Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kelowna Apple Nationals - The big one!

Kelowna Apple Short Course National Champs August 21/2011

Drove up a day early to relax and enjoy watching my niece Kaitlyn race in the kids of steel on Saturday. The Sprint Nationals were to be my 'A' race of the season so I was pretty inspired. Pre-race goal was to win AG, and a hopefully a high place overall. Kelowna was buzzing with a couple thousand age groupers and pro triathletes cruising around town all weekend, a good racey vibe.

Lots of races over 2 days: kids of steel, junior elite, sprint and Olympic distance nationals, elite Olympic distance nationals...Overall this race is well organised and has a beautiful course - highly recommended.

Woke up to awesome weather on Sunday morning, not too hot or cold, so everything suited my tastes. Bike into transition area the day before, which makes race morning a bit less arduous and more relaxed.

Heats for the sprint race started at 7am and left every 5 minutes. Several heats for the ~450 competitors. I was in the large third heat, Men 40+, so there was quite a few old codgers there with me. Water temp was ~just~ cool enough for a wetsuit, which suited me since I always feel all water is too cold.

National anthem was sung and then the first heats were off! I killed time with a quick swim warm up and then set up in the front row when the call to the line was made.

Ours was the 3rd heat, so after 10 minutes building tension waiting for the first 2 heats to go, the gun went for us and it was on!

As usual, it's a crazy sprint at the start, everyone to hoping to get to the clear water at the front. I felt quite good and didn't get bashed around very much in the initial jostling. By the second buoy we were starting to pass slow swimmers from earlier heats, which can be a bit disrupting to the pace when you almost slam into someone at a standstill in the water.

By about the halfway point I had locked onto a pair of fast moving feet and could follow them safely around the latter portion of the course. 3rd out of the water in my heat, passed my cheering family, and went into the abyss of the transition area.

With so many AGs the transition area was huge, but I had a pretty good mental route mapped out: straight down to the 3rd tree, left turn, down long row to last tree in line, 2nd bike to left...

Onto the bike (a speedy new P4, thanks from Jeremy at Speed Theory) ... a flat portion initially made this a good course to leave shoes on pedals and it was easy to get the feet in while riding. 2 laps of 10km. Hit the first steep hill in my big ring and carried speed up at least half of it. Was passing hordes of people because the earlier heats were now spread out all over the whole course.

Spotted another fast guy about 400m in front of me and started reeling him in. Steady progress... by about 1/2 through first lap, I had caught him. Annoyingly, he was pretty shameless about using slower riders for drafting, staying directly behind them as long as possible. Because there was an unending stream of slower riders, it translated into continuous drafting from each rider to the next.

This made getting past him difficult. I passed him twice, but I suspect he was drafting off me as well because he wouldn't go away. Annoyed, when we finally got to the hill again, I put the hammer down and that put an end to his free ride on my wheel.

Rolled into T2, racked bike, and then after getting briefly lost - I couldn't find the run exit - headed out for the last 5km. Pleasant run, mostly along scenic waterfront seawall. I made wrong turn at an un-marshaled y-intersection, then had to re-pass the same people I had just run by.

Despite feeling quite slow, nobody passed me and I passed several, so I felt things were probably going well. 5km always goes pretty quick, then the sweet music of the finish line and announcer's voice greeted me as I rolled in.

Some dorks sprinted me to the line, I guess not realising we were in different heats and I was in fact 5 or 10 minutes ahead of them.

After relaxing a bit with my family and downing some post race coffee and several yogurts (those Greek yogurts are good!) we wandered off to check results - low and behold - it seemed I had taken the overall win! Sprint distance national champion - expectations exceeded!

Perfect ending to the season! - a success shared by my wife Satoko.
Kelowna Apple Sprint Overall Results

Thanks to Coach Paul Cross and training partners Chris and Jon!

Thanks also to Mom, Sara, Kaitlyn and Robyn for providing the cheering!
Video shot by Sato on iphone then edited on same iphone:

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