Category Archives: Triathlon

TriMom 2015

How can so much happen in one year? I’m sitting down at the kitchen island staring at the computer screen and all I can think is how can the year be over, didn’t it just start? We say time flies, take time to enjoy the moment but this year it did fly. It flew by in a blink of an eye because we lived this year!! Putting together our year I realize how much we packed into 365 days. We raced, we played, we tested our boundaries and discovered we are capable of so much. We climbed to new heights and scaled a few walls while we were at it. We found balance while gliding across new waters. We ran for chocolate and checked out the giraffes. Some of us raced the runway while others ran for Hope all laying down personal bests.

Three years ago I hosted a bootcamp to raise money to compete over seas, never in a million years could I envision I’d own my own studio, be offering 12 classes a week, a thriving running group that has fun and still brings home the bling, youth coaching and being able to share it with you. Each of you share with me your dreams, goals and together we celebrate your accomplishments but what you may not know is how much you enrich my life. TriMom, coined by my dear friend Lindsey, was about my journey to break through my own fears and deep insecurities. As I trained for my big day I wrote about my struggles. Triathlon became a metaphor for my struggles and overcoming them. As I wrote and started to offer the bootcamps I realized we all struggle, we are all afraid to fail. Failure is so utterly frightening. But as you shared your fears with me my focus shifted to you and working with you to overcome your struggles. I had my moment and I learned helping other women reach their potential is more rewarding than anything I did for myself. You let me into your life and in doing that you enrich mine. My heart grows a little bigger each and everyday.  You amaze me with your strength, resilience and kindness. Life is not measured by a scale or even a dress size. It’s measured by your impact on others. All of you started your own ripple when you walked through my studio doors that will continue to grow and inspire others. Your impact is immeasurable.

Enjoy the slideshow and celebrate you, you deserve it. I can’t wait to start documenting 2016. It’s going to be our best year yet!



The Next Chapter

Go Canada!

Go Canada!

It has been almost 2 months since I raced in London and I know I am long overdue in writing my follow up post. I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to close the door on this experience, this dream, this moment. These past 2 years were a journey of self-discovery, rewarding relationships and a deepening relationship with my husband. I didn’t start this goal alone and I didn’t finish it alone. My husband was there every step of the way. Cheering, encouraging, screaming …lots of screaming when I wanted to give up or doubted myself. Whether I wanted to admit it at the time or not, I needed all of it. We both had to sacrifice a lot in order for me to realize my dream; from time together, vacations as a family, putting off purchases in order to replace tired equipment and his own aspirations. The last few months before the race were very selfish months on my part and he let me. We both have come to understand how our own growth strengthens each other.

Peter and I in London

I also learned that family is more than blood, although I am truly blessed with a loving supportive family. My father flew half way round the world – literally, from Hong Kong. My brother flew out to cheer me on in London. My mother goes to my races, worrying herself to death until I emerge out of the water. My Aunt and cousin have helped with each fundraiser and always gave me the encouragement I needed at the right time. But my family is small and scattered across the globe. These 2 years have shown me how large my family really is. How my friends have become more than friends. They shared my highs and lows, they kicked my butt when I needed it and they loved me for who I am. Best friend doesn’t come close to describing my relationship with my dearest friend. She is literally a second mother to my children, she is my balance and the only person who can put me in my place outside of my husband. And I needed all of them to succeed. It’s when you face challenges that you discover who your friends are, in my case I discovered who my extended family are.


I think the biggest surprise is what I have learned about myself. Every challenge I faced, every fear and every moment of self doubt presented me with a choice. Do I turn away or do I face it? It’s a simple question but it’s a hard answer. We surround ourselves with walls thinking we are protecting ourselves but really we are hurting ourselves. We are hiding from our true potential. I realized that if you don’t try you never fail, but if you never fail you will never win. Instead, you sit on the sidelines of your own life never succeeding but never failing either. And if it’s easy where is the reward. Strive to fail and you will win! I knew 2 years ago I was a long shot and I really doubted whether I would succeed. Every step I climbed towards my goal I fought for and I came to terms with my self doubts. Two simple words can change your life: I CAN. We all need to believe in ourselves a bit more and we all need to start trying. It’s ok to fail, it’s ok to fall because with each step back you will take two forward.

