Thursday, September 20, 2012

Great tri for first timers – Cultas Lake Tri Race report

Well it seems silly to be doing my first Tri Race report for 2012 in September but at least I have one. 
Registering for the Cultas Lake Tri was really a last minute decision My leg is slowly healing and I can honestly say that this is by far the most frustrating injury I have had to date and you are talking to someone who has fractured her heel and been hit by a car!

The process of recovery is very slow and well honestly I have been quite tentative because I am not quite sure how I tore it so I find myself being much more cautious and pragmatic in my training – my confidence has been shaken which has meant increasing my distances and adding intensities to workouts has been very tentative. Which for those who know me know is not in my nature.   

I registered for the Sprint Tri at Cultas lake because I needed to prove to myself that I could do a race, that a catastrophe would not happen,  my calf muscle would hold up and that I was going to be able to still do the stuff I love.

Outback Events is a group from the interior of BC who run a number of events and I am a big fan of Joe and Sarah Dixon, the owners.  I have done several of their races and find them extremely organized: community support is great, volunteers awesome, the courses are gorgeous and challenging and the overall vibe is just fantastic.  It is apparent they love what they do and care about the athletes.  I would highly recommend doing any of their races. 

This was my first time at Cultas Lake – I could have done the Vancouver Sprint Tri the previous weekend but I like to support the folks I know and I trust they will put on a great race - I feel safe on their courses. 

The swim is in Cultas lake and it was quite nice – wetsuits are approved - yes I did wear mine.  The one draw back is the shore and lake are very rocky so it is not a running start.  You wade in about  30 feet or so and start from there.  As you all know I do not like to start at the front or the middle.  I like to be last, so it was a little tricky to do this but I managed it.  Here is the thing the 4 months of intense pool work paid off – I was quickly in the middle of it and I did NOT panic.  There were people all around me and I just went Zen and kept swimming – glide glide breath, glide glide breath – sight and repeat.  Based on previous races I planned for around 20 minutes for 750 swim so as I was coming out of the water and heard 17 min and change I was like – holy crap!  Now again trying to exit was a bit tricky because of the rocks but I swam right up to the point where my hands started brushing the rocks which meant I only had to navigate about 2 feet of rocks before I hit the green mat on the beach. 

Here is my only complaint and it is something I noticed at Oliver this year to.  No wet suit strippers.  I asked if there were strippers and was told there was but none around – if you have ever tried to take a wetsuit off by yourself out of water it is very hard and time consuming.  So I was trying to get the damn thing off quickly and not having a lot of success.  Fortunately this lovely lady who was also racing noticed my struggles and said drop – and helped pull it off – then I returned the favor and we were both on our way.

The bike course is awesome it is a 20km out and back course – I am not a big fan of loops so another reason I chose this one.  Going out there is nice downhill leading into flats to the turn around.  At this time I kind of wished I had put my tri-bars on because there was a pretty good headwind but instead I just went into the drops  and Eddie Mercx’d it.  I had an awesome ride – 20km is great because you can treat it like a time trial so you get up to speed and then just settle in and with only one climb back to the finish you really can stay in the drops (or tri bars) all the way.  Only 2 people passed me – both guys – other than that I passed a whole whack of peeps and it felt great.   My riding back and forth to work 3x a week was definitely helping.  Bike time 42 min and some change.  A little slower than I wanted – I wanted 39-40 min but overall I was very pleased.

The Bike-run transition went a lot smoother and I was off for a 5km run.  This was going to be the real test since I hand only really been running for about  4 weeks and had not done any speed or hills.  I have been running 3x a week and been taking a very pragmatic approach.  The run course is very pretty – you run down to a trail beside the lake and I was in heaven for the first km or so and then the next thing you know you are literally running on the beach in sand.  At first I was okay but after about half a km I was not so thrilled – my footing, of course, was not stable and I was worried about rolling an ankle and/or hurting my calf. During this I got passed by about 10 – 20 people and that was frustrating but not unexpected.  I was never so happy to see pavement in my life.  Next time I would wear trail shoes for the added stability,   As I suspected the run was my weak link – 33+ min.  However the positives were I ran the entire 5km, I finished strong and my calf/ankle felt fine.

 Overall time was 1:38:46 which I am more than happy with.  As usual Outback did a great job with post refreshments – Fresh hot pizza and beverages as well as the usual chips, fruit, etc.  Finisher shirts and free towels were a nice treat.  Most importantly I feel like I got my Mojo back – next race is the Buntzen 5 peaks Trail race – Sport Course – Sept 29 – should be good. 

