TORONTO TRIATHLON FESTIVAL 2014
This weekend was the Triathlon/Duathlon National Championships at Toronto Triathlon Festival. This is a unique event that takes place in downtown Toronto over closed roads and highways!
As we loomed closer to race day, the weather gods were not looking to be in a good mood. With predicted thunderstorms, 20 mm of rain, 30-40 km/hr wind gusts and a bone chilling 13C-15C water temperatures, we really just wanted to 'accidentally' sleep in, and miss the race!!
Simplest way to describe this swim would be: COLD.
I had been so nervous about this swim for the entire week before the race and nearly had a panic attack one day before when the organizers allowed us to "check out" and learn the swim course.
Another reason to be scared was that the organizers couldn't allow warm ups in the water before the start due to logistical reasons, so we basically had to jump straight into cold water. Ohh that sharp, constricting feeling in your lungs as you begin to hyperventilate when you hit the water...
The night before the race, me and Sunny googled some tactics on how to handle cold water swims in triathlon. Promptly, I decided to put on double swim caps and pour a bottle of cold water on my head right before jumping in water to ease the shock.
Well, it sort of worked. Once the gun went off, lots of people panicked and pulled out of the race within the first few hundred meters...the water was choppy, and the waves+wetsuit in combination were lifting my legs out of the water with buoyancy. You may think thats a good thing, but when you do 80% of the swimming in breast stroke, you kinda need the legs inside the water...not flapping about in the air!!
So, it was slow. But it got over...eventually.
Man, I was glad to be out of that lake. Fun part begins...biking! yay!
Getting onto the bike, I had to weave a bit for the first few kms because of slower athletes around me. Once onto the Gardiner highway, I tried to settle in a rhythm. Then, all of a sudden, I hit a NASTY bump.
It hit me so bad that my water bottle flew outside the cage and I lost it. My wheels made such a noise that I honestly thought for a second that I broke them. After getting my bearings in the next few seconds, I found out my aerobars had tilted down with the impact. Then, 1 second later, I see the familiar figure of Sunny stranded at the side of the road, with a bike mechanic next to him trying to fix flats. I yelled "Good luck Sunny!" (or...sucker!! :D) and carried on once I realized he was OK.
I decided to remove my shoes before going down the crazy steep ramp from the dismount line to the transition to save me from falling on my ass!
Last year's run was torture, I remember...we had just gotten back from a friend's wedding the night before and the sumptuous meal was still sloshing around in my belly during the whole run!
This year, I had a basic goal: dont blow up! I got through the first 5 km quickly without much hassle and then started counting down the time till the end!
I finished the run OK in 51 mins...gave me an overall time of 2:55. Could be better, but then I had a fun day and we finished in one piece despite the rainy weather!!
After being drenched in the rain and losing all hope of a good warmup before the start, I toed the line with some of the big names in Ontario duathlon: Jesse Bauer, Larry Bradley, Richard Eyram, Daryl Flacks, ...and stupid-fast cyclist David Frake (yes, he can run just as fast,too!) to name a few. I had no dreams of an overall podium, just trying to podium for my age group.
As we zoomed off at the sound of the horn, I did well not to start too hard and settle into my own pace. I found myself running with Darren Cooney for at least 8 of these 10 kms. It was good company and kept my pace in check. Apart from the fact that it was a hard 10k, my legs seemed good today...no sign of that lingering quad strain, either!
Run 1 was done in 39'ish minutes and I believe I was in the top 15 or so.
Due to the wet weather, I decided not to mount my shoes while biking, mainly because the ground was wet and my socks would get all muddy/dirty...potentially getting into my shoes and ruining it. So I was a bit slower here at about 1.5 mins. No harm done.
As soon as I started biking, I realized my sunglasses were completely fogged up due to the mist from the rain all morning. This was a new one to me. It took a good 2-3 mins before I could see properly through them. Good thing I knew the course and had to be generally careful here because of the narrow roads.
Once we hit the Gardiner, I just stuck behind Darren, totally intending to pace off him (legally riding behind!) and if I had a good day, potentially pass him on the way back. My bubble was about to explode though.
Out of nowhere, I went through a giant puddle and managed to hit just the perfect spot to hear my spare kit (in a bottle behind my saddle) fly away and land on the road. Oh well, I thought, I still have my "Pit Stop" sealant bottle, I thought. Then a second later, I hear a familiar grinding/rattling/whipping sound. I knew I had a flat. Darn.
