Sunday, July 5, 2009

Race Report Plus Glenmore Circuit

What a great weekend! After the test swim on Thursday (the first true open water swim of the year for me), I wasn't that excited about the Foothills Charity Tri in Okotoks on Saturday-- but I wasn't nervous either. I was kind of indifferent. As I was collecting gear and packing friday night, as I was getting ready to go Saturday morning. Well, maybe I was a little nervous.

I was looking forward to seeing my (second) cousin, Darren at the race. He lives in Okotoks with his family, and as close as they are, we don't see them much. I knew he was racing because when I picked up my package, the lady commented "well, I know you're not Darren, so you must be Jarrett" after I gave her my last name.

We're pretty close to Okotoks, so we got there in plenty of time (around 7am)-- but I'd forgotten my race bib belt, so Nicole was nice and drove home to get it while I set up my transition. Race parking, check-in, body-marking, and "fair" were all at the arena, about two blocks from the Beachhouse where transition would be, but rather than get marked and checked in, I headed straight for transition to grab a spot. I didn't get a prime spot, but as long as I'm not too crowded, and I can remember where my stuff is, I don't really care (too much) about getting the best transition spot.

What is a good transition spot? Well, opinions might vary (what do you think is the best spot? Tell me in the comments), but the closer you are to the bike course, the less you have to run in cleats and/or with your bike. This usually means you run a little further after the swim and after the bike, but you're either barefoot or in running shoes, so no biggie, right?

Anyway, not only did I spot Darren, but his sister, Brenda, from Innisfail was there for the race. I knew I'd have to watch out for her-- she's pretty "into" triathlon, and has probably raced as many or more times than I have. I'm just kidding; I was glad to see them, it's great to see people you know on the course and cheer them on-- even better when it's family! We also saw a few people from UCTC at the race, so more people to cheer for. :)

As much as the pre-race waiting is agonizing, it's a great time to double-- and triple check all the gear, make sure everything is laid out perfectly in transition, pull the wetsuit up, take a few practice strokes in the water, and mentally run through the race (especially transition). I always like to walk to my bike from where I'll be coming out of the water a few times so I know I can find my stuff easily when I'm punch-drunk from swimming then standing up and trying to run. It seemed to help!

As for the race itself, what can I say? Overall, it felt pretty good. The swim was pretty choppy: both the water, and my stroke. I was moving my arms a little too quickly, breathing too fast, but it didn't kill me. Sighting was an issue by about halfway around, and I found myself hung up on the buoy lines a few times (there were ropes running between the course markers. T1 was as fast as was expected-- had to grab the bike rack to keep from falling over, trying to get the wetsuit over the timing chip.

The bike itself felt really fast. I expected to pass some women, who had started 30 minutes before, but I passed quite a few men as well, which felt really good. I was passed three or four times on the bike, but that didn't bother me much. The course was great, lots of volunteers directing traffic, lots of room in the corners, and the hills weren't too steep. I did hit my fastest gear going downhill on each of the three laps, and my computer said "50" each time.

The run was interesting. It felt relatively good, and I knew I was doing well, but my feet had gone numb on the ride (barefoot, very ventilated soles, plus the "cool" insoles). That, and I got a not-unfamiliar stitch in my side. Once I worked both those things out, I was making good time, but it wasn't my fastest 5k, and obviously it's what I need to work on the most.

My results were:
Time: 1:13:35
4th/16 in Age Group
15th/95 men
16th overall

I'm pretty happy with that, but I do see room for improvement. As I've said before, mostly in the run.

Glenmore Circuit

...And that's one of the reasons I decided to run around the Glenmore Reservoir today (Sunday). I'm finding that the Sprint Tris this year just don't take as much out of me, and I don't feel like I need a week (or any time, really) to recover.

I persuaded Nicole and Amanda to ride support, because as much as I felt I could make it on foot all the way around, I wasn't sure if I could run the full 18km. A few hours after a good (but not too heavy) brunch, we met at Glenmore Landing. I had my water belt, a Mocha Clif Shot, and some energy chews. I didn't want to go too strong out the start, since I wasn't sure how long it would take, and this would be the longest I'd ever run by about 8k.

The girls kept riding ahead-- I told them to, it would be boring and potentially dangerous to ride next to me the whole way 'round! Every time they looped back they told me I must be going really fast, because I was closer than they expected! I took that as a good sign, and kept chugging, feeling pretty light on my feet (for a Clydesdale) and strong. The whole time, I kept thinking that I just had to make it to the top of the Weaselhead hill, and I could maybe walk a little, and take a water break, since there's a fountain there.

Once I filled my flasks and took the gel (mmmm.... mocha!), I felt good, and just kept running. It's so beautiful running through North Glenmore park, that even as I approached "uncharted territory" (ie I've never run this far before), I took note of the little things my body was telling me, but it wasn't telling me to slow down. I thought to myself that I just had to make it past the Glenmore causeway, and then I could maybe walk a little. But that section is all downhill, and I actually sped up! Even going up the hill towards the hospital, I felt really strong, even beating a cyclist to the top of the pathway switchback, that I knew I had to run right through to the finish.
By the time I made it to the last straightaway after Heritage Park, I was still feeling very strong. I glanced at my watch and told Nicole and Amanda that I was going to try to finish under 1:30-- only a few minutes to go, and I could see the "finish line"! I gave a couple of good kicks (the first one started a little too far out), and made it to my starting point at EXACTLY 1:30!
And, went home and watched a great Stage 2 sprint finish -- Mark Cavendish is amazing! I want to go ride my bike now!!!
What a great weekend!