Friday, July 19, 2013

GWN - the race that used to be

There is a reason why you should post a race report shortly after the race is finished.  It's been nearly 2 weeks since GWN and a lot of the details and defining moments have now disappeared from my mind.  However, here's my best shot at remembering the day:

My alarm went off at 4:55am, which gave me plenty of time to get organized and eat before my ride arrived at 5:40am.  We arrived at the lake super early and I ran into my buddy Julie Anderson right away, which was awesome!  We chatted a bit then headed to our own transition areas to set up.  I got everything organized quite quickly and then decided to hit the porta potty line up.  30 minutes later, it was finally my turn.  Kind of annoying, but it wasn't a big deal as I had arrived so early.  

 Julie and I walking down to the transition - she ended up having an awesome day with a big PR!  (BTW, I 'borrowed' this pic from Julie's blog - hope she doesn't mind haha!)

I was looking forward to racing on the new course, which had been changed into a 1-loop swim, 2-loop out and back bike, and 2-loop run.  After I got wetsuited up, I made my way over to the swim start and swam around a bit for my half-assed warm up.  Race start was 7:30am this year - why so bloody early - and the race started precisely on schedule.  

The swim start was fair and I had no issues or contact with anyone.  There were a lot of fast swimmers around me and it stayed this way until we'd gotten past the first turn buoy.  I settled into a good pace after that and swam on the heels of another woman (who turned out to be Kristina Schultz), with a guy right beside me the whole rest of the way.  One thing I would suggest they could improve on would be adding more buoys.  2 single buoys on a 2km course doesn't quite cut it.  2 more buoys would have been great and i can't imagine that would increase costs very much, if anything. 

I came out of the water just behind Kristina and learned later there were 2 girls ahead of me, one who I passed just at the beginning of the bike, and the other was the eventual race winner.  My swim time was 23:47 so the course was definitely shorter than 2 km, as nice as that would be!  
Starting out on the 90km ride

Anyway, onto the bike, which went well for the first 20-30 km, anyway.  After that, the struggle fest began! I felt like I had no power, and there was a headwind in every direction.  I honestly looked down a few times to check if my brakes were rubbing or something.  It was one of *those* days.   The bike course was about 10km to the transition area, then 2 x 40km out and back sections.  Lots of hills, and that damn wind seemed fierce to me!  I maintained 4th female position until about 70 km, and then proceeded to get passed by 3 women in the next 10-15 km.  I felt like I was going nowhere, overall very uncomfortable and not in a happy mindset.  My quads were barking at me, they were extremely sore and fatigued, which is unusual.  I kept finding myself really forward on my saddle and having to continually slide back, and found out when I got home later that there was a good reason for that!   

Also, the turnaround point on the bike was stationed at the bottom of a huge hill, just before the railroad tracks on Hwy 779.  I was shocked to find this out on the first loop, as you had to brake the whole way down the hill, then do a sharp 180 degree turn, which got a little crowded on the 2nd loop with some of the slower athletes on their first loop.  Putting a turnaround at the bottom of a hill is a huge safety issue and liability and frankly, I'm surprised it was done.  I do not agree with that at all.  

I came off the bike in 7th with a bike split way slower than what I had anticipated and well above what I know I'm capable of.  Without transitions, 2:37, and with transitions it was a 2:39.  Should have been faster than that...

This is what i noticed when I got home after the race - my saddle must have been loose and tilted itself during the race.  This helps to explain why I was so uncomfortable and not riding well! 

With the way my legs were feeling, I had no idea how I was going to run a 1/2 marathon.  I didn't feel great for the first couple kilometers, but then my legs surprisingly came around and I started running pretty well.  I definitely liked the new run course, with the double out and back.  Around 9km, I had to duck into a porta-potty as I had to pee soooo bad and simply couldn't hold it anymore.  At the '10 km' marker sign, my watch said 45:36, which was only 10 sec slower than my ITU race 10k time.  However, I went through the halfway point (i.e. 10.5km) in 50:xx, so the 10K sign must have been in the wrong place, as I doubt I took 5 minutes for 0.5 km.  So the 10km marker was in the wrong spot.

Pretty much right after the 1/2 way point is when I sort of hit the wall and really started struggling.  Sharp side and upper trapezius stitches/cramps, and stomach cramps.  Ugh.  I had been taking only water and some gatorade at the aid stations, and decided to take a gel.  This crappy phase went on for about 5km, and I had to walk through 2 aid stations.  At the final turnaround aid station, around the 15km mark, is when I discovered coke at the aid stations. BAM!  I hadn't seen any before that.  This turned things around for me and I was able to pick it up again and run strong all the way to the finish, something I've never been able to do in a 1/2 ironman.  When I passed the 20km marker, I looked at my watch and the time was 1:36, so I started getting really excited that I'd be doing a HUGE run PR, but the minutes kept ticking by and there was still a fair amount of distance to cover till the finish chute.  So the 20 km marker was totally in the wrong spot.

I ended up with a 1:45 run (so apparently my last kilometer was 9min?? Yeah right), and a 4:48 overall finish, 9th for females.  I was glad to have a top 10 finish, although I had really been aiming for a top 5.  There was some disappointment but it was all because of the crappy bike ride, as my swim had been strong and my run was a 3min PR for a 1/2 iron run split.

Overall, I felt the race had kind of a weird vibe and for some reason it wasn't as fun as it's been in the past.  I must say I liked the "old" race a whole lot better, it seemed to have more of an intimate community feel to it and this time around was much different (and not in a good way).  It used to be such a great race.  While I can say that I did like the new course, there were issues such as the turnaround at the bottom of a hill on the bike, which didn't sit well with me.  I'm not sure that I'll do this race again for a while.

