Monday, June 30, 2014

Barrie Half Marathon

What was I doing all the way out in Barrie to run a half marathon at the end of June you ask?! Originally I had registered for this race when it was dirt cheap with the intention of running it for fun with Patty for her birthday. Unfortunately Patty had to back out, so I made plans to hook up with Robin who had told us about the race in the first place.

Thankfully there was race day pick up so I got up bright and early on Saturday morning and met Robin at the park and ride in Bradford where she then drove us into Barrie. On the way Robin informed me that the front half of the race course was pretty hilly (wtf?!?! isn't this on the lakefront where it's typically flat), the back half is mainly gravel and that the printer had shrunk the race shirts so they were going to be mailing them to us at a later time. Perfect. I was running a hilly race on a hot day without the friend who was the sole reason that I signed up and there weren't even shirts to bring home? Well all of these minuses have to turn into a plus right? Probably I'm going to go out here and have the race of my life because of all this!!! Soon enough Robin and I made it to the venue, found a sweet parking spot and got our race kits. They did offer us the shrunken shirts to have in the mean time, but the woman's large that they held up was wider than it was long. Um. No thanks, I have enough potato sacks. We then made our way over to the bathrooms where Robin bragged about the fact that they had real toilets at this race. Nice! Too bad the city didn't get the memo and they were locked. Over to the porta potty line it is! After a bit of puttering around it was time to make our way to the start. Robin placed us behind a cluster of girls in tutus, I suggested maybe we should try to start ahead of them....

.......And we were off. There was quite a bit of congestion but it didn't take Robin long to pull ahead of me. No worries, she said she was going to try for a 1:40. I was going to be happy if I could come in around 1:50. Not that I knew what pace I needed for that was. I figured I'd just run and see what happened. That's how the races of your life are run you know! They're the ones where you just run and then you look at the clock at the finish line and your entire face lights up because you freakin' rock. Just like Oakville.

Not like Scotia.

There wasn't a lot of conversation going on around me to listen in on but that was ok. I was just running and being happy, no need to eavesdrop on anyone yet. I passed a lot of people on the first out of the two way out and back and I was feeling good. It was hot but fairly shady in the residential area that we were in. Hot, shady and hilly. Urp. Uh oh? Is that my prerace banana coming back on me? Probably nothing to worry about I'm sure. I just continued running at a decent pace and kept on passing people, slowly feeling my face getting redder and redder. It didn't take long for the leader to make his way back from the turn around and then I started looking for Robin. It was quite a while before I saw any women so I started counting them just to see how she was doing in gender placing. I stopped counting after 10 but soon saw Robin looking strong after that. We smiled and waved and kept on. Soon enough I came to the turn around and started my way back. The field got a lot more congested on this portion of the run because now we were mixed in with the 10k runners. They didn't really get in the way at all though which was good, we all seemed to be running the same paces. I did take the time to let a woman know that her skirt had ridden up and she was flashing everyone. What comes around goes around and all that. Eventually we were out on the lake front where the shade gave way to full sun and the sweat really started pouring off of me. It was around this point where I started thinking that I wasn't having much fun out here. I was hot, sweaty and bored and I'd really love to get off the course with the 10k runners. They only thing was, if I did that I would have run 12.75k. Obviously that wasn't going to do so I sucked it up and took the turn to stay on the half course while the 10kers made their way to the finish line. Boo. There were a lot of spectators in this area and I took the time to high five some kids who had their hands out. I was kind enough to make sure that I only touched them with my finger tips. Obviously my hands had some serious sweat going on. It was in the park here where I really started to fade. The gel that I had taken around 9k had upset my stomach, I was head-achy and light headed at times and my get up and go had got up and went. A lady yelled out my number and told me to catch the people ahead of me. Meh. Not right now.

