We headed over to the swim start at Hamsterly Beach about 9 am on Friday and a second time
on Sunday at 8 am. It has a nice sandy beach, although it is not a big area. The start and finish
has changed slightly from prior years. You enter the water from the main beach area and exit
on the other side of the railing area. The water is about 50 yards from the parking lot, which is
where I assume transition will be. The water was great, not too cold and really calm, which I
hear is typical. The wind doesn't tend to pick up until a little later in the day, around early
afternoon. It's really murky though, very green. I only encountered one or two pieces of plant life
though. And although fish were jumping, I didn't actually see any on the swim.
The swim start and looking back at the transition area….
I headed over to the bike start at Hamsterly Beach about 11. There are a lot of both small and large rollers on the route. There are a handful of stop lights/signs. There is a little bit of a climb on the way out to the main road and then a small descent as you head towards Oldfield. This is a good road for getting acclimated to the bike. Once on Oldfield there are a number of small
rollers, and then a nice descent as you get to the right turn for the longest part of the route, W.Saanich road. There are a few large rollers and then a killer descent, perfect for making up time and recovering. And then you climb, for about 1/2 mile. Then another descent. None of the hills are super steep, but steep enough to get into the lowest gear. With both loops I clocked
3806 elevation gain. After the first stop light on W. Saanich there is a good straight flat section (the first half of the route is twisty) for getting down into the drops. The route is really nice and there is lots of shade on the first half.Finally there is a right turn near the airport, and onto a false flat. It's windy! Then there's a right turn on E. Saanich. And a long climb, not super steep. But long. There's a nice descent before turning onto Wallace for a little more out and back. Wallace has speed bumps, but there are cutouts in the middle perfect for bikes. This road and Central Saanich are really open and windy. A lady I met on the route told me that the wind is an afternoon thing and shouldn't be an issue in the morning. There's a long little climb up to
Keating Cross and then a little hill as you turn onto Oldfield. I found this to be the perfect opportunity to feel exhausted, cuz there's another loop! The second loop seemed much faster than the first. Heading back to transition, Brookleigh is a good distance to spin a little before the run.
The run course is interesting. It's on a gravel and dirt packed trail around the lake. One loop is 10k. I saw a snake and a lot of horse poop! There are a lot of rocks and tree roots to navigate. There are also some really narrow sections. So narrow that I can see people getting pushed into the lake by a passing runner. It'll be interesting to see a whole racing pack going through them. Oh and it's not really flat. There are a lot of little hills. But it is very pretty! There is a lot of shade, but also some open areas that can get pretty warm. Water stations are every mile.
Last year I had noticed a very early season open water swim tri on the calendar, Oregon Dunes Triathlon near Florence, OR. I had it on my radar as a possible race if I had work in the area this year. Last week I had a job come up in Newport, OR, 50 miles from race, so I signed up for the Olympic distance event.
Reviewing the course info, it looked to be fairly challenging: cold water, hilly bike course and some rugged trail running. The water temp was reported as 57, 58 or 60F. The start was delayed about 10 minutes due fog on the water. I had been lax on swim training off season with only 6 trips to the pool and I had not been in open water yet this year. I was not sure what the actual water temp was but the initial “warm up” left me with an ice cream headache sensation. I was glad I opted for a double cap and swim socks once I was in the water. All this being said, I found a reasonably efficient stroke and held a fairly straight line for the two laps. My Garmin showed a 1:46 per 100 yards performance. Swimming is by far my weakest leg so this was not a bad start.
I had a huge time burning T1 in part because I put on sleeves and gloves but struggled a bit with them on cold and wet skin. Then I found the helmet straps had come loose. After 3 attempts, I got that straightened out and burned through 4:55 – uggh. T1 times of my competitors was 2.5 to 3 minutes. Note to self: put the helmet on a couple of times when setting up race morning.
The bike course: lots of hills and lots of curves. My Garmin recorded 2185’ of elevation gain over 25 miles. The extra challenge was the curvy descents including several near 90 degree turns and one with a railroad crossing. The course was well managed with volunteers warning to slow down at couple of these hazards. I also found the highway signs that noted 15 mph curves really mean 15 mph for bikes too. So in addition to the big climbs, the make up on the descent was reduced by necessary braking. With the hills in mind, I had a pace goal of 18.5 mph but ended up with 17.6. Relatively this still was a reasonably good performance putting me 17th of 91 on the bike leg.
T2 was efficient without the problems of T1. The run was part trail, part grassy field crossings and about half paved surfaces. There was one substantial climb up and over the foot bridge crossing Hwy 101 that looped twice for the 10K. Total elevation gain of 404’ with the rugged trail sections also made the run leg fairly tough. On top of this, the race finished with the last 100 yards up a steep sand dune to the finish line.
This was my longest time for an Olympic tri at 2:55. Still it was good enough for an AG podium finish, 3 of 9 and I was 27 of 91 overall (and yes I checked – I would have been 20th if T1 were 3 minutes). Mile-for-mile this has to be the toughest tri/multisport event of the 40 I have done.
So what did I do to celebrate, besides visiting the Ninkasi Brewing Taproom? After we drove into Eugene, I signed up for the half of the Eugene Marathon right before the expo closed. After heading down to Oregon I realized this race was Sunday morning. I could not pass on the opportunity to participate in one of the great races and finish on Hayward Field. No surprise that 1:50:32 finish was not my best result but it was better than my last half in March at the Tacoma St. Patty’s. Actually it was about average for the 20 half- marathons I have done.
