This was my second year participating in this event and my fourth time completing this distance.
I hope you enjoy the read.
ANOTHER MORNING MISTAKE
It is 0355 in the morning, the coffee is brewing and the second cinnamon bagel in the toaster.
Last year's frantic rush to get out the door was due to my lack of organization. Today, my trouble is with whatever I ate last night. My 4th trip to the bathroom, I feel a bit behind schedule.
It is all green lights on the drive to Beaver Lake; parking is easy this year and I am on a bus with some time to spare. Things are going okay, or so I thought.
In transition, I unpack my bag, place the bottles in their cages, bike computer is on and ready, pump up the tires and...
Where is my helmet?
It's right where I left at the front door. This sport is about problem solving and for the second year in a row, I made things way harder on myself, before the start of the race.
Big shout out to my friend Batuhan for lending me his helmet and to Carina for racing to the venue to drop off the one I left at home.
THE SWIM - ELK LAKE
I never heard what the water temperature is today but the conditions are perfect for a sunrise swim.
My self-induced chaos cost me an oppertunity to warm up in the lake. No matter, the water is my happy place. I am through the timing gate and on rhythm starting with my first stroke.
Breathing and effort are both spot on for the distance. My biggest task now is navigating the frog kickers, back strokers and one guy frantically tugging on the zipper of his wetsuit.
One length of the lake complete, now for the trip back. I find "feet to follow" for the first time in a triathlon. Just as I think, "how perfect is this...", my man swims into a pair of slow swimmers then stops swimming himself.
I swim around the congestion and just like that, my gift of a draft in the water is over.
I hit more congestion at the last buoy, just 100 metres from the beach. I wonder, "people, why stop here?"
THE SAANICH PENINSULA LOOP
Unlike my helmet, I didn't forget my Gabba. Standing in front of my bike, the air temperature doesn't feel that cold. Leaving that bit of clothing behind seems to be the right call.
Descending the hill on Old West Saanich Road, I can't help but think how easy the climb up was this morning. I glance at the heartrate number on my bike computer: 137 BPM. I should think about backing off a bit.
The first aid station is on my right, I zip past making a mental note of how much I've consumed from my concentrated bottle. My calories are on schedule.
Martindale Road to Tulista Park is the longest section of the course to be in the aerobars. My quadratus lumborum is handling the effort along this stretch of road like a champ.
Halfway point of the bike course and I am rolling past the second aid station. Time to swap out an empty water bottle for the bottle behind my seat. The concentrated bottle is now half full; perfect.
This year, road construction diverts us passed Downey Road so it is all West Saanich Road heading south into Brentwood Bay. Normally the hills on this segment zaps my legs; today, everything is rolling by very quickly.
Even the climb up Willis Point Road feels easy this morning. I briefly stand on the pedals on the incline near Durrance Lake; reality of the last ~75 kilometres quickly puts me back in the saddle. Maybe it is best to relax and have another slug from the concentrated bottle; there are a few more hills left to go after all.
Last punchy hill on Oldfield Road and I am still pressing; it feels very unfair to pass people this fast, this late in the bike leg. Most will soon return the favour on the run.
I roll up to the dismount line on Brookleigh feeling great; my reward, 2:59:36 on the bike computer!
Before leaving the Transition Area, my stomach gurgles. The same dangerous gurgle that presented itself before I left the house this morning is back.
It is a beeline to the port-o-johns.
THE PLANNED WALK/RUN
In the crowd, past the exit of T2, my friends Kevin and Jason spot me and I stop at the fence for a brief "hello".
I catch a negative comment from the back of the peanut gallery, likely from a friend of a friend who doesn't know me or the current state of my foot. A previous version of me would have outwardly reacted.
The start of my planned walk/jog just a walk. It is the best thing for my unhappy bowel right now.
A little more than a kilometre in, I catch up to another walker. Mitch R. from Calgary, is going to complete his life-to-date, bucket list event. I start the conversation we'll share for the next 19 kilometres.
Plugged into my watch is an interval workout, 25 reps, 2 minutes of jogging, 1 minute of walking. Mitch is keen on doing it with me so I press start.
The jogging with Mitch is at his pace and it is a super easy effort for me. This helps me more than it hurts me.
We didn't complete them all, but we did get around the lake in way better time than only walking.
On the last lap, with just over a kilometre to go, Carina is at the Rowing Club waiting for me to saunter by. She has ridden there on her gravel bike and greets me with a smile and a kiss. Mitch continues on to get his finish line; I hang back for a bit and make plans with Carina for the rest of our day.
9½ weeks ago, it was the final kilometre of a training run that left me frustratingly hobbled with a bum wheel.
Today, from Eagle Beach to the Red Carpet,
I finished that run.
A 33:42 swim, 20th in my Age Group with only one open water swim just a few days ago. I think that is pretty good.
The bike is another beast to disect. Although I gave back 31 spots to my AG, I finished in the 45th percentile. The weather was near identical to last year, so where did the improvements in time come from?
- New TT Bike with a new position, Di2 shifting, an extra cog on the rear wheel, 28c tires versus 25c, etc.
- A winter on a smart trainer where I am pedalling in the aerobars.
- Dropping weight. This time last year, I averaged 79.6 Kg, this past week 76.4 Kg was my average (-7 pounds).
- Slight changes to the bike course (highway section vs bike path, moving the turnaround on Willis Point versus Downey Road).
- Recently breaking a bone in my foot, putting more emphasis on bike fitness.
- Putting the experience of the race last year into practice.
My biggest acheivement today is winning the mental battle to NOT RUN. Watching people shuffle past me for 3 hours was tough. The argument of "could" versus "should" played out in my head for almost 2 trips around the lake.
With all the walking though, I feel like I finished with bullets in the chamber, having the option to fire them at a bigger event in just 4 weeks time.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
2 bagels and a strong cup of coffee before leaving the house at 0450.
Nothing before the swim.
On the bike, 1.5 L of plain water and 450 ml of maple syrup mixed with a splash of coffee in a third bottle. Rolled through all 3 aid stations and no bathroom stops.
On the walk, sipped water at aid stations, just enough to not upset my bowel. Potato chips on the last lap worked gloriously well!