Today I was up in St. Albert, Alberta to race the final tri of the season. St. Albert is about 20 minutes northwest of Edmonton, so I drove up Saturday afternoon to have the weekend to relax and spend some time with an old friend and her husband. The weekend was good – we caught a replay of House, one of the Fringe festival shows, went to check out the Royal Alberta Museum, and I made the mistake of going to West Edmonton Mall (the world’s largest mall) on a weekend when everyone was going back to school shopping.
I was up at 4:45 to shower, pack up, and have a quick breakfast before driving out to St. Albert. Transition opened up at 6:00 and the race was scheduled to start at 7:00 so I wanted to be sure that I would arrive as close to 6:00 as possible. The first thing I did was check in to get my race packet and my long sleeve race shirt. I was scheduled to be in heat 2 of the swim and had to check in poolside at 6:50 am. That wouldn’t leave me very much time to set up and be ready. I headed over to get body marked, then grabbed my bike out of the car and headed over to rack it in transition. The racks were set up according to your heat number. I found a spare spot and laid everything out. This time I put a bit more thought into it though, so I laid my towel on top of my bike handlebars so it would be the easiest to get to, then set up my bike shoes, sock in the shoes, and a long sleeve jersey to put on afterwards. Sunglasses and gloves in the helmet, running shoes next to everything else. I hurried back over to the pool, stuffed my post race gear into a locker, hit the bathrooms, then headed out on deck for the pre-race briefing. Once that was done, bagpipers walked into the pool playing a tune and escorting our master of ceremonies, Carolyn Murray. Carolyn is from St. Albert and was a member of the Canadian women’s Olympic triathlon team.
Swim – 750 m (20:03)
The swim start was pretty well organized in that we were all given heats and lanes ahead of time. For some reason a bunch of people were told they would be in heat 2, lane 2, just like me except we were only supposed to have 4 people per lane. After a whole lot of discussion and reorganizing my group of 4 was together and we donned our respective swim caps. The lead swimmer wore blue, second swimmer yellow, third swimmer purple, final swimmer burgundy. I got the purple cap. I was happy to have such an early swim heat as it meant less waiting around and less time to get nervous. We cheered for the folks coming out of the water, but pretty soon a lane emptied and it was time to start. Rather than crossing a timing mat our chip was scanned by a little hand held device before we headed over to our lane. I got in the water and just started to swim. I found my groove immediately – arms, kicking and breathing all fell into place naturally. We had one girl who had way overestimated her swim time in our lane and she passed me twice. I also got passed by the guy who had entered the water just ahead of me. I finally had my chance to touch some toes and pass the lady who had entered the water just after me before starting my final lap. The swim was over before I knew it. I ran out of the pool where Carolyn was cheering us on, and out into transition.
The one unfortunate thing about starting so early was that the weather was still downright chilly as I ran out into T1. I tried to towel off as best I could, but pulling my jersey on while still fairly wet felt like it took forever. In fact, T1 in general felt like it took forever. I put my glasses on, pulled my socks on, put the Garmin on, realized the glasses were foggy so had to take them off and clean them, then put my helmet and gloves on and ran out of transition. As I was leaving I heard my name – my friend from Edmonton had made it up to root me on!
Bike – 20 km (44:24)
It was cold on the bike. Really, really cold. My legs just felt numb. As I was heading out there was still some fog out over one of the fields. Despite the chilly weather it felt so good to be on the bike. I absolutely love riding my bike. The best thing about the races in both Strathmore and St. Albert would have to be the terrific scenery on the bike. You head out into rural farmland and it just feels really neat to ride out there. The volunteers were all fantastic on the race too – they shouted out encouragement as you passed and I yelled “good morning” or thanked them for coming out. I also passed a guy out for his morning jog and he congratulated me on my race so far. I passed a few people, including one lady riding with an iPod of some sort. Hmm, thought you weren’t supposed to race with those things on. I did get passed by a couple of speedy cyclists as well though. The route had some hills to it and despite not having ridden for a bit, and my marathon last weekend my legs were feeling pretty good. I was back at transition before I knew it.
This time I remembered to hit the button to start timing for T2 as soon as I hopped off my bike. I racked it, swapped out shoes and took my helmet and gloves off and headed out on the run.
Run – 5 km (30:50)
When I started running it felt like I was running on a pair of peg legs. My feet were just numb from the cold on the bike. Despite the odd feeling my running didn’t feel too off though. I didn’t want to push the pace, I just wanted to run fairly nice and easy since my legs are still recovering from the marathon last weekend. I didn’t really look at my Garmin, I just kept plugging along. Every once in awhile a competitor in front of me would stop to walk and I’d try to encourage them, but I’d just keep on running. As the sun was coming up things were warming up and it felt really comfortable out on the run. The course was reasonably flat along sidewalks through neighborhoods, on to a park pathway occasionally, and every once in awhile along grass. I had enough in the tank for a sprint to the finish and I was pretty surprised that I managed to break 31:00 on my run. Not bad considering I thought I was taking it easy!
They were serving up pancakes, sausages, bananas and oranges once I was done. I grabbed a bit to eat while my friend and I chatted. Eventually I was getting pretty cold so we said our goodbyes and I hit the showers. I hung around at the finish line for a bit, cheering competitors in, but eventually it was time to make the trek back to Calgary. All in all it was a really fun race and I’m glad I gave this one a go. Overall my legs felt ready to get back to some activity and I think this was a nice way of easing into it. My second triathlon down – and I loved every minute of it!
- Final Time: 1:39:08
- Overall: 120 out of 164
- Females 30 – 39: 13 out of 22
- Swim: 20:03 (132nd)
- Bike (including transitions): 48:16 (98th)
- Run: 30:50 (128th)