August 23, 2015

Race report -- Cornwall Sprint Triathlon

August 23, 2015
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
1:25:39 (1/19 AG, 11/65 OA, 54/136 men and women)

"Stripping?" I asked the young man as I approached. "Yes, right over here," he motioned.

I'll get back to that in a second. Now that I have your attention, let's get to the race report. This was my first time at the Cornwall Tri. I put it on my list of "firsts" this year, after hearing glowing reviews from numerous athletes. It did not disappoint.

The OTC gang at Cornwall

Swim (750m) -- 17:09

Thanks to a helpful volunteer who told me my time as I came out of the water, I don't have to guesstimate how much of my swim split was the transition time. I didn't feel as strong on this swim as I did last week in Brockville. The crowd at the start line was very spread out, and I didn't manage to catch a draft off the leaders. I did have a couple of people following my feet, and a small group of us came out of the water at the same time. There were plastic mats fixed underwater at the swim entrance/exit, which provided really good footing. Here's where the stripping inquiry came in. I decided to avail myself of the wetsuit peelers (no, I am not making this up). I quickly pulled my suit down to my hips and laid down on the grass. In one motion, the fellow helping me had the rest of the suit off (gotta love those stretchy Roka quick-release ankles, and liberal application of Body Glide). The whole process didn't take more than a few seconds... well worth it, as it saved me having to stomp my way out of my suit while getting my bike helmet on. I exited T1 in 15th position overall, and 2nd in my age group.

Set up in our numbered rack spaces

Bike (20k) -- 38:50

My goal this season was to hit 30km/h average on my bike legs (with the exception of Magog, where the course rides slower). I've done that a few times this season, and today I hit a personal best average speed of 30.9 km/h. The course was very engaging, starting with a false flat that had you thinking "why do I feel so slow??" until you came back down the other direction. It swung into a research park, introducing a fun set of curves and little rolling spots. A section down the main street ended in another fun "up, down and around" to take us into the second loop. The course was closed along its entirety, so we had plenty of room to negotiate the turns. The little jog toward the transition area included a (very well-marked) speed bump and some zigzagging, keeping us on our toes to the dismount line. I managed to move up a few spots on the bike overall, and into the age group lead.

Run (5k) + T2 -- 27:34

How, oh how can 5k seem so long. It's like some strange space/time warp. I did not feel good on the run today. I can't believe I actually ran faster at the Tremblant 5150, 3 days off an injury, where I just jogged it in and let people pass me, smiling the whole way -- mind you, I also took the bike really easy at that race. (Edit -- just realized Cornwall includes T2, Tremblant doesn't)

About 2k in today, I started feeling a bit of a stitch under my rib, but it was mild enough to ignore. I threw down Gatorade at each aid station (sort of, I actually kind of tossed it in the direction of my face and swallowed what I could). By 3k, I had a stitch on the other side, right under my right ribs. This one was more uncomfortable. Whatever... run through it. Look, a seagull! Hey, someone's selling that car. What do they want for it? $15,000 -- hmm, seems steep. I heard footsteps behind me, and couldn't help turning around. "Oh good, you're not a girl" I remarked to the tri relay fellow who ultimately passed me. At 4k, I pressed a fist into my ribs in case that might somehow help. I managed to pass a woman in that last km, unsure if she was even in my event. Mercifully, the finish line was closer to the road that I anticipated. I gulped down the bottle of cold water I was handed as I crossed. I felt pretty rotten, but I had given it everything I could. Others I talked to seemed to feel the same way, that the run took a lot out of them. I had felt a bit of sensation yesterday in the spot that was injured a couple of months ago, so I made my way over to the physio table so they could take a look. I'm glad I did, as he worked at it a bit, it started to spasm. He very nicely helped me stretch it out.

At the awards, I wasn't sure how I had ended up until I heard my name called. I excitedly received my "podium 2015" beer mug, but still wasn't sure where on the podium I had landed. Only when I checked online did I see that I won my age group.

Yay, new glassware!

