Race Report: Toronto Triathlon Festival

This past Sunday one of my favourite triathlons of the season happened, the Toronto Triathlon Festival. I have participated in this race almost every year it has happened, and for the past two years have had the honour of being the Director of Ambassadors, coordinating the community ambassador team.

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This years race happened a couple weeks later in the season which was really nice, because the water was much warmer, and definitely felt that way. Something else new this year was the location of the expo. The swim start, finish line, post race party, and expo all happened in the parking lot of Ontario Place. This great change meant that everything you needed was close at hand, and it definitely made for a more spectator friendly experience.

The race festivities kicked off on Friday when the expo opened, and got really exciting Saturday with the shake our run with Olympian Simon Whitfield, and the ambassador team. Over the past couple years I’ve got to know Simon through this event and any chance to hear him speak is one I jump all over. He makes amazing connections to mindfulness and sport and has this real way of speaking the truth while being motivating and hopeful for athletes no matter their level of experience. What resonated with me this year, was him once again keeping it real, and sharing the nerves he experienced when at the start line – questioning whether he belonged – if his equipment was ood enough compared to others – and his ability… turns out he’s just like us!

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My Goals

After coming off of back-to-back injuries since May my goals were pretty modest, as even days before the race I was uncertain that I would even cross the start line. After an extensive self-care and recovery strategy I felt healthy enough to start and set the following three race goals:

  1. Run Fast! Prior to my injury, I had been putting more of a focus on running, racing faster, and using the race mantra that no mater what my watch said I would be racing to the maximum of my intensity – and in an ideal race situation, not referring to my watch.  I was able to do this in Mississauga and in Kincardine and I’ve found that with my watch I have been intentionally running slower, because I would look at my pace and doubt myself thinking “oh no, I can’t hold  4:55” when truthfully I could, and did. So my goal was to stop doubting myself and run fast and the hardest I could in every moment.file1-6
  2. Place something other than 5th and 8th. So the truth about this goal, and any goal that has to do with place, it really has nothing to do with me and my performance as much as who else is there that day – so it’s a crappy goal. You see, I can race a PB, but if someone faster is there, my goal has failed, I can’t control it. So really I don’t suggest these types of goals, but for me it seems like every triathlon I place either 5th or 8th, including Kincardine where I set the same goal, and still came 5th. So I set this goal again, and placed 7th in my age group. Now fourth would’ve been nice too, but I’m happy with 7th – and not 5th or 8th.
  3. Look competitive AF! This goal was a fun extension of our Ragnar Relay. When we thought we might be placing near the top our van came up with the one liner “You look competitive”. It was funny and made me think of the gals in my crew, which acted as inspiration as well. So in action, this goal was similar to my first, at every moment of the race, keep my head in the game, and look strong and focused and competitive AF – even if that wasn’t how I felt. It certainly helped me to stay in the moment and keep moving ahead and being strong.

Following the race TTF had food trucks, vendors, and a beer garden. I picked up a new triathlon kit from a Montreal company called Brava (check them out here) and we hung around, recovering, reflecting, and having a great time in the sun.

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This was certainly a great year to race TTF and if it’s on your goal list, don’t wait any longer.

My next race is in Wasaga Beach, where i’ve decided again to race the sprint distance (vs my original plan of the Olympic). TTF has certainly fired me up and I’m already looking forward to putting in the work to stay injury free and cross that finish line – maybe this time in 4th 😉 (who am I kidding, I really want to podium)

 

Keeping Learning Fun with Participant Choice

My new book, Physical Literacy on the Move, helps teachers develop the physical literacy of their students. In this blog post, which I originally shared with Human Kinetics Europe, details the importance participant choice has on children’s learning.

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Physical literacy learning that integrates participant choice provides children with the opportunity to take ownership over their learning. It also encourages engagement in learning that matters most to them.

There are times when children and youths can make choices around personal interests or pursue learning options based on their specific needs.  The limitations of choice vary based on the specific participant, the game or activity, the facility and equipment available. As well as, other factors specific to each participants learning style. Educators act as facilitators while the children make choices around their activity/game groupings, equipment, game setup and adaptations to optimize the challenge and maximize the participation and fun.

Through the learning process, flexibility is key to creating a learning environment where participants have the opportunity to experiment with personal choices in order to work at their optimal level of challenge. Many small games or drills should be occurring at once to maximize participation. Letting each group make their own choices provides participants of all skill levels the opportunity to have their personal needs met when learning together within the same activity space.

There are three ways educators can offer participant choice within their physical literacy programming.

Modify the equipment

Allow participants the chance to select the type, colour or size of equipment. This provides students with the opportunity to develop the same fundamental movement or sports skills. As well as, making accommodations for their own interests or needs.

Example: When working on developing an overhand throw, does the size or colour of the object (because maybe it’s not even a ball) matter?

