First Race Report! Guelph Lake 1 - June 22nd, 2014

My very first race report! How fun. Well, not really. I have a hard time exactly remembering what happened and when, but I'll do my best so I can learn from my first race and maybe one day look back fondly at this post and be like, "That's cute, she thought she knew what was going on...".  Anyway, let's do this! Let's dig into the depths of my weird little race brain.

Step 1: Wake my ass up. Early. Transition opened at 7:30, I wanted to be at the race site at 7:15, which was an hour drive that meant a lovely 5:30 wake up to get a banana with peanut butter in my body, and drink some water. My boyfriend (partner? I don't like either term...boyfriend sounds too casual, partner sounds too...clinical. I'll stick with boyfriend for now), lovely and wonderful guy he is, was kind enough to drive me to the race and come cheer me on (as well as take some delightful/unflattering pics!).

Let's do this thinnngggg
Step 2: Arrive, figure out what the heck to do, and prep.  I had initially not planned on Guelph 1 at all, but then a crazy fellow Toronto Triathlon Club member, Linda Kay, convinced me TWO nights beforehand to run the sprint tri.  Being the weirdo that I am, I was like "sure! why NOT do a race you're totally not prepared to do at the last minute?".  As a result, I had NO clue what to do. Thankfully, I got to the race site and all was pretty self explanatory. Run down to get race packet, get body marked, grab t-shirt and nab a good spot in the transition area. Once I had my bike racked I sneakily watched what other people were doing to figure out what I was supposed to do (e.g. bike stickers, helmet sticker etc).  Then I went to the washroom (ESSENTIAL step in the Swim Bike Ballz "Get Ahead, Stay Ahead, Don't Shit Pants" race plan). The lovely ladies of the TTC (Irene and Tara) gave me some helpful pointers before the race, and only made fun of a me a little bit for smudging most of my race number off my arm with sunscreen. They also had some HoneyMaxx on hand which was pretty tasty, and may have been useful if I had remembered to drink any fluids during the race (more on that later...).  I got the ol' wetsuit on and headed down to the lake for a brief warm up.

THE SWIM (dum dum dummmmm): 750m

Struggling with velcro.
After the warm up, I toed the line with my fellow purple-capped compadres. One girl wasn't sure what to do so I gave her some basic advice, "look for orange buoy, aim for orange buoy, only turn right", which seemed to help.  She asked how many tris I had done and I was like, "" so perhaps her confidence in my advice waned a bit there. Anyways...after the announcer had made about A MILLION references to Guelph Lake being "a pool", and straining to hear a countdown, I heard, "10 seconds to start!" and then with no warning the start horn blew. I was miffed. No "3...2...1...GO!"? (Thankfully I have I have a great sense of countdown timing after racing many many rowing races with a 'floating start' where they just count down and say 'go!' without having people hold your boat and such...that's a whole other topic I don't need to get into. Crew nerd coming out...). Anyway, I jogged like an elegant water troll into the water and dove as soon as I could into the water, knowing my body is likely more efficient swimming than trying to continue my body flailing, frantic movements.  I had positioned myself at the front, since swimming is likely my strongest discipline, and THANK GOODNESS I did that. I was able to avoid a lot of the commotion, and largely had a lane to myself the whole swim. I started off with a powerful 50m or so (20 strokes?), then settled into a nice rhythm.  I was worried about sighting, this being my first race and all, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was going completely straight! The only times I went off course was when I tried to draft off of other people (whoops...TRUST NO ONE!).  I passed some of the slower people in the wave ahead, which boosted my confidence, the turns were a non-issue, and before I knew it, I was nearing shore! I swam until my fingertips touched sand and then took of on the hill up to transition. I was worried about being dizzy, but that too was a non-issue. I took off fairly slowly uphill as I had some trouble with my wetsuit velcro, but made it through the swim and run-up in 13:22, good enough for the 3rd fastest swim in my age group!

T1: 1:40

T1 was surprisingly awesome. I got up there, whipped off my wetsuit like a boss, and got everything on in a flash. I remembered to have my helmet on and strapped before leaving and everything! Nothing to report other than relief. And my 1:40 T1 was again good enough for the 3rd fastest in my AG!

T1 success!

THE BIKE: 20km

I trotted Candi (Oh yes, my bike is named Candi...Candi Disco.  So named for her flashy white frame and jazzy, glittery seat border. She is a Cannondale CAAD10, light, fast and affordable - you're welcome, Cannondale) to the mount line, hopped on/clipped in and took off.  The 20km bike was actually harder than I thought. It could have been that I never let my HR settle from the swim and uphill run, it could have been the adrenaline...I don't know.  Usually I demolish hills. It's part of the whole monstrous rowing thigh situation. But this time, the hills felt like...hills. Hard. Annoying. Pushing me past my lactate threshold.  I knew I was blowing up my legs. I could feel the lactate building, and my HR still racing, but the stubborn mule in me was like "No way, man. You got this. What's a piddly little 5k? The harder you bike the slower you can run." WHAT A SHITTY IDEA. In addition to this surprisingly hard course, there was this whole thing where I still haven't become completely comfortable drinking on the bike. I get scared of taking my hands off the handlebars. As such, I got maybe...200ml of water in me on the bike. Maybe even less. I only drank a couple sips from my water bottle...NO BUENO. At any rate, no women passed me on the bike that I was aware of, but I did see many, many sinewy, gazelle looking dudes smoke me. Aero helmets, Team Canada suits...scary stuff. Before long I was on the home stretch in...I saw a couple crashes, slowed to a CRAWL at the tight turns (I'm a newbie cyclist), and generally had a good ride.  I cruised to the dismount line, got off the bike and went in for T2.  I was ready for the run...or so I thought. Bike time: 38:35.

