I’m not sure anyone was quite as excited to be back at a triathlon start line as one particular athlete in my wave at the Barrie triathlon – she whooped it up and let everyone know how much she loves the sport. I’ve never heard anything like it! She was pumped (and the rest of us couldn’t help but smile and laugh)!
It wasn’t too long ago that I was pretty resigned to the fact that there would be no race season at all for a second year in a row… and then Multisport Canada announced that races were on! Woot! We knew it wouldn’t be the usual triathlon racing experience, but we didn’t care – we were happy for the opportunity to get back out there. After a mountain bike crash in June (tire slipped on a wet root and I fell hard on my back) and a long recovery period, I was just relieved to be back swimming, biking and running 10 weeks later. Never mind I had only been swimming 2 times since the fall of 2019!
Our return to racing – and our first time doing the Barrie race (taken over by Multisport Canada this year) – would also be my friend Kris’ very first triathlon! Since we spent the night before the race at her place, she had 2 in-house triathlon coaches to ask for advice. And ask she did!
On race morning we didn’t arrive at the race site as early as we normally do, so by the time we set our stuff up in transition and got our wetsuits on, we had less than 15 minutes to go before we were to race! This added to the pre-race nerves. After a very quick warm up swim (just a few strokes!), I was ready to go.
Alasdair and I were lucky enough to be starting in the same swim wave, with Kris a couple of waves behind us.
I can’t tell you how great it was to hear familiar voices (like Steve Fleck at the microphone), see familiar faces, and to simply be back in the triathlon community again. I didn’t have any time goals for this race – getting to the start and finish lines would be enough for me this time!
The horn sounded and off I went, wondering if my shoulder was going to give me any trouble (seems I upset it playing disc golf recently). Thankfully, my physiotherapist ensured that it didn’t! My swim started okay but it didn’t take long for me to have a mini panic attack after losing my breathing rhythm. I switched to the breaststroke, then front crawl with single-sided breathing on the left, then single-sided breathing on the right, then eventually I got my rhythm back, and by the time I hit the first turning buoy, it was all good. I figured I was swimming much slower than usual (since I hadn’t been practising!) and might see 30 minutes on my watch when I stood up, so I was pleasantly surprised to see 21 – still slower than usual, but not as slow as I expected. Then it was a long run into transition (I spotted Alasdair heading out with his bike as I was running in), peeling off the wetsuit, putting on my sunglasses, helmet, socks, shoes, and race bib, grabbing my bike and heading for the transition exit… but on the way there, I thought “Oh no! I forgot my race bib!” So I dropped my bike and ran back towards my stuff, but before I got there, I realized I was wearing it! So I ran back to my bike and off I went. Clearly this was a first race in nearly two years!
The bike course was 4 loops with a slight uphill on the way out and a slight downhill on the way back. Unlike someone I know, I already knew how many loops to do – I didn’t have to do math to figure it out. I actually liked the looped course, which I’ve only done once before (at Welland). It meant I got to see Alasdair on every loop, and Kris twice when I was on my 3rd and 4th loops. The road was a little rough in some places, but otherwise, the ride was unremarkable. I will say though that not enough people said “On your left!” as they passed.
I ran my bike into transition, racked it, took my helmet off, changed shoes, put my hat on, had a quick drink of water, and headed out for the run. Sadly I had to stop to pee (at the portapotty just outside the transition zone). Remember that slight uphill on the bike? It felt more than slight on the run. The run course was 2 loops along a waterfront trail. On my 2nd loop I got chatting with a guy who told me about a latin phrase he knew that essentially meant “One foot in front of the other, ferociously!” I’m sure it will continue to come in handy in future races!
And then I heard the voice of the athlete who was so excited to be back – turns out her name is Shannon. I spotted Alasdair on both loops, and heard Steve Fleck give him the most awesome welcome to the finish line: “Alasdaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaair Paterson!” I’m not sure where I was on the run course at that point, but think it was not long after the turnaround – clearly the sound travels at the waterfront! I spotted Alasdair again waiting for me as I neared the finish line.
I was glad to be done, and to be honest, found the race harder than a sprint would normally be. I’m out of race practice and still building back up from my MTB crash! It’s a short triathlon season this year, but it’s so good to be back!
