One thing that is always recommended is to check out the water the day before you race if possible. Last year for the Toronto Triathlon Festival, we were unable to do this. However, this year there was a well supervised pre-race swim in chilly 61 degree Celsius Lake Ontario.
Katie (aka Dorothy Gale), pictured on the right was trying a second borrowed wet suit, the Nineteen brand, for her very first triathlon. Jim (aka Blondie), center has got in a good number a lake swims up north of the city in his new Nineteen wet suit, but hasn’t completed a triathlon for about 20 years. I, center (aka Wonder Woman) am trying a new suit out for the first time in a lake swim, and a second time overall swim. My suit is the 2XU Velocity 3. Katie and I are wearing two swim caps. Jim is wearing one. When the water is 65 degrees or colder, you will generally find me in two swim caps.
Before leaving home, I was sure to defog my goggles with Aqua Sphere Anti-Fog. This helps with sighting and just overall comfort of being able to see all of your surroundings clearly. The swim is frightening enough for many of us, so making sure your goggles are clean and perfectly clear is a good thing to do.
Katie and Jim used baby powder on the inside of their wet suits to help ease them on. I must admit I need no assistance as my V:3 is so easy to get on. In the past though, I have always used Coppertone Sun Oil Spray on my body before putting my wet suit on and felt it helped the process along quite nicely. As another safeguard for keeping me warm in the chilly lake, I also applied Pro Bike Kit’s Competition 2 Strongly Warming Up Oil to my feet, chest, neck and wrists.
Katie had a bit of a struggle with her suit, as I coached her to pull the crotch and butt up really high so as to get the upper piece as open as possible so there would be no neck tugging and no shoulder movement restriction. We pulled her arms up as well to make more room for the shoulders. I had her do a couple of swim catch up movements to see if the neck and/or breathing would feel any discomfort/restriction. All good. Time to get in the water.
The water was indeed chilly at 61 or so degrees, so putting the head in at first was quite daunting so I doggy paddled along adding in a couple of breast strokes until I was ready for the dip.
In this temperature, it did not take long until I was able to swim normally. The water got warmer as I headed west out on to the course, getting myself out of the shade. I swam about 200 metres out and then on the way back at about the 250 metre point I reset the lap timer on my Garmin as I picked up the pace a bit to what I foresee myself swimming on race day. Not too shabby, but not as good as my pool swim yesterday. It’s a GPS device after and may not be 100% accurate. At this pace anyway, if I stay with the pack and by doing so shave this time down another couple of seconds, I am right on track.
Exiting the wet suit is tricky, so I also recommend you practice this. My wetsuit had a little water exit as i got up out of the water, but not too much. You know you’ve got the wrong suit if a you’re a waterfall upon exit.
If your transition is nearby as in the TTF, you just unzip the top and wait to get out of the rest of your suit at your transition spot. If your distance to transition is longer and/or your suit is tighter fitting, you may like to get out of your suit with the help of race peelers at the swim exit (volunteers designated to help you with your wet suit). *Check if your event has peelers as not all events do. Getting out of your wet suit is an art so practice it a lot! Watch and learn from the pros any chance you can get!
Now that I am back home, showered and I’ve had my lunch I am going to head out for a little ride to check out the mechanics of my bike. I rode on Thursday, and everything was fine then so this ride is purely just for peace of mind. When you are doing your pre-race mechanical check however, I recommend you shift into every single one of your gears and be sure there are no slips. Go up and down your gears a few times. Pump up your tires to the recommended max pressure but know that you will have to add more air on race morning. If one pops now – better now than tomorrow morning! Check your breaks while stopping really hard after a little sprint several times. Practice clipping and unclipping your helmet as this is also an art, especially when your hand dexterity will be reduced after a chilly swim. Really get to know your gear!
I may go for a couple of sprints up and down my street after the bike just to remind me of my race shoe feel and race pace, but that’s it. No more than 10 minutes.
Join me later to hear about my carbo load pasta dinner and my Olympic Distance pre-race fuel prep. Its going to be humid so I will be packing and using my Thermolyte MetaSalt Capsules in addition to my ActivFuel and other fuel.
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