8 weeks on from Ironman Victoria 70.3 I returned to the same location for the Victoria Half distance race. While at the same venue it is a very different experience as this is a local grass roots event and all the better for it. A smaller, friendlier feel wasn’t going to limit the racing though as it was also the BC Provincial Championships.
The race was perfectly placed for me building towards Ironman Canada at the end of August. It also gave me another opportunity to get my first half distance podium which was proving elusive. In the back of my mind though I knew there were bigger fish to fry so wanted to look after myself.
Race morning went pretty much as planned. Luckily, just before leaving for the start, I checked my tire pressure as my rear had gone flat overnight. I very nearly didn’t. No cause for panic but needed it fixed and this time I had to lean on my fellow Pacific Spirit Triathlon Club members. Christian, very experienced cyclist, took over the change and Rob, fellow brit in the club, kindly did a tube exchange as I didn’t have the right spare. I have always said triathlon is the friendliest non-competitive but competitive sport and here it was again.
With that resolved I headed to the lake to warm up before lining up at the start. The whole event, especially the start, had a lot less fanfare than Ironman and simple is often better. Just ready, set, go and we were off…
I didn’t really know how the day was going to pan out. Mentally I was completely in the zone but post a week eating and relaxing in the Dominican Republic my body felt heavy and tired. I was just going to enjoy the day and see what happened.
I set off hard and mostly felt I was swimming well (fast). What I was not doing well was swimming straight. For the entirety of the swim I felt I was off course, which is bad, but I got out feeling OK. The swim also felt long to me but as it’s the same for everyone, not something to dwell on.
T1 took a little longer than planned as I chose to ride with socks but in no time, I was out on the bike playing the usual game of catch the quick swimmers!
After a few km’s of overtaking a guy in yellow came past me and I took the opportunity to get on his wheel. I was able to follow him for about 10 minutes, but I was over biking so eventually let him go. This turned out to be a really bad decision but had a long-term silver lining.
Shortly after letting him go, I realised he had ridden across to a group of 5-6 riders. I tried to ride across to the group but the closest I got was about 45s behind. What this meant in reality was 75km of the 90km ride became very boring. I was riding alone and for the majority of the time I couldn’t see anyone ahead or behind. I kept plugging away, but it was more like a hard training ride as there was no one to race or judge my effort on.
The bike course was more interesting than the Ironman 70.3 course although I’m never convinced by two laps. Beyond that there is nothing really to report on the bike as nothing happened. It is just way harder/slower riding on your own.
I was in and out of T2 in a flash (quickest transition of the race) and on to the run.
I have had a hard time with injuries this year so setting off on the run knowing I had no one to race meant I could hold back slightly and deliver a steady if not spectacular run. I was running alone again so just had the woods and my thoughts to distract me.
Halfway round there was a short out and back and I crossed the lead woman, the person ahead of me. I thought I might catch her, but we were running an identical pace, so she stayed just on the edge of my line of sight up the road.
On the second lap at the out and back I crossed her again and then two guys who looked like they were chasing me down. This led to me actually putting in a race effort as I did not want to be caught.
Shortly after one came flying past but he was a relay so that was ok, and I managed to hold of the other guy despite my race effort being a lot slower than normal.
With 4km to the girl ahead appeared behind me, bathroom break, and we ran to the finish on each others shoulder. We had both raced alone the entire day apart from those 4km. She outswam me, bike splits identical, I outran her and most importantly outtransitioned her to finish 5s ahead of her.
This brought me home in 9th place (excluding elite) and third in my age group. Ecstatic with this result as it is my first middle distance podium and gave me third in the Provincial Championships. More importantly though this was a major learning race.
In May I got into the lead group which lead to a 3 min faster bike split and a strong run. Here I just missed the bike group and ran 6 minutes slower as well. The effort of riding alone is significant and severely impacted my run.
I mentioned that the mistake of letting the guy go was costly. Had I made the bike group (only 45s) I would almost certainly have won my age group. On the flip side I also mentioned there was a silver lining by missing it. Had I been in the mix I would have had to go to my very limit and being honest I don’t think my body would have held up to that challenge. Instead, I got a race effort training day, another race under my belt and my first podium medal!!