Fondest greetings race fans! I’m happy to report that I’ve finally gotten past all my race postings related to the 2009 BC Bike Race. I know some of you have been waiting for something new from ActiveSteve, so I’m happy to bring you my latest blog posting, which is also a tasty race report. The results of this race, which was the Graham Beasley Olympic triathlon, marked a bit of an anniversary of sorts for me. As it turned out, this was the 2nd time I’ve taken part in this race. The first time? 5 years ago! This in fact was the first ever triathlon that I took part in. That time, I did the race swimming in baggy shorts, biking on a mountain bike, and capping that off with my first ever run after swimming and biking! The result in 2004? 2 hours, 58 minutes, and 57 seconds. I was 13 out of 14 in my category, 90th out of 107 for males! Needless to say, the results this time were much better 🙂 To see the pictures, click on over to the folder of pictures on Flickr that the lovely Jody took of me.
Now before I get too far into the story, I’d like to remind all my dear readers of one little detail about this race. I had only just returned back from BC Bike Race less than a WEEK ago! Around Wednesday of the week, I was seriously wondering why I signed up for a race less than a week after punishing myself for 7 straight days on the mountain bike in BC. Perhaps not the wisest plan. However, the race entry had been paid already, so I figured I should just get on with it. By Saturday evening (while at Bluesfest I should add), I decided to just relax and make it a hard training ride to see how I could do. Also, I’ve signed up to do a 1/2 Iron Tri on the labour day weekend, and needed a bit of race training. After all, I hadn’t seriously raced in almost 2 years, on account of knee problems last summer. As a result, I knew the swim and run would be pretty rough, but at least hoped I’d be able to pull something special out of my spandex shorts on the ride.
The good part about this race was that it was starting out in Carleton Place, which is only about a 35 minute drive from our place. It still meant that we had to get up pretty early on Sunday morning, but not quite as early as other days. I think we had a 5:30am wake up call to answer to. Still miserable for a self-confessed night owl, but race day is always something a little different. On the bright side of things, ma nature once again decided that I was worthy of great weather on race day. This is no small reward, given the absolutely miserable summer we’ve been having in our neck of the woods. The morning was cool, but definitely warming up. Slight overcast in the sky, making it not too hot or bright. Certainly didn’t look like we’d have any rain to contend with, which would be a great relief (although I tend to perform pretty well in adverse conditions compared to others).
I arrived at the race site and got registered with plenty of time to spare. This gave me a chance to snag a primo spot in the transition, and get completely set up with no pressure. There was also a 1/2 Iron distance race taking place that day, so I watched the start of that race from the bridge, getting a good look at the swim course. Yup, just as I remembered it. Upstream heading up, downstream heading back. Well, guess it would be time for me to suit up, hear the swim briefing, and pop my neoprene-clad body into the water to warm up a little bit. I forgot just how shallow the water was here. We’d actually been warned not to dig to deep with our strokes, at the risk of cutting our hands on zebra mussels. Good to know.
The starting field for our race was about 70 people in total. Much smaller than the first time I raced the course, but looking around I could tell some of the speed demons were present. At least with this number, I ran a better chance of not getting pounded to badly in the water. For those of you who aren’t familiar with swimming in a triathlon, I invite you to view this funny clif bar commercial that summarizes things well. When the starting gun sounded, I hit the water with a mini vengeance, doing my best impression of a swimmer. I think I fell a little short of my goal, as I noticed people pulling away from me. However, I then remembered that it’s all about form, so I just shut the race out of my mind and focused. The end result? I popped out of the water in 18th place with a time of 29:23 for the 1.5km swim (bit misleading, as that includes all the time till I exited transition on the bike). Not great, but not terrible. I was happy enough with it.
After the doggie paddle stage, I tried to get a fast transition underway, since I was pumped for the bike. I had a good jog going as I made my way to my gear pile, peeling my wetsuit off as I ran. Once at my bike, I pulled off the rest of my wetsuit by popping my feet through the bottom, and putting my timing chip back on. Then came the damn race belt. I struggled for a good 30 seconds just trying to get it on right to display my number. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it was really frustrating. Oh well, what can I say? Next time, I’ll tuck the number under my wetsuit instead. On with the helmet, socks, shoes and shades, and I was off!
I mashed the pedals on my tri bike with a vengeance right off the line. In the first couple kilometers, I’d already passed a couple people. My legs felt good, and I fell into a good rhythm. I just gritted my teeth and thought about the fact that it was only 40km, and that this was my moment to shine. I knew that I was doing well when I caught up and started to pass guys with far flashier bikes. The course probably suited me well on this particular day, as it was fairly rolling. We’d get over one hill just to see another on the horizon. Rather than get discouraged by them, I attacked them, keeping the cadence high on every incline. I had no idea where I was in the field, but just knew I had to give it everything I had to move up. After seeing the results, I’m happy to report that I finished the 40k course in 1:08:39 with an average speed of 35km/hr. I think that was my fastest split in any race to date. Remember, there’s no drafting in a triathlon, you’re always facing the wind on your own. This speed was good enough for the 8th fastest bike time. Yippee!
A little sweaty, but no worse for wear, I was ready to strap on the sneakers and go for a little run now. I ran the bike in, racked it, and took off my helmet. Off with the bike shoes, on with the sneakers and running hat. In my mind, I just told myself that it was only 10km. On a normal day, that’s not a huge deal for me, but I was a little out of practice running off the bike. I wasn’t pokey by any stretch, but I just felt like my pace was a little off. I kept plodding on to find my rhythm. I ended up getting my wind back when a competitor slowly passed me about a quarter way into the running leg. I had heard him shuffling behind for a little bit, but when he passed me, that triggered the race instinct in me once again. For the next 5k or so, I just shadowed him as we chatted a bit. His pace forced me to pick things up a little, which was just what I needed.
While running, I also took the opportunity to cheer as many racers on as I could. I always find that cheering for other people gives me an instant little boost as well, so I was able to dig deep and find a little extra speed for the last 2.5km. My competitor tried to surge with me, which spurred me on even further, and I was able to actually pull away and put some daylight between us. I was now about 50m ahead, and still pulling away a bit. I felt good about it, because no one else was passing us, so I felt like I was in a good position. Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line, arms in the air, as the clock showed 2:24:30! That meant the run was done in 46:29, or a pace of 4:39/km. That made it the 12th fastest run. Certainly not my fastest ever, but I’d take it 🙂
Very close behind me was my running partner, ironically also named Stephen. We congratulated each other, and mutually thanked each other for the push during the running stage. Although I had no idea at the time, my overall time actually put me in 2nd place in my category, and 8th overall for the men. Pretty good showing. Almost 35 minutes faster than the last time I did this race! And I wasn’t even rested up for the race! Yay me 🙂 Of course, it could all have been a fluke. We’ll know in another week, when I’m signed up for another Olympic Triathlon. It’s another race that I’ve done in the past twice before, first time was 4 years ago. I’ve also since started swimming and running a bit more. Of course, it probably means that I’ll just put too much pressure on myself. We’ll see 🙂
Till that race, that’ll be it for my race reports. I hope that you’re all having a good summer so far, and that you’re getting out in the fresh air and getting a bit of exercise as well. It’s a great world out there, for all of us to enjoy. Well, off to bed now. Gotta get up for my 24km run in the morning! D’oh!