolling hills and headwind on the longest stretch of the road. I ate my gel about 2/3rd of the way after being slowed down by the headwind. I finished the bike in 39 min and change, 6th in my AG. I had NO idea of my time since my watch was all screwed up, but it felt like a solid bike ride by the amount of effort that I put in.

I had another fast transition, in just under 1 minute. I chose to go sockless again, since it was only a 5km and I had already removed enough skin from my toes to see blisters coming back so soon. I took my Gu Chomps with me, thinking that I may need them (I didn't). I also managed to reset my watch and change it to Run mode (I should learn how to use the Multisport mode next year, d'uh), and the plan was to get to the first kilometer and assess my effort level. Once I got there I hit lap and saw 5:12. Whoa, that was fast and I wasn't feeling bad at all. Can I keep the pace up? A few hills were coming up ahead, but then I could just use the downhills to recover. I finished the next kilometer in 5:08. Even better! Those were definitely my fastest paces this year and I was still feeling like a million bucks. The next 2km were pretty tough because of the hills, but I still managed some decent times (5:20 and 5:40). Last kilometer, I took it home (4:56). I could not wait for the paved section as I knew that I was just around the corner from the finish chute. 3 ladies in my AG passed me on the run, but they were very strong and most likely running under 5 min/km. I knew that I could not keep up with them, but everything can happen, so I never gave up mentally. I had an awesome run, what can I say. I managed my pace really well and in the end it paid off.
I finished with a big smile on my face and... wait for it... a 5 MINUTE PR (for both this race and the sprint distance) and a time of 1:23:49!!!  I was already happy with my 8 seconds PR at Bracebridge, so you can imagine how I felt when I saw the time on the board. But the field was also very strong and despite my best effort to date, I finished 9th/31 in my AG and more than a minute slower than the previous girls.

I went to change into dry clothes because my tri suit was still damp, then took a few bites of banana, oranges and pretzels and went back to transition to pack my stuff. I was on a schedule to leave as soon as possible because I wanted to get to hospital in time to visit my friend Carol before going to pick up my son from his Bronze Medallion class, so I didn't stay for the awards or draw prizes. Dana later told me via Twitter that my name was called for the second best prize, but I'll take karma and a PR over a prize any day. It was a day that kept on wining though!

And if you want more proof that this day could not have been better, here's what welcomed us later when we pulled into our driveway.
In the end, this triathlon season, just like this double rainbow, was pretty spectacular. I didn't do an Ironman, not even a half - but I don't feel less of an athlete because of it. I had a lot of fun, I remained healthy, I even got a shiny new PR - and I didn't kill my legs in the process. I gained a lot more insight into racing short distance and I can definitely see myself continuing on this path in my old age. And maybe, just maybe I'll also make it on the podium then. 

For now, I have one more Multisport event on my calendar: The Barrelman 1/2 distance swim/bike. My longest ride this year was about 70km, so that's going to be interesting. Let's hope that I didn't jinx myself with all the tiger blood and winning above. Between us, I am more looking forward to another weekend away than the race itself, haha. Niagara Falls for the win, yeah! #eyeroll #sarcasm ... I am so blasé!


  1. Awesome way to end off your tri season! You've been working so hard on the physical therapy side of things, I'm so happy it's all coming together and obviously working out for you. Congrats on the big PR!

    And I'm totally pumped to see everyone this weekend!

  2. Sounds like a great day, congrats on a good race and a huge PR!

  3. What a great race report and a fantastic way to end the season! All the best at Niagara this weekend!!!!

  4. What an awesome end to the triathlon season Irina! A 5 minute PB on a sprint is huge! I'm looking forward to chasing you down on the run next year. In the meantime, see you at the Barrelman!

  5. WOOOHOOOO! Portuguese tarts and PRS - THAT is a perfect weekend! Congrats - it's nice to see you smiling again. Have fun at Barrelman this weekend! I understand that's where all the cool kids are going to be! :)