What's that smell?!
We were now on the gravel and I was totally dialing this race in. I truly would have walked at this point but I just wanted for this to be over and done with so I kept at it. Now people started passing me but whatever. I didn't even care at this point. I didn't even have any sort of interior dialogue other than I refused to come in over 2 hours! You know things have hit rock bottom when! A piece of hair had fallen out of my bun so I stopped and put it back in because it was annoyingly hitting the back of my neck like a wet noodle. Then a water station came up so I spent a little time there. People kept on passing me and then eventually we came up to a large hill that led up to a residential area. I couldn't even muster the energy to run this so I walked. Walking hills is ok on the trails, and Barrie is practically up North so it's kind of the same. A short time later I passed Robin again. "I'M DYING!!" I yelled to her. "Yeah, me too" she replied. Well at least I'm not the only one having a rough go of it I figured. As I came up to the final turn around I saw a lady who I had been going back and forth with for the entire race. Spotting her seemed to put a little life into my sails, and my pace started to pick back up. Frick, just get me to the finish line! I started passing people again, pretty easily as a lot of them were fading on the back stretch. I played back and forth with a man for a couple of minutes. He would stop and walk, I would pass him, he would get pissed off that I had passed him and start running again only to start walking once he got past me. If there was anyone who I was going to beat this day it was this man. Right here. Finally he muttered an expletive and that was the last I heard of him. I passed a downed runner, but there were people all around him so I kept going. He was curled on his side with his back to me, but flashbacks of Road 2 Hope played in my head. I passed a medic slowly walking down the path so I told him there was a man down. Apparently he knew. Good thing he was rushing to get the man some aid! *sarcasm* I passed a couple of vomit splatters and turned the corner to the finish line.
Get me the hell outta here!

Finally my legs found their get up and go and brought me over the finish line. "Fuck me" I muttered to myself as I pressed stop on my Garmin. Too bad I noticed the photographer after this part. Channeling my inner Nicole I was not.
Phew. No F bomb detected. Just a look that says 'Thank God that's over'

Robin was there at the finish waiting for me so I gathered my big ass medal, made my way to the water jugs(?!) and saw that they only had pizza to eat so we made our way back to the sweet parking spot. As I peeled my sweaty shoes and socks off Robin asked if I was going to come out and run this again next year. Yeah.....probably not.
Me & Robin at the end

Monday, June 9, 2014

Binbrook Try a Tri

A few months ago I asked my friend Mari who I've been tagging along and swimming with most of the winter if she thought that I'd be able to pull off the swim in a try a tri. Mari said definitely. I then asked about the sprint distance, but she told me not to bother with the bike that I had. So for a couple of months I went back and forth back and forth about whether or not I actually wanted to do a try a tri event. I didn't really tell anyone that I was thinking about it just so I wouldn't have any issues with backing out....which I tried to do 1000 times but a certain someone wouldn't let me. Out of the 1000 things that Mari said to me every time I tried to get out of it the one thing that really stuck was "You've put all this time into swimming this winter, use it for something' . I did put all this time into swimming so I may as well use it.....

It was the Wednesday before the Binbrook Triathlon that I finally bit the bullet and registered. Nothing like leaving it to the last minute. On Friday I made my way to Foot Tools and picked up the wet suit that I was renting and got a quick tutorial on how to put it on  take it off. Apparently the wet suits that you get on Barrier Reef tours are not the same as the wet suits that you wear for a triathlon. It's probably a good thing because people on an Aussie booze cruise would not be hooking up after watching each other try to grease their way into one of these tri suits. I brought my suit home and tried it on in the privacy of my bedroom. It took two attempts because on the first one I put it on backwards. Taking this thing on and off twice was a serious workout. Probably I should have logged it on Daily Mile. 

