The Iron Girl race in a way is the whole reason I started doing triathlons. “Oh, it’s so much fun!” they said, “it’s so easy, non-competitive, pleasant and they even let you walk if you can not swim!” Right, I went to sign up for my first Iron Girl race in 2014 and guess what, it was sold out mid-July. So next season, I decided to try a shorter distance, and then sign up. By the time I crossed the finish line at Guelph Lake I last year and got all the confidence I was looking for, Subaru was not even promoting the race – it was sold out again.Needless to say, as soon as the registration opened for 2016 edition, I was sitting with the credit card in my hands, typing in all my personal information into the website. I need to see what that Iron Girl was all about!
Seriously, if you are fit enough to participate in any sort of race, you should go and register for next year. And if you aren’t, you probably should start training and get fit by the time the registration opens. It was the most fun, supportive and pleasant race that I ever participated in.
We registered early and had no prob lem getting a spot, but I would not leave much longer after the race goes on sale. It is all done through Active.com, and I did not have any trouble with it this time.
I guess I should have read my pre-race email more carefully, but I almost miss the whole race opportunity. In 9 years of Alex’s racing, no one ever checked if he was the person he claims to be. I was hesitating to bring my wallet to the race, and they wanted a piece of plastic with my name and photo on it. Good thing I threw my purse in the car at the last minute. Other than this hiccup it was the same process as at every other race, and in pink.
The Iron Girl race consists of a 500m swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run, which is slightly shorter than the usual sprint triathlon race around here (correct me if I am wrong).
Because the race was very beginner friendly, we were able to stand up in the water at any time, which was good for some people, but I made sure not to do it (just in case I decide to do another race without this privilege). I did end up turning on my back few times, but it seems that everyone did that. Honestly, at one point I felt like the swim will never end, and I will be splashing in lake Ontario for the rest of my days. Needless to say, I did get to the buoys and got out of the water a few minutes later.
The uphill runs to transition are starting to seem like a must have in the sport of triathlon. Ok, I understand that in order to get out of the water you have to go up, that is just how Earth works, but a bit less steep and shorter hills could be nice. After all, the transition run was much better than the one in Guelph.
The transition was easy. For the first time in my life, I set it up all by myself and knew what I was doing. With some cheering from my mom (I still do not know why “Go faster,you are in the race!” is the preferred over “Good Job!” amongst all Russian parents), I was on my way to the bike course.
I did not set my watch properly, and instead of giving me km/h speed, it was telling me my pace in the running format. Since I am not that good at math, I could not quite figure out how fast I was going. The race was “there-and-back” type with one turn around. Most of it, we spent on the service road between the highway and farms. At first, we were going with the wind, which was pretty easy, but we had a bit of a surprise after the turnaround point. The road was flat and most of the times nicely paved, which was much more pleasant than my Guelph Lake experiences. Somehow I managed 23km/h average, which I would never reach if I knew how fast I am going (great imagination and bad biking skills).
The roads were open, but because Grimsby is far from anything you would associate with a buzzing community, we were ok. Few cars passed us, and I even had to deal with a boat once, but it was fine. All the intersections were controlled by the police and the drivers were co-operative.
Back in the transition and off to the run I was feeling surprisingly good. Up to the first water station, we had to run in the park and on the sidewalk. I found it a bit crowded and had a hard time to pass people. It was a mix of lack of space and motivation. Then I had my sip of water, cheers from the friends (TCOB’ers were in charge of the station) and it went better.
One section of the run was on the trail and while I found it fun, it slowed a lot of people down. Remembering Alex’s experience from few weekends ago I was concentrating very hard on not getting lost. Good thing I was with a bunch of people (another bonus of being slow). While we were winding through the “woods” the meters were still counting and I was surprised to see the 2km mark very soon after we came back to the asphalt. The rest of the run went pretty easy, and after another visit with TCOB water station, we saw the finish line.
The way the park was set up, there wasn’t much place at the finish so spectators had to line up along the running path. It was fun and motivating to see all these people cheering for us for almost the whole kilometer. I think I would have walked much more if they weren’t there.
Finally, I crossed the finish line with one thought – I survived!
At the end of the day, I enjoyed the race. While I was not sure about moving to the “big girl distance”, I loved it. It went much better than I expected, and I finished in 1:49. I completed each leg of this race with the same speed as my previous try-a-tri. And I probably could even try a bit harder, since shortly after crossing the finish line I was looking for my lunch, not a tree to die under.
Next morning I was looking for a new race that could fit our hectic weekend schedule. Officially, my triathlon season is over. I have an obstacle race in few weeks, but I still may find a sprint that fits the schedule and our climate.