There was none of the usual post race food, awards, or socializing with other athletes (except for the ones packing up their stuff when we were), which we really missed – that’s part of the fun! Instead, we were encouraged to get the heck out of transition as fast as possible. We did, but we stuck around to cheer for my friend Kris, and for other athletes still finishing.
It was so fun to have a triathlon newbie with us! Who is next?!
Time: 1:43:38.8 (10/11 women 45-49; 64/86 women; 199/245 athletes)
My 11th and final triathlon of 2016 was to be the Multisport Canada Skechers Performance Niagara Falls Barrelman (1/2 ironman) presented by Recharge with Milk. It was the 3rd year for this amazing race, which I have participated in each time. It was also the very last triathlon in Ontario for 2016, and the biggest 1/2 ironman in North America this year outside of the “Ironman” brand (over 800 athletes).
On Saturday we drove to the Welland International Flatwater Centre, which was the canoe/kayak venue for the 2015 Pan Am Games. The Barrelman is a point to point race, starting in Welland and ending in Niagara Falls. T1 is at the Flatwater Centre, and T2 at Kingsbridge Park in Niagara Falls.
We went through registration, signing a waiver, picking up our race bibs, timing chips, t-shirts, swim caps, product samples, and black “wetsuit” bags, red “run” bags, and clear “after race” bags.
We attended a mandatory pre-race briefing at 2:30 PM, and found our eyes constantly wanting to watch the simultaneous sign language interpretation of the briefing, arranged for one deaf athlete (Multisport Canada takes care of its athletes!). The interpreter’s face was so expressive! Having done the race 2 times before, we actually didn’t learn anything new, but we felt it was important to attend anyway.
We put our bikes at our assigned spots on the rack, and headed to our hotel in Niagara Falls.
We woke up at 5:30 AM, and after eating breakfast (muesli and a banana for me) and packing up, we headed for the Upper Falls parking lot where we would park our car and hop on a school bus for the 25 minute shuttle to T1. At the bus stop there were volunteers taking our red run bags, which contained everything we would need for the run portion of the race – I had shoes, a hat, sunscreen, a banana and a gel in there. You could also leave your “after race” bag but I wasn’t ready to part with mine yet.
Once we arrived at T1, we set up our swim and biking stuff in transition, chatted with other athletes, went to the bathroom a few times, got body marking done, slathered on the sunscreen, got wetsuits on, and once I was done taking pictures, I parted with my “after race” bag. A helpful athlete from Oklahoma asked me if I’d like help putting my sunscreen on, as he watched me struggle to put it on my back – “I’m no Romeo!” he said.
You could also drop your red run bag at T1 for volunteers to transport to T2 ready and waiting for you after the ride. I did a very short warm-up swim, found Alasdair again, listened to our national anthem, and was ready to go!
Alasdair was starting in the 2nd wave after the pros, and me the 3rd, so we wished each other well and he headed for the water.
The swim course is a rectangle, in which you swim nearly 1 km towards a bridge, turn right to cross the canal, turn right again and head back nearly 1 km before the last turn which takes you to shore. It’s pretty hard to go too far off course, given the small width of the canal!
I had a smooth start, and really, a pretty unremarkable swim. I spent a long time sighting off of the orange-sleeved wetsuit of another athlete, which made things even easier. At one point two athletes, one on either side of me, kept swimming into me, sandwiching me in between. I had to stop for a second and swim wide of one of them. Since I’ve been swimming slower this year (not sure why), I expected to see 50+ minutes when I stopped swimming. I got to the swim exit, was extended a helping hand by one of the volunteers, and looked at my watch: 49:XX. A full 4+ minutes slower than last year, but not unexpected. I ran along the paved path of the canal, undoing my wetsuit as I went. By the time I reached the stairs it was at my waist. I got whacked in the face by another athlete’s elbow as we climbed the stairs, but I was fine!
I found my bike (and noticed that only 5 other bikes remained on my rack), ate a banana, took off my wetsuit, put on my socks and shoes, helmet, sunglasses, had a quick pee break and I was off for the bike mount line.
My plan for the bike was to try to beat last year’s speed of 28 km/h. Because I had such a slow swim, and there was only one wave of athletes starting after me, I figured I would pass a lot of people on the bike. And I did.
