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)!