Niagara/Grimsby Try-a-Tri!!!

Let’s start at the beginning! The beginning of the weekend of course!

Friday night was a long awaited night out on the town for our friend who is a new momma. Little bubba is 2 months old so it was a great time for our group to get together, visit with the baby and then take momma out.

After playing with bubba for a little bit (guess who was his favourite “auntie”?) we went to dinner at Alice Fazooli’s. We were all starving by the time we sat down to dinner at 9:30 so we all dove into the bread basket.

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Three of us split a pitcher of sangria.

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The sangria was just okay, way too citrusy for my taste, I had one small glass.

The seafood fettuccini jumped out at me and it was fantabulous!!

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There was spinach, red peppers and plenty of seafood, lots of mussles, shrimp and scallops!

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The dish was flavoured perfectly and was a hit with all of us as we shared bites of our meals around the table.

A couple of the ladies ordered dessert and forced us to try some delicious bites. What a hardship. I had a few too many bites of the cheesecake but it was so good!

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Afterwards we headed out for a night of dancing and fun! After rolling home around 2:30 (sober since I was driving and racing on Sunday) I slept in until NOON! I can’t remember the last time that happened. Unfortch the first thing I realized was that my throat was sore and my head was pounding. I had a cold. Just my luck I managed to get a cold the day before my try-a-tri? Grrreat timing. I think the cold was a result of the temperatures dropping suddenly and going back and forth between the hot dance floor and the cold outdoor patio to chat. Boo urns.

I was feeling pretty awful so I laid low, packed for the race, and even napped.

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I did lift my quarantine to go to the theatre and see Legally Blonde. I had already rescheduled the tickets twice and this was the closing weekend so off I went!

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The show was SO worth it. Both my friend and I loved the show! We laughed throughout and felt like they did a great job of adapting the story for the stage. After the show I turned into a pumpkin and went straight home to bed.

Sunday I was up bright and early and raring to go!

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I made a hearty breakfast, 2 pieces of toast with PB and a banana plus a shaker of Amazing Grass/Almond Milk. My sore throat was making it hard to eat anything so I ate one piece of toast and took the other one with me.

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Despite not feeling well I was bouncing off the walls from excitement!

The race site was about an hour away but with one of the major highways in Toronto closed I left the house at 9:30 to allow time for traffic. The drive was smooth sailing and I got to the course as the duathlon and longer Tri’s were winding up. Going through registration was a breeze, all of the stations were numbered in the order you go through them. The different tents go like this:

1.      Look up your name, race number and swim-wave on the board.

2.      Pick up your race number and sign a waiver.

3.      Get your race bag (swag) and swim cap (the colour identifies your wave).

4.      Body marking/chip timing (it was early so I had to come back for my chip).

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5.      Get your Tshirt!

It was cute to see a lot of kids working as volunteers at registration. I also noticed a lot of families were participating in the try-a-tri. Some were doing the relay and others were doing the whole shebang; there were a lot of ladies in my age group especially whose moms and/or dads were racing (many for the first time).

I had two hours before my race so I took the chance to walk around and familiarize myself with the course. Getting “lost” on the course, like going out the wrong exit for the bike or run, was the only thing I was remotely worried about with respect to the race (I honestly wasn’t nervous). In about 5 minutes I had identified all of the key points, it was easy since they were well marked, and put that almost-worry behind me. I had time so I walked around the course a little bit and then walked along the bluff overlooking the swim and suddenly realized that I had been to this beach as a kid! Cool coincidence.

By now the other racers were leaving and the Try-a-tri competitors could set-up their transition area. I racked my bike and laid my gear out in no time.

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Tip: Untying your laces and getting your socks ready will save you time in the transition. Don’t forget to put your race number somewhere you will remember it, I left it under my shoes with the safety pins in it (I don’t have a race belt).

Right about now I realized my legs were feeling pretty tight and I needed to eat. I ended up eating the toast, some almonds and a Taste of Nature bar. I felt like I was choking everything down but I knew I would bonk if I didn’t eat anything.

1 hour left until the race!
For the next 30 minutes I chilled in the transition area chatting with other racers until we all migrated to the swim area. Our swim course was straight so we had to walk down the beach to the start and then we would swim back, run up a steep hill and into the transition area.

While we were waiting to start I chatted with some super sweet people, including one 15y/o girl who told me she was super nervous. I asked if this was her first race and she said she’s been doing these since she was 8?! Um okay then. And yes, I actually had to swim against these teenyboppers! I was in wave 1 which was 20-29 y/o AND all teenagers!! I hadn’t expected teenagers would be in our group so that was a surprise but ultimately didn’t matter. During the rest of the time I made friends with Caitlin, who ran the same race last year, and she gave me some great tips on the course.

The Swim!
Finally we heard the air horn and a cheer from the crowd and we were off! Having read a lot of Tri recaps I was aware of other people panicking during the swim so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m pretty confident in my swimming abilities, and I grew up swimming in lakes Up North, so I didn’t think I would have a problem but anything could happen right?

Luckily the water was a piece of cake, Lake Ontario was a little chilly, but the coolness actually felt nice thanks to my fever. I’m also used to swimming in deep lakes but the water here was crystal clear and you could touch a sandy bottom in many places, it was pretty great!

