Last sunday was race day. While I haven’t been training as much as I would like, this race was a training race in preparation for my 2 upcoming “A” races, the Michigan Titanium 70.3 and the Multisport Rev 3 Niagara Falls Barrelman 70.3. For me, the Tri Muskokan, besides being the most awesome race that I look forward to each year, it’s also a reset. It’s usually the first or second race of the season, therefore it’s a chance to see how much work I have to put in to make sure I am fully ready for the rest of the season.
I was part of a relay team with my friend Jax. I swam and ran while she was the cyclist. Together we were the Tri-Angels. A fellow Baydog commented that we should have been the Du-Angels as there were only 2 of us. Yupe! That would have worked too. Jax is the same cyclist who raced with me last year at the Barrelman 70.3 relay with the team name Jim’s Angels in honor of her father. She lost her father a few months before that race while I lost mine a few months after that race. We are both Daddy’s girls who lost their fathers. Today, we raced for them, Jim and Don.
Enough of the sappy stuff. Tri Muskokan is our club championship race. There is a friendly rivalry between the Barrie Baydogs and the Muskoka Triathlon club. This all started approx. 4 years ago when the Tri Muskokan Sprint and Try a tri came on my radar. Race directors Rich, Lindsay and Brian, with the rest of the team have made this an event you don’t want to miss. Every year, there is a new little surprise to make the experience just a little better. If you want to hear about the race over the years, we have 4 podcasts episodes available in the archives.
The Swim: It all started with a train ride down to the water. What a pleasant surprise. The athletes hoped on an old fashioned trolley train from the corner down to the water. What a fun way to get to the start line. Then, I’m not sure what happened, but I managed to get my wetsuit on backwards. I didn’t notice till my fellow Baydog, all the way from Sackville New Brunswick started laughing. The mad rush set in to get it off and on once again. This time the proper way. Luckily, I got it done with a few minutes to spare. I took a few minutes to get in the zone, to get my head in the place where I race. The book by Lesley Paterson and Simon Marshall “The Brave Athlete. Calm the F*ch Down” talks about changing our focus like we change the channels on our TV. Sometimes we need to focus on the outer and sometimes in inner. Sometimes we need to look at things broadly and other times we need to focus in. In the past that mistake could have cost me the mental space I need to have a good race. Instead of being focused on the “now” I would have replayed the mistake in my head over and over, not being in the present moment of the race, resulting in a less than optimal result. I simply changed the channel. It’s not something you can try it once and master it. I’ve been practicing during my workouts. Well, this time it paid off. I was now on MY racing channel.
Since I was part of a relay, I was in the first wave of swimmers along with the fast men. At 8:00 am we were off. Since this was my 4th year swimming the Tri Muskokan, I was familiar with the river. I also stayed right of the course this time instead of the usual left side I have been swimming as one of the race directors shared a little secret with us on the trolley. He said the current runs in such a way that the water is faster on the right side of the river. I am not sure if it was the current of the fact that I was in the first wave of swimmers, but I had a great swim. It felt good. I was only hit by 1 swimmer, 3 times and my goggles stayed on. Always a bonus in a race. Of course opting to use my huge aqua-sphere goggles was a good choice too. Those babies stay on.
Long strong strokes throughout, I was sighting every 8-10 strokes in the beginning aiming for the pontoon boat along the shore. From there, I aimed for the big orange arch at water exit. I did have to breaststroke once near the end (as I don’t have prescription goggles) to assess where the exit spot was. There was also more athletes around me in the water, making it a little harder to move, I mean swim. I could have picked up the speed a little in the second half of the swim, since I had time to recover while Jax was on the bike course, before I had to run. Something that will get noted on my race plan for next year. The run from the water to transition is somewhat far at the Tri Muskokan and it seems to be up a hill. Almost to transition, former club president Mark was running by me. Once again I managed to swim faster than him. He still managed to get to transition before me, but that’s ok. For me, it’s just a little internal victory he knows nothing about.
The timing chip was passed and Jax was off. Time to get changed and ready to run. The bike course is quite hilly. While Jax is a great cyclist, I had no idea how long she would be on the course. A great tip for all the relay teams out there, note the color of clothing your cyclist is wearing and the color of the bike. That may help you recognize your team mate coming into transition. Spotting Jax was fairly easy this time around. Her Mom ran by with her phone out ready to take pictures. That’s when I knew it was game time. Timing chip was passed back to me and I was off.
The Run: It was a hot day and I chose to stay in my Baydog tri suit that I wore for the swim an hour earlier. I added my HR monitor strap as well as my black Ragnar visor. Since the sun wasn’t shining to it’s fullest at that time, I wasn’t sure if I should run with my regular glasses or my sunglasses. That’s always a tricky one for me. Running with prescription sunglasses means that if it gets cloudy and dark, you are stuck wearing your shades. In the end I chose the sunglasses.
The run course consists of 2 loops. First you head down to the water by the swim transition,down a gravel road, up “The hill”, out on the road to the track, around the track, back to the corner and start the second loop. That hill is hard. While I was training hills like that at the beginning of the year, I know I didn’t do nearly as much as I should have. Looking at my training zones, I started walking when my watch indicated I was in the high 4 and low 5 zones. Time to walk to get my heart rate down a little. When I crested the hill, it was time to start running again even if my legs didn’t agree with it. My legs felt like lead. My breathing labored. Thankfully, there was an amazing volunteer stationed at the top of the hill encouraging the runners to get running again. It’s just what I needed. People do make a difference while you are racing. (Thank you to all the volunteers, I appreciate you)
I chose to run with a water bottle with some Nuun in my hand, even though I really didn’t need to. I wanted to make sure I drank enough. I wanted to measure the amount of water I took in on the run. In my 7.5km run, I almost finished my 500ml bottle of water. The water station at the Tri Muskokan is in the perfect spot, and once again, there was the famous canoe in the middle of the road to throw the empty cups. The volunteers at the station were friendly and motivating and there was enough of them since we do pass the water station 4 times.
A deer crossed the road in front of me on the run course. That was nice to see and not something I’ve seen too many times in races. I did see one before, years ago, in the Toronto Womans half marathon of all places.
I kept my running in Zone 4 for most of the race. Thirty-two minutes in Zone 4, Twelve mines in Zone 5 and 4 minutes in Zone 3. That’s pretty good. It was hard, but I felt great.
I ran into the finishing shute, I hear my name being called. Many spectators, all clapping and cheering. Got a high 5 from Jax and a hug from Rich,The energy was amazing.
Unfortunately, I missed seeing Rebecca cross the finish line, but watched many other athletes come in including Tania, our Baydog from Sackville and our club president Louise completing her first Tri a try.
As usual, the food was amazing. More than just bananas and bagels, I had a veggie burger, different vegetables and even a yummy chick pea salad. Every year, I tell myself that I will take a picture of the food, but I still don’t have a picture after 4 years. Perhaps someone will send me one that I can post here for you to see the amazing food served for the athletes.
Awards and prizes were given out. The Baydogs managed to get most club participants award again this year. The Muskoka club isn’t eligible to win that one. We tied the Muskoka club with 4 points a piece in the club championship, and in the end, we won the tie breaker. The Barrie Baydogs came home with 2 trophies.
All in all, it was a great race day. I’m waiting for registration to open up to sign up for next year.
Will you be joining me?