Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ingonish Triathlon - Race 7 (sorry for the ramble)

Well after all that swim training and purchasing a wetsuit, it seemed inevitable that I would have to bite the bullet and sign up for a Triathlon. The earliest ones of the season were pool swims, which of course seem like the best idea for one nervous of the water, but those ones also included Duathlons. And of course Duathlons are still my favourite events at this point. Also after getting through the Aquathlon in Greenwood back in April, a pool swim didn’t seem like the challenge I needed.

Now my swim strength isn’t great so I knew a sprint distance tri was the smartest starting point. All of this lead to my choosing the Heart of the Highlands Triathlon in Ingonish. Open water swim, sprint distance, probable warm weather and a lake swim to boot. Sure Nova Scotia lakes don’t warm up until August, but the wetsuit would take care of that. And as I posted earlier, I was able to get out a handful of times with my wetsuit to know that it would keep me suitably warm, especially for the 750 meters of the sprint swim.

We drove up to Ingonish on the Friday before the race. I wanted to make this into a little vacation, so we rented a cottage, brought the dogs and packed until Monday. Turns out that Mark Campbell and friends arrived slightly before us and were staying 2 cottages over. That turned out to be good for both of us. Mark needed my lap top to register for the race, and I enjoyed the group ride we did together moments after I unpacked. A quick trip from Ingonish up and over Smokey, was great for the legs. Also it was fun zipping up the Cape Smokey on a bike (and beating Mark to the top, hee hee).

Well the next day brought a nice solo ride of the course and a dip into the lake at Ingonish Beach. Wow, what a shallow lake, more on that later. Then check in the day before the race, a handy option.
Race morning came and I had my pre race meal of Frosted Mini Wheats and Red Bull. Yum. Then to transition and the race brief. After the brief we were allowed a quick dip in the lake, very useful to us nervous swimmer types. We were allowed another quick warmup after the Olympic distance guys and gals started their race. Again, I opted to go for it.

Finally it was time to start. I decided to hang back a bit and allow the melee of the swim begin ahead of me. I started by walking a bit behind the first bit of swimmers. Then I walked more, and more. See this lake is insanely shallow. I was walking past swimmers at this point. But finally I just had to take the plunge. Of course finding a spot to get into with the mad thrashing around me wasn’t easy.  A few kicks here, a few slaps there. But eventually  I was swimming. Then I was fending off someone grabbing my ankle. Then I was avoiding the swerving mass of people that can’t swim in a straight line. Obviously this was going to be a tough swim. But I stuck with it, changing my stroke when I needed to and I finially broke past the crazy. After turning at the final buoy I saw nothing but empty lake ahead. Everyone else was far off to the shore which seemed odd to me. But I was able to now get a decent strong stroke going and powered to shore. I exited the water at 14:30, a personal best 750 meter swim by more than 2 minutes. Wow, I know the wetsuit helps a bit but hooray for me.

I'm the sleeveless one

Now onto the journey  to T1. This is a long run on gravel of about 300 meters. I didn’t stop to put on shoes like many did and was happy not to. Numb feet are very good at not caring about gravel. Also i k new my feet would be covered with beach sand anyway. Sandy shoes aren't fun.

Into T1, off with the wetsuit (RD's take note - grass is kind to wetsuits), on with the helmet, sunglasses, bike shoes and a quick gel. Then off for a hilly ride. Being in 26th at this point meant I had much time to make up. I knew this was not going to be a great result going in, due to the swim. But still you want to give it your best. I passed a few people in T1, then started to pick them off on the ride. This happened a lot on up hills. Finally as I was nearing the turn around at km 23, I started to count thee people coming back. Of course try and count when you are red lining things going down hill. It is tricky. But I think it was 10 people. Great I thought. So I pounded harder on the way back and passed maybe 3 more people?

I came riding into T2, and just about missed the dismount point (they hate that and I am sorry). My bike computer registered an avg speed of 34 km/hr. My official result was 31.1 km/hr including T1 and the long run from the lake.This was the 5th fastest ride of the Sprint. Off the bike over the timing matt and a quick change to my running gear.

It was now sweltering with heat and only a slight wind had picked up (that would be a rather large headwind home for the Olympic riders) 5K run to go and my legs were done. I knew catching anyone else would be a no go, but as I didn't see anyone behind me I knew I had to push to maintain my placing. First the run is up, up, up. I like hills but my legs said no thanks, so I pushed a long. As always this is the longest 5K of my life. Where the heck was the turn around?

As I did approach the turn around I had a friendly dig back and forth with Don MacDonald who was kicking some butt that day.

Disregard the clock which was showing Olympic Start time

Then finally I turned, headed home and managed a nice sprint for the line. I am glad that was it. The heat was getting to be a bit much for me, and that ride killed my legs trying to make up time. I had the 7th fastest run of the day in the Sprint with a time (including T2) of 22:55 for an avg pace of 4:35. I was happy with that.

My goals for the day had been to try and achieve a finish in the top half of the field. Well with 46 entrants plus 5 teams I did do that. I also wanted to break 1:25 and with a 1:21:50 I did that as well. I also placed in the top 3 for my age group and won a lovely picture. So all in all a great day. And a perfect way to finish my first open water Triathlon. Thanks to the RD, TNS Officials, and all the great Volunteers. And to Parks Canada for hosting the event in a great venue.

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