Race Recap: Toronto Triathlon Festival 2017

Last Sunday I completed my first ever Olympic distance triathlon and I was able to do it alongside my run family in our very own backyard! Toronto Triathlon Festival weekend was back and all of the training that I had been putting in since the early days of 2017 had brought me to the starting line of this day. I knew that I had put in the work but I will admit that I was a bit nervous going into the race which resulted in dealing with some hip issues in the weeks leading up to the race and just being anxious in general to put all of these distances together for the very first time.

Having my run and TTF Ambassador family buzzing around with me on race day certainly helped, it’s been such a great opportunity to be a voice in the community over the past six months as one of the TTF Ambassadors. My go-to on race day was my good friend and fellow bad ass lady Amber, together we were going to tackle the Olympic distance and crush some goals!

This year I got to TTF nice and early before the transition closed. Swimming in the 7:10am wave meant that I would have over a half an hour to wait after transition closed before I could hit the starting line. I got up around 5am, starting nursing my breakfast and headed out the door around 5:40am in hopes of arriving at Ontario by 5:50am to give myself 40 minutes to set-up my transition zone, get changed, ensure I was organized and keep my anxious mine at ease.

Overall

Before I break things down I will say that I am VERY proud of my performance at TTF. While my time may need some work before I get closer to that three hour mark, I know that I gave each leg of this race my all, I felt confident coming out of the swim and I have already been able to note where I can put in the work to see results at my next race in the coming months. I had fun, I managed to surpass my expectations of coming in under 3:30 by almost six minutes and I was able to share this day with so many folks from my run/sweat family!

Swim 1.5km = 2:11/100m (Total Time 33:05)*

Swim Strengths:

  • Correct Distance: I only over swam the distance by 16m! I focused a lot on improving my sighting this year during my open water training swims with LOST to ensure that I did not over swim significantly as I did last year when I was over the distance by over 150m.
  • Wetsuit Success: I was able to get my wetsuit on properly and feel comfortable in it. I ordered a new wetsuit towards the end of the season last year after the one I had received from a friend to get started had ripped. My new Xterra wetsuit was a full length, not a 3/4 leg that I was used to and for my first few training swims this season I struggled to get the crotch and arm pits in the proper place that I felt comfortable in the fit + range of motion. On my shakeout swim Saturday I used my winter running gloves versus socks to help pull my wetsuit on giving me more leverage to pull my wetsuit up and tuck in all of the right places. The result on race day was a perfect fit that allowed me to move freely and complete my swim with ease.
  • Holding My Own: This year when the air horn sounded I didn’t wait for the women to take off in front of me, I started my swim right away and held my own in the pack while everyone caught their pace and spread out in the water. Being good about sticking close to the course markers I allowed people to pass but also tried to not divert off my route too much in order to ensure that I didn’t add unnecessary distance to my swim overall.

Swim Opportunities:

  • Goggles: I used the same model of goggles this season during my training indoor/outdoor as I did last year, I find that I perform better when they aren’t polarized and I like having a slightly bigger goggle size. I had to slow twice during my swim this year to clear up some fog and rinse my lenses off to maintain the ability to see clearly. I recently posted on the LOST Swimming Facebook group about folks favourite brands of goggles and my goal is to invest in a pair to ensure that I don’t lose time at my next race by being able to maintain clear goggles for the full swim duration.
  • Overall Speed: I’m actively working to regain some speed in my swim, last year I swam TTF around ~2:10/100m, so I’ve stayed about the same YoY. I have however seen faster times in training both at the pool and in the lake after my long ride, so the goal will be to get this time down by at least 5 seconds per 100 meters before the end of the season. My ideal state moving into 2018 with some work over the winter months is an average pace of as close to 2:00/100m as possible.

Transition 1 = 6:18 minutes

Transition Strengths:

  • Wetsuit: this year my wetsuit came off with ease, while I wish I had been able to get the sleeves down during my run out of the water my wristband was caught so I did the best I could and then quickly stripped the sucker off when I reached my bike.
  • Fuelling: I managed to consumer half a pouch of baby food and unwrap a Honey Stinger waffle to consume during the transition while I ran my bike up to the bridge. Learning last year that it was better to bring extra water I was happy I had a third water bottle separate from the two on my bike that I could grab a sip from before I unracked my bike and jetted off to start the cycle leg.
  • Set-up: the transition set-up was TIGHT this year, there was not a lot of space and the bikes were not racked in the proper alternating fashion especially in my row. Either way I made use of the space I had in the best way that I could, I was quite happy with how I had laid out my gear and I kept all of my fuel in a makeup bag this year which made it easy to have everything in one spot to grab easily while I tore clothes off and thew clothes on.

Transition Opportunities:

  • Overall Time: my transitions are one place where I need to put in some work, I know that and I knew that going into the race at TTF but I also focused heavily on my training this year for the three events and I’m still not quite to the point where I am racing in clip-ins. I had to stop once mid transition to tighten the shoe laces on my one show.
  • Distance from Bike to Road: I covered 0.45km of ground from my bike station up the hill and across the pedestrian bridge before I could get on my bike. Last year we had to run out bike up the hill before mounting at the start of the bridge, this year we had to cross the bridge off our bike and wait to mount at the line on the other side of the bridge.

