Race report: K-Town long course triathlon

This year’s Multisport Canada/Somersault K-Town long course triathlon was to be held at a new venue, Canadian Forces Base Kingston, instead of Confederation Park downtown. The change was made in part to maximize safety on the course – athletes would have a more protected swim and wouldn’t have to bike across the metal grate bridge.

Prior to the race I finally got to meet Cory, an athlete I follow on Instagram but who I hadn’t yet managed to see in person. Thanks again Cory for introducing yourself!

2k swim

The new swim course was in the Great Cataraqui River north of Highway 2 (from HMCS Cataraqui) instead of in the St. Lawrence River (open to Lake Ontario) south of Highway 2. We were told it would be calmer. Alasdair and I were to start in the same wave, which meant we should see each other more during the race.

We got into the water from a dock, but this meant (for me at least) that once I was in for my quick warm-up, I wasn’t getting out again (too hard to get out). I didn’t want to get in too early because I’d have to tread water until the start, but I didn’t want to wait to the last second either.

The 10 second countdown started and we were off, with me right behind Cory. Sadly, I only got to draft off of him for a couple of swim strokes, because then he was gone! We swam shore side of a buoyed boat lane. For this race we had to keep the buoys to our right, swimming about 1 km north east along the shore, 25 m across, then back even closer to the shore.

With about 500 metres to go, the swim course got very weedy. It was also at this point that I noticed a current in my favour, however, my motion-sickness never likes it when things don’t align, so my swim strokes at a different speed than the waving weeds was not pleasant. My hands were non-stop hitting weeds and I had them sticking to my head too, wrapped around my face. At one point I hit rocks (or something!) with my left hand. I later heard from athletes who cut their hands and feet during the swim.

With only a couple hundred metres to go, some swimmers ahead of me seemed confused – they were swimming at a strange angle away from shore. Maybe they were looking for deeper water to get away from the weeds?

Overall, my swim was fairly straight, and I passed at least one person (but most passed me as usual). As I approached the swim exit I could see that the blowup swim arch was off to the side, and had fallen over. There was a very slippery mat at the swim but volunteers warned us and helped us out if needed. Then I set out in bare feet running about 200 m or so on pavement back to transition!

55k bike

While getting myself ready to bike, I ate half a homemade muffin. The bike route was only slightly different than the previous course, which meant lots of hills, with more downhill on the way out (never a good sign!). I passed around 3 people, and played leapfrog with one woman (I overtook her on the downhills, she caught me on the uphills). I saw 3 dead skunks, forced down 2 homemade energy bites, and stopped at the bottle exchange to fill my own bottle with F2C. There was a nice downhill to finish the bike course. I saw Alasdair just before the turnaround in Gananoque.

15k run

Before even starting the run, I knew the heat was going to be my enemy! Thankfully, there was a light breeze coming off the lake. The run course crosses highway 2 via stairs and a pedestrian bridge, then does a loop through the Royal Military College (RMC). The course was mostly flat, with one very big exception, the long climb up the Fort Henry Hill (because forts are always built up high!). When I reached the first aid station, I was super disappointed to discover that it had run out of drinks. This meant I didn’t get one until 4k into the run, after having conquered the Fort Henry hill (with a run/walk combination). I was pleasantly surprised to see my friend Lisa at the aid station! The run down the hill was the best part of the run course.

Picture by Lisa

The 15k course included 3 loops at RMC, which meant that I saw Alasdair multiple times. At each aid station I poured water on my head and drank F2C and/or water. I ran the entire 15k, other than the steepest parts of the Fort Henry hill, and as I went through the aid stations. There was great support from cheering spectators at RMC.

Alasdair was waiting for me just before the finish.

I enjoyed some post race pizza and my first ginger ale in years (I’m not a pop drinker but felt like something sweet). We watched the end of the awards, and then we soaked our heads with a hose before heading out!

Race stats:

  • Time: 4:55:09 (7/8 women 45-49, 39/64 women, 146/218 athletes)
  • Swim: 57:05 (2:51 min/100m)
  • Bike: 2:06:22 (25.9 km/h)
  • Run: 1:47:13 (7:08 km/h)

Race report: Welland long course triathlon

While we’ve raced at Welland many times, this was to be our first time doing the long course here (2k swim, 50k bike, 15k run). It was a super early morning, with a 4:45 AM alarm and 5:30 AM departure to get there in time. Alasdair was to start at 8:18 and me at 8:24 (we were seeded based on our predicted finishing times).

Pre-race and ready to go.

It always amazes me how much space some athletes take up in transition. I’m a minimalist (I put the 2nd water bottle on my bike after I took the picture).

All set up.

My Twitter friend Christine was racked next to me.

2k swim

Due to some construction at the Welland International Flatwater Centre, the swim start had to move a little from its normal location (this time further away from the building). I did a very short warm up swim, then waited onshore with Alasdair. I went into the water just after him, staying near the shore until it was my wave’s start. For the first time ever I wore a black swim cap! Not ideal, as it is not very visible if you’re trying to keep your eye on athletes in the water. Apparently they were supposed to be silver. I thought it odd that the black caps went to the slowest athletes (I was in the last wave – only the swim/bike athletes started after us).

The countdown from 10 started and the race began! Thankfully, I had a pretty uneventful swim! Absolutely no breathing issues, I swam fairly straight, and I had my fastest swim race pace this year. I did not say fast – I said fastest!

