Posted by: pursuingsub17 | June 12, 2012

Wasa Lake TriathlonFirst tri race of the season a good learning experience

Well, my “last-minute race entry” for the Wasa Lake Triathlon was more of a success than I figured it was going to be! It was a great learning race too.

First off – Marc and I were fortunate enough to get a wetsuit for our races (he did the olympic distance). With the water at only +13 degrees celsius, regulations dictated that wetsuits were required. I wouldn’t have done it anyway. Past experience with “shock” because of the cold, despite wearing a wetsuit, has taught me that there was no way I was going to attempt racing if I couldn’t get a wetsuit. So hats off to Steve from Aquasphere – and the fact we made it there on time the day before so that he had one suit left each in our size!

Anyway, I was still nervous but I kept thinking that it’s not long – they wouldn’t let us in if it was too dangerous – I used to swim in these temps when I was a kid. Plus Marc paid my $150 entry fee plus $25 for the suit rental. I hate waste…and I’m stubborn. So I got to the water’s edge early, walked in slowly, put my face in slowly and blew bubbles (can’t remember where I read that but it helped). I swam a few strokes and although it was definitely freezing, I felt that I could handle 750 meters – 15-20 minutes in this should be okay. I then did some stretching, arm movements, and jogged in place for a bit to warm up. Never did the “jog and warm up” before an open water swim. Believe me – it worked. I warmed up.

When we started, I think I headed out to fast. Between that and the cold, I got winded fast and then started to panic. I looked for a canoe or kayak with volunteers – they were still way out! I resisted the urge to put up my hand and shout “help!” in the middle of the pack. I just took control of my breathing and did head up breaststroke until I calmed down. The buoy looked too far away but I eventually got there. When I did, one guy shouted “whoo hoo! We made it this far guys!” and everyone swimming in the pack cheered. This made me relax more and I managed to pull away and finish. There was Marc on the path to transition in his wetsuit – cheering for me and next up on the swim. I think he was waiting to see if I could handle it first before he attempted it for his race (they cut the swim portion back on his race by half due to the cold).

Next up T1. There were wetsuit strippers and I probably should have just by-passed as there weren’t that many. They were doing a good job – but they were high in demand. In transition, my hands were freezing. I almost fell over putting on my socks. I could barely do up my helmet. I managed to get my arm warmers on part way – tried my gloves and then threw them down, deciding I’d already wasted enough time. Shoved 3 gels in my jersey, grabbed my bike and away I went.

That was my best bike ever! I probably went a little too fast as I felt it on the run but for the first time, I felt like I was not lagging on the bike. My average speed wound up being 28km/hr – max speed was 38/hr. I was still smart on the bike. I waited 10 minutes, then started taking on calories. I had two gels and half my bottle of CarboPro/Gatorade mix. Oh, and I did manage to get my arm warmers up over my elbows! I was in the aero position for 95% of the way and cycling big circles, utilizing the “wipe feet” technique. Before I knew it, I was back in T2.

In T2, I had trouble with my bike shoes with the cold hands – and my toes were numb. Then I couldn’t find my running cap! Stupid me looked through my bags. Duh. It was in my shoe, good grief – hadn’t put them on yet. So I put it on, somehow managed to get my shoes on and tied and took off on the run, no feeling in my toes.

Here I kept a steady pace. I didn’t take on any gels but I did take some water and Gatorade at the stations. People were passing me but I couldn’t seem to go any faster than I was and I thought “hey – you weren’t even expecting to do a race this weekend and you’ve been training hard for a half iron distance all week.” So how I managed to cross the finish at 1:40:17, I have no idea! I wasn’t expecting to do that well – I just figured it would be “a training day”.

I was pretty surprised and happy with the final results. I made the 50% mark overall (I’ll post my results). I was 18/37 in my age group. My swim was 19 minutes but I was 9th in my age group finishing the swim! My bike was listed at 50 minutes (20/37 in my category) – I actually did it in 41 minutes and my run was 30:50 (23/37) so at this point, you can see where I screwed up – transitions.

It was a great race and a good learning experience. I felt I did well – faced my fear of the cold water and stuck it out, had a good nutrition strategy going, biked maybe a little too hard (could have dropped back even 1 km) but I still did my run in 31 minutes. My big lesson learned was – as always – transition. I wasn’t focused. Yes, I was cold, but I took too long doing stupid things. I’ve had some good transitions – all because I planned everything out well before the race start (where I placed my shoes, etc.). So I need to actually practice that more.

As for the race itself, highly recommended! It was well-organized and had great volunteers. Even the swag was great! I have a nice long sleeve tech jersey in cranberry and grey. Also included were some great coupons, a sample of Kicking Horse coffee and a PowerBar. We even got a barbecue lunch after! Charlie, the race organizer, did a great job and had to make some tough decisions regarding the cold water.

One more thing I have to comment on though – I have had an injured toe for a week leading up to the race. I thought it was broken but doing some research, I think it may be “turf toe”. Unfortunately, running on it that day lead to another injury. I’m pretty sure I have an extreme form of plantar fasciitis but it could be something else. During the run, to put less pressure on the toe, my foot placement was off and I did further damage in another area.

Two things I’ve learned here – my sexy black and hot pink Under Armour running shoes will be retired. They’re new. I wore them for my half marathon. I also wore them on a speed work run the day before we left for Kimberley (and the next day my toe was stiff and sore). I’ll write more on this – maybe tomorrow – but I’ve decided the whole “barefoot running/running in minimal support shoes” is not for me. I may have overextended the toe – and to compensate for the pain I wound up with another injury. Stupid. I have an important race in just a few weeks and I’m at my peak training for the Sylvan Lake half iron. Might have to sacrifice that one and just do the olympic after all. hmm – maybe my body is forcing me to make that decision??

But I digress. This blog is about the Gerrick Sports Wasa Lake Triathlon and learning experiences from races. If you have a chance to do it, go for it! (The lake temps are usually a lot higher btw!).

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