Some people count the number of cyclists they pass, or the number who pass them. Me? I count turtles. Yup, in the waterway that we rode beside in the first part of the course (the “out”). It passed the time and was much more interesting than staring at pavement. For the record, I counted 20. I found the first 10k of the course fast, and was averaging 30km/h. I felt a headwind at 10-15k, but it was nothing compared to previous Barrelman winds! The next section of the course is the “loop”, which included riding for a while along Lake Erie. Such a beautiful spot on the course! I was feeling good on the bike, and making sure I kept eating my homemade goodies at regular intervals – a peanut butter chocolate ball, a “gonky” ball, and a cricket almond protein bar (as the chocolate peanut butter ball melted, it all kind of mushed into one, which I scooped out with my fingers!). I also drank a full bottle of gatorade and nearly a bottle of water. I was amazed by how many people dropped full bottles of gatorade or water on the course (Alasdair noted the big piles just after the multiple train track crossings!). I also spotted an asthma inhaler and multiple bike gear bags that were lost! With the winds forecasted to be from the south west, we were anticipating about 40k of tailwind in the “back” section – the ride towards Niagara Falls. I was managing to hover around 30km/h and was happy with my ride, despite an annoying clicking that my bike was making. At one point, another athlete said to me, “My bike made that noise! It was the rear bracket!” I have no idea what that means, and I’m not even sure I heard him properly. I thought he might have said that I should kick the rear bracket! In any case, my bike didn’t fall apart so it was all good. Just after the 56k mark, we had to ride through a tunnel. There was a spectator there banging on the metal handrail inside the tunnel (there’s a sidewalk running through the tunnel), and as I got closer he banged harder and more frequently – I appreciated his enthusiasm but it was SO loud when I got close to him! Near the end, as we were riding along the Niagara Parkway (along the river – another beautiful spot on the course), two older men who were not in the race were cycling along. I said to one, “Too bad we have to run 21.1k now!” He laughed and asked if we had swum 5k. I said no, 2k, then a 90k ride – actually, 89k! He laughed again and wished me well. The time between the 85k marker and the dismount line passed quite quickly. I was glad to be done the ride, but had no pain, no tight back or anything to complain about. Except maybe having to run a half marathon.
I had not visited T2 since last year, but had studied the map and knew where to find the spot to leave my bike, the spot where my red run bag would be waiting for me. I changed my shoes, removed my helmet, put on my hat, slathered sunscreen again on my shoulders, arms, face and back of my neck, made a quick stop in a portapotty, and headed out for the run. As I started running I heard Steve Fleck announcing that Irina was finishing her race (the swim bike) and he also wished her a happy birthday! I heard that the #1 and #2 males had already finished, and #3 was on his way in. I just had a half marathon to go. Sigh!
I felt good starting the run, and planned to try to run the entire thing at a pace that I could hold throughout, while still allowing myself to walk through the aid stations. In previous years I ended up walking due to cramps and didn’t want that to happen again. Between 2 and 3k, I spotted Alasdair for the first time during the race. Due to the nature of the bike course, we didn’t see each other on the out and back section, because we were both in the “loop” section at the same time (I would have had to be WAY behind him to meet him in the out and back part). He was not too far ahead of me. His plan was to go a little easier on the bike, and hope to be able – for once – to not have knee/IT band issues and be able to run the entire time (minus the steepest hills and aid stations).I also caught up to Kim (on her 2nd loop, my 1st), which only happened because she was having some significant stomach issues. At first I drank Heed and water at the aid stations, but as time went on I ate pretzels (by accident – well, I asked for them when I meant to say grapes!) and later grapes, and started pouring water on my head as well. It wasn’t that hot out – and there was cloud cover for a lot of the run – but it felt really refreshing to do so. I saw Alasdair again as he was starting his 2nd loop of 10.5k and I was ending my first. I got cheers from my swim coach Mat, and from Dany (who won the men 25-29 age group by nearly 7 minutes!) and Kathleen (who Alasdair runs with – they too are Fighting Koalas). For the first time in 3 years I ran up the steepest hill on the run route (yay me!), and in fact, stuck to my plan until 12k. Then, I got a side stitch. Despite changing my breathing, elevating my arms, and just plain wishing it would go away, it stayed. And then, for an added bonus, my right knee started bugging me (I never have knee issues!). I had to walk a bit. For essentially the remainder of the race, I did a run/walk combination, running when I could, and walking when the side stitch or knee hurt too much (my knee actually only bothered me a few times). It was quite disappointing, because it had been going so well! After the swim/bike, I was on track for a PB if I could just run the whole time! That PB slowly slipped away… and then I started wondering how many minutes slower than last year I was going to be. I talked to a few people during the run who were having similar disappointing run/walk experiences, including Sam, who caught up to me and asked me if I was Irina and Emma‘s friend. It was in this last stretch that I got a high five from a young girl, and cheers from spectators and athletes who had already finished. With about 1k to go, I said to one woman, “Tell me I can do this!” and she said “You got this!” (or something like that).
