Muskoka IM 70.3 Race Report

Running up the hill from the swim to T1
Running up the hill from the swim to T1

Sometimes when you go to a race the signs are not good. On Friday we lost a cell phone somewhere between Ottawa and Muskoka, on Saturday I got lost trying to ride the run course and gave up and Harold snapped his derailleur cable trying to ride the bike course. I had to rescue him from the House of Fudge. When I got there he looked cold and hungry, If it had been me I would have been eating fudge (if fate leaves you in front of fudge why fight it!)

Pre-race feeling was that this course has an awful lot of hills! The only flat part was the swim. It was also cold on Saturday which lead to long debates about what to wear. I ended up dragging several layers into the T-zone and actually using very few of them.

Sunday morning Harold was volunteering as a body marker and I was in the second to last wave so he actually needed to be there before I did which gave me lots of time to get set up. We had been in the local grocery store the night before and they had cinnamon buns. I bought one as a pre-race, post breakfast, just in case snack (why eat gels when you can have a cinnamon bun). I was going to skip it but the line for the port-a-potties was really long and I still had the bun so I stood in line wetsuit half on eating a cinnamon bun, thinking back it may have looked a bit odd but I would recommend it.

The swim start was in the water but you could stand up. The water temperature was actually pretty good but I was shivering just standing in it for 10 minutes. I was pretty concerned about the swim going into this race as it’s the first Triathlon I have done since I broke my elbow.

The gun went off and the swim actually felt pretty good. The water got rather choppy after the first turn (proving that in Muskoka even the swim has hills!). About 100 meters after I made the first turn I was stopped by a kayaker who pointed out quite correctly that I was going the wrong way. I was going straight for the buoy but it was the second buoy not the turn buoy. Just what I needed an extra swim! When I made it to the Transion zone the Barrhaven cheering section let me know there were two women from my age group in front of me.

The bike course is said to be hilly and it most certainly is. Tougher than Tremblant in my opinion and 4 km longer! The roads don’t have tons of pot holes but the surface is rough in a lot of places. I kept thinking I had a flat luckily I didn’t. I just switched to the new profile aero HC system and although I have used it a number of times I discovered that it does not stay on well at high speeds going downhill on rough roads. I caught it the first time it flew off the bike, after that I had to keep one hand on the bottle every time I went down a steep hill (elastic bands would solve the problem next time). I was not the only person having issues there were water bottles all over the road, some even had the cages on them!

I held on to 3rd place past the halfway mark of the ride which is unusual for me. Then I got passed and slipped into 4th. About 10km later I got passed again by 3 women in my age group in fairly short order. Now I was in 7th not so good. I kept up with and actually passed and was passed by the three riders and had them in sight when my rear derailleur started jumping badly going up a very steep hill. After Harold’s derailleur cable experience the day before I was not willing to take a chance, I was almost at the top so I edged the bike up the rest of the hill with one foot on the ground and did the rest of the course without 23 and 25. I was still 7th when I got off the bike but none of my competitors were in sight. Not a banner bike split but I think it was the engine not the bike!

The Barrhaven cheering squad was still there and they let me know there were 6 in front of me 3 of whom were not far ahead. I figured there was hope to make up some time on the run and get 4th. I passed the first woman before the 1km marker and the second one before 2km. I then spent 19km passing women and reading the numbers on the back of their legs hoping to see a number between 50 and 54. I passed lots of women but they all appeared to be the wrong age. By 10km into the run the markings were definitely coming off so it was hard to tell. At about 19km I passed a woman with a bib number close to mine so I crossed the line thinking 5th or if I am lucky 4th.
Harold was still volunteering but I had thought of that and left a cell phone and dry clothes in my morning swim bag. Unfortunately the swim bags were in the T-zone which did not open for another 20 minutes. I hung out in the sun and tried to stay warm in my wet clothes for 20 minutes. Once I retrieved the bag I called Harold and told him I was either 4th or 5th to which he replied according to Sportstats you are 2nd. I did not believe him and went inside to check.

I need to go back a step here. Muskoka is a qualifying race for the World Championships which happen to be at Mont Tremblant next year and I would very much like to go. In IM and IM70.3 races every age group gets 1 spot for the worlds, any additional spots are split between the age groups based on the number of people in each age group. My age group in this race had 4 spots, which means top 4 get the option of going. If they turn it down the spots go to a roll down system. Normally if you get an automatic spot you have a couple of hours after the race to go and claim it (and pay for it of course). In this race there was a new “improved “system. There was a sheet for each age group at registration and we were told that we had to put our names on the list if we wanted a spot for the worlds. If we did not put our names on the list we did not get to take a spot even if we won. If we did put our names on the list and we did get a spot we had to take it and pay for it. If we did not we would be DQed from this race! Seamed odd but I put my name on the list.
Back to the story…when I went inside I discovered that yes I was 2nd and there was a large group of athletes standing in the hall. I asked why they were standing there and was told they were there for their spots for the Worlds. “Roll down?” I asked. No automatic and we have been told if we are not here when they call us we lose our spots. So we all stood there in the hall, me and many others in wet gear, for 90 minutes! The only plus side was that I got to have a very nice chat with some of the other women in my age group a very nice group of ladies with a lot of IM and 70.3 experience! It was a close race and any one of us could have been first. When they called out our age group they called me first surprising all of us particularly the women we all thought was first. She was then informed she had been DQed. I do not know what for. By the time I got my slot worked out the awards had started. I just made it to the awards in time but some athletes missed the awards because they were still next door signing up for Tremblant!

Overall a good but hilly trip and I am thrilled with the result! 2014 World IM 70.3 here we come!
Thanks once again to Harold Piel, JR Tremblay, everyone at K2J Fitness, Bushtukah, Westboro Chiropractic, and the Queensway Carleton Physio department.

Published by judyapiel

Runner, triathlete and coach. Owner of RunK2J, Community Events at Bushtukah. Always looking for a new travel adventure.

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