This year when I signed up for the K-Town Long Course Triathlon (2k swim, 56.2k bike, 15k run), I knew what I was getting myself into! Last year, K-Town was my longest ever triathlon, in preparation for September’s Barrelman (1/2 ironman – awesome race! highly recommend it!). The race was taken over by Multisport Canada Triathlon Series in 2014 from a group of volunteer organizers who had run it for 30 years. I was hoping for a PB this time, but would happily settle for a night in Kingston with Alasdair to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary!
Saturday morning we headed to Kingston, but because of crazy traffic, we didn’t arrive at the hotel until around 4 PM, so we scrapped our plan to do a short swim/bike/run. We checked into our hotel right next to the race venue (Confederation Park), walked 2 minutes to the park to register (where we picked up our race bibs, t-shirts, swim caps), bought a new race belt for Alasdair from Du, Tri and Run at the race expo, dropped our stuff at the hotel and went for a delicious Greek dinner at Greco’s. We went for a walk along the waterfront in the direction of the run route, and hoped that the white caps on Lake Ontario would be long gone by morning…
After a 5:30 AM wake-up, breakfast of a banana, muesli and yogurt with fresh blueberries and a spoonful of peanut butter, we packed up our stuff and headed for the race site, which we could see from our hotel window! Despite being so close, we arrived later than we normally do, meaning that we had less choice in where we racked our bikes in transition, but there was still lots of room left!
We picked up our timing chips, went through body marking, got all our stuff organized in transition, and optimistically put sunblock on – I’m not sure why, because it doesn’t seem to help! I’m seriously considering getting spray sunscreen to use after the swim and after the bike while I’m in transition!
When a couple of late-arriving women were talking about how there wasn’t much room left on the rack, one said no problem, just move people’s stuff over a bit… another athlete looked up and if looks could kill…!
After the pre-race briefing, Alasdair and I zipped each other’s wetsuits up and then said our goodbyes. I was starting in wave #1 at 8:00 AM with the pros, and Alasdair in wave #2 of 3 (each wave separated by 4 minutes). I jumped from the dock into the water, which I found much weedier than I remembered it being! I swam to the start line about 75m away, which was between 2 yellow buoys, which themselves were between sail boats and motor boats docked at the marina and a much bigger boat offering tours of Lake Ontario. I treaded water for about 10 minutes (didn’t feel much like doing a warm-up swim), wondered why I was feeling my right hip flexor, and hoped that it wouldn’t cause me any trouble (it didn’t)!
The horn sounded, I pressed my watch to start the timer, and I was off! There wasn’t much congestion at the start, and it was easy to see the first green buoy that we had to swim to before turning right, but then I had some serious navigational issues! I never went off course (much!), but for the life of me I couldn’t see the green turning buoys (maybe because they were so far away?), so I swam from orange buoy to orange buoy – the sighting buoys in between the turning buoys. I got caught in some congestion more than once, had to stop swimming and find my way around people, and had to sight more frequently than usual since I couldn’t see the buoys. I tried drafting several times but it never lasted long. I felt like the swimmers were going the wrong way, but likely it was just me! When I reached one green buoy, I thought we were turning there, but the person in front of me kept going, so I did too (I figured she must be right!). It was a bit choppy out there, and several times when I went to breathe I got a mouth full of water; other times I had to rotate my body more than usual so that I was up out of the waves in order to breathe. Thankfully, there wasn’t enough chop to make me feel seasick. At one point I got a strong whiff of gasoline from a boat (hate that!). Eventually I turned right and started heading back, sighting first off the blue cap swimmers in wave #2 who caught and passed me, then by watching for the tour boat. Our last turn was a left – I got my left ankle caught in the yellow rope under the buoy but I managed to shake it off after 2 or 3 strong kicks, and then I swam straight for the bright coloured t-shirts of volunteers on the dock (maybe placing groups of brightly coloured volunteers out on the swim course would be helpful for navigation!).
