My first off-road triathlon.
It is a new experience to roll out of bed, jump on my bike and in about a mile, roll into transition on race morning. No day before bike check-in, just pick the spot you'd like to rack your bike; coffee is just over at that table.
I was expecting the temperature to be cold. All week, Whistler has be waking up to ~5°C; this morning is a balmy 9°C. The plan to stay out of the water is amended; I swim out to a floating dock; a short, in and out of the lake.
A small field of elites hit the water. Next is a mass start from the beach for the rest of the ~100 age-group participants. I claim my spot on the water's edge, swimmer's left.
The horn sounds. A female athlete goes by my left shoulder like she is shot out of a cannon. I walk briskly into the water until I am waist deep. Time to dive in.
The water feels cold. I check in with my breathing, everything is good to go.
Maybe ~80m from shore, we swim past a floating swim dock. The crowd I'm in is slowly pulling away from me. I may not be one of the faster fish in this little pond today. I sight to a red buoy in the distance.
You know, I kind of suspected as much; the flurry of arms and swim caps that pulled away from me at the beach are starting to come back to me.
At the red buoy, I claim my space on the inside.
I cross the first timing mat; 28:39 is okay but not lighting the lake on fire either.
They have us wearing the timing chips on the outside of our wetsuits. I lose a bit of time having to briefly remove the that chip to get my leg out of the wetsuit. Not ideal but I stay on task.
Leaving T1 and I am currently leading the M50-54 division. My legs feel ok.
Pedalling toward the first hill, I struggle with wet hands to put my gloves on. First place zips past. I am in second grinding up a steep and rocky hill.
Tin Pants is a buffed out trail that is fast with deceptively sketchy parts; loose sand over hard packed surface had my front tire plowing in a corner (or three). I do not go down but judging by some skid marks, someone ahead of me did.
The eventual winner of the Female 35-39 category passes me. She looks like she can handle her bike and I followed her line.
Peaches in Regalia is the first bit of single track and the rabbit I am chasing makes time on me going up the twisty hillside; I regain some lost time bouncing over the roots.
Centennial Trail, a short section of fire road with a steep pitch and loose rocks. I find my own line up over the crest of the hill. I am now ahead of my pacer.
A dip into the forest for more single track on a trail called Ms. Pinky, then to a trail called Toads of the Short Forest. I pick my lines without the help of someone to follow.
F35-39 passes me again; my lead on her was short lived. We descend Son of Mr. Green Jeans and a trail called Jellyroll Gumdrop. She is almost out of sight heading up the steeper bit of a wide gravel road.
Luck puts me back in contact. A tricky bit on Pinnochio’s Furniture costs F35-39 some time. Still, she is quicker than me up the hike-a-bike section and down the switchbacks of Dina Moe Hum, I lose more ground. This is starting to feel like a race.
My left QL is stiff, my quads are burning, I take another gulp from my water bottle.
First lap is almost done but not before riding Fountain of Love. Behind me, someone askes to ride through. I find space and a guy powers by. He's in my age division. I press to match his pace but a rock, or a root, or whatever, puts me hard on the ground.
I pick myself up quickly and get back on my bike but 3rd place just rode around the corner and out of site.
First lap of the bike is done and I am back on the sandy corners of Tin Pants. Another woman, this one in the F40-45 division is charging hard. I follow her line; she's pulls me back up to the leader of the F35-39 division.
Second time up Centennial, I pass both women.
Maybe it was my fuelling, maybe it was being just a bit more familiar with the trails on the second lap, but male or female, I am not passed on the bike course again.
I'm in transition, left shoe on, right shoe on. I notice that F35-39 is still relentlessly in pursuit. I hightail it out on to the run course.
The trail is a gradual uphill for the first kilometre. Without the sound of wheels and suspension bouncing over terrain, it is very peaceful.
I hear footsteps. F35-39 passes me for good.
"Hey, great ride." I get a fist pump, "You too!"
It is mostly groomed downhill for the next two kilometres. I have a gel and a cup of water as I pass the aid station. Both my IT bands are now tight, right where they intersect the lateral aspect of each knee. I acknowledge the discomfort and carry on.
I was told I'd know that I'd reach the WALL when I got there. Yes, it is pretty evident. I walk up.
A rocky and loose decent off the hill continues back to the aid station. I am being passed by a number of people; I have stopped counting. My attention is focused on being safe and not turning an ankle.
A Zoot trisuit passes me. The number on her calf let's me know she's my age. She runs with rhythm. Her name is Linda and I try to keep up.
I see where her foot hits the trail, I do my best to put my foot there too. In a minute or two, I forget about my sore knees, my fatigued quads and the fact that I was even in a race. The final two kilometres simply flowed.
Verdict: Xterra Whistler is a lot of fun! (2024???)
SETUP IN TRANSITION
|T1/T2||2:55 / 1:52|