I headed over into transition and to my bike. My bike which, very happily, had tires that were nice and full of air. :) Thank you to the fabulous folk from Speed Theory.
Off with my swim cap and goggles, on with my sunglasses and helmet. Socks, shoes. Arm warmers or jacket? I had been leaning towards the jacket before the race, on account of likely rain. I decided that I make more rational decisions when I'm not in race mode, so I should stick with that one. Jacket it is.
I dried my hands a bit on the towel, but even so my gloves stuck to my hands getting them on. I know a lot of people don't use gloves in triathlons, but I really prefer the comfort of them for longer races. Maybe it's partly because I am still riding a road bike, without aero bars.
Then I was heading out.
T1 time: around 3:45 (I forgot to lap my garmin until I was already on the bike. My garmin says 4:39, but I think it was close to a minute before I hit it.)
|Another photo courtesy of Runner Leana|
Off onto the bike. The course starts with a loop around the lake before hitting the roads that take us to the highway. I was feeling pretty good at this point. Sometimes I have mild nausea after the swim, but it wasn't hitting me at all.
One of my major goals for this race was to stay in the moment. This meant, at this moment in time, all that mattered was the bike. Granted, I needed to do it in a way that would allow me to run after, but any worried thoughts about what was coming up in the run were shut down. I could deal with the run when I got there. Keeping this mindset helped me a LOT during this race.
As I finished up my loop around the lake, I saw my family and got a little cheer to send me on my way.
The bike course was completely different from last year, on account of a different swim location. It was a bit short, at 85km, but challenging, with lots of hills in the first half of it.
I geared down when I needed to, and spun up the hills. I was not going to make the mistake of burning my legs out in the first half of the ride, when I still had a long ways to go on both the bike and run.
My garmin was not fully functional for some reason. It was giving me my current speed, but wasn't giving me distance, or average speed. I also wasn't getting an accurate heart rate reading, as anytime I looked, I had a heart rate of about 70 bpm. Ummm, no. I wasn't sitting around blogging, which is about what I'd have to do to maintain a heart rate of 70. I was a bit disappointed about the lack of heart rate info, but it just meant I had to really pay attention to my rate of perceived exertion instead.
There were a couple steeper downhills that I had a tough time with. I just couldn't keep my hands off the brakes. Having said that, I did take some of the other hills without braking, something I wouldn't have been able to do even a couple months ago.
Early in the ride, I'd regretted the jacket and was wondering if I'd have to stop to tie it around my waist, or something. By this point in the ride, I was glad I'd made that decision. It was cool, and kept threatening to rain. In fact, my finger tips were occasionally feeling numb, so I was glad for the gloves as well.
I had my garmin set to beep every 10 minutes to remind me to hydrate and fuel. I didn't always fuel when it beeped. If I was descending, passing, or cornering at the time, I'd wait. I liked having it to remind me though, as sometimes I can easily go 45-60 minutes without remembering to fuel, not the best idea in a long race. This kept me right on track. I was using stroop waffles (like honey stinger waffles, but not individually packaged, or marketed for sports, so way cheaper), drinking heed and had some gels as well.
Then I was passing Bragg Creek, and I knew the most challenging part of the course was behind me. In some ways, it is good that my garmin wasn't giving me full data. I can get obsessed with the average speed number, as I'll always work out the average speed I need to maintain in order to meet goals or cut off times. That might work on a completely flat course on a wind-free day, but I haven't been on a course like that yet. In this particular course, nobody could maintain the same average speed for the first half that they'd be able to reach in the second. The second half of this course is mostly a false flat going down.
I heard sirens and just hoped they were unrelated to the race.
Once onto highway 8, the shoulder we were riding on got a lot narrower. There was not room for two riders unless one went onto the rumble strips. It was late enough in the course that there wasn't a tonne of passing, but there definitely was still some happening.
At one point, I was approaching a guy and debating whether to pass. Sometimes I find, the person in front slows down very temporarily to eat or drink and if I pass, they either start pedalling hard while I'm passing, or pass me again right away. Not so this time. I wasn't braking, but I had stopped pedalling and was still gaining on the guy. I'd have to brake to stay out of his draft zone, and this was an easy section of course.
At this point of the highway, there was actually room to go on the other side of the rumble strips while still staying in the shoulder. I moved over and called out to let him know I was passing. I did a quick check to make sure I was ahead of him and could pull back in, when another women came through right between us. She did say something as she came through, but if I'd moved in a second sooner, or skipped shoulder checking, it could have been bad.
I was probably at about 70 km by now and was feeling really good on the bike. I remember last year being really, really uncomfortable by this point. I've changed my saddle since then and that's made a huge difference in long ride comfort. I've also really been working on my posture and position, which has helped with the numbness I typically get between my shoulders. And, quite frankly, I've just spent more time on my bike this season.
The one annoying thing about the course was the way the signs were placed along the highway. Basically, there's a smooth shoulder, then a fairly wide rumble strip, then the highway, where cars were zooming past. There were signs set up to inform motorists of the race that was going on, except they were set up in the smooth part of the shoulder. This meant that you had to continually weave back and forth between the rumble strip and the smooth pavement.
I came to one section where traffic was stopped going both directions. I'd already slowed down, but as I approached, there was a woman who told me to slow waaaay down. Then I was stopped, with emergency vehicles spread out in front of me. I'm not sure how long, but I'd guess 3-4 minutes. I was the first triathlete stopped, but very soon, there was a group waiting. Finally, an ambulance pulled away, the police let some traffic from the other direction go, then we did.
As I rode past, I saw the one thing I was hoping I wouldn't: a riderless bike on the ground. (Reports since the race are that 3 people were injured.)
As horrible as it was, I knew I had to shake it off. I wasn't the victim, and I couldn't help the victim by dwelling on it. Keep riding.
In the last few kilometers of the bike, I started thinking about transition and mentally rehearsing it. Before long, I had turned and was on the final stretch to transition. Keep pedaling. Stay relaxed. When I reached the dismount line, I stepped off my bike, confidently, with no tip over fears I headed into transition, to prepare for something I hadn't done for 3 months: run 21 km.
Up next: the run!