When things don't go as planned - Bracebridge Triathlon Race Report

SARAH ALLEN COMPLETES THE BRACEBRIDGE TRIATHLON!

 

On Sunday, I took part in the Bracebridge Sprint Triathlon. My first TRUE triathlon with the open water swim! I've been putting in the work with the Team Triumph Beginner Olympic Distance Virtual Online Course, and I was very confident going into the weekend.

It didn't exactly go as planned, but what does?

Saturday was HOT, (it got up to 39C with the humidity), and inside my car, with no AC it was up to 47C. I drove and roasted myself alive in that car for 5 hours to get to Bracebridge. Despite all of my precautions (covering my skin, windows down, stopping every 30-40 mins to sit in the shade, having 3L of water) I gave myself a pretty severe case of heat exhaustion - confusion, severe headache, muscle cramps, nausea, I'd stopped sweating... NOT GOOD!

I spent the afternoon recovering and was still determined to do the race on Sunday morning.

We woke up Sunday morning and forecasted storms and heavy rain hadn't started yet - that's a good sign! The 750m open water swim was in the 25m wide Muskoka River. It was protected from the wind and should have been an easy up one side and back along the other side. From my first stroke, I knew I was in trouble...every muscle hurt and it felt like I'd never swam before. I adapted after seeing a man ahead of me doing breaststroke the whole way. 10 strokes front crawl, 10 breaststrokes, repeat for 750m. 

The transition zone went well, I'd practiced stripping off my wetsuit and getting my bike shoes on and I'm glad I did! Onto the bike we go!

The bike course should also have been lovely - only a couple of relatively small hills that I was ready for after all of my hill training in Gatineau Park and mountain biking. It felt like the longest 20km ride of my life, but every so often I'd pass someone, give them a smile and then tell myself to keep smiling! The rain started and it was heavy, but I was so thankful for the clouds and rain to keep me cooled down. At the 15km mark, just like I practiced, I took some fuel - a honey pack and kept going! 

Transition zone number 2 was also smooth. I was glad I'd covered my shoes in a plastic bag, or they would have been drenched! One last sip of electrolytes and off I went again, up the hill onto the run course!

The run was an out and back along the Muskoka River. Surprise, surprise, this run also felt incredibly hard, but I just kept telling myself to smile through it. There were a couple of climbs, but they weren't so bad. I kept pushing, focused on just getting to the finish line.

AND THEN IT WAS OVER! 

I can say with absolute certainty that if it wasn't for Julia, Gabi and Brenda getting us so prepared and in shape, I would never have been able to (somehow) finish 5th in my AG and 23rd out of 122 women while dealing with heat exhaustion. 

Lessons for next time: 
1. If it's going to be that hot, rent a car with AC!
2. Keep smiling even if you want to cry and think you're doing terrible - you're doing way better than you think!



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