The Wasa olympic distance triathlon was definitely an adventure this weekend. I had been watching the forecast for Kimberly and Cranbrook all week long and it wasn’t looking great for the weekend. Then when we encountered snow for a good portion of the drive out I was really worried about having a scary first lake swim of the year (visions of breaking through the ice to get to the water hee hee).
When we got there on Saturday, planning do to a pre-race swim, the temp was around 4-5 degrees and pouring rain. One of my more experienced tri-friends recommended I don’t swim on Saturday because
a) my wetsuit will still be wet, and b) she thought I’d freak myself out because it was quite cold (13.6 degrees).
Which made it even more nerve racking on Sunday morning because I hadn’t been in a lake since Wasa last year. It started out chilly (about 5) but no rain. I originally set up my transition planning to put on tights and booties, etc, but after looking around at what other people had laid out, I changed my mind on those. I doubled up my swim caps and I wore a long sleeve technical shirt under the wetsuit too.
About 50 min before start time, I went out for a 15 min jog to get my arms moving and blood flowing, then came back got the wetsuit on and went down to the beach. I took my time getting in, letting the water come into my zipper (and warmed up the inside hehe), then splashed some water on my face, and then took about 10 strokes out and then back. I knew as soon as I got my hands wet, I’d become cold quickly, so there wasn’t really a “warm-up” – I just tried to get acclimatized.
Swim: shortened to 750 m instead of 1500, the best news of the day. I started way to the left (it was a clockwise rectangle), but people weren’t getting into the water very fast, and I didn’t feel like waiting for everyone else to start. So it was a bit of a crush of people throughout, but I’m sure nothing near the crush that would have happened closer to the starting buoy. The cold actually wasn’t too bad
– no hyperventilating. Only issues were that i started getting leg cramps (calfs) on the last portion of the swim, and ended up inhaling some water at one point resulting in a bobbing coughing fit. But then started up again right away. My thought was the sooner I can get out of there the sooner I can warm up. So I was oddly not too panicky. But I did notice that I felt very sluggish and slow (and technically not very smooth), probably because of the cold. Time:
T1: HORRIBLE. My hands were useless. I couldn’t even get my socks on because they were frozen into a clawlike shape. One friend told me later that she uses hotshots to warm up her socks/shoes while she’s swimming on cold races and then quickly uses them to heat up her
hands. That might be a good tip to remember. Then I also made the
mistake of wearing my sleeves with my bike jersey, which I could NOT get pulled up. I would have been just fine in retrospect with just the jersey and jacket and spent way too much time struggling with the sleeves. Made for a very long T1.
Bike: On the bike it was fun to “race”. Where on the swim I just wanted to survive and keep from being clobbered, on the bike I tried to get around as many people as possible. It was really fun trying to stay in front of people I passed, and chatting with them as they went around me again. But with the transition debacle, the bike ride ended up being my “slowest”. For the last 3-4 km, I increased the cadence to get ready to run (fuel on the bike: a Gu gel at the beginning, and one at the end. One bottle of Nuun and one bottle of water). Time:
T2: uneventful. Although I did make the decision to change from my wet biking socks to my dry running socks, which added time (but which I do not regret).
Run: strategic – focused on pacing and hydrating for GWN in three
weeks (after all this is just considered another training day!) I
tried to maintain a pace of between 6 and 6:30 min/km. My strategy with the run was also to hydrate as much as possible. There were like
8 water stations!! And I stopped at 6 of them, which felt excessive – I didn’t really “feel” thirsty, but I wanted to work on developing a habit of conscious hydration, and the reward of walking a few paces through the water station motivated me to get running again. I wasn’t actually “racing” the run, I was doing my own thing, but there was one lady who passed me at a water station, and then I was able to get around her again, and it was my goal to “stay” in front of her for the last 2 or so km. Which I was able to do, so that was cool. 1:01:45 was the time, which felt good. Overall: 2:52:10.
People asked me if I had fun, and I don’t know if it was fun exactly:
the swim was scary, the bike was fun, and the run was challenging.
But it sure felt great when it was over! I think it was a great opportunity to get into the water in less-than-optimal conditions which will go a long way to helping me get ready for my next race.