Last weekend I raced my final triathlon of 2015…the Subaru Banff Triathlon. There were three distances to choose from – super sprint, sprint or standard (Olympic). I signed up for the Olympic race…but then shortly afterward I questioned what I had done as I started to hear about the frigid swim in Two Jack Lake.
Neil and I drove out to Banff on Friday afternoon. He got settled into our hotel while I headed off to the race expo for packet pick up. There was quite a bit to accomplish the day before the race with packet pick up, a mandatory pre-race meeting, and the mandatory bike drop off at T1.
The bikes safely tucked into T1 for the night.
By the time I made it back to the hotel it was almost 8:00… Luckily we had packed some leftover meatballs in tomato sauce and Neil had cooked up some pasta in the kitchenette in our room.
The Olympic distance athletes were advised to catch shuttle buses from T2 to the race start between 8:15 and 9:15 am so it felt like I had plenty of time to putter around our hotel room in the morning, meditate and eat my pre-race oatmeal. We even had time to turn around and return to the hotel when I remembered that I had left my timing chip behind! I dropped my run gear off at T2, said goodbye to Neil and then boarded a shuttle bus to T1.
I can’t think of a more beautiful race venue than Banff National Park. I had never been out to Two Jack Lake before and it was just stunning.
I got my gear together, hit the porta potties, ate a GoMacro bar and finally got into my wetsuit. The water temperature was 13C…cold enough that wetsuits were mandatory and that the swim was shortened from 1500 m to 750 m.
I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous about the water temperature so I was really glad that the swim had been shortened. I made sure to get into the water well before my race so that the cold water wouldn’t be a shock. I had purchased some neoprene booties at the race expo that I was extremely grateful for. My hands were very cold though!
Before I knew it we were called to the start and it was go time.
Subaru Banff Olympic Triathlon Race Report
Swim – 750 m: 17:42
The chilly water made my arms feel somewhat sluggish on the swim. They just didn’t feel like they were turning over as quickly as they usually do. I made sure to appreciate the beautiful scenery around Two Jack Lake every time I took a breath though, and soon enough the cold didn’t bother me as much anymore. Perhaps things started to go numb? I saw so many people backstroking on the swim leg but I felt okay keeping my face in the water and front crawling the entire time.
The next time I do this race I’ll be sure to warm up my upper body to make sure my arms are ready to swim, in addition to acclimatizing to the cold water. I think that would help me to avoid that sluggish feeling!
T1 – 6:12
After you exit Two Jack Lake you have a rather long run up a hill into T1.
I was grateful for my neoprene booties on the swim, but they had filled up with water so I was sloshing my way up this hill. Finally at the top I stopped to take the booties off and empty them out. I then debated what to wear on the bike. I had worn arm warmers underneath my wetsuit to help with the cold water, but the actual temperature for the day was really nice. I was so worried about being cold in wind or in the shade that I decided to throw on a Betty Designs cycling vest.
Bike – 38 km: 1:19:22
For the Olympic distance race we turned left out of Two Jack Lake and rode two and a half loops of the Minnewanka Scenic Drive Loop. It was your responsibility to count your laps and turn towards Banff at the appropriate time. There were also two no pass zones on the course – one by the turnoff for the Lake Minnewanka day use parking lot and the other right outside T1. I think there were a few people that were disqualified for shorting the bike course or for passing in a no pass zone.
There was one really good hill to climb that we’d have to ride up twice. My coach had given me a power cap that I was supposed to use on the bike to manage effort on the hills. I had to throw that idea out the window early because it was too low for me to make it up the hills. It also felt like we had a headwind during some of the nice downhills. While all of the climbing might make for a more challenging course you couldn’t beat the scenery.
I really enjoyed the course and tried to ride strong and smart. I had hoped to cruise into Banff on the nice downhill but the headwind meant that it wasn’t quite the free spin I had hoped for. I also managed to zone out and get a bit too close to the guy in front of me just as a marshall was riding past so I got a warming to either back off or pass him.
Note to self…don’t zone out!
T2 – 1:45
Not much to say about T2…rack the bike, put the running shoes on and get out of there.
Run – 10 km: 58:50
My legs were feeling slightly trashed after the hills so the run was a bit of a tough go mentally at times! I knew there weren’t a ton of bikes in T2 so I thought there might have been a chance that I may be somewhere near the front for my age group. That meant that I was somewhat running scared and I spent a bit of time scanning bibs and ages on the backs of calves!
I did my best of keep running no matter what my pace was. I also pulled out whatever mental imagery has been working for me including thinking about trains. I heard a train off in the distance and imagined that I was strong and powerful just like that train.
I’ve struggled with how I felt about this run…it wasn’t as fast as at the Chinook Olympic in August (the course Banff was short and my pace was not on target for a sub 1 hour run), but this bike was tougher. I worked hard on the run though and I didn’t give up!
Total Time: 2:43:51
Women 35 – 39: 2 out of 4
Women Overall: 29 out of 54
Overall: 131 out of 183
At the end of the day my race was good enough for second in my age group, so that is something to celebrate too!
At the awards ceremony I got a lovely plaque.
All in all, it was a great day to finish off the 2015 triathlon season. It has been a really great year of pushing myself hard in workouts and trying my very best in races. I’m excited for the possibilities ahead in the 2016 season. As always…many thanks to my number one cheerleader Neil. None of this would be possible without your love and support!