Thursday, July 14, 2011

Osoyoos Half - Pre Race & Swim

Three alarm clocks (iPod, phone and motel alarm clock) proved adequate to wake me up on race morning. I had debated setting a wake up call but forgot to see if it was possible. Luckily for me there wasn't a triple apple device/cellular/electrical failure, but in future perhaps I shouldn't push my luck.

I then proved that quick oats definitely cannot be cooked the same way as instant ones. It was difficult to decide whether stodgy or gluey was the more appropriate descriptive term for breakfast. Happily the coffee was excellent and, as a bonus, I didn't do a "Valencia" and dump it on anything.

After that the regular race morning ritual of going through the checklist one last time before packing my bag and heading out. 

Being in transition in the morning and knowing very few people felt odd. I'm used to having an LETC horde in any race I do, plus I now know lots of other Vancouver area racers. That didn't stop me from talking to everyone at my rack, of course, but it did still feel a bit lonely.  I eventually bumped into Andrew Graham on the beach, just in time for him to do up my wetsuit (thanks!) and shortly after my swim warm up I found Kristie. I stuck to her like badly cooked quick oats as I wanted to draft off her, or at least try, for the swim.

We watched the men head out then waited seven minutes for our turn. I started near the front and was jostled and bumped a fair bit, but having done a 1,500m battle swim time trial with Bronwyn, Clayton, Dr. Dave and Amanda in June it barely registered. The start put me in a good position to find a draft and I managed to swipe a good pair of toes from someone pretty quickly. 

Nearing the first turn buoy I decided I'd give the turns we'd been practicing with LETC a try. At the buoy I did one back stroke then back to free and ended up facing the correct direction with a nice pair of feet directly in front of me. Normally I lose my draft on the turns so this was quite exciting.  I executed the turn again at the next buoy and ended up hitting my draft amidship. Not only was I keeping up on the turns, I was gaining!
It was a two lap swim so after 900m we had to exit the water, run around a buoy on the sand then get back in. This turn I didn't execute so well.  I cursed as the women I'd been swimming with gained several yards on me on the beach. Happily I had also mastered the dolphin dive in training with the club and quickly got back with my pack.

Two more fast turns, several upgrades to faster feet and we were on our way back to the beach. The pace picked up and the group I was with got strung out into a long line, I was second back but as we got out of the water it looked like there were at least six or seven of us.

On the beach I checked my watch and was stunned at my time - 35:40. I'd just set a 2km PR of 36:42 at the VOWSA Canada Day swim and didn't expect to match it, must less beat it by a minute. I headed to T1 feeling pretty amazing.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Osoyoos Pre-Race

I watched the Vancouver Subaru sprint and half iron the weekend before Osoyoos and came to the realization that a half iron was a ludicrously long distance for a race!

I've done enough halves (halfs?) that I know the distance and how long it will take me, but as I've only done sprints this year it seemed like a long, long time to be racing.

I felt terribly unprepared in general.  I don't know why as I've put in the time and distance but somehow it didn't feel like enough. That's probably a good thing as any race I've gone into cocky has inevitably turned out to be humbling.

Part of feeling unprepared is that I haven't been as focussed on my training as in past years.  Work has been extremely stressful for quite a while and I really haven't been able to plan anything much in my non-work life. Stress has also had other fun effects.  A bad day  at work after a bad night's sleep and a kinked back lead to the mother of all taper tantrums/meltdowns on the Thursday before the race. As an FYI, a large, open plan office isn't a great place to lose it, I suggest you plan your breakdowns for more private locales.

Happily, that seemed to clear my nerves. I was still concerned about my back but a massage appointment on Friday morning fixed the worst of the issue and I felt I could complete the race.

In being "planning challenged" I was very disorganized in my preparation for the half: I signed up a week and a half out from the race, I found a hotel the weekend before and arranged a car rental on the Wednesday prior.  So in packing on Friday before heading out I knew I would forget something. On Facebook I offered Okanagan cherries to the first person to figure out what I forgot.  There were 40 replies, the most popular item was a race belt, an item I have yet to forget but apparently a lot of my friends have. Happily no one thought I was clueless enough to leave my bike behind.

The definitive list of things I forgot:
- bento box (I could have survived without, must learn to be a better roadie!)
- earplugs
- helmet number. OK, not something I packed but I forgot to put it on my helmet and only figured it out 70km into the ride
- instant oatmeal. Quick oats are pretty sludgy when you just add boiling water rather than cook 'em for 5 minutes

I stopped in Chilliwack on Friday night and had a short visit with my dad. Saturday was a mellow day, on my way up I drove the bike course then registered, napped at my hotel and did my short pre-race workouts and the pre-race meeting. I didn't see Andrew Graham but did meet up with Kristie briefly.

Then it was back to the hotel where I ended the day calm and looking forward to racing.