On the other hand, I had also promised to volunteer at the finish line, but I was reassured that I'd have enough time to recover and take on my duties for a couple of hours afterwards. After all, our relay swimmer was also the finish line volunteer captain and she understood that I may come with "limitations".
|Beat every sunrise|
Lovely, just lovely. And so our plans went through the window. We hoped that the rain would stop eventually, but it never did. Since we arrived in town way early to be able to check in, we crashed in a friend's hotel room and watched Le Tour until noon when we went to Deerhurst to pick up our race kits. I met my relay team mates then we all went to Farmer's Daughter for lunch.
|The Froome-bullet tearing it down the mountain|
|Carb loading done right|
Back at the hotel, I organized my transition bag (easy peasy), then watched American Ninja Warrior and took a shower. We turned the lights off around 10:15pm and the next thing I remember is the alarm going off. This was by far, the best sleep I've ever had before a race. I had absolutely no clue that the power went out during the night and that my hubby woke up several times. I don't even think that I moved a limb that night.
After making sure that we were caffeinated enough, we drove to the airstrip to park the car, then took the shuttle to transition where we arrived shortly after 6am. I got body marked and headed to the relay racks. Zin came over to inflate my tires, and I could tell that he was already "in the zone". I had to keep the chatting short
I also saw Sam and Mellen and snapped another pic to capture their smiles. Gotta catch them all like Pokem..
|Someone got the joke.|
I took in some inspiration and energy from these brave athletes and headed back to T1 for another potty break. Kari said that she was hoping to finish the swim in about 35 minutes and that's when I started to freak out. Brent was planning to run in less than 1:45 and... and... I was nowhere near this kind of times. At the very best I was hoping for a 3h35-3:45 time, but I had already forgotten than my best time in Muskoka was a 3h41, 3 years ago, when I was training seriously and was 15 pounds lighter. Ignorance is bliss they say. But at no time I felt pressured to perform better, so I figured that doing my very best that day was probably going to be good enough. Hey Brent, let's take a pic while I am still smiling.
I rode this course about 5 times in total and while it got better at some point in the past, I knew that I was going to be in for a world of hurt. I tried to stay positive and did not care about all the people who were passing me up on the hills. You gotta work hard to push 148lb up, but at least I knew that I had an advantage going down. Wheeeeee! Watch me zooming by. It's all about gravity, and the junk in the trunk, folks! And maybe a bit of race wheels. The first water station took me by surprise. It really didn't seem that far, but I believe that's where I saw Sue Sitki the photographer and she took the picture below.
The first challenge that I was apprehending was Dwight Beach Rd, which I missed riding back in May. However, once I made the turn, I didn't find it that bad at all. No gravel, but a few bumps and cracks, just like I remembered them from 2013. I stayed on the left, passed a lot of people who were descending way more carefully than me and enjoyed the scenery. That is a pretty stretch after all, if you can ignore the incline and how hard you are panting (and swearing) at times.
Once I reached the highway I started taking in some calories and playing leapfrog with a few people. Some of them didn't seem to have gotten the memo that it was a non drafting race and were blatantly playing the wheel sucking game. Thankfully not with me because I would have told them to bugger off. And speaking of following too closely, I almost got in an accident when a guy hit my back wheel and made me scream in terror. The guy then manages to pass me and says "sorry, I was looking at my bike". I was pretty furious, but told him politely to look at the road instead. This was probably the closest I got to hitting the ground in a race.
Aside from my heart rate going through the roof during this incident, this part of the course was rather uneventful. I descended as fast as I could, trying to use the momentum to get me over the hills. Repeat ad nauseatum. Reached Dorset and said no to the water and Gatorade, again. For nutrition I had with me a Picky Bar, 2 Fruit3 bars and 2 Gu gels, as well as 2 bottles of Scratch and 1 bottle of water. I was nowhere near to needing a drink, but I made a mental note to drink more. At that point I had only eaten a Fruit bar and 1/2 of my Picky Bar, 1/2 of my water and 1/4 of my Scratch mix.
