Thursday, 14 July 2016

2016 Subaru 5i50 Vancouver Triathlon

Just a month after the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, it was again time to partake in another race, the new Subaru 5i50 Vancouver Triathlon

This year, the Subaru Vancouver Triathlon had a whole new course compared to last year. The swim was in Coal Harbour, the bike was through Stanley Park, and the run was around the Seawall and through Stanley Park.  With the exception of the swim, it was a course I was very familiar with.

Jen and I woke up early to make our way to transition for setup.  After getting body marked, I found my bike (which was checked in the day before).  The 2 spaces next to me were vacant.  I had lucked out! 2 no-shows on ether side of me meant plenty of room for transition.  I setup my area, pumped up my tires, and checked my gears before picking my landmarks and walking though the entrances/exits of transition. 

After getting setup in transition, it was time to prepare for the swim. While getting my wetsuit on, I chatted with my friend Patty.  I know Patty through Team in Training and her and her fiance, Branko, were part of my Tough Mudder team.

I knew that this was Branko's first tri and was impressed by his very nice bike.  Patty told me that the bikes were a gift for all the hard work Branko and his team had done for the Parkinson Society of British Columbia.

In 2006, Branko and Kelly Jablonski organized the first Just Giver for Parkinson’s (JG4PD), when they decided to turn their planned bike trip into a fundraiser for Parkinson’s Disease. The pair rode 400 kilometers from Vancouver to Osoyoos, and raised $25,000.

Over the next four years, Just Giver grew, adding distance, days, and riders. For Just Giver 2010, Branko, Kelly, and 11 other riders covered 1,350 kilometers over ten days, raising $95,000 for Parkinson Society British Columbia and the Davis Phinney Foundation. Along the way, the team visited six PSBC support groups while passing through British Columbia communities

JG4PD 2016 Penticton Grand Fondo Team
The JG4PD legacy continue with the JG4PD Cycling club, whose focus is raising funds and awareness through its heavy involvement in the local cycling scene.  It now hosts the annul 4 Peaks 4 PD event which this year raised close to $20,000 bringing the grand total raised since 2006 to $312,000.
JG4PD 4 Peaks 4 PD Team

Since its inception, Just Giver has raised $312,000 for Parkinson’s research and support services - a testament to peoples generosity and support!

After getting my wetsuit on, Jen and I made our way down to the swim start.  After stretching a bit, I had a total panic moment.  I did not have my timing chip on!!  I knew I had it. I had seen it when setting up my transition.  Was it in my bag or still in transition?? I rummaged through my bag and managed to find it.  Crisis averted.  Jen later told me that my face when bright red in a matter of seconds.

With my timing chip on, it was time to line up. The swim was a deep water start just off a small dock.  The first wave was already in the water ready to start as we (the second wave) made out way down the walkway to the dock.

The gun went off and the first wave was underway.  Soon after the first wave was off, we got in the water.  I could tell the water was cold by the reactions of the other athletes. I knew I had little time to acclimate so I just jumped in.

The water was indeed very cold.  I knew from past races that it would warm up eventually, but that was little help now.  I swam for a short warm up before lining up behind my wave.  I wanted to start in the back to avoid any anxiety issues.

Then it was time.

The Swim
The gun went off and my wave was underway. I waited a few seconds to let the chaos get a good ways ahead of me. Then I was off. I started out slow, or least what felt slow to me. I did not want race anxiety and/or the cold to spike my heart rate. Luckily, that was not an issue this race.

As I swam to the first turn buoy, I could tell there was a strong current taking us to the right. I began sighting Harbour Air's Chevron station to compensate.  As I rounded turn 1, I took  moment to find turn 2, then see what landmarks where above it.  I found a tower that would work given the current.
About halfway between turn 1 and turn 2, I stopped for a little break.  I could tell I was pushing too hard to early.  After I wretched a bit, I took a second or two to take in the sights.  Downtown Vancouver shown in the early morning light right in front of me.

