Friday, August 8, 2014

Toronto Triathlon Festival - Fun Times in Fun Weather

Thinking back - and it's hard to remember the Toronto Triathlon Festival - despite the fact it was less than a month ago (although I am cutting it close with this race report!).

This wasn't the race I was expecting it to be. Coming off of an incredible time at Motor City, I expected to get a PR on this course - since I've had so much more training. But life doesn't always work the way you think it will. Instead of a PR, the race reminded me why I race: because I love it. Even when the weather isn't the greatest, I still can have an awesome time! Even going slow, even being afraid - I can still be awesome.

Be Awesome Today. That was the word of the day at TTF I think. And I came through with flying colours.

So how did the weekend go? Well, it was an adventure - including way more than just a race!

Volunteering - LPC Club Ambassador, TTC Booth, Pan Am Test Race

In the two days leading up to race day, I don't think I sat down very much. I volunteered a lot because I had some awesome opportunities - and I figured why not? TTF was a practice race for Barrelman - not an A race, so I figured some volunteering would just make the weekend more fun. And I did have a blast. Friday and Saturday were gorgeous making it easy to do stuff and volunteer!

As the teamLPC Club Ambassador for Triathlon Ontario for the race, I wanted to be at the expo as much as possible to talk with people about the benefits of joining the triathlon community and to hand out TO membership cards. I figured the registration would be the best time to meet people and to chat with them....much easier than trying to do it on race day - while racing! :)

And I was right - I spent Friday and Saturday afternoon outside the expo tent, catching people as they went from the ultra-long race briefing (which I could've given by the time I went to a briefing as a race participant) to the place where they got their shirts and race bags.

I found people generally more than happy to chat - especially the people doing their first race, some of whom were asking me for advice or making nervous comments (which I could definitely relate to)...like:

Do I really need a wetsuit? Heck yes. Lake Ontario is cold!

How bad will the swim start be? Not as bad as you think. If you're nervous - stay near the back, count to 10 after the gun goes off and then get going.

I'm going to come in last: Don't worry about your time - just focus on being awesome!

It was actually kind of nice talking to these folks - because this was me not very long ago (like last year at TTF!) and to hopefully give them the encouragement other people have give - and continue to give - me!

All in all, this was great and I must have talked to at least 500 people over the course of the two days.

Volunteering - Toronto Triathlon Club Booth

Far be it from me to volunteer on behalf of only one of my triathlon clubs - so I volunteered for a session at the TTC booth as well - talking about the club, training, and various perks of being a member (like all the group training and seminar/workshops). The folks in the TTC have helped me an incredible amount over the past year and a half - offering encouragement, advice and friendship. Needless to say, talking about the club for a few hours was easy! I also got to get one of the club visors (which I wore in Kingston to great effect!)

Volunteering - Pan Am Test Race

On top of the rest of my awesome volunteering gigs, I also helped with the Pan Am Test Race on Saturday morning. Got up ridiculously early to walk to a friend's house where I caught a ride down (strangely, my scenic route there involved passing a 24h Tim Hortons...).

My volunteering role turned out to be an athlete chaperone for drug testing....which was actually quite fascinating. It was a pretty easy task, involving a lot of time watching/cheering for people while waiting for the women to finish their race. After that, I needed to notify/escort one of the athletes around before she got tested. Interesting process that's taken very seriously. I liked getting that interesting peek at the world of young elite athletes!

Oh yes, I did a race too!

When I woke up on Sunday, I was relieved to see no rain! It stayed dry while I got to the race site and set up my transition area...and then, while I was inside a porta-pottie, it began to POUR! I admit, it was the only time I actually wanted to spend more time in one of those!

Putting on my wetsuit was a hilarious feat given it was sopping wet. Wow. Try putting on a wet wetsuit...I dare you! But, I got it on and managed to get down to the swim start.

Here we are all geared up! Go TTC!


The start was a little delayed, but only by 5-10 minutes. My wave was the second last to go I think. Here we are getting ready to jump in the water (we started in the water). That's me in the middle looking like I am praying. In reality, I was just psyching myself up to get into the cold water...which actually wasn't too bad since I was already soaking wet. A good use for that torrential rain earlier!


I actually had a great swim. Other than the fact the course could've used more markers - I swam pretty straight (I think) and felt fast. I finished 5th in my Age Group in 28:50 I admit, that seemed really slow in hindsight (only 3 seconds faster than last year), but I heard later that the course was long by 100-200m. If that's true, then I actually had a spectacular swim!

As an aside, who would've guessed swimming would be my best (in comparison to others in my AG) of the three triathlon sports?

It wasn't raining when I got back to transition after the swim - although it took me a little extra time because all my bike gear was soaked, even though it had been in a plastic bag!

Got on my bike, very happy because it wasn't raining!


Ha. No, I was not intentionally giving anyone the finger! Apparently I need to rethink my hand position on the bike!

There were no photographers on the bike course, which is probably good because they might have caught me without a smile on my face. It was wet and there were a lot of standing puddles, which made for a very nervous Jana!

But the truth is - in hindsight - I actually had a great ride up to Eglinton (that was the uphill part) - managing quite a good pace ~30k/mh for much of the way. Not that I knew this because my watch was in the wrong mode so I couldn't see anything! Argh. So I rode with no pace or cadence or anything...all I got to see was my time. Oops. Really need to figure out my watch!

So there I was feeling decently...and then I hit the turnaround. The downhill back from Eglinton should've been the easy part, but there was a fierce wind - and it started to rain. Just what I wanted!

I gave myself permission to ride at whatever speed I needed to in order to feel in control (which apparently was very slow...but at least I couldn't see my speed!). I also sang a lot to myself to ease my nerves. At one point I was riding into the wind and rain and it crossed my mind that a few years ago, I never would've dreamed I'd be riding on the DVP in the rain in a triathlon. That made me smile - and I knew that even though I was nervous, I wouldn't have chosen to be anywhere else at the time!

My final time was quite slow (20th in my AG): 1:25:23 - a few minutes slower than last year. That's okay with me though. I felt good for getting practice riding in less than fantastic weather - and for not crashing!

Got back to T2 where I had another slightly long transition before heading out onto the run course!

I wasn't smiling yet - but I was focused!



The run itself was pretty good. I was feeling great for being on solid ground (it's like a reward after the bike)!


I managed a pretty consistent pace the whole time, which was great. It wasn't quite as fast as I thought I could do, but given the bike - I was very happy with it! My run time was 51:58 (14th in my AG) - a couple of minutes faster than last year (avg. pace of 5:12 per km).

And then I was in the final stretch...



I crossed the finish line in 2:51:51 (13/27 in my AG) - about 2 minutes slower than last year, and a good 15 minutes slower than Motor City a few years ago. What a difference perfect weather (and Michigan's ultra-flat loop course) make!



When it comes to this race, I was pleased with how I did. I had my first chance to bike in a race in crappy conditions (although not as crappy as the Sprint racers - many of whom had to bike through a torrential downpour) - which proved to me that I could do it, even if I wasn't doing it fast. That's a big deal because there's no saying what the weather is going to be like in September for Barrelman!

A Note on Recovery

I was toast after this race for a solid week, much to my surprise. After racing Kingston (the next report I need to write) - I realized that much of that exhaustion probably had less to do with racing and more to do with the standing for hours and hours I did in the days prior to TTF. But in my mind, volunteering was well worth it because I had a lot of fun. And that's what this is all about - having fun and being awesome!

1 comment:

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