I have always wanted to try racing Triathlons, but not having access to a decent bike has always held me back (or has been my excuse for not trying).
I was talking to my friend Laura about our fitness goals and what we were training for. She is training for an Ironman next summer AND she is about 5 months pregnant! #Ironmom! Check out her Blog here for some inspiration if you are ever feeling unmotivated. I told her that I was in the middle of a marathon cycle but that completing an ironman was on my list of goals.
Laura gave me a look up and down and asked me how tall I was (a staggering 5"8). She told me she had an old bike that would be just the right fit for me and offered to let me use it for the summer!
I immediately signed up for Multisport Canada's Toronto Island Sprint Triathlon and the Wasaga Beach Olyimpic Triathlon. This was the perfect opportunity to try out the sport and gain experience at the shorter distances, before deciding on whether or not I really want to invest the time and money into training for an Ironman.
Training started June 25th and the races were August 23rd & August 29th.
Being in the middle of marathon training and having STWM be my main goal, I couldn't sacrifice running workouts / milage for biking and swimming workouts. I managed to bike about twice a week and swim about once or twice a week. I knew that I wasn't dedicating enough time to biking and swimming to improve in either discipline and there were times that I thought, "if I am not improving I am just wasting my time". As I got closer to the race day I started regretting signing up. I hate competing when I know that I haven't put in the proper work and that I am not going to do the best that I can do. I had to talk down the competitive side of me and tell myself that this was for experience, not performance.
In highschool and university I use to swim 3 x a week for an hour in the morning before going to class. I was never fast enough to be competitive but I have always been able to hold a strong and steady pace. It had been years since I swam distances, but swimming is like riding a bike, you never forget how to swim. I managed to swim about once or twice a week. The two weeks leading up to my first race I went to Cherry Beach with my friend Christina (who is a power house in the water) to practice spotting. The first time I went I used my scuba diving wetsuit. It absorbed water and felt like I was wearing a weighted body suit. Luckily another one of my friends, Avery who use to do Triathlons, still had his old wetsuit and let me borrow it for my races. Thanks Avery!
Learning something new as an adult is - I am sure it could be fun - slightly terrifying.
Laura took me out behind our building and taught me how to clip in and out of the pedals. She walked beside me and gave me instructions and I only fell once. Clipping in and out was only the first hard thing. Once I mastered that I had to find the courage to reach down to my water bottle. I spent a week just practicing reaching down to my water bottle, before I actually ever removed it.
Biking wasn't only physically hard, but because I wasn't showing much progress, it was wearing on me mentally. It was a new machine that I didn't know how to use. I couldn't figure out how to transfer my energy and power through the bike, into speed. Some days I focused on cadence and some days I focused on power. I kept close track of the different speeds I would reach in the different gears, at different cadences, but some days I would try the same thing as the day before and each time I wasn't able to hit the same speed. The most consistent advice that I got was that I needed to just spend more time on the bike. I really couldn't afford to spend more time on the bike and it was frustrating.
Once a week at the end of my bike ride I would practice mounting and dismounting my bike. I did have some improvement in this area. I wouldn't say that I was graceful at getting my feet in and out of my shoes, but I had found a system that worked. I provided a lot of entertainment for the other cyclist passing me while I was practicing this manoeuvre, and for that you are welcome!
Adding two other disciplines on top of training for a marathon proved very tiering. All I will say is, that I am looking forward to getting in a couple of good weeks of quality running without the added burden of the other two disciplines.
I decided to race in the same shoe that I use for all my road races. I love the Saucony fastwitch6. I swapped out the laces for some quick pull laces and they were good to go.
Sadly Wasaga Beach was the last race for this pair... They had a good run and served me well through many races. I have one pair of the Fastwitchc6's left and then I need to convert to the new Fastwitch7... I really really REALLY hope that the 7 is as goods the previous two versions
I have been using Nuun to hydrate and replenish electrolytes during workouts this cycle and I absolutely love it! I found that especially in the heat, hydrating with makes a huge difference. I have used a variety of gels in the past during races and they work great for the most part. However, I find that post race they leave me feeling sick and with an upset G.I. system. I have been using Endurance Tap to fuel during long runs and I used it during my Olympic distance race. Endurance Tap has 3 ingredients: Maple syrup, sea salt and ginger. It taste great, replenishes your electrolytes, gives you calories to burn and it's easy on the stomach.
Garmin / Gadgets
For training, to keep track of all my data I use Garmin. A few months ago when I was buying a new watch I splurged and got the Garmin 920XT . The 920XTis Garmin's multi sport watch. I knew that at some point, sooner or later, I would do a triathlon. So I figured that I might aswell just get a multi sport watch now vs. later. This watch does so much that I can't give you a concise review but if you are interested in learning more about the 920XT check out DC Rainmaker's blog. He does very thorough and comprehensive reviews of Garmin's products. All I will say is that if you do 2/3 of the disciplines (swim , bike, run) this watch is a worth the investment. I always use a heart rate monitor when I bike and run. It allows my watch to calculate my VO2Max and give me race predictions for running. I use the flat chest strap Heart Rate Monitor because it is more comfortable, but there are others that will provide you with more running dynamic data. For the bike, since I am just starting out, I decided to just get a basic cadence tracker.
You know the saying " Dress for the job you want" - well I guess I had that in the back of my head when I bought this Tri-suit.
Castelli makes a great suit. It fit me perfectly and was comfortable through the swim, bike and run. I had no chafing, full mobility and the padding made the bike ride much more comfortable.
Having a new goal over the nice two months has been very refreshing. I have had fun learning a little bit about a new sport and challenging myself in new ways.
Thank you Avery Best for letting me borrow your wetsuit! I would've most likely drowned if I used the one I had.
Thank you- Christina Malinas for taking me open water swimming! We HAVE to get a a group together next season.
Thank you - Nina Sieh , Alan Mcluskie and Jackie Dupuis for answering all my questions and for all the pre-race advice.
Thank you - Laura Sanhueza-Miller for loaning me your bike . I love to race and I love to compete and I can not thank you enough for making this opportunity possible! I can't wait to see you conquer the Ironman next year! you are truly a kind and inspirational person.
Stay tuned for race reports!