This is part II of my triathlon double-header. Read part I here.
Earlier in the summer, Alasdair and I talked about the possibility of riding our bikes 45k to Guelph Lake to do the sprint triathlon relay, and then ride home after the race. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that riding 120k that day (since I would be riding 30k in the relay) might not be the best idea, in particular because I hadn’t ridden more than 60k at once lately, and because we’re doing the Barrelman 1/2 ironman in 2 weeks. So, last week I scrapped that idea and decided instead to do my first ever triathlon double-header: the sprint triathlon relay in the morning, and the try-a-tri in the afternoon. It would be my first time doing a try-a-tri since 2010 when I first started racing (I did the Milton try-a-tri first, then the Guelph Lake I try-a-tri before switching to sprints). I only told a few people and most said, “WHY?” Why not?
So after the sprint relay, I registered for the try-a-tri and got body marked again (the volunteer had to scratch out the 454 from our relay and add 1003 to my leg!). I needed to eat something, but wasn’t sure exactly what to eat that wouldn’t upset my stomach. I had a peanut butter sandwich and a banana during the sprint awards, and hoped that would do! I had moved my bike from the relay rack to the women aged 40-44 rack before the awards, so all I had to do was set my stuff up, and that didn’t take long.
With about 30 minutes to go before race time, I headed for the water to put my wetsuit on. Ailish showed me the awesome sign she made for me during the sprint relay!
She zipped me up, and I went for a short warm-up swim. I was to be in the 3rd of 4 waves. Many of the athletes were first time triathletes, so I decided to line up in the front row of swimmers – I didn’t expect to be the fastest, but I was certainly more comfortable and confident than newbies!
My strategy paid off, as I had very little congestion. I had a pretty good swim, and seemed to go straight. The buoys seemed so close – 375m is not very far! We swam out to a buoy, turned right, swam to the next buoy, turned right, and headed for shore. I swam until my hands started to hit the sand, got up and saw 9:30 on my watch – not bad! I walked a few steps then ran out of the water, across the sandy beach, and up the long hill, around the transition zone, and in. The run was longer than usual, because low water levels in the lake made the swim start further out than usual.
I had a bit of trouble getting my wetsuit off, and had to brush pebbles off my feet before putting my socks on (remember, we were set up on gravel). I grabbed my bike and off I went!
My goal was to ride as hard as I could and to see if I could maintain 30 km/h over 10k like I did over the 30k for the relay. I had trouble clipping my shoes in, but eventually got going. My legs felt tired and I pretty much knew right away that I wasn’t going to manage that pace. But I did what I could. I thought I passed a lot of people during the sprint relay, but I passed even more during the try-a-tri!
Having just ridden the course in the morning (and then some), I knew exactly what to expect and the ride went pretty quickly. I had a stomach cramp for a while and figure it may have been the peanut butter sandwich. On the way back, climbing the last big hill, another athlete was riding down the hill on the other side of the road, completely out of control, wobbling this way and that, screaming over and over! I thought for sure that she was going to crash. I don’t remember now whether it was arms or legs flailing, but it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen on a bike. When she passed me I turned back to make sure she was still upright – somehow, she was! She must have been absolutely terrified!
I reached the dismount line, and was a bit disappointed that I didn’t go as fast as I would have liked to. I didn’t actually know what my time was – I wasn’t paying really close attention. I was surprised to see that I was the first woman on the 40-44 rack to rack my bike (it was empty!). This meant that I was currently in 1st place. Two women arrived while I was still there. I removed my helmet, changed my shoes, and took off – I even decided to leave my hat, not wanting to lose any more time than necessary!
I was sure that I would be caught on the run, but apparently I started out at a pretty good pace – near the beginning, I heard Alasdair say, “Nice pace!” I wasn’t sure if he meant it or was trying to be encouraging! With every step, I expected to be passed by a woman with a 40, 41, 42, 43, or 44 or her leg. I wasn’t used to being in the lead – in fact, this was the first time ever! Shortly after beginning this run, I remembered why I hated running at Guelph Lake – it’s hilly! And of course close to 2 PM, it was hot! With such a short run, I tried to hold the pace I started with, but had no idea how I was doing – I wasn’t looking at the watch. I resigned myself to being passed by stronger runners, and just decided to do the best I could. I passed an aid station but just ran right through – no stopping for water (or someone would surely pass me!). Before too long, I hit the turnaround, at which point I’d be able to see the people hot on my heels. I was surprised that they were all men! No women about to pass me. With about 200m to go, I heard the voices of 2 women, and resigned myself (once again) to finishing 3rd. They passed me, I looked at their legs, and saw 20-something! Still in the lead… I reached the last uphill, a spectator told me and other runners to push hard for the finish, I turned the corner, ran down the hill, and then was joined by Ailish as she ran part way down the hill with me. I couldn’t talk at that point! She later told me it was hard as she had to dart in and out of spectators. I crossed the finish line, and the announcer told everyone that KIRA had finished.
A volunteer took my timing chip, another gave me a finisher’s medal, and a third gave me a bottle of water. I found Alasdair and Ailish, and then this awesome fan blowing cold mist!
Eventually Ailish and I went over to the results board, and someone from Sportstats put up 2 sheets of paper. I found my name, and saw that I was 1/32 women aged 40-44. I had won!!!
After getting my post-race food, we sat down in the shade and waited for the awards to start. An announcement was made that a 3 year old girl was missing, and for everyone to look out for her. 5-10 minutes later the crowd cheered when we were told that she had been found safe. The awards started, and before long I was called up as the winner of the women 40-44 category – how exciting!
It was a fun day!
The race stats changed a little between the posted results at Guelph Lake and now. In any case, I still finished first!
Time: 50:23.4 (1/25 women aged 40-44, 8/141 women, 62/268 athletes)
375m Swim: 11:11.9 (2:59 min/100m – includes long run up to transition) (4/25 women 40-44, 34/141 women, 55/268 athletes)
10k Bike: 21:45.8 (27.57 km/h) (1/25 women 40-44, 8/141 women, 63/268 athletes)
2.5k Run: 13:47.6 (5:31 min/km) (3/25 women 40-44, 8/141 women, 62/268 athletes)