Friday, March 30, 2012

From zero to a full season

On March 28th, I looked at my schedule for the 2012 season and panicked. With Around the Bay done, I looked at my calendar to see how I would be proceeding with training for the rest of the spring, and only saw two races booked!

Just about to make the turn into Copps Coliseum. Hurting a lot.

Finish lines rawk!

The next one is Paris to Ancaster, our spring classic race. It's sixty kilometers of rail trail, mud, fire roads, mud, mudslides and mud. Did I mention mud?

Second aid station, 2011 P2A.

It being just 3 weeks after Around the Bay, I know I won't really be racing it. Tanker and I both rode it last year, just for a lark - I took a bunch of photos along the way and finished in something over 4hrs. He snapped his rear derailleur hanger 10km from the end, and had to get a ride to Ancaster from a friendly police officer. I caved to peer pressure to do the race again this year - he decided he didn't want to break his bike again, and has sweetly offered to pick me up in Ancaster so I don't have to rely on the (entirely too infrequent) shuttle buses.

I just managed to get the last of that mud off my bike on Wednesday.

So, that left one race on the schedule for 2012 - the Mine Over Matter off-road tri that isn't until August 26th! I was still hemming and hawing about what I wanted to do: Welland half iron? K-Town tri? Bluewater Olympic? We are already registered for the 160km Cambridge Tour de Grand, but that's a touring event Tanker and I will be riding together, not a race.

One thing stood out to me - the Gravenhurst Olympic Tri was the weekend before my birthday. I'd been wanting to do this race since I heard, a couple of years ago, that the swim starts by jumping off a steamboat! I like point-to-point swims, and this just seemed really neat. The past two years, I'd been unable to do Gravenhurst as it fell on the same weekend as the Belwood Lake tri from that other series, which Tanker and I did as a relay in both 2010 and 2011. I swim, he cycles, and I run. We did the try-a-tri distance in 2010 since the bike course is on rail trail and Tanker could ride his cyclocross bike, but moved up to the sprint in 2011 since he had so much fun!

One of my fav photos of him of all time, from  the 2011 Belwood Sprint Tri.

That other series has decided, in their infinite wisdom, to cancel Belwood for 2012. I'm as pissed about that as I am about them changing the Muskoka Long Course (also known as the Muskoka Chase) into an Olympic distance, making my original goal for 2012 impossible. You see, I did Muskoka LC as my "A" race in 2010, and had a really lousy day due to GI issues caused by food allergies/interactions of which I wasn't yet aware. I missed my goal time by 8 minutes, but knew I had a much better race in me. I wanted to go back and kick that course's butt (now that I know my nutritional needs better), and they go and take that chance away from me!

My smile totally belies my disappointment. Just be glad you can't smell me.

So, it was time for a new plan, and Gravenhurst was calling. I decided to leave it up to the fates - if I could find a reasonably priced hotel room (and if Tanker agreed), I'd race the Gravenhurst Olympic. If not, I'd find something else. A few minutes later, I had us a room reserved at the Oakwood Motel and had registered - Tanker was as excited as I was about a weekend away for my birthday, which is 3 days after the race! I booked us in for Friday and Saturday night so we could drive up after work on Friday, race Saturday morning, go for a nice dinner Saturday night (without having to worry about checking out prior to the race), then most likely volunteer or at least spectate for the Sprint and GT12.9 races on Sunday before making our leisurely way home. I'm stoked already, despite the painful-looking elevation profiles!

Run course. Around the Bay was probably good training.

This shifted my focus for the season a bit - I had originally (after finding out about the change to Muskoka LC) planned to do the K-Town Triathlon, which is the same distance as Muskoka LC was, out in Kingston. That would also require a hotel room, though, and I'd already looked into accommodations; there wasn't going to be anything cheap. Racing Gravenhurst on July 14th also precluded doing the Bluewater Olympic on July 22nd, which I hadn't been too keen on anyway, since the 2-hour drive would mean getting on the road by 04:30. Looks like Gravenhurst just became the "A" race for the year! 

Now it was time to fill in the blanks. I had races booked for July and August, but I like to do an end-of-season Olympic race as well just to round off the year. I'd done Wasaga in 2010 and loved it (the run course is amazing; trotting along Wasaga beach on the boardwalk), but that would take another hotel room - my Dad had provided accommodations at a resort in Collingwood in 2010, but that wouldn't happen again this year.

