I told myself before the Ironman that if I was going to survive the day, I would participate in this last triathlon of the season "just for fun". I knew that my friend Marlene was going to be there, Zin was already signed up and so was Phaedra, the 40-45 AG champion extraordinaire, who most likely was going to leave me in her dust. But since all are awesome peeps, I knew that I was going to have a great time. My legs, not so much.
On Wednesday before the race I had a moment of panic when I realized that I was not yet registered. Oops. In retrospective, I should have checked the weather app before clicking OK, but ... whatever. Rain or shine, I had no reasons to back up now, I had raced in worse conditions after all.
As to training for it, *cough cough* -- since the Ironman I went on my bike once for a 50km ride with a friend from the tri club, and I ran 2x1600m on the track once... sloooooooow, just to make sure that my legs were still in working order. And I swam twice in open water, more for relaxation than anything . In my mind, this was going to be a a day to be more social than competitive and so I had zero stress going into it... but I admit being a bit puzzled while deciding what to wear. Eventually I decided on wearing my Cour tri top, my old black Sugoi tri short and my cycling jersey that I bought in Mt. Tremblant. That's what IM gear is for, right? Bragging rights forever, yo!
The drive was going to be about 2h long, so we woke up again at some ungodly hour that started with a 4 if I remember properly. We got dressed warmly, knowing that temperatures were not going to raise much more over 10 degrees Celsius. We also took our rain jackets since a thunderstorm was on the menu, just because Mother Nature was in a pissing mood I guess.
We took our bikes in transition, then we went to pick up our bibs, get body marked and leg chipped. We returned in transition to set up our stuff, then we went back to the car to remove the extra layers of clothes and make a last stop by the portaloos. It was still raining, and the idea of putting on my wetsuit was a challenge that I was not ready to tackle, yet I knew it was necessary due to the low temperatures. From what I had heard, the water was much warmer than the air, so I was eager to get myself immersed in this hot tub, or at least that's what I wanted my brain to believe.
I am so thankful that I decided to bring my old XTerra instead of my ROKA because the operation took only a minute given how much looser this wetsuit is. Plus I wasn't planning on breaking any records, so the less stress the better. As expected, the water was nice and warm, but once I finished my little warm-up loop, I had to resort to jumping jacks so I don't turn into an icicle. I was in the third wave and the minutes were not going by fast enough. But once the gun went off, I knew that I had to swim hard to keep my blood flowing. I jumped in with no less than 6 dolphin dives, 6 more than in my entire career of triathlon age grouper, then tried to stay close to the buoys, and latch onto feet whenever possible. This was a triangle shaped course (just like at Professor's Lake, yay) - but not quite as peaceful. There were also lots of weeds, but thankfully deep enough that my hands were not touching. Overall I thought that I swam really hard, but once I got out of the water my watch showed the slowest time ever on this distance. Oh well, whatever happened, happened. Not going to dissect this swim forever. I am pretty happy with my sighting and the fact that I ended the season without drowning.
Where was on my bike again? Ah, yes... out of transition and on the road. So what do I do, like in every other sprint that I did this year "for fun"? Hammer it, of course! On your leeeeeft! And man I love passing people! This race felt very crowded though... it was tough to stay legal, there just wasn't enough space between people, so for most of the time I found myself riding on the left for long stretches at a time, passing 5 bikes at once. There were a few rollers, but not the big hills that I was expecting after watching the pre-race video. Nothing much else to report... I ate a gel, a drank water, I peed, I tried to stay alert and hungry for a placement in top 10.
Just before the 10k turnaround a lady in my age group passed me and I made a pact with my legs that they were not going to fall off until I passed her back. And so I did quickly afterwards, then continued burning every cell in my quads until the end of the bike leg, heart rate through the roof, way above threshold... because racing all out was going to be the most fun I could have that day. That is, if I wasn't going to have a heart attack. Thankfully my heart stayed put and brought me safely through the dismount line, even though I looked like I was about to collapse.
Truth is, I was no longer feeling my hands and feet and running in those cleats without any feedback from my toes was interesting to say the least. I racked my bike, with difficulty since my hands were also numb and not very agile, then struggled with one of my socks for about 15 seconds, until I decided that it was not worth the effort. What difference it would have made when I had no feeling in my feet? I bet that even the most ginormous blood blister or a stress fracture would not have fazed my legs. So, for the first time ever, I put on my shoes and skipped the socks. Nothing new on race day? I keep forgetting about this detail ... but you never know until you try, and this was another opportunity with an outcome that didn't matter in the grand scheme of things, so I went for it!
I heard someone calling my name running out of transition, it was Cody Beals cheering on us mere mortals. That was awesome! And yes, he was already done with his race and I was just starting my run. With his 40kph bike average and a 17min run... D'UH!
Okay then... time to see what's left in those legs of mine. And the answer to that is... very little energy and a shitload of pain. I pushed hard again, heart beating out of my chest, but the hills were there to destroy me. Take this, shredded legs and achy knees! Oh and by the way, here's a million potholes and enough mud to keep you entertained. I tried to catch Marlene, but she was getting out of reach, running strong ahead of me... Knowing that this was her first tri this year and a comeback race from injury, it made me happy to see that she wasn't showing any signs of slowing down, which could only mean one thing: all systems A-OK and more races together in the future!! (Maybe? I hope... I like Marlene, she's all kinds of awesome).
I resolved to running my own pace and remaining on top of those potholes. And for good reason, as I saw another girl injuring her ankle just before the turn around. It was definitely not a day to let your guard down. I managed to keep my head in the game and finish under 30 minutes, far from my 5k PR, but good enough for 8th/24 in my AG with a total time of 1:29:00 (yes, again).