My side stitch was quite bad in the last little bit, so I’m pretty sure I was grimacing something fierce in the last few hundred metres! I saw and heard Alasdair cheer for me just before the finish. I crossed the line, received a handshake from one of the Multisport Canada crew, and had Nicole put my medal over my head. I was so glad to be done! In the end my time was 6:41:27.8, or just under 11 minutes slower than last year.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing volunteers at the race, from registration to the helpers pulling athletes out of the water, to those at the aid stations, intersections, finish line, food tent and everywhere in between! I could not finish this race without you! Thank you for spending 1 hour or all day volunteering your precious time! (If you’ve never volunteered at a race, consider doing it – it’s a hugely rewarding experience!)
Thank you to John Salt and his fantastic team, who once again put on a terrific race. This race is John’s baby, and he’d like to see it grow – from 800 athletes this year to 1,000 next year. Sign up, bring your friends, and see you at the start line!
On the podium one way or another! [Photo by Kathleen]
Time: 6:41:27.8 (24/35 women 40-44, 140/200 women, 426/554 athletes)
This is part II of my triathlon double-header. Read part I here.
Earlier in the summer, Alasdair and I talked about the possibility of riding our bikes 45k to Guelph Lake to do the sprint triathlon relay, and then ride home after the race. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that riding 120k that day (since I would be riding 30k in the relay) might not be the best idea, in particular because I hadn’t ridden more than 60k at once lately, and because we’re doing the Barrelman 1/2 ironman in 2 weeks. So, last week I scrapped that idea and decided instead to do my first ever triathlon double-header: the sprint triathlon relay in the morning, and the try-a-tri in the afternoon. It would be my first time doing a try-a-tri since 2010 when I first started racing (I did the Milton try-a-tri first, then the Guelph Lake I try-a-tri before switching to sprints). I only told a few people and most said, “WHY?” Why not?
So after the sprint relay, I registered for the try-a-tri and got body marked again (the volunteer had to scratch out the 454 from our relay and add 1003 to my leg!). I needed to eat something, but wasn’t sure exactly what to eat that wouldn’t upset my stomach. I had a peanut butter sandwich and a banana during the sprint awards, and hoped that would do! I had moved my bike from the relay rack to the women aged 40-44 rack before the awards, so all I had to do was set my stuff up, and that didn’t take long.
With about 30 minutes to go before race time, I headed for the water to put my wetsuit on. Ailish showed me the awesome sign she made for me during the sprint relay!
She zipped me up, and I went for a short warm-up swim. I was to be in the 3rd of 4 waves. Many of the athletes were first time triathletes, so I decided to line up in the front row of swimmers – I didn’t expect to be the fastest, but I was certainly more comfortable and confident than newbies!
My strategy paid off, as I had very little congestion. I had a pretty good swim, and seemed to go straight. The buoys seemed so close – 375m is not very far! We swam out to a buoy, turned right, swam to the next buoy, turned right, and headed for shore. I swam until my hands started to hit the sand, got up and saw 9:30 on my watch – not bad! I walked a few steps then ran out of the water, across the sandy beach, and up the long hill, around the transition zone, and in. The run was longer than usual, because low water levels in the lake made the swim start further out than usual.
I had a bit of trouble getting my wetsuit off, and had to brush pebbles off my feet before putting my socks on (remember, we were set up on gravel). I grabbed my bike and off I went!
