Thursday, June 16, 2016

Guest Post, Adrenaline Rush Triathlon 2016

Here is the famous Michelle with a guest post. You can see her previous posts here and here.

Race recap | Adrenaline Rush Triathlon
June 5, 2016, High River, AB

This was my first Olympic distance triathlon:  swim 1500 m (60 lengths, or 30 laps in a pool), bike 42K, run 10K.  I had completed two pool sprint triathlons before and am now happy to call what I do in the pool actually swimming (as opposed to looking like a geeky, gangly Bambi on ice with limbs flailing un-coordinately all over the place when I started learning to swim as an adult two years ago).  My goal was to finish and learn how to stitch everything together in a longer race.  I knew I could do the distances individually but it was the first time stringing a longer swim, bike and run together in the same event. 

Prerace & package pickup| I wasn’t the least bit surprised when I discovered my race number was #13!  The week before the race a string of bad luck kept me from feeling my usual pre-race excitement.  
·         Unluckily, my shifter broke on my small (52 cm) road bike and I couldn’t get it fixed or replaced in time for the race.  (Luckily Antje is just the right height and lent me her small (50 cm) road bike.  I’m so grateful!)  
·         Unluckily, I misplaced my car keys and came out to my car after swimming to discover I couldn’t drive it because I had put the club on the steering wheel.  (Luckily Keith drove me to work that morning and I ran back to my car with keys to pick it up).  
·         Luckily, my sister-in-law let hubby and me crash at her place and we slept well in the cool, dark basement.   We took her out for dinner that night and my helpful nephew reviewed the ins and outs of the course and told me where the hills and busy spots would be.  
·         Luckily, I’m not superstitious.  We adopted three adult black cats because they are always so many of them in shelters.  I ran my best 10K with race number 666. 

Race morning | I got ready, had brought my usual pre-race ritual food and had a nice short, quick 1 km ride over to the race start and didn’t have to deal with driving to High River from Calgary.  Hubby slept in and visited his sister, heading out to cheer me on a little later.  I was only the third bike to set up my bike in transition, so I ended up with some prime real estate.  I got my body marking done, drawing a black cat to go with my number 13. 

Keith showed up right then and helped me set up my transition mat, lending me some spray-on sunscreen (much faster to apply than the lotion I brought) and reminding me I wouldn’t be in flip-flops heading out of the pool to the bike racks.  The announcer went over some tips for triathletes, then it was time to head to the pool as I was in the first wave.

The swim | We lined up along the side of the pool.  Slower swimmers started first and I fit in with the 40 minute racers. 

There was a girl wearing a full scuba mask that covered her nose with a snorkel in my lane.  Don’t laugh.  She was faster than me. (Just barely, and she paused at the ends. ed)  There was a hairy pair of male legs that passed me a few times.  I moved close to the lane ropes but instead of swimming along the black line down the middle, he crowded me into the lane rope and my misfit activity tracker and swim lap counter popped out of its’ band on my wrist. My heart sank.   I have worn it nonstop for seven months and it has never done that.  Ah… race number 13.  I looked around and spotted it on the bottom of the pool in the middle of the other lane with four swimmers.  There was no way I could retrieve it so I resolved to carry on and hope to get it after the race.  I thought ahead to the bike and run and resolved to deal with any issues like flats or leg cramps and carry on.  Keith was there spectating and kindly timing my splits.

T1 (swim to bike transition) | I hopped out of the pool, said something about losing something to the volunteer and ran to my bike, pulled on socks, bike shoes & gloves, helmet & sunglasses and sprayed sunscreen on before un-racking my bike and running to the bike start line.

The bike | There were four loops around High River with lots of turns to slow us down.  Volunteers were wonderful and there sure were lots of them.  There was a big rut in the road just as we turned onto the main drag but the volunteer there was wonderful at warning us and pointing it out.  At one point, two volunteers were standing on the far side of the intersection so I thought I had to turn right.  I called out to them and they moved by the next lap to the near side so it was less confusing.  Another volunteer was holding her arm out pointing the wrong way in a turn.  Again, I called out to mention it and she had it all figured out by the next lap.  My heart sank as I started the second lap.  I remembered there was a dog-leg-turnaround somewhere and I thought I missed it and would be disqualified.  Again, I steeled myself for disappointment but resolved to carry on for the experience.  When I saw Keith after the second lap, I was so relieved!  I realized he was standing right where the confusing part was and I used him to count my laps and know when it was finally time to turn left and head back to transition.  He got some good photos of me looking fast leaning into a corner turn.  As I headed toward transition, I saw hubby and my sister-in-law and waved.

