In May, Canada welcomed us with open arms after our wild 6 month adventure across New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia. Shortly after touchdown we experienced a whole new chaos: Getting ready for our wedding and reintegrating into Whistler life. To add a little structure into my day-to-day, I decided to pick up an entry for a new off-road triathlon in Squamish, BC. I felt a bit rusty getting back into the swing of swim-bike-run training, especially with so little time until race day. But hey, I love a good challenge. Here's a little recap of the race:
Athletes don't choose Alice Lake for the water clarity. But, despite the water having quite the muddy hue, it's typically the warmest lake in the area. As for me, I had an awesome swim. The course presented some interesting challenges, however. For example, some of the buoys were difficult to sight against and the docks near the start/finish bottle necked the swim a bit.
But gripes aside, no real complaints from this girl. Why? This was a breakthrough swim for me! I managed to stay with the pack, steering straight for most of the lap. As an admittedly average swimmer (I'm working on it - Thanks Kristian!) this was an absolutely stellar feeling. To track my distance and visualize the data after the race I regularly swim (bike and run) with a Suunto Ambit GPS watch. It's a pretty sweet tool that I've come to rely on heavily to track progress. I have it set to sync to other platforms including Strava and Training Peaks right after my sessions. Below was my effort synced over to Strava:
A quick transition onto the mountain bike course and I immediately noticed the power difference between a sprint and championship distance. This round, the sprint had my lungs at a consistent burn. Plus, my heartbeat reverberated into my throat at every gradient increase. Type 2 fun at it's finest. I didn't change the set-up of my Yeti SB5 other than locking out the rear shock and adding a faster rolling tire on the back. Friends at Arbutus Routes helped me out with a race tune and the bike performed exceptionally well. If you're curious about how my bike's set up, check out the post I recently did on the Tales From The Trails Blog. For hydration I wore my little EVOC Stage 3L. I stuck to plain water and kept an emergency gel for the back end of the course. I found I didn't need much fuel - total bonus of the short course! Below is my bike effort on Strava:
A woman a few seconds in front of me through the swim to bike transition was sporting a number on her calf that indicated she was in my age group. I locked in on her and chased heavily in pursuit. We started on a wide-open fire road climb shifted into a mostly flat flow trail that gradually dropped off into another flat(ish) rooty and technical section. We then climbed on vibrant singletrack back towards transition. Such a lush forest! Just as I had accepted that she would be too tough the catch, the elusive leader pulled off onto the championship course loop. A photographer shouted at me "first female". I was already riding on a wave of stoke about my mid-pack swim but this was just unreal.
Screaming out of transition I turned up onto the "Loop The Lakes" trail and into the green room. I may have been moving too fast to truly appreciate the gorgeous surroundings on the bike leg but on the run it hit me, that tunnel of tropical green plants was incredible. This area has to be one of my favourite stretches of trail on the planet.
While I may have been leading off the bike, a new podium contender blew past me as if I was standing still on the trail run. We were just about to hit the biggest climb of the course. I pushed hard to chase her but she slipped away. Trying to close the gap I opened up my stride at the top and resumed chase mode. After corkscrewing around the undulating downhill of the course I ultimately discovered I wasn't strong enough to catch her. But I held strong, beating out the surprise appearance of the third place finisher. Number three had silently caught up and crossed the line only an arm's length or two behind me. Such a thrill. For the gear on this section I kept my hydration pack on and switched into my new trail running shoes: the Speedcross 4 - they're ideal for my foot profile and mega grippy. I carried over the emergency gel and cracked into it about 2k into the trail run. I tried not to leave anything on the course but it's tough to operate in a constant state of red line. When I finished the run portion I couldn't help but feel like I wanted to keep going. Probably my best indication that my optimal distance is longer. Below is my run effort on Strava:
The sprint distance finishes so much earlier than the championship. I actually had time to spectate. There were so many people out there racing their own race, going after individual achievements. It actually gave me the feeling of a communal bond with our local endurance athlete community. The inspiration and emotion is contageous.
Before any results were posted I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I couldn't dedicate as much time to training as I have in the past, so many of my efforts were gentle mileage. A mindful style of balanced training. There's something beautiful about going slow to race your heart out in a competitive setting.