After calming down a bit, I continued around turn 2.  I used the dome of the Pan Pacific Hotel over the convention center for sighting.  As I approached the cylindrical, orange buoy I tried to get a peak at how the swim exit was setup. The exact moment I glanced over, an athlete who had just exited up the ramp, slipped and landed hard on his back. I was sure to make a mental note, dock equals slippery.

As I approached the end of the first lap, I could hear the race announcer give the 1 minute warning to the next wave. I did not want to get caught up in another wave start.  Luckily they took off before I made it around the start buoy.

The second lap was much like the first. I sighted the Chevron station and fought the current.  About halfway to turn 1, I was hit with large swells.  When I sighted, I could see a large cruise ship in the bay.  Fortunately, the swells were short lived and gone by the time I rounded the turn.

As I approached turn 2, the water began to smell like gasoline, but I kept on. I rounded turn 2 and sighted more often to try and figure out how/when to turn for the exit. I knew it was at the cylindrical buoy, but that was about it.

While trying to figure out where to turn, I ended up swimming a bit too far to the left and had to correct.  I passed the cylindrical buoy and turned right.  I could see the dock ahead of me and made my way to the ramp.  I knew from talking to other athletes the day before to aim for the middle of the ramp and to grab a race volunteers hand (whether I felt I needed it or not).

As I swam up to the ramp, I reached with both hands for 2 volunteers' hands.  I guess they each thought the other one had me because nether of them grabbed my outstretched hands.  I ended up banging my right shin on the ramp. I reached up again and a volunteer helped pull me up.  As I ran up the dock, I remembered to take it slow so I did not slip like the athlete I saw earlier.

As I ran up the gangway to the Seawall, I began to strip off the top half of my wetsuit. I forgot to pull my watch forward/off the sleeve before starting and this made it a bit awkward to get my right sleeve off.

On the Seawall was Andrew, my coach, and Diana, another Coach Powell athlete.  Both were cheering and Andrew was snapping pictures as I ran by.

As I ran a bit further, I saw Jen with the sign she had made for my Rock & Roll 10k race when we first met.

The concrete and cold started to hurt my feet so I walked the rest of the way into transition. The landmarks I had picked out lead me right to my bike and I stripped the rest of my wetsuit off.  Aside from the run up and into transition, my actual transition was fairly quick.  After taking a few drinks of water, I was on my way to the mount line to start the bike.


The Bike
The first kilometer of the bike course was very winding and narrow. Luckily, there were not alot of other bikers around me.

Once on the 99/W Georgia Street, I was able to get some more water and some gel. I went back to the same gel bottle setup I had at previous races.

The 99/W Georgia Street became a steady climb before we turned right onto Stanley Park Drive. Once on Stanley Park Drive we were already halfway up the hill we would be doing 2 more times.  

At the top of Prospect Point, the course went left and after a few rolling hills, the first downhill began.

During the downhill, I decided I am going to opt out of using my visor on my helmet.  Although it looks really cool, it does nothing to keep wind out of my eyes.  My running glasses work just fine.

I bombed down the hill and made my way onto Beach Avenue.  Here, there was a short and narrow No Passing Zone.  They had not gone over this the day before in the race briefing and many of us were caught off guard.  Some athletes still tried to pass despite the signs and tight quarters. 

Once passed the No Passing Zone, there was a good bit of flats.  I took this opportunity to hydrate and fuel.  At Jervis Street, we turned right into a parking lot and made a u-turn to head back out on the course.  During the u-turn, an athlete decided to pass on the right and cut me off.  Had I not been paying attention, it could have gone badly.

We went back through the narrow No Passing Zone again, and once again, people still tried to pass.

The course took a sharp right turn onto Lagoon Drive.  The road was very bumpy and I nearly lost my gel bottle a few times.  I will have to devise a new system for future races. 

Lagoon Drive took us to the round-about at Stanley Park Drive and we continued on to the next lap. 

After some easy rolling hills around the east side of Stanley Park, the course took a sharp left and the hill began.

Knowing that the hill starts on a bit of a switchback, I got into an easy gear early.  This was only lap 2 of a 3ish lap bike course and I still had a 10.5K run to go.  I took the hill slow and steady, but still managed to pass a couple people.  This hill was not particularly steep, but it was long.

