Today, I decided to make the drive out to Chestermere to attend the free transition clinic run by the race organizers.
Initially, I wasn't going to do it, but with a little more thought, I figured I may as well. For starters, it's free. I'm fully in favour of making use of free services when they work for you. Also, the nerves are starting to surface, in regards to this open water swim thing. I thought it might help a bit. Finally, one thing I'd really like to nail in this triathlon is the transitions. In that regard, a transition seminar can't hurt!
I was glad I went out before even getting there. I drove past the exit that I needed to take into Chestermere. Then, after back tracking, I felt a bit lost finding my way in. When I saw the blue fenced transition area with MSC banners hanging around, I felt more confident, but I am glad that I had that initial snafoo prior to race day.
Leigh (a Calgary blogger) and I had made plans to meet up at the transition clinic. We hadn't met before, but gave our general descriptions. Mine was basically: very tall, brown hair. Hers was: very short, blond hair. Before Leigh arrived, I saw another short blond woman and asked if it was her. It wasn't. Leigh got there just after the talk started (she had a snafoo finding the place as well) and we pretty much knew each other right away. Thanks Leigh! It was nice to have someone to talk to.
One thing I realized quickly is that I am far from being the most nervous person going into this race. I'm actually going into it with a fair bit of knowledge and training. I don't have the experience, but I'm about as well equipped as I can be. I've done lots of running, biking and swimming and feel confident in the distances I'll be doing. I regularly run and ride hills. (I live in the foothills of the Rocky mountains, so don't really have a choice there.) I've read plenty of race reports, so from a theoretical standpoint, know what to fairly well what to expect.
I think what helped me the most about the clinic was simply being there, and seeing the swim course, as well as walking in and out of transition in the order we will during the race. (If you remember my last race report, going out of transition in the right direction wasn't my strong point.) It was also mentioned that transition will be opening at 6:00 am, so I'm planning on getting there bright and early to stake out a good spot close to the bike exit/entrance (I figure running in bike shoes is the slowest part, so it minimizes that distance.)
There was a lot of concern about a hill in the run course. After the race, we were chatting with a couple ladies that were really worried about it. Leigh lives in a hilly subdivision of Calgary so, like me, is used to running the hills. She stated that it's Chestermere (flat), not Calgary or Cochrane, so the hills can't be that bad. One of the ladies looked at her and shot her down, telling her that she's little so she doesn't get it. I stated that I am not little (might be littler then I once was, but still wouldn't call myself small), and I can do hills. (It sounds like a argument, but it was actually a totally good natured conversation.)
We talked with them a bit more, and discussed how walking is always an option, and there's no need to go fast up the hill. Plus, we could see where the hill was from where we were standing, and it definitely couldn't be that bad. I think those ladies headed off to walk that section of the course after that.
I wasn't really concerned about the hill (might slow me down a bit, but won't stop me). I did, however, want to get a feel for the water, as well as what the ground was like walking in. We walked over to the boat launch (which is where the swim start will be) and walked into the water. It was cold, but not too bad. I think it might be hard to jump into with a bathing suit, but quite doable with a wetsuit. A lady came out from a practice swim while we were there. She was wearing a sleeveless suit, and said it was fine. I'm feeling okay about going in with my sleeved suit. The water was actually warmer then the two places I did open water swims while travelling. The boat launch was kind of slippery, so I know I'll have to be careful going in.
I did have a bit of regret that I hadn't brought my wetsuit along. If I'd gone for a swim myself, I could have gotten a better feel for it, and perhaps calmed my nerves more. Having said that, there were still a fair number of boats out, which definitely make me nervous. Fortunately, that section will be closed to boats tomorrow.
Soon after that, we went our separate ways. I'm very glad I went to the clinic. I don't know that I learned a lot, since I know a lot already. What I need now is the actual experience. What it did give me was the confidence of familiarity. When I head out there bright and early, I'll know where to go. I can mentally practice that transition area, picturing which way to run. I know that there are plenty of fixable landmarks around transition, so I can remember my bike's location easily (I hope.)
142 is the number I'll be getting sharpied onto me tomorrow morning...