Thursday, 9 July 2015

A Spontaneous Triathlon

My Job is amazing! It encompasses so many of passions. And it involves hanging out with runners and triathletes at race weekends. It is a pretty good gig!

But I struggle not to get swept up in the race day excitement.

Which is why despite working long hours and spending lots of time on my feet, I often end up racing too.

This weekend was no exception.

But even I can admit this was one of my ballsier moves.

It's one thing to wing a road race, it's another one entirely to wing a triathlon. There is a lot more gear involved. And there is also 2 other sports to manage.

I asked the guys from FELT Bikes if I could ride one of their demo bikes. I borrowed a helmet from Mike from Radical Edge. I prayed wetsuits would not be mandatory. And then I spent the next day wondering why I always end up doing this stuff.

We were up early for race day. The athletes participating in the 70.3 were due to start setting up their transition area between 6:00-6:30am. So that meant we were up at 5:30 putting out the finishing touches and heading down to the water to cheer.

We cheered all the athletes on as they made their way up the extremely tough T1 offered at Challenge St Andrews. It's about 700m of steep uphill gravel - which straight out of the water is hard pill to swallow.

As all the athletes made their way out onto the bikes, we all went to breakfast. And then I set off to organize my limited supplies in the transition area.

We cheered on the elites, and watched the first 5 males cross the line. And before I knew it, it was time for me to head down that evil gravel path for my own swim.

The Swim - 750m 19:14
Wetsuits weren't deemed mandatory, so I lined up with the other racers to be counted and corralled into the water. I think my face says it all "What the heck am I doing?!"

As soon as I hit the water I panicked. I was cold and breathing was hard. I also realized I hadn't done any kind of  swim training in about a year. So I wasn't off to a great start.

We milled around in the water for 10 minutes waiting for the official start time. It was an in water start. The gun went off and I spent the next 19:14 having one of the worst swims of my life.

The swim was located in a fresh water pond, but it has drainage into the ocean. So while the swallow pond itself was warm the water shifting in and out from the Atlantic was not.

I would find my stride and then I would hit a cold current and it would take my breath away.

I typically prefer not to wear a wetsuit. But I think having one in this case would have helped me regulate my temperature and my breathing.

But I was winging it with 8 hours notice. So beggars can't be choosers. And I just muddled my way through,
Transition 1:
Remember that awful transition I mentioned earlier? It is not just for the  athletes tackling the 70.3. the Sprint athletes had the same transition.

I had told my Polar crew that I was going to walk to it. But I met Andrew as I popped out of the water, and he said we were running. So run we did - for 80% of it anyways!

I got to the top threw on a shirt, a pair of shorts, and my running shoes. I grabbed my bike and ran out.

The Bike - 20km 48:34
Something magical happened on the bike - I actually rode well!

I was not sure what to expect. I borrowed a bike, and while I took it for a spin around the block. It was still an unfamiliar bike.

I also didn't have bike shoes. So I used a pair of flats and my running shoes.

I set out for a what I thought was a flat fast ride, and soon realized that was not going to be the case. The route was rolling. And on the 10km out we covered approximately 4 good size hills. (Which meant we were due for the same on the way back)

Now typically, this is where I fall apart. I usually have a great swim and then lose a ton of time on the bike. But here I was actually passing people. I was the one who go to say "on your left". It was a new sensation for me.

And I definitely think it speaks to the training I did this winter with the group at 3Sports. I actually (kinda) knew what I was doing.

I maintained a 25km/hr average over the 20km. And for a hilly course and a new bike, I was really happy with that.

Transition 2
This was a quick transitions b/c I was already wearing my running shoes. I just needed to rack my bike and drop my helmet.

I also needed water desperately. Because I was riding a demo bike there were no bottle cages on it. So I got back from the bike feeling hot and a little dehydrated.

Luckily my Polar Peeps were standing by to hand me a nice cold bottle of water.

Run - 5km 32:36
The run was hot! We were racing in the middle of the day, and I definitely felt it.

My calves felt like lead off the bike so I knew was pace was going to be on the slower side. My goal was to stay between a 6:00/km-6:30/km pace (9:40-10:30 mile pace for my US friends).

The people of St Andrews were lifesavers! They had their sprinklers going. They were handing out sponges. And they were just out and about cheering on the athletes. It made for a really great experience.

I rounded the final corner and had an absolute blast doing it. I saw my Polar crew and I smiled all the way across the finish line!

Sometimes being spontaneous and taking a leap can lead to a fabulous adventure. And that was definitely the case this weekend.

I had so much fun being able to experience the race from both sides - as participant and as a sponsor.

It has made me give the 70.3 a second look. And I think if I do it - Challenge St. Andrews will have to be the one. This race has a special place in my heart.

It was such a great event, with such amazing people, I don't think anything else could even come close!

Fingers crossed I will be back again next year!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail