Iron Girl Canada Triathlon Race Report

As I shared briefly last week, I competed in the Iron Girl Canada Sprint Triathlon thanks to my sponsor Skinnygrape on August 10th, 2014. And as I promised, here is my race report (albeit a little late).

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The Tuesday night (5 days before Iron Girl), I decided to pull my new-to-me road bike out of the dark corner in our basement it was hiding in. I discovered that the tires were flat. I’m awful at pumping tires up (I take more air out than I put in) so I decided to bring it in to a local bike shop. I also felt that the bike probably needed a tune-up because I rode it all of twice after I got it – once outside pulling Amber in the jogging stroller, and once on the indoor trainer. I packed up the bike and a few of my kids in the van and headed to the bike shop with my fingers crossed that they could get the bike ready for Saturday. Yanno, just in time for the race because that’s how I roll. (I work in procurement so that was supposed to be a lame joke about my career).

I digress… So I walked into the bike shop with its walls full of beautiful new road and tri bikes with my new-to-me bike and asked if they could tune up my bike. Apparently they have a two week lead time for tune ups…

TWO WEEKS?!?

Are you kidding me?!? I don’t have TWO WEEKS!!!

Panic mode set in. Trying to keep my calm I asked if they could at least just pump the tires for me – I would try riding it without the tune up. The tech said sure, then offered to check the brakes and shifters to make sure everything was in working order before I found out in the race that things were broken. So he checked the bike and pumped the tires: the brakes worked fine (yay!), but the rear shifter was broken (boo). Disappointed that I may have to race without being able to change gears, I asked him to price out a new shifter for me. This is when the news became worse. Shifters are only sold in pairs, and the replacement set would be $289. TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY NINE DOLLARS?!? That’s almost as much as I paid for the bike in the first place! As well the shifters would have to be ordered for me. They have a 4 week lead time. GAH!!!

So I went home and did what I do best – I whined about my ongoing bike saga on Facebook.

My friend Laura came to the rescue and offered to let me borrow her bike! Phaedra also offered me her “old” bike, but Phaedra does not live very close to me and I wanted to try riding the bike before the race start so I accepted Laura’s offer.

HOORAY FOR LAURA!

Saturday morning (the day before the race), my middle daughter got up early and went on a short bike ride with me so I could try out Laura’s bike. I also rode my broken new-to-me bike to compare which one I could make go faster. According to my GPS I could get Laura’s bike to go a wee bit faster than mine, so I made the executive decision to race with Laura’s bike. Knowing I could also gear down on Laura’s made the decision pretty easy.

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Saturday night I was starting to freak myself out about the race trying to make sure I had everything packed and ready to go. I visualized last year’s race, and mentally walked myself through all of the stages of the triathlon. The swim, transition 1, the bike, transition 2 and the run. Once I reassured myself that I had everything packed (even my goggles and the helmet that I borrowed from my oldest daughter), I looked up my race results from the previous year on Sports Stats. I analyzed my results and also compared my results to the other racers to figure out where I might be able to gain more of a lead. I noticed that my transition times were terribly slow. I remembered that last year I had no clue what I was doing and wasn’t focused on getting onto the bake as fast as possible, I also played around getting my stuff ready to run, instead of just whipping off my helmet and running away. I promised myself that this year I would do better.

Race Day

Race morning I woke up bright and early and was able to get myself out of the house as if I was on auto-pilot. With my clothes all laid out, and my stuff already packed up in the van, all I needed to do was eat my Frosted Flakes (because it brings out the Tony in me), get dressed and leave.

I arrived at Nelles Beach, Grimsby (the race site) with an hour to spare before the race. I racked my bike, dropped my bag off in the transition area, and begin the process of picking up my race bib, timing chip and getting body marked. All of this went better than the year before because I had last year’s race experiences to draw upon. I then went and set up my transition area then joined the massive porta-potty line up. After taking care of business I went down to the beach to take a selfie and to test out the water temperature (though I don’t know why, it’s not like I had a wetsuit available as an option).