We swam down the recreational waterway (a long way!), turned right at a green buoy, crossed the waterway (took me a few seconds to spot the green buoy on the other side because we were swimming into the light and it was in the shade), turned right, swam back towards the building, turned right at the last green buoy and headed diagonally to the swim exit. The volunteers were great there helping people out of the water (on rocky ground). The run to transition was also different (no stairs this year) because of the construction, but it was a longer run to get to our bikes. I ate a homemade apple muffin while I got ready to ride, then ran out of transition with my bike.

50k bike

What should have been a 56k ride became a 50k ride, again due to construction. Instead of riding down to Lake Erie, which is beautiful (but windy!), we did a route with one section of it that we had to ride twice. It meant that Alasdair and I got to see each other multiple times! The first time I spotted him he was about 4km ahead of me (I was 2k from a turnaround).

While normally bike courses are completely on roads, for this race we rode a few hundred metres on a bike path (again because of construction). This was fine, but getting from the path onto the road wasn’t fun – there was gravel that I wasn’t thrilled to ride on. Thankfully, I stayed upright and my tires were fine.

I can’t be sure, but I was likely the only athlete scouring a creek along the road for turtles – I saw 5 on one log. I also saw a mamma duck on a log with at least 4 babies standing closely around her.

At around 30k I caught Christine, but sadly she wasn’t feeling well after the bike so she called it a day.

I did a great job (for me) drinking lots on the bike – one bottle of Nuun, and about 2/3 of another one with water. Unfortunately, I put the Nuun in the wrong cage, so just after starting the ride I had to grab the water bottle, hold it super tight in my teeth (I thought I was going to drop it for sure!), put the Nuun in the more accessible cage and put the water one back. Success! I forced down a super dry granola bar, but had to wash it down with water!

With about 15k to go my right glute started giving me trouble, tightening up on me. I figure it was a result of my 39k Bruce Trail run the weekend before the race. I had to frequently get up out of the saddle to relax it. My pace started to slow. Let’s just say I was happy to be done the bike! I wasn’t sure I would be able to run… I took two bites of a banana and then headed out. It was kind of demoralizing to hear people finishing the race while I was just starting the run!

15k run

After a slow transition (had to pee and reapply sunscreen), I headed out on the run course, an Endurance Tap gel in my shirt (I was a little worried about not having eaten enough). At this point, I should mention that it was 32 degrees Celsius, feels like 35 with the humidity. It was ridiculously hot. Thankfully, I quickly realized that my glute wasn’t going to be an issue on the run! I hadn’t reached 1k when I saw Alasdair for the first time. Because we would be running 2 loops of the course, I got to see him multiple times. My plan was to run from aid station to aid station, stopping at each one to grab electrolytes and water, to walk while drinking them, and to also pour water on my head! As soon as I saw small blue towels at an aid station, I grabbed one, soaked it in an ice cold bucket, and stuck it down my shirt! I then continued soaking my towel at each aid station. Looking forward to the next aid station was a good way to break the 15k down into manageable chunks. I passed 8 of them, so I didn’t have to wait too long each time to cool myself down. I felt pretty good, all things considered. At times we had a very slight breeze, which felt amazing. I never did have the gel. I cheered for and encouraged other athletes as I ran, some who were further along the course than me, and others further behind. We were suffering together!

At the start of the run it was hard to imagine running in that heat for 15k, but somehow, I did it.

And the best part of the race? Getting soaked just past the finish line with a garden hose by one of the awesome volunteers (thanks AndrĂ©!!). All things considered I’m pretty happy with my race.

Post-race!

Thanks Multisport Canada for another great race!

Race stats

  • Time: 4:46:17 (13/14 women 45-49, 51/74 women, 170/228 all athletes)
  • Swim: 56:04 (2:48 min/km)
  • T1: 2:54 (includes pee break)
  • Bike: 1:50:35 (27.1 km/h)
  • T2: 4:01 (includes pee break and sunscreen reapplication)
  • Run: 1:52:43 (7:30 min/km)

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Race report: Gravenhurst Olympic and sprint triathlons

Doing back to back triathlons in Gravenhurst has become a thing for Alasdair and I. Thankfully, the longer Olympic race was on Saturday this year, and the sprint on Sunday. New for 2022 were assigned start times based on predicted finishing times. Theoretically this should reduce passing on the swim, bike and run. Unfortunately, this also meant that Alasdair and I were to start more than 40 minutes apart (on different boat runs), and would only see each other once over the course of the two races.

Saturday Olympic triathlon

Pre-race with gear ready to go.

1500m swim

With Alasdair on the earlier run of the boat, I walked to the docking area on my own, listening to two loons calling in Lake Muskoka. I was in the 1st of 3 waves on my boat. The boat arrived at the location where we would jump off super early, so everyone waited on the boat until about 8 minutes to go. When they told us to start jumping in, I was one of the first (plugging my nose with one hand, and making sure my goggles stayed on my head with the other!). As I resurfaced I did bit of a gasp due to the cold water. My ears and face were chilly, but I knew I would warm up quickly once I started swimming. Waiting at the start line I barely had to tread water, because my wet suit helped me to float.

