Day 5 and Race Day!!!

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I did it! I still can’t believe it. Friday flew by in a whirlwind. We woke up at 6:00am and went straight to transition. Transition was open from 6-7:30am and if you were late you weren’t racing. Of course it was raining. My bike was soaked and there was no point towelling it off. Normally you set up a towel to wipe your feet on and if it’s raining you put your shoes in a plastic bag so they are dry when you run into transition. Because of the number of athletes in transition no towels and no plastic bags; which on the one hand made set up really easy and on the other everything was sopping wet.
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I was out of transition by 7ish and heading for breakfast at this lovely little french bakery down the road of our hotel, when we saw several athletes sprinting for the transition area. We don’t know if they made the cut off. Some were only just entering the park at 7:30am. Could you imagine coming all this way, training for over a year and then told you can’t race. I felt so sorry for them as they rushed through the park.

After breakfast we headed back to cheer on the earlier waves and get a feel for the roads. It poured it down with rain the previous night and it was on and off all day. I wanted to see how much speed you could safely take into the corners. Just as I turned to say to Peter how fast and well riders were taking the corners a man from Brazil miscalculated the corner, lost his back wheel and slid on his hip through the corner. His chain slipped and it looked like he hurt his hip. He managed to get back on his bike and carry on. It was one of many crashes that day.

Before I knew it it was time to get my wetsuit on and head to the swim start carrels. For the first time ever, I felt a good excited – like a kid in a candy shop. I made sure to stick to the back of the group so that I was last in line and had the outside start position. My swim coach has drilled into mine and all his athlete’s heads to always start on the outside. You are told to enter the water and hold onto the pontoon, then … Bang! The gun goes and I’m off.
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I had the shortest line to the first buoy and I usually swim straight but I underestimated how aggressive the other swimmers would be in the water. It shouldn’t have been a problem if they swam a straight line but I think they were sighting one of the inflatable banners over the run section so they kept heading for shore. Or in other words they kept swimming into me and pushing me towards shore as I kept trying to swim for the first buoy. In the past this would have led to a full panic attack but this time I didn’t break stroke and just kept realigning myself. I had my best swim yet.
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Swimming parallel to shore I could see Peter. So I decided to wave.

Swimming parallel to shore I could see Peter. So I decided to wave.

By the time I was out of the water and at the end of the pontoon I had my wetsuit stripped to just below my waste. Another nod to my swim coach who made us do drills stripping our wetsuits while running out of the water. It was a 250m run up to transition and then another 50m or so in transition to get to your bike with another 100 m out followed by 25m to the mount/dismount line. My time shows 4:17 which is unusually long even though it was my fastest transition ever. Very calm and well executed. The extra distances ate up time but it was the same for all the athletes.

The bike was 3 loops of Hyde Park. It’s a technical course with corners and fast sections but it was especially tricky with wet roads and rain. As you left transition to head out to the bike course officials were urging you to be cautious as many athletes had already crashed. During the run you saw many torn and tattered tri-suits from sliding across the road. Even still I had a blast! I loved this course. With each loop I gained more confidence. By the last loop I was taking the corners at full speed. I averaged 32km/h on the course. The results are skewed because the course actually measured over 23k, which we were notified of during the briefing. This makes our times and speed look slow because 20k is used to calculate speed not the 23k of the actual course. I didn’t want to get off the course I was having so much fun. You can see in Peter’s pictures the rain and the water flying off me. I was more soaked from the ride than the swim.
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I did the fancy dismount and headed back into transition. Again it was a long run in to even the playing field. I had no idea where I stood in the race but I new I wasn’t last out of the water and that I passed people on the bike. I hit the run course feeling good but by the end the run was a struggle. I gave it everything I had. My first lap was under a 5 min pace and the second was just over. The last lap was a mental battle but I won. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:31. When you factor in the longer than usual transitions and the longer bike course I had a personal best! I finished 69 out 97 of the best female athletes in the world in my age group.
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It was my best race and I had the time of my life. Now that I know what to expect and what I need to do I want to go to Chicago in 2015!

GO CANADA GO!!

Ps. A friend gave me a Canadian flag and I carried it with me for the entire race. My own good luck charm.