Race Report: Subaru Vancouver International Triathlon

Pre-Race

I take a lot more time than I need to in setting up my transition area.  And I seem to underestimate how long it takes to get my wetsuit on, and get a short warm-up swim in.

Swim

I put myself right in the middle of the pack at the swim start.  Just a sprint, so I figured it’d be a good place to learn how to be in a solid mass of swimmers.  It wasn’t nearly as nerve-racking as I expected.  What was nerve racking, however, was that in all the excitement after my warm-up swim, I forgot to bring my goggles back down off my forehead.  Considering this was only my second open-water race (and the first time racing in the ocean), let’s chalk that up to a “beginner” thing.  Moving on…

During the first third of the swim, I had a few spots where I felt a bit panicked.  Partially from having to goggle-up mid-stroke.  Actually, that misstep probably set me back a lot, as there was water in my goggles, and that shot my stress level right up.  So I took a few short breaks to tread water.

I did remember to push “start” on my watch, though.

Transition 1

I had a gel in my back pocket, which I ate heading into T1.  My initial plan was to take some plain water (in a bottle that I had sitting in T1) before heading out onto the bike course, as I was only carrying liquid nutrition on the bike, given the duration and temperature.  I forgot to take that sip of plain water.  Not sure if that worked against me in the long run.

Bike

The bike went about as well as I wanted it to.  I was in my smallest gear (34:25) only for a few short climbs, and spent a lot of time much further down the cassette.  I kind of wished I had an 11-tooth cog on the back for this course, as there are some really nice long downhill sections where I was maxed out in the big ring at 50:12.  I’m kind of thinking I might like to try out an 11-23 cassette.  I won’t deny drafting: I definitely did as much as I could: but only 20 seconds at a time!  Passed a bunch of people on the bike, and a bunch of people passed me.

Transition 2

Reasonably quick transition off the bike.  I ran a few steps past my place on the rack, got in a gel for the run, and a quick sip of that plain water I had left there.  Forgot to pull the elastics on my racing flats, and I ended up running the entire 5k with slightly loose shoes.  They kind of worked well enough without being super-tight.  It was unplanned, but I kind of like the fact that I don’t have to worry about lacing up.

Run

My eternal 28-minute 5k.  It’s about par for the course, for me.  I really should work on improving my run off the bike.  More bricks and speedwork is on my radar.

Finish

Final clock was 1:26:43, which is a sprint PR for me.  Yay!

All in, I was happy with how things went today, and I have a few things to learn from for next time.  Namely:

  • 30 minutes lead time before wave start to get wetsuit on, and get in the warm-up swim, to reduce the stress and likelihood of forgetting something like goggles.
  • If the race plan calls for a sip of plain water in T1, that bottle needs to go inside my upside-down helmet, or somewhere I won’t miss it.
  • Transition towel needs to be sticking out a little further, and also not orange.  The inside of a lot of wetsuits are orange, and that made it blend in.  Also, I was shocked to find an Orbea parked in my spot when I got back from the bike course.

Personal Record by Default: First Half-Marathon

Distance 21.1km
Gun Time 2:04:55.1
Chip Time 2:04:16.6
Place Overall 829/2197
Place in Sex 492/829
Place in Age Group 82/115

Niagara Falls International Half Marathon

It wasn’t the 1:55:00 I was hoping for, but it was longer than I’d ever (continuously) run ever before. Three of my ten toes hurt, my knees are sore, my tibialis anterior hurts, I’m having trouble with stairs. Pretty much everything hurts.

The day started early. Got up at 6:30am to get my race gear on and get down to the buses for the start line. At this point, everything was wonderful. It was a bit chilly, but I was dressed warmly enough. I enjoyed some conversation with a few fellow runners, and hopped on a bus. A 20-minute bus ride. 20 minutes, traveling in a bus, to the place where we start the race. About halfway along the ride, I realized: I have to run back to where we just got on the bus. When I got off the bus, I couldn’t even see the towers in Niagara Falls, except for a very faint outline of one building, and a tiny bit of barely-discernable mist over the falls; on the distant horizon. Yikes.

I kind of see this race in four parts: The first 9k, the next 9k and the next 3k, and the final 100m.

The first 9km were pretty much awesome.  Everything was smooth; heart rate was good. Solid.  I focussed on keeping a steady pace, without worrying too much about people passing me. I was running kilometres in 5:30 or so, and it felt good.

Next 9k, my legs felt like lead.  I relaxed into an endurable pace, told myself I’d just relax for a little while. My legs kept yelling at me, I’d yell back, but they just wouldn’t listen. So I ended up hovering around 6:00/km for the rest of the race.

The 3k leading up to the finish chute was probably the worst. Mentally, anyway. I could see Skylon Tower, and the towers near the finish line, and I knew it was almost over. At the same time, it was amazing. Emotionally: some new ones, at least for running. If I could have cried through this 3k, they would have been tears of joy.

100m to go. “FINISH” in GIGANTIC letters over the roadway. And then I see… 2:04:50… 2:04:51… I actually said, “Clock? YOU ARE NOT GETTING TO 2:05 BEFORE I GET THERE”.  So I pulled together what little I had left and just gave it everything.

And now I am sore, and it is past my bedtime. And the last 19 weeks of training have been put to good use. Now, onto the next race. It’ll probably be a 5k or something really short.

Triathlete, Tinkerer