This past weekend was my first experience with the Rev 3 Race Series, and I must begin by saying how amazing the series is. The event organizers were incredible and the course was spectacular course—super hilly and tough the way I like it! Actually, it’s quite similar to, but more difficult than Muskoka 70.3. With $150 000 on the line for the pros, the race certainly attracted a very fit and very tough field. According to USAT rules, however, the cut off for wetsuits for the pros is 68 degrees. Apparently the water was 69 (but at the turn around, the water seemed to get 10 degrees colder!!!), so although age group athletes were in wetsuits, we were left to shiver…and shiver we certainly did. Like a number of us, I went totally hypothermic in the swim. I learned a number of very important lessons on Sunday, but perhaps the most important on a practical level is that I should NEVER do a warm up swim when it’s that cold. What was I thinking? In my mind I was worried that starting the race without doing so would shock my body too much, but it was a bad decision. Of course what happens is that you then must exit the water and stand on the beach freezing while the national anthem is sung and while waiting for the pro men to start. While I did so, I looked around me at all the lean ladies who were blue with cold—this did little in the way of putting me at ease. I tried to tell myself that with the fast effort off the gun, I would be warm, but that didn’t happen and I seemed to swim slower and slower with each stroke. In fact, with about 800m to go I went into a full double calf cramp. I’m not even sure how I hobbled though transition. I don’t remember much of transition except that I went searching through my warm up stuff for my jacket and couldn’t find it. I was shivering so hard I couldn’t get my hands to work. I kept telling myself that the hilly course would raise my heart rate and warm me up, but as I went into the decents, I just got progressively more cold. At the first aid station I actually got off my bike and asked a volunteer for a T-shirt. Miraculously she produced one after a mad dash through boxes. With her stretching it over my aero Giro helmet (that must have looked hilarious), I got back on my bike in a haze. I’m so grateful for the stability of my Speed Concept which handled my shaking limbs well. But, although I avoided crashing, I still couldn’t seem to access any power at all. Shivering so hard my neck still hurts two days later, I was barely pedaling. In the 2nd half of the bike, the sun peeked through the arch of trees and I rode as much as I could in the sun spots. I started to get warmer and was able to finally pick things up, but I had already lost too much time to be anywhere in the mix. After a super slow swim and a rough and shivering ride, I decided at the very least, I could try and run my heart out. Entering transition, I took off the big T-shirt and finally felt ready to race. I really wanted to take something positive away from the day, and in addition to a decent run, I discovered another component of digging deep and gutting it out, and something essential about removing ego and emotion from racing, but I also learned invaluable information about non-wetsuit swims in cold water and how to optimize the preservation of body heat. I have some business to take care of with this course next year to be sure, and look forward to doing so then. In the meantime, I really think the USAT rules for wetsuit/non-wetsuit temps need to be re-evaluated. Certainly a contender for first place, Canadian Magali Tisseyre had to DNF with hypothermia—that shouldn’t happen.
Still, as I say above, I’m now a big fan of the Rev 3 series and am excited to do another one. Additionally, I had two wonderful traveling companions in fellow racers pro Nic Van Beurden and Breanne Drouin from St. Catherines. The two of them made for an outstanding road trip! (pics to follow soon)