It’s my birthday, and I’ll race if I want to! Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate turning 31 than doing something I love in an absolutely beautiful place. The Wine Capital of Canada triathlon in Oliver seemed to fit the bill. I’ll clue you in on the rest of the weekend later, but for now, let’s get to the race report!
My folks live about an hour to an hour and a half away from Oliver (depending on traffic). I never really thought about staying in Oliver, I just figured I would drive down the morning of the race. I was up at 5 am, had a shower, ate a bit of breakfast, grabbed a to go mug of coffee (that my dad made…he makes much better, and stronger coffee than me), and hit the road at 6 am. I got to the race site shortly after 7 am. I took all my gear over into transition, set things up, and hit the bathrooms a few times. Sometime after 8 am I started wiggling into my wetsuit. I headed down to the beach to get in the water and splash around. Yesterday afternoon the lake was 19.1C (66F). It has definitely warmed up over the last few days and the water temperature was really comfortable. All of a sudden it was 8:30 and it was go time for the Olympic athletes.
We would do two out and backs close to the lakeshore. At the end of the first lap we’d run out of the water, run around the fencing you see just off left hand side of the picture, then back in the water to do it all again. We had a 20 minute head start on the Sprint athletes. I was fully expecting to get run over by them on my second lap… When it was go time I watched the front of the crowd swim away and then I set off. I just wanted to swim comfortably the whole time. I really didn’t care what my pace was since I knew that if I tried to book it, it would only make a minor difference to my time. But I would be exhausted after the swim if I did.
I discovered that the one unfortunate thing on the open water swim. I wear glasses, but my prescription isn’t terrible. It is about a -1.25 in each eye. Normally my somewhat fuzzy vision in the pool isn’t noticeable to me. But my slightly off vision, plus goggles makes sighting for buoys a real pain in the rear. I can’t just pop my head up and see them, I need a few seconds for the picture to make sense in my brain. Whenever I wanted to sight I’d just pop into a heads up breast stroke kind of manoeuvre since that seemed to be a bit more effective. But I was most definitely not swimming very straight on my first lap. It felt like the swim on the way back took less time, and I was pretty happy to have the first lap over and done with. Although for some reason…I decided not to run out of the water and around the buoy. I treated it like some kind of Sunday stroll. Huh?
The guy next to me…and also in front of me had the same idea! And back in the water we go as the Sprinters are waiting for their wave to start.
The wind started picking up over the course of the morning and I quickly discovered that I would be best off breathing on one side to avoid getting mouthfuls of wave. I felt like I was swimming a lot straighter on the second lap…maybe because I had few people to be led of course by. As I turned the final buoy to swim the last 375 m in I noticed that my chest was feeling a bit funny. I was breathing fine and not in distress at all…but it turned out that I really needed to burp! It made the heads up breast stroke a wee bit uncomfortable on the way back in, but otherwise I was feeling just fine. I was looking forward to getting out of the water to fix that though! I exited the water, ran over some grass, and up some stairs into transition. The clock read about what I figured:
1500m – 35:31 – 107 out of 134
T1 – 2:42 – 81 out of 134
I think I was a bit out of it. It took me a few moments to get the wetsuit off…and trying to put socks on wet feet is hard!
I ran my bike out of transition and crossed the mount line, then got on my bike. In the few seconds that it took me to get on my bike I went from having no one around me, to some woman that ran right in front of me and stopped to get on her bike, just as I was trying to pedal away. The road was pretty wide at this point, so I was kind of ticked off at her for that little trick. Grr. I got on and road away…happy to be away from the swim and now on my bike!
Just a short distance away from transition you head out on the main road and have a hill to climb. The hill looked a bit big initially, but once I was riding up it was no big deal. For the next few miles we were riding past wineries and along a nice rolling road. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we had a pretty good tail wind going. I was flying along here, passing people and having a great time and enjoying the scenery! I was averaging about 21 mph until I turned a corner to head out to Highway 97. That was when I realized that there was actually wind around… Highway 97 is reasonably flat and I felt like I should have been able to just fly down here but that wasn’t happening. I got down in my aerobars and just kept it in a gear where I could pedal at 90 rpm and feel comfortable doing so. I still managed to pass quite a few people despite the wind. I guess training in windy Calgary is paying off!
My dad managed to snap this great shot of me as I headed off Highway 97 onto some back roads to bypass riding through Oliver. I was really happy with how I rode and loved every minute on the bike.
40 km – 1:20:53 – 84 out of 134 (18.5 mph)
T2 – 1:18 – 49 out of 134
This was my fastest ranked activity of the day. That’s interesting…
I will say that I definitely, without a doubt, need to work on my pacing strategy on the run. I always start out too fast. My legs felt pretty good from the get go and I ran at what felt like a comfortable pace. I looked down at my watch and I was running a sub 9:00/mi pace. Hmm, doubt that is sustainable for 10K! We had a hill to climb just as we left transition and there was an aid station at the top. We’d be doing two loops of the course. I grabbed a Gatorade because I knew I needed some fluids. I also knew I needed to take my Gu but I felt a little wary without plain water to wash it down. Only thought of that once I was past the aid station… So I hung on to it for now and just ran. The run was most definitely not flat. It wasn’t crazy hilly either, but it had plenty of uphill stretches to wear your legs out. We hit the turnaround point and thankfully there was another aid station here, so I grabbed water and Gatorade and took my Gu. By then it probably didn’t make much of a difference, but oh well. Back on to running… I hit 5K around 28:xx…not too bad but my pace was definitely fading.
It was pretty hot out (28C or 82F) and there wasn’t too much of a breeze. I watched any thoughts of a PR go out the window, but I knew I could still break an hour on the run. While I had no real goals for the race I knew without a doubt that I would be disappointed if I didn’t run a sub 60:00 10K. I mustered what I could for a final kick to the finish. Luckily the final stretch was all downhill…!!
10 km – 58:02 – 93 out of 134 (9:20/mi)
Overall: 91 out of 134
Females 30 – 34: 5 out of 7
Females Overall: 24 out of 49
After I crossed the finish line the race director was there to shake my hand and congratulate me on my race. He asked if I had a good time and enjoyed myself. Gotta love those races where the RDs take a real interest in how people like the race. I wandered over to my spot in transition to pack a few things up and grab a bottle of nuun off my bike. I then met up with my parents (slash race photographers extraordinaire) and we grabbed some food at the post race BBQ. All in all, it was an amazing day!