This year the swim course changed very slightly at the request of the boat operator, who wanted to let us out in deeper water. So we swam away from shore, then made a sharp turn back towards shore and basically swam a straight line to the swim ladders at the dock. I happened to swim pretty much the entire way to the left of a woman in a bright orange wetsuit (99% of triathlon wetsuits are black), which really helped me in sighting! I knew that she was doing the breaststroke when sighting, so I was confident she knew where she was going. I had to sight less often. I was grateful to not have breathing issues on the swim this time (something new to all 3 of my races in 2021), and I was able to see very well with my new goggles! At last year’s Gravenhurst Olympic distance race I think I had to adjust them 4 times! I chatted briefly with the orange wetsuit lady along the dock, and it turns out I helped her swim straighter too!

40k bike

Having done this course many times, I knew to expect lots of rolling hills. What I was surprised to see were 2 dead snakes and a dead muskrat! At 10k I met Alasdair, but then didn’t see him the rest of the race. Shortly after this point I tried to shift into my big chain ring and my chain fell off. Thankfully, it was a pretty quick fix, but my fingers were then covered in chain oil! My stomach wasn’t happy in the last 10k, so I was glad to get off my bike. I had a granola bar in transition as I got my helmet, socks, shoes, sunglasses and race bib on, then headed out for the run.

10k run

My stomach was still not happy when I started running, and I really hoped it would feel better soon, because 10k of hills would be awful! After about 2-3k it was back to normal. I was thankful for the cooler temperatures – traditionally this race has been in July, when it can feel like 40C with the humidity. Instead, it was about 20C. Unfortunately I had very annoying bugs following me for most of the race – I was actually stung or bitten by two, one on my leg, and one on my back! I stopped very briefly at each of the aid stations for a quick drink of electrolytes, then was on my way again. I think my favourite part of this run course is the last km, because it’s downhill or flat! Alasdair was there to cheer for me in the last few hundred metres, and just like that, I crossed the finish line!

Lucky me, I won a pair of leg warmers as a draw prize.

Race stats

  • Time: 3:26:39 (5/7 women 45-49, 41/86 women, 227/340 athletes)
  • 1500m swim: 43:01 (2:52/100m)
  • T1: 2:26
  • 40k bike: 1:29:06 (26.9 km/h)
  • T2: 2
  • 10k run: 1:10:06 (7 min/km)

Sunday sprint triathlon

We helped this Snapping Turtle off the road on the way to the race.

We arrived at the race site in the rain, and heard our favourite announcer Steve Fleck saying that because of possible thunderstorms a decision would be made just prior to the departure time for the first boat as to whether the swim portion would go ahead (or whether we would all be competing in a duathlon – run/bike/run). I prepared as if the swim would go ahead, but didn’t put my wetsuit on. Thankfully, the decision was made to go ahead with the swim (the storms stayed away!), so I put my wetsuit on. Leaving transition and heading for the boat, I didn’t get too far before I realized that I hadn’t gotten my helmet out (it was tucked in my bag away from my bike). I got it out, then headed back to the water.

750m swim

I headed for the boat and was really really early, but so were 3 other athletes. We had a good chat! Once again Alasdair was on a different boat, but this time, I wouldn’t see him at all during the race! I was in the 2nd of 3 waves on my boat. Much to my disappointment, I had some breathing challenges early on, so I immediately switched to right side only breathing until I calmed down. And then all was good! No orange suit guide this time, but I swam pretty straight again.

20k bike

I was just about ready to grab my bike and head for the mount line when I realized my water bottle was in my backpack! I ran to get it, ducking under 2 bike racks as I went (and again on the way back) – bags must be tucked around the edges of the transition zone so they are not tripping hazards. After finishing the Olympic distance bike course in my big chain ring, I forgot to change gears so it was ready for the sprint race! Somehow I couldn’t figure out why I was having trouble at the start line. I ended up biking the first 5k in the big chain ring (I never do that!) before I figured it out. I decided to push harder for this race, and ended up riding faster than the day before. It was a good ride, and I didn’t have any stomach issues.

5k run

I was grateful to be running under cloudy skies – no rain, just the threat of it. I decided not to stop at any of the aid stations, and even convinced myself to run all the hills (including a pretty steep one). I felt good on the run, and amazingly, my pace was quickening as I went. Normally I start at a pace I can’t maintain and slowly lose steam. For whatever reason, I actually negative split this run (faster 2nd half than 1st).

Me expressing disbelief to Alasdair near the end as I was negative splitting the run.

In any case, it was a great way to finish the race!

And then I won another draw prize, this time a merino wool base layer (top). Yay!

Race stats

  • Time: 1:43:31 (4/6 women 45-49, 58/110 women, 179/325 athletes)
  • 750m swim: 23:35 (3:08/100m)
  • T1: 2:39
  • 20k bike: 43:16 (27.7 km/h)
  • T2: 1:44
  • 5k run: 32:17 (6:27 min/km)

Gravenhurst, we’ll be back!

A big thank you to our friends Emma and Brian for the best race accommodations out there!

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Race report: Welland Rose City triathlon double header (sprint and give-it-a-tri)

Why do one triathlon on a Saturday when you can do two? It wasn’t my idea (really!), but it didn’t take long for me to agree to end the 2021 triathlon season with a bang by doing back to back races in Welland. The International Flatwater Centre is a fantastic venue, and Multisport Canada puts on great races in the Rose City. Covid-19 precautions were in effect, with masks in transition and at registration, a covid check, and races spread over 3 days with less athletes in each race.