August 16, 2015

Race report -- Thousand Islands Sprint Triathlon

Aug. 16, 2015
750m swim, 20.7km bike, 5km run
Breakfast: oatmeal w/brown sugar, blueberries and apples, tea, water, 1 egg

Finish time: 1:27:19.5 (5/45 OA, 1/8 AG 40-44, 22/106 men and women)

I love this race. Apart from Lac Tremblant, this part of the St. Lawrence is my favourite spot to swim. The town of Brockville is lovely, and well worth coming down the day before to spend some time in. This year was extra special, as my kids and I spent the night before the race on my parents' boat, moored in the harbour on Block Island within a 5 minute walk of the transition area. Apart from some late-night screeches, giggles, and "stop touching me!!"s coming from the aft bunk area, it was a restful evening and the most convenient home base possible (short of pitching a tent in the T zone). I was up early, so took the opportunity to pick up my race packet and get my bike racked before the crowds arrived.

Sunrise over the swim course

Racked early in front of the oldest train tunnel in Canada

Our digs for the night before the race

Swim (750m) + T1 -- 20:12

Once I had some breakfast into me, it was time to get my gear set up, put my wetsuit on, and receive last minute good-luck hugs and kisses (and a helpful observation from my eldest that I have a hole in the underarm of my wetsuit -- argh!). We had perfect water conditions, and the wave starts worked out great. Under-40 men, over-40 men, then women and relays. The swim felt pretty good, though I haven't put in the time this summer to make any real headway with speed improvements. (Edit: On reflection, I feel stronger on the swim than I ever have. But after putting in quite a bit of swim time over the winter and early spring without a lot to show for it, I got a little discouraged and decided to maximize my overall race gains by focusing those training hours toward the bike and run -- where fitness improvements could yield minutes rather than seconds.) I've been trying to mitigate the damage by staying on a straight course and drafting as much as possible. This is one of the longer local sprint swims (some are 500m), so I was at risk of losing ground early if I wasn't efficient about it. Hard to tell my actual swim time since the split includes the run up from the swim ramp and T1, but I exited transition 12th out of 45 women.

Bike (20.7 km) -- 41:08

I was happy to take 4 minutes off last year's bike split. That said, I had 3 spots on course that cost me some time. First, the turnaround was narrow and I put a foot down (ugh), then took what felt like an eternity to get clipped back in. The second was an encounter with a large fox -- who was crossing the street just as I was coming through, thankfully on a section where we weren't on our aerobars. I stopped pedalling and looked right at him... he paused, then thankfully changed his mind about crossing in front of my bike (which would have been a losing proposition for both of us). The last unfortunate slow spot occurred when I hit the brakes and almost turned left down the wrong street where there was a policeman directing traffic and a bunch of cones were set up across the right-hand lane. Despite the hiccups, I only got passed by one woman on course (who was racing the Olympic, not the Sprint). Instead of the usual "looking strong" or "keep it up", she said "Come on girl, you can go faster than that. Let's go!" Pure gold, totally spurred me on. As did the cheers of "Go Kirsten!" and "Go, Mummy!" as I crossed the dismount line and ran into T2. In fact, some random spectators echoed "Yeah, go Mummy!" for good measure. I managed to gain some decent ground on the bike leg, moving into 6th place.

View from our boat, across the harbour to part of the run course

Run (5km) + T2 -- 25:59.7 (hey, that 0.3 seconds under 26 min. is important)

Cramming half a waffle into my mouth and taking a big swig from my Skratch bottle, I set out onto the run course prepared to suffer. It wouldn't be for long, since it was a 5k course... but the forecast was for oppressive heat, and after my abysmal run experience at Magog I was ready to grit my teeth and push through whatever presented itself. Thankfully it went pretty smoothly, despite some confusion where a new part of the course intersected with a construction zone, and some near-misses due to the unusual "stay to the left" clockwise orientation. "There she is!" came the enthusiastic call and supportive smile from the Olympic tri woman who had passed me on the bike, near the run turnaround where she wasn't too far ahead. With less than 1km to go, a 16-year old blew by me like I was standing still (she would end up beating me by less than 9 seconds). I couldn't answer her speed, so just kept pushing as I was able straight up the hill to the finish line at the crest of the railway bridge. Still managed to gain one more position, moving up to 5th overall and taking 1st place in my age group. 

The best part of the race was sharing it with my Mum and Dad, and my girls. A bonus perk was having access to the marina showers since we were moored there... making for a much more comfortable ride home to Ottawa. Via Dairy Queen, of course. 

Who wants ice cream?