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early and made my way over to Mari's house so that I could follow her & Kerry in to the race site. My race didn't start until noon but I wanted to cheer Mari on at her race and also watch how things were done. I don't think that what the elites do on the tri's that I watch on tv is the exact same as what the weekend warrior does. I was literally Mari's shadow while she set up (once we finally got to the venue after some terrible website directions) and listened intently to everything that she was telling me. We bumped into Phaedra who asked me what I was doing here(?!?!) and between her, Mari & Kerry I was feeling a bit better about the scary dark water swim ahead that was weighing on me. Soon enough Mari had her wet suit on and we were down at the beach waiting for her race to start.
Mari with her friends Kerry, Janet and Anna. I'm pissed that they got pink caps!
It was really cool to watch the swim, the leaders opened up such a huge distance on everyone behind them it was going to be a lonely race for them up at the front. Eventually Mari's wave started and we cheered them on. In what seemed like no time she was out of the water and running up to the transition area and then off again on her bike. Shortly after the male winners made their way in from the run we went over to watch Mari come back from her bike ride and cheer her on once again when she started the run. It's great that your spectators can cheer you on at every station! Finally Mari was finished and I listened with great interest to all of the stories that she & her friends told of the race. Someone got their goggles punched off their head?! People were grabbing ankles in the swim and not allowing them to pass on the bike?! What the hell had I gotten myself into?! 

Once we chatted with Phaedra once more and Mari collected her gear and packed it back into her car it was my turn to get set up.  I lugged the ol' Supercycle out of my car and brought it to the transition area where they gave you two numbered bands. One for your wrist and one for your bike which they would check after the race to make sure that you weren't leaving with a bike that wasn't yours. Hear that people?! Don't try to steal my bike because you're gonna get caught!! I was honestly surprised to see that all of the bikes over in this area were road bikes. Why the hell did these people not have Supercycles like me?! I had secretly thought that I might be able to AG place here but upon seeing these bikes I knew that wasn't going to happen. Then Mari took me down to the body marking area where I got my bib number written on my arm and my age written on my calf. These triathletes are nothing if not competitive!
According to my son Noah you're not old until you're 50 so I've got some time to go

Now it was time to collect my swim stuff and make my way down to the beach where I would shimmy myself into the wet suit. As I was struggling to get into this damn thing I heard Mari take a picture. "I love Tri Newbies' she said. Har har. Just as I was about to pull the wetsuit over my hips Mari asked "Are you putting that thing on backwards again?!?!". DOH! 
Shit. Backwards again?!

If this sexiness doesn't make you want to do a triathlon!

Finally I got the wet suit on and I went down to the beach to get into the water and see how this was going to go with a warm up swim. Swimming in the wet suit wasn't so bad. Trying to watch out for people around me in the murky water was not good. My swimming history goes like this. Gun goes off, dive into the clear water, swim in a straight line until you come to a wall, flip, swim in a straight line until you come to a wall, flip, lather rinse repeat. This was way out of my comfort zone just like I knew it would be. Just take it nice and easy Mari said. Do the swim on your terms Phaedra said. Use the swim as a warm up Kerry said. Ok, I could do this. The gun went off for the old peoples wave and I was swimming! Shit I'm swimming on top of someone. Stop swimming. Start swimming. Shit I'm swimming into someone. Stop swimming. Start swimming. Ok no one is around me now phew. Where am I on course? Am I going off course? Crap I'm way over to the side. How do you turn and swim? I only know straight line swimming. Ok I'm on course. Shit, this guy is swimming on me now. Oh there's the green buoy, turn. How do you turn? This turning is weird? I don't like this. What am I doing out here. Am I off course? No but that guy is still here. Swim away old man, swim away. Ok, turning again. Don't go off course now, the finish line is right there. Ack, there are so many people ahead of me, am I last?! WTF?! I can't be last. I made it to provincials for swimming dammit. Don't go off course. Get me the f**k out of this water. I don't want to be here anymore. Ok the end is getting closer. I can stand up. Probably I could swim faster than wading to the finish line but I need to get out of here! Finally the panic in my mind subsided as I was emerging from the water. "Yay, Sam!!" I heard Mari cheer. "I didn't like that!" I yelled to her. "Is there anyone even behind me?!"I asked. Yes she assured me but I wasn't sure I believed her. I ripped the top of the wet suit off and ran past Moses' two brothers. How did they finish before me?! I made it to provincials!!!!! 
SWIM TIME 10:51 
AG place 3/12
Finally finished!

