Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Getting back to it

If you've been a recent subscriber to my blog, you've probably noticed a glaring absence in the last year and a half from this triathlete's blog.

Namely, triathlon.

Well, this past Sunday up in the BC Interior I ended my recent drought in triathlon racing. And what a drought it was. From training all winter and spring in wet and cold conditions (often having to drain a litre or more from my Ordu after a ride), the forecast for the Oliver Half Iron called for 30 degrees celcius. Yikes!

I went to have fun
It was fairly easy to chose the Oliver Half as my first race of the season. I enjoy the longer events (more real estate to run people down), and I love the sense of community and grass-routes event planning at all of the Outback Events races. I mean, at how many races is the race director (here, Joe Dixon) there to shake your hand and give you your finisher's medal? First class event!

I went to be tested

I've been cycling and running strong so far this year, so Oliver was a great venue to test that fitness. I also suspected that it would serve as a wake-up call for deficiencies in my training thus far this season; indeed it did.

Unlike many races, where I take the weekend to rest and prepare, this one was a bit of a whirlwind. I drove up to Oliver Saturday morning, did a quick bike of Black Sage Road, followed by registration and a dip in the lake.

Saturday evening was spent watching the Canucks game with the team from Podium Imports. This was the best of all the hamburgers I had all weekend!

Race Morning

If you know me, I tend to be early for things, and getting to transition early is no exception. This gave me times to calmly setup my transition, scout out the bike and run exits, and "explain" to the TriBC officials why my race number is not attached illegally to my bicycle. It also leaves time for some meet and greets with fellow racers.

The Swim

Okay, I'll admit that I wish I was a super fast swimmer. But I'm not, so there won't be any discussion here of 'staying with the pack,' 'bridging the gap,' or 'exiting in x place out of the water.' Sorry to disappoint.

I got through the swim without too much frustration, and with all my limbs attached. I call it a success.

Now my race could begin, because from here on out I gots some skillz. Passed I don't know how many people on the 800m run from the swim exit to transition. Yes, I can run (even barefoot) much much faster than I can swim.

Apparently one adoring fan caught the swim cap that I threw her way after hearing her cheer. You keep that "27" swim cap, it might be worth something one day!

(New Transition Tip #1 - when running a long way with your wetsuit, tie your goggles to your zipper pull so you don't have to worry about it).

Helmet, socks, then running out to the mount line. I had done the elastic-leave-the-shoes-clipped-in technique (call it 85% success rate) and left my sunglasses in my Bento Box for easy access

(New Transition Tip #2 - if your sunglasses are hard to get over your helmet straps or hair, spray the earsocks with TriSwim's TriSlide and they'll slide right on)

The Bike

It's tougher than you'd think to ride a 90km bike course with absolutely no wind. Normally the Oliver course is known for a headwind while coming back on the highway, with a tailwind while on Black Sage road. It's kind of easy: battle into the wind, recover when it's behind you and go fast. But not this day. It was all work.

Great job executing my nutrition/hydration plan, managing to divide the course into quarters mentally, making sure that I ate and drank every 20 minutes or so. And if you were wondering whether Honey Stinger's new Waffles were good for racing, they are.

Total time of 2:30 something, averaging 200 watts.

Successful transitions begin before you dismount the bike, so I had mentally planned to unmount my Garmin 310xt (attaching it to my wrist) and remove my sunglasses before the dismount line. Well, I executed a flying dismount with Oakley Jawbones between my teeth, so what?

55 second T2, good for third on the day. Also included passing a gentleman who kept saying "I can't find my bike rack"

(Transition Tip #3 - bright colored towel people! But don't do Orange, unless you want an Orbea Ordu racked in your spot)

The Run

It's all about the look, right? Orange Jawbones, Orange NB racing flats, whether you've run a half marathon in them or not?

I can summarize my run in two words: awesome pain.

Awesome, because I did not get passed by a single athlete. Those who were faster than me were much faster swimmers, so had several minutes on me. After the first lap of the course, I just ran out of people to chase. Luckily, I did get to cheer on JonnyO as he raced to victory, and got a lot of smiles and cheers from runners on their first lap.

Pain, because my feet developed terrible blisters. And not the type that I usually get, but big burns on the bottom of both feet. Seriously, I was expecting to kick off my shoes after the race and see blood everywhere. But, that didn't happen, and I finished in 4 hours and 44 minutes (only 2 minutes off my PB, and that was when the course didn't have an almost-kilometer-long-run to the transition).

Good for 17th overall, 3rd in my Age Group, and a pretty new wine glass!

The Percentages

In the spirit of my good friend Jeremy Hopwood, here's the breakdown of my race splits compared to the winner (presented in reverse order for dramatic effect).

JonnyO - 1:26
Me - 1:31 95% as fast (that's pretty good!)

JonnyO - 2:22
Me - 2:29 also 95% as fast (I'll take that)

JonnyO - 3:14
Me - 3:21 (let's just call that a draw)

JonnyO - 1:04
Me - 0:54 (things are looking up in the world)

JonnyO - 26:26
Me - 38:39 68% as fast (and why I will never, never be pro)

If you're not bored by now, here are the Garmin files of the Bike and the Run

Next up, Scotiabank Half Marathon!

Keep your head up and your handlebars straight!

~ liquid

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