One volunteer helped me out by pulling me up out of the water and onto the dock. I was shocked to see a very slow time of 48 minutes, and wondered whether it was the wind, waves, a long course, navigational issues, or just slow swimming! I made the very short run to transition, forgetting to unzip my wetsuit until I was nearly at my bike, but this time I didn’t struggle taking it off. Given my slow swim, I thought I might see Alasdair in transition (or he might even have left with his bike already), but he wasn’t out of the water yet. I chatted with the woman beside me, grabbed my helmet, sunglasses, socks and shoes and headed out.
2k Swim stats:
Swim time: 48:50.5 (2:26/100m)
Age group placing (women 40-44): 13/18
Gender placing: 64/78
Overall placing: 159/196
T1: 2:02 (included a stop to pee)
I had already given up on a race PB given my slow swim, but I wanted to push on the bike and later see if I could get a run PB.
I felt fast on the way out, with a tailwind and rolling hills. My first 5 km was under 30km/h (took more than 10 minutes), but every one after that until the turnaround was over 30km/h (one was 8:45 or 34 km/h!). Between approximately km 10 and 15 I felt like I was out for a Sunday ride because I was riding completely on my own! It was very strange… I didn’t see any bikes in front of me, no one passed me, and the leaders had not yet reached me coming back the other way. I had a weird feeling, like the race was over, it was the next day, and I was still riding along… But then, I spotted a rider ahead of me, and the lead cyclist passed me going the other way. Phew!
Not knowing how Alasdair’s swim went, I wasn’t sure when I would see him on the bike. When I finally did see him, I was just past the turnaround (or so I thought… after the race he clarified that it was more like 2k past the turnaround). I had considered using the portapotty at the turnaround but someone was in it and I couldn’t be bothered to wait. The second half of the bike course was into a headwind, with my speed dropping substantially – at least one 5k stretch took me more than 11 min. I was surprised as I went along that Alasdair still hadn’t caught me (thinking he was quite close to me at the turnaround), and twice I thought riders passing me were him when they said “On your left!” I realized after they had passed that he would likely say something other than that to me! Over the course of the ride I had most of a peanut butter chocolate ball (and licked the rest off my fingers!), a full bottle of gatorade and a chocolate coconut ball. The road was very congested (with cars) in the last km or so, as we approached the lift bridge just past RMC and before we reached downtown. We rode to the right of the vehicles (always a little nerve wracking) with police directing traffic (likely many frustrated drivers!). Because it was single lane only for the bikes at that point, I got stuck behind someone in the sprint race going slowly, but was able to pass her on the bridge because there were no cars. Then a guy in front of me was blocking me (riding on the left) so I saw the name on his race bib and said, “Daniel can you please move right?” and he said, “Sorry!” and moved over right away so I could pass. I was surprised that Alasdair still had not passed me, and hoped that he hadn’t gotten a flat (or crashed!).
I stopped just before the dismount line, unclipped, and ran into transition. I narrowly avoided colliding with another athlete who was sauntering around sans bike (?!), racked my bike, put my helmet on the ground, changed into running shoes, grabbed my hat, had a sip of water, ran out of my way to a portapotty in transition, and then out onto the run course.
56.2 k Bike stats:
Bike time: 1:55:52.9 (29.1 km/h)
Age group placing (40-44): 12/18
Gender placing: 51/78
Overall placing: 141/196
T2: 2:29 (includes stop to pee!)
My legs felt pretty good heading out along the road, as I wondered when Alasdair would catch me. I hoped that I could get a run PB for this course, and started out fast, with the first 3k around 5:35 – 5:40 per km. Side stitches convinced me to slow it down a bit. There were lots of runners on their way to the finish line, some doing the same race as me, but others doing the sprint triathlon or duathlon. It isn’t too long before the run course leaves the road and goes onto the beautiful waterfront trail, where some shade and wind was just what was needed! There are flat sections, but also some hills on the trail, including a couple of pretty short steep ones.
