Friday, September 08, 2017

Pre - Race Report - ITU Multisport Festival - Aquabike

Summer zoomed right by and boom! Time for A Race #1.  Lots of long training rides and runs made it pretty much impossible to do much racing between Lake Placid camp in June, Aquabike worlds in August.  I managed one sprint triathlon that once again got turned into a duathlon since the Atlantic Ocean decided to show her mean side again.  After getting over the initial shock of the distances for the aquabike race, I did get a couple of 70+ mile rides in.  I also got lots of hilly rides in. Thank you Ken Harris and my Rye Tri Club teammates that are doing Lake Placid 70.3 with me.

Race Week - Wednesday

We arrived in Penticton on Tuesday, after spending the weekend in Vancouver.  A long, but pretty drive. I wanted to have a few days before the race to get the lay of the land and pick up my race packet as soon as it opened up for Long Course and Aquabike competitors.  Wednesday was the first day, so I wanted to get it done that day.  Also the Parade of Nations was that night.  John and I walked to a little sushi place that we thought was close to the hotel.  In reality it was a much longer walk than we anticipated.  It was also very hot, high 80s.  One would think British Columbia would be cool, but that's not the case, especially as one gets away from the coast. The walk was worth it.  Sockeye salmon sushi was the best I've ever had!

After lunch I walked down to the expo to get my race packet and indulge in some expo shopping.  It also gave me an opportunity to sample the drink that would be handed out on the bike course.  I love my Hammer Nutrition products, but that wasn't going to be on the course.  I would have my Hammer Perpetuam concoction that I use for gel like nutrition.  It's worked well for me on my training rides, but I knew I would need to supplement it with liquids available on the course.

The parade of nations was a lot fun.  I ran into a few fellow Rye Tri Club members who were doing the long course race.  I would be doing 3K swim, 120K bike and leisurely trot to the finish line, or as one person put it; Swim, Bike, Done! My club mates would then have to run 30K after all that swimming and biking.

Rye Tri Club Crew

 Team Australia
 Team USA
Team USA - Texting while marching LOL!

Race Week - Thursday

Though there were no race specific scheduled activities, we still had a rather full day.  John and I took a ride on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway.  This was our one touristy thing we would do before the race.  We saw lots of beautiful scenery and were able to get off the train for a little bit.  Local people come and sell fresh raspberries.  I was hoping they would survive the rest of the train ride so we could have them for breakfast, but we ate them all. In hindsight I should have bought two containers.

 Tri-geek tourist with her support team

After the train ride I went to pick up my bike from Tri Bike Transport.  Unlike last year in Omaha, where I got totally lost trying to find out where their pickup spot was, this time it was really easy.  They were in the parking lot of one of the local breweries.  Like nationals last year, they're not the "official" bike transport company.  However I've used them many times, and love their service.  They pick up from my local bike shop in Stamford, CT.  I leave the bike at Pacific Cycling and Triathlon  and have them do a tune up before TBT comes to get the bike.  This is so much easier than flying with the bike, or having to get it shipped. Now if I can just convince them to go to Miami Man in November, I'd be all set.

After riding back to the hotel, John drove a few of us around the bike course.  John did the driving, and Ed was the navigator. He had the course directions printed out.  That still didn't prevent us from getting lost a few times.  Sometimes streets change names in the middle, or a turn would come up suddenly and we'd miss it.  It was useful previewing course.  We certainly got a feel for the road surface.  Even in a car we could feel the difference in the quality of the pavement.  Some parts were really nice and other parts very rough.  One of the rough sections of pavement was after making a sharp left turn followed by a short but somewhat steep climb.  That was on the portion of the course that we would be doing twice.  We also got a sense of just how long the one major climb was.  It wasn't particularly steep, just long. However I didn't feel like it was as hard as some of the climbs I did in Lake Placid or in Harriman State Park.

Race Week - Friday

This was the first day I was actually starting to have some pre-race anxiety.  I'm not sure what that was all about.  The weather had changed dramatically.  It was actually cold, windy and kind of raw out.  I had not brought any base layers or arm warmers so I was thrilled about going out for a ride.  I kept procrastinating, but finally put a long sleeve shirt on under my jersey for my ride.  I rode some of the course on the first part which is an out and back on the highway going out of town.  It's basically flat with a slight incline, but nothing significant. It was kind of scary with the traffic and the wind.  Every time a truck or RV would pass me I could feel myself being pushed sideways.  I was very happy to get that ride over with.  The other thing on my training schedule was a short swim to preview the swim course.  That I decided could wait until Saturday. I had toyed around with the idea of entering the aquathlon (750 m swim, 5K run) in the open wave, but decided it wasn't worth the risk of hurting myself before the main event.  I'm glad I listened to my gut and to coach Ray Kelly. The water was really rough!

I went to the pasta party, not for the food but for the social aspect.  I did meet up with some of my old triathlon buddies from the early 2000s, including my roommate from Honolulu Worlds in 2005.

All I can say about the food was it sucked.  It's the first time I've ever gone to a pasta party and not had pasta.  The pasta options were just weird. One had chicken and a lot of unidentifiable vegetables in it. The other option was a vegetarian lasagna with peppers.  What would have been wrong with good old spaghetti with marinara or meat sauce? So my pasta party dinner consisted of salad, chicken and bread. I'm glad I wasn't depending on that meal to carbo-load.

