Posted by: Tina | August 28, 2011

Kelowna Apple Triathlon 2011 – Race Report

A few days before the Kelowna Apple Triathlon 2011, I asked Simon Whitfield if he feels nervous before his races. His answer? “Absolutely. Always think everyone looks so fit and wonder what I’m doing there. Always have. Funny eh?”

This illustrates not only the wondrous power of Twitter that allows me to directly interact with a two-time Olympic medalist, but also that feeling nervous before a race is universal and not something that will ever go away.

I started feeling nervous a full five days before the race. And as I put my bike into transition the day before the race, I felt as Whitfield describes. How come everyone looked so taut, so toned? Was I really trained enough to race with them?

Turns out, I was! I had a good race and finished with a solid time that wasn’t way off from last year. My bike time was down by 4 minutes (!!), but I basically held steady on the run and even managed to surprise myself with a faster swim.

Pre-Race

Other than comforting my 4-year-old daughter as she threw up on the drive to Kelowna, the day started well. I was able to sleep the night before. I muscled down a decent breakfast. It was clear and beautiful. Body marking and transition set up went smoothly. My wave (women 30-39) was at 9am so I had plenty of time to warm up, squeeze into my wetsuit, gobble a Guu, and wonder briefly if all the athletes loitering in the swim warm-up area were discreetly going pee. And then, all of a sudden, the horn went, I was racing and, as usual, the nerves dissipated.

The Swim

The first 100 metres or so was vicious. Although I was in a small wave start, I got kicked and swum over a few times because, unlike 2010, I started in the middle of the pack. For the first while I was forced to take a lot of breaths on just one side because I couldn’t get a proper swim stroke going. After about a hundred metres, I was finally able to get a rhythm of swimming and sighting. Although I was not excited to have to do a second lap as I finished the first, I got a mental boost when I started passing a few of the men who started five minutes before the women. Other highlights: swimming past a school of fish and waving at a scuba diver hanging out under a course buoy.

Overall the swim felt tough. While I was swimming, I attributed this to my lapse in training this spring, but my final swim time contradicts this conclusion. With a time of 28:22, I was faster this year! This was the biggest – and most pleasant – surprise of the day.

The Bike

Oh, how I love riding my bike.  When my coach asked me afterward how I felt on the race, I told her I really enjoyed the bike portion. Why? Because I’m not strong enough on the bike to not enjoy it. If I had been adequately conditioned, it would have been hard. I certainly wouldn’t have been talking or smiling at people as I was (it drives my husband crazy how I enjoy races so much). But the bike course* is so fun! The Knox Mountain climb is a nice short challenge (x3); I felt exhilarated on the downhills back into town; and I love how the course swings through transition three times. On each pass my whole family was there cheering wildly for me (husband, two kids, niece, mom, and dad).

I paid for all the bike love with a slow time: 1:19:34. I can’t say it wasn’t expected and at least it wasn’t my slowest Olympic distance bike time yet.

The Run

Unlike the bike, the run was not enjoyable. The reason? It was hard. I have spent the last couple of months training my body to accept an uncomfortable 10k run pace so I was prepared for it. By the second half, I was having trouble smiling at people cheering me on. The tiny 10m incline at the furthest point from transition – on an otherwise pancake-flat course – felt like a mountain on the second loop. And, oh, how the kilometres ticked by so agonizingly slowly! But I kept focused and it paid off. I passed seven women in my age category, which gave me a needed boost as I ran. (Race category is marked on the back left calf of all competitors so you know who you are racing against as you pass or are passed.)

My final time on the run was 48:11. While this is slightly slower than last year, this year I stopped as I exited transition for a “nature break”, which ate into my time (a pox on you, hydration!). So physically I performed the same as last year, although this is not reflected in my time.

The Finish

I burned into the finish line and the official photographer got a photo of me looking relaxed and happy, adjectives I would not have used to describe how I was feeling at the time. After walking around to bring my heart rate down and eating a bit of food, I went right back to being a full-time mom. The first thing out of my niece’s mouth, for example, was not “Congratulations, Tina!” or “Go, Tina!”, it was “Tina, I’m thirsty.” Having been to enough of these races, she knows how much food is at the finish and was basically demanding I get goodies to feed her. My own kids were similarly commanding.

My final time was 2:40:19 (2010 time was 2:36:46). I moved into a new age category this year and it was competitive. I finished 23 of 58. Still, I was happy because I achieved my goals and I truly enjoyed the race. Almost all of my lost time was from the bike, so at least I have a clear picture of where I need most to improve.

And that brings to an end my brief 2011 triathlon season. One more 10k run race this fall, and then planning for 2012 begins.

——-

*A great video of the 2011 Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon Bike Course

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