Race Report: Wasaga Beach Olympic Triathlon

This past weekend I raced my first Olympic Triathlon in Wasaga Beach. I was inspired to race thanks to team “Rumblestino” aka Nancy, Kim, and Ang, who I have raced with many times including my first Half IronMan.

FullSizeRender(36)As this race was up in Wasaga we headed up the day before and stayed at an Air bnb. That part of the experience was less than stellar, but it didn’t impact my race, beyond me not being able to sleep which is likely how I would’ve been no matter where I was.

Many of you who know me, know that I’ve prided myself on going from sprint distance to Half IronMan distance, but with my goal race looming, Kim suggested I do this to get a little more racing under my belt prior to my goal race. And since they were all racing, I decided to join them.

Friday night I had plenty of time for ll my pre race rituals, I was stretching and rolling, and very comfortable with how my night was progressing…until it occurred to me that I didn’t bring my running shoes from Toronto to Wasaga. Not good. Especially since it was 8:30pm. A quick Google search revealed a SportChek 30 minutes away, and so with hopefully thoughts I took off driving to Georgian Mall. At 8:54pm I arrived and raced through the mall, found some shoes and with a great sigh of relief ventured back to Wasaga.

Now back to the race…

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So an interesting this about this race is that there is no pre-race kit pick-up. While this certainly makes it easier for folks traveling in, it was definitely a little stressful not having everything I needed prior. Another thing this race does is offers a discount instead of a race swag. The swag was either a shirt or hat. I really liked the choice (I got a shirt), but also the option to save money.

For the Olympic distance race we didn’t start until 10:30. This meant a relaxing morning preparing, but was a little weird for food. As we ate breakfast early and would be racing over lunch time.

The Swim

The swim start was from a beach which was very cool. We swam perpendicular to shore which meant head on into the waves. Although there weren’t to many. The temperature of the water was perfect.

My swim felt great. I felt I held a great pace and stayed reasonably straight on course. Heading back to shore was a little challenging as it was so sunny (and far) that I couldn’t see where the “swim out” was. All I could see was the yellow awning from Bananas bar, so headed there. I came out of the 1.5km in 5th position for my age after 31 minutes.

My transition to the bike was fairly quick. I took a gel and drink of electrolytes I had with my bike and I was off. I did wish I had brought sun screen. I had previously used my sisters, and while we were side by side, having my own would’ve made application quicker and easier.

The Bike

The bike was an out and back. It was much hillier than I thought. Nothing significant, but there seemed to be many long gradual hills that just fried out your legs…or at least mine. My fueling was ok. I went through 1.5 bottles of electrolytes – I could’ve had a little more. Plus a Vega bar and gel.

The Run

2016-08-27 | 2016 MultiSport Wasaga Beach Triathlon (Saturday)

On my way to the run transition I had another gel and grabbed my banana for on course. My legs felt heavy and the photos clearly showed it. I ended up carrying the banana for almost 4km, then ended up eating part of it because I didn’t want to waste it and wanted to get rid of it. As I hadn’t raced this distance and it was now after 1pm I wasn’t sure how my body would respond and I wanted to play it safe.

I didn’t race with a hydration belt, but took advantage of the on course support. The route was a double 5km loop which meant we went through 2 aid stations twice. It also meant that I was able to see Nanc and Kim while on course and be inspired by their effort and motivated to move my butt so they wouldn’t catch me 😉

The finish is right along the main strip of Wasaga. It’s right along the beach and is a fantastic view. Only top three age group finishers receive medals. Racers receive a free finisher photo, I received 7 of my photos from the run. The post race area is a small parking lot. Many folks just sat on the ground and enjoyed post race eats of pizza, chocolate milk, fruit, water, and pop.

2016-08-27 | 2016 MultiSport Wasaga Beach Triathlon (Saturday)

I would highly suggest people check out this race. It’s a great course with lots of fun. It’s easy to make a trip out of it, including beach days and summer fun.

 

Race Report: Toronto Triathlon Festival

All those who follow me on social media are more than aware that Sunday was the Toronto Triathlon Festival. This year I was honoured to be in the role of the Director of Ambassadors. We had an awesome team promoting the race, and it was a huge honour and exciting opportunity to work with these folks and share our excitement about the race.