I took off in the middle of my group and quickly realized being congested from my cold wasn’t going to let me breathe correctly in the front crawl. I started taking a breath with every stoke but that wasn’t enough so I flipped to the backstroke and then tried the breaststroke. Throughout this I tried going back to the front crawl a few times but my lungs were super tight and I realized the congestion from my cold wasn’t just making it hard to breath but it was really setting my asthma off.

I stayed calm and kept swimming slower than I would have liked, finishing in the last 1/2 of my wave. Getting out of the water I thought I was going to pass out and had to walk up the hill to the transition while people flew by me. I put them out of my head and made it back to my bike and started to transition while spectators yelled at us to hurry and not waste time. Swim Time: 13:09

Transition 1
After going across the grass there wasn’t a lot of sand on my feet so I wiped off the sand, dried them and put my socks and shoes on. I decided not to bike in my swim bottoms and did a quick change under a towel to put my shorts on. It felt like I had been in the transition for a long time so I busted out of there running through the chute and onto the road. I guessed transition had taken me 7 minutes but turns out it was “only” 4:25.

The Bike!
The bike course was an out-and-back course and I knew I had to go hard on the way out because there would be strong headwind on the way back. At the same time I needed to settle my breathing, the last thing I needed was to make my asthma worse. This was my chance to try and catch people but ultimately I was racing myself and wanted to maintain a strong speed.

I pushed 3rd gear for 2.5km when I dropped it down to 2nd. My average speed was 21km/hr, roughly 4km/hr  slower than my usual pace (according to the bike computer of a girl I was following, my computer had broken 2 rides earlier). I wish I could have taken advantage of the flat course a little more but staying steady and breathing was a good choice! I have to say I did have fun passing people, especially the ones who ran by me after the swim.

On the way back the wind was pretty strong so it’s a good thing I have a lot of experience riding into the wind along Lakeshore trails! The spectators at the end of the ride were awesome, some were locals sitting in their driveway and others were friends/fam of racers but everyone was really loud. A girl was behind me the whole last leg so everyone was yelling at “the girls”, telling us we were doing awesome and to keep it up!  Overall the bike course was SO MUCH FUN, the best part was probably that I stayed in front of that girl until the end ;-) Total Bike Time: 27:42

Transition 2
I racked my bike quickly, decided against putting on my Nike + and debated whether or not I should use my inhaler again. Ultimately I decided not to because sometimes taking it during athletic activities makes my legs feel like lead, so off I went out the chute. This transition time, at 1:31 was much faster than the first.

The Run dun dun dun
For the run we went out where we came in from the swim but went left, away from the water, and crossed the park.

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You can see the swim exit/run entrance on the left side of this photo taken from my rack in the transition area.

There was some confusion about where to go at the end of the park. There were no runners immediately in front of us so a couple of us headed toward the sidewalk. Apparently we should have gone farther left, onto the road, and we accidentally got in someone’s way. He so pleasantly F*bombed us and purposely stepped right in our face. How sportsmanlike! I understand that we were almost in his way (he still had ½ a sidewalk and we were off to his side) but that was rude. Regardless, I was having too much fun worry about him. After the fact someone did start directing runners to the left out of the chute, that would have been helpful earlier!

Right after this I got a cramp in my left calf so I slowed to a walk and heard a women on the side yell “No, no, no, no!! Keep going!” I kind of laughed and said I wasn’t giving up I just needed to stretch out a cramp. I wasn’t the only one, another guy was also using the curb to stretch out his legs. 

After a quick stretch my leg felt fine and I kept going. Unfortunately I was wheezing and rocking a gross croupy (asthmatic) cough so I ended up walking more than usual. This was tough to accept because I can handle 2.5km no problem but I just reminded myself the goal was to finish and kept on trucking.

Just before the halfway point the run goes into the forest and down a steep hill. At this point we’re running on a trail and had to slow down to be careful where  we stepped. We did a big loop in the forest and then came back up the steep hill and ran back towards the finish. Coming into the finish line I was so happy and sprinted the last little bit. I was so excited that my first Tri was in the books! Woot Woot!

As I was packing up one of the other girls mom’s was so sweet. I asked her if she would take a photo of me with my bike so she asked if I was alone and essentially adopted me, snapping a number of photos, asking about my time and giving me a huge hug. At that point I had so much fun that I didn’t care/mind that I was alone but she was so sweet it made the end of the race extra awesome!

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So, that’s my first Triathlon experience! I had a blast and would definitely like to do another try-a-tri in the future, one where my asthma isn’t an issue. After that, who knows? A sprint tri and whatever else comes along!

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About Christina @ Stars in the City

I like sun, sand, surf, tunes and vegan mac ‘n cheese with bacon. Oh, and sarcasm.
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2 Responses to Niagara/Grimsby Try-a-Tri!!!

  1. Chele says:

    I’m so excited that you updated about this….I’ve been waiting for details :) I so wish i was there either doing it with you or at least cheering myself hoarse for you!!!

    Oh yeah and Legally Blonde was definitely one of the most fun musicals I have ever seen.

  2. Susan says:

    Congraaats on the Try a Tri!! I did a sprint last summer and have major respect for fellow triathletes. So much to prepare for, worry about, and then the race itself is a pretty big slog. Good to hear the swim part went well for you. I did mine in a lake in NB and it was crazy… people everywhere.

    Ha… one of my clients is an usher for the Legally Blonde show. He’s seen it every night all summer. Can you imagine??

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