Next up is a fun little local race, tomorrow morning, in Leduc.  I'm so excited as my sister just got back from up North a few days ago, and signed up last minute!  Also Deborah is racing and a few other STARRT members, so we'll have a lot of fun.  It's a pool swim and I'm doing the Olympic, so the swim will be HARD!  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Edmonton ITU

Last weekend I raced the Edmonton ITU triathlon, which is always one of my favorites.  We had great weather leading in, and race day arrived with sunshine and temperatures in the low 20's, just perfect for a race!  I didn't do a lot during the week leading up to the race, not because I was necessarily planning a structured taper but more so was lacking in motivation for some reason.  I even took the monday prior completely off - cause everyone's allowed a day off on their b-day!

Race morning I had planned to do a short 15min jog as a warm up after getting my transition together, but as time got away from me I realized as transition was near closing and having worn my racing shoes (with no other shoes with me than flip flops), that it would not be possible.  So no warm up it was! #justgowithit

The best part of this race was getting to see so many friends and STARRT members.  That makes the race so much more fun!  

Christina and I pre-race - tried to get the transition in the background of the pic but didn't work out so well

Swim - 19:10 
This year for the swim we were allowed to wear wetsuits, which was comforting news, as I wanted as little skin as possible exposed to the water.  Last year with a non-wetsuit swim, I ended up with a bunch of red bites on my stomach and back in the days following... EWWW!  However, this year the water was somehow pretty nice!  I lined up at the front with many friends around me.  The start was clean and I ended up swimming beside a guy and right behind another guy.  We swam like this the entire first loop, and on the second loop I was able to pull away and have clear water for the rest of the loop, perhaps pulling the others along but nobody was touching my feet so it didn't bother me at all.  I felt fantastic during the entire swim leg but had no idea what my time was until the results were posted as I didn't have a watch on.  

The course was probably a bit short (not sure how as that course is always accurate and it's such a small lake) but I would say not more than 50-75m.  I've been swimming really well lately and knew I was capable of a sub-20, but a 19-high would be more realistic.

 Swim lap 1 - courtesy of Marathon Photo

 Swim finish - courtesy of Marathon Photo

Bike - 1:07.52
My transition and the bike was uneventful.  This year I strapped my Garmin watch to my bike so I would have some feedback - distance and pace in min/km.  I aimed to be under 17min per lap which would mean I'd beat last year's time of 1:08.  I was hoping to ride a 1:06 and I'm satisfied with a 1:07; although I know I can be faster than that.

It's hard to know where you are on a course like this - 4 laps with different wave starts - but I didn't get passed by any women on the bike except Kristina Schultz, who is always in a league of her own out there! 

Run - 45:26
I didn't feel great starting the run, my legs felt heavy and fatigued.  Halfway through the first out and back 2.5km, Mel MacDonald went by me - she's a friend and just joined STARRT this year so I've been coaching her in the swim.  She was running a good pace so I decided to try and stay with her, and we proceeded to run the rest of the 10k together.  It was fun to have a run buddy out there!  Hopefully she wasn't too annoyed that I was breathing down her neck the whole time! I actually started feeling not too bad and was able to hold a decent pace.  I had grabbed my watch in T2 to wear just for the run, and didn't look at it until 5k in, and my split there was 22:36.  Mel got away from me in the last kilometer or so and I wasn't able to go with her. 

Mel and I - go team!

Doing work

Why do I always look so ungraceful while running?

Finish: 2:16.13 - 1st W30-34, 5th female OA
-->4min faster than my PB on this course (last year)!  Even with the swim a tad short, it's still a big improvement.  I also qualified for Worlds 2014, which is here in Edmonton, and decided to take my qualifying spot.  It's the opportunity of a lifetime to race the Worlds in your own backyard, although the substantial fees associated with it certainly made me think twice about it. At least I won't have to pay for travel and accommodations - imagine, getting to sleep in your own bed for Worlds!  Also, tons of STARRT members and other friends also qualified so it will be incredible to have so many familiar faces doing that race next year!

 W30-34 Podium - I look like a giant compared to the rest of the podium!

Watching the elite race with STARRT friends Christina and Tari - glad to be done!

Next up is Great White North on July 7.  I'm excited about this race as I haven't done it since 2011 when I got the flat tire(s)!  This year the course has changed so we'll see how that unfolds.  I put in a really good week of training last week, with some solid workouts.  This week I'll be tapering down and resting going into the race.  Today I had to fly to Toronto for work (July 1-3), which is less than ideal the week leading up to a big race, but c'est la vie. Hopefully my legs come around for Sunday and the travel/time changes don't screw me up too much!

I'll be taking my bike in to Cam @ Element on Thursday to get a new chainring and chain installed, a 54 tooth big ring as I currently have a 53.  A big thank you to Joel Maley and Andre Ratte for their useful advice and input.  I'm hoping this new set up will be a positive thing for me.  We'll see what happens next weekend!

And now breaking news - just found out a few days ago that Geoff was accepted for his transfer to U of A law (from U of S), so he won't have to move to Saskatoon again at the end of the summer! It's such a relief and I'm so happy that he will be able to finish his degree here, while living at home.  From September to the end of April it was really tough for both of us with him away, and it has been so nice this summer since he's been home.  I had been mentally preparing for him to have to move again at the end of August, and still almost can't believe that he will be staying put at home after August.  Best news ever!