Race Report: Great White North Triathlon

Posted by Jan

Great day for great white north race: 16 degrees in the morning and there were some clouds later to cover us from the Alberta sun. Swim went OK. I started in the front and slowly fell back into groups with my pace. I noticed big improvement in my ability to swim straight without permanent correction what resulted in my best open water swim and not such bad starting position for the bike as usual.

Biking was awesome. Dave lent me his TT bike which allows a good aero-position so I felt like a real triathlete. The course is fast with kick off downhill to Stoney Plain. I let my legs spin at comfortable cadence and waited what would happen. Finally I found that all the training was worthy and I could keep going about 37km/h without extra hard effort (knowing that the way back should be faster). I was passed by couple people, which was a new thing for me as usually nobody who swims slower than me has a serious desire to race. When I was again approaching Stoney Plain seeing on my Garmin average speed above 38km/h, I was super happy as two years ago I just dreamt about such speed even for shorter distances.

Smiling on the bike

Fully satisfied with this I took the last kilometers easy and started to stretch before the run. Too much thinking about the run I went straight through the last intersection where I should have turned left to the transition. I probably looked so relaxed and careless that the course marshals considered me to be a random biker and let me go wrong way. When I passed second lights and railway crossing without seeing any marshals I started to realize that something was wrong. I turned back, waited on the red light and finally got to the transition. It didn’t bother me much as I felt really good and didn’t care about a couple of minutes. I just wanted to have a good run.

Run started hard in agreement with my expectation. I just let my legs move seeing that it means nice 4:10min/km pace. I was looking forward to the moment when my body would fully adjust to the new movement but it never happened. I underestimated the influence that the aeroposition had on my body. There was definitely a lack of brick training with aerobars in my training as I preferred road racing in the spring. I damaged something in my chest during the bike which then caused severe pain so I couldn’t breathe hard. And without breathing I couldn’t run. After 3 km I found out that it was not easing off. After 4 km I found out that it was getting worse and after the 5 km I had to stop. I tried to stretch it out, take a break, take a drink, run faster or slower but nothing worked (actually it stayed there at least two days after). I had two options: to give up or to walk 16km (slowly). Options 1 sounded very reasonable as I didn’t need verification that I’m able to finish a Half Ironman (I did it in Calgary two years ago) or confirmation that I suck in run (I got it in Calgary too). On the other hand I felt responsibility towards my fans and also towards other suffering teammates so I continued with a specific style: 100m slow run – 50m slow walk. I met Travis running strong after great bike. Emily, Becky and Mike were fighting the course with similar faces full of pain but still giving everything out. Darren came to me from behind and when he heard that it is just a pain that restricts my performance, he made me run 200 meters which almost killed me. He didn’t leave me alone until I promised to finish the race. Lesley trying to beat 5 hours was getting close to me in the last kilometers so I was hoping in final sprint together (walking against running) but 5 hours was faster than both of us.

Suffering in the run

After all I had to fake run more often than I would like as a lot of people on the course and around the course didn’t like to see a young fit man slacking off while 60 years old ladies were running hard. There were families with kids and I was thinking that I wouldn’t be a good example to these future triathletes. Also volunteers didn’t like to assist to this poor performance and one lady even refused to hand me a coke before I showed some effort. I also had to run the last 500 meters as I knew that Darren was watching me and it would be lame to walk on the finish photo so I finished in pain but looking cool. The funniest part is that this kind of “run” was faster than my run two years ago when I kept running almost all time. I finished in 5h05min48s which is half an hour faster than my Calgary Half Ironman, but I didn’t find out what are my running abilities for triathlon (or I found that there are none?), which means that I have to do it again after hard long brick trainings – oh man! Anyway it was a great event and I enjoyed most of it. Thanks to everybody who helped me with doing this race either by coaching me, training or racing with me or volunteering and cheering for me.

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