I spent many months wondering when I would get to experience the joy of training and the thrill of racing again. It has been slow progress after being side-lined for the first half of this year, but I have been fortunate not to have any significant setbacks along the way. Last weekend I went for a bike/run brick, both at a quick (relative term) pace. I ended up with some discomfort in my right knee (the good one, go figure). It was tender and sore to walk up and down the stairs, but thankfully a couple days of rest/ice/foam rolling/Voltaren did the trick. I was still very paranoid and, as a result, only ran during race week. I wasn’t sure if it was the bike/run combo that aggravated it, the pace, growing pains or just a fluke, but I just hoped it wouldn’t flare up during or after the race (spoiler alert: it didn’t).
Saturday morning ended up being cold and rainy, one of those days where you don’t even want to leave the house… let alone race… let alone complete a triathlon! That being said, I was still more excited than anything. Nothing was going to get me down! Our friends U and P were kind enough to drive us to the site, about 2 hours away which gave me plenty of time to mull over wardrobe decisions. We arrived just before the rush, and I was able to pick up my race kit, timing chip and get body-marked with only short line-ups. I stayed bundled up in my winter coat, warm pants, fuzzy socks and rubber boots to stay somewhat warm and dry as I set up transition. My awesome support crew kindly schlepped my bags around for me and made sure I had everything I needed.
I laid my shoes, socks, gloves and jacket under the towel in the hopes that they would remain somewhat dry before I needed them. We hid out in the car for a bit longer before heading to the beach. I wet-suited up with help from my crew, but wasn’t ready to shed my fleece and boots yet!
I hoped that stretcher wasn’t an omen!
Eventually I had to remove the extra layers and get into the water. It wasn’t as hard as I expected to get in, because it actually felt comfortable compared to the air. I hadn’t left myself much time for a warm-up swim, so I just swam out 10 strokes or so, took care of some last minute business (ahem), and swam back in to line up with my wave of all women <35.
There was the usual jostling and jockeying before the first buoy, but after a few scratches to the arms and kicks in the face I was able to find some room and settle in. The few open water swims I have completed recently have not felt great, so I was surprised at how good I felt once I got going. I was calm, breathing was okay and I seemed to be swimming reasonably straight. Before I knew it, I was climbing out on the beach. A sprint swim goes by so fast!
750m – 15:01 (10/24 AG)
I felt warm and didn’t bother with my socks and gloves, but I did throw on my wind-breaker. It felt like it took forever fumbling with my things, but based on the results I was faster than I thought.
T1: 1:24 (4/24 AG)
Off onto the rolling bike course I went! It had finally stopped raining, so we just had wet roads to contend with and not rain drops pelting our faces. I was warming up quickly from the effort, thankfully, after a few moments of “Holy crap, I’m soaked through every layer and it’s freezing and brrrrrr!” The only part that stayed cold were my feet, which ended up numb throughout despite some toe-wiggling whenever I thought of it.
I was lacking oomph on the uphills and tried to make the most of the flats and downhill sections. All in all, I think I held my own out there on my hybrid – I even managed to pass a couple of people (of course a lot more were passing me). Several times someone would pass me only to settle in right in front of me going slower than I was. I know this happens to everyone, but it seems to happen a lot when I’m on my hybrid. I think people assume they must be going faster than me and pass, only to tuck in and slow down again.
Anyway! It was great to see Irina (who started in a later wave) catching up to me after the turn-around and she later passed me near transition. She seemed to be having a great race on her post-IM legs! Zoom, zoom!
Heading toward the dismount line, I got stuck behind this woman who started fumbling with her bike shoes as soon as the pylons started (pictured above) and continued wobbling around in front of me all the way in. It seemed like she was going to stop abruptly and/or fall over at any moment. Kind of frustrating, but what can you do? I think it would have been faster for her to just leave her shoes on. Okay enough ranting, I promise I was having fun!
20K – 45:21 (14/24 AG)
I had a super quick transition to the run since I didn’t have to switch shoes. Just racked my bike, tossed the helmet and grabbed a headband.
T2: 0:44 (2/24 AG)
My legs felt very tired but the bigger concern was that my feet were like blocks of ice. I clomped along hoping I wouldn’t mis-step until I gradually started feeling my toes one by one. Once feeling returned, I quickly realized that bare feet with my orthotics had not been a good idea. It wasn’t comfortable at all with water sloshing around in there, and I thought my heels were going to pop out the back. Lesson learned! In the future I can probably afford to go with my lighter shoes on a short distance, but I didn’t want to take any chances just yet.
The route was along a (hard-packed) dirt road so it became pretty messy out there and we were all covered in muck. There were a few gradual climbs which were a struggle since I have no fitness for hills right now. I felt like I was shuffling at times, but promised myself “no walking!” It was great to see Irina as well as her hubby out on the course again – my favourite thing about the out-and-back routes.
I admittedly had a couple of low moments of feeling out of shape, but quickly shook it off remembering how lucky and happy I was to be able to do this at all. Especially when I realized that both knees felt just fine! (I decided to tape up both knees in case my right knee was just getting jealous of all the attention that my left one had been getting, hehe.) I lived it up for the final kilometre and clocked my fastest split at 5:14. Bring on the finish line – it had been too long!
5K – 28:19 (13/24 AG)
Overall: 1:30:46, 13/24 AG