What a day at the Wasa Lake Olympic Triathlon!!
The Day Before the Race
Wasa Lake Provincial Park is in British Columbia, just north of Cranbrook in the Kootenays. I drove out to Wasa Lake first thing Saturday morning (which is about 4 hours away from Calgary), met up with some friends for swim in the lake, then headed off to Cranbrook. I had an important matter to take care off. My bike! Friday night my rear tire was flat AGAIN!! I really wanted to take it into a bike shop to have them look at it as I was really worried that something was wrong and that I’d flat on the race. I dropped my bike off at Gerick’s, headed to grab my race packet, wandered the town, picked up my bike and went off to the pre-race meeting and carbo load dinner. Then it was back to my hotel, the Elizabeth Lake Lodge. This place is a great, small, family run establishment. It backs on to the Elizabeth Lake Conservation Area, and the beds are super comfortable. I went for a walk around the conservation area, took a ton of pictures of geese, ducks and things that look like chipmunks?
Then it was back to the room to relax and get things ready for tomorrow. As I was laying all of my stuff out I could not find my race number belt! I thought about just pinning it on to my top, but then I worried it would rip (or rip my top) when I took my wetsuit off so I need another alternative. Walmart to the rescue! I drove over there, picked up some elastic and then made my own race belt out of it. I watched the end of S.W.A.T. on TV, then called it a night.
Or so I thought…I woke up at 10:45, 2:20 and 3:45. Sometimes I was waking up thanks to my stellar hydration the night before, but for the most part it was just nerves. Finally the alarm went off at 5 am and I was up, showered, got my gear together and the car packed up. I must have had to pee at least three or four times before leaving the hotel. Nerves? I felt really bad for waking up the hotel owner at 6 am so I could check out… I figured that a coffee was definitely in order for this morning so I was pretty excited to see that Starbucks had opened up just a few minutes before I drove past. See, don’t I look happy? Plus, they had a bathroom, and I mysteriously had to pee again.
It was a 30 minute drive to Wasa Lake and I parked my car shortly after transition had opened up. Even though my wave wasn’t starting until 8:55 am we had been warned at the pre-race meeting that there wasn’t a lot of parking and I figured I didn’t need to stress over that. I’d just get there early and take my time setting up. As soon as I parked my car I had to pee again. Sheesh! I walked the 1 km to transition with my stuff, and started getting set up. As soon as I started unpacking my bag…I found my race belt! Hurrah!
After things were set up I hit the porta-potties, got my chip and got body marked, hit the bathrooms (again, and again, and again), then headed out to check out the beach we’d be starting from. Pretty, eh?
There was a pretty long run up the beach, along a path and over some grass into transition. Two kiddie pools were set up so we could wash our feet off before going into transition. I looked at the water and debated long and hard over whether I wanted to use them or not.
I watched the sprinters take off at 8:15, then it was time to hit the bathroom and wriggle into the wetsuit. By the time that was all taken care of the men’s wave had already started. I got in the water to warm up, but soon saw the men coming straight towards us, and figured I’d better move over. As soon as I started waiting around for the race to start…I couldn’t believe it. I had to pee again. I’d already been 5 times since I’d arrived at the park, but I figured this was as good an opportunity as ever to “christen my wetsuit.” Which reminds me, I need to take it upstairs to rinse it off. I managed to find a few friends in the water and then all of a sudden, it was go time.
The Swim – 1500 m (well…maybe not…)
We had a one loop swim and the Olympic women were the last to go. I rather liked that idea because it meant that I wouldn’t be clobbered by any men out there. When I started I was feeling really good. My new wetsuit is absolutely fabulous. I was just swimming consistently. There was a bit of crowding and contact in the beginning, but as we settled into our pace (i.e. as I drifted towards the back of the pack) things were a bit more settled. I hit the first buoy a lot quicker than I had anticipated. My sighting was a lot better on this race than it was in Oliver. Maybe it was the calmer water, or maybe it was that I can see better out of my Aqua Sphere goggles. I’m not sure. The second buoy that we would turn at seemed farther away than I realized initially. Despite feeling good I started to question why on earth I was in the water. I’m not sure why I hit that low point in the swim. Hopefully I can work on loving the swim the entire time I’m in the water.
As I was swimming along I accidentally kicked a lady next to me. Not hard, but it felt like my pinkie toe hit something on her and all of a sudden…wow…it hurt! It wasn’t until I was almost through with the swim that the pain went away. I found out later in the day (on the drive home actually), that the skin where my pinkie toe and foot meet actually split. Ouch…
Once I hit shallow water and could grab the sand I stood up and started the run up the beach, along the pathway and towards transition. Well, I started off running but I was feeling dizzy and quickly decided that walking would be a better option. And I decided to take a dip in the kiddie pool (remind me to disinfect my wound). I looked up and saw the clock as I went into transition. It said 28:xx. What? Either I just bought a miracle wetsuit from Cindy, or else the swim was short. Or both.
