Banff Race Report

This past weekend was the season ending triathlon for the Subaru Western Triathlon Series - the Banff Triathlon.  It was a long way to travel for a race (1700km round trip) but seeing as it was it's inauguration I had to attend.  This race only offered Sprint and Olympic distances so I took a break from my usual Half Ironman distance to attempt my first Olympic of the year (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run).

My race season had mostly been met with disappointment, posting much slower times than last year, and getting beaten relentlessly by Storm who no matter how far ahead of him I got on the swim or bike, he always managed to catch and surpass me on the run.

With the race being on a Saturday morning, the crew decided to leave Thursday evening after work, drive as far as we could, camp, and then continue on the next morning.

After hitting Sicamous, it was time to start looking for a place to camp.  Luckily we had our Splinter of Ninja Camping with us - Michael Duncan - who with unparalleled trained eyes managed to find obscure and hidden abandoned roads stemming off of the Trans-Canada Highway.  After a couple of failed locations we were fortunate enough to find a preemo spot near an old mine.

Setting up Camp in the Dark
Ninja Camping!
Morning stroke and I was able to fully take down my campsite and pack all my belongings back into the car before one generally good looking guy even got out of his sleeping bag.

The seven of us soon were off and back on the road.  Passing through Golden we saw a family of mountain goats chillin on the side of the road.  We stopped at Lake Louise and ingested some of the surrounding area's beauty.  We eventually made it to Banff and set up our camp at the gorgeous Two Jack Lackside campground - I highly recommend it.  The scenery was unlike the hustle of downtown Vancouver - instead of people and buildings tearing into the sky there were rugged mountains freckled with wildlife.

Excitement was in the air as the town of Banff was ready to welcome us into their home to race.

The team decided to hit the bike course to see what would be in-store for us the following day.

It was simply breathtaking.

As the day progressed and the evening settled in we looked for a place to eat.  I have come to find that my pre-race meal of choice is Thai Chicken Bites and pizza at Boston Pizza.  I like to order extra Hawaiian  pizza that I can eat the next morning for breakfast.  Every time I have had this meal pre-race I have had a good race and this proved to be no exception, but I get ahead of myself.

After enjoying a delicious meal, we headed back to camp to light a fire and make smores.

There is something about a campfire that just completely settles the nerves.  11pm came and it was time for bed.

Race morning:

We had heard the day previous that due to the combination of cold water temperatures and mountain air that the swim leg was to be shortened from 1500m to 750m.  At the time I was quite disappointed by the announcement because the swim is where I make up all my time on Winston and this was my last chance to beat him this year (It's great to have friendly rivalries to keep motivated). I figured it was game over between us. But when I stepped into the water a few minutes before the race started I began to feel grateful for the shortened duration. As I looked in people's faces - seeing the obvious discomfort from the frigid glacial water I tried to forget my own.  I soon started to shiver while wearing my wetsuit and noticed others shivering as well.  I think it was a smart idea to shorten the swim as hypothermia was a real threat -just ask Jared Penner who later pulled out of the race suffering from mild hypothermia himself.

Two Jack Lack
The swim was tough.  The 1500m altitude brought shortness of breath and the cold water seemed to freeze my arms so I could hardly bring myself to stroke.  I got through the swim and from thereon out it was a great race.

I decided to take my time in T1 - toweling off and putting on additional layers.  I burned 9 minutes and 5 seconds but I didn't regret it because although it was raining and windy, I was comfortable on the bike.  I left T1 in 163 place out of 350 but was able to pass 95 people on the bike, entering T2 in 68th - not bad. Although my body was warm, my feet were frozen.  So frozen that I couldn't feel them and struggled with putting my running shoes on.  I burned another 3 minutes in T2 but then I was off.

This turned out to be my greatest run of the year. It started off with frozen feet, but within a kilometer my toes were met with a burning sensation as they started to thaw. After about 5 minutes I ran into Winston and realized that he was about a minute and a half behind me (up until this point I had thought he was ahead of me).  I was feeling strong and was hoping I could hold him off for once.

I ran the first 5km in 22 minutes and at this point I was still feeling good and decided to pick up the pace (mainly because I could now feel my feet). I finished the last 5km in 21 minutes for a total 10km time of 43:14.  It was nice to be able to run a negative split.  I finished the race in 2:15:17 and was pleased to finally vanquish my foe who raced a solid 2:16:37 finishing only two spots behind me. Success!

My friends all did well.  Special congrats to Scott for finishing first in the 20-24 age group and Winston for finishing second in the same age group category.

Scott and Winstorm owning the Podium
I was going to leave in the early afternoon to hit the road back home and try to get back in a decent hour but they announced that there would be a draw for a Blue Triad frameset and you had to be there to win it. I figured the odds weren't great but good enough to stick around.  And am I glad I did.  My number was called and I won!  It was very exciting.

Blue Triad
I then drove all the way home, walked in the door at about 5:00am and slept for the majority of the next day.

What a fantastic weekend!


Vincent said...

solid race. I just worked out the times. Ignoring the transitions, we were only 12 seconds apart and you were 21 seconds up from Scott!

Those are some slow transitions! But fast race otherwise

Winstonian said...

I think you pulled off a classic Winstorm there - you just got faster and faster as the race proceeded onwards. Great race, and congrats!

Sweet bike win! So glad you won it.

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