Race report: Gravenhurst sprint and Olympic triathlon double header weekend 2021

If you think starting a triathlon by yelling “Cannonball!!!” and jumping off a boat is a great idea, then the Multisport Canada Gravenhurst race may be the one for you!

Alasdair and I decided to once again do both the sprint and Olympic races, with the sprint on the Saturday and the longer Olympic on the Sunday. We were very lucky to be spending the weekend nearby at our friends’ cottage.

Saturday sprint

Driving to the race site in the pouring rain, I wondered what the weather would have in store for us! However, the rain pretty much stopped as we arrived. Walking our bikes into transition, we passed 2 members of the race crew sweeping water off the road where we would be running our bikes out of and back in to transition.

As part of the Covid-19 protocol, we had to wear masks in the transition zone and at registration, and we had to show that we had done the Covid screening. I set my stuff up in transition and was ready to go (that’s Alasdair racked beside me)…

Using a bag to keep shoes dry.

… or so I thought! Good thing I realized a few minutes later that I hadn’t taken my helmet out of my big triathlon bag!

750m swim

There was one boat that would ferry athletes to the swim start, in 3 separate groups. Alasdair and I were lucky enough to be on the same boat and starting in the same swim wave (i.e. at the same time). I always like to be one of the first to jump off the ship in my wave so I have more time to swim over to the start line and relax for a couple of minutes before the race starts. Before jumping off I heard the announcer say that someone had done a back flip off the boat. I was the 2nd to jump off in our wave, with Alasdair right behind me.

When the horn sounded, I started swimming, but it wasn’t long before I had a mini panic attack, just like in Barrie a few weeks before (prior to this year, it had only happened once – during my first triathlon in 2010)! I did breast stroke, then front crawl with right side only breathing, then got my bilateral breathing back and all was good. The rest of the swim was fine!

I reached the ladders at the dock, looked at my watch and saw 20-something minutes. I climbed the ladder, and started running to transition. I unzipped my wetsuit, removed my arms from the sleeves, and then took off my swim cap and goggles. I crossed the road, and did the long run around and into transition, where I caught up to Alasdair, who was getting ready to ride.

I removed the rest of my wetsuit, put on my helmet, sunglasses, socks, shoes, and race belt, and took off (before Alasdair). “See you when you pass me!” I said.

20k bike

It didn’t take long before Alasdair passed me, after which I was pelted with very hard rain! Thankfully it didn’t last long. At the turnaround point (it was a hilly out and back course) he was less than 3 km ahead of me.

I felt strong on the bike leg and was happy with how it went.

Back in transition I racked my bike, removed my helmet, put on my hat, changed from cycling shoes to running shoes and took off.

5k run

Near the beginning of the run, which starts on a gravel path, someone cheered for me by name but I didn’t see who it was (I found out the next day it was Carley!). For once this run was not hot and humid! Normally the race is in July when it always seems to be uncomfortably hot! Instead the temperature was ideal. At some point before the turnaround, Alasdair and I passed each other. I felt strong during the run, and ran the entire hilly 5k, with the exception of a few steps when I walked while drinking from a cup.

Near the end of the run I spotted Alasdair waiting (and cheering) for me. As I neared the finish line I heard the announcer Steve Fleck say my name and call me the other half of the Paterson duo. I was glad to be done, and wondered how the next day’s race would go!

Unusual race spectator! Apparently its owners were also racing!

After the race we headed to Boston Pizza’s patio for our first meal at a restaurant in more than a year! The last time we ate at a restaurant was when we biked 30k for breakfast on a patio and then biked home.

Race stats:

  • Time: 1:41:29.8
  • Swim: 22:52.5 (3:02/100 m)
  • T1: 1:54
  • Bike: 42:20.1 (28.35 km/h)
  • T2: 1:09
  • Run: 33:15.9 (6:39/km)
  • Women 45-49: 5/6
  • All women: 57/97
  • All athletes: 184/280
Very cool t-shirt design!

Sunday Olympic

1500m swim

Once again, Alasdair and I were in the same swim wave, but this time, I was 1st to jump off. Then it was Alasdair. As he resurfaced, he said, “I lost my goggles! I forgot they were on my head!” He had forgotten to put them on his eyes before he jumped. Thankfully, there was a lifeguard right there on a floaty thing, and she ducked under the water and came up with them as they were on their way to the bottom of Lake Muskoka! “I love you!” Alasdair said. Crisis averted.

The race started and I felt that my breathing was good and I’d be fine this time – but then, sure enough, another mini panic attack! I completely lost my breathing rhythm. This time I did breast stroke longer, then did front crawl with right side only breathing for probably 100m. I figured I would calm down and start front crawl again. And it worked. I decided then that if it happened again, I would immediately switch to just breathing on the right.

Because I did the breaststroke for so long, and because there weren’t many swimmers in each wave, it wasn’t long before everyone was long gone and I felt completely on my own. By this time my breathing was fine, but I couldn’t see a soul, not even a lifeguard. “Am I alone out here?” I thought. “Are the lifeguards with the pack of swimmers ahead?” It was a slightly disconcerting feeling. I focussed on swimming in the right direction, because I didn’t want to end up in the wrong bay like I did once before!

Sometime after the 1000m mark (my watch beeps every 500m on the swim), I saw another swimmer!! I immediately thought that they had passed me, but then realized that was impossible – we were the last wave to jump off the ship, and the next wave had to be picked up at the dock and brought out to the start, meaning a 40 min gap between waves. I wasn’t that slow! I soon figured out that the silver swim cap meant the person actually started ahead of me, so I had caught someone. However, I knew I was swimming slowly when I got close to a lifeguard towards the end of the swim and she cheered for me, telling me that I was doing awesome and I was almost there! I told her I was having trouble seeing (my goggles kept fogging up). By the time I got to transition, Alasdair was long gone.

40k bike

Not only did the Olympic race double the length of the ride, but it also very likely doubled the number of hills! My legs were definitely more tired than for the sprint race, so I was biking more slowly.

10k run

However, my legs felt better than expected when I started the run. Once again, the extra distance on the run added a lot more hills! But like the day before, I ran the entire course except 2 times when I stopped to drink from a cup at an aid station. I find that if I give myself permission to walk, it’s the beginning of the end and I start walking more and more! At around the 3 1/2 k mark I spotted Alasdair running towards me. At the run turnaround one of the race crew, who clearly had seen me racing the day before, said “Two times?? Two times??” I was thankful to finally reach the last 1k of the run course, which meant the uphill sections were all done! Once again, Alasdair was waiting near the end of the run, ready to cheer me on. I was glad to be done! Overall, my pace was slightly slower than the day before, totally reasonable given that I didn’t start with fresh legs!

Race stats:

  • Time: 3:29:26.6
  • Swim: 45:24 (3:01 min/100m)
  • T1: 2:20
  • Bike: 1:30:39.2 (26.47 km/h)
  • T2: 2:00
  • Run: 1:09:05 (6:54 min/km)
  • Women 45-49: 5/6
  • All women: 51/62
  • All athletes: 220/269
Love the little person jumping off the boat!

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6 thoughts on “Race report: Gravenhurst sprint and Olympic triathlon double header weekend 2021

  1. Wow!! That’s amazing. A sprint and then an Olympic distance. Yeah I can imagine day 2 the legs were a bit tired but you rocked it! Glad you got the panic attacks sorted in your head. Those open water swims are such a challenge in so many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Cobi! I’m sad to have missed seeing you while being so close! And I would LOVE to see you do a triathlon… now the question is “when are you turning 40 or 41?!” 🙂 (And thank you!!)

      Like

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