The Art of Racing in the Rain

Not the book... although it's a great book and I highly recommend it!  But yesterday's race was held in typical "wet coast" conditions... grey, overcast, and somewhat rainy.  Jason and I took part in the Subaru Shawnigan Lake Triathlon - there's something for everyone with distances including a super sprint, sprint, Olympic, and half iron.  As we are racing Boise 70.3 in two weeks we needed a practice race, so Jason toed the Olympic start line and I did the sprint.

The weather wasn't great but wasn't terrible, and for the most part the rain held off (but not for those racing the half).  Neither of us had actually done this race before, despite it being only 20 minutes away from our house and part of some pretty standard training routes.  It's an absolutely beautiful course, but I think sometimes you take that for granted when you live here and are accustomed to the scenery.  My only complaint (besides general race logistics stuff on behalf of the organizer - they could be a bit more athlete-focused) is the pavement around the lake... I ride around there regularly and the pavement really sucks.  I know where the bumpy and bad spots are so was always prepared or knew how/where to avoid them, but I definitely felt for people from out of town.

Jason started almost an hour ahead, so we figured we'd finish close to the same time.  The lake was cold but absolutely flat calm, and my wave was pretty small so I ended up swimming the whole way on my own.  Not that swimming 500m without anyone to draft off is a big deal.  I ended up coming out of the water and crossing the timing mat in 8:04, which is most likely a PR swim for me for that distance.  I'm not totally sure, but it's got to be close.  That was the fastest swim in my age group by a minute - which is a lot over 500m!  The run up to the transition was pretty slippery as it had rained off-and-on before the start, and I saw people in earlier waves sliding all over the place.   I was through T1 somewhat quickly and onto the bike.

The bike course for the sprint was one 22 km lap around Shawnigan Lake (the Olympic was 2 laps, and the Half was 4).  Some of the faster Olympic guys were coming through after their first lap so it seemed like I just missed Jason.  I had a couple of thoughts for the bike course: one was to try to ride with the same effort I hope to ride Boise, and the other was to go as fast as I can.  I chose option two.  Because I ride around the lake a lot, I know the course pretty well, and I know how hard it is.  There is a lot of short, punchy climbs, a couple of longish ones, lots of twists and turns, and basically nowhere to relax and cruise.  I can't imagine doing the half and going four times around, and the energy those hills would sap from you over and over again.  I really hoped to ride around the 50-minute mark given the hills and bad pavement, so I just kept on the gas the whole time.  The roads were wet from the on-again off-again rain, so cornering and flying down some of the hills took focus.  Despite the almost 3.5 hour training day on Saturday, I never felt tired so I never let off.  I ended up with a 43 minute bike split, something I would have said was next to impossible for me on that course - and the second-best bike time in my age group.

I had an OK T2 except for my sock choice - I was wearing Compressport Pro Racing socks and they are really tight and I had trouble pulling them on quickly.  They're great socks, but I think I'll stick with the Sugoi ones I usually wear next time unless I can figure out how to get these on faster.  The run was through a nice wooded singletrack trail up onto a section of the Trans Canada Trail (one of my common winter riding routes), and basically out-and-back to a turnaround down the trail.  It's a wide gravel path, and there were a lot of athletes given the different races all happening at the same time, so lots of people to watch for.  I ran comfortably and again didn't feel tired, so tried to pick it up to tempo pace for the last kilometer.  Just before I got to the turnaround, I saw Jason coming back in second place overall in the Olympic race.  The half iron course goes out to the Kinsol Trestle, a restored rail trestle that is one of the highest in the world (apparently) and the largest wooden trestle in any of the "Commonwealth" countries.

The Kinsol Trestle - taken from one of my
winter rides out on the Trans Canada Trail.

I finished the race with an ok run - not my best and not my worst - and vow to someday break the 30 minute barrier in 5km.  The only real positive to my run is that my knee - which has been given me lots of grief lately - didn't bug me at all.  I finished 4th my age group, just 35 seconds off the podium.  I'm pretty pleased with that, as I went in to this race just as practice for the main event in two weeks.  Hopefully it's a good sign that Boise will go smoothly, and I will have a strong swim and bike (and survive the run).  Jason won his age group easily (by 8 minutes) and took second overall in the Olympic race, so I'd say he's set up for a good Boise as well.

We hung around for the award ceremony and had to endure the rain that had kicked in full force.  Not really sure why we stuck around, as Jason's medal was just a generic one for the series, without any details on which race, place, category... not really worth getting soaking wet for.  Nice race, beautiful venue, but a little on the cheaped-out side when it comes to the little details.

Time for another week of training, then a taper week, and we're off to Boise!


  1. Wow! That's quite a practice race! Congrats. A good confidence-building workout before a big race is always a welcome thing.

  2. Congratulations on an awesome race, especially on tired legs! And congratulations to Jason, too!
    Great news about the knee- that must give you confidence for Boise.
    It sounds like a beautiful race; we actually looked into doing it but instead are doing Oliver half this weekend.

    1. Abby, if you ever decide to do Shawnigan you're more than welcome to stay with us!