This year's Kelowna Apple had four LETC members participating – Andrew, Mike, Stacy and myself with Janet and Benny on the cheering squad.
Race morning was cold but clear and it was obvious it would be hot later, or at least hot by Vancouverite standards. The water was also cool - the announcement went out at 6:15 that the water temperature was 22 degrees, just one degree below the cut off of 23 degrees, so wetsuits would be allowed.
The swim course had been changed this year, the organizers decided to make life interesting and have us finish the first of the two loops by running around a buoy on the sand at the 750m mark, making me think I shouldn't have skipped the dolphin-diving session the prior weekend! I was thrilled to find out that I would be in the second heat for the swim, meaning I would be in the water at 7:15 rather than waiting until 7:40 as I did in 2005. Unfortunately Mike and Andrew's heat was quite a bit later.
After some terrible jokes by the announcer – the same ones he told to Andrew and Mike's heat and I think the same ones he told last year – (he needs some new material!) the horn went and Stacy & I were on our way. As usual I lost the group I should be drafting off but pulled away from the slower swimmers and ended up swimming most of the time by myself. I did have a draftee who was practicing her karate chops on the arches of my feet but I eventually managed to lose her. I lost time on the beach turn around but at least did a decent dolphin dive. Mike and Andrew apparently showed off their belly flop technique at this point. Janet reported that Stacy was the sixth from my heat to come out of the water – a fantastic start for her.
The bike course had changed due to construction, it was now a four loop course and the organizers had trumpeted the addition of a hill with a six percent grade, something a lot of competitors weren't looking forward to. After the bike tour however the hill turned out not to be so daunting as, although it was steep, it was only 600m long. It was on par with the first 600m of the Spanish Banks hill, and LETC members have done that more than 4 times in a training session!
The "big hill" was less than 2km out of transition so it was a bit of a rude awakening but I came to love the hill. I dubbed it "the equalizer" as I passed so many people on it. The best was passing the woman with the fancy-schmancy tri bike and the suit saying she was a member of her provincial ironman team – that felt good. Even if it was the Saskatchewan ironman team and I possibly had an advantage over her when it came to hills …
I got off the bike with a cumulative time of under 2 hours and started to get excited as I knew a PR was a definite possibility if I had a decent run on the pancake flat run course. I took off running beside a local who was cheered on by everyone in the crowd and I was feeling a little unloved then suddenly Benny was yelling at me from one side of the street and Janet from the other – a great way to start my run!
I finished with an overall time of 2:48:06, my best time ever and PRs in all three disciplines.
Stacy had been fighting a head cold the week prior and toughed it out to completely respectable finish of 2:43:54. Kudos to her for having the grit to keep going.
The big story of the day was the race between Andrew and Mike – they were practically neck and neck the whole way through. They came out of the water 30 seconds apart, were separated by 30 seconds on the bike and again on the run with the lead alternating back and forth between them. Andrew finished in 2:34:45 and Mike 2:34:57, 16th and 17th in the 30-34 age group. We'll have to watch this rivalry closely!
After the age groupers raced, the elites took to the water and showed us all how it really should be done. Watching the transition was amazing, especially their running leaps onto their bikes after charging out of the transition.