December 22, 2015

Race report -- Trimemphre Olympic Age-Group National Championship

July 25, 2015
1500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
Magog, QC

Breakfast: most of an egg, a piece of lunchmeat ham, 1/2 french toast, 1/2 croissant, 1/2 whole wheat toast, 1/2 bagel with cream cheese, honeydew melon, OJ, tea

Tree covered in knitting, outside the Magog arts center

I've had notes kicking around for this post since July... it's now December. Time to get this done before 2015 is over. I don't really know why it's taken me so long -- this was my A race for the season, it didn't go as well as I'd hoped, and I had to sort through some mixed feelings about it. I raced as hard as I possibly could. I left absolutely nothing in the tank, and suffered pretty deeply during the race and afterward. I was completely satisfied that I gave it all I had. I didn't even look up my results until I was almost done my long drive home -- which is totally unlike me. ;) Qualifying for Worlds was a super-long shot for me this year. But out of all the comments I received after the race, "that's too bad" rang loudest for me. "What do you mean, 'that's too bad'?? I raced my guts out! This was only my second Olympic distance tri, I'm completely satisfied with my effort!" I thought to myself. Did some things go pear-shaped? Sure... but live and learn. In any case, onward. I'm really pleased overall with how my 2015 season ended up. I managed 1st in my age group and 3rd overall female in our local/regional Somersault Series standings. I'm ready to dig in to 2016 and continue to improve. But first, this overdue race report... it's a long one. Better grab coffee. And provisions.

Lots of athletes and spectators at this event -- carpet from swim run-out visible in the background

While my result at Magog wasn't a qualifying performance, it was an improvement over my other Oly result from Toronto last year (by where I finished in the field). I went into it with the perspective that I wanted to race my best race, and there wasn't anything I could do about how everyone else did. This was clearly a strong and experienced field -- everywhere I turned, there were kits with Team Canada or various sponsors emblazoned across them. Time to walk tall and get down to business.

Took a photo of this sea serpent for the kids

I arrived the day before, with plenty of time to do a quick swim, bike, and run before picking up my race package. I neglected to bring my MyFloat, so I left it to blind faith that my shoes and keys would still be on shore when I returned. The water was cool and clear, but the rocky bottom meant we had to tread carefully. My B&B was was an easy bike/walk from the race venue, and was peaceful and quiet.

Late Friday afternoon, clouds rolling through

Kelsey had invited me to dinner with her and some friends. Their AirBnB was a bit out of town, which gave me the opportunity to drive some of the bike course. This is by far the most technical course I have experienced. As I was driving along, I pondered the 90-degree turn at the bottom of a steep hill, and cursed the city planner who chose to put several stands of trees in the middle of a perfectly good, straight road. Having mentally tallied up several "omg..." and "wtf???" spots on course, I was ready for a glass of wine when I showed up for dinner. Bottle in hand, I cheerfully strolled up the driveway... of the wrong house. The gentleman who lived there assured me I was welcome to come back with the wine if I was unable to find the right place. Thankfully I got sorted in the end.

Wonderful view  (with deer flies the size of Volkswagens just outside the frame)

Manning (womaning?) the BBQ

Had dinner Friday with this lovely group

On race morning, I had a quiet breakfast and slowly made my way to the transition area. My start time wasn't until 1:40 pm... which felt odd, as I'm used to racing in the early morning. I tried to rest and find shade as much as possible while I waited, but race nerves meant I didn't eat anything for lunch. This would end up being a bad mistake. 

The decision to allow or disallow wetsuits came down to the wire -- in the end wetsuits were not allowed. I've only ever raced at Sydenham (200m in a super sprint) without a wetsuit, so that was new for me. My mantra for the swim was "Strong, Smooth, Straight". I wanted to emulate the feeling from Brockville last year. My plan was to start around the 2nd row on the beach, keep up with the strong swimmers as long as possible, and find some feet. I had practiced dolphin diving the day before, and when the gun went off I actually made some distance on those who started swimming right away. Bonus! I executed exactly to plan, felt great, and shaved 4:08 off last year's Toronto swim -- without the wetsuit. I'm not sure if T1 is figured into the swim or the bike, so I'm assuming the swim time as it's posted. 

Before -- looking chipper with Kelsey in the transition area

On the bike, I tried to emulate the effort from Sydenham while carrying it over a longer distance. Fuel consisted of swedish berries and almonds. Despite my impression from driving it the evening before -- and the fact that I witnessed someone being pulled from the ditch on a spineboard -- I actually found the course super fun to ride. I had heard from someone to add 10-15 minutes to your expected Oly bike split to account for all the turnarounds and crazy curves. That ended up right, with my bike split 10 minutes longer than TO (again, not sure where T2 falls into this). Felt strong though, and moved up 6 places from my position after the swim.

For the run, I tried to recapture the feeling from Toronto last year. "Leave the bike legs in T2, take new legs out onto the run." This is where the wheels started to fall off, unfortunately. That post-bike heavy legs feeling that normally goes away, just didn't this time. So I'd say most of the 10k was a full-on sufferfest. I had to walk up a bit of an obnoxiously steep dirt hill with my hands on my thighs to keep upright. Someone pulled up in a golf cart to ask if I was ok. I nodded and kept trudging... I think if I'd stopped my legs would have just buckled. I chugged gatorade at every aid station where it was available, but it didn't help. I tried to keep pushing, and actually passed some people which I found kind of crazy considering how miserable and weak I felt. In the end I moved up 2 more places in my AG. When I crossed the finish line, I made the mistake of stopping suddenly and bending over to take off my chip. Bad idea. Sort of lost control of my HR/breathing, got some bad shakes, and had trouble speaking anything intelligible. The medics sat me down to take my vitals and give me some water. Unfortunately while I was sitting, my hamstrings seized. Good times! Anyway, got fixed up by the on-site physios and started to feel better once I had some food and a couple of chocolate milks in me. 

After -- not so chipper, but finished

I think some of my run problem may have stemmed from nutrition/hydration. I ate at 9:30 a.m. and didn't race till 1:40 pm... I didn't have any appetite whatsoever and couldn't make myself eat anything between breakfast and the race. Just water, and a cappuccino an hour before my start for a little caffeine infusion. On the bike, I drank a full bottle of Skratch and ate a handful of salted almonds and swedish berries, spread out over the 3 laps. Gatorade on the run. Despite drinking on course and having water plus 2 milks afterward, I didn't have to pee till about 8:30 pm... and the next morning I noticed I was a lot lighter than usual. So maybe some dehydration issues. I didn't have any problems like that in TO last year, even though I ate and drank less, but it was a lot cooler at that race and it started very early in the morning.

I'm looking forward to taking another crack at qualifying for Worlds in 2016 -- right here in Ottawa! But even if it doesn't happen, as long as I get closer than I did last time, I'll be a happy camper. 

Podium overlooking Lac Memphremagog

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