On Sunday I raced my first long course triathlon, at my hometown course in Kingston. I have done the K-Town Tri short course before but this year I decided to try my hand at the longer distance (the Barrelman half Ironman is now less than 2 months away!)
I think it being a very familiar course was a huge advantage, because there was nowhere on the course that I didn't know where I was and how much further I had to go. It certainly made the 3 1/2 hours a bit more bearable - even enjoyable! And it was the perfect weather for it too - very little wind, blue skies but not too hot until the very end.
The 2k swim was certainly the most daunting of the increased distances, but when I was in the water it surprisingly didn't feel much longer than the other swims I've done this year. I caught a draft right off the start as I always try to, but recognized after a few 100m that I could go faster so passed by and ventured out of my own for a bit. I found another pair of feet about halfway through, but these feet weren't thrilled about being drafted and, after dodging a bit, the attached swimmer just stopped swimming completely and moved out of the way so I'd go by. So I was back to swimming on my own. The whole swim I could see a decent-sized lead pack way out ahead, and realized how badly I need to work on my swim over this coming winter! But I got out of this swim feeling pretty fresh, which was the most important thing for the time being.
I'm not sure how I feel about that bike. The majority of it felt really good, I felt strong off the start for the first half, and finished feeling strong as well, but somewhere in the middle I got a fairly bad leg cramp and felt like I slowed down a lot. I wasn't being passed though, so maybe that was just that part of the course (going into a bit of a headwind - and maybe going a bit uphill? I can never actually tell these kinds of things unless they're really obvious!) Anyway, the cramp went away and I starting feeling stronger again in the last 10-15k and again this 56k course didn't feel quite as long as I expected it would.
Repeat after me: DON'T try something new for race day. Just DON'T.
... In my case this was a different, more effective type of carb-loading than the typical night-before pasta dinner. I tried increasing my carb intake significantly the two days prior to the race (including pasta lunch AND pasta dinner on Saturday!). Maybe it did help to some extent, because I didn't hit a wall or anything during the run, I just spent the entire 15k feeling very bloated and nauseous. In the end though, that forced me to start out slow, and I was able to maintain my pace and even pick it up a bit for the last 2k. I averaged 4:34/km and, when counting the two outhouse breaks, was probably closer to 4:30s, which I'm really happy with. And the best part of the run was running the last 100m with the friendly neighbourhood Pac-Man and two ghosts who looked remarkably similar to three of my Queen's Triathlon teammates - you guys are awesome!!
Overall, I'm very pleased with my first long course tri. I finished in 6th place in what turned out to be a very competitive field. There are certainly things I now know I need to work on (I didn't really need nutrition in the shorter races!) but having done the first one I now know I can do it, and it's all uphill from here (yes there's a double meaning there).
I missed the overall podium but - slightly embarrassingly - was the only one registered as Pro rather than AG Elite. So I did get a podium pic!
Big thanks to Multisport Canada/Recharge with Milk (another race well organized and very successful!), MainCycle Hamilton, teamLPC and the Hurdle Project, and all my wonderful and supportive friends and family for all that you do. Thanks for reading! Depending on how I recover this week, my next one will either be MSC Bracebridge this coming Sunday or MSC Toronto Island three weekends later.