My goal was to ride as hard as I could and to see if I could maintain 30 km/h over 10k like I did over the 30k for the relay. I had trouble clipping my shoes in, but eventually got going. My legs felt tired and I pretty much knew right away that I wasn’t going to manage that pace. But I did what I could. I thought I passed a lot of people during the sprint relay, but I passed even more during the try-a-tri!
Having just ridden the course in the morning (and then some), I knew exactly what to expect and the ride went pretty quickly. I had a stomach cramp for a while and figure it may have been the peanut butter sandwich. On the way back, climbing the last big hill, another athlete was riding down the hill on the other side of the road, completely out of control, wobbling this way and that, screaming over and over! I thought for sure that she was going to crash. I don’t remember now whether it was arms or legs flailing, but it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen on a bike. When she passed me I turned back to make sure she was still upright – somehow, she was! She must have been absolutely terrified!
I reached the dismount line, and was a bit disappointed that I didn’t go as fast as I would have liked to. I didn’t actually know what my time was – I wasn’t paying really close attention. I was surprised to see that I was the first woman on the 40-44 rack to rack my bike (it was empty!). This meant that I was currently in 1st place. Two women arrived while I was still there. I removed my helmet, changed my shoes, and took off – I even decided to leave my hat, not wanting to lose any more time than necessary!
I was sure that I would be caught on the run, but apparently I started out at a pretty good pace – near the beginning, I heard Alasdair say, “Nice pace!” I wasn’t sure if he meant it or was trying to be encouraging! With every step, I expected to be passed by a woman with a 40, 41, 42, 43, or 44 or her leg. I wasn’t used to being in the lead – in fact, this was the first time ever! Shortly after beginning this run, I remembered why I hated running at Guelph Lake – it’s hilly! And of course close to 2 PM, it was hot! With such a short run, I tried to hold the pace I started with, but had no idea how I was doing – I wasn’t looking at the watch. I resigned myself to being passed by stronger runners, and just decided to do the best I could. I passed an aid station but just ran right through – no stopping for water (or someone would surely pass me!). Before too long, I hit the turnaround, at which point I’d be able to see the people hot on my heels. I was surprised that they were all men! No women about to pass me. With about 200m to go, I heard the voices of 2 women, and resigned myself (once again) to finishing 3rd. They passed me, I looked at their legs, and saw 20-something! Still in the lead… I reached the last uphill, a spectator told me and other runners to push hard for the finish, I turned the corner, ran down the hill, and then was joined by Ailish as she ran part way down the hill with me. I couldn’t talk at that point! She later told me it was hard as she had to dart in and out of spectators. I crossed the finish line, and the announcer told everyone that KIRA had finished.
A volunteer took my timing chip, another gave me a finisher’s medal, and a third gave me a bottle of water. I found Alasdair and Ailish, and then this awesome fan blowing cold mist!
Eventually Ailish and I went over to the results board, and someone from Sportstats put up 2 sheets of paper. I found my name, and saw that I was 1/32 women aged 40-44. I had won!!!
After getting my post-race food, we sat down in the shade and waited for the awards to start. An announcement was made that a 3 year old girl was missing, and for everyone to look out for her. 5-10 minutes later the crowd cheered when we were told that she had been found safe. The awards started, and before long I was called up as the winner of the women 40-44 category – how exciting!
It was a fun day!
The race stats changed a little between the posted results at Guelph Lake and now. In any case, I still finished first!
Time: 50:23.4 (1/25 women aged 40-44, 8/141 women, 62/268 athletes)
375m Swim: 11:11.9 (2:59 min/100m – includes long run up to transition) (4/25 women 40-44, 34/141 women, 55/268 athletes)
This is part I of my triathlon double-header. Read part II here.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of doing a triathlon, but you’re too scared to jump right in, consider doing a relay with friends! Last year, Alasdair and I introduced our friend John to the world of triathlon when we invited him to do the Guelph Lake II relay with us as our runner. He was a new runner then, but was quick to say yes! He had a great time and agreed to do it again this year. So, Saturday morning we met at the Guelph Lake Conservation Area for our race, a 750m swim, 30k bike, and 7.5k run. Last year, I swam and Alasdair biked, but this year, he would swim while I biked and John ran. I knew I’d be slower than he was on the bike last year, but I wanted to see what I could do.
