Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Riding with boys

Chinook Olympic triathlon was on Saturday. What a great race!

Short version: decent swim; felt strong on the bike/had a minor mechanical issue/got passed by 3 men, no ladies; tough but solid run; ended up 2nd overall female by only 20 seconds, and a PB for Olympic distance.

Long version: read on...

I had to head to Calgary on Wednesday for work stuff so ended up in Calgary 4 nights total. The weather was $h!t leading up to the weekend - pouring rain and 8C on Wed/Thurs, and a little warmer on Friday. Luckily it turned around for the race - it was sunny skies all the way and 21C for the high!

The walk to the race site from the car...
A race is never complete without an 'incident', and this occurred during body marking. They asked me my number, and I told them: 1280. Later when I went to pick up my timing chip, 1280 was missing. So the volunteers asked me if I had the wrong #, and then I realized - 1280 was my hotel room! Whoops! They looked up my actual race #, and it turns out... my number was 1286! Imagine that - so my body marking only required the 0 to be changed into a 6! Hilarious. Geoff pointed out that it was lucky that someone had already taken 1280, or I would have been racing as someone else...

The half ironman wave went off at 8am, and everyone had to be out of transition by that time, so I got my stuff set up and then had 1hr 15 minutes till the Olympic start. Plenty of time! I was able to get in a nice 15 minute jog, then took the time getting my wetsuit on.
Pre-swim warm-up dork picture!

I waded into the water so I could do a quick swim warm up, put my head in, and the water was C-C-C-COLD! Man, it was freezing! My hands and feet were completely numb, and I had the classic ice cream headache. The temp could not have been more than 16C!

Swim: The swim start was pretty calm, and I got out fairly well and had some clear water quickly, just the way I like it. This also happened to be my first open water swim in nearly a year (since GWN last year). I would not recommend this! It just didn't work out that I was able to get in any open water swim training before the race.

During the first lap of the swim, I felt very out of shape.I was able to get into a good rhythm during my second lap and stretch it out a bit. The water was pretty chilly, and my feet and hands were numb from the cold. I exited the water in 3rd, behind 2 guys. The times were very slow, and I estimate that it was probably around 150m too long, based on my swim split (22:24).

My first transition was not overly efficient, as I was fumbling with my sunglasses in my helmet and my helmet straps with my cold fingers! Finally I was able to get my helmet on and set off on my 40km ride.

The bike ride was awesome! It was an out and back on a very nice course, with some rolling hills. I had no watch and my bike computer still isn't working, so I wasn't aware of my time or speed. One guy passed me during the first little bit, then I re-passed him, and I didn't see anyone else until sometime after the turn-around, when another guy went past. With approximately 5km to go, I was hammering along in my 2nd biggest gear and tried to switch gears, when I heard this loud noise and couldn't pedal anymore. I looked down and my chain had fallen off! Oops! I had to carefully slow down and come to a stop, and as I got off my bike, my hamstring/glute attachment cramped up. Ouch! It went away quickly, and I was able to put the chain back on, spin the pedals a couple times, then get back on my bike, getting passed by 2 guys during all this. Of course when I started, I was in one of the biggest gears and it was difficult to turn the pedals!

However, I got back into it okay and finished off the last part of the bike strong. My second transition was lightning quick and I was off onto the run! Bike split ended up at 1:09.17 according to results (includes transitions).

They had a cyclist to accompany the lead female runner in this race (like they do with the pro's), which was very cool! I got to enjoy his company throughout the (almost) entire run. The run course was beautiful and followed the trails through Fish Creek park. I felt average but struggled along at times. There was a little out and back around 8km, and I got a chance to see that there was another female creeping up on me, only about 20 seconds back. Yikes! Just after 9km, there was a huge hill to run up which was very challenging. Around 9.5km, I was passed for the lead... tried to stay with her but was hurting too much and ended up 2nd by only 20 seconds. Final time was 2:19.00, which was a personal best.