T2 (bike to run transition) | Someone else had racked their bike right over MY transition mat so I racked my bike further down, removed by bike gear and pulled on running shoes, then headed off. 

The run | The two-loop run meandered through a newer community along water and there were lots of volunteers to cheer and offer water to us.  I loved seeing the chalk art and kids!  Keith had found a shady spot to cheer and I did a little sprint and jump when I saw him. 

On the first loop, there was a guy behind me working hard.  I kept up with him and didn’t let him pass me, asking if it was his first or second loop.  He was doing the sprint so was doing half the distance and only had one loop.  The second loop was a little more lonely.  There was nobody for me to “race” so I think I slowed down a bit.  The sun was hot by then but I dumped water over my head and the back of my neck at every water station.  I love having short hair!  I grinned when I saw hubby and his sister cheering in the parking lot just before the finish line!  Hubby took this one:

The finish | A lovely young volunteer took my Velcro strap and timing chip from my ankle and presented me with a ginormous flashy medal. 

Then there were sweaty hugs for everyone in my fabulous cheering crew:  Keith, hubby and my sister-in-law.  I retrieved my misfit from the bottom of the pool, and after a shower and change of clothes, we all had lunch in the Whistle Stop (a train car converted to a cafĂ©) before heading home.   It’s a cool coincidence that hubby’s sister Carroll knows Keith from many years ago. 

Reflections | I liked the Olympic distance better than the sprint distance.  I’m built more for endurance than sprinting.  My swim was my fastest ever and faster than I thought I could do it.  My bike was not bad, considering I was on a borrowed bike that was heavier than mine.  It was great that it had a small frame and the same 3x10 gear ratio as mine.  The run came in under an hour and I’m surprised I could pull that off after the swim and bike but Keith says it’s because I was all warmed up.  There must be something to that.  I felt great and didn’t fall asleep in the car as I usually do.  I even vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, grocery shopped and made dinner later in the day.  Hubby was happy with my race day performance!  ;) 

What’s next? | I’m looking forward to doing the 1900m open-water swim leg of Ironman Calgary 70.3 with two gal pals taking on the bike and run legs for our team.  I bought a second-hand wetsuit and did a few swims in open water with it last year.  This will be my first open-water swim in a race so I’m looking to get lots of open-water swimming practice in June and July.  I’m not ready to add 90K on the bike and a half marathon to that this year so I’m glad to do it as part of a fun team.  I am tempted to sign up for another Multisportscanada Olympic distance race: Lake Chaparral triathlon (1500m swim, 40K bike, 21K run) as it’s an open-water swim “Oly” right in Calgary.  Next year, I hope to be strong and fit and healthy enough to tackle my first half-Iron in Calgary at Ironman Calgary 70.3!  I’ll only race when I feel I’m ready.  I’m not in a rush to “do it” and check it off my bucket list.  I want to enjoy the journey and make swimming, biking and running fit into my lifestyle, not make my life fit around training.  I may never actually do a full Ironman if I wish to remain married.

Thanks to my host | Keith will have to start charging me a blog hosting fee for all the guest posts he lets me do here.  I used to blog but gave it up because I lost my voice and felt shut down trying to be concise and write for an imagined audience. I debated starting a low-key triathlon blog but it’s challenging to find the right balance between writing, expressing opinions, accidentally saying things that make others mad, time management, family commitments, training, work and proper nutrition.  This is my first actual written piece of any length for fun or for work since my last guest blog here.  It took a while to process this race and feel less frazzled enough to organize my thoughts and summon semi-coherent words.  It has been a good exercise to write just for fun.  There’s no pressure with guest blogging so I’m grateful for the encouragement and opportunity.  Thanks Keith!  (Um, also THANKS FOR TEACHING ME TO SWIM!)


  1. Awesome race Michelle, congrats!!!! I loved your post and all the ins and outs of your triathlon. I agree with you on blogging, although I'm more out of laziness. I finally shut down my blog as well.

  2. That definitely sounds like an interesting race experience-well done! I love your smile in all of the pictures :) Good luck at the 70.3 and a HECK YES to taking your time-enjoy this ride.

  3. Fantastic, Michelle! Congratulations!! You make me think I should give triathloning a try. Great meeting you when I was in Calgary. Hope to see you again soon!

  4. Congratulations, Michelle - your story is very inspiring :) And a 70.3? Wow!! I love that you're doing it slow and steady, your way. Once again, great job!

  5. Aw, thanks all for the kind comments. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for hosting Keith! :)


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