Bike 40km = 24.9km/h (Total Time 1:32:02)*

Bike Strengths:

  • Fuelling on the Bike: hydrating on the bike was key, the weather in race day was hot and humid, the time on the bike is an ideal opportunity to rehydrate to be prime for the bike and then be in good shape for the run. During the 40km I was able to consume one bottle of Nuun Performance and a partial bottle of water and when I stepped off the bike I felt pretty good!
  • Staying Low: with a head wind on the way out along the Gardiner, an uphill climb on the DVP and the opportunity to fly down it was pretty important that I stay locked and low for as much as the ride as possible to help keep myself as aerodynamic as possible. Except for a few times where I stood up on to climber for a few minutes in an attempt to readjust my seat and shake out my shoulders I felt that I did a pretty good job staying low for a majority of the ride.
  • Cheers for Everyone: come on, you know me and you know that I love nothing more than to show some love! The bike was the first out/back section of the race – there would be a similar opportunity on the run – where I could keep an eye out for my friends to give them some cheers and show them some love! Beyond that I always make a point of sharing some kind words and encouragement to folks as I pass them or as they pass me, TTF is the kind of race where most people are sharing encouragement with one another and taking a moment to motivate each other as we all work towards the same finish line. The woman with bib #600 stands out to me as we took some time to exchange a few words/laughs while we flew down the DVP next to each other.

Bike Opportunities:

  • CLIPS: this weekend I finally purchased a set of clips, while I know that I’m late to the part and it’s something I’ve been putting off for some time I need to over come this fear and start working towards comfortably clipping in before my next race. It’s certainly more of a mental struggle after my accident a few summer ago but I know that after a few rides getting comfortable with clips that I will be better for it come race day and it will help reduce my overall time and will provide me with more power in my legs through the ride.
  • Aero Handlebars: oh the head wind on the Gardiner, it’s something we experience every year even though we all hope for a minimal wind race that will not see us struggling to maintain a decent speed in the first 10km of the leg. This year I was stronger on the bike overall, while the wind was tough to contend with at times I didn’t feel as helpless as I did last year when I fought against it. I do know that the addition of aero handlebars will only better help me stay low and compact during these windy sections and I will be look into having this available moving forward.

Transition 2 = 5:14 minutes

  • Nothing major to report; there was a change of shoes, the consumption of half a baby food pouch, the downing of another Honey Stinger waffle and the laughable moment where I sprinted out of the transition area to the run only to realize that I still had my helmet on…#fail.

Run 10km = 6:49/km (Total Time 1:07:46)*

Run Strengths:

  • Pushing It: although I may have not run my fastest pace during the 10km run I did give it 110% regardless what my average pace says. There were a few minor walk breaks to give my glute a break and I ensured that I took advantage of the water stations along the way to stay hydrated right until the last few hundred meters.

Run Opportunities:

  • Time: I am disappointed in my pace for my run, but I did continue to power through even as I felt tired, hot and was dealing with some tightness in my one glute. What I come away with from this run on my first Olympic triathlon is that I need to do two things in the coming months (1) spend more time running in general which is something that I have neglected as I spent more time this training season on other sports and strength training and (2) I need to do some more brick work that focuses more on bike to run versus swim to bike which will help be build up the tolerance in my leg muscles so that they don’t feel as tight and tired post bike as I enter the run in my upcoming races.

Total Time: 3:24:27 (official time from Sports Stats)

I am very proud of my performance at this race, while ultimately the goal is to be as close to the three hour mark as possible I am very happy with the effort in both my training and performance that went into my first Olympic distance triathlon. To be honest the race itself is a bit of a blur, that could be because I was so focused on getting it done or maybe I was ‘in the zone’. What I do know is that there are so many people in my life who supported me on this journey, sent me messages leading up to the race and celebrate this milestone with me after the fact. It made crossing the finish line bittersweet, while I may have not had someone there I’m okay with that because this gal had dozens of people there in real life and supporting me from all corners of the world over social media which made me feel unlike anything that I can express.

What’s next? Likely another Olympic race in September, I’m going to give myself a few weeks to settle back into the training grove before I make a final decision on that but right not it’s about a 90% chance that it will happen.

I’ll be sharing a few more posts in the coming week or two about my TTF experience. I’d like to share some moments of being a TTF Ambassador, how I fuelled for this race and what I’ve learned over the past six months about myself on this journey.

A big thank you to the Toronto Triathlon Festival, Nuun Hydration, Tap2Tag, my run family Tribe Fitness, my mentor/coach Heather Gardner, to my family/friends who have been hella supportive and to my co-workers who thing I’m crazy but have shared such interest in my journey to the starting line over the last few months! It’s because of all of these incredible human supporting me that I am able to push my limits and continue to chase the next finish line as I continue on this journey!

 

*these times are from my Garmin watch data

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