Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Glimpse At My New Tri Life

After running for over a decade and competing in roughly 50 races and events, I decided this year was time for a change. Early on in January I signed up for two triathlons (Kincardine, a small beginner Tri and The Iron Girl Sprint) Kincardine was to take place in July and Iron Girl in mid August so I felt I had tons of time to train and get prepared. 

July came and I was still scrambling to find a nice fitting wet suit. Once I found one, the challenge no longer was the fit but actually getting out to use it. With Ontario's lakes being particularly cold this year, open water opportunities were tough. 

When race day finally arrived in Kincardine I wasn't feeling at all comfortable about giving my wetsuit its first whirl on an out and back in 11 degree water. The option to bail on the Tri and shift to the Duathlon seemed the most logical at that point but left me feeling a little bummed that I didn't set out to do what I came for. 

That was all okay because Iron Girl was a few short weeks away and I planned to be prepared this time. 

I had a lot of time to practice. I set aside my cycling and running, as those are my stronger events and swam at the pool and in the lake every chance I got. 

The morning of Iron Girl I remember driving over the Burlington Skyway bridge thinking, "what a great day for a race". Not a cloud in the sky and it was going to be warm so that swim was going to feel soooo good!!! 


As I walked into the race venue and was going to rack my bike I heard the loud man on the speaker announce that the race was now a Duathlon. What!???! .... Water temperatures were insanely chilly, somewhere around 7 or 8 degrees. Since the association doesn't allow swimming in freezing cold water we had no choice but to run, bike, run. Major bummer!!

That race turned out to be a good day for me but I was still livid. I felt so ready to do that swim, it was the perfect venue, surrounded by supportive women but there I was again, Tri turned du ... it was 2-0. 

Iron Girl finish, happy but not so happy!

After Iron Girl and without wasting a minute of time, I got home and started researching which tri's were in the very near future. There were a couple of options but the one that caught my eye was the Toronto Island Tri-a-tri. The 10K bike and 2.5K run seemed laughable but the 400m swim was still daunting for me so that was going to be my challenge. 

Signing up for that "baby tri" and taking it slow was probably the best decision I have made this year. I did my swim. Unusually calm. I did my bike and then the run. All went so smoothly and left me yearning for more. When I was all finished, I checked the board for the results and I couldn't see my name anywhere. I had a rough idea of my time but wasn't certain. Just when I thought they had either not clocked my chip or I was somewhere near the end the guy from the chip timing company slaps up a new first page and my name was on it. I ran my finger across to check the placing. When it said 1/13 in my age group, I asked the guy... "is this right"?  I pointed to my bib around my waist and then to the sheet of paper. He looked up at me and said, "yep, that would be you"!!

That was just amazing! I had never placed first in my AG before in any of my races. I happily collected my medal and headed home with such a positive feeling. The race, which wasn't difficult but still a challenge was exactly the confidence booster I needed to keep the momentum going. I ended on a high note and just ecstatic about my triathlon debut!

AG 1st Place

That night I decided to sign up for my first "real" triathlon. A full distance Sprint, 750K swim, 30K bike and 7K run taking place at Guelph Lake. 

All manageable distances but this would be the farthest I had swam without stopping... It made me crazy nervous, but I was ready. 

The days leading up to the race were hot, unbearably hot. Heat plus stagnant lake water only equal one thing... E. coli!!  

Three days before the race they closed one of the Guelph Lake beaches for high bacteria levels and with no end in site for the hot weather I just figured this would be another tri turned du. 

I tried to get swim information online but it appeared it would all depend on the water that morning. So, with lack lustre excitement, I packed up the car and headed out for my hour drive to the venue. 

When I arrived there were a few conservation staff members at the entrance gate. I asked them if the swim was on and they immediately said. "yes ". 

OH BOY!!! Time to get my butt in gear (and my mind). I had slept poorly the night before and it was already hot so I knew the day was going to be tough. Parked my car, racked my bike, did all the start race thingy's and put on my wet suit. 

When I got to the beach, I remember looking out at all the bouy's making a perfect rectangle. That seemed really far, like really, really far ... and then, the butterflies kicked in!!

You want me to swim to where???

Normally, I like to do a warm up but all I could do is stand there. I watched as the waves before mine set out for their swim. I was paralyzed. Watching and waiting for my turn. 

Since there were a lot more swimmers at this triathlon than my last one, I placed myself somewhere towards the middle/end, closest to the buoys. 

Here we GO!!
When the gun went off everyone ran in a little and then the chaos began. Swimmers swimming right on top of you, pushing, arms slapping. It was all a little over whelming. I swam for probably 100 meters and then I stopped. I couldn't catch my breath, my wetsuit felt too tight around my neck. I just stayed there. Not moving. My first thought... "Get me out of here, pull me out, I can't do this"... all the while, swimmers still pushing over and around me. 

What seemed like 10 minutes... I know it wasn't but it sure felt like it... I thought to myself, "Kim, get your shit together. You got this". I put my head down and integrated myself back into the swim. 

Once I reached the first corner and turn, I was so relieved. I looked up to the next corner, that looked manageable. Still getting the odd slap in the head and kick in the face I kept on going and going. Around the last corner and way off in the distance I could see the end!!! I could see swimmers ahead finishing and I couldn't wait to run out of the water. When I finally got there I stood up straight, let all the water drain from my suit and began the uphill run to the bike portion. At that moment, I can not even describe how happy I was and how accomplished I felt. My mantra for the day became, "NEVER GIVE UP".

I quickly found my bike, grabbed my helmet and shoes and ran out the chute. The bike course was composed of rolling hills, a couple of good climbs with a few flat bits but nothing too difficult. 

Coming into the finish after 30K

After the bike came the run. The part I had been dreading... It was SO HOT!! Full sun, an uphill start and small hills throughout. I took it slow, enjoyed only the last kilometre out of seven because it was on a down slope and I knew the race would finally be over!

All smiles as I crossed the finish and devoured that moment, the really cool moment of my first "real" triathlon!!! 

Race Results:

TIME: 2.15.31
OVERALL 337/469 ( 71%)
GENDER PLACE 93/164 (57%)


No podium finish at this race but given the Subaru Series and the attraction of some pretty stellar and seasoned athletes, I was a pretty happy girl, I'll take it!!

Fast forward to today and I am a little sad that triathlon season is wrapping up but I will be back at the start of next season raring to go... summer 2016... CAN'T WAIT!!!

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