Race Recap: Montreal Demi-Espirit

4.5 months in the making, my goal race, the Montreal Demi-Espirit 70.3, was here on Saturday. It’s a flat course that offers “your best chance you’ll ever get to personal best” and for me, it did!

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I first decided to do this race and my sister and her crew had decided to race it because it is a “bucket list” race. Company on these long distances races is great and once I heard about the unique course I was in.

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The race takes place in the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympic Park. Summer in the rowing basin, riding around the Formula One Canadian Grand-Prix track, and running back around the rowing basin. It was amazing for spectators as people were everywhere along the entire course, and as an athlete you were able to see your supporters multiple times on route.

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The Swim

The swim is an out and back in the Olympic rowing basin. This swim is unique in that while it’s open water, it’s a protected current-free basin is similar to a 2 km long, 100-meter wide and 3-meter deep swimming pool.  The water has a sandy bottom which I was able to view the entire time and “is considered superior for swimming.”

Because of these conditions I felt very confident on course. There was lots of space in the water and not once was I near another person where we might have touched. Certainly the number of women were less, but we also had a great deal of space. I stuck to my usual plan of a steady effort and during the final few hundred meters set my sights on a few swimmers that I wanted to pass and I did giving myself a third place age group finish for the swim.

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The Bike

The 90 km bike portion of the race consisted of completing 21 laps around the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, which is the site of the Formula One Canadian Grand-Prix. The 4.3 km loops were very smooth and were filled with a combination of winding turns, hair-pin turns, and straight aways. There was one bottle drop/aid station which had it’s own lane and an opportunity to not only grab a bottle while continuing to ride, but also pulling over for a stop.

2016-09-10 | 2016 Triathlon Esprit de Montréal (Samedi)

The Pro-timing chip on your ankle counts your laps, but I also used my Garmin to make sure I was on track. The lap count is shown on a giant screen near the exit lane, and your name and bib number appear on the monitor on lap 5, 10, 15, 19, 20, 21. The race are continuously shares that when you see your name with the number 21, you must exit the course, however I saw at least 5 people who misunderstood and did an extra lap.

My bike experience was one that is most easily described as terrifying. As one of the first few women out of the swim I entered the bike loop, with tired legs, at a measly 25km/hrs pace. I entered into a bike race in progress with many men holding what I could only assume was 40+km/hr paces. I felt like Disney’s Simba during the stampede scene of the Lion King. Men was racing past me on both sides. There was no organization as to where slower riders should be and when I assumed it was to stick the left and pass on the right (which it was) speedy men would cut through almost no spaces nearly taking both of us out to pace. This was my race situation for almost the first 40 minutes until more women entered the course and I can only assume some of the faster men started exiting.

21 loops certainly offered an interesting option as I was able to see my family and receive their coaching and cheers almost every 8 minutes, I will be honest that while 21 laps seemed fun before riding, it was very mentally challenging and required a lot of focus for almost 80% of the time. Although that being said, this mainly flat course was one of my fastest rides, in which I was able to hold my Olympic distance pace during double the distance.

2016-09-10 | 2016 Triathlon Esprit de Montréal (Samedi)

The Run

The 21.1 km run starts at the back of the Transition Area where you will run directly onto the Voie Maritime for a short 2km out on the trails. I entered this area at the exact time the duathlon was starting here. They let me get a few feet ahead before they started and it was certainly motivating to run so closely with others.

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Once back on the basin wall, you  circle the Olympic Rowing Basin and complete 4.5 laps. The race almost everywhere including the website states 4 laps, but it’s actually 4.5. I didn’t realize this until I was on course and for over two hours watched racers run across this floating bridge, trying to figure out what they were doing and whether that was my race or another distance.

While heading out on what I (and my family) thought was my final lap I asked a staff what the deal was after a large group ahead of me went across. It was here on course that I learned about the extra half lap. This definitely sucked as I had mentally thought I was nearing the finish, and then having to explain to my family too, while running, that I still had a half lap left. I hadn’t started my Garmin on time, so knew that wasn’t reliable. So when it was finally my turn to cross the bridge – I was jumping for joy.

The course was well fueled with 3 aid stations per loop. They had water, ice, coke, pretzels, and an electrolyte drink. They were well organized and the volunteers did a great job.

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One thing to be aware of is that almost all on race communication on race day is in French. Pretty much the only thing I spoke while on course was the phrase “English please”. This was challenging on the bike, where I felt very unsafe and was unsure of what was happening when people didn’t appear to be following the “rules”. Race communication prior to race day was bilingual.

That begin said, I enjoyed this flat and fast race quite a bit. It gave me personal bests and an awesome spectator experience from my family and friends. I would definitely suggest others give it a try.

 

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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.

 

The Mindfulness of Triathlon

One of the perks of being part of the Toronto Triathlon Gold Member Club this race season was the opportunity to attend a member only event with Simon Whitfield.  Simon won 10 consecutive Canadian Triathlon Championships titles, attended four Olympic games (winning Gold at the Sydney Olympics and Silver at the Beijing Olympics), and carried the Canadian national flag during the opening ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The Gold Member event took place on the Saturday before the race and involved a panel discussion featuring Simon as well as a short shake out run which he participated in as well.

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Toronto Triathlon Festival Ambassadors with Olympian Simon Whitfield

What really stood out to me from what Simon shared was his connection to yoga and mindfulness. Simon was asked what advice he would give to younger triathletes and his response – yoga. Simon shared “I think if I had done that throughout my career I would’ve avoided some of the pitfalls – physical pitfalls and mental pitfalls.”He went on to highlight the need to complete “daily diagnostics” where every morning he finds quite time and space and tunes in to his body – how he feels physically and mentally – he unplugs from his devices and simply tunes and turns in.

Simon shared how initially in his training he thought yoga was simply stretching, but has since learned the true benefits for him which have come through the connection to mind, body, and daily reflection. Simon shared “there’s a lot of pressure involved in any level of sport and the routine of being isolated to your own mat, your own space, would be helpful in the morning and at night keeping out that negative self talk.”

He also shared how mindfulness and reflection would’ve helped him in his interactions with colleagues, coaches, and family sharing “If i did yoga throughout my career I would’ve avoided pitfalls on the mental side of it and the human interaction side would’ve been less up and down as it was.”

I was really surprised by Simon’s continued connection back to yoga and the impact it’s had on his life after Triathlon, and his push for those to give it a try to enhance their training and life. I really enjoyed hearing Simon share this information as well as the rest of his story as a four time Olympian, and life after the Olympics.

To become a TTF Gold Member is simple – simply register for the race early before the deadline and the perks (which included many great prizes) are yours!

Watch the entire panel here as recorded by Michelle Clarke.