Thursday, September 15, 2011

Welcome to Triathlon - Iron Mountain Triathlon Race Report

The time has finally come where I simply cannot put off writing my first blog post any longer! As Matt pointed out (almost 3 weeks ago, eek!), I owe a race report for Kelowna Apple Triathlon - but I thought I would start with a bit of background information first...

Matt and I have been thinking about trying triathlon for a while now. We toyed with joining a club (like Leading Edge Triathlon) but every January (when you usually start with the clubs so you can learn and get fit for tri season), we would decide that we didn’t really have time to commit to all the practises. They usually have long rides and runs on the weekends and our mantra has always been to spend the weekends hiking in the mountains... or sometimes on long rides in the mountains.

Ride to Ashlu Mountain
In May this year, I decided I needed some fitness goals to get me motivated. Last year I didn’t enter anything and spent the whole summer dragging my butt through various activities wishing I was doing anything else. I didn’t want to do that again. I decided to give triathlon a try because I was kind of sick of just running and found the cycling scene a bit intimidating.

We chose Iron Mountain Triathlon for our first event, because they offered a sprint distance (750m swim / 20km bike / 5km run) and it was a lake swim, which is easier for a rookie than an ocean swim. Think calm, placid morning waters rather than waves breaking in your face. It gave us eight weeks to train, which seemed like enough time for a 1.5 hour event, given we were both starting at least somewhat fit.

For the second race we went with the Kelowna Apple Triathlon, Olympic distance this time (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run). It was eight weeks after Iron Mountain and seemed like a good stepping stone. I got to work and mapped out a training plan for 16 weeks, joined a swim club and got to work. I should mention that neither Matt or I had done any sort of formal swim training (other than blue, white, bronze etc whatever when we were kids), ever! 

Iron Mountain Race Report:

The morning of Iron Mountain dawned wet and cold. Make that raining and really really cold, like eight degrees. Our race didn’t start until 10:45 so we got to take our time getting out to Maple Ridge. As we were driving in, the Olympic distance athletes were out on course. One girl was only in a tri bathing suit! I snuggled down into my fleece in the warm car and thought about turning on my seat warmer. Since this was our first race, we arrived at transition fairly early and got our bikes racked and our transitions set up. Everything worked out pretty well and I felt good.

We decided to get into our wetsuits (borrowed from Susan on my part (thanks again!) and rented from Speed Theory on Matt’s part). I was super thankful to have a wetsuit - the lake looked so unappealing. Of course, about five minutes after I got my wetsuit on, I decided I had to go to the washroom - mistake - next time I will remember to go first rather than have to put it on twice. We then headed down to the water to wait for the start and talk quietly amongst ourselves about how cold the girl without the wetsuit looked.

We got called to the start and chose a position pretty close to the outside edge so we wouldn’t get annihilated by 75 swimmers all aimed at one buoy. In about two seconds I realized my second mistake was not warming up in the water, or if you want to look back further, not practising open water swimming... at all... It took me a minute or two to just put my head under water - I couldn’t catch my breath or find a rhythm. Also, in my quest to avoid the masses of people to my left, I swam too far out before the first buoy, right into the weeds. By the time I got to the first buoy I was starting to feel better and find a rhythm. I rounded the second buoy feeling great and bee-lined it for shore. I checked my watch as I crossed the timing mat and was quite excited - 15:42 - right on my time goal!

I came into T1 (transition 1) pretty much just happy to be out of the water. My wetsuit came off easily and I got into my shoes and socks. I would rather ride without socks to save time but my seven years ancient bike shoes are a little too big and a little too uncomfortable to go without. I also decided to wear my Speed Theory windproof vest for the ride. Definitely made the right choice as I still didn’t warm up until the 3rd lap on the bike course.

I got through T1 in 1:18 (8th place!) but lost some time getting on my bike and up through the gravel pathway to the road. No way I was going to try a flying mount in the rain, on gravel, my first time out! The bike course was three laps around Whonnock Lake.

It was a lot hillier than we had expected but I felt good and just concentrated on a steady effort while hoping I was keeping a little for the run. I finished the bike in 1:15:14, which was again right on my time goal! Consider I really just pulled numbers out of the air of what I thought I might, if everything went perfectly, be able to achieve, I was feeling fantastic! 

I rolled up to the dismount line and again lost a little time by getting off my bike normal style. I’ll need to work on these little details in the future but for now I just didn’t want to fall or do something else embarrassing. I had another really good transition and got going on the run. I couldn’t get my watch clipped into the quick release and ended up messing up the multi-sport function for my data. I finally got organized and focused on the course - two laps making up 4.6km.  

The first section was rolling with a block of slight down hill and two blocks (country blocks) of fairly flat. I don’t know why, but I was feeling so super fantastic!!! Everyone always said, oh your legs feel really dead the first bit of the run etc, but I can honestly say I just felt great. I started passing some people - even one tall, lanky, chiseled calves guy in a tri suit. I seriously just breezed right by him on an up hill. I must have eaten Wheeties for breakfast or something.

I started feeling pretty tired in the second lap and was just trying to work on keeping my pace even. One of the race volunteers (on a bike) was riding along near my on the down hill section when she mentioned I might be the first or second place woman. Forget feeling tired! Now the pressure was on. She stayed with me the final 1.5km which really helped me keep the pace up and I came across the line with 20:51. Just to put that in perspective, that was a full four minutes faster than I had been hoping to run and also at a pace about four minutes faster than I had EVER run a 5k! Seriously, Wheeties!

I ended up crossing the line in 1:23:44. My possible, but highly unlikly, but I’m still going to hope for it goal was 1:25. I was super happy with my result to say the least. I was also super taken with the sport of triathlon - time to buy my own wetsuit! To top it all off, I was first in my age group and second female overall and won a 50$ gift certificate for Peninsula Runners!

Results (placing overall) - Click here to see the results page online:

Swim: 15:42 - 2:06/100m (11th)
T1: 1:18 (8th)
Bike: 45:14 - 30.5 km/hr (16th)
T2: 0:41 (11th)
Run: 20:51 - 4:32/km (15th)
Total: 1:23:44 (7th overall, 2nd female, 1st F25-29)

Next up: prep for Kelowna Apple Tri and goals for the future :)

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