Continuing the theme of racing short and fast this year I’ve travelled to the Okanagan twice in the past month for the Peach Classic & the Kelowna Apple Triathlon.
Peach Classic Triathlon
First up was the Peach Classic which doubled as a qualifier for the 2016 Sprint World Championships in Mexico. The summer heat wave hadn’t let up; water temps were above 24 degrees, and so the race was declared a non-wetsuit swim.
Not having a swimming background I rely on my wetsuit for a good body position in the water and some ‘free speed.’ I reasoned however, the majority of other people would be in the same boat.
It was mass start, both male & female. I found a spot found near the front and the gun went off. The usual washing machine of a swim starts began, I found some feet to swim on, but shortly after was shoved off by a much larger guy. Figuring my chances of moving him were slim, I settled in behind, luckily 750m goes by pretty quickly!
I was out of the water in 6th, passed another 2 girls in transition and was onto the bike in 4th. The hilly bike course suited me and I’d passed another 2 girls by the top of the first hill putting me into second. Entering the first out and back section I saw the girl in the lead already leaving, I put her out of my mind and focused on enjoying the ride, the scenery there is amazing.
was surprised to catch the lead girl just 10 minutes later, I worked hard to put as much distance between her and myself as possible over the rest of the bike.
Coming into T2 I wasn’t paying attention, I went sailing over the dismount line, by quite a bit… Shouting, by officials, at me, a short time penalty and I was off again.
Shoes on and I was heading out of T2 when I heard Steve King announce the second woman in on the bike, time to get moving! The 5km run had a brutal hill, meaning at least 2km was UP UP UP, I tried to focus on keeping my head up and picking off a few guys ahead of me. The run was an out and back, meaning I could count how much of a cushion I had over second place at the turn, 90 seconds, not a lot, but hopefully enough!
The last 500m stretch seemed to take forever, my legs went to jello! I was so happy to see the finish line, with 1:11 on the clock. This was good enough to take the win and grab a spot to sprint worlds in Mexico. For 2016 this will be draft legal, so that should be interesting!
Kelowna Apple Triathlon
Next up was the Apple; I headed to Kelowna with my good friends Sara & Amy, looking forward to a girls weekend away.
We were hoping for some beach time after the race but a fire in Washington and changing winds brought in a lot of smoke overnight. We awoke to thick, heavy air, the smell of bonfires and an extreme air quality warning, our bikes covered in a fine layer of ash.
The race went ahead, but several people chose to withdraw. I took my inhaler twice, crossed my fingers and hoped that the race was short enough that the smoke wouldn’t get to me.
I have yet to make it to a race without forgetting something, this time was no different. As we walked over for body marking I realized everything seemed very blurry, I’d forgotten my contact lenses!
Luckily Amy’s race was a few hours later and she was able to dash back and grab them for me, then we used her phone camera as a mirror so I could quickly shove them in.
Women 20-34 started in a single swim wave with women 35-39 starting 5 minutes behind. For me having moved into 35-39 category this year that was a disadvantage. I was not getting a swim start with the younger faster girls, in the one portion of the race where drafting is legal. I got my wetsuit on, warmed up and the gun went off for our small wave. I swam 50 strong strokes, looked around, but no one was with me…
I swam hard, but solo, encountering a lot of the slower women from the wave ahead, the second half of the course became very congested. For me it wasn’t a great swim, I came out of the water a minute behind where I’d like to have been, expending a lot of energy.
A quick T1 and onto the bike where I headed up Knox mountain on what felt like some very dead legs, too much kicking in the swim!
However, the Apple is a fast bike course and my legs came around for the second lap. Down the last stretch of the bike I was aware of a strange wheezing noise that I realized was in fact my breathing, damn that smoke...
I came into T2 holding just over a 36km/hr for the bike, good enough to also snag a few Strava QOM's. I saw some of the faster girls from the wave ahead already heading out onto the run. Panic set in, I had to then remind myself i’d set off in a wave 5 minutes behind them, not with them, I had time…
I set off running at a decent pace, my lungs holding up. However, 3km into the run I was struggling, I had to slow down, and focus on breathing evenly. I ran a steady last 2km coming into the finish with a 20:19 run for a 1:09 overall time.
A short wait for the results and then confirmation I had been just fast enough to take the overall win! Happy!
Today I sound like a 60 year old 2 pack a day smoker, but my lungs will bounce back! So ends a fast and fun triathlon race season for 2015; I’m looking forward to some off-season cyclocross and running races though fall and winter!