Monday, May 25, 2009

Not to shabby

So the first race of the season is over - and not a bad start to the summer either.

Saturday morning my Tri friend Jeff and I left early to catch the ferry to Victoria. Vancouver has been lucking out with the weather the last week or so - it's been clear blue skies all week and perfect temps day in and day out. It made the ferry ride and our drive up island perfect for road trippin'.

Jeff scored us accommodation at the Camp right next door to the race. Shawnigan Lake isn't exactly close to anything, especially an abundance of overnighting options. Rather than spend $100 for a night in a hotel, which would be a 45 min drive away, and still require us to have to take the shuttle into the race, we stayed at the $20 a night cabins right next door. True, this was barebones, no electricity, no heat, but we had full shower facilities, the place to our selves and the camp people even fed us breakfast in the morning. We still can't figure out why the place wasn't packed to capacity. We totally scored! Nice job Jeff.

So when we arrived Saturday afternoon, we got ourselves settled and I took my bike out for a spin around the bike course. Jeff was nursing a pulled hamstring so he opted to stay back at camp. The bike was an easy 20km loop which I would do twice on race day. Nice rolling hills, nothing to tricky. The only thing keeping this from being a really fast course, was the twists and turns and the crazy huge potholes! If you weren't watching and rode into one, it would swallow you and you bike up hole and no one would ever see you again. Believe me, they were big.

Okay race day.

Everything ran smoothly in the morning. Thanks to our stellar accommodation, we were up at 5:45, ate breakfast, changed and over at the race start by 6:30. The Half Iron race was starting at 7am and my Olympic distance race didn't start until 8am. I had plenty of time to warm up, relax, get comfortable and think about my race.

Swim: I had a few goals in the swim. First, I wanted to swim with a pack the whole distance. I wanted to conserve energy, but also improve my open water skill by being strategic in the water. My plan was to find a draft and staying with it. Second, I wanted to stay positive. I wanted to swim a race where I kept my mind positive the entire distance. I reminded myself that this was a learning experience and that in this swim, I was going to use the hours of training and coaching that I've received to improve as an open water swimmer. I wanted to swim smart. Thrid, if I accomplish my first too goals, the idea was that in doing so, I would swim a decent time of at least 35 min which would have been a personal best for me.

Well - I swam smart and swam fast! I stayed with a pack for the first of the two loops, stayed on a good draft right up into the second loop. At one of the buoys about 1/4 into the loop, my whole pack took to tight of a turn and headed off course! I was the only one that sighted properly and saw where the next buoy was. Yey for me... but this meant that I swam the rest of the course pretty much on my own. I still swam smart, paced myself well and got out of the water in less than 31 min! A HUGE personal best! I was so happy - if my race had ended there, I wouldn't have cared.

Bike: The swim to bike transition always makes me laugh. It's so awkward - your legs are noodles, your really light headed and your trying to move really fast peeling yourself out of a wetsuit. Luckily, no mishaps this time. In and out no problem and hit the road. Overall, nothing exciting happened on the bike. I wanted to pace properly and that was my focus - to do the second loop faster than the first. I stayed fairly easy in the first loop, concentrating on pace, cadence, hydration and nutrition. Almost right way on course however, I grabbed my water bottle for a drink and in doing that hit one of those stupid potholes. It jarred me enough that my water bottle went flying through the air out of my hands. Being so early in the course, I had to stop and get it. No biggy, took less than 30 sec to get back on track. I was just glad it didn't cause a flat tire. That would have sucked. In the end, I don't think I went as fast as I could have, but I was happy with the ride.

Run: Heading out on the run my belly was full of gels. Bloated and belly slooshing, I hit the trails thinking again about pacing and being strategic. Unfortunately because of said gels and slooshing, most of my concentration just went towards trying not to puke. BUT - by the 5K turn around I had absorbed everything and felt 100%. Heading back, I was fooled by the mile markers on the course and when I saw marker 8km I hit the gas, got into a stellar pace, feeling fantastic I powered my way through to kilometer 10. Unfortunately when I got there, I was totally spent and wondering where the hell was the finish????? Turns out that the mile markers were in place for the Half Iron course (which was on the same trail). So when I thought that I was running full out KM 8-10, I was actually running hard KM 6-8. So tired and confused I had just over 2km's left in my race. ARGH! I kept running not knowing exactly how much further to go, if I was off course, or if I was crazy... but eventually I made it to the finish line with a 58min 10km run.

Final time: 3:07
Final place: 6th in my age group (of 13)

Final thoughts: Overall - great race. The run could have obviously been better, but lesson learned. I was so stoked on the swim, I'm not too upset about the rest. It was a great way to start the season.

Now - back to training. Only 7 weeks until the big race in Osoyoos (July 12th). Time to focus and get in the quality workouts.

Happy Training!


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