Last week I went down to the Palm Springs area for a week to compete in the HITS Olympic Distance race. I chose this race so I could have a mid-winter race. In a long winter of training, especially when training indoors almost every workout, it was nice to have something to focus on. I figured it would also be helpful mentally to get into some warm weather and sunshine for a week. This strategy has paid off – I was focused during my training leading up to the race and feel refreshed to start another training block (even though there is still half a winter to go!) Check out below for the run through of the race:
The lake turned out to be very cold, so that added an element – I had to really focus to not be thinking about that. It was a rough start with 20 or so people sprinting off the start to get a good position while attempting to stay on course with the morning sun coming directly at us. I managed to get a decent start and the group thinned out to about 10 people before long. I got in behind someone’s feet, but, unfortunately, after only 50 metres or so he started to slow and someone else took off from the front of the group. I was boxed in behind the guy I was following, so it took me a moment to get around him and start trying to track down the leader. Three other guys had the same idea and we worked together for a bit to bridge the gap. This group split in two ahead of me – both fractions going off course a bit – so I decided it was best to stay the course and keep on a direct path to the next buoy. Unfortunately, they still surged ahead and it was a bit too strong of a pace for me, so I just settled in on my own and focused on getting some solid and technically sound swimming in. This was all in the first third of the swim leg. The rest of the swim felt pretty good and I managed a time of 20:10 for the 1500m – still some work to do here, but definitely some progress. Coming out of the water I was surprised to hear someone say that I was second out of the water, so I must have somehow passed a couple of the leaders during my second lap when I was lapping the slower swimmers.
I’m not sure if it was the cold water or that I haven’t been able to do any lake swimming, but that was a wobbly run to transition and a challenge getting onto my bike, but get on my bike I did and I headed out. I came out onto the bike with another athlete, who, if the guy saying I was second was right, must have been the leader. It turns out I was actually third out of the water, but passed one person in transition, so that person was in first. Once I got my shoes strapped on, I caught up to and passed him pretty quick. That felt good, but I still couldn’t quite believe I had taken the lead, so I kept pushing to see if there was anyone ahead. After a couple of long stretches I was feeling pretty confident I was in the lead, and this was confirmed when I got nearer to the turnaround and the police and road marshals were not ready for me...unfortunately, I had to stop for a red light and at stop sign – that was frustrating to have to stop but more so looking back and seeing the second place person eating into the time I had put between us. I stayed positive here and just tried to keep up a solid/consistent pace. They had things sorted by the time I came back and I just tried to put as much distance between myself and those behind me for the rest of the race. The bike ended up being 1:02:23 for the 40k – again some work to do, but considering my training the last month and having to stop in the middle it wasn’t bad.
Heading out onto the run I knew I had a decent lead. My fitness was starting to be a factor, but I tried to just run as best I could to hold off everyone behind me. This worked for about 4k, which is when the eventual winner passed me. I kept pushing about as hard as I could have but by the end of the race I found myself in 5th place. The run was 41:23 for 10k – this was mainly a fitness issue, but it is still clearly an area in need of improvement.
Overall, I’m happy with the 5th place based on where I was in terms of training. Even more importantly, I’ve learned a few things along the way these last few months and am looking forward to using that knowledge as I train for my next race.
Big thank you to my sponsors for all their support!! Chris at South Peace Chiropractic, Nikki at Peace Massage Therapy & Spa and Gridiron Fitness Centre