Thursday, September 3, 2015

2015 Wasaga Beach Olympic Triathlon Race Report

Last week was absolutely insane. I was busy every single day from the moment I woke up until late at night, mostly because I procrastinated with a few things that I had planned, which ended bringing me a great deal of anxiety and didn't leave me any time for rest. As a result, I only managed to fit in a bike and a run workout before the longest race of the year to date, the Wasaga Beach Olympic Triathlon. The plan was to go to Wasaga to race on Saturday, then from there, drive straight to Huntsville to meet my friend Wendy and volunteer the following day at Ironman Muskoka.

I was happy to hear that the race had a late start, which meant that I could sleep in. We still had 1.5h drive ahead of us, but at least I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn. Waking up at 7am on a race day sure felt wonderful. I prepared my bags the night before since I needed to pack for a few days worth. I had everything ready by 10pm, then I went to bed.
A reluctant thumb up. Let's do this, yay?
It all feels like such a blur, I don't even remember what I had for breakfast. So I'll skip that part. I just know that by 8am on the dot, hubby and I were leaving our driveway each in our own car, direction Wasaga Beach. I was nervous as hell, not knowing if my legs were going to hold for 10km on the run without pain, since my longest run this year was 8km (once). The drive was very scenic, straight north on Airport Rd and all its roller-coaster hills. It was a nice way to start the morning instead of battling the crowds up the dreadful Hwy 400. Shortly before 9:30am we were pulling into one of the many parking lots along the Lake Huron waterfront.

I started taking my paraphernalia out of the car when all of a sudden I notice that I don't have my helmet. FML. But of course, I didn't even think about going in the garage after it. Damn, damn damn. What do I do?? Thankfully Zin had his spare one in his car and after a quick check that it fit (sorta, but please don't tell the officials mmmkay?), I decided to race with it. YOLO! Moving on...

I picked up my race kit, chip, got body marked, then wheeled my bike into transition where I set up my little slice of real estate in the middle of a rack because all the premium spots were already taken, haha.
It was early enough and nerves were slowly dissipating, so I walked around transition for a bit and chatted with Kyra and her husband Alasdair, then took some pictures with them and hubbs.
Awwww. Aren't we cute.
Love Alasdair's kit - I recognize him everywhere we go!
The Ladies in Pink
Took a last portaloo break, chatted a bit more, and finally put on my wetsuit and walked to the beach for a warm up swim. I looked at the water and wondered what Steve Fleck meant by "flat swim". I mean, seriously, dude... This was no flat swim. Or maybe it was getting choppier by the minute. Fact is, I tried taking a few dolphin dives and felt like jumping into a wall of water every single time. Okay then... this was going to be interesting. The previous three years the swim was cancelled at this race, so I considered myself lucky that I was going to do a triathlon that day. I remember a few rough swims at Professor's Lake, and of course, last year's IMMT swim that was the worst in all the years they had the race there. But this... this was something else. I wasn't sure how I was going to swim out against the waves, and even less, make it out and back unscathed. But I reminded myself how much I love open water swimming and started laughing at the situation and joking with the other athletes. I could actually see myself running to the first buoy instead of swimming and for some reason I thought it was hilarious. This swim was going to bring all kinds of challenges for sure.

I was in the third wave and soon enough the gun went off and I jumped in with both feet so to speak. I tried kicking for a bit, but fighting with the waves was tiring enough. Being mentally prepared for a personal worst, I shut the legs off and concentrated on my stroke, or whatever was left of it. I noticed that half of the time I was either trying to stay horizontal and not over rotate, or look for a buoy. Since buoys were hard to sight, I settled on the boats instead.There was a lot of boat movement around though and people everywhere. I think they were trying to keep everyone on course, but I bet it wasn't easy. The waves were pretty insane. I was constantly going up and down and I was expecting to get sea sick at any moment. To reach the first turn buoy felt as long as an Ironman swim, and that wasn't even half of it. My husband said it well, it was just like a washing machine and I felt like covering more vertical space than distance.

Eventually I reached the second turn buoy and started moving towards the beach. At this point, I could not see a thing, and especially not the exit arch. I decided to follow a gentleman and put my faith in his sighting skills. Everything was blending on the shore and all buildings looked the same to me. In hindsight, I should have settled on a better landmark than the arch before I started the swim. Oh well, lesson learned. I finally made it to water shallow enough that my hands were touching bottom. I stood up and walked the rest. I don't know why I was looking so cheerful in the photos, but I guess I was happy to be done. It must have been before I looked at my watch. 38 minutes, yikes!! Definitely my worst swim time evah.
I had an uneventful transition and hopped on my bike, eager to get going. About 2/3 of bikes were already gone, and I was wondering how far ahead they were. I could not have been the only one to have a crappy swim, right? (insert some pretty mean wishful thinking there).

The legs weren't feeling that great, and about 5km in, a stitch decided to settle into the right side of my stomach, just below the ribs. Great. I wasn't sure where it was coming from - this was a first. I held off drinking and eating until about 30min in, but then I got thirsty. I had a bottle of Endura with me and 2 gels. I started drinking the Endura, but with difficulty because the damn stitch was rather stubborn. Although the course was relatively flat with a few short climbs, I didn't feel like pushing too big of a gear. I kept passing people, at least that was entertaining. Played leap frog with a guy for a while, then I told him "break's over, let's get to work", but he didn't follow. I felt very lonely on this ride, mostly because for the first time this year it was not an out and back and I realized that I was not going to see my hubby before the run.