Someone pointed out later that my stop to fix the chain on the bike cost me the win. D'oh! The chain thing did take me about 45 seconds to deal with, so that is probably true. Oh well. Doing all these races this year gave me a chance to blow out the cobwebs and iron out the kinks prior to Great White North.... which is coming up in just over a week! Time flies!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mountainview Triathlon race report

The Hinton race on the weekend was a fun one! I drove up on Saturday afternoon with Maryann from my swim group, and we made it just in time for the pasta dinner at 6pm. I always really appreciate races that include a pre-race dinner for the athletes. Hinton is in a league of its own compared to all the ridiculously overpriced races these days - for just $60 you get a pasta dinner, an extremely well-organized event, and awesome volunteers. I highly recommend it! I did this race many many years ago (wow, this makes me sound old! Ha!), and it was one of my first few Olympic tri's. I must have blocked from my memory how challenging the course is. Despite the difficulty, it also has the most breathtakingly beautiful run course I have done.

Anyway, race morning: Maryann and I arrived around 7:30am, as transition closed at 8am. This race really has an 'old school' feel to me and it was a very laid back atmosphere. As this is a smaller race, there were more than enough transition racks to go around; in fact, I pretty much had a whole rack to myself! There was no jostling for a rack position or bumping into other peoples' bikes/transition contents such as occurs at some of the larger, overcrowded races. I set up my transition in about 5 minutes and was done!

My heat didn't start until about 9:45am, so I had loads of time to go before starting. I met lots of cool people while i was waiting around - everyone at the race was very friendly. I did a short 15 minute run warm up and some light stretching. When it was time for our heat to go, they allowed us a minute or two warm up and I was able to swim an easy 100m before starting. It was nice that they started the entire heat together, rather than start lanes separately as they emptied, which made it more of a "race". Typically in the pool swim triathlons, you really have no idea where anyone is until the results are posted! I kept it fairly comfortable for the 1500m, and actually had a decent pool swim. Being in the end lane, I was able to keep track of where I was by peeking at the pace clock every 100m. I knew I was a little off my standard 'go-to' goal pace of 1:20/100m and I was fine with that as I was feeling smooth and comfortable. I tend to do a lot better in the open water swims rather than pool swims. Including the run across the pool deck and just outside, it turns out my time was 20:55, which is right around what I was expecting based on using the pace clock to gauge where i was (I did not wear a watch to time myself).

My transition was good and I started to push hard as soon as I was on my bike. After only a few km's there is a fairly large hill, which actually didn't end up being as bad as I had anticipated. In the days prior to the race, I had gotten a very mild case of the sniffles, and as I was powering up the hill I was a little concerned as my throat was extremely sore and i thought I might be causing myself to get sick, but luckily this went away a bit later on after I continually coughed up and spat out oodles of phlegm - lovely, I know. One unfortunate incident occurred when I apparently did not spit far enough and ended up with a large blob of phlegm on my right shoulder. That was fun. You can only imagine how gross this is, unless it has also happened to you at some point. I cleared it off to the best of my ability and eventually had to squirt my water bottle of GU drink on my hands to clean them off.

Enough about that - anyway, i tried to power through the hills and stayed in my aerobars pretty much the whole ride. I did not have a working computer on my bike, so I wasn't really too sure how far along i was and where the 20km turnaround was. As I descended a hill, I passed a 'highway worker' guy near the bottom who just stared at me as I rode by. Confused, i yelled out asking if I was supposed to turn left there, and he nodded. Whoops! I had to slow down to a safe speed, then pull a u-turn after letting a couple cars pass, and then take the turn. Unfortunately there were no signs stating this was the 20km turn around. That would be the only thing I would change about the race.

The rest of the bike was uneventful. We had a little headwind coming back which slowed things down a little. I went as hard as I could and my legs felt okay. My bike split was 1:09. Off the bike, the first Km of the run was good. Then it all went downhill. Well, actually it went straight uphill for an entire kilometer. I was okay for the first part of the hill, then as it kept going up and up and up, I really started to struggle. By the time I hit the 2km mark (where there was still a little uphill section to go), I was completely redlining. After that, the course leads into a beautiful trail section, with mostly gravel pathways and some wooden footbridges. Beautiful! I started to feel better around 3km or so, and was able to get into a rhythm until the 5km turn-around. At the 6km mark, I was passed by the eventual winner and was powerless to keep up with her. I began feeling terrible again around 7km, and experienced those stabbing stitches I get on occasion in the left upper trapezius and right ribs, that seem to take my breath away so I can't fill my lungs. I had those on the 1km downhill section, and also during the final flat km so I unfortunately was not able to push myself with any effort to the finish. It was painful! I reeeallly wanted to walk at various points but did not let myself at any point.