Wasaga Olympic 2010 - probably my fav finish photo so far.

I'd done the Lakeside Olympic in 2011, and while it was chilly (they even delayed the swim start due to cold temperatures - only 9c on race morning!), it was a fantastic race. It's also the last one of the Ontario season, so you don't feel like you're missing out on anything if you can race it.

Coming in to the finish at Lakeside with an 11 minute Olympic distance PR in 2011.

So, Lakeside it was. Now to figure out the beginning of the season!

I'd raced Victoria's Duathlon in 2010, and it's a challenging race. It's nothing but hills, hills and more hills, and then they add a few hills. I did ok on the first run and the bike in 2010, but I died in the heat on the second run - it had suddenly shot up to 30c for race day, when the prior days had hovered around 16-17c. You can read my race report here.

At least I managed to run through the arch.

There were two problems with doing Victoria's Du this year, though: #1 being that it's on the May 24 weekend, when Tanker and I like to go camping. #2 was that it's put on by that other series, and I'm pissed at them for killing the two races that really interested me. So, screw them. I'm keeping my money in Canada! The following weekend is Woodstock, at which I'd raced the GT12.9 in 2010...and won my age group, with the fastest female <40 bike split! 

My one and only AG win (so far)!

It's a great venue with a point-to-point swim and a neat run course (2010 race report here), and the only reason I hadn't gone back in 2011 was to avoid interfering with my training for the Welland half iron. There's a modified sprint distance (750m swim, 30km bike and 7.5km run - the same as the Welland triathlon) on the Sunday which looked like a hoot, since it's a distance I've raced a couple of times before (Guelph Lake in 2009 and Welland in 2010), so I was in!

That just left me with one more decision: to race the modified sprint or the half iron at Welland. I've raced there both in 2010 (modified sprint) and 2011 (half iron) because it's a fantastic race venue with an easy-to-navigate swim (in the recreational canal), a flat bike course and a spectator-friendly, flat run course. We also have friends nearby who let us camp on their lawn so we don't have to get up at 3am! 

Half iron 2011, with a sacroiliac joint injury.

As much as I'd enjoyed the half iron in 2011, I decided that this year I was just going to keep it short. While I'm pretty sure I could throw down a half tomorrow and be able to finish, my conscience wouldn't let me skimp on training, and I know it wears on Tanker when he barely sees me for half the summer. The modified sprint would be an opportunity to improve on my 2010 time, let me spend a bit more time with my sweetheart this summer, and leave me in decent shape to volunteer at the half iron on Sunday. Sprint it was!

We'll see if I can break an hour on the bike this year!

So I'd gone from one tri on the season to five. The only thing left was to pick the trail race that I'd use to close out the season completely - I'd done the 25k at Run for the Toad last year and had a great time, but 2012 is the 10th anniversary of the Vulture Bait Trail Race in London, at which I'd raced the 25k in 2010.

Post-Toad, with a 10min PR at the 25k distance.

Having improved my time quite a bit from 2010 to 2011 at the 25k distance, I was interested to see if it was just the difference in the course (as the Toad isn't as technical), or if I'd really got much faster. Vulture Bait is also amazingly beautiful, as you run around the reservoir at Fanshawe Conservation Area through the stunning fall colours.

2010 Vulture Bait. So pretty.

Knowing the race is capped and tends to sell out quickly, I decided to register right away. Got my confirmation, then discovered I was one of the first 6 to sign up! Well, I certainly won't have to worry about missing out.

So that's how, in the space of 6 hours, I went from almost no races on my 2012 calendar to a season that looks like this:

Things suddenly got busy.

I'm excited about the races that I've chosen and a year of racing shorter, quicker-paced triathlons - distance is fun, but so is going (comparatively) fast! I look forward to a season of making amazing memories and seeing friendly, smiling faces on the course. 

Now I just wonder if Tanker will kill me if I sign up for the Mudpuppy Chase 10k as well..


  1. I thought you already signed up for the mud puppy???

    1. Haha, look at Tanker making me appear schizophrenic!

      No sweetheart, I haven't signed up yet...but if that means you won't object.. ;)


Go on, have at me!