Fitness Inspiration #2

Now I am ready for the next chapter. While my body heals and I take a break from gruelling training I want to help people realize how much they can do. I am teaching more at the YMCA, I am starting a running group and I am expanding my bootcamps. The most rewarding experience is seeing someone do something they never thought was possible. And THEY did it. Getting to be part of their journey is an amazing experience. I’ll continue to balance training and racing with my family life as my children grow and explore their passions. I am adding a new dimension as I go back to work as a personal trainer. I hope you will continue to follow my adventures. The next big goal will be to see if I can qualify for the 2015 World Championship Team this summer. Wish me luck!

Day 5 and Race Day!!!


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.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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!


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

Day 4 in London

My day started off with a phone call from my dad and brother announcing they were in the lobby of the hotel. They flew in this morning, my dad from Hong Kong and my brother from Toronto. Perfect start to my day. We had breakfast in a great little french bakery around the corner from our hotel and then parted ways until the team photo.
Today is suppose to be a rest day and for the most part it was and definitely a mental rest. At the team photo the family was able to join in; so dad, Ian and Peter were in the photo. I think it’s important to recognize the contribution and sacrifice our families make so that we can realize our dreams. It was a nice touch.

Afterwards my dad took us on a tour of his London so we headed to Covent Gardens for lunch. My dad showed me where my great grandfather worked in the fruit market that was once Covent Garden and then where my Great Great Grandfather worked as a taxi driver (horse drawn). Plus the various music stores my grandfather operated back in the hey day of the 60’s. Although I walked a little too much again it was just the break I needed before my big race tomorrow.

Tomorrow!!!! My wave goes at 9:30am. It’s crazy that over a year’s worth of training comes down to tomorrow. Either way I know there is a bottle of champagne waiting for me. If anyone wants to track my race or see my results before I get chance to publish them you can follow from this site. My race number is 20940 and I am in the age group sprint for women 35-39.

Before dinner I headed to transition to rack my bike. I met some more great athletes. Including another Canadian woman in my age group. We hit it off and were having a great time talking about family and racing. Tomorrow is going to be a dream come true!

To everyone who has sent me messages I have read every single one and will be rereading them tonight. To all my friends and family thank you for your love, support and encouragement. Every single one of you has helped me be here. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

And the country photos continue ….

Day 3 in London

Meeting the President of the Triathlon Ontario

Meeting the President of the Triathlon Ontario

Today was the busiest day yet and the official opening to the games. My day started with conquering the water. I joined the team for a swim in the Lido, a sectioned off part of the serpentine. I’ve been putting this off because all the athletes are complaining about the water temperature. It turns out it’s normal lake temperature. Lake Ontario is significantly colder. Now the outside air temperature is a different story. It’s cold when you get out, cold enough that during our race briefing we were informed we can wear long sleeves under our tri-suit or wear our team jacket while on the course.

My swim felt great! The water is exactly the same as home, right down to the murkiness. It’s a perfect working temperature. About 100m in and your wetsuit is nice and warm and you can get to work without overheating. I started feeling so comfortable I started doing timed 100m sets and I was bang on pace and feeling strong – not winded. By the time I climbed out of the water I felt ready to tackle the race and shook off my insecurities. I feel ready to race this Friday and ready to own the swim.

Afterwards, Peter and I went back to grab our bikes. I had a crash course on urban cycling. You get to split lanes in England, not that I did, but you do move faster on bike than foot or car ironically. We also did laps in Hyde Park. I drafted the Netherlands Junior Team for one loop … :o) The coolest part of this whole experience is meeting all the athletes from around the world who all have this passion for triathlon. We added more countries to our collage. I now have Japan, Hong Kong, Grenada, Chile, Hungary and Russia. I met the Russian silver medalists for the Junior Aquathon. She had the biggest smile! You can see her medal in the picture.

Japan Junior Team Coaches

Japan Junior Team Coaches

ChileHong KongHungaryGrenadaRussia

I had race registration today. Fastest and most organized of any race I have ever attended. And I met more athletes while scoping out new gear. Afterwards we headed out for dinner. The restaurants around the hotel are fantastic. We have had Italian, Indian, Spanish and French cuisine. We will be so spoiled by the time we go home.