With 3 more RTB Wednesday night swim sessions with Patty this month, I should be ready for Troika at the end of the month. The question is whether I can continue my tri/du AG podium finish streak of 4. J
Honestly, I was surprised to be invited to write my story. I haven’t done a race distance longer than the Olympic, and it's beginning to look like I never will, but I do love the sport of triathlon and I am happy to be able to do what I can as long as I can. As I get older, I think it seems to be getting less competitive and there are fewer women in my age group, so I do feel better about not being as fast as the younger kids.
I think my first thought of doing a triathlon was when I was about 50. I was a competitive swimmer as a kid until I entered high school. After that I didn't do much of any sport until I was 25 and started running (my mom started running when she was in her 40's and with kneecaps missing on both of her legs from previous accidents, and "if she could do it, I could do it"). When my husband and I got married, I was 33 and recovering from Anorexia Nervosa (at my lowest point I weighed 85 pounds). God healed me and we were blessed with 6 children (of our own), pretty much one after another, because we wanted a big family and we got such a late start. I knew after our second child that I had to let go of my addiction to exercise, and focus on our family. So, when my kids were old enough that I could sit them in the bleachers while I swam laps a few times a week I was a happy lady. Well then, they closed the pool (K-M) so I got a gym membership (a big spend for our 1 income family) and I loved working out, doing whatever. I did spin classes and finally got a road bike and did the STP with my husband.
I met Cindy McGonigal in spin classes and we talked about doing a triathlon. We ended up doing the Danskin triathlon together (my first tri). It happened to be the year when it was freezing cold and raining. Julie Swienty was a spectator and tied my shoe for me because my fingers were frozen and not working. It was miserable and I know I was hypothermic. Fortunately, we decided to do the Escape from the Rock triathlon the next month and it was a beautiful day and a much better experience.
After a year or two of doing a few sprint triathlons, I signed up for Raise the Bar. One of the best things I've ever done. I love the team and everyone on it. It has done so much for me, all the great people, opportunities, training, confidence building, and friends. I love that no matter how old or young or fast or slow, they will be there to cheer you to the finish. Now, I'm doing 3 or 4 triathlons a year along with several running events. My favorite (and biggest race) is the Chelanman Olympic because it is a girl's weekend for us, and the weather is usually warm. I mostly love the training for triathlons though as I get too panicky and I have a hard time pacing myself at the races, so I'm usually done with my race before I cross the finish line. I'm still working on that...
Now, we have only 3 kids left at home. The youngest is 17. There's a problem with them all growing up and leaving though, as our 4th child is special needs (Angelman's Syndrome) and needs care 24/7. She's been a real blessing for our family but we are running out of kids to help take care of her so it's pretty much up to my husband and I now, and that can interfere with training and many other activities. Also, my oldest daughter (Annie) is pregnant, and I'm going to be a grandma! I think that will be changing my priorities a bit as well.
I do want to continue doing triathlon for as long as I can. I love the fitness it provides, and the community of health-minded people to train and have fun with. I also love that when you're injured there are two other sports that you can work on. Bring on the next age group!
This was my first 70.3 St George
The story of this race was the weather and high temp's
The Pros went out at 6:50 AM , My age group at 7:21, So there was not much time to watch the Pros.
The Swim was an open water start, I placed myself to buoy nearest the inner track about 4 people deep. It took about 3 yellow buoys to catch my breath and develop a pace. I was shooting for less than 35 and came in less than 40. At the 1st turn we swam directly into a sunrise which made it difficult to spot buoys down range. The water temperature was 62 degrees. Once we made final turn toward shore we could hear the music and announcer.
Transition 1 went smoothly my bike was parked in the back of the venue so had a long run out. My bike anxiety was a slow leak I noticed on my rear tire, I decided to pump that tire to the max and hope it would hold up which it did. Once out the first 20 miles is relatively flat and circles the lake. The air temp at this point is still cool and you do not feel the heat. I was getting passed on the bike by younger stronger triathletes at this point. Mile 20- 30 is a continuous up hill grade. @ about mile 40 we turned into Red Hills Canyon State Park. There was a climb up about 4 miles on a paved path, at times single file, the scenic views were amazing, I'd like to go back. This section fills out back to the main road and an epic 4 mile climb begins with 8-9 degree grade in place. We then exit the park onto the main highway and 8-9 miles down to town at times speeds of 35 mph. We enter town into T-2.
I had lost time @ T2, I was not able to find my 299 rack spot, a volunteer finally helped me however I lost precious minutes , Once on the run, immediate 500 yard up hill and next 3 miles is a gentle up hill grade followed by our first 3 mile climb. Throughout the run I was continuing to pass other triathletes. Despite the heat and up hill, I didn't seem to mind. I was running 10 minute/mile average in these up hill sections. After cresting the hill followed by 1 mile of rolling hills then mile 5.5-7.5 trail running on paved paths into the hills and scrub through canyons one more drop then the last climb up to mile 9 and at mile 10 decent begins which for me at times very fast, and down into town. I learned I had a lot left over and could have began to attack the course sooner on the ride.
Overall had a good day. I did run the summit section of run with Dave Morell, I tend to exit the water stops faster then him overall he cycled faster than me and beat my time by a minute or so. St George Utah is a great town, so clean and the town really embraces this event. Much like CDA. I would definitely come back.
Raise the Bar
Race reports, upcoming events, news, and more, from RTB.