Race Reports, Triathlon

Memories of my First Ever Triathlon – Kelowna Apple Triathlon 2012

I’m not sure what originally made me think that triathlon would be a good thing to do. I had recently attempted to return to running and was having the usual recurring injuries and problems, so I was looking for something different.

Triathlon: Swim – Bike – Run. I can do those three things, maybe I can do a triathlon.

I didn’t jump right in. That first year I just volunteered.

A few hours of standing and cheering, watching people achieving their own goals, convinced me that I ought to be able to do this too. The seed was sown.

The following year I signed up for a training clinic advertised on the Kelowna Apple Triathlon website. As I walked into the first session I was absolutely terrified, it really took all of my willpower not to turn and run crying in the other direction! Everyone seemed to be so fit and confident…and then there was me.

I am so glad I stuck it out though, despite being possibly one of the least talented athletes Chris has ever worked with, and certainly the slowest in this group by far, I made some friends that I still train with today.

Over those eight weeks I swam in the lake for the first time, and the Knox mountain hill, after a few abortive attempts, went from absolutely impossible to “I might just make it”. I agonized and discussed all of the details, what to do when, what to wear and how to put the whole thing together. It seemed like I was capable of more than I had given myself credit for.

As the event drew near I took a deep breath and, with the encouragement of my new found friends, instead of signing up for the try-a-tri event as I had timidly indicated on day one, I registered for the Sprint distance. There was no backing out now!

The day before the race we met as a group to check out the course, and went for a swim in the lake, my previous swims had all been at the nice sandy Gyro swim loop where the bottom was mostly visible at all times, Tugboat Bay is not like that, it’s deep and full of weeds and once again I was terrified – what had I done? Could I back out?

Luckily those friends talked me down, and I’m so glad that they did.

Race day arrived and I woke up early and headed to the event with plenty of time. I had my race number written on my arm and legs and headed into transition. I looked around at the rows of beautiful and expensive bikes, then looked at my trusty mountain bike, I felt so out of place. But I needn’t have done, everyone was very friendly. I set up my tiny transition area, checked it again and again, and headed down to the start.

Lining up at the start I felt surprisingly relaxed, having already made a decision to just have fun and not worry about how fast or slow I was going. Suddenly we were off.

I ran into the lake and started swimming, focusing on my stroke and maintaining a consistent pace. Eventually, the beach loomed and I jogged out of the water and into transition. Part one done! I pulled on my shoes, grabbed my bike and headed out of the transition area. A couple of weeks ago I had attempted to ride the bike course (just to make sure) and had found the first hill to be very hard, almost impossible, but today I rode up it slowly but steadily. I can’t tell you how glad I was to get to the top!

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Two laps later, and I was on the run…I was running! I didn’t manage to run the entire 5km, but it didn’t matter, when I saw the finish line coming into view, the feeling of accomplishment was amazing.

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I’m a triathlete?

Apple 2012 cert

Since that day in 2012, I’ve completed 12 more triathlons and even signed up for Ironman!

Turns out I love triathlon and I’m improving all the time.

(and for the record, that hill on Knox mountain that was once impossible, is now just another little hill…meh!)

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Race Reports

An Abbreviated Triathlon Season

Having missed the majority of the 2014 triathlon season due to injury, as soon as I was cleared to return to try running again I was thinking about how many tri’s were remaining.

I managed to take part in three races during the final month of the season. I stuck with Sprint distance (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run), partly because my training had obviously not been as effective as I would have liked and partly because I was still very much in the recovery phase and wasn’t sure of being able to run. I reasoned that a 5km walk was something I could definitely achieve if I had to.

 

Apple Triathlon

This was the site of my very first triathlon in 2012, so it will always be a bit special. I really love racing so close to home and this race is large and well supported.

The swim went off without a hitch, all of the practice of the summer paying off. I came out of the water feeling great.

I had made the slight miscalculation of having my bike fit changed (radically as it turned out) in the week before the race. For the record, I don’t recommend doing this, but I thought I would get away with it, especially since this race had gone from being my season goal ‘A race’ to more of a fun participation/test event.

Now I found myself riding an unfamiliar machine, and recruiting muscles that, judging by their protestations, had never been used to cycle before

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Never mind, I was still having fun!

Perhaps predictably, my ankle hadn’t healed enough to run, so I was forced to walk for most of the run portion. Although disappointing, it was somewhat expected, so I had planned for it when considering my goals for the race.

I just remember thinking “Wow, a 5k walk is so much longer than a 5k run”

In the end I completed in 1:42:39, around a minute slower than last year, despite a five minute increase in my run split. I took 90 seconds off the swim and a full two minutes off on the bike – quite encouraging considering the limitations of my training this season. Looking back it was really too early injury wise, however I am still really glad I joined my friends and had fun that weekend.

