Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wildflower RR

Sunday morning was a relatively relaxed start, we had to be in transition by 8:30 then most of us had to wait for about two hours before we could start. With several thousand althetes but limited space in the water and on the roads, age group wave starts went every 5 minutes to keep things spread out - collegiate men at 8:00, collegiate women at 8:05, then the men's age groups followed by the women's.

I didn't start until 10:35 so I had lots of time to get my bearings in transition and walk through my T1 (turn right at the Mexican flag and run 3/4 of the way to the end of the row) and my T2 (turn left at Italy and run past five racks). This was Marie's second ever tri so I got to pretend not to be nervous and act the big sister, which helped me immensely.

Finally it was my time to go! I thought I was warmed up and mentally prepared. The gun went off and I was away in the water happy to be in the middle of the pack with people my speed. Then the neck of my wetsuit felt too tight, the swimmers were too close, the water was too murky, I needed to find a clear path - panic attack. This was extremely frustrating as I slowed and did head up front crawl or half breast stroke (with flutter kick as whip kick in a crowded swim can be deadly) while trying to get my head straight. At the first turn I finally got my head down and could swim continuous front crawl and only about 2/3 of the way in was I finally thinking clearly enough to pick up the pace and start swimming like I was in a race.

I was frustrated as my swimming has been an area where I've felt that I've had a lot of improvement but that this effort was wasted by me freaking out.

The steep run out of the water to T1 wasn't as hard as I expected, and I found my bike without incident. I'd trimmed the legs on my wetsuit earlier in the week so for the first time in a tri I didn't have to fight with it to get it off. That plus my super new tri bike shoes made for a swift transition (considering the distance I had to cover) and I was out onto the bike course.

Lynch Hill, the start of the bike course is just mean, you have about 200m of flat out of T1 then a very steep hill - think the worst part of the hill from Locarno Beach to UBC. I passed several people who were walking their bikes but most people managed to ride up. The rest of the bike course is just hard - lots of uphills steep enough to put you in your easiest gears and a super low cadence and very little in the way of flat sections.

Once at the top of Lynch Hill I got into an easy spin to get my legs going, grabbed some fluids and started passing people. A lot of beginners and newer racers do Wildflower, Team in Training (TNT) especially bring huge numbers to this race as part of their fundraising challenge and people who would never normally consider doing a triathlon do so to raise money for the foundation. By comparison at the Peach Classic in Penticton, a difficult race but not as challenging, there are porportionally far fewer inexperienced racers.

This turned out to be a fantastic boost to my ego, it made up for the swim frustrations as I spent most of the ride flying past racers (more than a few with bikes three times as expensive as Louis). I may have gone too hard on the bike, I've certainly never ridden that hard in a tri, but it was so much fun!

Into T2 and again no issues finding my spot. I racked my bike, whipped off the tri shoes with amazing speed (did I mentione that I love the tri shoes?), put on my runners, grabbed my hat and took off through transtition. Another quick change.

At the aid station at the exit I grabbed water and dumped in on my head as the day was heating up. About 100m later I realized I should have also drunk some fluid as I'd opted not to bring my own water. Ah well, live and learn.

The first part of the run was on a trail beside the lake, it was a lot of up and down with short but steep hills and I had to walk a few of them. At the first km marker I checked my watch and I was at 5:35. As I was absolutely dying at this point I decided that anything under an hour for the run would be a victory (I usually do Oly runs in 50-52 min).

Once we got out of the trails and onto the road the serious hill began. This was about 5km of continuous up - a short steep section followed by a false flat, then a long steep section followed by another false flat, then a shorter not quite so steep bit before it flattened out. Brenda passed me at the bottom of the hill and was looking as relaxed as if she was out for a Sunday jog, not 44km into a tough race. I yelled encouragement and tried to follow suit but kept having to walk. I finally decided I wasn't going to let myself get passed by the purple horde (TNT racers) and did a slow, slow run up the hill. I walked the aid stations and a few parts of the hill but forced myself to keep running. At the 5km markI was under 30 minutes for the run so I had high hopes of going under an hour, this gave me a bit of steam.

A lot of folks were cheering on the hill and most had obviously done the half iron the day before, judging from their sunburns. It was great having a large crowd of experienced racers there as they said all the right things - telling us to focus or power through, giving exact distances (200yds/1/4 mile) to aid stations or hill crests, not one person said "Almost there!"

Finally, past the 8km mark it flattened out and I could try to relax my legs for the steep run down Lynch Hill. Running fast downhill on tired legs is interesting but not as fun as you might expect. At the bottom there was about 300m of flat to the finish line, usually I put in a kick to the finish but this time I had almost nothing left and was struggling to keep a decent speed. In the finish chute I did have enough energy to high five the kids with their hands out (I'm a sucker for that) and Clayton, who had finished over half an hour before me and was cheering with Benny and possibly some others from the club.

I felt rough after crossing the finish so I found a chair and shade as soon as I could. Apologies to Bronwyn for not going to cheer for her at the finish. After downing lots of water, gatorade, half bananas and a free Powerbar recovery bar I felt better and found my way to the meeting place we'd decided on. Everyone had a great race - Bronwyn and Clayton beat their times from last year, Zosia came second in her age group, Jessica was third in hers, Brenda fifth in hers and Bronwyn 11th in hers. Pretty darned cool all round.

Overall I think it was a good race. Wildflower offers more pain/km of any race I've done yet, that's for sure! I know the mental side of my swim still needs work, but considering my rough start going under 30min is pretty good. I pushed harder than I ever have on the bike, it may have been too much but I tend to be too conservative so overdoing this time it is fine in my books. As sensai Harry from Karate said - it's better to overcorrect than not correct at all. The run was tough but I'm happy I was able to push myself into running almost all the second half despite feeling horrendous, I think that was my biggest show of mental toughness in a race so far.

By the Numbers:

Swim - 29:53
HR - 161 ave/173 max

T1 - 03:57

Bike - 01:31:57
Ave speed - 26.36
Max speed - 71.01
Ave cadence - 84
HR - 176 ave/190 max

T2 - 02:42

Run - 55:11
HR - 179 ave/188 max

Overall - 03:03:42
HR - ave 174, max 190


Anonymous said...

WF sounds awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!


Alison said...

It was insane but amazing!

I found a photo of the transition area on Chuckie V's blog - http://bp3.blogger.com/_qsDpLDiIGuk/SCCs4tbTQ-I/AAAAAAAAAlA/iGuvMwUsGCc/s1600-h/DSCN0391.JPG. It's from the half iron race on Saturday but it looked the same for us on Sunday.

James said...

I see you had a pretty good oly tri here. I'm jealous of your swim!

Alison said...

Thanks James. I'm jealous of your run time for the Sun Run so we're even!