Tuesday, 14 July 2015

2015 Squamish Sprint Tri

One week after completing my second triathlon, I embarked on a new first, a Sprint distance triathlon. A few months ago, a few coworkers asked me if I'd be interested in doing a triathlon with them. They had picked out the 2015 Squamish Triathlon. Knowing that one week prior to this race was the Subaru Olympic Tri, I opted for the sprint distance at Squamish. One of my coworkers had not done a tri since 2012 (sprint distance as well), and the other had never done a tri before at all, so it was the sprint distance for all of us.

The day before the race, I rented a car and drove up to Squamish to pick up our race packs. While there, I also did a practice swim in the lake. This race would be my first lake swim. The water was very warm. So warm, that the race may have been a non-wetsuit swim. My fingers were crossed for a wetsuit swim.

The day of the race, I arrived extremely early. In my mind, it is far better to be way too early with lots of extra time, than to be late and freaking out.

Squamish was set up a bit differently. T1 and T2 were in 2 different locations. I prepped my run gear for T2 and went to setup. Turns out, there was no assigned spots in transition. It was first come, first serve. I took advantage of this by picking a spot as close to the entrance as I could. This cut down on the distance I would have to run with my bike in cycle shoes.

I returned to the car and prepped my bike and swim gear. This was were I met a girl named Shannon. It was her first triathlon and she was very excited. I chatted with her and her boyfriend while waiting for my friends to arrive (I had their race packets).

After getting body marked, my swim cap, and my timing chip, I ran into my Sea Hikers instructor. He was participating in the bike leg on a relay team.  We chatted a bit before my coworkers and I headed toward the bus to T1, the lake, and the start.

We loaded our bikes on the shuttle and boarded the last bus, realizing that we may not get a good spot in T1. Luckily, once at T1, the officials were putting up more racks for bikes. I grabbed a good spot near the entrance. I would have to run a bit longer with the bike in my cycle shoes, but it was easy to find.

I set up my cycle gear, suited up, and made my way to the water. I was able to get a 5 minute warm up swim in before they were calling us all out of the water.

The start was a water start (no running in from the beach) and sprint athletes went last. The first waves were off, and soon it was our turn.

The Swim

The swim for the sprint course consisted of a 750 meter swim out and around 2 buoys.  It differed from the course posted online however.  The second buoy was a cherry (small round buoy). Sighting would be important.

Our wave started and I was in the middle of the pack, but just like Subaru, about 50 meters in, I could feel my heart rate start to climb.  This should not be happening. I was relaxed. This race was not for time.  Why was this happening!? I concentrated hard on my breathing and smoothness of my stroke.  Just short of the first buoy, I was fine. I checked my watch later after talking with my swim instructor.  It turns out, I may be starting out way too fast and due to adrenaline, not realize how fast I am actually pushing. Something to focus on next race.

Being a much larger wave and the last wave, the swim was more crowded than usual. I was constantly touching or being touched my other swimmers.  Luckily, one of our classes in Sea Hikers covered this.

Far left with the gray shoulder

On the way back, I sighted often.  I noticed so many people way off course, but my line was good.  I made my way to the crowded beach, and excited just as we practiced in Sea Hikers.


I ran up the beach, moving my goggles to my forehead and removing the top half of my wetsuit.  I felt dizzy and began to walk.  I retched but did not vomit.


I made it to T1 and found my bike with ease.  I was using my watch to time this race and was sure to hit the lap button to start my transition timer.

I threw my wetsuit, cap, and goggles in the wet bag.  Everything had to go into the wet bag (trash bag with race number on it) so that race volunteers can deliver it to the finish line.  This way, no one had to go back to T1 to collect their swim gear.

I saw Brooke (one of my coworkers) right behind me getting her transition under way.

I dried/wiped off my feet, threw on my socks and cycle shoes, grabbed my race bib and helmet, and I was off!

A few kilometers into the bike I realized I had not hit lap on my watch, so my T1 and bike times were a little off.

