Monday, August 26, 2013

Toronto Island Triathlon

I now have four triathlons under my belt for the 2013 season. 

All four, of course, are different distances. 

Yesterday, Doug and I took the ferry to Toronto Island for an official Sprint triathlon. That means that we swam 750m, cycled 20k and ran 5k. 

Just a reminder that the official Sprint distance is exactly half that of an Olympic triathlon. And the shortest triathlon I've done other than my first try a tri last summer. I wasn't sure what to expect because the distances felt short enough to push hard but a little too long to sustain a hard push. I'm more of a distance athlete than a speed athlete and I don't usually do very well when I go hard for shorter distances. 

Toronto Island is pretty small and there were just under 700 athletes competing in the du and the tri. We had to cycle two loops of the island in order to get all 20k in and we had to run four loops of a 1.25k course to get the 5k run in. There were several wave starts for both events in order to thin the crowds and keep the roads from getting too congested. 

The races started at 8am. Doug and I, for the first time ever, were in the same wave start for the swim. We didn't start until 9am so we got to watch our duathlon friends, hang out with my little sis and our friends and mentally prepare ourselves. Oh, and gratefully feel the sun climb in the sky and warm the cold early-morning air. 

Ready to go in the baby blue swim cap wave. 

The swim started off well but took a bad turn within about 200m. I was right in the middle of the flailing arms and legs and churning water when I took a mouthful of water and choked. I mean really choked. I stopped swimming, tried to clear the water from my throat and just couldn't. No air coming in, none going out. Swimmers flying by me in all directions bumping into me and making me feel like I was in a churning washing machine. 

I felt my first ever open-water wave of panic hit. I almost panicked more at the thought of panicking. I'm a swimmer dammit. This is my best part of the triathlon. I will NOT panic. I will NOT come out of the water at the back of the pack. I refused to let the second wave of panic come. I coughed. Hard! I gasped and sputtered and swam a very slow breast stroke while I tried to clear the water and catch my breath. 

By the first turn around buoy I was back in control and the crowds had cleared a bit. I put my head down and went full tilt. I had no idea how much time I had lost but I wanted to gain some back. I swam hard. I passed a lot of swimmers and, miraculously, I held a pretty straight line for the remaining 500m. If I had done that for the entire swim I would have been done in record time. 

I'm not sure how long the run was from the beach to the transition but I'm guessing about 400m. I finished the swim and the run in 17:17. Not bad. Not my best but, all things considered, not bad. 

I transitioned faster than I usually do (2:10) and headed off on the bike. The course was flat which was nice but it was pretty crowded. There were several times when I wanted to pass but had to wait because someone was passing someone else in the other direction. That being said, I pulled off 20k in 40:20 which is just under a 30km/hour pace. I was pretty happy with that. 

The second transition went pretty well too but it took a little longer because I had to do the ol' blood sugar check. I headed out for the run and felt two things at once. Part of me felt that awful post-bike lead leg feeling and thought 'I don't think I can do this' and part of me thought 'hey, I actually feel not bad'. 

This not very fast runner girl usually aims for an average 6:20min/km pace in races. It's a hard pace for me to sustain but not awful. 

Guess what I did? 

I ran fast and strong the entire run and managed, somehow, to run an average pace of 5:50min/k. 

I am so proud! 

I ended up placing 15/27 in my age group. For someone who usually lands at or near the bottom, being within sight of the top half is pretty damn exciting. 

Blood sugar results? 

I turned on my usual race day basal profile and it did a wonderful job of keeping me very steady over the entire race. The problem is that I had a low an hour before the start which meant I had to eat when I didn't want to. After eating I climbed up to 12.0 before the swim. So I started the race at 12.0, I was 11.2 during the second transition and I was 12 when I finished. Very nice and steady - just a little higher than I wanted. 

Mr. Speedy. I kept ahead of him in the swim and on the bike but he caught me on the run and finished in 1:31:11.8 - nabbing a second place medal in his age group for good measure. 

The proud finisher coming in at 1:33:35.8. 


  1. Way to go! This is excellent progress and a fantastic result. You're becoming quite the triathlete.

    I was (I confess) on the edge of my seat reading about your swim. That must have been nerve-wracking. But I love how you pushed yourself through it.

  2. Congratulations!! That sounds pretty scary about the swim, so glad you got through and pushed hard! Another fantastic triathlon under your belt :)

  3. Congrats!! Your first tri was last year and you did 4 this year!? That's awesome :) And yeah the swim sounded so scary, glad you were able to overcome it and finish strong!