Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vancouver 1/2 Iron Race Report or, the 'Tortoise & the Hare'

The UV Index is generally at it's highest point between 12pm-2pm.  I have the luxury of being able to be up & finished my first workout (or two) before noon.  I try my best to be out of the sun and get back to 'work' sometime around 3pm or later.  If training is my 'job', then the sun's rays are a major work hazard.

So, I found time today to collect some of my thoughts on this weekend's Vancouver 1/2 Iron, which took place along the very scenic shores, roads and trails of my neighbourhood.  In short, it was great!  I managed another whopping PB of 19 minutes over the 1/2 Iron distance, cutting my last PB in May at the Shawnigan Lake 1/2 from 4:57 to 4:38.  Even I impress myself sometimes.  I ran into a person I met when I did my first 1/2 Ironman up in Oosoyos.  She asked me what my time was there, and I told her I was just under 6 hours (5:58 I think).  She seemed a bit shocked, and when I thought about it a little more, I was a bit in shock too.

That's the short.  However, I have a tendency to write long though, so, here you go.

Cutting to the chase.  Why alternatively entitle my blog the Tortoise & the Hare.  Not for the reason you think.  Not some clever take on my race strategy or competition.  It is simply because, on an easy run the week of the race, as I was running along the trails, I almost tripped over a large turtle (is that the same as a tortoise?).  I thought of it as a good luck omen.  Then, as I was biking on my black Nishiki Rally super awesome commuter bike at 5am, yes, wearing a black aero helmet (I felt like a ninja), I decided to bike along the seawall to get to the race start, I found myself biking among bunnies galore (is that the same as a Hare?).  So I laughed as I pulled in to lock up my bike, perhaps the theme of the race would be the Tortoise & the Hare.  In reality, I don't think it has any meaning.  It's just cute.

Ok, ok, the race.  In an attempt not to bore, and drone on in large sentence format, I'm going to go for the race in step format.  So, just like the New Kids, step by step.  I grew up in the 90's.  I'm allowed this indulgence.  And as a side note, I do believe this was one of the first tapes I owed.  And if you have to ask what a tape is...

Step one: 'We can have lots of fun'
Swim time: 33:03

My first ocean swim.  I do believe the best way to start off your swim is to swim straight into somebody during warm up.  I mean solid contact.  I took quite the punch to the face while swimming into shore pre-race.  I did quite frequently check to make sure I had space to swim in prior to the start, but this shark man came out of no where.  I immediately knew I split my lip, and laughed.  It can't get too much more exciting for that, so it settled me before the swim.  So, look out, if you see me warming up at the next race, I'll be the girl intentionally trying to swim into you.  I'm not kidding.

This was quite the exciting swim & I really have no complaints, just as always, I would like to keep getting better at the strategy of the swim.  I have insider tips now, so, I will be employing these at IMC.  The current was noticeable as I noticed going around buoy #2 that I slid metres to the right as I tried to go left, but, I seemed to make it back to shore in ship shape.  And I did it all over again - I have to say I love the challenge.  It's not my forte but as you make gains it is just so motivating to keep working hard at it.  I love the swim - and to love it, I think you have to have a sense of humour.  I can help you with that, just come see me in warm up.  It would give true meaning to the term, 'sucker punch'.

Step two: 'There's so much we can do'
Bike time: 2:38:36

The bike is so familiar to me and I love it.  I love climbing hills.  If I had it my way, Ironman would be a 180km climb.  But, that's a bit radical, so I'll take IMC the way it is and I also really liked this course.  I don't think you really know what you can do on the bike until you try it, and after doing the sprint course in Victoria a couple of weeks ago, I got to ride fast and see what my legs felt like after.  I think it's really hard to replicate this in training.  So, I worked on the bike and I certainly was rewarded.  I managed to bike faster than the last half in Shawnigan while covering 3 more kilometres (88 vs 91km) than last time. Success!

I am now a total convert of knowing a course and seeing the result when you race it.  Racing a new course is always fun, but if you're looking for speed, knowing what is coming is such an advantage.  And, speaking of advantages, Sunday was the debut of my head in an aero helmet.  If nothing else, they keep your ears lovely warm.  I'm sure it made a bit of a difference.  At least 6 seconds I'm sure....