Soon, I was back at the top of the hill about to bomb down it again.  On the way down, for some strange reason, I had this song stuck in my head and I began to sing it. 

At the bottom of the hill, I went through the same No Passing Zone with people still trying to pass. I took time on the flats to hydrate and fuel once again.

Before the second turn around, I saw and cheered on my fellow Team Powell athlete, Alison, who was heading back the other way.

On the second u-turn, I was sure to thank the volunteers as I always do and I made a quick joke about seeing them again soon.

I made the u-turn, went back through the No Passing Zone, took the sharp right onto Lagoon Drive, almost lost my gel bottle again, rode the rolling hills around Stanley Park, and then I was at the hill again.

I pushed a bit harder up the hill this time, knowing it was my last lap.  On the way up, I saw Oscar.  Oscar is a current co-worker of mine and one of my SeaHiker swim instructors. 

Soon, I was bombing back down the hill, carefully navigating the No Passing Zone, cheering on Alison, hydrating and refueling on the flats, and making the u-turn one late time. 

Traffic got a little backed up in the No Passing Zone on the last lap due to a hand cyclist.  Everyone was pretty courteous, that is until the No Passing Zone came to an end.  Then it was a free for all!  We all stayed in a little pack all the way to the sharp right turn.  I took the turn under under control, outside-inside-outside and then gunned it.  I did not want to get in the way of any cyclists who could corner better/fast than me. When I shoulder checked, I realized there was no one behind me.  I had either cornered better than I thought or gunned it harder than I thought. 

A little further up on Lagoon drive I was passed by one of the cyclists in the pack.  I apologized in case I had cut him him off.  He said I did not cut anyone off and not to worry. 

I made my way back to the round about, once again almost losing my gel bottle.  This time, instead of heading back around Stanley Park, I was headed to the finish.

I followed the course back through the narrow, winding cones and onto the Seawall bike path. The bike path was a kind of cobblestone brick and about 20 feet from the dismount line, I lost my gel bottle.  

At the mount line was Jen and her parents, cheering me on. I dismounted my bike and ran in into T2.  My transition was once again pretty quick and before I knew it, I was exiting transition and heading out on the run.

The Run

I ran out of T2 and around the corner, back to where Jen and her parents were cheering me on.  I ran past them and started my run.


I started out slow wanting to ease into the run and give my legs time to adjust.  Although it felt slow, I could see on my watch that I was not going that slow at all.

I saw Patty among the spectators and she let out an extremely loud cheer for me. 

The run course followed the Seawall and then veered left to follow the inner walkways of Stanley park.  

On my way up the first of only 2 hills on the course, I saw Andrew.  He was cheering me, asking about the bike, and snapping pictures.  We chatted a bit about the race as I ran by.

The run course then took us through Stanley Park to Lumberman's Arch, before heading back around Stanley Park via the Seawall. 

Around the 3k mark, Alex (another fellow Team Powell athlete) gave me some words of encouragement as he passed me. 

I did take a few walk breaks on this run, but not as many as I usually do.  I also discovered the joy of pouring water over my head to cool off.  It may not seem like a big deal, but it feels really good and energizes you more than you would think.

On this race, I was wearing my Escape From Alcatraz kit.  Several runners on the course asked me about the race and congratulated me for finishing.  We joked about how after Alcatraz, everything is easy.

The course continued around the Seawall and under the Lions Gate Bridge.  As we rounded the corner, the view of English Bay, West Van, and the coast from Kits to UBC opened up before us.  Another runner let out an audible WOW as we rounded the corner. It made me feel very special to live in a place like this.

The course continued around the Seawall north of Stanley Park.  It was still morning which meant the course was nicely shaded and cool. 

At one point, while out on the course alone, I was accompanied by a small seal in the water.  He seemed to be moving at a much quicker pace with much more ease than I was.

Around the 5k mark, a fellow runner passed me jokingly saying, "I wish it was Monday!"