Race Week - Saturday

This day was a triathlon in its self.  It started early with a swim course preview.  They had the coffee barge ala Kona. I swam out to it, but did not have the coffee. Then I swam across so I could swim into the finish area and have a sense of landmarks to sight on when coming back in.  That was useful to have the perspective of coming towards the finish and seeing when the water gets really shallow and knowing when to stand up.

After the swim I watched a little bit of the kids race.  That was really cute, especially watching the little ones do wade, bike, run.  Far more low key than Meek and Mighty in Florida.  However I didn't stick around to see how the older kids raced.


After watching the kids race for awhile, I drove back to the hotel. Took a quick shower, changed into my Team USA uniform, and went to the convention center for the team social. After that I hooked up with the Rye Tri crew and drove them over to the beach for the team pictures.  Then went to the athletes' briefing, hoping to make some sense out what we do with all these bags in our race packet.  I'm used to laying my stuff out in transition and being able to leave my wetsuit, and getting into my bike stuff.  Here it's more like Ironman where everything is in gear bags that are not with your bike.  Not only that, the gear bags have to be checked in with the bike in the afternoon.

After the meeting I went back to the hotel to work on organizing my race day stuff and getting it into the right bag. 

Morning clothes bag: Wetsuit, goggles, swim cap, sunscreen.

Bike bag: Helmet, bike shoes, socks, sunglasses and race number. Usually that would be with my run stuff, but ITU rules state that the race bib has to be worn on the back during the back.  I included sunglasses too, just in case I had problems with the visor on my helmet.  I wasn't convinced it would stay on during the shuffling of gear bags.

"Run" bag: In quotes because I wasn't running. Swim, bike, done! However since I was going to cross the finish line for my photo op, I still needed running shoes and my visor.  I also threw another pair of sunglasses in that bag so If I don't need a pair on the bike, I would have them handy.  In a moment of vanity, I also included a comb so I could get rid of helmet hair.

Special needs bag: I decided I wouldn't need it. I didn't see myself needed extra nutrition or supplies. One less thing to worry about. Also if you didn't use it, anything in it would get tossed.

In some ways it was kind of nice to do all the night before prep in the early afternoon.  That way I wouldn't have so much to worry about after dinner. I could concentrate on getting my nutrition set up, layout my race kit, and whatever I would wear in the morning to stay warm.

I rode my bike to transition with bike and run bags slung over my shoulder.  Not the most comfortable ride. I should have put them in my regular backpack and ridden that way.  However it was only 2 miles.

As I was racking my bike another woman from my age group was racking her bike right next to me.  I recognized the number and knew she was the one that I fully expected to win the age group. She qualified based on her USAT aquabike ranking.  Her scores are about 10 points higher than #2 in the rankings.  I had also looked at her race results and her times in all disciplines are very fast.  Yes, I admit it. I did check out my competition.  Probably not very helpful since I totally dismissed some of the competitors as not being very serious competition.  I would be proven wrong on that.

This woman racking next to me had one seriously badass fast looking bike.  I know it's the engine that makes the rider, but her bike looked fast standing still.  Though I kind of had a chuckle since she was following a day before ritual that has been debunked as totally unnecessary.  That is letting air out of the tires to prevent the tires from exploding the heat.  However it's been determined that the increase in pressure from heat isn't enough to cause one's tubes to explode.  A couple of science/triathlon geeks had once showed me a formula debunking the exploding tire theory.  As for me, I listen to my roadie friends say, letting air out the night before is a crock. But each to their own, and I'm not going to tell the top ranked aquabike F6064 that she's being silly.  Especially knowing unless she has a flat or some other mishap she was going to kick my ass.

After racking my bike I dropped my gear bags off.  I was a little underwhelmed with how things were organized.  Since people were bringing their bags at different times, the backs weren't in completely numerical order.  After bike and bag check in closed, the volunteers would have to get it all sorted.  I would get a chance in the morning when I added my nutrition to see where my bag was, but still no guarantee.  The picture below shows how the bags were arranged in the morning.

Has anyone seen my bags?

We had an early dinner at the hotel restaurant.  It was much easier then trying to find something in town.  I think a lot of the Team USA people had the same idea because there were lots of triathletes having dinner early.  The night before a race I follow the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Stupid. 
After dinner I did my last bit of pre-race prep.  John always leaves the room when I'm doing that because usually I'm rather neurotic.  However since my neurosis was in two stages it wasn't so bad.  I packed the morning clothes bag with all my swim stuff, and the gels that I would put in my bento box.  I filled water bottles and put them in the refrigerator.  I made my Hammer goop (4 scoops of Hammer Perpetuem powder, a packet of Boulder Salt and a Hammer tropical gel with caffeine) and cut up a hammer bar and put that in a snack size ziploc bag.  All of that went into the refrigerator.  I made my peanut butter sandwich that I would eat in the room before we left.  I had my granola and chia/flax seed mix ready to go into the yogurt for the morning.

I had all my race kit ready to put on in the morning, including my timing chip.  I actually managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I don't try to go to bed extra early, because I just won't fall asleep at 9:00 pm. I listen to relaxing music that generally a fall asleep to before my play list is completed.  I did wake up once before my 3:45 am alarm, but not from one of those crazy race dream nightmares that involve missing the start, going to wrong race, or having no bike.  Although I was a little nervous about the distances, I knew I could handle the hills. Nothing was making me lay awake that night.

Sunday would be another day. Stay tuned.

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