We registered, which included signing waivers and picking up our race bib, the timing chip, t-shirts and product samples, and got our stuff organized in transition. There is a specific bike rack assigned to relay racers. Despite doing the majority of our races this summer in the Multisport Canada Triathlon Series, there were lots of friendly faces at this race!
Our friend Jordan was doing the sprint as his very first triathlon – I will be forever grateful to him for practically begging me in spring 2000 (the day I met him at a co-ed soccer tournament in Dundas) to join the co-ed team he was playing on (they desperately needed more women) – it’s how I got to know Alasdair!
All relay teams would start in the 5th and final swim wave. I watched the swim start, then headed to the bathroom one last time, and back to the transition zone where John and I would wait for Alasdair. We spotted Jordan first, then eventually heard the announcer say that team JAK’d (John Alasdair Kyra) was on its way in to the transition zone. The timing chip on Alasdair’s ankle was read by a computer as he crossed a timing mat, popping up our team name on a screen that the announcer was reading.
The transition zone was set up on a gravel lot this year, so the race organizers had put mats down for us to run on. Otherwise, Alasdair would have been treading gingerly to meet me at the bike rack! John took the timing chip off of Alasdair’s ankle and put it onto mine (which I adjusted quickly when I realized it was too high and might fall down and flop around). And then I was off!
A great ride for me would be 30k in 60 minutes, or 30 km/h. I passed a ton of people on the bike, saying “on your left” over and over again. There was quite a bit of congestion on the bike, given that we started in the last swim wave. The pavement for the first 5k was quite rough. I had forgotten my watch, so I was wearing Alasdair’s, which he gave me after the swim. It was fun checking it to see my speed – my regular watch doesn’t have that ability.
At around the 10k mark I caught up to Jordan and passed him (woohoo!). The ride was pretty uneventful, other than the non-stop passing. I was really happy to see that I was maintaining a speed of 30 km/h! There are a couple of pretty significant hills on the course. When I reached the dismount line, I was at exactly 60 minutes, but by the time I ran over the timing mat, I lost my 30 km/h average! Ah well, I’m super happy with my ride. I entered the transition zone and started running to the bike rack. I was confused, because Alasdair and John weren’t there! What the heck? Where were they? I was looking all around the rack, and at all the other relay athletes watching for their riders coming back. I spotted them, and yelled “Alasdair! John!” — because Jordan headed out on the bike before me, they expected to see him return before me, and totally missed me ride past! Alasdair grabbed the timing chip off my leg, and was about to put it on John’s leg when another athlete told us not to do it before I had racked my bike. So I put my bike on the rack, then the chip went onto John’s leg, and off he went! Alasdair and I were able to catch up on our swim and bike legs (he was happy with his swim), and watch for other athletes coming in from the bike. We got to cheer for Jordan and see him go onto the run course. I went to use the bathroom, where I happened to run into Ailish! I hadn’t seen her since the race began, since she was reading in the shade under a tree down by the lake. She joined me and we watched the runners returning from the run course and down the last hill to the finish line. We spotted a couple of people I knew – Jordan’s brother Geoff, Kristin my new swim buddy – and then John! Alasdair ran the last little bit with him, peeling away just before the finish. Alasdair later ran Jordan to the finish too (he did great and is hooked!).
John’s run was faster than last year – he too was pleased with his leg of the relay! In the end, we finished 11/25 relay teams (including 1 that was DQ’d and 1 that didn’t finish)! We placed better than we did last year, though our overall time was a bit slower (because of Alasdair’s super fast bike last year). It was a very fun morning, and I hope to race with team JAK’d again!
Time: 1:59:26.3 – 11/25 relay teams
750m swim (Alasdair): 17:37.2 (2:20 min/100m – includes long run up to transition) – 10/25 relay teams
30k bike (Kyra): 1:00:31.2 (29.74 km/h) – 10/25 relay teams
7.5krun (John): 38:57.9 (5:33 min/km) – 12/25 relay teams
Athletes were given subs, fruit, pita chips, granola bars, and gatorade after the race. We stayed for most of the awards, but then we left. Normally we stay, but because I’m crazy, I decided a week ago to do my first ever triathlon double-header at Guelph Lake II – I was going to race in the try-a-tri in the afternoon, so I had to get ready! Stay tuned to see how that went after pushing my legs on the bike…
What a relief to have calm waters in Georgian Bay at Wasaga Beach for the Olympic triathlon on Saturday, after last year’s waves made me seasick and caused me to throw up in the water! With a temperature of around 27 degrees Celsius feeling like 31 with the humidity, and cloud cover for most of the race, the weather conditions were actually pretty good!