When we received an email with our individual starts times a few days before the race, we realized that we would have less than an hour between races, and race kit pickup for the give-it-a-tri would start – and end – while we were doing the sprint race. But on race morning Alasdair got it all sorted out – the race crew knew that two crazy people would be coming to register late!

When we first arrived at the venue we accidentally racked our bikes on the give-it-a-tri rack, but we hadn’t set our things up, so when we realized our mistake it was easy to switch to the sprint racks. I left my bike, went through registration, and then got my things organized. I put on my wetsuit and headed down the stairs to the water. I had lots of time before my race, so I watched other people start, found some shade to wait in, then eventually found a random athlete to zip me up! I did a short warm up swim, found Alasdair, and waited for athlete #86 to be called to the start line!

Sprint triathlon

750 m swim

Almost ready to go!

For this race, we were seeded based on our predicted finish times (of the swim? or the entire race? I can’t remember). This meant that the fastest athletes would start first, and the slowest last. One swimmer would start every 30 seconds. The swim start was incredibly well organized. There was a 2-sided digital clock so the race crew and the athletes in the water warming up could read it. My start time was 11:42:30, so a couple of minutes before that I was called up, and went into the water from the dock. I treaded water until my start time, then when the clock hit 11:42:30, I started. Alasdair must have forgotten to seed himself when he registered, because he was placed nearly at the back of the pack 20 minutes after me!

If you’ve been following my triathlon adventures this summer, you will know that I’ve had mini panic attacks on the swim for each of my races so far, the Barrie sprint, Gravenhurst sprint, and Gravenhurst Olympic. Well I’m not sure if it was the solo start, but I had the most relaxed swim of any triathlon yet this summer! My only issue was a bit of water in my goggles, which I quickly tipped out. I was so relieved to have a good swim!

I made my way up the stairs to transition, took the rest of my wetsuit off at my bike, put on my helmet, sunglasses, socks, shoes, and race bib and headed out with my bike. It was quite a long run to the bike mount line.

20k bike

The bike was 5 loops of a closed road course which is relatively flat. There are two 180 degree turns per lap (and two 90 degree turns) – it’s a backwards L shape. As I started my 3rd loop, Alasdair started his 1st. He passed me and then I chased him for the remainder of the ride. Athletes had to count their own laps, or use a bike computer or watch, or use the Sportstats clock on the race course (hard to read when you’re riding fast!). Thankfully, I didn’t lose track! After my 5th lap it was a long run back into transition. I racked my bike, removed my helmet, put on my hat, changed my shoes, and headed out the run exit.

5k run

The run was 2 loops on a path along the recreational waterway. It was while running that I really started thinking how crazy it was to be doing another race after this one. I even considered not doing it, and just cheering for Alasdair! Speaking of Alasdair, as I was starting my 2nd loop, he passed me on his 1st. One thing I’ve missed this year is seeing the age of other athletes on their legs (no body marking this year) – it helps to know if you should actually try to catch someone or keep ahead of them if you know that they’re in your age category! Of course, I might not have had any fight in me anyway!

I was grateful to cross the finish line, but didn’t have time to relax! I grabbed a mask, put it on, and went back to registration, where I confused the volunteers who looked at me funny trying to register while already wearing a race bib! We sorted things out quickly and off I went. I grabbed a juice box, downed that, and headed back to transition to move my bike and all my stuff to the give-it-a-tri rack. I organized my things again, forced myself to eat half a muffin so I wouldn’t be starving during the give-it-a-tri, and then at some point I found Alasdair. It was already time to go down to the water.

Race stats

  • Time: 1:42:56
  • Swim: 21:04 (2:48 min/100m)
  • T1: 1:58
  • Bike: 45:17 (27.82 km/h)
  • T2: 1:18
  • Run: 33:19 (6:39 min/km)
  • Women 45-49: 3/5
  • All women: 33/51
  • All athletes: 94/132

Give-it-a-try

400m swim

My start time for the give-it-a-tri was 2:02:00, with Alasdair 40 seconds behind me. I knew this meant that he would pass me during the swim. The swim course looked so short compared to the sprint course – I was so glad to have done the longer race first. When athlete #210 was called up, I headed for the start line. I had another relaxed swim (!), and before I knew it I was heading back to transition. Sure enough Alasdair beat me there, but he only headed out with his bike a few seconds before me.

12k bike

I was so disappointed when I found out that we had to do 3 laps of the bike course (12k), and not 2 (10k). I was mentally prepared for only 2! Thankfully, another 2k wasn’t a big deal. When I started biking I felt that my legs were definitely more tired than they were at the beginning of the sprint! I chased Alasdair the entire race, but it was a losing battle – he was pulling just slightly further ahead with each loop.

2.5k run

I spotted Alasdair heading out of transition on foot as I was running back in with my bike. The run was 1 loop of the course we ran in the morning. At this point, I was really glad that I was only doing it one more time! Alasdair passed me when I had between 500m and 1k to go. And then not a moment too soon I too crossed the finish line, for the second time that day!

Race stats

  • Time: 1:02:25
  • Swim: 12:09 (3:02 min/100m)
  • T1: 2:26
  • Bike: 29:08 (25.95 km/h)
  • T2: 1:31
  • Run: 17:11 (6:52 min/km)
  • Women 45-49: 3/5
  • All women: 16/51
  • All athletes: 43/101

After the second race we were finally able to relax! We chatted with Race Director Jason Vurma, then headed for the water to cool off before heading home.

