Tag Archives: triathlon

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!

Binbrook Triathlon Race Review

Amy cycling

Today has been an exceptional day for me and not because I broke records and killed the course. Quite the opposite. I did have my best race today and I also forgot my timing chip. Total rookie mistake and I made it but it really doesn’t matter. Today was an exceptional day because I finally overcame my anxiety in the water. I have written many times about my struggles with the open water swim in triathlon. I have also been using this site to help work through my triggers and discover coping strategies. It’s been cathartic for me to write about my fears and how to overcome them. It also helped me describe what I am going through to my swim coach, Mat Reid, so that we can work together to not only make me stronger, faster but confident in the water.

And it finally all fell into place today. I was able to get a warm up swim in before the start. I worked through my favourite drills and became acclimatized to the water. It was a brisk 64F or 17C. Definitely a wetsuit swim. After my warm up I stayed in the water and chatted with a few athletes I know from the Y. We didn’t talk about the race or the people. I didn’t even know how many people were on the beach. We were so busy talking about our training and past races that we were all surprised when the gun went off. There was no time to think, never mind be nervous. I just started swimming. Even though I was on the outside of the pack I was still pushed around, kicked in the face and pulled. All of which would usually cause me to panic and give up. But this time I didn’t! I just kept swimming and settled into my stroke. With the water being so cold I wasn’t able to use my usual 3 stroke breath and had to stick to 2 stroke. Before I knew it I was at the first buoy and I felt strong. On the leg back I was able to pick up my speed and swim stronger. I had a clear line to the beach and just zeroed in on the exit sign. I didn’t feel any of the fatigue I usually have climbing out of the water and I even had a smile for my cheering squad (husband and the kids).

I used my coaches trick for getting my wetsuit off quickly and it worked like a charm. My transition was poor. I have to say, if there is an element that needs work it is my transition. I have new shoes – that I love, but I need to take the time and practise slipping them on and off with wet feet.
IMG_0889

The bike portion of the race went well and thanks to my Garmin 510 (courtesy of Rock and Road Cycle) I have all my data saved. I averaged 31.5 km/h over the 30k course. It’s a great speed for me and even better when you factor in I have been laid up on crutches for the past 3 weeks letting my foot heal. When I got home I was able to plug my Garmin into the computer and get a better look at my ride. I couldn’t be more pleased! I averaged 30.5 on the first half of the course (15km) and on the second half I averaged 33.4 km/h!!!!! I still can’t believe I pulled that speed off. It also proves my husband right. I’ll never live that one down. It’s all in my head. I have the potential to be so much faster if I would just turn my head off. The numbers prove it. I can do it so I have to do it. Starting this week with my training. All this data helps me focus my training sessions to help improve from these results and to remind me of what I can truly do.

It really is all just a head game isn’t?

Is this the year you try a triathlon?

My first 10k race with my friends who raced their first 5k.

My first 10k race with my friends who raced their first 5k.


Could this be the year you try a triathlon? Why not? And if not you how about your kids? The Ontario Association of Triathletes announced this year’s race schedule for both adults and children. Every year the number of races increase, providing more variety to suit every whim. There are now women’s only races, there is the Sun Rype Tri Kids Triathlon Series that my kids love and will be racing again, the Kids of Steel Series, plus the Recharge with Milk Triathlon Series and the Subaru Triathlon Series. All having something unique whether it’s the race course (like jumping off a steamship), the venue or the theme – there is the retro race where everyone dresses up, something for everyone.

Now, no one is expecting you to suddenly sign up for an ironman. All of these races offer every distance from a try-a-tri, to a sprint (my specialty), olympic distance or the half and full ironmans. A try-a-tri is the best way to get started. The energy and enthusiasm are high, the crowds are loud and encouraging. The course is short enough to get a feel for each sport but not long enough to make you have second thoughts. And if the swim is just too scary there is the duathalon. So have I sold you yet?

Not quite? I am so passionate about this sport because it has changed my life for the better. And I don’t just mean being active and living a healthy life. They are amazing benefits but what I love is the sense of challenge, stepping out of my comfort zone. We all do it. Gravitate to the things we know, are familiar with but this habit can also cause us to get stuck in a rut. It is good for our health to step out of that comfort zone and try something new, crazy even.

Relay Guelph Lake II 2011

Relay Guelph Lake II
2011

Plus I get to share it with my family. I relay with my brother and husband.I race the swim, my hubbie smashes the bike course and my brother destroys the run. We get to spend the day together cheering and spending time together. We spend time training together that isn’t a holiday dinner or birthday and it’s nice. Nice to have something in common that is special to us. And now my kids are racing. They love running down the finishing shoot with us cheering them on.

So is this the year you or your family try something new? Check out my race schedule for this year and join me for a race. Maybe make your own relay team. Three times the fun! But in all seriousness, I hope that by writing this blog I not only share my experiences but inspire you to try something new. Maybe it’s not a triathlon but we all have secret ambitions, dreams or undiscovered talents. Have you discovered yours?

My 2013 Race Schedule:

Backs in Motion Sunday April 28, 2013

MEC Road Race Series May 18, 2013

Recharge with Milk Binbrook June 8, 2013

Recharge with Milk Welland June 23, 2013 RELAY, swimming 2000m

Triathlon Nation Championships, Toronto Triathlon Festival July 21, 2013

Subaru Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon, Grimsby August 11, 2013

Subaru Triathlon Series Guelph Lake II August 31, 2013 RELAY Swim 750m

ITU Grand Finale World Championships London, England September 11-15, 2013

MEC Road Race Series October 19, 2013

**Hamilton Cycling Club’s Time Trial Races Every Tuesday Night.