Friday, June 22, 2012

Wasa Lake Olympic Tri Race Report

I drove down to Wasa Provincial Park the day before the race and it was miserable outside!!  For us locals of the Elk Valley, there is a saying, "As soon as you go through the tunnel, the weather improves."

The "tunnel" is the one right before Elko.  And 9 times out of 10, the weather does improve when you pass through the tunnel.

But not that day!  The rain didn't stop and continued all the way.  YUCK.

Before I picked up my race packet, I went for a 30 minute spin followed by a little run.  It was so cold, I wore my big woolen mittens!  You know the kind -- the ones with that ubiquitous knit design?  And my MEC windpants.  LOL.  Those are the pants that don't quite reach to my ankle.  I don't know why they can't invent workout pants that actually REACH to your ankles instead of just above so you look like the biggest dork.  I mean how hard can it be?  lol.

It was cold after my little session and I kept hesitating and waffling about going in the lake for a swim.  I had quite the conversation with myself:

"Coach Sara says to do a swim."

"Yeah, but it is frigging COLD!!"

"Don't make excuses."

"Ok, ok, after I pick up my race packet, I'll try."

The community hall was filled with steamy humid air and crammed with just about every athlete that was registered.  lol -- something about staying out of the rain and people sort of lingering in groups.  Hahaha.  There was a whiteboard saying how cold the water was (I think it was 13 degrees C) and the current air temp was 9 degrees C).  There was talk that the swim might be shortened from 1500m to 750m.

Oh goodie -- that means it was COLD.  I HATE FRIGGING COLD!!  Have you ever done a race in cold water and then tried to put your helmet/bike shoes on after the swim?  It is almost impossible!  You are so cold and chilled to the core that your body simply refuses to respond to your brain.  You can tell it, "Put your hand on the shoe and put it on."  And no matter how hard your neurons fire, your body is like, "Nah.  I'm too cold for this CRAP.  I'm going to sit here instead."  lol.

Time of truth...

I drove back down to the lake and the debate continued in my head.  Should I even do the swim Coach Sara had posted?  Did it even matter, I mean really?  Surely to God she wouldn't want me to freeze up and injure myself (yes I was reaching here) the day before the race would she?  And plus, my wetsuit would get all wet and not dry out by tomorrow and then I would have to put on a cold, wet wetsuit on in the morning.  (You see I had ample excuses.) 

I am sure you guess what happened...

I trudged down through the rain with my wetsuit, shivering as I put it on and piled up my clothes and watched the rain fall on them too.  I have never been so reluctant to go for a swim before, I swear.

Another moment of truth...

I headed into the water and from the very first touch of the ice water on my feet I knew it was just as bad as I feared.  I ducked in and tried swimming and no kidding it was so cold my face was BURNING.  AAAARRRGGHH.  I stood up, thought about trying it again for approximately 1/16 of a second and then got the hell out of there.  Probably lasted about 15 seconds in there.  LMAO!

I seriously considered not racing it was that bad.  What concerned me was getting out of the water and then trying to cycle in the wind and the rain -- it would suck all the warmth from my body and I would just die on the side of the road.  lol.  But seriously, I really did wonder if I should race at all.

Well, I decided to just wait and see -- I was there after all!

Race morning wasn't as cold as it had been the day before, and when I went to "warm up" in the lake for my pre-race swim, my face didn't burn -- it was just frigging cold.  I decided to implement a new pre-race swim strategy too -- the water was so darn cold, that I couldn't (or maybe didn't is the more accurate description, lol) just keep on swimming.  What I did was walk in the water, swim for a bit, then turn around and then walk back onto the beach.  And then repeat.  I found that every time I walked back in, the cold was a bit more bearable and dare I say it....I grew a bit more comfortable with it.

Still cold, but doable.

Onto the race:

Women started 30 minutes after the men.