I didn't like that at all! 
The run back to transition was a long one but I finally got there. I grabbed a drink of water and ran to my bike where I unceremoniously tried to get out of my wet suit. Mari was yelling at me over the fence to step on it but the leg was caught on the timing chip. I finally got it off the way you do on a Friday night after a lot of drinks and threw on my shoes and helmet and tore out of there with my bike. "Go Sam!" Mari yelled "Wooohooo" I laughed and yelled back. I tore down the driveway and passed (!!) two girls. Yeah! I friggin rock with this bike. Woohoo. One minute later the two girls that I passed passed me back. No worries, I got this I thought as my legs turned a million miles an hour. The rolling hills came and went so I was constantly shifting gears. Clunkclunkcluck the gears went. "On your left" the people passing me would say. Clunkclunkclunk. On your left. A few people would say encouraging things to me as I peddled like crazy. Maybe they started out on piece of crap bikes too. I thanked the people for their encouragement, thanked the police officers, even thanked the people who took the time to tell me that they were passing. Whatever, I got your numbers people. I'll remember you on the run. Clunkclunkclunk. On your left. The freedom that you feel out on your bike fed my soul,  even the lady in my AG who passed me on the fixie couldn't bring me down. I was having fun even though these people were kicking my ass. Finally I was turning back down the driveway and I could see Mari beside the dismount area. "Yay Sam!" she cheered. "People were picking me off like crazy" I laughed to her. "Now it's time for you to pick them off" she said. Yep! I ran my bike back into the transition area where I saw a photographer and pulled on my inner Nicole. I racked my bike, ripped off my helmet, threw on my hat and took off. And then stopped again at the water table to rinse my mouth out because the Super Cycle doesn't come with a drink holder.
BIKE TIME 24:31 
AG place 10/12
No need to unclip from the Super Cycle!

Dadadada Super Cycle Power!!
I've never before done a brick run before. After only 10k on the bike it wasn't too bad but I didn't really like running on the uneven grassy terrain and it took me awhile to get my breathing comfortable so I kept the girl in front of me with a 41 written on her calf in my sights. Once my lungs were fairly normal I overtook her. Sorry sister, read my 43 and weep. Then I came upon a girl with a 40. See ya. Another 41? Bye bye. The hot sun was beating down on me so I took a quick drink at the water station and set my sights on the others in my path. I wasn't really giving it much effort and was surprised that no one had passed me. Up ahead I could see a lady who had passed me on the bike. I remembered noticing that she was in my AG so I passed her. Then a guy who didn't even say on your left when he went by me on the bike came into view. "Go on" he said. If you say so. And then in the blink of an eye I was turning the corner and coming to the finish line. "Way to finish strong" someone from the sidelines yelled to me. I crossed the finish line and saw Mari holding a medal up for me. The lack of hardware at the race was a sore spot for me so Mari went through her old medals and brought me one. Just like I always say. Running friends are the best! 
RUN TIME 13:23
AG place 1/12

AG place 3/12

I laughed at the folly of my first triathlon with Mari and then collected my stuff and left. "I'm sure that I didn't place so let's get out of here" I said and we were off. It wasn't until Nicole texted me when I got home that I learned that I had finished third in my AG! That's ok though. The medal that Mari gave me was all the prize I needed from this day. Would I do another tri? Yes, but not on my bike. Irina has since offered to lend me her old bike whenever I want so I now have another option which is amazing. I'd also need to learn my happy place in the swim and work on my sighting. All in all I had a really fun time and am glad that Mari wouldn't let me back out of it. Go me.