Monday, July 27, 2009

Double Race Weekend Fun!

Saturday morning I was up at the crack of dawn, arriving at Sylvan Lake around 7:30ish after the 1hr 45min drive. It was really laid back and none of us were the least bit nervous. We didn't have a whole lot of time before the 8:10am start, but then we didn't really need much time, either, as there was little preparation involved. Put on your swim cap, strap the timing chip to your wrist, and you're ready! There were very few people in the 5km event (11 female and 7 male, to be exact), so the floating water start was quite calm.

I swam at the tail end of a small group for the first 750m or so, at which point I decided that this was not a pace I wanted to attempt to maintain for the rest of the 5km. I ended up dropping off the back and swam the entire remainder of the race on my own. During the first lap, my left hip flexor muscles became very sore, and felt like they were going to cramp up. This continued for the rest of the swim. I had to stop a couple times each loop (the course was 4 x 1250m loops) to stretch it out and do a couple breaststroke kicks. Definitely wasn't too concerned with my time, as let's face it - I had not trained for this race! I settled into a very comfortable pace, and focused on going steady and finishing the race strong, rather than killing myself before the sprint tri the following day.

The second loop dragged on and on, and it seemed to take a very long time to hit the halfway point. My lower back muscles started getting really sore during this loop, as well as my right hip muscles. My third loop was the best by far. I felt strong, had a good mindset, and began to really enjoy myself! My arms weren't tired at all, and other than my hips and back, everything else felt OK! The water temperature was really quite nice, at 21.5C, which was perfect for a non-wetsuit swim. The fourth and final lap was a challenge, as my arms/shoulders began to tire slightly and my hips and lower back were killing me! I became extremely hungry during that last lap, and all I could think about was finishing and eating. I don't think I ate quite enough before the race. The last 500m was a struggle. Throwing my wrist over the timing mats on the dock for the finish was a great feeling!

I finished in 1:15.02, and ended up in 6th place for the females. There were some very speedy swimmers that showed up, and they were all very young (under 18). I was told that the female winner had just apparently returned home after racing at the swimming World champs! So I was pleased with my time considering I had not trained adequately for a 5km distance (generally throughout the year I swim 3 times a week, around 2500m per workout, which just doesn't cut it). The 2 longer swims I did in the week leading up to it were too little, too late! Nevertheless, my endurance was actually great; it was just the muscular soreness in my hips/lower back that was the issue. I really need to get myself back to the gym regularly for some core strength and weights!

Alice and Kendall both did awesome - they were in the same situation as me with the inadequate 5km swim training, as we all do pretty much the same workouts (they are in the group I coach and I swim the same workouts on my own as the group does). They are both strong swimmers and finished within a minute of each other, around 1:25, and were pleased with their performances. We talked about the possibility of entering a 10km race next summer in BC. This type of race would definitely require proper training, as you cannot just go in and 'wing it' for a 10km swim race!

Sunday morning, Alice and I were up early again for the St. Albert triathlon, but at a more decent hour of 6:30am. I woke up feeling muscle soreness in my upper back and some of my abdominal muscles, as well as my left hip flexor muscles. Our heat was not starting until 9:45am, but the transition closed at 7:30am so we had to head over and drop off our bikes. We found out that they were at least 30 mins behind schedule, so we headed back home for breakfast. These are the advantages of living less than 5 mins from the race - another reason I love this race!

Our race didn't end up starting until about 10:30am. Luckily I ended up with only 2 others in my lane. The swim was only 750m, so compared to the 5km the previous day, should be a piece of cake - right? Wrong. My swim actually went terribly. I felt awful from the start, and was unable to maintain anything that even resembled a fast pace. Basically I had to just back off and slug through the 750m. I was really glad to jump out of the water and run outside to my transition and grab my bike. I seem to be a MUCH better open water swimmer than pool swimmer. I don't think I have ever turned out a good pool swim in a triathlon!

The bike leg was fantastic. I went out hard from the start, and it is nice to be familiar with every inch of the out and back course. There was a headwind for most of the way out, so I just pushed a big gear and stayed in the aero bars the whole time. I felt a lot more powerful coming back, and kept it in pretty much my biggest gear the whole return trip (with the exception of the uphill).

I decided for this race that I was not going to wear a watch or use a bike computer, and I have to admit this was a great decision. I raced strictly on perceived effort alone, and didn't use cadence or speed on the bike, which is what I usually focus on. This ended up working pretty well, as I found out later that I had the fastest female bike split!

And the run went really well. I love running for only 5km! It hurts, but it is nice and short - although definitely not painless! I was able to push myself for the whole 5km, and felt like I was running quite fast (but not quite as fast as I thought!). My legs actually felt pretty good, and my hips didn't bother me at all. I had a lot of fun out there! The heat didn't bother me either (it only reached 26C).

Since I didn't wear a watch, I had no idea how I didat the end. However, the results were posted after several long delays. I finished 2nd female overall, in 1:08.22. Which is actually a best time for me by over a minute from my PB last year at this race! I can't complain about that. Especially after doing a race the day before...

Splits were:
Swim: 10:52
Bike: 35:04 (includes both transitions)
Run: 22:27

Alice also had an amazing race and took 3 minutes off her personal best sprint time, and got 6th in her age group out of 50! Way to go Alice!

Probably the most exciting thing about the race was that I won an awesome draw prize! A one piece 2XU tri-suit, which fits me perfectly! It looks really cool, with silver/grey material and green stitching. I have never owned a one-piece suit and wanted to get one, so now I don't have to go looking for it. That was a great way to end the big race weekend!

The St. Albert triathlon is still one of my all-time favorite races. It is well organized, there are so many familiar faces out there, the volunteers are amazing, and I love the course.

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