Saturday Was Golden

FullSizeRender(29)The race event for me started on Saturday with kit pick up and a “gold member” meet and greet and shake out run with Olympian Simon Whitfield. The expo this year was at Ontario Place which offered a unique environment to pick up our race kit, and walk the small outdoor expo, then in a band shell hear Simon Whitfield speak. The event was about an hour total which included Cliff Bar samples and Honey Max to hydrate. I was thankful for the Honey Maxx as there wasn’t any real shade and the race kits included sparkling water vs still water. I drank through two bottles of Honey Max – with my focus of hydration to prepare for the next days race.

A few highlights at the expo included shopping some of the great products – flashy swim gear is pretty much only available in the US, so it’s always nice to have bright and colourful gear easily available at events like this. I also got to test out some massage boots from TriTrain. Essentially you zipped into these thigh high bags that filled with air putting pressure on your legs and then would deflate and various increments. A great massage tool to help aid in circulation of the legs.

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After hearing Simon speak (and he was amazing, very mindful) the group went for a 2km shake out run. I had been suffering for a few days with painfully sore calves so anticipated staying at the back of the pack, but the group was pretty close together so we mostly ran as one giant crew on a short out and back along the waterfront.

Race Day

As I was racing the sprint, I wasn’t able to rack my bike and get into the transition zone to set up until 8am. We had spent the evening at a wedding in Muskoka, so the sleep in was nice. I met with Mel and we rode our bikes to the start arriving close to 8:30.The wave we were in at 9:50 was larger then others (we had a 15 year age gap) but it meant almost all the gals from Tribe were racing together. It was very cool having such a large group bonding and supporting each other.

What I like about this race is that the bikes positions are assigned. Rather then a free for all for the ideal spot, everyone is told where to go and which direction their bike should face. I walked the racks trying to find my number, my face lit up when I discovered I was assigned the coveted dream position at the very end of the rack. To me this is the perfect spot for so many reason.

  1. There is only one person beside you which means less choas in transition
  2. More space. Since you have the legs of the rack they act as a barrier and keep the person beside you a little further away
  3. It is so simple to find your space when racing into transition because you are at the end – so you’re are looking for your own stuff.

I got ready in my space. Something I’ve done so many times I didn’t even worry or think about it the day before. The announcer (Tribe friend and Kona triathlete Travis McKenzie) said it was time to leave the transition and head to the start line. I grabbed my swim stuff which included my wet suit, swim cap, goggles, disposable water bottle, and body butter. The racer immediately beside me still hadn’t show up which meant SCORE! I had even more space. I was definitely feeling the love from the universe and was entering the race with a great mind set.

The Swim

IMG_2575The swim start was rushed and things moved fast. I decided to jump in and do a swim warm up because I knew the water would be freezing cold – it was. I swam about half of the available loop and realized our start was very soon, so decided to head back and get out. I was glad I did as there was a line up to exit the warm-up and Travis was announcing the start count down.

I got in the water and made my way to the front. I typically finish in the top 5 so felt comfortable with this decision. What I didn’t anticipate was the mad rush of others when the gun went off. I spent a great deal of the first few minutes be clobbered by this gal beside me. I kept trying to move away and into a clear space, but it just seemed there were so many people – all faster then me – and all trying to swim in my exact space.

This certainly took my “I got this” attitude and threw it out the window. This was my second open water swim, although I’ve been swimming up to 2km twice a week for the last 10 weeks. Going into today I had felt very confident – but now not so much. So, I did what I do when I feel anxious in the water and I rolled onto my back and gunned it. I was able to reduce my heart rate and get my breathing under control. I found an empty space and started to swim MY race.

The swim is a giant rectangle. After making the first two turns I really had my groove. I began passing many people and even found myself in the wave ahead. I was back in the race, swimming my race, and feeling confident again. I was frequently spotting where I was going and a very unusual thing was that most of the other swimmers were way of track. I spoke to three other triathletes who reported swimming 911m, 850m, and 875m during our 750m race. Spotting vs following the back is key.

I made my way up the dock, through transition and it was time for the bike.

Let’s Ride

IMG_2592My bike transition was almost a full minute faster then last year. I even had trouble getting my wet suit off but that didn’t seem to have any impact. The bike ride this year was no joke. There was a head wind both ways and the best option was to get in a quick gear and settle into aero and just push through. My bike felt fast. I passed many people and was only passed by a few, which was very unusual. I find that I struggle on the bike, which never really makes sense to me as I ride so much, but that seems to be how it goes.