I was nearly convinced that Alasdair must have had a crash or a flat, but just before 5k he ran past me and we (very briefly!) commiserated on our crappy swim times (it turns out I beat him by 2 minutes). Later at an aid station I asked a woman if she could trip my husband when he ran by… she asked if he was behind me and I said no, ahead! The run course was an out and back, except for the part at the turnaround, which was a little loop through a park. I spotted bathrooms in a building and ran in to pee, considered splashing my face with cold tap water, but scrapped that plan when the water coming out of the tap was warm! I headed outside and kept running through the park, spotting a splash pad that I decided to run through (I could see an athlete doing just that ahead of me) but when I got there the water had stopped! I kept running and as I had done earlier in the run, I stopped at the next aid station to pour cups of water over my head. At most of the aid stations I drank a few sips of water, and Heed (like gatorade but nearly flavourless) once or twice. When I saw the volunteer I’d joked with about tripping Alasdair, I said to her, “Did you trip my husband?” and she replied, “I tried!!” At the next aid station I poured several cups of water over my head and shoulders, only to hear the female volunteer tell me, “That was Heed!” “Oops!” I said, and poured a couple of cups of water over me. Another volunteer, a man, poured two more cups of water over me to help rinse out the Heed! Thank you volunteers!
My run was slowing but not significantly. I still thought it was possible to get a run PB, but thought there was no way I could get a race PB. A couple of times though, I was hot, tired, doubting myself and just thinking that all I wanted to do was to simply finish! The beautiful rocky shoreline was so tempting… I could have sat there in the breeze all afternoon.
At one of the last aid stations there was a kid with a hose to soak athletes. I did a complete 360 and loved that water! So refreshing.
In the last 3km I picked up the pace a bit, and in particular the last km felt pretty good. I think I got my second wind. With about 2 km to go, I had to briefly stop as 10+ geese were crossing the waterfront trail and weren’t too happy with me! I let most of them go then continued along my way! There were some cute little boys volunteering offering pretzels at one of the aid stations, but I didn’t have any.
One of the awesome things about this race series is that race bibs are personalized – it means that strangers can cheer for you by name! “Go Kyra!” or “Looking strong Kyra!” or “Kyra, water or Heed?” – it makes a difference!
In the last 400m I said to the woman running beside me, “So close yet so far away!” About 100m from the finish line I gave one little girl a high five. There were tons of people on the street cheering for athletes in all 3 races. Unfortunately, I missed Pacman and the 2 guys in capes, who apparently were cheering enthusiastically and running alongside athletes. Alasdair told me that one of them yelled, “AlasDAR, sounds like ALL STAR to me!” After the race, Alasdair said to one of them, “You know how to do this!” and he replied, “You know how to RACE man!”
Just before the finish I heard Alasdair cheer for me. I picked up the pace for the last 100m, and was shocked to see 4:22 something on the clock!! It turns out I was just 31 seconds slower than last year! After a crappy swim (4 minutes slower than last year) and a slightly slower bike than last year (1 minute), I nearly made up the entire difference on the run (7 minutes faster)! I was 29 seconds/km faster this year on the run. Just goes to show I should never give up!
15k Run stats:
Run time: 1:33:39.9 (6:14/km)
Age group placing (40-44): 16/18
Gender placing: 55/78
Overall placing: 144/196
After the race, I found Alasdair and after downing a chocolate milk, we tried something new and each stepped into a bucket of really cold water (up to our thighs) that one of the race sponsors was providing for athletes. It was awesome!
In the end, I finished the race in 4:22:54.8, and Alasdair in 4:04 (a 2 minute PB for him)!
Final time: 4:22:54.8
Age group placing (40-44): 14/18
Gender placing: 55/78
Overall placing: 144/196
For comparison, here are stats from 2014:
Time: 4:22:23.6 – 160/198 overall, 51/70 women, 9/11 women 40-44
Swim: 44:28.0 (2:13/100m) – 126/198 overall, 42/60 women, 6/11 women 40-44
Bike: 1:54:43.0 (29.39 km/h) – 142/198 overall, 37/60 women, 7/11 women 40-44
Run: 1:40:58.0 (6:43/km) – 162/198 overall, 51/50 women, 9/11
We stayed to watch the awards, and I ended up winning a draw prize – a Timex watch!