I laughed and asked, "Why? Then we'd have to be at work!? I'd much rather be doing this!"

We laughed and both agreed it would be much better to run triathlons and get paid for it. 

Around 6k I was passed by a fellow SeaHiker swimmer.  I encouraged her as she passed but I am not sure she recognized me without a swim cap and goggles on. 

Shortly after that, I saw Diana on the course.  She ran with me a little bit and we chatted about the race.  She told me I was looking strong and that she was not surprised to see a smile on my face.  I have unofficially adopted the 'Make them wonder why you're still smiling' quote as my mantra for races. 

Diana took off to encourage other athletes she knew and I kept my pace.

At the 7k mark, I encouraged a runner who looked like he was struggling. I told him that there was only 4k left to go.  He responded with, "I wish it was only 3."  To which I quickly responded, "Well, soon it will be."  He laughed, "Thanks!  That's a good way to look at it!"  And I ran on.

The course then passed Second Beach and cut across Lost Lagoon.  I walked for a bit and a fellow runner asked me if I was ok.  I told him I was ok and thanked him for checking. 

"Not sure what I can do for ya," He said.  I told him that asking was enough.

I ran on a bit more before taking another walk break before an aid station at 9k.  A couple who were out walking asked me what marathon this was.  I told them it was a triathlon.  They looked impressed and asked me the distances.  When I told them, the gentleman looked at me wide-eyed and said, "Yeah, you deserve a walk!"  I laughed and started back up again.

As the course took us back through Devonian Harbour Park, I saw Andrew again.  He was impressed with my pace and how strong I looked this close the finish.  He shouted encouragement and snapped more pictures. 

As I continued back up the Seawall I saw and encouraged another SeaHiker swimmer (who did recognize me despite no swim cap or goggles).

There were lots of spectators along the Seawall cheering. I passed Patty who, one again, gave out a loud scream. 

We ran past transition and then the swim exit/entrance as all the volunteers cheered us on.

The finish line was a the Olympic Cauldron at the top of hill.  I ran up the ramp, careful not to let my heart rate climb this close to the finish.  I kept chanting to myself, 'Nice and easy.'

As I reached the top of the ramp, I was directed to turn right, then right again.  But I was not at the top.  Am I supposed to go up some stairs?  As I rounded the second turn I realized, it was a switchback.  I had 2 more ramps to go.  I would have rather ran up the stairs.

I took a deep breath, continued my chant, and ran up the ramps.  At the top of the last ramp, I took a right turn and there was the finish.

I saw Jen and her parents cheering me on as I ran down the finisher chute.

After getting my medal and turning in my timing chip, I made my way to the finishers area.

I grabbed a (non-alcoholic) beer and walked around a bit.  Jen came over and congratulated me.  I soon saw Alex, then Alison, then Andrew, Oscar, and Mike (who I had met at Escape from Alcatraz).  We shared stories about the race and got several picture.

After finishing my beer and telling Jen's parents all about the race, Jen and I went to pack up my bike and gear before getting food.

While packing up my things, I reflected on the race and how well I did and felt.  I chatted with the other athletes and met a guy from Dallas.  He and his family had flown to Vancouver for this race.  We chatted a bit about the race, the area, and his vacation plans.  I gave him some of the places I like to go and some cool sightseeing spots.  He thanked me and we were both on our way.

As we were walking to the car, I saw Patty and Branko. I asked about his race.  He said he had a rough go at the swim. I told him that this being his first tri that it was normal for the swim to be tough.  I gave him some pointers and let him grab his gear.

I am happy with this race.  My swim was panic attack free and pretty consistent with other races. My bike was only a few minutes off my personal best. Pretty good considering there were 3 hills.  And my run was on par with my average 10k run.  I felt great and was very happy.

T2 was added to my run time. Run time-1:13:25 and T2-2:15.57
Thanks for taking the time to read yet another race entry.  The rest of the summer will be training as usual, but no triathlons until October (my first Ironman 70.3).  I have a few running races on the schedule so keep an eye out for those! Thanks again!

No comments:

Post a Comment