28:25 – 376 out of 504 overall, 178 out of 259 females
Getting the wetsuit off my ankles was hard. 3:23 (back calculated from the bike split)
The Bike – 40 km
As I got going on the bike it became a game of “let’s see how many people I can catch.” The bike course is for all intents and purposes flat. Sure, there is a general trend of uphill or downhill in certain areas, but nothing to differentiate the cyclists out there. So that meant that there were large packs of riders out there. And since I had come out of the water towards the back I had plenty of those packs to pass. Drafting? I don’t know if everyone was really paying attention to how close they were to people in front of them. As soon as I got close to someone I’d yell out “on your left” and pass them. I didn’t want to be riding close to anyone. There was the odd woman who didn’t want to get passed so they would speed up as soon as they realized you were going by. And then there were some ladies that were in no hurry to pass and all of a sudden there is a group of 6 women or so, taking up the entire lane. I just played my own game, kept my cadence at 90 or above and tried to stay in my own space. At one point I passed a girl on a mountain bike with aero bars..?? I also passed a guy (they started 25 minutes ahead of us) just before the turnaround. The only guy I’d pass on the bike, but that’s okay!
The bike was a straight out and back for the most part, and once I hit the turnaround to come back I decided this would be a good time to down a gel. The gel went down fairly easily, and I grabbed my bottle of nuun to wash it down. As I reached down to put the bottle back in the cage I fumbled it and it launched down the road. 15K left to go and no more hydration. Oops. The rest of the bike back was uneventful, but I did manage to maintain a pretty sweet speed over the duration of the bike, and I think it is fair to say that I really made up some good ground (like 93 females worth).
1:13:45 (from the Garmin), 249 out of 500 overall, 85 out of 257 females
As I finished off the bike I felt like my bladder was bursting. I was debating whether I should hit the porta-potties after putting my run shoes on but before leaving transition. After the bike was racked all was forgotten. Time to run. 1:26.
The Run – 10km
As I got going on the run I felt like I was moving so slowly. I was just trying to run at a comfortable pace, go out slow, and ease into things. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my Garmin and saw I was at a sub 9:00/mi pace! How did that happen? I was determined to not look at my heart rate. Maybe that’s silly…but I didn’t want to know if it was high or not since I might freak out and question whether I can maintain what I’m doing. So I really just focused on being comfortable. And I was for the first 3 miles…8:52…8:52…:8:56. I hit the 5K point at 27:33. And as usual, I couldn’t quite hold that great pace for the final 5K. But here’s the story….
When I got off the bike I thought my bladder was having issues, but as I started in on the run it became readily apparent that my stomach was the one with issues now. Things were a’ gurgling and it was not a happy time. There were no porta-potties on the run, and when I ran past a park bathroom I debated ducking in (although it was being cleaned, so it wasn’t available). I was about 4.75 miles in though and I did not want to give up a PR because I stopped to hit the bathrooms. I’d be okay with missing out because my body rebelled, but unless I spontaneously combusted I was pretty sure a PR was still a good chance. So I slowed down…9:21…9:33.
At 5 miles in we ran right past transition…and kept going. Steve King was announcing the folks coming in and we kept right on going. (If you have done Ironman Canada recently, besides last year, he has been the race announcer for I’m not sure how many years.) We ran over grass and over sand and up a little hill, then out on to the street to do an out and back. Oh that was cruel. That out and back felt so long… Finally I turned around and headed back towards the finish…9:19…
I passed one girl on the final uphill to the finish but couldn’t catch the guy in front of her. And then he kept running in front of me as my friend Tara tried to grab a picture of me crossing the finish line. I didn’t remember what the clock said for my finish time…but for sure this would be a PR over Oliver!!
56:32 – (a brand new 10K PR!!!), 330 out of 495 overall, 134 out of 256 females overall
- 2:43:30 (a PR over Oliver by 14:54!!)
- 303 out of 495 overall finishers (9 folks quit the race somewhere throughout)
- 115 out of 259 females
- 27 out of 43 in the F30-35 category
Ugh, I was not feeling good as soon as I stopped. The issue in my stomach had subsided a bit and all I wanted was to get something to drink…fast… Thank goodness for water and Coke. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to eat anything, but after hanging out for awhile I thought it might help things, so I grabbed a veggie burger, some pasta salad and some watermelon. Luckily it all sat well, but my head was still feeling a bit off. Not much to do about it other than start the 4 hour drive back to Calgary.
On the way back through Kootenay National Park we saw a bunch of cars pulled over to the side of the road. That can only mean one thing in the park – animals!! I pulled over, rolled the window down and got the camera. Two black bears were across the highway.
That’s all well and good, but I couldn’t believe it when a large group of people who had gotten out of their cars for a better shot, then started moving closer to grab an even better shot!! Seriously folks, do you want to become dinner?
Anyhow, I am super happy with my race. Yes, the swim course was short, but it would still have been a huge PR day for me regardless. I’m going to have to figure out what caused such major stomach upset on the run…and fast…because the Great White North is only a few short weeks away. Yikes!!