Modify the playing area

Allow participants the chance to change up the distance of the playing area, distance from the target or even the size of net. It provides them with the opportunity to increase or decrease the challenge of the activity as well as increase or decrease the physical activity intensity level.

Example: Beginning level participants, who are newly learning a fundamental movement or sports skill, might find value in a small activity area, decreasing the space to travel and a number of movement or sports skills required to travel through space.

Modify the rules

Allow participants the chance to select the scoring scheme. This can involve how many passes need to occur before a point is scored, or the number of steps each participant is allowed to take.

Example: High level participants might choose a point scoring scheme that favours more challenging skills in a game requiring aim and accuracy versus simply participation or getting the object in the area of a target.

Regardless of the physical literacy learning experience, the educator should maintain a focus on participant choice, helping to create a meaningful learning environment where the needs and interests of all participants matter while being active and learning together.

Featuring over 120 games and activities, my book, Physical Literacy on the Move is available to buy from humankinetics.com for $32.95. 

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Ragnar Relay

This past weekend, myself along with 11 #TribeSoleSisters, 4 drivers, and 3 pacers drove to Coburg in order to run the 304km to Niagara Falls as part of the Niagara Ragnar Relay. This was the second time this race has taken place (the first back in 2013) and my first experience with such an event.

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Like many runners I kinda read the Race Bible, knew bits and pieces of what this experience would be like, watched the Ragnar “From Fat to Fit” documentary on NetFlix, but until you actually race an event, you don’t totally know what to expect. So rather than doing a lengthy race recap, I though I would share my key learnings of things I wish I had known before I started the race. Because let’s face it, if you follow me on social, you know I had a blast!

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  1. Bring Food! Now this might seem obvious to you, but we were trying to keep our packing low and we had compiled a list of 24 hours restaurants, so I really didn’t think it was necessary to bring actual meals with us. I did bring bars, gels, Nuun, and other hydration. What I didn’t take into account was the short rely legs, long times in the car, and how speedy our team was. As Van 1 we had to be at the check in point in Coburg for 8am. I didn’t run until 1pm, so we were in the car driving from transition to transition, all caught up in the hype, and all of a sudden it was noon, and I had to race almost 10km without eating since we left TO at 6am. So If I had planned better, had actual food with me, we wouldn’t have been so panicked to find somewhere to eat and I wouldn’t have had 4 sesame bagels with butter and peanut butter from Tim Hortons.
  2. Bring A Pacer. I had a pacer, well two actually, for my 13km leg that started around 10pm. I was thankful for Billy and Brandon because they not only made my run easier by hitting the light buttons ahead of me, throwing out my garbage, and being giants and making me feel like a celebrity as we raced passed (killed in Ragnar terms) 14 other racers, but they also made me push to a pace that I haven’t raced all season, averaging 5:05 per/km over the 13km. Since our team was running for 28 hours straight many relay legs started at 2 or 3am and ran through areas that were a little “sketchy” – Hamilton lift bridge/beach strip area I’m talking to you. I think next time we will make sure we have pacers (aka security, aka wind blockers, aka person cheer leaders on the run) for all runners over the night shift. It definitely brings peace of mind and the social is nice too. file-1(1)
  3. Bring Extra Runner Lights. Each van was required to have two head lamps and two tail lights per runner. We had this, however at about 8pm, when both were mandatory, one of our brand new tail lights broke. Teams without tail lights would receive a time penalty and that isn’t what we wanted, so we eagerly reached out to friends on other times, and gratitude to Trieu Nguyen who had a bag of them and lent us one to race with. So I would suggest having extras in order to avoid the drama.
  4. Bring Attire For All Weather. While I was ready for racing and cheering in the sunny summer heat we’ve been having, I was not prepared for the 3am chill when the weather dropped to single digits and we were cheer along the waterfront with waves actually splashing up on the race path. Sweaters, warm pants, fuzzy socks, a water and wind resistance shell, or even a blanket would’ve been great to have too. Not just warm running gear, but warm cheering gear too. file2(2)
  5. Bring Magnets. So this was a weird Ragnar “thing” we didn’t know about but clearly others did because after the first transition we started “collecting” magnets with other teams names and branding on our van. This was very fun and fun to keep afterwards, but we had no clue it would be happening so didn’t have any to share. A couple notes on what not to do for your magnets: 1. attach a magnet to a bottle cap that will scratch the rental car, 2. instead of using a magnet use a sticker stuck to a rental car, don’t do it. Stick with magnets and make them cute, creative, and connected to your team name and social handle.

We had a blast at this race, and if fun and friendship wasn’t enough the preliminary results (as of May 25th) had us placing top 3 in the Open Women Category, yeah Team Tribe. We worked hard, kept our cool, and placing top 3 just makes it extra sweet.

Follow along  with the fun by searching #TRIBExRAGNAR on Twitter or Instagram. Looking forward to doing this race again, and being that much more prepared.

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