Friday, May 23, 2014

Starting with a sow's ear

Sunday marks the start of the Southern Ontario triathlon season with MultiSport Canada's fourth annual festival of hypothermic premonitions - also known as the Woodstock Triathlon Weekend.

I'm "racing" the sprint, which for the second year is an actual half-Olympic consisting of a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run. I used to race the 750m-30k-7.5k distance, but that was discontinued last year. Current PR at the standard sprint sits at 1:31:06 from Woodstock 2013 - the only time I've actually raced that particular format.

One of my goals this year was to break 90mins at this race. I mean really, I had hoped to go sub-90 last year but had a bit of a preparation fail.

I don't think it's happening this year, either. Come, let us count the ways in which I've screwed myself..

1) This is just 4 weeks after the Waterloo Marathon. Conventional wisdom says 1 day of recovery is required for every mile of racing, so call that 26 days. My own experience says it takes me about a week to recover from every hour of racing, which puts it more like 30 days (4.25 weeks). In either case, I'm either on the brink of having my legs back under me, or not quite there yet - certainly not ready to give'er 100% on a tough course. I get tired easily, and even as of last night's run pushing the pace just feels really, really hard.

2) The whole thing starts off with a swim. I had made some really good gains in the pool through consistent training 4 days per week, but due to a few different impediments I've been missing swims here and there and losing some of the improvement for which I'd fought so hard. I also haven't been in a wetsuit since the Wasaga Olympic last September - it's been too damn cold up until last weekend, when I was just too busy. Water temperature may be a factor, too: current readings at Pittock say the lake is 16c - even chillier than the 17c it was last year at race time. Yikes. I will have to TRUST THE CHUB once more, though there is slightly less of it (which is a win for the rest of the season, but perhaps not that awesome for Sunday).

Probable swim exit condition...assuming I even make it that far.

3) Best case scenario: I manage to exit the water without drowning or freezing to death. Then I'll have to ride a bike for awhile, and I haven't done that much lately. The cycling that would have had to happen in order to be competitive in the hills on this course has not occurred. It's a jerk, and I am weak. With the massive run focus I put in for Around the Bay and the Waterloo Marathon, I've run more distance than I've pedaled in 2014 - only have 715km on bikes for the year so far, mostly on the trainer or easy commuter mileage on my old mountain bike. It has been one of the latest and crappiest springs in anyone's memory, which hasn't exactly been conducive to racking up the big ring hill repeats.

I did my longest outdoor rides of the year so far on Sunday & Monday, so 7 and 6 days respectively out from race day. Sunday's ride? A whopping 20km. In my defense, it was actually on my tri bike...for the first time since snapping my chain at the Wasaga Beach Olympic last September.

At least I've cycled & run in the new Vanderkitten tri suit before race day.
Fortunately, it went well. No issues riding in aero, despite the bruising and road rash on my elbows (until afterwards, when my neck and shoulders decided I was treating them poorly), no problems with the new chain or shifting, and I managed to figure out I had a ding in my front wheel's non-drive-side brake track that needed attention before race day. Don't know exactly how it happened, but I could hear it munching on my brake pad with every revolution of the wheel when I'd try to slow or stop - on the bright side, it only took a few minutes with a file and some fine grit wet sandpaper to smooth it out. I do not want braking issues on the big stinkin' hill back into Pittock Conservation Area.

So I can stop on the bike with confidence. I have somewhat less faith in my ability to make it go with any alacrity.

I did manage to give Snorky 65km of trail love on Monday, though.

4) There's the minor detail that I crashed hard and then got hit by a gawddamn car within about 55 hours of each other, 3 weeks or less prior to race day. My right lower back/hip is still grouchy at times, and my left knee is not a fan of running. It thinks it kind of sucks, and complains bitterly about it, particularly when I run down hills. While the road rash is all in a state with which I'm comfortable leaving it uncovered (and regularly moisturised), I'm still sporting a couple of pretty deep gouges in my whiny knee. I'm having visions of trying to strip off my wetsuit in T1 and ripping bandages off along with the neoprene. I'm also a bit wary of having any of my myriad bruises freshened up by flailing limbs during the swim - noone needs a mouthful of lake water while trying to scream as someone's elbow connects with one of my black & blue bits.

5) I've actually got even less sleep than usual this week (just like last year), despite knowing that the absolute best thing for my beat-up, worn-out body is rest. I am bad at things.

6) My "taper" has consisted of not bringing my bike to work on Wednesday because they said it would thunderstorm. It didn't, which pissed me off, despite a serious case of the tiredz and sore legz. Other than that, I'm just training through this one - I don't have much from which to taper in the first place, what with having taken a week off swimming after donating blood on the trail, then a week off running after establishing that car hoods make crappy trampolines. I might as well just use this as a hard workout to try to build fitness for Welland, Mine Over Matter and Belwood.

I actually doubted for awhile that I'd be able to race at all, and considered contacting MultiSport Canada to try to change my entry to a different race later in the year, or maybe just defer until 2015 - after all, it was only going to be 20 days after becoming intimately acquainted with the front end of an Acura 3G. Then I realised that I'd raced the Lakeside Olympic in 2012 just 3 weeks after snapping my wrist, and remembered how much I'd enjoyed the experience of racing with no pressure. What do I really have to lose?

And the run course is pretty.

This will be no silk purse, darlings, but it may just be a lot of fun.

I'm just happy to be alive to do it!

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