First Podium Finish: Subaru Vancouver Sprint Triathlon

I feel like I'm spam posting now, but it's only because it's tri season and I'm racing more (woo!).
This past weekend I competed in the Subaru Vancouver Sprint Tri (July 5th, 2015).  I signed up for this race because the sprint distance is fun, it was very close to home and I wanted to race Pepperoni Slice. Also, being 3 weeks after the Victoria HIM, I was excited to be back racing.

NIGHT BEFORE/RACE MORNING

No travel required! I slept at my parent's house on the Saturday, and my wave didn't go off until 9:03, so it was actually quite luxurious. I got a wonderful nights' sleep the night before. My mom was kind enough to drive me to the beach (only about 5km away), as I had to check my bike in overnight and couldn't ride there.  Nothing special about the prep for this race. I had a normal week, aside from weight training on Thursday, which led to having some sore glutes on race day. I also had some wine the night before, but again, this was to be my 'fun' race so I wasn't too concerned about it. I woke up on the day of the race at 6:30.  I had a Boost shake, prepped my race bag and mixed a bottle of Hammer HEED before waking my mom up at 7:00 to get to the race site. The night before, smoke clouds from the numerous forest fires around B.C. had settled in over Vancouver, dropping ash on everything and generally making the sky appear quite post-apocalyptic. It looked like a very solid dramatic backdrop for a race!

After getting dropped off at Locarno beach, I went to the transition area and got my tiny rectangle of space set up. There was hardly any room for anything; They had us jammed in every inch of the racks.  I did my best to set up a tidy transition area, before recognizing a girl I used to row with back in high school. We chatted for a bit, and I discovered it was her first triathlon! I let her get back to work on her area because no one wants to chat too much before a race, and I took Pepperoni to the MEC tent to get the tires pumped to 115psi. Once the tires were good to go, I was happy with how everything was set up so I dropped my gear bag in the bag drop area and took a dose of Endurolytes. Before long it was about 8:20, so I wanted to get into my wetsuit. Lubed up and timing chip on (yes, I remembered this time), the wetsuit was yanked and pulled to the perfect wedgie position.  I floated and puttered around in the water to get used to the 62 degree water, and by then it was pretty much time to go.

THE START/SWIM

All of the women and relay sprinters were in the same wave, so it was a pretty crowded start. Nothing crazy, but definitely busy. The buoys had shifted in the water due to the winds overnight and some poor anchoring (so I heard, anyway), but the major turn buoys were straight enough that I wasn't too worried. I positioned myself to the front and slightly outside of the pack, hoping the currents would straighten me out as I swam. As the starter counted down, I realized that for once, I wasn't that nervous.  "3...2...1...GO!!!" *RUN RUN RUN* *SPLASHHH* *SWIM AS HARD AS POSSIBLE TO GET AWAY FROM THE CRAZINESS*

I pulled free of most of the pack pretty quickly. There were some fast swimmers with me, but we all had our own paths so no one was drafting yet. The water was cold but not intolerable and I was quite happy to be pushing a slightly faster pace than is comfortable (i.e. not cruising speed). The first turn buoy there was a pile up, as I guess it had drifted again and there were bodies just stopped in the water (I had caught up to the previous wave of men).  Instead of dealing with that mess, I swam around the crowd and hustled on. The next turn buoy came in a flash, and I was pleased to see I had been going quite straight with minimal sighting.  Rounding the corner to head home I picked it up just a little more and realized I wasn't around many people. I think I has worked my way through quite a bit of the previous wave.  Chugging along, and without much drama at all, I soon felt my fingertips hit the sand and I was back up and running and trying to take off my wetsuit.

T1

Terrible. Awful. Dumb. Running into the transition area I quickly realized I had no idea where my bike was. I forgot to do any recon, and now I was stuck wandering around like an idiot, wondering where to go. After about 20-30 seconds of that, I finally found my spot and whipped off my wetsuit. The rest of the transition went smoothly and despite the snafu at the beginning, I was past the mount line and ready to go in 2:14.