With Race Director Jason Vurma

Thank you Multisport Canada for adapting and putting on races this summer! We were so thankful to be back racing. See you in 2022!

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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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Race report: Lakeside sprint triathlon 2019

It may have been the last triathlon of my 10th year of triathlon, but the Multisport Canada Lakeside sprint triathlon saw me do something I’ve never done before!

This year, Alasdair and I set out for Lakeside with lots of time to spare, because last year it took forever to get into the farm parking lot near the race site, and we were all stressed out before the race began. This time we were all set up and ready to go when an announcement was made that the race was being delayed by 15 minutes because of the number of people still trying to park.

Pre-race with Sunova Lake behind us.

It was chilly out, so I stayed in my fleece top for as long as possible! While I was standing at my bike before the race, another competitor sprayed talcum powder in his shoes, which blew onto my shoes, socks, and into my goggles! He was very apologetic, and when I told him that if my husband beat me in the race I could use the talcum powder as an excuse, he said to just tell him some jerk in transition sprayed talcum powder all over my stuff.

750m swim

Alasdair was to start in wave #3, and me in wave #5. I usually swim a tiny bit before the race begins, but I opted not to, with the air feeling cooler than the water.

The horn sounded, I started my watch, and I began to swim. Almost immediately I had water gathering in my left goggle lens. I had to adjust my goggles 3 times in the first 100m before they felt fine! After that, my swim was pretty uneventful. I encountered a woman doing the backstroke, who apologized to me (maybe because I had to go around her?). I was predictably slow but I think I swam pretty straight.

20k bike

I decided to push my bike pace and see what I could do. It was a new course this year due to construction on the usual route, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but we were told that there were rolling hills. I passed a lot of people on the bike, and I spotted Alasdair somewhere between 5k and the 10k turnaround. I felt like my ride was going well, but my watch wasn’t cooperating so I had to do the math every 5k to estimate my pace. Turns out I rode my fastest race pace this season.

5k run

I know this run course well, and once again decided to push the pace and see what I could do. I knew if I got side stitches I would have to slow down. My watch wasn’t sure which sport I was doing, but after pressing a few buttons, I managed to see my run pace. It’s an out and back course, and at one point, I was running faster than a car, which didn’t have room to manoeuvre around all the athletes. I said to the woman in the passenger seat that I’m not used to passing cars while running, and she said it must make me feel like a goddess!

With about 1km to go, I noticed that a woman who passed me was in my age group, and her name was Caroline. I was pretty sure that someone named Caroline always beats me. I decided that I would do what I could to not let that happen this time. Normally, I would have just let her go, and not even tried to keep up. I’m not really sure what was different this time. I picked up the pace and overtook her, hoping to increase the distance between us. When I heard her coming, I sped up again. I’m pretty sure she caught me again at one point, as I seem to remember running just behind her, wondering if I could stay with her and then make my move just as we hit the finishing chute. That last km was my fastest one of the day. With just a couple hundred metres to go, two other women in my age group passed me, and maybe Caroline too. In any case, I picked up the pace yet again, running at 5:15 min/km, faster than I ever run, and attempted to stay with them or pass them. I wondered how hard I could run before I would feel like throwing up! Looking back now I’m amazed I didn’t get any side stitches. I managed to stay ahead of 2 of the 3 women, with only Maja getting away. When I looked at the results later, it turns out only Caroline was in my age group! In fact I think one of them was in the duathlon. In any case, it was my very first time jostling for position, and it was hard work, but super satisfying!

In the end, I finished the race in 1 hour 30 minutes and 23 seconds, which was pretty much the “best case scenario” when I was doing the math on my bike and trying to figure out what my finish time might be.

It wasn’t my fastest run pace of the season, but it was my fastest sprint this year (of 3 races).

I was thankful for my fleece after the race! We got into the longest triathlon food line ever, stayed for the awards, and then headed home! Looking forward to the 2020 season already!

Race results

  • Time: 1:30:23
  • Swim: 19:47.1 (2:38/100m)
  • Bike: 39:59.1 (30.01 km/h)
  • Run: 27:59.4 (5:35 min/km)
  • Placing women 45-49: 8/26
  • Placing all women: 61/204
  • Placing all racers: 203/456

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Race report: Welland sprint triathlon 2019

In May of 2018, Canadian Simon Whitfield, winner of the very first Olympic gold medal in triathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, drew my name in a Triathlon Canada contest – I won a trisuit designed by Indigenous artist Carey Newman (or Hayalthkin’geme)! Unfortunately, the trisuit didn’t arrive before I managed to compete in 11 triathlons in 2018! But this meant that I got to start the 2019 season with a new look.

Wearing my new trisuit for the first time.

Little did I know what people would think of me in that suit…

Alasdair and I arrived at the Welland International Flatwater Centre with lots of time to go through registration, prep our stuff in transition, and head for the water. Since this race has a closed bike course which we had to ride 5 times, swim waves were very spread out to avoid congestion on the bike course. This meant that I started 50 minutes after Alasdair. Because of this, we wouldn’t see each other out on the race course at all (at least not while we were both racing).

I was the first person to rack a bike in the 258 to 278 bib number range, so I decided to pick the prime spot – closest to the bike out so I had to run as little as possible with my bike. I usually avoid that spot because it’s where the most competitive athletes go. Pretty sure my bike doesn’t look like it belongs!