Swim -- only 750 m -- race organizers decided to cut the swim (THANK GOODNESS):  14:33
It was cold and my right hand started to claw up about half way through.  I don't know is you have ever experienced this but it is BRUTAL.  My hand was like a claw and I couldn't unfurl it -- so I just muscled my way through the swim with my clawed up hand.  lol. I had no feeling in it -- and just threw it forward and brought it back on some kind of swimming motion.  Hahahaha.

Bike -- 1:12:53
This was a first -- I decided to use my winter mitts!  Take a look at this sweet shot!  LMAO!!  Aero helmet and winter mitts -- BOOYAH!!  LMAO!!!!!!!!

 Run -- 46:49!!! YAY!!  This is a PB for me!! :D  :D :D

2nd place in AG group!  Yahoo!! :)

Total:  2:14:13

That's all folks!  :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Oliver 1/2 Iron Race Report - 2012

Thank God for Gord.

Gord my bike guru.  lol -- got in to see him and he fixed all manner of things with my race wheels and my bike.  Yes I had just taken my bike in to Calgary, but they didn't do all those extra things that Gord does for me.  I think I am pampered because I feel if I have forked over $500, my bike should be good to go.

Not so.

Anyways, all was soon good to go and my Momma and I headed to Oliver, BC!  :)

We decided to stay at a Super 8 in Osoyoos -- right across the street from a Buy Low foods.  I like being close to a grocery store so I can load up on rotisserie chicken.  :)  Except the first chicken we bought bled when we cut into it.  This was after I already had a mouthful of chicken.  Shudder.

We took the chicken back to the deli and the woman behind the counter told us it was "because we cut into it wrong."  WTF?!?!?  AVOID THE BUY LOW IN OSOYOOS!!!!

Okay onto the race details!

This was my first time racing the Oliver 1/2 iron and I was looking forward to some nice weather!

Swim 2km:  39:38
 All the swim times were longer than usual:  the top male pro time was 31:59, so that gives you an idea of how much longer!  lol. 

The men had a 7 minute start on the women..I think it was 7 minutes anyways!

The swim start was really weird...I had a warm up and thought I was good to go, but right as soon as we started, my body felt very sluggish.  It was like I couldn't make my body go!  And my chest/breathing felt like it was getting exponentially more difficult.  It was the strangest sensation observing how my body was almost shutting down.  So weird!

Before the race,  Coach Sara had sent me an awesome email -- I recalled her advice of *doing what needs to be done at the present moment.*  I could feel a rising panic inside me, and I knew that one thing I could do was control my breathing.  Concentrate on even breathing.  It took about 800m until I started to feel a bit more normal.  So very weird!  I have never experienced anything like that before!

T1:  3:44
The run to transistion is hilarious!  Up stairs, on roads and pavement, then up and down this carpeted hill and then across a grassy football field.  LMAO!  So awesome!

Bike 93km: 2:46:21
Since I have had my new aerobars installed, my bike position feels f$cked.  That is the best way to describe it.  My aero bar pads are higher than my old ones...and after the race, I thought to fiddle with my seat and raised it by an inch and it felt better.  But c'est la vie, eh? 

And one thing I learned about training/racing in Mexico is you give it all with what you've got!  You can borrow a bike, have something duct-taped on, whatever -- you just make do with what you have and have fun and race.  So, although I felt off, (and I wrote emails to my good friend T as well as Coach Sara about it after the race) I was also just excited to get out and race, push myself and have a blast doing it!!  :D  :D

I had to buy new tri shorts at the expo before the race because all my other ones were too big.  Luckily I found a couple of pairs of Desoto tri shorts and I bought both.  I am a big Desoto fan -- love their shorts, they fit me really well, so I was tickled to have found them at a bit of a discount too!  YAY!

Okay, onto the bike course --

The weather was way cooler than what I thought Oliver should be -- lmao!  Like 15 degreees Celsius maybe?  Maybe it got a little warmer, but I knew from past experience that I would have to eat more on the bike.  When it is cold, you need more calories.  So, I loaded up on what I thought was a great quantity of lifesaver gummies and gels in my bento box.