I got off the bike and quickly got my "Pit stop can out, I didn't see any debris on the tire, so I wanted to use the can and repair the flat as quickly as possible. It didn't work. Then the mechanical support crew showed up (I was very happy here...only waited maybe 1 minute before they came!). As the crew tried to help me, I realized my front tire was also flat. So I had a double flat.*insert curses here*.
Anyway, the crew tried to use my spare tube by taking off the valve extender from my existing tube and in the process, somehow that tube also flatted. It probably already had a flat from being stuffed not-so-gently into my spare kit, so I learnt another lesson there! Now with 3 flats, the crew pulled out their own spare tubes...which didn't have a removable valve core to put my valve extenders on (because my wheels had a 80 mm deep rim)...so they could install it, but wouldnt be able to inflate it.
I had spent about 4-5 mins on the side of the road by now and Garima came zooming by, wishing me good luck.
My race was over, so I started walking back...picking up my spare kit along the way! I then went and sat next to a girl who had crashed on the SAME pothole and was quitting the race, with some first aid to her injuries and the race official next to her. I sat down and we waited for the sag wagon...it would be the first time I abandoned a race. I looked around and saw so many spilled bottles, gels, flasks...even Garima's bottle!!
I realized she had to wait until her significant other finished his race, so she would stick around for a few hours anyway. I then had a strange idea to ask this stranger for her wheels in exchange for mine, so I could continue the race. It was selfish, but this girl happily obliged. I exchanged my zipp wheels for her stock wheels and was back in business!
I thanked her and was back on my bike pedaling away!
2 mins later, I found out that my aerobars are tilted down and messed up, so I had to flag the neutral support again to fix these for me. OK, NOW i'm back in business.
Obviously, I was out of the race. I had waited at the side of the road for 40-45 mins (based on the time I would usually ride, for this distance). I then took it easy for the remaining part of the bike, passing a few of the people and generally just riding hard enough to keep the engine running. Rest was pretty boring....the way back had a lot more headwind that made me unwillingly work.
Coming off this prolonged ride, I really only had one goal: manage to do a flying dismount as I had been practising the week of the race so I can be confident that I can do these in a race!
Success! Was able to nail the flying dismount! I then proceeded to a leisurely transition, where I had enough time to try and figure out if I was last or not! I jogged out, fully planning on taking it easy on the run.
I started out at a nice relaxed pace and was soon passed by the sprint distance triathlon leader. A lot of people were confusing me as the 2nd place in the sprint race because I was running much faster relative to the remaining olympic distance participants on course. Although I made clear to the lead runner support cyclist that I was not competing in the sprint distance, I didn't mind the extra support and cheering! :)
So I did the first 2 kms in about 9 mins...and then I saw Garima on her way back when I was around 2 km into the run, and upon calculating the time difference, I gauged she was about 3.5-4 mins ahead of me. Suddenly something got into me and I decided to try and catch her so we could finish together.
For this idiotic reason, I then proceeded to run the next 3 km crazy fast (I was so well rested from that bike ride!) in about 10.5 mins but I underestimated Garima's speed and she finished ahead of me by around 30s! Crap...effort wasted!! At least I still managed to come under 20 mins for that run, though.
After the re-fueling, rain was pouring like mad again upon us. we took shelter and spectated the overall and AG awards....I exchanged some post-race endorphins with Garima, and Riddhi.
Also met up with Tyler Chuang: A real fast talent in the EFPS/3SIXTY5 Cycling team! Only 20 years old and grabbing podiums everywhere!
Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out how to get my wheels back from the girl who helped me out. Once we walked over back to transition, I found her already working on my bike to take her wheels back and give me mine. I thanked her as profusely as I could for enabling me to continue my race.
This is why I love this sport...she had no reason to help me as we were both stranded on the side of the road, but I selfishly asked her, and she obliged. I reached out to her even after i got home, just to express my gratitude...honestly.
Now we had a new conundrum, I needed to repair my tubes so we could bike home or else I'd have to walk for 5 km. So then I sat in the high heat for a good 1 hour replacing tubes (thanks to D'Ornellas bike shop for the emergency bike support, tubes, valve extenders and being so accommodating!!).
Meanwhile, Riddhi ate some HERO burgers (= most awesome post-race meal, ever...even at 10am!) and took a little nap:
Thanks Riddhi for some of the action pics!
|Clearly the hardest working of the lot.|
We reached home at around 2:30 pm...just in time to enjoy the FIFA World Cup final game of Germany vs. Argentina!!
Like I said after Powerman Zofingen: being stubborn is key!