As I sat on the pool deck I was trying to remember the last time I went swimming. It was April 5th. It hurt a lot. I splashed around and got passed by the other person in my lane, who was doing backstroke half the time. On a whim Josh and I signed up for the Inaugural Drayton Valley Triathlon. A sprint distance with the aforementioned pool swim, a smooth bike course and run in town. We drove down the bike course into a smoky haze. There was a wildfire burning between Drayton Valley and Lodgepole. We were early and by the time the race started, the smoke had cleared out. It was interesting to hear someone discussing a possible evacuation alert and evacuation procedure in the event of a hazard after taking EAS 295 Human Dimensions of Environmental Hazards. But I digress.
There was a self seeding starting. You lined up and found people swimming close to your time. I was in the last group of people, Josh was in the group ahead of me. This was not going to be a head to head race but a time trial between the two of us. On the registration form I had put down 11 minutes. I might have swam that time... once, maybe. Wasn't going to be today. I had no form, no rhythm to my breathing, no flip turning. It was awful. But when they waved that kickboard under the water I could not have been happier. I did my last two lengths and got the hell out. Out the door, down the carpet to T1, barely sneaking under 12 minutes.
Lesson: Swim, even a little bit. Maybe like once a week even.
I grabbed my stuff got over the mount line and almost nearly had a good mount. I missed my pedals and stalled a bit. Finally in I took off. I knew it was going to be a right (outa T1), left, left, left. I was a little strange riding in the left lane. The road was narrow and athletes were going to be coming both ways. I had to pass right as someone was on coming. Sketchy. However, the organizer explained at the beginning of the race that course will be modified next year so athletes weren't riding head on. The race was awesome overall but more about that later. I don't know what was going through my mind on the last left but I nearly went right. Sloppy. Know thy course. From here it was a straight out and back on buttery smooth asphalt. It was honestly one of the best road surfaces I have ridden on in Alberta. I have ridden extensively but it was really nice. There was a slight tailwind and the road sloped downhill ever so gently. I should really ride with my Garmin. I don't know what speed I got but it was quick. There was a coulee that provided a short and sweet climb that we would hit twice. Another issue was when I was cresting the top of the coulee. I couldn't get my RPMs up. Can't remember if I dropped it into my little ring. In talking to Josh after I might have been putting out to much power in the middle of the climb. Anywho, after the turn around the way back was a gradual uphill. Not to steep and thank god no the headwind was not bad. Took the rest of the corners well on the way home. Getting into T2 was a little strange. It was nearly 180 degrees onto a pathway. Got my feet outa my shoes before the turn (and speed bump) and came flying into transition. Kelly, the ATA Technical Delegate even said "good dismount." Two relay team members had to jump out of my way or I would have flatten them. Finished with a 33:24. Super fast bike course. Having taken up bike racing has really helped. Maybe. A big thank you to Josh for lending me his Carbones again, so nice.
Lesson: Pay better attention and more hills.
The goal from last year was to run better off the bike. I did that, ran a 20 minute 5k at KALRATS and 40 minute 10k at Edmonton ITU. I've still been doing repeats so I felt strong. I don't have a heavy legs sensation off the bike anymore. I started well but needed water. I drank on the bike but my water tasty funny. This has happened at other pool triathlons. The course followed the sidewalk along the bike route to a left and to the pond. There were still lots of people on course and I was able to see one guy who was in the same lane as Josh. I never saw Josh on the run which freaked me out. I saw him start the run when I was riding to transition. He saw me when I got to the pond to start my laps. I missed him. Did my two laps around the pond and started on my way back. Like the bike it was a gradual uphill to the finish. This was an awesome course. Fast but not easy. My breathing was getting really bad with about a kilometre left. Josh came to the penultimate corner and cheered me on. When you are already digging as deep as you can, nothing is better then your friend yelling at you to dig even more. Slowtwitch quoted one reporter from Japan, in discussing the finish line at Kona, "Behind that is hell, beyond it is heaven." I dropped down right after the line and caught my breath. The run was about 500 metres short. Including T2 I got 18:25.
Lesson: Keep up with the workouts, maintain running fitness.
Damn it hurt... and I liked it. The organizers did an awesome job with the race. It was inexpensive (only $60) and it was a good race that incorporated a KOS (which was only $10!), a Corporate Challenge, Team and Individual categories. The town put it on and had measurable results because attendance in the pool increased. The winners of the Corporate Challenge got a massive trophy to show off. Again the course was fast yet challenging. It felt like the town came out to watch. It was a great atmosphere of people. That is why I race triathlon. Everyone is happy even though they are in so much pain. I'm planning already to back next year.
Oh yeah, and I beat Josh by 34 seconds. And took first overall with a time of 1:03, a PB.