Traithlon finally returned to BC with the Stanley Park Tri. Which as it turned out provided the perfect warm up for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Utah on 18th September.
A week before the event we weren’t sure if it would be a triathlon or an aquabike due to the unprecedented number of Coyote attacks in Stanley Park. Peronally I thought this was ridiculous as 600 people running would be more than enough to scare them off and if nothing else would be an incentive to run fast! Additionally the event is hosted on the seawall, arguably the best city running wall in the world. So to have to cancel the run would have been pretty embarrassing!!
Luickly common sense prevailed and we were all set for the first race in nearly two years!
The Stanley Park Tri is also my triathlon clubs lcoal race which meant we had close to 30 people racing and many more supporting. This leads to a much more enjoyable experience as you share it with friends and there is always someone to talk to. Triathlon can be a bit lonely when travelling for races.
Despite a last minute bike drama I was riding my Canyon in its full long distance set up. She has proved a complete nightmare to set up and has spent more time in the shop than being ridden but once on the road she is an absolute rocketship!
The race started with a group beach start which is a rare thing these days. I went hard out the blocks and found myself towards the front going nicely, a major difference from a swimming race I did earlier in the summer where I just went backwards. Most triathletes cant swim!
It was a triangular course and as I went round the first buoy I was feeling good and in a nice position. Unfortunately this was as good as it got. I probably went too hard as started to struggle, and this was only the first lap, but solidered on. At least least I was swimming in clear water and could see where I was going.
In the time it took me to complete my first lap the tide had gone out meaning we ran out of water 30-40m from the shore. Underfoot was sand and rocks which made it impossible to work out what to do. I tired running, crawling, dolphin diving but none seemed much better than the others. Eventually I was out, around the buoy and back in for the second loop.
In many ways the second loop was easier as I was tired so just had to go for it. I felt slow though and knew the lead group was getting away. On the plus side I was sighting well, got to look at the positives. By the end of the second lap the tide had gone out even further. So we had to walk, crawl, wade etc further!
This combined with how hard I had found the swim and an uphill sandy run to transition put my heart rate through the roof. So much so that I wasn’t thinking straight and went to the wrong bike rack. The absolute cardinal sin in transition!
As I got on to the bike I felt pretty rough becuase my heart rate was so high but straight away put my foot down. I was treating this race as a bike practice. It is very rare to get 40km uninterrupted, so I was going to give it everything on the bike and hope I could hold on on the run.
It was a 4 loop course and it took till the downhill at the end of the first loop before I began to feel ok. Despite feeling rough I was flying. Two people had come out with me and tried to sit behind me but I left them for dead!
Apart from a major mishap with my hydration system which meant I lost most my water the bike was uneventful. I pushed hard but in many ways felt better the further I went. On the 3rd and 4th lap I had the benefit of seeing other club members which was a nice break from the head down pedal hard experience.
I came in to transition alongside a couple of people and noticed there were only one or two bikes racked so I was right in it. Normally this is great news as the run is my strongest but given the effort on the bike I wasn’t sure how the run would go.
As I set off on the 4 lap run course I could see a guy in white/red in front and a guy in a Mexican tri suit in front of him. I had my targets. By the end of the first lap my targets were starting to pull away and two people had run through me. Normally I would try and sit with them but they were going so much faster I couldn’t even try. I wasn’t running slowly but these guys were flying. (regardless of bike effort I would not have stayed with them)
The run began to hurt and I just had to settle in as a couple more passed but I was doing everything I could and running a solid pace. On the out of the final lap I noticed the Mexican was walking near the turnaround and I realised I might get one place back. As I approached he started jogging again. I passed but he wasn’t letting me go and sat on my shoulder.
With about 400m to go I got the impression he was dropping back and pushed on and up the last hill to try and break him which I was pretty confident I did. But I was also running on empty over the top of the hill and he started to gain again. 200m downhill to go I could hear him behind me so gave it everything. I kept glancing over my shoulder and couldn’t see him but the corwd kept shouting don’t look back he is right behind you. I really couldn’t see him and wasn’t sure I believed them but kept going.
It was lucky I did as he was right behind me. No idea how I couldn’t see him but he crossed 2s behind me. I was in so much pain doubled over. I haven’t hurt like that in a long time which is exactly why I don’t really like short distance, you have to try so hard. Long distance is more about a manageable effort for a long time not max efforts!!
I slowly wandered over to the Tri Club tent to support the rest of the team and recover. As the results came in I was 1st in my age group and 7th overall. (25-29 had 4 ahead of me, 35-40 1 and 40-44 1 but he was an ex pro). A little lucky to win maybe but I have also been through hard age groups. I had also put in the 4th fastest bike split which considering I am not a cyclist was a great effort!
The rest of the morning was recovering and supporting the rest of the Pacific Spirit Triathlon Club home. There were great results across the board, lots of wins, podiums and personal bests. So a great effort by everybody as well as the support crew who where there throughout cheering.
Triathlon isn’t really a team sport but at an event like this it sure feels like one and how lucky I am to be part of the best team around!!
Next stop, Ironman 70.3 World Championships in St Geroge, Utah. It will be hot and hard but I’m feeling in great shape. The run is brutally hilly which should suit me perfectly so fingers crossed for a good day!