July 02, 2016

Race report - Smiths Falls Classic sprint triathlon

June 25, 2016
Swim 500m, bike 20.5km, run 5km

Finish time: 1:16:58 -- 4/7 AG, 6/40 OA woman, 35/90 men and women

Hangin' with my best girls at the end of a long, hot day

The Smiths Falls Classic, in its 37th year, is the oldest triathlon in Canada. It's a late afternoon race, which I found challenging. I've had difficulty with pre-race nutrition and mental focus when I don't just wake up, eat, set up, and race (as evidenced by my tough race in Magog last season). The heat was also extreme, up into the 30s by the time I got into Smiths Falls. As this was my first time participating, I had some extra race nerves due to my unfamiliarity with the town and the course -- it's always easier when you know exactly what to expect. A few days before the race, I dreamed that I was running late to the swim start, didn't have my wetsuit, and didn't know where to go. So to be extra sure I had everything in order, I arrived more than 2 hours early (hey, at least I snagged a prime parking spot). The only downside to arriving so early was having to hang out in the heat of the afternoon until the race started. Once everything was squared away -- including finding a good rack spot and practicing a bike mount/dismount -- I found some shade, filled a 40 oz bottle with nuun, and made sure to take frequent swigs from it.

Swim + run to transition: 13:38
After a brief warmup swim to the starting area, I had quite awhile to tread water and float on my back before the women's start. I had planned my line to the buoys, and through the channel markers. Unfortunately, in my desperate attempts to catch a draft I strayed from the straightest path. On the return portion, the sun was in our eyes and it was next to impossible to sight. Again, I followed the wrong train instead of confirming my own line. Oddly, I started to feel some cramping in my quads toward the second half of the swim. As usual, I made my best effort to hightail it to transition.

Bike: 37:46 (32.6 km/h -- PB)

Based on the stated course distance of 20.5 km, I managed to eke out a personal best average speed by a slim 0.2 km/h over my Early Bird ride a month ago. The heat was oppressive, and it was definitely not comfortable. But I wanted to push myself hard on this course, imagining myself on the Sprint Nationals course trying to catch up to the leaders after the swim. I didn't bother trying to save anything in my legs for the run. I carried hydration on the bike, which I almost never do at the sprint distance (in fact, I generally remove the bottle cage from my frame for that few seconds of aero advantage). That turned out to be a good decision, as the handful of swigs I took made the heat a little more bearable.

Still not totally at ease with this move, but I make myself suck it up and do it anyway

Run + T2: 25:34
My effort on the bike, the heat, the late hour, and my unfamiliarity with the course all contributed to a pretty unpleasant run. At one point I heard Todd over the PA system, and figured the finish must be right around the corner. Nope! At the end of the course, there's a little out and back that is tough mentally, as you turn away from the finish before running back toward it. I kept Clare, who would ultimately finish 4th OA and 3rd in our age group, in my sights -- but she was able to stay that little bit stronger on this leg.

Best finish chute company ever

Didn't quite make the podium this time out. But I put in my best effort, and I managed to keep improving my bike split. Now for a final push of bigger training volume before Sydenham, and then a taper toward the Nationals.

My husband's first outing as a spectator -- and of course I don't podium. Argh!

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