Sunday, July 17, 2016

Post-Race Report - Gravenhurst Olympic tri

DNF. Worst three letters ever, in a race scenario. At least I can say I've been lucky up until now and that this was the first race I've been forced to pull out of due to a bike mechanical, and hopefully it won't happen again anytime soon!


But let me back-track a bit. It had been a decent race up until then...

Billy and I drove up north the night before the race - a friend of his has a cottage about 15 mins from the race site and he was kind enough to let us stay over. So we arrived in Gravenhurst race morning well-rested and not overly stressed out. As I'd said in my last post, this was a "well, why not do it?" race I'd signed up late for - more to see where my fitness is at in the longer races in anticipation of K-Town in 2 weeks' time. That I'm sure helped the pre-race nerves (or lack thereof).

Gravenhurst is a really unique and neat race start - instead of a beach start we were taken out in boats to the in-water start, 1.5k out, and had to swim in to shore. It was a fairly big first wave but I had my swim plan already set out - get on Billy's feet right off the start and see how long I could hang on. For once my swim plan was executed perfectly - I didn't even have to sight! And with the draft my effort was just about exactly where it needed to be to get me out of the water having worked hard but not overdone it. I thanked Billy running up to T1, and was happy to hear that the swim had gone well for him too.

It was a really pretty bike course - winding roads through mostly wooded areas. If not for the distance markers I would have been convinced I'd gone off course - the only cyclist I saw was just someone out for a leisurely ride. The first 10k and a bit I took at a comfortably uncomfortable pace, which I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold but I wanted to see what I could do. Just about 11 or 12k in I hit a pretty hard bump in the road, knocking my water bottle off. Frustrated but not about to get DQ'd for littering (or bike 30k without sport drink), I turned around to go get it and tried to shake off the disruption. Not even a minute later my back wheel started making a weird noise. What now?!? Thinking maybe something had shifted and was bumping into the wheel, I got off, only to find the wheel totally flat. I ride with tubulars (which means that the tire is glued directly onto the wheel) and so this meant my race was over. I pulled my bike off the road and thought, okay, now what? I'm 12k out with nobody else in sight! Luckily the casual cyclist I'd passed earlier came by, and when I told him what happened he biked ahead to let someone know to come get me. I sadly helped pack my bike up in the race vehicle but was extremely thankful I didn't have to walk my bike 12k back!

Back at the race site everyone was incredibly supportive. I found out quickly that at least 4 athletes (including 2 LPC teammates) had crashed on the bike course, so I realized I'd been lucky my problem was just a flat (and they're all okay - Jack Laundry even came back from his bike incident to win the race). These things happen I guess. Overall I'm disappointed of course, but it was better for something like this to happen here in a race I'd just jumped into last minute, rather than one of the bigger ones of the season. Plus I then got to do the cottage thing the rest of the weekend - so it wasn't a wasted trip in the slightest!

Hopefully I've used up my bad bike luck for the year, knock on wood! Next up is MSC K-Town during the August long weekend. I'll use yesterday's race as motivation to put in some good training between now and then, and get my poor bike fixed up and ready for action!

Thank you so much to my family, friends and supporters, including:
- teamLPC and Coach Mark
- the Multisport Canada and Recharge with Milk team
- my fellow MSC Ambassadors

And thank you very much for reading! :)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

MSC Belwood 2016 - Post-Race Report

Well, I'm certainly happy to be back in the swing of things! Since my last post, I'm excited to report that I'm back with teamLPC, Coach Mark and the Multisport Canada/Recharge with Milk Ambassador Team. :D As a few of my teammates and friends have said, I probably just needed to get out on a race course to "get the triathlon bug back". Anyone who is or has struggled with motivation to train in the past, especially over the long off-season, I would love to hear your story as well :)


Today was the perfect day for my 2016 Multisport Canada/Recharge with Milk race debut - unlike the scorching temperatures of the rest of the week, it was overcast, relatively cool, and even rained a bit. If you're living in Southern Ontario you'll understand why this was so welcome today.

Considering my lack of training recently, I'm surprised at how calm I was arriving at the race. Running through the familiar pre-race routine helped I'm sure, as did the small venue and how close it was to home (driving over, it felt like I was just doing the normal work commute to Elora, two small towns over). LPC teammate Nadine also seemed just as relaxed as I was feeling, so we organized everything and casually headed down to the water and before I knew it, we were about to start.

Swim - 750m

I started in the pro/elite age group wave which was incredibly small and incredibly talented. That was great for everyone else but meant there wouldn't be much chance of me getting a draft! I was able to hang on to Nadine's feet for about 200m but lost her and then just started focusing on swimming as steadily as possible. I'd done one thing right in the off-season swimming wise, and that was focus on drills. I was able to hold a good form and I'm finally starting to get a hang of some of the finer aspects of swim technique (forearm catch, split screen breathing...) - at least it feels like I have! Anyway, my endurance was ultimately what held me back but all things considered it was a decent swim and I got out of the water not incredibly exhausted and not in a terrible position.

Bike - 30 km

Coach Mark had said earlier this week that the bike would be where I'd feel the lack of training the most, and was he ever right! (Note: he's always right...). The first 15k felt great, I was holding a great speed and it felt effortless. But of course, whenever that happens, you then quickly realize it was either downhill or with the wind. This time, turns out it was both. The next 5-10k I felt like I was barely moving, and I also started to get a hip flexor cramp (not enough practice in aero!). It was around that time a few women from the next wave started passing me, too (although they were friendly and encouraging - I'm looking at you, Laura and Amanda!) I just tried to keep my effort in check and not push too hard (although I may have gone too easy, I was enjoying the scenery a little too much around then), but once the course flattened out again I was able to pick up my speed and still finished at a decent overall pace.

Run - 7.5 km

Finally, a run that actually felt pretty good! I'm putting that more on the weather than my fitness, although I think it was a bit of both. Knowing how I tend to start off way too fast normally, I really tried to stay relaxed for the first km or two and think about staying upright and keeping my strides short and fast. After the lengthy time in aero position I actually felt strangely tall for those first couple k's (and it's a feeling I rarely feel!). As the race went on I was able to pick up the pace gradually, and the second half I caught a few women (who were just as cheery and encouraging as the first time around which is awesome :) ) and really pushed the last 500m to cross the line in 4th place overall female! I've still got it! :P

Overall such a great race atmosphere and a really fun venue - I'll for sure be coming back to this race in years to come. Multisport Canada always outdoes themselves with organizing both the race itself and the race venue, and the Recharge with Milk tent is always a huge hit (I came away with lots of swag and a photo to prove it.) Post-race interview with Cody Beals was really neat, too - inspiring for all of us, from first-timers to the top finishers in the race. And although John Salt was out of the country, he made sure to have a stand-in end-of-race hand-shaker ready to make sure every finisher still got a congratulatory handshake :P

I'd like to thank those who have supported me, through thick and thin, through sickness and health and athletic melt-downs alike. You guys all rock! :)
- Everyone at teamLPC, especially Coach Mark and my better half Billy :P
- The Multisport Canada/Recharge with Milk crew and my fellow Ambassadors
- Lou and the team at MainCycle in Hamilton
- Last but not least, my family and close friends for support in and out of triathlon
- And of course you, faithful reader - I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I wish you all the best :)

What's next? Looks like I'll be tackling the MSC Gravenhurst Olympic distance race next Saturday because, why not? It's looking like another great venue and I hope to see some of you there!

(NOTE: I'm going to publish this sans race photos in the hopes I can later edit it and put photos in but no promises...)