The day finished off with the race briefing at the Canada House in Trafalgar Square and then Opening Ceremonies. I wish I could tell you about Opening Ceremonies but my foot was killing me and I decided to head back to the hotel to rest it. This mush walking is talking a toll, big time. I’m hoping to do next to nothing tomorrow and rest my foot. I need my massage therapist and bucket of ice – both of which are hard to come by. We don’t have a fridge in the room so there is no where to store ice packs. That will be tomorrows adventure. The only thing I have tomorrow is a team photo and I rack my bike for Friday’s race. There is room for 4000 athletes in the transition area. I have never seen a transition this huge! I have a picture of what it looks like now and I will try to get one with all the bikes in it. It’s crazy how many athletes are here but the Canada jackets stand out the best. ;o)

Day 2 in London

Big Ben, Big Swimmer .. Why not?!

Today was FUN! Peter and I got up just after 6:00am, grabbed a banana and hit the bike course before the traffic started. Best decision! The course will be completely closed off starting tonight and by 9:00am there are too many cars, pedestrians, cyclists and birds to be able to ride properly. We were joined by a Brazillian, an American and a few Auzzies …. sounds like the beginning of a great joke, right? We literally had the park to ourselves and practiced all the technical sections at various speeds. This course is fast! It does have a hill with a 3% grade for 1km but the winding section has a fantastic flow to it. With the right line I should be able to hold my speed through the corners.

Afterwards we headed for breakfast and then toured London. Managed to get lost on the Tube several times, check out Peter’s Ace Cafe (a motorcycle cafe dedicated to cafe racers) and then headed back to the hotel. After a rest I hit the run course. Hyde Park is absolutely beautiful to run in. Nicely groomed trails with lots of room and lots to see. I have to complete 2 loops of the serpentine for the race. It also has a deceiving hill climb or false flat.

Lindsey he is getting the hang of the camera but he also gets side tracked. I was on my third loop when I finally flagged him down.

Lindsey he is getting the hang of the camera but he also gets side tracked. I was on my third loop when I finally flagged him down.

Crossing the Serpentine Bridge
Most importantly my run felt comfortable and my foot felt good, especially considering I spent the morning walking all over London. It also helped shake off some jitters that were building. It’s hard not to get nervous watching other athletes training or even talking. So many have been competing for years and are very serious. The first question everyone asks is which race are you in and then what time are you hoping for, followed by a long list of racing accomplishments. It can be overwhelming. I keep reminding myself that I only started 4 years ago and started from scratch. I’m ahead of the game. Either way my run helped me clear my head and remember that I am quietly confident. ;o)
Notice all the layers go back on after the run. It has definitely been a day for layers.

Notice all the layers go back on after the run. It has definitely been a day for layers.

We finished off the night having the most delicious Indian Dinner with some Canadian Team Mates. As a side note Canada has 419 athletes competing. Rumour is we are the second largest team here. And you can tell! Everywhere you look you see red Canadian jackets.

I have been meeting so many people from other countries we’ve decided to document it with photos. At the end of the week we are going to make a collage of all the pictures. It’s been a fun project and keeps the focus on enjoying the moment for what it is … an unbelievable opportunity.

I was told the swim is crisp ... I get to find out tomorrow.

I was told the swim is crisp … I get to find out tomorrow.

For my friend Erika

For my friend Erika

There is a good size team Erika. :o)

There is a good size team Erika. :o)

Britain and BrazilSouth AfricaAustraliaIMG_1912Go Canada!Team USA

Day 1 in London

This is going to be a relatively short post today. We caught the red eye out of Toronto and landed in Heathrow around 11:30am London time. I managed to sleep a bit on the plane but poor Peter didn’t. He has been running a marathon of no sleep today.

We managed to get to our hotel by 1:30pm and about an hour and a half later our bikes arrived so everything went well. I have already met a lot of people from the team at the hotel. As well as other teams. We popped into a little cafe to get a caffeine jolt and bumped into the Chinese Junior and Under 23 team. They were getting in trouble from their coach about ordering french fries with their meal. Made me feel really guilty about the fish and chips I had for lunch.

After lunch we found a grocery store and stocked up on some fruit and veggies to snack on and then headed over to Hyde Park. We bumped into more athletes but mostly Canadians. It feels like Canada has taken over Hyde Park. Peter took a few pictures with the iPhone but tomorrow he hopes to get some better shots with the camera he has borrowed from friends. As you can tell it has been raining all day and is suppose to rain for most of the week. It is a whopping 13 degrees celsius during the peak of the day. At the moment the water is warmer than the air.

