We had a 4am wake-up for the 2-hour drive to Welland on Sunday morning. Miles had to sit up front with me again since my bike and gear were occupying the entire back seat. Thank you Kong for keeping him occupied until he eventually decided to go back to sleep.
We found parking and met up with Erin and Hailey before heading to transition to rack the bike and set up. I was really nervous but also excited as we went through the motions of kit pick-up, body-marking, etc.
We had some time to scope out the site a little bit. At least it wasn’t raining this time so we didn’t have to hide out in the car. We ran into Geo too and chatted about the race as time ticked by. It’s amazing how fast time passes before a tri (we arrived two hours before the start) – there is just so much to do to get ready!
I used a combination of New Skin spray and waterproof adhesive bandages to cover up my booboo (which hurt like **** with the lightest contact, ouch!) and hoped for the best.
Before long it was time for the pre-race meeting and a final pit stop before heading down to the canal to suit up and get in the water. (Water temp had dropped to low 70s after a storm and cold front - nearly everyone wore wetsuits.)
It was a deep-water start so we waited until there were a couple of minutes to go, then paddled into position to wait for the start. Erin gave me a quick pep talk that this was MY race and nobody else’s race was more important than mine. She told me to fight back and not take any crap. Got it! Thanks Erin!
Swim – 2000m
The swim was a large rectangular route in the canal, where we had a 70m wide “start line” tapering to a 10m “lane” along the shore. This was my first mass-start experience (almost 500 swimmers) and it was chaotic, to say the least. I was jostled and toppled and pummeled for almost the entire first half before I was able to get some space. It was nuts and I found that a lot of the men were very aggressive.
Video courtesy of Hailey:
The turns were an absolute nightmare with people all over each other and I could feel people pushing me down more than once. On top of that, I was paranoid about my elbow being bopped, so I was swimming very defensively and trying to protect it. I breathed only to my right side so I could see if anyone was getting too close on that said and move to protect my arm.
Things were a little better along the straight ~1000m stretch on the opposite side of the canal; I finally felt like I had some room and could swim without people all over me. I got into a bit of a groove, but all I could think was “This is so long!” I had never swam this distance in open water before, or even continuously in the pool, so it’s definitely something I’d like to work on over the summer.
It became pretty clustered again around the next turns, but then it felt great to be on the way to the finish. I could hear cheering at the swim exit for several minutes, which was awesome.
Once I made it, there was a big step out of the canal; luckily they had volunteers there to help pull us out. I had a little stumble once I was upright, but caught myself. Phew!
2000m – 38:24 – 1:55/100m
6/15 F30-34, 166/403 overall
We had a long run (~350m) mostly on sidewalk into transition. I peeled down the top half of my wetsuit and removed my cap & goggles along the way. Once in transition, I yanked off the rest of my suit, tossed swim gear to the side, threw a tank top on, scarfed a Honey Stinger waffle + salt pill, helmet on, race belt, socks + shoes, grab bike and go!
Run Up: 1:37
Meanwhile, Miles was having a little snooze with his head resting on the curb…
Up next, the bike…