After last Saturday’s big adventure, it was an even earlier morning on Sunday since we hit the road for Woodstock at 5:30AM. What a treat that it’s actually daylight by that time now!
The drive went well with hubs and Miles in tow, and we arrived at the site by 7:30 as planned. The Pittock Conservation Area was hustling and bustling with pre-race activities, but my first order of the day was hitting the port-o-potty!
I picked up my race kit, found Kelly and we headed into transition together to rack our bikes and get set-up. It was a cold morning, only about 5C (41F) air temp – definitely the coldest triathlon weather I had experienced to date! Once we were all set up, we took some time to walk through the transition area from swim exit to bike exit to run exit. It seemed easy enough with a nice short grassy run from the water, but a steep grassy hill from transition to the bike mount line.
Neither of us had worn our wetsuits yet this year (except my test run in the shower...) so we gave ourselves plenty of time to shimmy into them and get into the water. Water temp was 16C/62F, which made for a wetsuit mandatory swim when the air temp was also taken into account. I was a bit about freezing in the swim and more so when we got out and had to get on our bikes soaking wet on this cold day. After wading in and swimming around a bit, I felt a little bit better. Before long, the waves were starting (we were in wave 3) and we positioned ourselves between the start buoys. We stayed back a bit and off to the side to let the speedy swimmers get out of our way first. I hadn’t even been in the pool for 3.5 weeks before race day (whoops) and hadn’t been in open water at all this year, so I definitely wasn’t looking to break any records.
We were in the third wave along with all W <35 and M45-49 for a total of about 60 athletes. It wasn’t too crowded after the first 100m or so, but I always had people around me. I could certainly feel it, but wasn’t thinking too much about the cold anymore as I struggled to sight toward the first big green turn buoy. I couldn’t seem to find it so I just tried to aim myself toward the crowd until getting closer. I ended up swimming way inside accidentally and had to redirect before approaching the turn. I am so out of practice! On the next straight stretch, the middle of the course, I caught a big mouthful of water which led to a bit of a coughing/choking spell. It passed quickly but as I tried to get going again, I suddenly felt panicked as though I couldn’t go on. I started feeling dizzy and a bit disoriented, which has never happened before. I took off my goggles (not sure why except I felt suffocated and I wasn’t going to take off the wetsuit or swim cap!) and treaded water for a few seconds until I thought I could go on. I had a heck of a time swimming at first – I couldn’t put my face in the water without freaking out so I resorted to a mixture of breast stroke, back stroke and head-up front crawl. It was not pretty. Somehow I managed to get it together before the final turn and felt okay on the home stretch. I have never had anything like that happen before and it was not fun. I expected my swim split to be much slower – in reality, the whole fiasco probably took 30 seconds and not the 10 minutes that it felt like at the time.
750m – 15:47 (includes run up) – 8/14 AG
I was as quick as possible in T1 and didn’t bother drying off, but I did put a jacket on since I knew there was going to be a cold wind on the bike.
T1 – 1:33
The bike course (after starting out on narrow park paths) was essentially a U-shaped out-and-back on country roads with rolling hills. We headed directly out into a killer head wind and I knew it was going to be a tough ride. I had absolutely no power in my legs and slugged along, feeling like I was crawling up the hills. I knew I should expect that after the big ride on Saturday, but it was still a bit demoralizing. I usually fly past people on the bike and that certainly wasn’t happening on this day. I decided to just settle in and push hard without killing myself.
We still seemed to be battling strong wind after the first turn, but finally had some relief after the second. The turn-around point was a very tight 180 marked by a pylon, and thankfully nobody was too close behind me because I took my sweet time. It was fun to watch people heading in the opposite direction on my way back in, and it was great to see Kelly shortly after I made the turn-around.
Finally I rolled back into the park and slowed down to dismount, then put on a show for everyone as I struggled to get my jacket off while running my bike into transition, which ended up getting caught on my Garmin and hanging off of one arm.
20K – 46:55 – 8/14 AG
I racked my bike, ditched my jacket and picked up my headband (which ended up snapping as I tried to put it on) and took off, only to hear a crash behind me and look back to discover my bike on the ground. I turned around to re-rack, then off I went.
T2 – 0:54
The first thing I noticed as I headed out to run was that my feet were completely numb from the cold. Somehow it hadn’t bothered me too much on the bike. It was another out-and-back for the run, mostly on a dirt trail covered in rocks. There were some definitely ups and downs, and then a flat stretch on the road to the turn-around. I snagged a high-give from Kelly shortly after making the turn, and then pretended she was chasing me down in order to find some extra pep in my legs. 🙂 I felt surprisingly strong on the run; I expected it to be a suck-fest since my legs hadn’t shown up for the ride at all, but I was able to run right around my “best case scenario” pace and got faster with each split, without feeling like I was struggling. I don’t think I have ever had such a good run as part of a tri. Kilometre splits: 5:19, 5:01, 5:00, 4:57, 4:48, (extra 0.2 at 0:54).
Official Time: 1:31:06
All in all, it was a great day and my only complaint was the cold weather and water. This was one of my favourite triathlon events to-date (based on venue, course, logistics, etc.) and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.