I went through my gels/gummies at an alarming rate!  Holy crap I was worried that I was going to run out (and I did!)  There were only 2 aid stations (forgive me if there were 3, but my race brain only remembers 2) and I kept thinking that I better get a gel at the next aid station.

Well, as I come up to the aid station, my mind is shouting GEL, but my mouth shouts WATER.  WTF?!?!?!  LMAO!  So there I was with this bottle of water and I am looking at it and thinking, how can I magically turn this into a gel?  LMAO!

The bike portion was hilly and windy and fun.  Not much else to say here other than when I crested a hill a spectator shouted out, "Well, I'm cold too."  Nice -- always the nipple comment.  lol.  (I know this is karma for all my years of relentlessly teasing athletes who have the luck of wearing bib # 69.  Oh yes I am so brutal!!!  lol!)

T2:  1:16
I love passing people in transition.   :)

Run:  1:51:36
My quads were in absolute pain/cramping from the get go.  So was my back.  I hurt so much but I could still run, so I thought to myself, "What the heck!  Just go like stink!"  Hee-hee!  Thanks to Coach Sara and all the training I've been doing, I knew that even with pain, I was going to have a solid run.  I *knew* that I was going to catch and pass people in the second half of the run. 

So, I have this unique way of carrying my gels -- I stick them all in a little ziplock baggie and shove the lot down my bra top.  It looks sort of weird at first when I have a bunch of gels in there.  Hahahaha!  You know when spectators suddenly grow quiet and look at  But seriously, I really like having access to them there instead of faffing around with crap on my waist.

In fact, I even have a couple of Under Armour sports bras that have a sort of cross-over detail at the front and it is the PERFECT place to hold gels.  It's just too bad they aren't constructed for tris -- ie, too much stitching, superfluous stuff = chafing.

There is a bridge on the run course that you have to climb stairs up and then down the other side.  You cross this bridge twice.  Holy sweet mother.  I have never felt such cramping pain in my quads -- lol.  It must be because the legs are doing one sort of repetitive motion (running) and suddenly throw stairs in there and the muscles just say NO WAY!  Hahahaha!

I honestly thought my quads were going to seize up and I would tip over in slow motion like the first time I rode clipless pedals.  No kidding!  When I climbed down the stairs on the other side of the bridge, I swear I was on the cusp of lockdown and tipping point.  Hahahahaha!

My quads were so sore and cramping, but I just kept on trucking and made sure I drank a lot of water at the aid stations and kept fueling myself with gels.  And I had the rest of the first lap to devise a strategy to get up and down the stairs for the 2nd lap....Muahahahaha.

Here's what I came up with:  If I bent my legs at all in a direction other than a running motion, my quads cramped.  So, if I could somehow get up and down the stairs by keeping my legs straight as possible, I should be great, right?  But how to do it?

The stairway is small enough to have handrails on either side that you can grab.  So here is what I did:  I used both handrails to lift myself up each stair.  I hopped off each forefoot and sort of rocked my way up the stairs (and then back down again)  -- it totally worked!  Hahahaha!

The last few kms were painful and I was feeling a little pukey, but I also knew I had the strength to keep going.  It is very heartening to pass people during those last few kms.

The finish line sits at the bottom of this steep little hill.  I resolved I was going to run as fast as I could down that hill and if I locked up and came rolling down, then so be it.  Hahahaha!  My legs felt like they were going so fast that I had no control of how I was running.  I could feel my face jowls bouncing up and down so hard and I was thinking to myself in those few seconds, "Well, here goes nothing!"  Hahahahah!!

Total time:  5:22:33
4th in Age Group
14th Woman Overall

More importantly, I secured an Ironman Canada spot at this race!  I didn't sign up for it last year and then had a change of heart...this is one of the 1/2 iron races that offers IMC spots, and I was happy to earn one.  I heard in years past, this race had plenty of IMC spots and basically you just showed up and you got one.  Not this year!  They didn't have enough spots to meet demand, so I am doubly happy I got one!!  :) :)