We plan on waking up at the crack of dawn to test out the bike course when there is little traffic and to get use to the wet roads. I got some great tips from a local cyclist. Mostly beware of the grates, that’s what causes you to wipe out not the paint lines and that the roads in the park are oily. Making them more slick than the rest of the roads in the area.

The pictures are of the finish line set up and the Serpentine, where I swim. As you can see there are a lot of birds. Two weeks ago the lake didn’t pass it’s water quality test. Let’s hope it has improved.

Ps. excuse any bad spelling mistakes or grammar.

Finish Line set up

Grand stands and the blue finish line carpet covered in plastic so it doesn't get ruined.

Grand stands and the blue finish line carpet covered in plastic so it doesn’t get ruined.

Swim BuoysThe birds
This is our practice swim area. It's a sectioned off area that is 100mx25m. A really cool pool. There were a few Canadians testing the water. I hope to get in tomorrow or Wednesday. Don't worry Mat, I'm going in. Cold and all. ;o)

This is our practice swim area. It’s a sectioned off area that is 100mx25m. A really cool pool. There were a few Canadians testing the water. I hope to get in tomorrow or Wednesday. Don’t worry Mat, I’m going in. Cold and all. ;o)

Rainy welcome

How I improved my cycling this year

Peter and I having fun on a Ryder Special Group Ride.

Peter and I having fun on a Ryder Special Group Ride.

I’ve loved cycling this year! It’s been a great summer for riding, the weather has been just right to really enjoy the roads and the company. My training has been spot on. I changed two key parts in my training and race prep that I think has helped me hit an average of 33 km/h in my races. The first is I found a great bike shop and send my bike in for regular tune ups and the second is I joined the Cascata Bistro Sunday group rides.

Rock and Road
Scott at a Rock and Road not only owns a great store but he can dial my P2 so that it shifts on an absolute dime. I have a SRAM Red groupo on my P2 which I love but it can be difficult to fine tune and can be temperamental to shift. I had been struggling with it so much that I was going to ditch it and get a new group when Scott said” “Bring in your bike and let me have a try.” Am I ever thankful that I took him up on the offer. Now I take my bike to his shop a few days before I race – EVERY race. It’s amazing the difference a proper tune up can make. And my race times are proof.

Rock and Road has become my go to shop for all bike parts, accessories and service. It’s because of Scott I have been able to get my hands on a great pair of Reynolds aero wheels that sing when I get up to speed, new rubber for my wheels that grips the road like nobody’s business and he just started distributing Lake Shoes.

Picking up my bike with my NEW Reynolds Aero wheels. Thank you Scott!

Picking up my bike with my NEW Reynolds Aero wheels. Thank you Scott!

Lake Tri Shoes
And I really feel that Scott has been a key part of stepping up my “A” game. If you haven’t been to his store, check it out. I promise you’ll thank me for it.

With my bike dialled in, the only area of improvement left is me. The best way to improve your cycling is to ride with cyclists. I love triathlon but to be good at it you have to be a great multi-tasker which means you are a jack of all trades and master of none. So you need to turn to the masters. I started riding with the Cascata Bistro Sunday group ride. There are 3 different speed groups so there is a place for everyone. I spent most of the summer chasing the boys in the 30 km/h speed group. Don’t let the speed deceive you. That is an average speed over 65km of riding and normally over 550m of climbing. It’s a killer and I’m sucking air most of the time and it’s made me a better cyclist. The summer may be ending but the Sunday rides will continue. Like I said there are different speed groups for all levels and stages. Join us next Sunday, wheels roll at 8:30am. Plus, there is coffee on the patio afterwards.
The Cascata Sunday Group Ride

Angela and I after a Cascata Ride. A great friend and great mentor, competing for Canada at the Long Course Championships.

Angela and I after a Cascata Ride. A great friend and great mentor, competing for Canada at the Long Course Championships.

A Lesson in Humility

i swim hd_w
I raced the inaugural IronGirl race in Grimsby, Ontario this past weekend. It was my first women’s only race and it was much harder than I expected. I hate to say it but I went into the race with a certain amount of arrogance that I am ashamed of and behaved even worse after the race. My husband warned me not to underestimate the women who would be racing and he was right.

Although the race is a great, friendly race for all women to compete in (and I strongly suggest every women try the race at least once) it is also an opportunity for high performing women to compete in a no holds bar race. There are no men to swim through or ride through to get clear space. The race course is theirs for the taking. And it was empowering to see so many strong women at one race. Most of the races I attend through the various race series available in Ontario there are anywhere from 125-200 or so women and usually anywhere from 25-50 women in my age group. At IronGirl there were over 500 women racing and 92 in my age group. The top women in each age group were serious women, all looking forward to owning the course.