Compared to my run the previous weekend at Coronation, the difference was like night and day. I was able to really push myself on that 8km at Coronation and actually "race" the run, but in Hinton I felt so awful on that darn hilly run it was more a matter of just getting to the finish line so the pain could be over. I'm not sure why I felt that way, who knows? Although I really wanted to win, I am happy with the 2nd overall. I did not run to the best of my ability, but i think I did the best that I could on the day. My final time was 2:20.02 (only 2 seconds away from breaking that 2:20!), a personal best on any course by 3 minutes, and a personal best on that same course by 14 minutes.

Thanks Amber for the pictures - I took one or two but mine did not turn out well! Great to see you there!

just before the finish line...

The first and second place of each age group received wine - what an awesome prize! I don't actually turn 30 for another week, but had to race the past 2 races as a 30-39 year old (which incidentally worked out in my favor). I still don't really understand the rationale behind that 'age as of December 2010' rule! It makes you feel older than you are!

There is lots to improve upon for my next race: Chinook Olympic triathlon on June 19! Looking forward to some warm weather here this weekend (finally)!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coronation Tri (also known as the Winter Aquathlon)

This was what was going on outside when I woke up Sunday morning for the Coronation triathlon. That was a first! I've seen some crap weather for tri's but never snow! It was 1C and -2 with the windchill. I left my bike exactly where it was on the trainer and left the house at 7:30am with only my swimming and running gear in tow. I decided that no matter what, I was not going to be biking!

When I arrived at the pool, I discovered that the bike leg was cancelled (no brainer), and the race had become a swim-run (1km/8km), which is otherwise known as an Aquathlon. I also noticed that there were a large number of bikes set up on the transition racks outside, which I thought was quite comical. The whole atmosphere was very relaxed and it seems close to half the people who registered were, not surprisingly, no-shows. The race had morphed into a "seed yourself" type of deal, so Alice and I went near the end of the line of women and found a group of 4 other girls to swim with. The race director also allowed us to set up our transition areas inside the pool area, so as to avoid having to run outside in our bathing suits.

There were 6 in my lane and it turned out to be very organized and efficient as we had a good group of swimmers who knew what they were doing and how to pass/be passed. I went off second and was a little behind the first girl (~50m), lapped a few others and in general had a decent swim. I ran to my 'transition' and proceeded to throw on a long-sleeved Lulu shirt, running capri's, socks and toque. I couldn't get the long sleeve pulled on my arms as it kept getting stuck, and the capri's also had a mind of their own, wanting to stay glued to my lower calves! I was definitely in transition for a good chunk of time! The swim times actually include the indoor transition times so I really have no idea what I actually swam. I had a towel there and dried off a bit, but as soon as I had my shirt on it was already soaked, which became even more so outside as it was still sleeting/snowing/raining.

My run went great! I went out pretty hard and felt pretty decent. The run is challenging as most of the whole way out is downhill, which means... you have to come uphill on the way back! I cheered for and encouraged all of the oncoming runners and the ones I was overtaking, and was in a good mood and mindset despite the conditions. All of the other women seemed to be in good spirits as well, and there were some awesome volunteers out there in the miserable weather cheering everyone on at various points. So it ended up being a pretty fun race! I ended up 2nd female overall by less than a minute. And Alice had an awesome swim and run to end up 3rd place in our age group - a podium! WAY TO GO ALICE, you rock!

After Alice finished, we headed inside and went directly into the hot tub for >15 minutes. It was sooo hot and nice, but a bad decision in hindsight after being so freezing at the finish! My lower legs were already starting to feel sore later on in the day, especially my shins. I did a 10 min ice bath in the late afternoon which helped, but even today, my shins are still incredibly sore! Hopefully they recover well in time for Sunday...

Next up, Hinton Olympic Tri on June 6!