 

Summerland Sprint

Two weeks after the Apple, I entered Summerland sprint, a much smaller race with a Kids of Steel event on the same day.

This was both my worst tri ever and my fastest.

The swim didn’t go perfectly, and I got a bit off course in the current, a bit slow but not too bad. The run into T1 was very short, leaving me feeling very dizzy as I switched to the bike. Slow down, deep breath….and go again.

The bike course is mostly flat and generally considered fast. But it felt like I really overdid things here, it felt awful, and I considered quitting, more than once.

Well. I may at times be untalented, unfit or unmotivated, but one thing I usually am is STUBBORN, and I was not going to record a DNF without a damned good reason (death in the family, preferably my own?). So on I went.

I started the run feeling sick and exhausted.

Luckily I had a plan. My gradual return to running was up to 3 minutes walking/3 minutes running and this was what I intended to do for this run.

“Just keep to the plan.

This gave me something to focus on. People I knew – and a few I didn’t – shouted encouragement as they passed on the return leg of the run loop.

“I’m keeping to the plan….”

And then, as if by magic, on my third run interval, I just kept running.

“Keep to the plan” my brain screamed

“This is really cool, let’s see how far I can go” a totally academic discussion was going on in my head on the merits of running, walking and defining pain or discomfort (well that gave me something to focus on!), whilst my lungs questioned whether I had ever run a step before in my life.

As I ran through the finish line I couldn’t stop smiling.

“I just ran 4k – just don’t tell my doctor”

I ended up with a best ever time of 1:34:18.

Maybe that bike wasn’t so bad after all…

Cultus Lake

The last race of the season was at Cultus Lake, an interesting little race with rather loose organization. I’m going to be polite and not get into a discussion of how the organisers dropped pretty much every ball they had at this one…

Cultus Lake is out of town for me, so I was staying with some family friends, always nicer than a hotel. Also, it came with my own personal cheer squad, though for some reason, they were reluctant to accompany me to setup at 530am and opted to come in time for the 8am start….

After a cold, delayed start, the swim seemed to be going well – it just seemed to be lasting forever – I couldn’t understand it, it felt like I was swimming well. Eventually I saw the final turn and headed for the swim exit and ran across the rocky ground to T1. I felt good as I headed out on the bike. The course had been described to me as pretty flat. I guess everything is relative, but flat wasn’t the word that leapt to my mind. I had not had a chance to fully scope out this course before the event and I regretted it now. I had no idea what to expect and therefore couldn’t plan a strategy for it, that was a silly mistake, I should have known better.

I did know better.

However, by the time I was climbing back up to the lake, I was feeling good. Coming into T2 I got held up by slower riders (YES Slower than me! Painfully slow and in a no passing zone)

Cultus 3 (1)

A whole stream of less than polite phrases came to mind which I won’t detail here, lest I lose my PG rating – how could they actually ride this slowly without falling off?

My cheering squad were there shouting my name, which never fails to give me a kick and make me smile. They had no idea how annoyed I was or that my bike leg hadn’t gone as well as I would have liked, they were just excited for what I was achieving in that moment – maybe I could learn something from that.

I was frustrated at the time, but later realised that only a few months ago I had never been held up by anyone, in fact it was probably me doing the holding.

Yes, there’s DEFINETLY something to be learned from that!

At least I was fired up for the run. This time I ran the whole 5km. It went out along the beach (just touch the sign at the end and come back!), I was taking care not to stress my ankle. The sand had the advantage of being a little softer to run on, but also made it harder. The course then took a small detour into a residential area before heading back to the finish, still I held back a little, scared to run hard in case I felt the familiar twinge, but I kept moving and finished pretty strong.

But when I looked at my time, my mood dropped… 1:45:17.

When I saw them at the finish, my friends told me that they thought the swim was long. A quick check of my time and those around me seemed to back this up – 24:08 for 750m! Around seven minutes longer than usual. I don’t recall any crazy currents à la Across the Lake, so I really hope that was mis-measured. One guy said his GPS recorded 990m. If that’s the case, then my time wasn’t so bad.

So all in all, not my best race, not my worst. A learning experience.

So now the season is over, it ended fairly well, just a few things to improve for next year:

  • Continue to improve efficiency on my swim stroke.
  • Cycling is still my weak link – must try harder.
  • Crack that 30 minute goal for a 5km run – Train smart to avoid injury.
  • Practice more efficient mount/dismount at transition.

So… that’s just about everything then, let’s get to it.

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