Graham Beasley Olympic Tri 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Graham Beasley Olympic Tri 2008

I’ve decided that I love racing.

Training is great and all, but I am really getting addicted to racing. If I said I was simply racing against the clock, you’d be well within your rights to call me a liar. Maybe other people do, but with my team sports background, I find I need other people to chase or fend off. I am racing against the clock, but I’m using everyone else I see as motivation to shave even seconds off my time.

On Sunday, July 13, we headed to Carleton Place to race in the Graham Beasley Triathlon (Olympic distance for us). The weather threatened all of the previous night and in the morning but it managed to hold off for most of the race—just a few sprinkles here and there which really helped in keeping me cool. We hadn’t raced this one before, but I knew a few things about it:

  1. we needed to watch out for the zebra mussels, and
  2. we would be swimming upstream into the current for part of the swim

Sadly, Kathryn decided not to race as she wasn’t feeling well. When we arrived to the transition zone I noticed a few people getting into the water at the swim exit to do a little warm up by swimming upstream to the start line. My jaw dropped as I saw these so-called swimmers moving their arms and legs but not making any forward progress towards the start line. None. At all. How on earth was I going to swim in this? In the words of Martin Short from the famous SCTV sketch: “I’m not that strong a swimmer.”

The Swim

I slid into the water with about 3 minutes until the start, carefully avoiding zebra mussels. I took my usual place at the back of the group and prepared myself for what would prove to be a difficult swim. Big breath. Starting horn goes off and I hit the water. My goggles don’t leak (cool!) and I tuck in behind the group ahead of me. Things go well. To my surprise, I actually pass a few people. Swimming upstream was a big challenge, but I felt okay. I make my way around the first buoy and catch the current to take me back to the start line so I can turn around again. Awesome. Feeling pretty good compared to the other swims I’ve done this year.

Then I make the turn at the start line and start heading out upstream again. This is where I started to realize how hard it was to swim upstream without anyone to draft off of. I fought the water instead of embracing it which only made it harder. I suck at embracing the water. Actually, I think I suck at fighting it as well.

I finally make it to the turn around point and start heading back downstream and I really let the current do as much work as I could. Nice smooth, long strokes, a little bit of a kick and away I went. I really like this part. I remember thinking to myself they should just have the entire race swimming downstream. That would be cool.

Apparently I finished the 1.5km swim in about 41minutes, including transition time, so more like 38 minutes. Two weeks earlier I swam 1.9km in 45 minutes, so this was kind of disappointing, but completely understandable given the current.

The Bike

I managed to get myself a prime spot right near the front of the transition zone so once I got on my bike gear I was right out the gate, over the timing mat and onward. I got going quickly, felt pretty good and headed out of town. I go down the first hill, hit a bump, and feel a snap on my right arm. The elastic for my aero bottle broke. Now I’m completely scared that I’m going to lose the other and have no bottle for the entire race. I curse for not having bought a new set of elastics when I got my wife a new set after hers broke—I really should have seen this coming.

I managed to ride without the other elastic breaking, heading out into the back roads near where I grew up. Lots of hills, but nothing too stressful. I just kept riding and pushing as hard as I could given the total distance and hoping to save some of my legs for the run.

The best part of the bike for me was that nobody doing the same event I was doing passed me. Yes, I did get passed by 5 of the lead cyclists for the Sprint Tri, but they don’t count. Nobody else passed me, and I made sure that I passed everyone I saw. When I came back into town, finishing the 40km, there were no other cyclists to pass—of course, this also means that everyone that was faster than me was already in front of me, but that’s besides the point.

I finished the bike in 1:17 averaging just over 30km/h.

The Run

I had a good feeling about my run. I would have to say that running has been my strength, though I’m certainly not a spectacular runner. I was aiming for a 50 minute 10km run, and I actually managed to pull it off. My strategy was to just run and catch everyone in front of me that I saw, and (just like on the bike) not to let anyone pass me. I managed to keep that pace, reeling in runner after runner that was ahead of me. Only two guys passed me and they were both pretty much flying. In statistical terms, I’d call them outliers, so I’m just going to ignore them :)

I finished the run in about 51 minutes, give or take, so I’m happy that I managed to keep that pace.

Overall, I’m happy with the time—I finished in 2:50:40 and my goal was to finish in 3 hours. This is likely our last race before we do IronMan Muskoka 70.3 in September, so I’m left feeling pretty good about where I am right now. Way better than last year, but still with some improvement left to go before the race on September 14th.

Derek Featherstone
Derek Featherstone
Web Designer/Developer, Speaker, Trainer, Author, IronMan Lake Placid 2007
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