Great White North Triathlon: For the Win!

Well that was fun! Well most of it anyways! It’s funny as a long distance triathlete, so often during a race we have these thoughts: “Why am I doing this. I hurt, I feel sick, and I really don’t want to do this anymore. I’m NEVER doing this again”. Then you cross the finish line and all those thoughts are gone as a sense of accomplishment and pure happiness takes over. I was hurting and hit my dark place pretty early during the run. I honestly had doubts as to whether or not I could finish or not. But I did, and I won! My first win in a race with a Pro Division!

Great White North takes place in Stony Plain, Alberta (about 30min West of Edmonton, which is a 10 hour drive from Penticton. I drove part way on the Friday where I slept in my car overnight in Lake Louise, and then the rest of the way on Saturday morning. I arrived just before noon with plenty of time to get organized. I was staying in Edmonton with family, and woke up race day morning to a crazy thunderstorm. Alberta can have some pretty extreme weather, so by the time I drove through a downpour so heavy my wipers couldn’t keep up, I had reached blue sky at the race site.

I was super relaxed as I got into transition. After all, this was the third time I had done this in a month. As I was getting my wetsuit on 20 min before race start, it was announced that all athletes had to be out of the water 15min before race start. Alrighty then….apparently no warm up swim for this girl. I was busy running around anyways trying to find a different colored swim cap. For anyone that doesn’t know, because I have Epilepsy, I always ask for a different colored cap so that I am more visible in case the worst happens. Reality is if I were to have a seizure in the water and support kayakers/paddlers didn’t see me, I would not be coming out of the water alive. I know it sounds brutal, but it is the truth. So, rather than quit this sport I love so much, I have found a way to take precautions and be safe about it. Race staff is always very good about this, and paddlers have been so good that I often have one watching me the whole time. So thank you to all of you! When the gun went off, I tried to be calm as we ran into the water. I had a panic attack at CDA last weekend, and didn’t want this again. I found myself sticking closer to the front pack than I usually am, so that gave me a huge boost of confidence. I quickly got in a rhythm, and after a few minutes, I saw another pink cap swimming a little over from me. I tried to pull ahead and soon realized that we were swimming at pretty much the same speed. I decided to jump on her feet as I had now lost the front pack. I stayed here all the way to the swim exit where I heard “Here is our second and third place women exiting the water”. As I looked down at my watch it showed 27min and change. Well that has never happened before! Another confidence booster! I sailed thru transition and out onto the bike.

This is truly my happy place. The bike is where I can relax and regroup if needed. Plus it’s fun going fast! The split that was yelled at me right away was “30sec to first”…The next split I got a few minutes later was a split to one of the men. I guess this meant I was in first? I didn’t recall passing the first place female, but I’ll take it! On a more technical note, my power meter decided it wasn’t going to work. I tried to get it to pick up and after a couple tries, I decided to leave it and go totally old school- by feel. I haven’t used a heart rate monitor in over a year, so the only tool I had, which isn’t a good one was speed and average speed. I had raced here two years ago, so I had a pretty good idea of what speed I could hold if the conditions were good. After the first lap, I was holding just under 40km hour average. I was feeling good, relaxed and legs were not feeling stressed at all. Maybe my goal of 2:15 wasn’t so unrealistic at all! The winds picked up a bit on the second loop, so I just focused on effort. I managed to jump off my bike in 2:17! I was super happy! Fastest swim I have ever had and now fastest bike!

My running legs were definitely tired, so I tried to focus on my form. I was feeling pretty good until about 4km in. That’s not very far considering I still had 17 more to run. I started to get really light headed and dizzy. The next aid station I grabbed some coke and downed a gel. I walked for half a minute or so and tried to regroup. Rather than trying to run as fast as I had originally planned, I eased off a bit on the pace. I was told that I had a HUGE lead, so I had a pretty comfy cushion. I came past the finish line into my second loop, and heard the announcer say that I had taken 8min off the bike course record! Energy booster. I told myself that I couldn’t go this far and loose it. I wasn’t running anywhere near as fast as I was capable of on a good day, so I just kept dragging my ass along. I was caught walking by a friend whole yelled at me to get my butt back in gear. A the far out and back, I saw second place…still at least 2km back, but she was on a mission! I only had 5km left, and at this point was NOT going to loose first! I wanted this win so badly! I managed to hold it together, and like I said at the beginning, when I came across that finish line in first, I was so ecstatic that I completely forgot how I had just been feeling for the last hour and a bit. I didn’t finish in the time that I wanted to, and I most definitely didn’t have the run I wanted to, but that didn’t matter. I got the job done and set the bike course record by a long shot!

I am now enjoying an easy free-training week before we focus on Challenge Penticton Long Course on August 30th.

A HUGE shout out to all my sponsors and supporters: Skechers Performance, Swagman Racks, CarboPro, The Bike Barn, Cervelo, Cobb, Podium Imports, Blue Seventy and Garmin.

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