This was my first time attempting anything longer than an Olympic length race, and was not sure what to expect in terms of how I would feel over that distance, nor the pace to go at.
I started the swim off in the purple category (a little faster than I thought I would want to go, but all of the appropriate colour caps were already taken, and I didn’t want to get caught behind some slower swimmers so I went t the back of the purple group). It pays to show up early for several reasons, this being one of them. Another is to make sure you get to the port-o-lets in time to do what needs to be done (much more imprtant than during a sprint!!) before you can get ready for the race and put sun tan lotion on! Ok, so I’m already getting 2 strikes against me here, but that’s no big deal. There were people with caps of all sorts of colours mixed in, so it didn’t really matter, and a little bit of sun wouldn’t hurt me!
I started off at a relatively relaxed pace on the swim, but after the first loop, I started to really get into a groove once the group thinned out and I no longer had people try to swim over me, and the improved sighting both above and below water was great given the new Sable goggles that I was using (refer to my review of these fantastic Goggles!! Well worth the few extra dollars to give you that added level of comfort in the water. You can think of them as cheap speed since you save time sighting and having to correct your swim path). I recall the reeds being an issue in this swim from years before, but the water height can vary year on year, and I felt much better being to see so clearly. In any case, one thing to think about, but wasn’t a big deal this year.
The run is a bit long out of the water and into transition, and then you have to cycle out to the road from there. Quite a bit of congestion, and for those you used to the smaller sprint wave starts, you may not be used to the bike pile up as you head off onto the bike course. Watch out for the drafting police!!
This year was a change of route, and introduced some large and challenging hills. I think in hind sight I would have been much more comfortable on a road bike instead of a time trial for that distance and amount of climbing. I felt great until the turnaround, about 1 hour 11 minutes, on time for a great split, and picking up speed. Going back there was a section you could easily hit 70km/hour for about 3-4 KM. It was exhilarating yet scary!! With about 20 km to go, I had complete muscle failure in my quads and calves. I thought possible hydration/ fueling issues, but have since discover a most likely magnesium deficiency brought on by the use of Soy milk in my protein shakes (there is proven information about problems that Soy protein creates and I strongly recommend not using the stuff!). In any case, I did make it in, and did find the big leg to be quite enjoyable nonetheless (fast, challenging)!
Not much to write about this, the area is set up fairly well, so just come in, dump the bike and run out the far end after grabbing your shoes!
The run starts out going around the park for the first 5 kilometers or so (a bit on the road and then back into the park). This feels really nice, particularly after being on the bike, and a chance to run on some grass is great on the legs. I don’t know what else to write about the run from that point, apart from being long and grueling. I was in a fair amount of pain during the run, so I was just happy to finish, so I didn’t remark much about the run course apart from the numerous volunteers that were really encouraging handing out gels and fluid.
All in all, a great race I thought. I can’t wait to hit it again in 2010, with high hopes of knocking at least 35 minutes from my 2009 time, and getting a sub 4:50 time!