The second challenge of this route for me was the hill out of Dorset, just before the highway 117. There were lots of people cheering at the top of the hill and I jokingly asked for another gear or two as I had run out of cogs. Alas nobody had a spare to get me out of my misery. I was riding a 28 cog in the back, but I wish I had a 32. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger... oh, shut up. It was super hard and I was already having thoughts of giving up. I was looking forward to the halfway mark, then the turn on Brunel, then the one on South Portage and then the one on North Portage, and finally the one on Deerhurst Rd. Somebody get me a teleporter if cogs is too much to ask for!!
Anyway... keep riding on. And just like that, the hunger stroke. By the time I got to Baysville I had eaten every solid food I had and finished my water bottle. Not much progress on the Scratch, but I was feeling a little gassy and didn't feel like drinking electrolytes. At this point, after 60km I still had not peed. I was wondering if I was drinking enough, once again. So at the aid station there I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade and 2 Clif bars. The right hip/IT band/knee/adductor went on vacation and said to my left side "sorry mate, you're on your own - good luck!". I replied with a few expletives and told them that there was going to be no negotiation. We still had 34km ahead and not the easiest either.
Somewhere on Brunel at the top of a hill I saw a photographer. Despite feeling slow as a slug, seeing him there gave me reassurance that it was not too late for him to pack his camera and go home. I gave him a pair of horns and smiled. He said "I got this!" and my next wish became to make it back in one piece to see the photo (I am buying these).
Back in May when I rode this course, you may remember that I (also) missed the turn on South Portage and continued on Brunel until I reached Huntsville. I rode that day in 3h53, but I was not "racing". About halfway I was still on time to make it back to Deerhurst in 3h45, if I were to maintain a 25kph average that is. Well, once I made the turn on South Portage and I got a painful reminder that a LOT more hills were going to slow me down, my time goal went out the window. I was now hoping to make back it in less than 4h, with a stretch goal of less than 3h53. I hate to think this way, but if it had not been for my relay team, I may have abandoned. I kept telling myself that I could not let them down. They offered me this opportunity, the least I could do was to finish the ride so that Brent can run and we can all get a shiny medal.
It was hard, a lot harder than I thought. But of course, it's been 3 years since I rode the full course! Senility must have kicked in because I could not remember this kind of pain. Nope, I am not going to read that race report again, for sure it will bring me down. So young, so fit, so light!! Aaaargh. Just keep riding, just keep riding... And do NOT, don't you DARE, walk up those hills. Nope, not doing that. Between us, I was also scared to fall off my bike in the process, so it was better to avoid it altogether. As a matter of fact, I saw two guys falling just in front of me while trying to get back on their bikes, on one of the last hills of North Portage. I really hope their day got better afterwards.
With a bit of delay, I made it back to T2. I ended riding the course in 3h50, thus meeting my stretch goal of beating my training time, on a harder course. All this without a mechanical, falling off, passing out from dehydration or worse, dying. You may think that I am over dramatic, but it's always a possibility when you go as fast as you can down the hills and you could hit a bump, a deer or a squirrel that's going to make you fly off your bike head down into the pavement. Every time I say goodbye to Zin before a race I ask him not to die. I am glad that none of us did, even though he had a mechanical (again!) and ended with his worst personal time on this course.
So anyway, back in transition Brent took the chip off my ankle and he started the run. I pretty much collapsed under a tree and stared at the sky for about 15 minutes. I was feeling extremely hot and thirsty and made it a personal mission to find some ice cream. I went inside the Deerhurst building to the gift shop and found a fudgesicle. I could have eaten 5, but I decided to buy one and really savour it. I changed into my capris and flip flops, took off my bike jersey and walked over to the finish line, in a sports bra. At that point I could care less, I knew that I'd get a volunteer tshirt and although I was feeling a bit self-conscious, being among sweaty and tired triathletes walking around like zombies removed the inhibition.
For the next couple of hours I worked mostly under a tent opening water bottles and giving those to finishers. I cannot thank Kari enough for assigning me to this job. Even though I got blisters from opening hundreds of bottles, having my hands in cold water and doing a minimum amount of walking was just perfect after the effort put on the bike.
|80yr young and going to the 70.3 Worlds Championships|
|Tracy receiving her medal and a heartfelt hug from her proud dad|
|The finish line waiting for the last athlete|
|My own finish!|
|Last bike standing|