Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Guelph Lake Olympic - first triathlon of the year

The race is part of the Subaru triathlon series, held in Guelph Lake conservation area, which is about 1 hour 45 minutes drive from home. This is my first triathlon for the year and my first test as lead up to Ironman Malaysia in late September. The race started an hour earlier this year at 8am, so I was up at 4.15am. I took a different route this time, going through the country roads instead of the highway.

I got the race venue at 6.30am. It sets to be perfect racing weather - clear blue skies with light winds. Much better than last year when it rained throughout! There weren't many people there yet, so I managed to get a strategic spot on the bike rack, as it wasn't numbered within age groups. Went through the usual steps - sign waiver form, pick up race pack and timing chip and number marking. The vendor stalls weren't quite set up yet so I left the window shopping until after the race.
I had some time so I did some dry land exercises. One last visit to the toilet (I find the dry land exercises helped with the motion hahaha) and put on my wetsuit for a 5-10 minute warm up swim. Then it was almost time to go.

Swim 1.5km

The swim is in Guelph Lake itself and it is a one lap, rectangular course moving in a clock-wise direction. The water is pretty clear. I was lucky to be in the first wave, which meant I had less traffic to swim through. I swam pretty well, mostly on my own but every now and then, I managed to find some feet to draft off. An area to further improve on, is to avoid swimming too closely to the buoys. I almost swam into a few! I reached shore in 23-something minutes. There were about 100-200m of grass we had to run up before we crossed the first timing mat. My swim time recorded was 24:30 - almost a minute quicker than last year, great!

Transition 1

Here's where my race rustiness showed itself. I struggled with removing my wetsuit over my ankles, especially on the left one where the timing strap was. As I put on my Giro Selector helmet, the fairing on one side detached itself. So I had to remove the helmet, attach the fairing again and put the helmet back on. I later found out that I lost my goggles in transition too! Mounting the bike wasn't too bad. A bit of congestion but I was relatively quicker getting the bike going compared to others. Total T1 time was 1:59.

Bike 40km

The bike portion is non drafting. The route is relatively straightforward - just 1 lap, out and back, with a few 90 degree turns, which I don't particularly enjoy. I'm your typical triathlete who doesn't handle well on the turns! The first km or so, in and out of the conservation area has pretty rough surfaces with some speed bumps. The course does have some rollers with some short, steep climbs. The sun was directly above us, which was expected as it was the first day of summer. I was drinking more frequently than my training rides at every 5km (usually 10km). I downed a Powergel at the 20km turnaround mark but there weren't any stations for me to discard the wrapper. In fact, I didn't notice any drinks station at all, not that I was planning to use them. Luckily, I was able to shove it into my trisuit back pocket as that can be quite tricky sometimes.
My legs didn't feel that great, must have been the big training weeks prior. I was aiming for the minimum 35kph average. Still, it was way better than last year when I was shivering in the cold and wet throughout. Got back to transition with a fly dismount way too early before the dismount line. So I was just letting the bike roll until it reached the line. Bike split of 1:08:42, about just under 2 minutes quicker than last year.

Transition 2

Shoes and sunglasses on. Race belt and visor to be worn as I ran out of transition. Went okay, not as smooth as clockwork as I liked. Time was 1:01.

Run 10km

Here's usually where I make up time on those in front of me. But my legs didn't feel the same bounce as they normally do. My leg turnover weren't as quick and my breathing felt laboured. It didn't help that my Garmin went blank right after the swim even though I charged it full the night before (anyone else experienced this?). So, similar deal as last year when I was specifically instructed by Coach Sheri not to wear a watch and raced by feel.

The course is T-shaped and had a mix of tarmac and dirt/gravel surface. Again, there were some short, steep climbs. I had a few guys ahead of me whom I was slowly making ground on and eventually overtook them. At the 3km mark, the leading guys were making their way back from the opposite direction. So assuming they would finish with an overall time of 2 hours so, I predicted I had roughly 18 minutes for the 4km gap. I took water from almost every station and splashed them over my head to cool myself down. Had a sip from a couple of them too.
After the turnaround, one guy overtook me but didn't get too far away. Unfortunately, I wasn't catching up either and it stayed that way until the finish. I crossed the line with a run split of 42:22 - 39 seconds slower than last year but with overall time of 2:18:31 (see how accurate my predictions were!), 2 minutes quicker than last year. A new PB by 53 seconds for the Olympic Distance compared to my previous best in Port Dickson 2010. 4th in my age group but prizes only went up to 3rd place. The 3rd place person was 3 minutes ahead anyway, so it would have been rather difficult to catch. Full results here.
The organizers served Erdinger beer at the finish line, alcohol free of course. I caught up with some of our London tri club members after the race. Everyone had a great race. So I'm pretty satisfied with my results. Would have loved to go faster but I've given it my all on the day. Passed my own first test and ticking all the boxes in my progress towards Ironman Malaysia.
I've signed up for Peterborough Half Iron triathlon in two weeks' time. That would be my next test, a mid term exam if you like! And I've contacted the organizers about my missing goggles, they found it and would be bringing it to Peterborough, how nice of them!


CheapRunnerMike said...

Good recap Kevin, I agree with just about everything you said about the race. I wish they could have the timing mats for T1 right down at the beach so we could get accurate swim splits...oh well. You were lucky to be in wave 1, I got clocked in the head a couple times and had to swim through traffic the entire time.

Great race on your part, and good luck tuning up for Peterborough!

Kevin Siah said...

Thanks Mike! Great racing for you too!

Yeah, so far been pretty lucky with my age group being in the first wave.