Tales of triathlon, travel, and trails

Lake Chaparral Olympic Distance

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It turns out I have a little bit of talent for time-trial (flat) and Olympic Distance (short) races. To me, that just seems wimpy. Can’t everyone and anyone do a short, flat triathlon? But if I think more about it, I guess it actually is a specific type of racing that not everyone is good at. In the Tour de France, not everyone can time trial well. There are time trial specialists just like there are sprinters and mountain specialists. And in triathlon, although now a lot of the top Ironman athletes are coming from ITU short course racing, it doesn’t always work in reverse, that long distance athletes are good at short course. Unfortunately for me, I love the challenge of long course triathlon precisely because I’m not good at it! Not that I’m particularly good at the short stuff but I do place significantly better in Olympic or Sprint distance races than in Ironman.

This also reminds me of this article in Outside Magazine. If you apply yourself fully then short races are every bit as difficult and impressive as long races. Gwen Jorgenson racing ITU Olympic Distance and destroying the competition is definitely just as remarkable as Rinny/Daniela/Rachel racing Ironman. I just have to start remembering this and believing it myself!

Anyway, Michelle asked me with a few days notice if I wanted to jump into an Olympic Distance triathlon in Calgary. Not one to say no to a challenge, I entered the Chaparral Triathlon.

When the gun went off Sunday morning, the lake was warm and calm but I felt like a brick being dragged through the water. Not sure what the problem was but I just wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t get a good rhythm going and instead of gliding through the water I felt more like I was fighting the water to get it out of my way. I actually really wanted to call it a day at that point because I just felt so off. In reality I didn’t swim too bad, just normal for my swimming now with no swim training.

The bike course was 5 laps of a 7.8km loop. The officials had made a big deal of enforcing a 12m draft zone which was clearly impossible with 350 athletes on a 7.8km loop. I also never saw a race official but I don’t think drafting was a big problem at this local race.

Right away I actually felt pretty good with two wheels under me. Michelle had just told me I run better off the bike in training when it’s a big gear session so I just decided I was going to push some big gears and hopefully big watts on the bike and see what happened on the run. The first lap was really nice, the course was pretty empty so it was smooth sailing. Throughout the race the course got more and more busy so it became a bit of a game of dodging other athletes. There was one pretty significant hill that obviously we had to climb 5 times. I felt better and better throughout the ride and for the first time ever, I came away with the fastest women’s bike split! Thanks Michelle!!

I think I came off the bike as second place woman (what?!), although I only found that out after the race by looking at the results. And it didn’t really matter anyway because I was promptly passed by 3 women and then another a few km later. What else is new! My run didn’t feel too bad. I was running better than I expected but still not up to the standard I should or could be running.

I didn’t have my personal photographer (Rob) with me at this race so this is the only photo I have!

Overall I finished as 6th woman overall, 3rd age group! And of course when I actually get a podium, there is no podium for prizes or photos! I’m really happy with this race especially considering I didn’t do any training specific to Olympic Distance racing. I’ve really enjoyed this year off Ironman, so maybe I’ll continue it into next year, unless of course I get a lottery spot into Norseman 🙂



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