THE BIKE

The bike course was one that I have done many, many times in training. This made it easy for me to anticipate what was coming. However, I have only done 1 ride on Pepperoni. It was going to be an adventure racing a TT bike for the first time.  Right off the bat, there is a fairly serious climb up to UBC. I managed this just OK. I could have done better. I'm not sure why I was saving myself. Regardless, I was happy with how the climb went. The rest of the course is comprised of some long false flats and then some downhill on the way back, before hitting that same steep climb on the decent. The descent part was looming over my head because it was going to be my first TT descent. I was generally unhappy with my bike. I felt sluggish, and my cyst was hurting so badly yet again. It was borderline excruciating. I hammered on the best I could, slowing significantly to take in HEED.  I'm not yet very comfortable handling the TT bike with one hand while I drink, so I had to really sit up and really focus to avoid toppling over while drinking. I think this had a fairly significant impact on my bike pacing. At the turnaround, I was grateful to be back on the way to transition. I was in a lot of pain. I hustled in the headwind on the way back, happy to be in an aero position, at least for the wind drag reduction. Then the dreaded descent came up.  I tried to mentally prepare myself, by reminding my brain that these bikes are designed to handle descents and to trust Pepperoni. I tucked into aero and started the winding downhill back to Locarno. At first, I was nervous, but as I gained speed down the hill, the bike seemed more stable. The faster we went, the better and more safe I felt. I leaned into the turns and was pleasantly surprised to find I survived the descent with no major issues! I even passed a guy on the way down, simply by being tucked. That was satisfying. After a short jaunt back on NW Marine, whose pavement conditions leave much to be desired, I dismounted and hustled into T2.  Not 100% happy with my time, but happy to be off the bike.

T2

Uneventful. I found the right spot this time, and took off my helmet and bike shoes, replacing them with my runners. Race belt was on, and I took a few seconds to take in some more sips of HEED before scuttling out onto the run course.

T2 time was 1:44. Pretty terrible. But I wasn't hustling like I should have because I was trying to remind myself that this was a 'fun' race and I wasn't in it to win it.

THE RUN

Maybe I was already seeing the benefits of a tri bike, as I felt so fresh for the run. I felt great! I took off at what I figured was a quick, but conservative pace before stopping about 1/2 a kilometer in to take some water because my mouth was still slightly salty. Leaving the aid station I dug into a more aggressive pace, to see what I could do now that I'm back on the running train. I felt strong and confident, and for once, I was actually loving the run portion of the race. I was...passing people?? That's weird. I skipped all the remaining aid stations.  At the 2.5k turnaround, I saw my high school friend hot on my tail. Since I am a competitor, and we both used to row in a highly competitive program, I wasn't going to let a former teammate beat me that easily. I picked up the pace once more. I was feeling the burn in my lungs and my legs, but I knew I could hang on for another 2km. By the 1km to go mark I was hurting, but in a way that I knew I was going to finish strong. Then, my high school friend is right along side me saying 'I thought it was you!'.  I said, 'It's your first tri, I'm going to chase you to the finish!'.  And with that, for the last 800m or so we gunned it. She would pull ahead and I would fight to get back with her. Then at the very end, we both rounded the corner to the finished chute and we were running in the sand.  The run course had the last 200m or so in the sand! Who does that!? Anyway, she was ahead of me and I wasn't about to sprint any harder and probably fall on my face, so I settled for finishing 3 seconds behind her. And then we were done!

RUN TIME: 24:56 4:59/km

AFTERMATH

I was tired, but felt fine. I went to go find my flip flops that I had stashed by a tree and went to collect all my things from transition, so I could meet my mom again for a pick up and ride back to the house. As I was walking to the car, I decided to take a look at the results and was surprised to see my name is third pace, right behind my buddy! WHAT?! This was a total shock. So I called my mom to let her know I was going back to get my award, because who knows the next time I'll be back on the podium.  She actually came with me, which is nice. There was no awards ceremony (bummer), but we could still collect the awards from the stage, and I decided to get a pic with the plaque anyway. All in all, a good race! I have subsequently sprained my ankle pretty badly, so running and biking are temporarily on hold...which really bums me out. Hopefully I'll be back in fighting shape by September so I can compete in a couple more races.

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