I would definitely do this event again and if you are looking for a first time event or to wrap up your season next year then this is the one for you.  These folks also host several races including a Gran Fondo bike race this coming weekend.   

Peace out

Monday, September 17, 2012

Trans Alps Mountain Bike Race - Guest Report

Hi All  - yes I know I have been remiss in posting but being so busy with yoga and all now ( she says tongue in cheek) I just have not had time.  Seriously though  - I have been maintaining my yoga.

The weather has just been so awesome here in Vancouver that I have not wanted to miss a second of it before the rain comes back.

This post is courtesy of my "SO" - Joe who had the adventure of a lifetime this summer with his dad riding the Trans Alps Mountain Bike Race.

He originally wrote this for IMPACT magazine at their request - after submitting they have changed the story to an interview with his dad and him - to be published in the next issue.  So I thought I would "publish" his version for you all to read - since I have no intention of EVER doing this race and thus will never do a race report on it that I am aware of....

 I never imagined what I was getting into when my Dad decided that he wanted to mark his 70th birthday by participating in the transalp mountain bike race. You see I had done my first Ironman the year prior and so dad thought that if I could finish an Ironman that I would be able to complete the transalps race. Yeah that’s right, his birthday but I guess he didn’t want to have all the fun. Never mind that it has been dubbed the hardest mountain bike race in the world. 8 days, over 600 km and over 20,000 meters of elevation changes.
So it was with a sense of trepidation that I signed us up and began training. I actually thought that I had prepared well for the event as I think I had put more training into this thanI had Ironman. I should mention that my Dad was an accomplished cyclist who has represented northern Ireland, Ireland and canada in various cycling races. So I did not want to let Dad down!!
I flew out to Munich from Vancouver where I took two trains into the city of Oberammegau to meet dad for the start of the race. We had decided to go the route of staying in bed and breakfasts rather than doing the camping. Boy was I glad I let Dad talk me into that.
 Now as I had said there was a little bit of climbing involved in this race. We would in fact go over some of the highest peaks in Germany,  Austria, Switzerland and Italy, but there was nothing I could have done to fully prepare myself for the vertical climbs we endured during the actual event. The good thing though is that the ferocity of the climbs were matched and surpassed by the beautiful and panoramic vistas throughout.
Added to the sheer gradients we faced was the fact that about 75 per-cent of the course was off-road and over rough terrain. We also faced extreme weather conditions ranging from blistering heat at one stage, to being surrounded by snow at the summits of the Alps. The extent of the climbs, coupled with the repetition of having to face this day after day for over a week was a killer.  There were times when you would be riding up an incline and you would be passed by someone walking their bike! Oh yes there was walking. A lot more than I thought there would be. A couple of stages you make your way out of town and turn a corner and see 700-800 people off their bikes and walking. Oh and the hills do go on. You keep looking up to see where the top is, you get there and you turn the corner and it keeps going up and up.
Now for me the good part of going up was that you got to  come down. I enjoy descending a little more than climbing. Sometimes you are descending for more than hour at a time with not too many really technical sections with maybe the last day into Riva being the exception. I had problems with my rear brake from day one and unfortunately I ended up having to replace my brakes. The good thing after that was that I wasn’t coming down these steep descents with only my front brake to stop me. I must admit to being a little afraid on some of the downhills. Luckily I had the new brakes for day 6 when I needed them to stop me from a close encounter with a 90’ fall onto rocks below.
For me there are some experiences that I will hold onto. Getting to the top of the highest climb at 2718m or doing 70km/h+ down an Italian road, the descent through a Swiss alpine meadow straight out of the Sound of Music or the feeling of accomplishment that I got when Dad and I finished the race in Riva together as we had started. That was our mantra throughout the trip actually, we start…..we finish!
The overall experience is one I will never forget. I met some great people during the event. From riders to technical support to cameramen and organizers of the race and our meals. Everyone together made this an event which I would not only highly recommend but one that I would look forward to doing again.
At the awards ceremony at the end Dad was brought up on stage to a standing ovation and given an award as the oldest competitor in the race. I was so proud of my Dad and hope that maybe I will be able to finish the Transalps with my son when I’m 70. I finished as top Canadian in my age group! (no need to mention that I was the only Canadian in my age group)
So should you be thinking should I do it I would say most definitely Hell Yeah!!! Oh and if you should get the chance to do it with your seventy year old Dad go for it. (Even if he does beat you up the hills!)

Joe Smyth
Team  Glendale Dreamers