My first race of the year went off without a hitch, though I was fully prepared to not even race. Why? Well, a little clumsiness had led me to sustain a concussion a week from race day, which lead to a week of little to no training and a few half-days at work to give my brain a break from the glare of a computer screen and the severe headaches that resulted. I rested a lot, tried my hardest to actually sleep (something that seems to still be evading me), and crossed my fingers for the clear to race on Saturday.
Friday afternoon, I was feeling well enough to go pick up our race kits at Carleton. It is so nice to race so close to home! After grabbing my kit, I went for a quick shake out swim, since I hadn't been in the water in over a week. Then I realized I forgot to get Jenn's kit, so I ran back to the transition area for my "run activation" and caught the end of Geordie's pre-race orientation. I got to chat with quite a few OTC friends, including Stephanie, who would be completing her first triathlon!
Before I get into my report, I just want to say a few words about why I decided to race on Saturday. I was not taking it lightly that I had sustained a concussion and had been really trying to take care of myself all week. Concussions are very serious and I am really lucky that mine seems to have been a minor one. The concussion was obviously on my mind, but so was the desire to race and benchmark my fitness. Training this winter/spring has not been ideal and at times, I have really lacked motivation and inspiration. There have been times when I have forgotten how magical triathlon really is and so I knew that I NEEDED to race. I've said it many, many times, but the very best part of triathlon is the people and I knew that the Early Bird would be a huge reminder of that. Not only would I see tons of familiar faces out on the course, but I would also get to witness a ton of people experience the magic of triathlon for the first time ever, and I did not want to miss out on the experience. I knew going into Saturday that there was the possibility that I might have to pull out of the race, but I did that a lot last season with my stress fracture, so I was fine with it. I also knew that I would be so sad if I didn't line up at the start with my friends and fellow athletes. Plus happy chemicals are helpful for recovery, and there would be plenty of those emitted during the race! In the end, I am so glad that I got to race. It was a blast and a pretty good confidence booster at this point in the season.
Jenn and I got up at 5:30ish. I had overnight oats with berries, almond butter, and nuts, which has been my breakfast for a few races now and seems to work for me. I skipped the coffee for this race, given that caffeine isn't great for concussions.
We packed up the car and arrived at Carleton by 7. The race site was already getting crowded, but Jenn and I found decent spots in transition to set up our bikes. We got body marked and then jogged over to the pool. Because of the long T1, we left our shoes outside the pool exit along with the other participants. There was plenty of time to say hello to friends and take a quick splash in the diving well to warm-up. I had a snack in the back pocket of my jersey that I forgot about until I jumped into the warm-up area, oops!
Somewhat intimidatingly, I lined up 3rd based on my Early Bird time from two years ago. And the nerves officially kicked into high gear!
It was not my strongest swim performance, but that was to be expected given my lack of swimming this winter/spring. It will definitely serve as a kick in the butt to get back to the pool! The swim was fairly uneventful, except for being passed by a very young kid (who started at least 2 people behind me). The end of the 500m could not come soon enough, and I very, very cautiously walked out to find my shoes. (There was no way I was chancing a fall on the stairs!!)
T1: After exiting the pool area, I found my shoes, but then struggled to get them on my soaking wet feet. The run to the T-Zone felt strong, but it also felt so long (nearly 500m). Once at my bike, I took my time getting my helmet, glasses, and shoes on before running to the bike exit. I decided not to try a flying mount, since I was riding my new bike for only the second time ever!
Wow! I LOVE my new bike. The bike has felt like the strongest part of my training this season, so far, and it felt like that work paid off at the Early Bird. I didn't look at my watch, but once, and rode based on perceived exertion. I paid special attention to how my head was feeling and tried my best to keep a steady effort all throughout the course. Just after the turnaround at Clegg, a man passed me, then slooooowed down. I wasn't pleased, so I passed him again on the hill by the locks and tried my best to keep him behind me until the finish. There were admittedly a few times during the bike where I suffered a bit, but all in all, it was a fun ride. My new bike is a dream, though I think I'll have to continue to adjust the fit. In the end, it was probably my fastest bike split ever, so I'm extremely happy with the result.
T2: A fairly quick, though again cautious T2 given the mistakes I have made in transition in the past.
|All business coming down the chute!|
A week or so before the race, I did a practice run on the grass up the hill that appears during the first kilometer of the run... so I knew what to expect. My plan was to keep things steady, pay attention to how my head felt, and just do my best to hold it together. I expected a pretty slow (for me) run based on my complete lack of speed training. However, I was happy to glance down and see a 7:30/mile pace at one point. On the run, I did what I always do to keep the motivation high - I cheered for almost everyone that I came across. It is always nice to have names on the bib, and hopefully my words of encouragement helped the people that I saw as much as they helped me! About 2ish kilometers into the run, I was finally passed by a very speedy young lady. She was flying, so I knew that I just had to hold on for second place (and hope that the staggered start meant there wasn't someone else behind me that was faster). The downhill into the finish was awesome and I was very happy to be finishing the race!
|Oh right... I'm supposed to smile for the camera!|
As expected, race day was a ton of fun! In the end, I am really happy that I decided to race. I was able to complete the race with no headache (pre-, during, or post-). It was a huge boost in confidence at where my training is and a good indicator of where I need to go next.
Thank you so much to the amazing crew at Somersault Events, the volunteers, Geordie and the Ottawa Triathlon Club family, and all the awesome people who found themselves out on the course last Saturday. Thank you as well to Coeur Sports for keeping me looking very stylish and comfortable in my team kit! And thanks to Ottawa Fit and Mopify for the fantastic race photos!
Swim (500m): 8:25.7
Bike (22k): 36:57.9
Run (5k plus T2): 22:30.5
Final Time: 1:12:17 (2nd OA Female, 1st AG, 11th OA)