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And a nice gentleman saw my selfie attempts and offered to take my picture for me:

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I then went back to my bike and dropped my phone off and headed to the race start 500m down the shore of Lake Ontario. I love that this race is along the shore because you can pretty much touch the bottom of the Lake at any point during the swim, but it’s an in-water start (meaning you need to either stand near the shore, or tread water where it’s a bit deeper waiting for your wave to start):

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The Swim

I’m not a great swimmer, so I didn’t have any expectations for this part of the race. I’m very comfortable in open water because I learned how to swim in a lake at summer camp when I was young, but I’m not the least bit fast. My coach and I worked on my endurance, so for the whole swim I just told myself to keep going until I reached the end. Lots of other racers took off fast and furious while I kept my slow steady pace. Finally I reached the last buoy, swam around it, then swam to shore. I had no idea how fast or slow I swam it in because I forgot to start my watch.

Transition 1

I ran up the beach, through the transition area and to the bike racks marked for my age group. I miscounted the racks as I passed them, then couldn’t find my bike. I was like a two year old who couldn’t find her mom in the grocery store. I then remembered that I had Laura’s black and purple bike, not my white and green bike. Oops! I found her bike and quickly dried my feet, slipped on my socks, runners, and t-shirt. I took a big gulp of water, threw my helmet on then ran the bike to the bike mount line. I don’t own cycling shoes, and Laura’s bike has regular pedals on it, so it was really easy to run through transition.

The Bike

This is my least favourite part of triathlons because I have never done a race with my own bike. Last year I couldn’t figure out how to change gears on the bike I borrowed, and for other races I’ve borrowed a hybrid, or a mountain bike, so I’ve always gotten passed like I was riding a tricycle. This year things were different! I was able to push the pace on Laura’s bike and was passing people!! I periodically looked down at her bike computer and saw that I was riding anywhere from 27 km/h to 31 km/h. Yay! I was pumped up and excited and greatly enjoyed road riding (I hadn’t gone on a long road ride since summer 2013). The 20k passed by quickly and with very little frustration. Again I had no idea how long it took me because I didn’t start my watch.

The Run

This is my FAVOURITE part of the race – I love running! I ran the bike back to the racks, removed my helmet, grabbed my waist pack and took off. My phone was in the pack and the GPS was set up that as soon as I started moving it would come off of pause. As soon as I put on the pack I noticed how HEAVY it was. The two little water flasks and the phone really added a TON of weight that my tired legs weren’t ready for. The run was a struggle, but thankfully it was only 5k so I knew I could do it. I drank as much of the water as I could in order to lighten the load of the pack. Why I didn’t just squirt it out I’ll never know – I just wasn’t thinking straight I guess. I ran as best as I could and didn’t worry about pace. Finally I rounded the corner to the finish line chute and saw the time on the clock: 1:30 and change! I knew that the waves started every 3 minutes and that I was in the third wave which meant that subtracting 6 min gave me  a 1:24finishing time – I was WAY ahead of my time from last year which was an extremely pleasant surprise!

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Post Race

After I crossed the line and grabbed my medal, and tried to head to the transition area to pack up and go home. We weren’t allowed in yet because people were still racing. Ooops. I headed down to the beach to celebrate with a selfie. I was ecstatic to be done!

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I then figured that I should check the official finish times so I walked back up to the finish and looked up my times and place. My swim was 2 minutes faster than last year, my transitions were over a minute faster, and my bike was 5 minutes faster than last year! My run was a bit slower, but overall I was extremely happy – I was 16th in my age group!

I then joined Phaedra of Blisters & Black Toenails in the Skinnygrape both to celebrate our races with a nice glass of Skinnygrape wine.

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(Image courtesy of Phaedra of Blisters & Black Toenails)

I then stayed for the awards ceremony because Phaedra placed 3rd overall and 1st in her age group!

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I then went and grabbed my stuff from the transition area, and took my tired body home. All in all it was a fantastic race and I had a blast representing Skinnygrape! (Perhaps they’ll let me do it again next year?!?).

Here are my official results:

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All the best in health and fitness,

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