The 2016 triathlon season began for me today at Kelso Conservation Area in Milton, Ontario as part of team ARK de TRIumph, competing in the Subaru Triathlon Series season-opening sprint triathlon relay. It was to be our second time doing a relay together – this time I was to swim, Rebecca bike, and Alasdair run. And it was to be Rebecca’s first race back after having wee baby P last year! In the days leading up to the race, I told Rebecca that I may be slow, and she told me that she may be as slow as molasses. She also said, “I can’t promise 30km/hr but I can promise I won’t die. It will be somewhere in between…”
And then last night, I had a dream that instead of swimming, we were going to speed walk across the parking lot and they would use that to give us a swim time!
With the sprint triathlon starting at 9:45 AM after the try-a-tri, we had to be in the park by 8:30 AM so as not to get in the way of the try-a-tri athletes. We arrived shortly after 7:30 AM, left Rebecca’s bike on the relay rack, and went through registration (signed waivers, picked up our race bib, t-shirts, product samples and timing chip). We got ourselves organized in the transition zone, and made use of the real bathrooms up the steep hill and the portapotties by transition.
At 21 degrees Celsius and overcast with a tiny bit of rain and some wind, race conditions weren’t looking too bad (easy for me to say – I wasn’t biking!).
After a short warm up swim, in which I remembered how rocky the water entry is, and was surprised by how weedy the water was, it was time for the race to begin! Wave 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the 750 m swim went off without a hitch, but then… one of the big orange swim buoys marking the swim course detached and was riding the waves off course! I yelled to Alasdair to tell the guy with the microphone at the beach what had happened, but before he could, the announcer saw for himself what was happening. He told the remaining swimmers on shore (including me) not to do what everyone in the 4th wave did, which was to cut the course short and just swim directly to the second buoy. We were told to swim to the very small white buoy, to which the orange one was attached before it blew away. And then we were off!
I couldn’t even see the white buoy, it was so small. So, I just swam in the same direction as everyone else. Alasdair told me later that most people in my wave didn’t even attempt to swim to the white buoy – they just cut the course short. As I got close to what I thought was where the white buoy should be, I saw an orange buoy to my left (we were swimming a clockwise course, in which you are supposed to keep all buoys to your right) and figured they had added one, so I made a sharp turn to the left and headed for it so that I could swim around it. Then I heard another swimmer yell “over here!” (to the right), at which point I realized that the buoy I was heading towards was being pulled off course by a boat. Talk about confusing! So while other athletes cut the course short, I actually swam further than I should have! I headed for the second orange buoy and from there on in, had no directional issues. I did take in a huge gulp of water at one point and had to stop because I was gasping and had to cough.
And then, I was done. I will be hoping for a much faster swim in my next race! I ran into the transition zone, and only had to take a few steps because the relay rack was just to the left of the giant G on the swim arch in the picture above. Alasdair grabbed the timing chip off my ankle and attached it to Rebecca’s. And then she took off for her 30 k ride – what she might lose in speed by riding her road bike (with better Granny gears for the 6th Line Hill than her tri bike) she would make up with her super aero helmet! Later Rebecca would tell us that she was riding out of Kelso Conservation Area at 40 km/h with the wind behind her. Of course, she knew what this would mean later! There were a few other places on the course where the wind was a factor. While she was out riding, I changed into dry clothes, and Alasdair eventually started warming up for his run. He worried that his calf was going to give him trouble (it didn’t). We watched other athletes return from their bike rides and start their runs with their helmets still on their heads, and others who were sent back to their racks to get their race bibs. Eventually the first relay team rider returned to the rack, and then others followed. And before long, we saw Rebecca!
Rebecca was ready for me to grab the timing chip off her ankle, but I reminded her that she had to rack her bike first. I grabbed the timing chip, and put it on Alasdair’s ankle. He took off on his 7k run! The run course has changed since the last time we did the sprint triathlon here – now it doesn’t leave the park. It used to involve some trail running at Hilton Falls Conservation Area. Alasdair did like that this course had multiple out and back sections so that athletes got to see one another more.
Alasdair had a great run.
In the end, we finished in a time of 1:55:36.1, and all had fun doing so! Alasdair got a bottle of water and a medal at the finish line, and Rebecca and I went to the finishing area to ask for our medals and grab cups of Erdinger alcohol free beer. We eventually made our way to the food tent, where we got a Subway sub, pita chips, granola bar, and apple or banana. Sadly there was only pop to drink.
We didn’t stay for the awards presentation, because 1 little person and 2 slightly bigger people were waiting at home for the 3 of us!
Time: 1:55:36.1 (7/10 relay teams)
Swim (750m): 20:17.2 (2:42/100m)
Bike (30k): 1:02:34.7 (28.76 km/h)
Run (7k): 31:16.8 (4:28 min/km)
We will most definitely team up again!