Another race, another anniversary, another 4am wake-up call!
We showed up at the race site so early that the port-o-potties weren’t even unlocked yet! Oops! We took advantage and drove the bike course before kit pick-up and transition opened.
It was a brisk morning – about 11C/52F – and we bundled up in our cozies while we waited for the sun to warm things up.
We wandered around a bit killing time – found our way around the race site and familiarized ourself with the ins and outs of transition. I am quite happy to sacrifice an hour of sleep to arrive with plenty of time to
christen every port-o-potty make sure I know where to go and to snag a great spot in transition. I can’t believe the number of people that arrive at the last minute. I would be having a panic attack.
Eventually it was time to pick up the goods, get marked and set-up.
We attended the pre-race meeting with about half an hour to go, and then suited up and headed to the beach. When we got in the water for a warm-up swim, we realized just how shallow the water was. The official start was quite a ways out at the green buoys pictured below, and the water was still only knee-deep at that point.
We plodded out until it was swimmable, and realized that it wasn’t going to be a very smooth start. Other than that, the water was great – cool and clear, although there was some chop by the time the race started. We did a really short warm-up swim and then lined up behind the buoys. I sent hubs off in wave 1 and waited 8 more minutes for my turn.
I watched as the first two waves started and athletes were running/skipping/wading through the water for quite a ways before they could swim. Some started swimming, only to hit a sandbar and get up again. It was probably a good 75 metres before it was swimmable.
I stood there stressing over how far I should “run” before attempting to swim, but ultimately knew I would just have to go with the flow. 😉
They have us 90, 60, 30 and 10 second warnings, and then we were off with the horn! Despite being a more competitive race, I took a chance and placed myself front and centre. This turned out to be a good decision. I didn’t have anybody on top of me and barely got jostled at all throughout the swim. I had been rather nervous about starting in the same wave as the 50-54 men, thinking they would be more rough/aggressive. As it turns out, I wouldn’t have even known I was swimming with them; I seemed to be surrounded mostly by women and it took no time at all to find my space.
I ran/plodded/waded a little ways and as soon as I saw someone dive in to swim, I followed suit. It was very shallow and I had to adjust my stroke for 100 metres or so, but I was able to swim.
I had a hard time settling in until the first turn buoy. We were swimming into a big of a chop on the way out and I kept getting mouthfuls of water when I glanced up to sight. My breathing felt a little out of control and I never found a great rhythm, but I went through the motions and just kept swimming. I hoped I was maintaining a decent pace, even if I didn’t feel very smooth.
It got a little better after the first turn and I was able to settle in more comfortably for a bit. I caught a blue (wave 1) and a purple (wave 2) cap on this stretch. Whoa!
After the second turn buoy, we were heading back into shore – and straight into the rising sun! I couldn’t see a thing. I tried following the pack although I was still nervous that we were going off course. Eventually I slipped my goggles off to get a better idea of where we were going. Sure enough, I had gone way right. I corrected myself and was finally able to make out the buoys as I got closer to shore.
Pretty soon people started standing up around me, but I refused to stop swimming until I had to. I was moving at the same speed (if not faster) as the women splashing through the water around me, but I knew they were burning way more energy. When I had practically beached myself, I finally stood up and ran to shore.
As you can see in the pics below, I had enough time splashing through the water to get my top half out of my wetsuit!
My friends N & K were cheering along the sides of our run up to transition. It was a run across the sand, followed by an asphalt ramp up to the
parking lot transition area. I was pleased to learn that they clocked this “run up” separately [there were timing mats at the water exit].
Run Up: 0:38
The transition area was pretty big with the whole middle area reserved for the Olympic Tri happening later. I made my way to my spot in the far corner and got out of there as fast as possible. Wetsuit off, shoes on, race belt on, shades on, helmet on, grab bike and go!
It was immediately crowded on the bike. We had to cross over a bridge to start, where we were forced to stay in a narrow cycling lane. Some people were passing, but it didn’t look safe so I waited until we hit the open road and sucked back a gel in the meantime.
The course really didn’t end up clearing at all. It was constantly crowded and there was no settling in to a pace. I was aggressive and passed like crazy, hoping I would eventually find a nice opening at the right speed. No such luck. It made the time fly by and probably made me go faster, since I always feel like I have to “prove” myself after passing someone. I leap-frogged with a few and did my best to stay ahead of anyone who looked like they could be in my age group.
I was definitely in the minority here on my hybrid, and I was amazed at how many road and tri bikes I was passing. I think I’m going to miss the double-takes when people realize they are being passed by this:
It was an out-and-back course with the “out” being gradually uphill (one steep climb). I was able to maintain a pretty strong pace and knew I could fly on the way back. I was happy to hit the turn-around and take advantage of that downhill on the way back. It was just the right slope to really gain some speed without making me nervous.
It flattened out again for the last few K and I kept pushing all the way to the dismount line.
32.5 kph (20.2 mph)
It was pretty crazy getting into transition with a few of us dismounting at the same time, but I made it through, racked my bike, dropped my helmet, grabbed my Garmin and water.
K & N were cheering here and I yelled out “This is the easy part!” As it turns out… not so much. I was immediately hit with excruating cramps in my upper abdomen (diaphragm). I wanted to keel over and curl up in a ball, but I forcedmyself to keep running and hoped it would subside.
We ran along the beach boardwalk and then through some park trails before hitting a residential area. It was a pretty quiet route and very gentle – just a few small inclines. Unfortunately, I was pretty much in agony the entire time.
A girl passed me early on with 28 on her leg and I did everything I could to keep up, but it just wasn’t happening. I kept her in my sights and probably ran faster than I would have if I wasn’t chasing her. If I had known we were racing for top spot (!!!), maybe I could have pushed a bit harder? Who knows – I just remember being in pain!
I was ecstatic to hit the beach path again and make my way in to the finish.
|Hamburgers at the finish? Yes please!|