All this time the stomach kept hurting and I didn't know what to do. I wanted to pee, but I could not concentrate enough to pee on the bike, and I was not going to stop for it without an urge big enough. With 15km to spare, I turned onto another road and then BAM, headwind. I saw lots of people slowing down, but I had just eaten my gel and I was feeling stronger than when I started. When I think about it, I wasn't doing any better, it was just a matter of perspective. You learn about it in physics class, I suppose. As a matter of fact, I was still feeling like shit and I could not wait to be done. Again. Another picture of me smiling as I was finishing the second leg of this race.
It looks like I was having fun, but not really. And that helmet? LOL!

Another quick transition and then the run... the stomach was hurting so much, I didn't even bother taking my Clif Blocks with me. By that time I was in survival mode. One step in front of the other... and one more hour of pain. I figured that it must be gas pain from swallowing too much air during the swim, but I admit to have been spoiled in 6 years of running and only once I had to deal with it, during Welland Half last year. But that race had cola and cola makes all gas come out eventually. This race only had water and Heed (yuck) and I was feeling defeated already.

I tried treating it like a stitch and breathe out while striking the ground with the foot on the opposite side... or was it the same side? For the life of me, I could not remember, so I tried both, to no avail. There was this guy on the bike cheering us on, and he made me smile. I love it when people call out my name and say encouraging things. Too bad it didn't make the pain go away. As I was approaching the end of the first loop, I wanted to be done, to drop out of the race right there. But I saw my old coach and he encouraged me and I didn't want to disappoint him. I ran by him and said, "I'm feeling like hell", then went on to the second loop.

The legs were not hurting - so I didn't have a good enough reason to stop. I marched on. I saw Kyra not far behind and I was thinking that she was going to catch up with me in no time. When I reached the split on the road and took a right turn into a side street, I hit pit bottom. I walked for a minute or two, pressing into my stomach, angry at my body for giving me grief (and not moving the gas fast enough). I started having a panic attack and over ventilating, which of course was not helping. At that point I was seriously thinking about knocking on doors and begging for Coke. I managed to pull myself together just before I turned left towards the main road. I saw the guy on the bike again and I told him that thanks to him I was moving again. He said "I have the easy job!" and he made me smile once more. At this point I think I had about 2km left and I told myself: "15 minutes left, max! You can run for 15 minutes. It's almost over". About 200m before the last water station I pass a lady in my age group who was walking. Then she starts running again and passes me back. I wasn't going to run after her for sure. I said "good job", but inside my head I was saying "knock yourself out, you've got nothing to fear - I am dying here". To my surprise, I passed another lady in my age group who stopped for a drink at the last water station. Then 100m later, I saw the first lady walking again and I passed her too.

I had 1km left and I was running strong again. I had made the decision that none of them were going to pass me again. It was stupid and foolish, but it worked.
I reached the chute and just seconds from the finish line, Paul, a friend from the FMCT snapped this picture of me. I don't think I looked back once in the last km, but I was sprinting like a mad woman, and I remember feeling that I was going pass out from lack of oxygen, pain or whatever else was going on with my body. I had never pushed like that in a race, so this was all unknown territory.

I crossed the finish line and I remember John Salt shaking my hand. I wonder if he thought that I was going to puke right there, it would not have been a first. I've seen other finishers leaving it all on the course, but I don't know how many had shitty races because of freaking gas pain. The next two pictures are the worst I've seen myself crossing a finish line. Yes, you can laugh, I totally look like a zombie. Is there a casting call near by?
I took a few more steps and drank a cup or two of water, then started sobbing. I had never felt so overwhelmed in my life. It's like my body could not decide whether to collapse or not. It's hard to explain. Kyra crossed the finish line about a minute later and said "it looks like you need a hug". Indeed, it was all that I needed. And I cried like a baby in her arms (thank you so much!). Legs were shaking and I was feeling lightheaded, so I went to sit down on the beach, looking incredulous at my stomach that had the shape of a balloon. And I had yet to pee as well. As for my legs? ALL GOOD. What about that, eh. I finished in 3:04, not my best time, and not my worst. I got 7th in my AG and remember the 2 ladies that I passed? They finished 15 and 20 seconds after me. Now that was satisfying!

Not sure how long I sat there, but the awards ceremony was going to start and I still wanted my cola. I wasn't hungry, but mind was still in problem solving mode. Remember that scene in Alien, or Prometheus? I wanted that Gas Baby out!! Right away!! I drank a Pepsi, but it had all its bubbles. Didn't help. I ate a few tiny slices of orange and a two-bite banana, then chatted for a while with friends. I waited for the draw to be finished, just in case I won something, then went to transition to pack my stuff. Exchanged more hugs, said goodbye to everyone I knew, gave a kiss to hubbs, then I left for Huntsville, glad to be resting my limbs and hopeful that soon enough I was going to be able to eat something more substantial.

For the rest of the weekend, you'll have to wait for the next blog post. I'm too tired to edit this one and I want to press Publish. YOLO again!


  1. Way to push through! I had that under the rib pain twice in the past year and it's a tough one. Not sure what it was with me either but it's not fun. Can totally relate. Congrats on completing the longer distance event even with the obstacles, and it sounds like you had a few. Nice work!!

  2. You make me laugh! Love the zombie pics! Ha! The first one is the best! And the hug? You're welcome. I thought I was going to catch you but I needed a bit more distance, I guess (then I might have been picking you up off the pavement first). Great work finishing this one. That swim was crazy.

  3. Oh wow, how did I miss this race report! Dude! That sounds like a character builder (by which of course we mean 'miserable'). Way to get through that one. The finish pics are pretty awesome :)