The next person to arrive said to me, “Are you going to Lausanne?” At least I knew that this was the site of the 2019 triathlon world championships. “OMG no!” I replied. “I just won this suit!” In case you hadn’t noticed, it says PATERSON and CAN on the front and back. Later, I was asked at which race I had qualified. Clearly I can no longer blend into the crowd! The suit is a conversation starter.

750m Swim

Given that I have barely been swimming, and am a slow swimmer to start with, I wasn’t expecting too much of the swim. It was pretty congested at the start, and later I had to twice stop briefly to adjust my goggles, but then things settled down. On the last stretch of the swim I was able to follow the guy lines for the rowing markers, not needing to lift my head to sight.

20k Bike

The key for this bike course would be to not lose count of the number of laps I had done. Five was the magic number! Each lap would have two 180 degree turns. I was happy with how my ride was going, passing quite a few riders as I went along. I played leapfrog with another woman for much of the race, eventually leaving her behind. My watch was telling me that I was averaging over 30 km/h. The long run to start and end the bike segment, as well as a disparity in the distance (I had over 20k on my watch) dropped me below that. In any case, it was a great ride! Since Alasdair was done the race by the time I finished my bike, he was able to get some pictures of me racing.

I headed out on the 2 loop run course, which is on a paved path. I was pleasantly surprised with my legs, because even though they were still recovering from my 14 hour adventure race a week before, they let me run at a pretty good pace!

And just like that, my first triathlon of 2019 was done!

Race results:

  • Time: 1:30:44
  • 750m Swim: 19:02 (2:32 min/100m)
  • T1: 1:46
  • 20k Bike: 41:39.5 (28.81 km/h)
  • T2: 1:34
  • 5k Run: 26:43.5 (5:20 min/km)
  • Placing women 45-49: 11/23
  • Placing all women: 84/216
  • Placing all athletes: 250/477

As we were leaving to go home, a woman in the transition zone mentioned to Alasdair and I that she had lost her keys. “I found them!” I told her. I explained that while running my bike to the mount line during the race, I ran past a set of keys. I yelled at a spectator, who ignored me. I saw a volunteer further along and told him – he quickly ran towards them. She was so relieved, and wondered what the chances were of her mentioning it to us, and of me having found them! In any case, we left knowing that she would be able to find her way home.

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Race report: Barrelman 1/2 Ironman 2018

The 2018 edition of the Barrelman 1/2 Ironman was to be the 5th running of this race, and my 5th year participating (last year I did the swim/bike due to a foot injury). Alasdair and I arrived at T1 in Welland at the International Flatwater Centre in time for the 12 PM pre-race briefing, then registered and left our bikes, and headed to Niagara Falls, where we would spend the night.
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With the Canadian falls behind us.
We arranged all our gear, and set our alarms for 5 AM! IMG_7032 We wandered around Niagara Falls a bit, had yummy pizza for dinner, and called it a night! On race morning, we caught the race shuttle bus from Niagara Falls to Welland, leaving our car close to the finish line. We arrived at T1 with lots of time to set our things up and chat with other athletes. 2k Swim Alasdair and I were in the same wave, and while I would have loved to draft off of him the whole way, I knew that I wasn’t fast enough to do so! He started near the front, and me further behind. I didn’t know when I would see him again on the race course. The swim start was quite congested, and not too far into the swim, I was kicked in the face. Thankfully, my goggles stayed on. I let the fast people go by, and then I swam over to the guy wire (that holds the rowing buoys in place), and used that to swim straight. It meant that I didn’t have to look up to sight, at least not until I got closer to the halfway point, when I had to swim off the guy wire to the green turning buoy. By this point, I really had to pee, but instead of doing so in the water, I suffered until the transition zone! (I did pause a few times, but would have had to swim out of the way so as not to have people swim into me. I have not yet mastered the skill of peeing while swimming!) I wasn’t surprised to see 50+ minutes when I stood up at the end of the swim. 100246-eab995-1003913148 At my spot in the transition zone, I packed up my swim stuff, put my cycling things on, slathered more sunscreen all over myself, and took off for the mount line. 90k Bike This year there were changes to the bike course due to road construction. It meant for the addition of a pretty section before we reached Lake Erie. It was in this newer section that I came upon a cyclist down in the middle of the road. Other athletes were helping him, and I confirmed with them that an athlete riding the opposite way was going for help, then continued on my way. During the ride I managed to eat a piece of homemade chocolate chip banana bread and 2 gels (I had to force the second one down), and to drink 1 bottle of gatorade and 2 full bottles of water. Turtle count on Feeder Road this year = only 2! At one point along Feeder Road I was cruising along at 34 km/h, which meant just one thing – I would encounter a headwind when I turned toward the East! At the first bike aid station, I stopped quickly to use the portapotty (“You almost done in there?” a man asked. “I’m peeing as fast as I can!” I replied.) I threw my empty gatorade bottle, grabbed a water bottle, and then tried to grab an Endurance Tap gel from a volunteer but the transfer didn’t work and it fell. Another volunteer ran to try to catch me, but I told him not to worry! At 60k I threw my water bottle and got another one, but forgot to grab another Endurance Tap gel. Around the 75k mark, I started to have stomach issues, but I managed to keep riding without having to drop my speed too much. From just after 75k to the end the course goes along the Niagara River Parkway, making the ride quite scenic!
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What year is this again? I never noticed the old car – clearly I was looking at the water!
Once I reached the transition zone (T2), volunteers told me where to find my bike (though I had looked at the map pre-race and knew where to go). I switched into running gear, slathered more sunscreen on myself, used the portapotty quickly, and headed onto the run course. 21.1k Run Unfortunately my stomach was still bothering me, so I started the run by walking… but it wasn’t too long before I could start running. I carried an Endurance Tap with me, and had it just before the first aid station. It felt like 35C with the humidity, so my run quickly became a run/walk combo. I stopped at every aid station to drink water, get ice, occasionally have F2C (electrolyte drink), and pour water on my head. My legs were fine – it was just so darn hot. I chatted with a couple of other women for a while as we walked and encouraged one another.
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Pouring water on my head while running past Niagara Falls!
I spotted Alasdair, who was having hip issues and had to do a run/walk combo too. On the second loop, there was slightly more cloud cover, which was a huge relief! I had a couple of gels during the run, as well as pretzels at one point (but I needed water to wash them down – my mouth was too dry to chew and swallow them!). Overall the run was quite disappointing, but given the heat and humidity, I was not surprised – I’ve been through this before!
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Running to the finish line (that’s not my sponge, though the colour is quite the match!).
In the end, I crossed the finish line in 7:12:01.1, slower than I would have liked, but that’s how things go! I spotted Alasdair, and shortly afterward headed for the splash pad where I soaked myself – what a great end! Race results
  • Time: 7:12:01.1
  • Placing women 40-44: 28/34
  • Placing all women: 136/271
  • Placing all athletes: 425/685
  • Swim: 50:52.2 (2:32/100m)
  • T1: 4:20
  • Bike: 3:13:26.6 (27.9km/h)
  • T2: 6:40
  • Run: 2:56:44.3 (8:24 min/km)
That’s a wrap on the 2018 triathlon season for me! 11 races, 2 podium finishes, and a whole lot of fun! Follow me on Facebook: Kyra on the Go: Adventures of a Paddling Triathlete Follow me on Twitter: @kyraonthego Follow me on Instagram: @kyraonthego

