Wow – I don’t even know where to start with this one!

A 16-minute PR, 3rd in my age group, the best race of my life, and an all-around amazing day…it’s going to be tough to keep this brief, but I’ll do my best 😉

When my coach suggested I take on the Olympic distance back in March, I was a little hesitant. I had planned on doing the sprint and saving the longer distance until the Subaru 5i50 in July. But my training was going well so I figured “why not?” And I’m SO glad I did!

The Swim

By this point, swimming 1500m is relatively easy for me. I hit around 3000 during my practices now and am much more confident in the water, so I was far less nervous about the first leg of the race than I was the last two years. And with all my open water swimming being in the ocean, I figured it would be way easier in a calm lake!

cultus lake triathlon

There weren’t any waves, but it was cold. They estimated the water temperature to be between 12 and 12 degrees (53-55 farenheit), which is pretty cold regardless of whether you’re used to cooler climates or not.

I had my first open water swim practice with Sea Hikers last Wednesday and fortunately the first thing they taught us was how to get acclimatized to the water, so this came in SUPER handy. I got in the water about 20 minutes before the race started for a practice swim and decided not to get out. Again, the fact that my training has covered double the distance made the idea of swimming an extra 20 minutes before the race not seem like a huge deal.

I was a little worried because this race started with a deep water start as opposed to a running start, but it was a small race with only around 80 participants so it wasn’t too chaotic 😉

The lack of waves made it really easy to keep my eyes locked on the buoys, and with the exception of a mini freakout when I inhaled some water, I managed to stay relatively calm. I tend to think a lot when I swim – it helps me relax. Usually I think about what sorts of content I want to create for social media or what I want to eat for dinner on the weekend.

I wanted to stay focused on my technique so I kept reminding myself “alligator eyes” for my sighting, which resulted in “Bette Davis Eyes” being played over and over again in my head. Don’t ask my why.

All in all, it was an amazingly strong swim and I didn’t need to hang off a paddleboard ONCE! (Although I did check with the Race Director beforehand to make sure that was okay 😉 ).

Total Time: 35:51, 18 minutes faster than my last Olympic tri!

The Bike

By this point I was feeling pretty pumped. I couldn’t feel my feet but I didn’t really care. I threw my socks on my wet, dirty feet, got my cycling shoes on, and then I was off!

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cultus lake triathlonHaving done 60km worth of hills in my training, I was pretty pumped to get a fairly flat 40km course. At the athlete’s meeting we were warned of a “small climb” coming into and out of the park. I have to admit I laughed a bit when I drove a portion of the course, but when I was out there riding it did feel a bit like a hill 😉

It was SO nice riding through the countryside being surrounded by mountains and farmland. I wish I had mounted my Action Cam to my bike so I could share some of the scenery! I loved seeing all the farm animals and had to force myself to focus on the road when I caught myself getting distracted by a dog playing with a pack of goats.

I was feeling really strong and fast on the bike, so I was really confused by my Garmin was telling me I was hitting approximately 3 mins/km. I thought for sure I’d be at 2 mins, but I kept pushing along. I nursed one gel along the bike ride and took a few sips of my Nuun Pulse here and there, but besides that I didn’t feel much need to take in any calories.

After riding for about an hour I figured I must be getting close to the end, and then my Garmin flashed “Lap 18”. Lap 18?! Wtf?! I was REALLY confused about why I wasn’t even halfway done and got a bit nervous at that point, so I slowed my pace a tiny bit so I could last what I thought was another 22km.

A few minutes later we looped back towards the start of the course and I saw the sign that said Cultus Lake was only 6km away. I realized that when I updated my Garmin the day before it probably switched everything back to miles. Note to self: check these things before racing.

I was about to gun it when my bike started making some nasty noises. I hate to admit this, but I’m a total bike noob and know nothing about caring for or repairing a bike. I just hoped it would last me 6km, but my gears started feeling clunky and then my chain fell off.

Fortunately I got it back on pretty quick, and even though I couldn’t get my gears to shift properly afterwards, I’d imagine I only lost about a minute or 2 because of it all.

Total Time: 1:20:35, 35 seconds slower than my goal time

The Run

As much as I love running, it’s probably my least leg of the race just because I can’t push it like I want to. I stuck with my safe intervals to keep my IT happy but pushed the pace a little faster than I did in training. I figured I could make it until about 7km before the pain started to set in, and at that point I could make it through another 3km.

During the run of last year’s Olympic I had a few of those “why am I doing this to myself?” “shit I don’t know if I can do this” moments.

This year? All I could think about was how great I felt. Despite that familiar twinge on the outside of my knee. Despite the blisters forming on the bottoms of my feet from running in wet cotton socks. Despite my stomach feeling twisted with those usual race knots.

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All I could think was how much fucking FUN I was having, and how I knew I was ready to tackle a Half Ironman in the fall.

cultus lake triathlonMy training for the past 5 months has gone really well for the most part, but there have been the typical moments of self-doubt here and there. I’ve felt more tired than I thought I should have, I’ve been frustrated by my swimming performance, and I’ve been held back by my IT band.

The week before the race I had a slightly condescending physiotherapist tell me that some people just don’t have a runner’s body and I’m one of those people. Later in the week it was suggested to me that I may not be able to handle my current volume of training and that it might be time to scale it back.

I’m not one to push myself to the point of exhaustion or to burn myself to the ground just to spite someone. But I’m also not willing to let someone tell me what is or isn’t possible and just accept it, without looking at what my other options are.

I’ve learned that no matter how many people we have out there who have our backs, if we don’t have our own backs, we’re in trouble. When the people who are supposed to support us and believe in us don’t support or believe in us, what do we do? Do we just stop?

I say no. 

While I was out on that run, I knew I was going to get myself to the start of a Half Ironman and eventually a full Ironman, even if I had to do it myself.

I knew I wasn’t going to let this injury hold me back, and I wasn’t going to let others tell me there’s nothing I can do because they don’t feel like putting in the effort to help me find answers. If I have to figure it out on my own, I will.

I crossed that finish line with a happy heart (and sore feet!).

cultus lake triathlon

Total Time: 1:03:44, about 6.5 minutes faster than anticipated.

Grand Total: 3:07:33

All in all, it was a fabulous day. The guys at Dynamic Race Events put on an amazing event with a beautiful course and friendly support along the way. I can’t wait to be back in the fall to tackle the Half Ironman!

It meant so much to me to have my parents, my boy, and one of the amazing women I get to work with out there to support me and to share this awesome day with. And since I promised I’d keep this as brief as possible, I’ll cut this here 😉

What are some moments from your favourite races?

Showing 2 comments
  • Christina
    Reply

    Congratulations on an amazing finish! I was looking up some reviews on the Cultus lake tri when I came across your blog. I’m also going to be doing some open water swim lessons with Seahikers so I’m glad to hear that worked really well for you. Cultus lake will be my first Tri! Looking forward to it 😊🖒.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Hey! Thanks so much or stopping by 🙂 Congrats on taking on your first triathlon! How exciting. Cultus Lake is a great race – I’m a little bummed to be missing it this year, but I’m sure you’ll have a great time! Feel free to keep me posted on how it goes 🙂

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