One third the stress, three times the fun? This morning Alasdair and I participated in our 2nd ever triathlon relay – again at Guelph Lake Conservation Area – as part of the Subaru Triathlon Series Guelph Lake II sprint race (750m swim, 30k bike, 7k run). Last year, Alasdair swam, I biked, and our friend Rebecca ran. This year, we decided to switch it up a bit, but because Rebecca just had a wee baby girl, we settled on me swimming and Alasdair biking, and an as-yet-to-be-determined-person as our runner! We chose John, who we knew through basketball, even though we knew he was a pretty new runner! When we asked him to join us, he was doing a 5k running clinic at the Running Room in Burlington. We were pretty sure he would have fun, and he agreed to join us (it also gave him extra motivation to continue increasing his run distances)!
After my usual pre-race breakfast of a banana, oatmeal, yogurt, almonds and cranberries, we were out the door at around 6:30 AM, arriving at the race site before 7:30 and not long after John. As relay participants, we had to go through the registration process together, so we signed our waivers, got the swim cap for me, bike stickers for Alasdair, race bib for John, timing chip, and t-shirts for each of us.
Alasdair was one of the first athletes to rack his bike on the relay racks, so he got a prime end position. We each got what we’d need ready, and had plenty of time for multiple bathrooms trips before the 9 AM race start. Alasdair even went out for a short warm-up ride on his bike.
With the timing chip on my ankle (to be passed to Alasdair and John during the race), we headed down to the beach around 8:30 or so, so that I could do a short warm-up swim. I had read online yesterday that the water quality was poor where we would be racing today, but apparently everything was fine this morning. Thankfully, the race wasn’t converted to a duathlon, or I would have been running instead of swimming (I did bring my running stuff, just in case!). I was looking to redeem myself after 2 crappy way-too-wavy swims!
Relay swimmers were in the 6th and final wave, about 18 minutes after the 1st wave headed out. Soon enough, a canon fired (VERY LOUDLY!) and the 1st wave was off. Thankfully, subsequent waves were sent off with a much quieter air horn. My wave (older women + all relay teams) was spread out quite wide on the beach (we started on the beach with our feet out of the water). I started right in front, hoping to swim hard and get our team off to a good start! When the air horn sounded, I took off running, something that I don’t normally do! I also dove in, another unusual swim start for me. Things started well, but there was a lot of congestion. I got kicked, smacked, and bumped, but was doing the same myself! I had no issues sighting in this FLAT SWIM but I never did shake the congestion. A few times I had to stop to look around and see how I could get away from people. It also seemed that quite a few people were breaststroking, which always worries me (more likely to get kicked in the head as I swim by). I noticed that I caught some of the swimmers in the wave before me (blue swim caps as opposed to green in my wave). We swam a rectangular course, swimming in a clockwise manner and keeping the buoys to our right. There were 2 turns in total. I felt that I was swimming well, and that I was pushing harder than I normally do. I was expecting my swim to be between 16 and 17 minutes, but was a little disappointed to see 17:23 when I stood up and starting running to the transition zone. I had just run past John when I noticed him, poised with the camera to get a picture of me – it turns out he missed me too, and was a bit worried when the last swimmer came out of the water and he still hadn’t seen me! It was a 1 minute 13 second run up a steep hill and around the transition zone before I reached Alasdair at the rack. I noticed that there were still lots of bikes on the rack (meaning I definitely wasn’t the last swimmer!). He grabbed the timing chip and put it around his ankle, grabbed his bike from the rack, and took off (but not before telling me he was “bursting to pee!”). “Uh oh!” I thought.
Time: 18:36 (includes 1:13 run from water’s edge to bike rack in transition zone) (2:19/100m – calculated using 18:36)
Relay placing: 14/27
Age group placing (women aged 40-44), had I been racing the sprint on my own: 18/29
I spotted John outside the transition zone and waved to him. He came back to the rack, and we chatted in transition while Alasdair was out biking. We also watched an older gentleman racked on the relay rack take a very long time getting ready for his ride. John said he was eating oatmeal! Closer to the time we expected to see Alasdair, John warmed up, and we kept watching.
I expected to see Alasdair between 55 and 60 minutes into his ride, but he showed up sooner than that, riding a very fast 54 minute 30k (a PB on this course for him, and his fastest race pace ever)! He felt good on the ride, but was annoyed with 2 athletes who drafted off of him for about 25k, and terrified at another point when he lifted his butt off his seat in anticipation of a bump on the road, but nearly crashed when the force made him lose hold of his handlebar with his left hand. Thankfully, he arrived back safe and sound! He appeared to have increased our placing a bit with the bike (lots of teams still waiting for their bikers to return).
As soon as his bike was racked, I grabbed the timing chip from his ankle and transferred it to John’s (on the 2nd attempt!), who took off running! No matter what happened, this would be a race PB for John, never having run a 7k race before!
Time: 54:13 (33.2 km/h)
Relay placing: 8/27
Age group placing (men aged 40-44), had Alasdair been racing the sprint on his own: 8/81
John headed out for his run, telling me later that he was grateful we had explained the run course to him, because a runner in front of him was puzzled near the start and had no idea which way to go – John straightened him out! It was a hot day today, with a forecasted high of 29 degrees Celsius feeling like 38 with the humidity. I was glad I wasn’t running! John was hoping to run the 7k in 42 minutes, but even better if he could do it in 40. Alasdair and I headed for the run course where we could watch for John. Alasdair asked John if he could join him for the end of the run, acting as a bit of a pacer – John agreed. So, I stood where the runners made their final turn toward the finish line (about 200m away, all downhill), while Alasdair went to look for John. Soon enough, I spotted John’s bright orange t-shirt, and cheered for him as he went by.
I chased him to the finish line, running around other athletes and spectators as I neared the finish. John was understandably beat when he finished! It turns out he ran his fastest km last.
He later told us that he was surprised there weren’t volunteers at the various turning points on the run, including the turnaround, where people were turning back early.
John had a great run!
Time: 40:41 (5:48 min/km)
Relay placing: 21/27
Age group placing (men aged 45-49), had John been racing the sprint on his own: 34/51
Team JAK’D did awesome!
Relay placing: 13/27
While Alasdair went to get his bike out of the transition zone (to make way for this afternoon’s try-a-tri), John and I enjoyed a cup of alcohol free beer.
We had a bit of trouble finding the food for athletes – what we did find was a Subaru tent giving out apples, bananas, and snow cones (and I snagged myself a cow bell!). We were rather shocked that this was the after race food! We found seats in the shade near where the awards would be presented, and it wasn’t until Alasdair found us that we learned that there actually was a food tent, where we got a sub, cookie, chips, and fruit. That’s more like it.
We stayed for the awards, and then grabbed all our stuff, posed for a few more pictures, and headed home. Another fun relay!!