Race report: Lakesprint sprint triathon relay (team Triathalasaurus)

While Alasdair and I have done a few sprint triathlon relays before, this was our first with our daughter, who is finally old enough to do one leg of a sprint distance race.
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Pinning the race bib on – “You’re going to poke me!”
Team Triathalasaurus was ready: Alasdair would swim 750m, I would bike 20k, and Ailish would run 5k. Never mind the fact that she was sick with a cold, and had only done one training run. She’s a fit kid with a summer of soccer behind her.
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Team Triathalasaurus ready to go!
After a late arrival at the race site and somewhat frantic pre-race preparations, the horn sounded and Alasdair took off in wave #1 with the young’uns! 100243-abf8ec-1003840680 Ailish and I waited in the transition zone, and waved him down as he entered, since he didn’t get a chance before the race to see where my bike was racked. I struggled to get the timing chip off his ankle, but eventually succeeded, running my bike to the mount line, being cheered as I ran by at least one of the other relay teams. I reached the mount line and a volunteer yelled, “Great job!” to which I replied, “Thanks! I haven’t done anything yet!” This was my first time biking with people in the first wave of a triathlon, so it was definitely weird. The first few people who passed me just zoomed past – whoosh! I was actually a little worried that I would get in the way of people at corners, since I brake slightly before turning! I needn’t have worried – much. After rough road at the start, the course turned straight into the wind and hills, which immediately dashed my hope of maintaining 30 km/h, but I was still going to try. When I reached the turnaround, there were 33 riders ahead of me, when normally there would be hundreds and I couldn’t possibly keep track. I was a little surprised to have someone say “On your left!” as I was doing a 180 degree turn around the pylon at the turnaround point. I’m not sure if he actually intended to pass me at that point (crazy), or whether he was just giving me advance warning that as soon as I came out of my turn, he was going to pass me (reasonable!). In any case, we both made it around the cone safely. The last 5-7k were my favourite, because I had the wind behind me and it was a net downhill. Just before the end I spotted my friend Irina, who was taking official race photos. I finished the 20k ride in 40:28.5, for an average speed of 29.65 km/h. Not the 30 I was hoping for, but oh so close!
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Thanks for the pic Irina!
I racked my bike, and then Alasdair grabbed the timing chip off my ankle and put it onto to Ailish’s. She took off for her 5k run. Alasdair and I went out to the road to cheer for other runners while we waited for Ailish. We weren’t sure exactly how long she would be. Alasdair eventually walked further along the road, while I waited near the finishing chute. And then there she was! She turned it up for the last 100m and sprinted to the finish (later telling me that this made her feel like she was going to puke). She did great!
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Good thing I have dozens of race shirts, since she steals mine all the time.
We really enjoyed racing together as Team Triathalasaurus! IMG_7011 And Ailish is thinking she might do a try a tri next summer… 100243-3d3f05-1003846897
We stayed for the awards, and then headed out.
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Swimming for 16 minutes is exhausting you know!
I’m looking forward to doing another relay – such fun! Stats:
  • Placing: 7/13 relay teams
  • Swim: 16:05.6 (2:08 min/100m)
  • T1: 0:44
  • Bike: 40:28.5 (29.65 km/h)
  • T2: 0:31
  • Run: 29:12.8 (5:50 min/km)
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Race report: Guelph Lake II sprint triathlon (with a 46k bike ride warm-up)

