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: K-Town Long Course Triathlon 2019

While I start every triathlon hoping for an uneventful swim in which I also manage to swim straight, this year’s K-Town Long Course Triathlon was anything but!

Lake Ontario the night before the race.

Once again, Alasdair and I stayed at a Queens University residence the night before the race and biked 2k to the race site. Things were a little different this year, with Multisport Canada partnering with Somersault to put on the triathlon – body marking was different, and we had to show our race bib to even get into transition.

Pre-race [Photo by Zoom Photo].

We got ourselves set up, and prepared to get into the water. I would be starting 8 minutes ahead of Alasdair.

Almost ready to go!

For some reason, I often find this swim course difficult to sight.

I’m in here somewhere in a pink cap. [Photo by Zoom Photo]

2k Swim

My race began and right off the bat I had trouble seeing the buoys. I got kicked or whacked in the eye, my goggles were too tight, I had to pee, I was swimming to the wrong buoy at one point (I was not alone), and I had to swim around a patch of weeds about 3 feet wide! For at least the last 750m I felt pukey (despite the waves not being very big), but just had to keep swimming to get out of the water. Basically it was an awful swim. Given how it went I was expecting to see 50 minutes on my watch… and then I saw 54 – yikes! Unsurprisingly, Alasdair had beat me out of the water. While swimming I actually considered pulling out of the race, but I felt much better on dry land.

56k Bike

With such a bad swim (I was just so glad to be done!), I knew things could only get better from there.

Because my swim was so slow, there were very few people starting the bike after me. This meant that for most of the bike I felt like I was riding mostly on my own. I did pass a few people, and a few men passed me too. Overall the bike went okay. It was hilly, but the wind wasn’t too bad.

15k Run

I set out on the run, which for once (at this race) wasn’t a hot one!! There were lots of people cheering for me as they waited for other athletes to finish either the sprint course or long course. Unfortunately I got side stitches after about 2k, which felt like sore abs from a lack of swimming lately. I didn’t stop at the first aid station, but at every other one I grabbed water and/or electrolyte as I went through. Once the side stitches were gone (it took a few km’s) the run was okay. I saw Alasdair when I was at around the 7k mark (I had gained on him, because he was having calf/Achilles issues). I was lucky to get lots of cheers when I finished too.

I crossed the finish line feeling that I could have run further.

After the race we rode back to Queens and went for a dip in Lake Ontario at the Gord Downie Pier at Breakwater Park. So refreshing!

Kingston, we’ll be back!

Race stats:

  • 2k swim: 54:35 (2:43/100m)
  • 56k bike: 1:59:12 (27.43 km/h)
  • 15k run: 1:34:56 (6:19 min/km)
  • Time: 4:35:20 (9/13 women 45-49)

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Race report: Gravenhurst Olympic and sprint triathlon double header 2019

Jumping off a steamship is so fun we decided to do it twice in one weekend! Alasdair and I headed to the Gravenhurst area to stay at our friends’ cottage the night before the Multisport Canada Gravenhurst Olympic triathlon. With a midnight arrival and our alarms set for 5 AM on race day, it was going to be a short night!

Saturday: Olympic triathlon

We have done this race quite a few times before, but this year, there was only one steamship ferrying athletes out to the swim start, and we would be on different “runs” of the boat. I would start 50 minutes before Alasdair.

We went through registration, got ourselves organized, and headed for the boat. Alasdair and I said our goodbyes, and I joined the pink cap wave on the boat. We would be the 3rd wave to jump off the ship, which would then return to pick up waves 4 and 5.

1500m swim

I was one of the first to jump off in my wave, swimming over to the start line and treading water for a few minutes while waiting for the horn to sound. Once we were all off the boat, it headed back for shore, which caused one man to yell, “No! Don’t leave us here!” And then, “I guess we’re in now.” Everyone laughed.

The race began and we headed for shore. My swim was pretty uneventful (how I like it!), and I was pleasantly surprised by my time. I ran along the dock, crossed the street, ran all the way around transition, and headed into transition and straight for the portapotty!

40k bike

I ran out of transition with my bike, getting caught up behind slower riders in a narrow no passing lane at the beginning of the ride. Eventually, I passed them and took off. This race course has rolling hills, and is a straight out and back. It too was pretty uneventful, although it did start to rain in the last 5k. This is also where I saw Alasdair for the first time, as he was starting out on his ride. The worst part of the ride was at the very end, where traffic was backed up because of cyclists, and we had to ride along a narrow shoulder in between the vehicles and the edge of the pavement. In that narrow space someone came flying by and passed. It was a pretty dangerous section but thankfully everyone around me made it through unscathed.

10k run

After another quick portapotty break, I headed out for the run, which is always hot, humid and hilly! But not this year! Instead, it rained, there were puddles, and I loved it. No heat and humidity! I was pretty thirsty though, and wondered if I was drinking too much at the aid stations – at one point I was on the verge of getting a side stitch, but I’m not sure if it was related. I think I saw Alasdair when I was at 7k. I remembered this run route as being downhill at the end (it’s an out and back) but it took forever to reach the last downhill! A final run through the park and I was done!

There was pizza, oranges, pretzels, Martin’s apple chips and juice/pop after the race.

We headed out in search of a bit of relaxation before doing it all again the next day.

Race results:

  • Time: 3:13:43
  • Swim: 36:47 (2:27/100m)
  • Bike: 1:25:28 (28.08 km/h)
  • Run: 1:04:13.5 (6:25 min/km)
  • Women 45-49: 9/15
  • Women: 58/126
  • All athletes: 212/355

Sunday: sprint triathlon

Our morning view.