T2: 1:37 (whoops)

Oh T2. Everything was going well. I took off my helmet AFTER racking my bike, rotated my race belt, and switched shoes. I took some gratuitous sips of water in a futile attempt to rehydrate, and took off again.  Boyfriend said "Way to go! You're killing it!".  At the time, I was doing pretty well, but he and I both knew I was blowing my reserves away for what is definitely my weakest discipline. Sweet! Smooth transition! NOT. I took off running the wrong way and almost went out on the bike course again. Whoops. After boyfriend yelled at me to go the other way, I realized what I had done and redirected. Not ideal. But off I shuffled in pursuit of a not terrible 5k...

THE RUN: 5km (the hardest 5km ever)

Does that arch not look like a finish line?
The run course sucked. No other way to put it. It was a hill right out of the gate, and because I am dumb, my HR was SKY high and I was barely breathing for the first 1km. I saw the 1km marker and almost cried. I felt like I had been running forever. I didn't know what I was doing. My legs actually felt fine, but my heart and lungs felt like they were going to burst. Shortly after 1km I went off into the bushes and threw up. You know what really sucks? Throwing up while panting your face off. I think I might have strained my diaphragm. After I ejected mostly water from my body, I continued running. I was miserable. Truly. It felt so hot and I felt so gross. My throat burned, my chest burned and I wanted nothing else but water. I encountered a water station and walked. Drank two cups of water. Walked some more. Started running again. When I saw the halfway mark, a spark of hope returned where I was like, "it's almost over!".  I picked up the pace a tad and shuffled a little faster. There was NO SHADE, and at this point I felt like my skin was burning too. I stopped and walked at each aid station, sometimes grabbing Gatorade. At some point there were people barbecuing in the campsite and it was super smoky. That really didn't help my wheezy situation. At another point when I was walking Charlie Brown style into the 4th km, some random shirtless man next to his camper was like "pick it up girl! You gotta go!".  Normally this kind of encouragement gets me going, but this time I just wanted to punch this guy.  I was rageful. Mostly at myself for being so stupid and not hydrating, but also because my body was all like "LOL IMMA LET YOU FINISH, BUT YOU GONNA THROW UP FIRST".  Body...WHY? Can't you just suck it up for like 20mins and wait until I'm done? Anyway I finally came around to corner to see what looked like the finish. I saw this lady in front of me and I said " can sprint 200m. Go get her!" So I sprinted as hard as I could to catch her. And I did! I caught up and passed her and was so excited to finish the race so strongly! There were TTC members and boyfriend cheering me on! But wait...what's this you say? The HUGE BLUE BALLOON TYPE THING THAT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE A FINISH LINE ISN'T THE FINISH LINE???? WHAT THE F@#$#.  So that 200m sprint? More like 400m.  That lady I worked so hard to pass? She passed me again as my deflated, sad, crumpled body struggled to maintain a fast pace for a little longer. The funny thing about emptying your tank at the finish, is that when it isn't actually the finish, there's nothing left. I didn't have much left at all. Maybe an ounce of whatever fills this metaphorical fuel tank. Anyway, I crossed the finish line alive and mostly well. I was soon approached by some guy peddling non-alcoholic beer which sounded so gross at the time I almost hurled again. Run time: 28:20 (AKA a small miracle I was under 30. I have no idea how this happened).

Total Time: 1:23:32, 8th in AG (out of 35), 49th woman (out of 235), and 191st overall (out of 513). Pretty stoked on my finish given that it was my first ever triathlon, and that I wasn't totally prepared. Hopefully there is nowhere to go but up from here!


Just wanting it to end
Felt ok. Was happy to be done my first tri, but intimidated about the olympic distance tri looming in the future. Later that day I had severe chest pain, which I'm not sure what it was, but ended up in the ER. Fun! Turns out I'm ok, there is something weird about my ticker, but nothing bad I'm assuming since the hospital never called me about the ensuing echocardiogram they performed.  My best guess is a strained diaphragm from the puking/huffing on the run, that didn't have a chance to swell until after the Advil wore off. I definitely have a better idea of what I need to do in the future.

Lessons Learned:

Let the HR recover a bit before hammering it on the bike. DRINK MORE WATER. SO MUCH MORE. Know where the run exit is.

Thanks for reading my lengthly essay! The TL;DR is below. Until the TTF, I'll say see ya later!

TL;DR: Swim 750m - 13:22, Bike 20km - 38:35, Run 5km - 28:20. Race? 9/10 would race again.


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