My aim had been to podium but that didn’t happen. I still had my best race to date. If you are following my blog posts you know that the swim is my physical and mental achilles heel in the race. I have been painstakingly working on my swim with my coach Mat Reid with the goal of holding onto the feet of the lead pack by the time I get to World’s – which is in 4 1/2 short weeks. Yesterday not only did I hold on but I was 5th out of the water. 5th!!!! Out of 92 women. I remember getting out the water hearing my husband scream: “You are at the top! At the top baby!” I shook off the swim and headed for transition. I took too much time in transition and let two women slip past me.

I hit the bike course and started hunting. My bike leg was consistent but not nearly as fast as the Toronto Triathlon Festival. I averaged 31.6 km/h according to sportstats and here is where my bad behaviour starts. My garmin had me clocked in at 32km/h and although it is only .4km/h difference it somehow makes me feel better. And either way it doesn’t change where I place in the race but I still stomped my feet and had a full-blown temper-tantrum over the difference when really I was mad at myself. I was at the 7.5k mark when the race leaders passed me. It was so exciting to see women as the leaders and they were only 5k ahead of me. I’ve never been that close before!

As I entered the dismount area I jumped off my bike. I even did the fancy one footed dismount. Again I took too long in transition, feeling tired. Every time I had a chance to slow down I wanted to stop. Not throw in the towel but maybe have a nice little nap or rest before I moved onto the next section of the race. I forced my feet into my running shoes and headed out onto the run course. This is where I really started to beat myself up -the run. Ever since I injured my foot in May I have struggled to get my run back.

As I left T2 my cheering squad was waiting for me. I could hear them cheering as I approached and continued to hear them as I hit the road. Later my daughter would tell me I looked tired and she thought yelling extra loud would help. God bless her. I owed her a big thank you and explanation later about Mummy’s poor sportsmanlike behaviour. So yeah, I was tired when I hit the run course but I started to settle into a good pace by the 1.5k mark. I was running a 5:15 pace which is my best pace since injuring my foot. It told me the intervals are paying off and my pace is starting to improve. Then I hit the trail section of the course and I lost my rhythm. I struggled to get my legs to turn over. By the time I exited the wooded trail my pace was right off and I had a km to go. On the run three more women in my age group passed me. One of them in the last 300 meters.

Within 15 minutes or so of finishing the results were being posted. This is when I started behaving badly. I really thought I had done well, which I had, just not as well as I had hoped. When I saw that I finished 9th I started complaining about the discrepancies between my garmin and the results. Very loudly. That I should have placed higher, never acknowledging the women above me and the excellent race they ran. I went into this race thinking I was fantastic and would sweep the field. That I was Team Canada and look out. Well I was served a well needed lesson in humility.

The truth is as I later had to explain to my daughter, I have been training so hard and ran my best best race to date yesterday and it wasn’t good enough. I hated that! I hated that even though I have been training so hard and so consistently I still couldn’t make it to the podium. That I was frustrated but that doesn’t excuse my behaviour. The women who finished above me ran a great race and instead of complaining I should have congratulated them. There are no guarantees in life and even though I worked hard and I ran my best race I didn’t win and I didn’t podium and that’s life. I should be proud of the fact that I came out with the leaders not behind them. I was in contention the entire race. I finished 45th out of 500+ racers. I finished in the top 8%!!! These are all huge successes. All of which I told my daughter. I told her that success isn’t always measured by where you finish or a grade but by your own personal achievement.

For three years I have been diligently working with my swim coach so that one day I could be on the coattails of the leaders in the swim. Yesterday I became one of the leaders. That success is unmeasurable!

Toronto Triathlon Festival – It’s all about the Expo

Crossing the finish line
On July 21st I raced the sprint course at the Toronto Triathlon Festival, also host to the National Championships for Age Groupers, Para-triathletes and the Elite Juniors Under 23 as well as 10 spots were available for next year’s team competing at the 2014 Grand Finale World Championships in Edmonton. It is the biggest race I have ever participated in! Athletes traveled from across the country to compete. I have never seen so many Team Canada race kits at one venue before – which helped ease my nerves as it’s the first time I raced in my team kit. The transition was massive! With the bikes racked, the racks seemed to go on forever.

