So, my first race of the season is almost upon me. Once again, it’s the Wine Capital of Canada Sprint Triathlon in Oliver. I have been registered for a few months, and have paid for my hotel room for Saturday night. I often do not register for races until the last minute, “just in case” but this time, because I wanted to make sure I got a good deal on the hotel through Priceline, I registered early. After all, I’ve done this race twice before, and being 3 weeks before my half iron, it’s the first and probably only opportunity I have to do any open water swim before the race. It was a safe bet.
However, there are always some concerns. Last year, I raced hard and did my fastest run split ever (27:30) in a sprint race, winning my age group over 5 minutes ahead of the next competitor. Subsequently, my shins were sore for the weeks following and I had to cut back on running any distance at a fairly integral part of my half iron training schedule. This likely contributed to the difficult run split I had at that race.
Fast forward to this year. Thanks to El Nina, we have had a cooler than normal spring and a late thaw in the mountains. Normally, we would have had several weeks of warmer (20-25C, 65-65F) weather in late April which would warmed up shallow Tuc El Nuit Lake in time for the early race. However, as of last weekend, the water was still only 11C (52F). Although we’ve had a few days this week in the 20’s, it’s mostly been cloudy and showery and I doubt the lake will have warmed up much. It has to be 14C (57F) in order to do the swim, and the air temperature at race time cannot be more than 2C cooler than that. Given the current forecast, it is very unlikely that the water will be warmer than 14C on race day, and the weather forecast is for cloudy with rain showers.
There are two scenarios that will possibly play out this weekend.
1. The lake temperature will warm up just barely enough to do the race but I will have to swim in FREEZING 57F 14C water.
2. The lake will not warm up enough, or the air temperature will be too cool, and the race will be changed to a duathlon.
Neither of these choices is optimal. The worst case scenario is having to swim in ice cold water, even with a wetsuit. Yes, I know, to some of you, this temp is tepid. To some of you, it’s downright warm. But to me, it’s effing freezing. I am a cold water wuss. I get the shivers climbing into the heated indoor pool. I hate being cold.
By chance, yesterday we were cleaning and refilling our hot tub. When turned it on to warm it back up, I kept checking the temperature until I saw it had reached 58F. I put on my wetsuit and got in. Well, let me rephrase that, I got part way in. Up to my waist. Until the water started to seep in through the back zipper.
My feet were like ice and I was shivering. I put my hands to try to adjust them to the cold water temperature. I tried to force myself to dunk down lower but just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even begin to fathom actually having to put my face in and swim so I got out and waited until the temperature went up to 60F and then tried again. No go.
To be honest, it did feel a bit warmer, and if push came to shove, I could probably force myself to swim in that temperature, but I would not like it and it would be a negative OWS experience which is exactly the opposite of what I want to accomplish 3 weeks before my half iron.
Of course the other possibility is that the race is turned into a duathlon. This would be nice as far as swimming is concerned but would also defeat the main purpose of my doing the race – to experience a positive OWS swim practice before my big race. In addition, it would put extra stress on my legs which I do not need.
Ugh. Decisions, decisions...
My running has been hit and miss since the half marathon in March. Some days my legs and shins feel fine, other days my shins are tight and sore and I can hardly run without pain. Some days my hip/groin feels ok, and other days, it pinches and aches and feels like it’s going to “slip” while I’m running.
I had a crappy run mid week last week, took 3 days off, and then ran 16 km with no trouble at all on Saturday. On Tuesday, my shins were sore again and I ended up doing a walk/run. Today, I did a test run for a block and my shins hurt enough that I decided not to run at all until the race on Sunday. If I do the race that is.
I have to look at the big picture – the half iron on June 5. If I’m careful over the next 3 weeks, I can maintain my run fitness by not running for 2 days between each run and by doing all my stretching etc. My half iron will definitely be slower on the swim, and who knows about the bike – depends on the wind, but I’ll definitely be faster on the run. Overall, I expect to have a faster time this year than last, and hopefully, I will be able to walk afterward. :)
Ultimately, I am going to decide when I get there. Since I’ve paid for the hotel and the race, and I have a house/dog sitter arranged, Erik and I are going to go down to the race. But on Saturday, I’m going to try a test swim and if it’s still too cold and the swim isn’t cancelled, I may DNS on the race altogether. If they turn the race into a duathlon, I’m going to have to look at it as a training race – a brick workout, and try my best to do the run at half iron run pace, not sprint run pace. I really do think I can do that because the protection of my shins is of utmost importance this close to the race.