My only disappointment with race day was that it was the same day as the 35th Annual Terry Fox Run. Terry is my athletic hero and I haven't missed a Run since I started them back in elementary school. So, I did the next best thing and ran with ribbons from previous Runs - one on my race top and one in my hair. I was thrilled to see at least two other athletes wearing Terry Fox Run shirts out on the run course, too!
My dad's signature line of encouragement when I'm racing: "Do it for Terry!"
The swim was the only discipline that I'd raced this distance before, but it still felt really long. Luckily it was in a man-made canal so it was warm (almost too warm actually!) and smooth. I started in the Pro wave (why I signed up as Pro I have no idea...) so most of my wave was out of sight right off the start. Luckily the next wave started only a minute back though and once they caught me I was able to get on some feet and draft pretty much the entire way. For a bit there I couldn't swim straight, not sure why, but the way the course was set up there were small buoys every few metres so once I realized this it helped me stay in a straight line. I was actually pretty happy with my pace throughout, and I never felt overly tired - but as always I was still very relieved to get to shore and get on with the better parts of the race!
In the background is the Welland Flatwater Centre where we did the swim.
The bike portion felt great! My goal was to hold an average pace of 30kph but since I wasn't even doing my long rides at 25kph leading up to it I thought that was a long shot. As it turned out, I averaged almost 32kph. The majority of the race was a slight downhill, but also into a bit of a headwind, so I'm not sure which contributed more but effort-wise I was really happy to have been able to hold the pace I did. I also fuelled better than I had in training (although I still probably need to double my caloric intake if I want to be competitive in these things in the future!) I felt tired by the end of course, but not nearly as much as I'd expected.
We did two loops on the run, going by the Falls twice. So pretty :)
I'm going to start with a disclaimer (not an excuse, a disclaimer :P ) - I've never run 21k before. Not even for an easy run. Coach Mark and I discussed beforehand that I would only do the full run if I felt pretty good, and not to push it and re-aggravate my shins. I actually started out feeling pretty good, and holding a decent pace but something I thought I might be able to hold for a while. But then I did hit a wall, as I expected to. Unfortunately that wall was at 15k, about as far out as I could have been on the course. So instead of dropping out I started walking, so I would at least finish. 500m later I got to an aid station, and realized how hungry I was (fuelling was good on the bike, but all I'd had on the run was energy drink - NOT smart). The volunteers asked what I wanted to eat: a banana, pretzels, grapes, orange slices, a gel ... and I said "one of everything!" Best food I'd ever had in my life. And amazingly, once I'd finished, I felt better and was able to run again. At a decent pace, too! After that, there were two more aid stations where I proceeded to stop and stuff my face, and then continue mostly running through the park, past the falls, and FINALLY to the finish line.
I did still get 3rd in the Pro Female division (there were only 3 of us).
As for what's next for me, I'm incredibly excited (and more than a little nervous!) to be starting a new job tomorrow as a Physiotherapy Resident for Eramosa Physiotherapy Associates. 3 days a week I'll be back at the very familiar Health and Performance Centre on Guelph campus, and the other 2 I'll be in downtown Guelph. And after a week or two of down time, it'll be back to the grind getting ready for the 2016 triathlon season!