The Day Before
The day before a triathlon, the usual rules are you put compression socks on, lay low, and put your feet up. Well, my day did not go exactly like that. Or anything like that, actually. I had one of those days where you're constantly on the go, watching the clock, moving from one thing to the next. Hardly ideal race prep.
A week ago I tried my new wetsuit for the first time. Didn't fit - too big - and with only one week to my race, it didn't leave much time to solve that problem. I called my friend Sean (who is the sales rep for Blue Seventy), who reassured that the next size down would indeed fit, and that he'd pick one up and switch with me before the race. That meant I had to head into Victoria early to meet him and try the suit out. That wouldn't normally be a big deal, but that evening I had the graduation banquet at work, which meant dressing up for a formal dinner, something that doesn't normally go well with an early swim in a skunky lake.
I met Sean and Tara-Lee, and went for a swim in the new suit. Fit perfectly, like a second skin and it felt great. Problem one solved. Problem two, check in and pick up my race package, with enough time to get home and to the banquet. Registration was to open at 2pm, and we were in the line up and ready... only the race organizers weren't. They opened about 20 minutes late, and Jason and I grabbed our packages, had a quick chat with good friend Steve King, and headed out from the lake.
Got ready for the banquet, and arrived just in time to see the kids pull up in their limos. A formal evening meant standing (and dancing) in heels for four hours, not exactly the feet-up-relaxing I mentioned earlier. Oh well, it was worth it as this year was a great group of students and I wouldn't want to miss seeing them off.
The problem with triathlon is the early start. I cursed my return to the sport when my alarm went off at 4:15 AM. Yeah. I am not a great morning person when I see a time starting with 4, or even 5. Groggy, I packed up my gear, forced down some food, and Jason and I stumbled to the car for the hour drive back down to Elk Lake.
Race morning was calm, cloudy, and cool. Perfect race weather. Jason's race (he was doing the half iron distance - 2k swim, 90k bike, 20k run) started at 6:45, so I watched him finish the swim before I had to get in the water. Mine (sprint distance - 500m swim, 22k bike, 5k run) started at 7:30, and once the gun was off and I was around the second buoy I caught some of the slower swimmers from the half iron event. Yikes for them. I swam well, but I didn't push as hard as I probably could have. I jumped onto some fast feet for a bit, but then someone cut me off and I hesitated. The moment that happened, my fast feet got away and I couldn't catch her again. I saw her come out of the water about 20 seconds ahead of me. Doh! I swam the same pace I'd swim a distance event in, when I probably should have been sprinting. Oh well, I wanted to swim under 9 minutes, and my swim time ended up being 9:02. Close enough. I came into transition and I was the first one to my bike rack and the one next to it. Sweet!
I headed out onto the bike course with the goal to push hard. Last week I rode two loops of the course, so I knew where to go hard and where I could recover, and what gears I should be in. I rode the whole course a gear or two above what I was riding in last week, evidence that I was indeed pushing the pace. I wasn't going so hard that I didn't think I could hold it, but I did beat my goal time of 50 minutes by a whopping 4! I looked down at my legs at one point and thought they looked strong! I traded places with another woman back and forth, she'd pass me on the climbs and I'd pass her on the flats and downhills. We started saying "hi again" to each other as we'd go past, and we decided near the end of the loop that if we could combine our skills, we'd be a really fast rider!
Back into transition, I was the second bike back on my rack (and the one next to it). Double sweet! I dumped my helmet, changed shoes, and I was out of there onto the run course. I ran a steady pace, but I didn't push as hard as I hoped to originally. I have to admit I was a bit scared to really go for it; I didn't want to go so hard that I thought I'd blow and have to slow down. I know I can probably go harder than I think, but for whatever reason I just mentally couldn't do it. However, my goals are distance racing, so being able to sprint for 5k is not really a priority. I exchanged short phrases with the odd familiar face: "looking good", "way to go", that sort of thing. Didn't stop at any aid station (duh, it's only 5k) and I was still buzzing from the half-bottle of Vega Sport I took on the bike. I enjoyed the run, loved the feeling of working hard, and really loved that the whole way back on the out-and-back course there were still people headed out to the turn-around. What I didn't enjoy was my decision to skip putting socks on, and by about 4k I could feel the blisters starting. When I finally took my shoes off after the finish, my feet were bloody and I had some nice big blisters. Oops! Luckily I have lots of flip-flops, and I'll be sporting them for a bit while my feet heal.
Once my race was done, I watched Jason come in on the bike, changed into dry clothes, chatted with long-lost friends (and not-so-long-lost friends), hung out with Norm, Wendy, and Tycho, and watched Jason sprint in to the finish. He finished 5th overall (and beat several pros), and 2nd in his age group. He is not slowing down; in fact the 40-year old guys were faster than the 20- and 30-year olds!
All in all, it was a successful return to triathlon. I called Kiki as soon as we got home to give her a full report. I know she's going to celebrate my race with a REALLY tough training schedule for the next few weeks - she's like that. Bring on Vineman - four weeks to go!