The next morning, we headed back to the race site for round #2! My calves were tight, and I wasn’t sure how they were going to respond to racing again. Time would tell!

Alasdair and I were in the same wave for the sprint, which hardly ever happens! This meant that we got to go on the boat together, and jump off the boat one after the other! Because of the wind, the boat was having trouble holding in place, so for our wave, they turned the bow of the boat toward the start line and had people jump off both sides of the boat. This got everyone off the boat faster.

Ready to head to the boat.

750m swim

While we were treading water waiting for our race to start, the megaphone being held by the lifeguard in the kayak at the start line stopped working. She tried to yell, but it was really hard to hear. However, athletes who heard her say “2 minutes to go!” yelled to everyone else. After an inaudible 10 second countdown, the race began and I lost sight of Alasdair, who started just to my left. I felt like I was swimming pretty straight, and as soon as I realized that I was swimming the same speed as someone doing the breaststroke beside me, I stuck behind and to the left of her so that I could draft, knowing that she was looking up and knew where she was going, so that I had to sight far less often. For the second day in a row, I was pleased with my swim time. As I got close to my bike in transition, I could see Alasdair sitting on the ground getting himself ready to bike. I took my wetsuit off as fast as I could, grabbed my socks, shoes, sunglasses, helmet, and race bib, struggling to clip it together. I took off, dashing around athletes who were running too slowly for me – I wanted to catch Alasdair, who was just ahead of me (20 seconds?).

20k bike

At the beginning of the ride, I could see Alasdair, but then I lost sight of him. I pushed as hard as I could on the bike, and found that my calves weren’t a problem. Within approximately 250m of the turnaround, I spotted Alasdair coming towards me, so I yelled to him (because he had his head down). I hadn’t lost much time to him so far. I continued to chase him, but didn’t see him again on the ride.

I approached the end of the bike route, which was way better than the day before – there were hardly any cars and it was easy to ride by. I reached my spot in transition, and headed out on the run as quickly as I could.

5k run

I hoped to be able to run at a slightly faster pace than in the Olympic race, knowing that I only had to run half as far. It was a hotter run, but it felt like it was going well. I had no side stitches, and only grabbed a drink once or twice at an aid station. Just before I hit the turnaround, I spotted Alasdair. I figured he was still about 500m ahead of me. This was unusual, though he was being careful not to run too fast because of a lingering Achilles issue.

My pace actually sped up toward the end, even before the last big downhill. In the end I crossed the finish line in 1:34:43.1, about 5 minutes behind Alasdair. It turns out I was slightly faster on the swim, bike and run compared to the Olympic the day before!

I was amazed to discover that I had finished 5/25 women 45-49! And I was in the top 1/4 of all women. I don’t usually place that high!

Clearly I should do back to back triathlons more often!!

Race results:

  • Time: 1:34:43.1
  • Swim: 17:55.2 (2:23 min/100m)
  • Bike: 42:35.5 (28.18 km/h)
  • Run: 28:59.7 (5:47 min/km)
  • Women 45-49: 5/25
  • Women: 40/184
  • All athletes: 136/382

If you’re looking for a unique triathlon to try, this is a great option. We’ll be back!

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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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Gear review: Drill Deck – Freestyle Swim Training & Drill Game for Triathlon

A planned short break from swimming after the 2016 triathlon season turned into a 4+ month break when I couldn’t get motivated to get back into the pool more than once or twice. It didn’t help that my local Y’s swim schedule changed, with no more Monday to Friday 12 PM swims. This had been the perfect time slot for me. Instead, I would have to shift my lunch hour, or swim at 5:30 AM, which has been very unappealing lately.

In February I was contacted by Drill Deck to see if I would be interested in trying out their swim game – the Drill Deck Freestyle Swim Training & Drill Game for Triathlon. It sounded intriguing, and I wondered if it might provide some inspiration for me.

My free copy of the game arrived in the mail in March, and one morning shortly after 5:30 AM, I was at the pool ready to try it out with my friend Rebecca.

IMG_9092

Essentially, you roll the 2 dice, which determine whether you will swim laps or do a drill, and how many laps of the pool you do it for. If you’re doing a drill, then you draw a card from the deck, and do the drill you’ve chosen. Then you roll the dice again to determine whether you will swim laps or do a drill… and repeat.

IMG_9085
Colour-coded drill cards

The cards are colour coded by area of focus, so if on a specific day you really just want to focus on one thing – e.g. speed – then you can just pull out the appropriate cards and choose from them. The categories are:

  • Stroke
  • Breathing
  • Body position
  • Kicking
  • Open water sighting
  • Speed

Each card gives a description of the drill, and then a tip.

IMG_9086
Example of a drill card

Rebecca and I had fun trying out the game after swimming some warm up lengths. We even cheated a few times when we rolled “LAP” but really wanted to do drills – we overruled the game.

I have continued to use the game in my swims. Since I previously had semi-private swim lessons with a coach, I have tried many of the drills included in Drill Deck before, and was familiar with how to do them. If you weren’t sure what they meant, the Drill Deck website provides additional information for each of the drills, including videos.

Drill Deck doesn’t replace a swim coach, but it can definitely reduce the monotony of swimming endless lengths of front crawl. Sometimes, I’m perfectly happy to just get a specific swim distance done in a given amount of time, but other times, it’s nice to try some drills that I might not think of on my own, and to do it in a fun way.

I would recommend the game to someone who gets bored easily swimming lengths, or just needs a bit of inspiration to get back in the pool.

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