Because it was so windy I found that I needed to keep my hands on the bike for fear of being blown off. As a result I didn’t fuel as much as I would’ve liked and I think this also come from wanting to keep pushing quick, vs slowing down to confidently fuel.

Run Time

IMG_2595My goal for my run was to hold a 5:15 pace. This would’ve given me a faster time than last year and would’ve been on point with my last 5km race – it didn’t happen. I struggled to hold 5:30 per km. While this was certainly frustrating (to not be on goal) I knew that I was giving my best.

The course this year was changed from last as the finish line was now at Ontario Place and not Cornation Park. This meant that instead of turning before the Legion hill, we were now running an out and back which included the hill. While a hill is certainly dreaded I don’t remember the hill and nor do I remember feeling extra awful. With about 1.5km left I really was locked into my pace and just pushing a steady effort.

The finish line is great. You can see and hear the finish line party as you race past before making a sharp turn into the Ontario Place parking lot. Free hambrugers, beer, and activities for everyone. The awards also took place here and a bonus from last year was that we finished near the start, so no long walk to pick up your bike and gear.

The Wrap Up

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Over all I had a great day. My transitions were faster, and while my each component of my race was between 30-75 seconds slower I am happy with how I did and my 8th place finish.

Thanks to the volunteers and race team at Toronto Triathlon Festival. It is absolutely one of my favourite triathlons and I look forward to racing it again next year. I hope you’ll join me!

What A Rush: Polar Rush Race Recap

This past weekend I participated in my first Obstacle Course Race (OCR), Polar Rush. An exciting experience after my first OCR event was only a couple months ago when I went with Tribe to check out The Pursuit, an indoor obstacle course facility here in Toronto.

Since I’ve never done anything like this before I was getting nervous over what to expect. I was wondering how “serious” this race would actually be, what obstacles would be there, and could I handle it.

Prior to the race I messaged a few folks from Tribe who were literally the face of this race, appearing in all of their promotional material, for some tips and tricks. I was given the following advice:

  • wear winter run gear
  • wear “grippy” glove or snowboarding gloves – anything with stick.
  • wear trail shoes or shoes with lots of traction
  • have fun!

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We arrived to Horseshoe Resort very early on Saturday, as per the race directions. The package pick up was simple, we signed our waivers and waited in short lines to receive our timing chip, Polar Rush branded toque, and a sample of Kellogg’s Vector Granola. The elite’s were on their way back towards the finish as we went outside to scope the start/finish line, and they we’re flying (almost literally) over the final obstacle, an A frame.

We met up with some crew from Tribe, took photos, and had a snack as friends from an earlier wave took off. It occurred to us that there didn’t appear to be any monitoring of the waves and we decided to move our group up by 30 minutes. I was glad we did as the course was already getting very icy in some patches, and slushy in others, so I’d imagine it would only get worse with more bodies hustling through.

To the first obstacle was one of the longest stretches of straight out running in the snow. It was certainly challenging and my heart rate was sky rocketing from the intensity. We started very back in the coral, so spent a significant amount of time here “ratting” around people who were walking the course.

The course consisted of 15 obstacles which ranged from crawling through tubes, under/between string strung between trees, crazy carpet riding, climbing over a wall, and slipping down a slide. Two of my favourite obstacles were the tubes and the rings.

IMG_2790The tubes did require us to wait in line as the course brings you to the top of the hill and their staff would need to bring the tubes up to the top. You also needed to wait for the other racers to get out of the way before your turn, so there was a build up.

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The rings provided an “easy” and “hard” option. After my experiences at Pursuit I was pretty confident in my skills although uncertain in how the would hold in this environment. With advice from Cliff from Tribe, an OCR regular, I ditched my gloves and got in the “hard” line.  What made these rings “hard” was that there were only 2 foot rings vs the easy which had three, a foot ring also meant a lack of hand ring. You can see the foot ring strung across my chest. I chose to leverage my swing with some momentum and didn’t use them. It is almost at this exact moment of the obstacle I realized that I was going to rock it. I had great momentum, my swing was steady, and my grip was solid. I felt incredibly proud to make it through this obstacle and this was certainly one of my favourite moments.

Polar Rush was a lot of fun. It is a great race for all levels of participants. There is no pressure to complete obstacles and every obstacle, including the tubes, had an opt out. Participants could take as much or race for as little time through the course. I would definitely suggest pulling together a team and rocking this race together.