Transition Zone

TTF is organized a little differently than other races I have attended. There is a mandatory race briefing and it is the day before. Biggest waste of time ever! And every athlete who came out of the briefing was grumbling about it. Unless you have never raced before there was no point in sitting through the briefing. The only key information were changes to the course from the previous year which are highlighted on the on-line course maps and that the ITU drafting rule of 12m on the race course would be enforced which can be shared via email. For athletes travelling from within the Golden Horseshoe or further it meant 2 hours of driving, an extra $20 in parking for a 12 minute pointless meeting followed by a forced walk through of the Expo. So in other words, you were forced to attend (anyone who did not attend would not be permitted to race and would not be refunded their race fee) a pointless meeting to guarantee “x” many athletes walked through the Expo to see all the vendors. You actually had to walk past each and every vendor to get the second part of your race kit. Unlike other races your parking on race day is not included with your race entry. If you choose to race this event next year add $40 to the race fee to cover the parking for the briefing and on race day.

The wave set up is a little different to other races. All the men are grouped first and all the women last. To keep the waves divided by gender the wave 30-44 for both genders were oversized by 40%. Normally it’s not really a big deal and I have swam in much larger waves but in this case the swim course is around the docks at Ontario place. It’s a very narrow, zig zag location so the swimmers in those waves were literally being squeezed together making it difficult to move forward never mind pass. When you factor the panic a lot of swimmers were experiencing from the unusually cold water it was like trying to swim through pea soup. The buoys were difficult to sight once you cleared the west channel with the sun being directly in your line of sight and obscured by boats and the congested swimmers. Most importantly there was nowhere to warm up in the water, which considering the temperature of the water that day would have been a huge benefit. Actually, I should say the women were unable to warm up. There was enough of a gap between the olympic distance and the sprint that the men and the Elite Juniors Under 23 were able to warm up but not the women. The women’s waves didn’t start until half an hour after the first gun for the sprint. So the men were primed and ready. The women, it felt like were an after thought without the clear advantages the men experienced that day. For a national event, championship and team qualifier the discrepancies between gender are unacceptable. When the race organizers were questioned about the discrepancies they could not or would not provide an answer. They need to address these issues moving forward as most women were extremely frustrated. Had this not been chosen as a championship race or qualifier the number of entrants would have been significantly less. Changes need to be made going forward if this race wants to have the success and stamina of other races in Ontario like Gravenhurst and Guelph Lake.

So what did I like? The bike course is amazing! You feel like you are flying. It was 1.5km short based on my Garmin 510 but it was fast and fun. There was more officials on the course ensuring everyone raced a fair, individual race. The transition was well organized and close to the swim exit, giving a more accurate swim result. The transition was easy to navigate except for when the organizers shut down the centre aisle while out on the bike course screwing with your navigation off the bike. The transition and course were lined with country flags stressing the significance of the race. The run course had plenty of drink stations, it was easy to see where you were in the race. The km markers were difficult to see. Maybe making them brighter, larger or more in your direct line of sight? You knew where you were based on the drink stations. The finish line was a party! Every racer received a finishers medal and recovery food/drink was right there when you crossed the line. And for my family, there was a lot to do which my husband was grateful for. At the end of the day when you packed up your transition you had to have your wristband with your race number matched to your bike before you left. It was a nice detail that I think should be instituted at all races.

The police, firefighters, Maple leaf mascots and more were at the Kid Zone

The police, firefighters, Maple leaf mascots and more were at the Kid Zone

This race has the potential to be a great race but they need to make some significant changes going forward.
*The waves need to be more evenly distributed and stay small in order to navigate the harbour.
*Everyone needs to be provided with a satisfactory warm up.
*Ditch the mandatory briefing and the obvious walk through of the expo; if the briefing is necessary then provide free parking and omit the expo walk through. Let athletes make up their own minds if they want to visit the expo.
*Figure out the parking scenario. There should be a discount or parking should be free. The race is fee is higher than most sprint races to begin with and those races include entry into the park and parking for athletes.

If this hadn’t been the national championships I wouldn’t have signed up for the race. And it won’t always host the championships …

Celebrating my finish with my family. My Aunt came down to cheer me on. I could hear the extra voice. Thank you!

Celebrating my finish with my family. My Aunt came down to cheer me on. I could hear the extra voice. Thank you!