The Bike

The bike was a 2 loop course that was more technical than I anticipated.  The first half of the course consisted of gradual downhills with sweeping and tight turns.  Taking the turns at speed on the first lap was a bit nerve racking.  I stayed relaxed and balanced and managed not to slow down too much as I rounded each turn.

The next quarter lap was a slight uphill, then a left turn followed by a longer, gradual uphill (2k).  This sucked.  I kept reminding myself to lift my knees, feel the pedal all the way through, and lift with my hamstrings.

Once at the top, it was a sharp left turn, then back downhill, picking up speed, and cornering well before doing the whole thing again.

The course was more crowded than usual. On Olympic distances, my speed usually puts me in line to have most of the course to myself.  This course, being a 2 loop course for Sprint and a 4 loop course for Olympic, meant more athletes around me.


T2 was very quick.  I had positioned my run gear very near the entrance and was quickly out the gate for the run. Nothing too exciting there.

The Run

The run was a one lap trail run.  Again, a bit more technical than expected.  It took me a while to find my groove and I started out much slower than usual, but this was not a race for time.  This coming off a 40 minute PB at an Olympic distance last week, I was doing just fine.

I had lost my gels going over some railroad tracks on the bike and was in need of some nutrition.  Luckily, one of the aid stations had gels.  I took one, and instantly began to feel better.

The next aid station was one I saw on each lap of the bike course. As always, I thank the volunteers for supporting us.  While getting some water, I thanked the volunteers working and told them it was great to see their smiling faces.  Another runner on the course turned and said,

"You know they can't make your time better, right?"

To which I responded,

"On the contrary, I think they can.  They may not make my overall race time better, but they can help me have a better time on the race"

The other runner smiled and said that she liked my attitude.  She then asked me what distance I was running.  When I told her, she said that she was also "just doing the sprint."  I told her that it's never "just" anything and that changing just one word in that sentence can make all the difference.  She smiled and responded once again that she needed to adopt my attitude.  As I pulled ahead, she wished me luck and I simply said,

"Have fun!"

The last section of the run course was a 3/4 lap around a school track to the finish line.  I stepped on the gas and crossed feeling good.  Tired, but good.

The Finish

I crossed in 1:42:11.  Having done an Olympic in under 3 hours, I was shooting for about 1:30. But coming off a race the week before, I was very happy with this result.

Brooke came through about 5 minutes later as I cheered her across the finish line.  Brooke started participating in honor of her uncle, Allen Glenn "Buddy" Morton, who passed away of ALS.  You can find her fundraising page here (link to come).

About 5 minute after that, my other coworker, Boris, crossed the finish line, as Brooke and I cheered him in.  This was his first triathlon and he did not know what to expect.  Had a slow swim and did the bike on a mountain bike, but he is a very strong runner, and made his time up there.


There was an announcement that someone in the Sprint distance did not swim out to the second buoy and they needed them to report to timing.  I could not remember the buoys, but surely I hit both of them.  I stayed with the pack and had to have hit both.  I looked at my watch and the it said the swim was only about 660 meters, about 90 meters shy.  It also said 17 minutes, which is about right for my pace over 750 meters.

I found an official and informed him that I may have been the one to cut short.  He asked me how many buoys I passed, and I honestly could not remember. I showed him my watch and he went to check.  He came back and said he looked at my time and the times of those who finished the swim around me and that everything looked fine.  When I checked my watch later, I  realized the GPS was not set to update every second, so the distance was way off.

Final time:
Swim: 00:17:16.0
Bike:   00:47:22.0
Run:    00:37:33.0
Total:  01:42:11.0

Transitions are included in the bike, so subtract about 3-5 minutes from my bike for more accurate timing.

While waiting in the parking lot to leave (stuck due to road closures from the race), I met up with Shannon again. She had a great first race and could not wait to do another one.  It was good to see a first time athlete get "bit by the bug" as they say. 

All in all, a good day.

Thanks for reading yet another race bulldozered through! 

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