A 46k net uphill ride to the race site is not exactly the best strategy for getting oneself onto the podium; however, if you know me at all, you’ll know that that isn’t what motivates me to compete!
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Early morning ride, because, why not?
And so it was that Alasdair and I set out in the pitch dark at 5:15 AM for the Guelph Lake Conservation Area, where we would compete in the Subaru Guelph Lake II sprint triathlon, a 750m swim, 30k ride, and 7k run. It was the perfect opportunity to get in a good training day in preparation for the Barrelman half ironman later this month while still racing and having fun. We even arrived before race registration started.
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Arrived at Guelph Lake in the daylight.
After changing into my triathlon clothes, I went through registration and then set my stuff up in the transition zone. I had a banana and a piece of homemade zucchini bread to replace some of the calories I had burned biking.
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Ready to go!
I tentatively walked in bare feet on the gravel of the parking lot transition zone as I headed down to the lake. I wondered how I would manage to run on it during the race! There were carpets down the main “aisles” but nothing down the individual rows. I did a super short warm-up swim and discovered how rocky the water was – big rocks that would hurt your feet if you ran into them. I resolved to walk until I could swim (this was not an “in water” start). Some of us removed rocks and threw them to the side of where we would be swimming. 750m swim I was struck by how short the swim course looked! After doing a couple of longer swims in races recently, this short swim course was a welcome sight! Alasdair was in the 4th wave, and me in the 5th. When my race started, I walked into the water as planned, not wanting to cut my feet open! I had a pretty uneventful swim. The water was the yuckiest we’ve been in this season, with goose feathers and other floating detritus. Not exactly appealing. For the most part, my sighting went well, and I was relatively pleased to see 17:07 when I stood up. I had swum until my hands started to hit the sand, but many others starting walking long before me – the water was quite shallow until the first/last buoys. I ran up the hill to the transition zone
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750m swim done.
30k bike After a quick change into cycling gear, I set out for the bike mount line, wondering how my legs would do after already having ridden 46k! It was definitely different starting the bike ride with somewhat tired legs. I wanted to push the bike pace as much as I could, while still remembering that I had to ride 46k home after the race! I found myself in much more bike traffic than I have been in lately. I passed a lot of riders, sometimes several one after the other. At one point, I saw another athlete in front of me crash. I’m not sure what caused it, but he fell in the gravel shoulder and appeared to hit his head. By the time I got there, he was sitting up, wiping blood from his arm I think. I asked him if he was okay, and he said that he was. I said “Are you sure? I think you hit your head.” “A little bit,” he replied. A couple of other people asked if he was okay as they passed us. I asked him again if he was okay, and he indicated that he was going to continue. I left him, but less than a kilometre down the road I slowed almost to a stop and informed the police officer at the intersection that a rider fell in front of me and hit his head, gave the bib number, general description, and said I wasn’t so sure about him continuing but he said he was going to. Now I can’t remember his bib number so I’m not sure if he completed the race or not.
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Fog but no rain for the 30k ride.
I spotted Alasdair a couple of kilometres from the bike turnaround, pretty much where I expected to see him. I had forgotten the awful condition of the road for the first and last 5k of the bike course – so rough and bumpy! I was glad to be done the rough stuff at the end. I wasn’t able to ride as fast as I would have on a normal race day, but I’m pretty happy with my 27.6 km average given the circumstances. 7k run I stopped at a portapotty just after leaving the transition zone, then headed out for the run. It had been a few years since I’d done this race, and I had forgotten how hilly the beginning and end of the course are. However, my legs felt surprisingly good after all that biking! I didn’t run as fast as I have in my last few races, but I think that was understandable. I think I was close to the 2k mark when I spotted Alasdair running toward me. In the last kilometre I started to get hungry, so it was a good thing my race was nearly done.
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Finishing the 7k run.
In the end I finished the race in 2:12:56.4, good for 9/18 in my age group.
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Enjoying my non-alcoholic beer just past the finish line.
After the race, we packed up all of our stuff and headed for the awards presentation, where I promptly dropped my bike (specifically, the pointy party of my bike seat) onto my calf – ouch! We grabbed our post-race food and settled in for the awards.
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Snow cone hit the spot!
Just before getting dressed back into my cycling clothes and heading home, I enjoyed a very refreshing snow cone! Then it was time to hit the road and cycle another 46k… we hit the first hill, and wondered how we were going to make it there! Thankfully though, my legs warmed up (or resigned themselves to torture) and things got better. We stopped after 10k for a quick snack at Tim Hortons, around 20k for a 5 minute rest in the shade on someone’s front lawn, and around 35k for a quick bathroom break at the library before finally reaching home! 123k of cycling in a day is my new record high. What a day!
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Home! 123k of cycling for the day.
Race stats:
  • Time: 2:12:56.4
  • Women 40-44: 9/18
  • Women: 54/159
  • All athletes: 255/463
  • 750m Swim: 19:08.9 (2:33 min/100m)
  • T1: 2:18
  • 30k Bike: 1:05:04.9 (27.66 km/h)
  • T2: 1:38
  • 7k Run: 44:47.3 (6:23 min/km)
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