Step three: 'It's just you for me'
T1: 2:18
T2: 1:05

This lyric makes very little sense in terms of the race.  I can't seem to come up with a clever analogy of transitions - both of which, by the way - where stunningly fast compared to my previous attempts.  I did worry that the aero helmet would get stuck in my hair and I would have to run in it.  That would be amazing, but alas, the helmet came off.  Compared to my previous transition times, in retrospect, I could have baked a cake in the time it took me to get in and out of there.

Step four: 'I can give you more'
Run time: 1:23:38

I really felt a bit short-changed during the last 1/2 at Shawnigan.  I had raced a marathon 4 weeks prior, and my legs were toast.  I can only imagine that my muscles probably resembled something of swiss cheese consistency.  So, the run soured my race slightly, as I knew I could do better than that.

And clearly on Sunday I did.  My strength has always laid within my ability to run.  Now that I am trying harder and harder to swim and bike with the big girls, I'm realizing just how different/difficult running becomes when you are really stretching yourself to your physiological limits.  That said, I am still a good runner in the sport, and after having a solid, consistent run on Sunday, now I'm really to go to the edge my next time out.

It's a scary thing, to someone who is very accustomed to the physical feelings of a open road race, to start a race of the same distance feeling less than fresh.  To say it's a different sport is an exaggeration, but it certainly takes a different approach.  If I had to sum it up, road running to me is mechanical and mathematical, with a heaping dose of guts & courage at the end.  Triathlon running is a waiting game, an art, an act of faith with your dose of guts coming about half way through the run.  Very different.

Step five: 'Don't you know that the time has arrived'
Final time: 4:38:39
4th place Female, 1st place non-elite and W30-34.

I looked at my watch at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd km splits.  Then I stopped.  I checked it again at roughly the half way point (10km), at about 41 min, which was just fine with me, and I never looked at my watch until about the 18 km point, and although I had a hard time computing km splits, I do believe I was around 1:30.  Math is tricky when you are also considering peeing your pants at the same time.  So, I just left that to chance.  Left what to chance you ask? Ha.

I knew I was in fourth, I knew no female without a tremendous Usain Bolt like sprint was near, and I knew I was getting tired & just needed to get to the finish line.  I have to now plug that I (and others) had TREMENDOUS support out there on the race - it seemed people where in each and every one of our corners and I can't express how wonderful and how much of an advantage that is.  Guys in the finish chute with me commented on how great my fans where - I couldn't agree more.

I finished, stunned as usual, and I stopped my watch.  4:38:39.  That really didn't sink in until much later in the day, when I realized what a great time that was.  I had left time expectations to the back of my mind seeing that although I was feeling good and ready to work hard, I had been sick for about a week, 2 weeks prior to the race.  It happens.  What it really meant was that I got more rest, and a little bit less training, so I don't think it affected me at all - psychologically though, I was worried I wasn't ready to handle pain.  But that punch to the face was really truly key.  When I could laugh about that, I knew I was ready to race.

Everyone says the course is beautiful and the volunteers are great - it's all true.  This really is a great event, and to be able to sleep in my own bed, eat at home, ride my wicked Nishiki past the tortoise & the hares and drag my butt 3kms back to my house (actually more like the floor, where I had the most delightful tuna sandwich there ever has been), is just the best any girl could ask for.

Now it's break time before the last push toward IMC.  Very exciting.  I just got the wonderful opportunity to ride the Axel Merckx Penticton Gran Fondo this weekend while we're up in Penticton, so that will be quite a treat - a nice relaxed, 160km ride.  No really!  A fully supported ride is such a treat, and that doesn't happen often.  And, should I get a glimpse of Trevor Linden that wouldn't be so bad either.

So rest & relax, staying out of the shade and enjoying easy swims, rides and runs is the theme of the week.  I'm very excited to be a spectator at a "My first triathlon" where many of my friends are participating - it's so inspiring to see them all tackle the challenge.  I hope they have fun - in the end, it may not be all that matters, but it's so important.  No matter how good you are.

To all of you working hard out there - keep up the great work!  Enjoy the sun, but protect yourself & be smart - I don't think there are many excuses for sunburns anymore.  Or just do what I do - the number one sun protection?  The nap.

Enjoy summer - we've certainly deserve it!
no more arm warmers! yahoo!

1 comment:

  1. Cool beans! Great writing, can't wait to boot camp it with you for a week;)