We arrived at the race site around 8:30 AM, with Keaghan and Ailish in tow. I racked my bike, went through registration to pick up my race bib, t-shirt, swim cap, timing chip, and to get body marked, and then went to the volunteer tent to get the kids organized. They were assigned to volunteer at the finish line for the Olympic race – specifically, to removing timing chips from athletes’ ankles. This may be Ailish’s least favourite volunteer assignment, having done it before and having experienced the sweatiness and stinkiness of many, many ankles.
I went back to transition to get myself organized and all set up, only to discover that another athlete had moved my bike to take the rack location I had chosen. Not cool! I decided to leave that section of the rack completely, because who knows what she might do to my stuff during the race!
After I was all set, I went back to find the kids down by the finish line, where they had found some shade to hang out in until they were needed. That time came sooner than expected when Jason Vurma (Multisport Canada VP and Operations Director) asked the kids (obviously volunteers in their race crew t-shirts) if they’d like to hold the banner for the first finishers in the Try a Tri race. Only a small amount of brotherly/sisterly love (read fighting) occurred during this task – from what I could see.
I went back to transition for the pre-race meeting, only to suddenly realize that we hadn’t paid for parking, so I ran back to the car and dealt with that! I listened to the end of the pre-race meeting, then headed to the water for a very short warm-up swim. I was to be in the 4th of 5 waves, with all women 35+ and relay swimmers.
1500 m SWIM
For the most part, the swim wasn’t very congested for me, and I was only swum over a couple of times by people in the wave that started 3 minutes after me when they caught up. I think I swam pretty straight, but had a hard time in the last section sighting the yellow rooftops that were close to the swim exit – at least one person thanked me after the race for suggesting them, because the Recharge with Milk swim exit is brown and pretty much impossible to see. A black and white cow print would be better! In any case, I was prepared for a slow swim because every single one of my triathlon swims this year have been slower than my 2015 swims. I was somewhat surprised to see “only” 39 minutes on my watch – I beat last year’s time by less than a minute, but that was in crazy waves and had me stopping more than once to retch! (So, the improvement wasn’t really an improvement.) I swam until my hands started to hit the sand, then got up and walked a bit before running the rest of the way out of the water.
I got to yell a hello to Keaghan and Ailish as I ran past – they weren’t yet on finish line duty.
I had my smoothest wetsuit removal so far this year, so yay for small victories! A quick change of gear and pee stop and I was on my way!
40 km BIKE
During the pre-race briefing, we were told that the bike course had been changed the night before because they would have less police coverage at intersections than expected. It was turned into an out and back. This course is a pretty fast one, although there are a few hills. For the first 15 k, I was averaging right on about 30 km/h, which I was pleased with.
I passed more people than passed me (but there weren’t too many behind me after the swim!). One guy had me confused and concerned when he rode close to the shoulder on the other side of the road (the side for oncoming traffic) for at least 500 m! I finally caught him and hold him to ride on the far RIGHT side of the road. He just looked at me. Weird. He passed me later, and rode on the right. I later passed him and never saw him again. If I had seen a race vehicle I would have flagged them down – it was so dangerous!
Around the 15k mark, I started experiencing an abdominal cramp that just got worse. I tried to alter my breathing, I lifted my right arm way up and tried to stretch it as I rode – nothing. No change. I had to slow my pace. I started wondering if I’d even be able to run. I imagined myself joining the kids and volunteering at the finish line. It was quite painful. At one point, I thought it was gone, but nope, I felt it again. And then, at just before the 30 km mark, it totally went away! I picked up my pace again and tried to finish strong. Despite my cramp issues, I forced myself to keep drinking my gatorade and to down a 2nd gel.
Back in transition, I quickly changed gear, peed again, and headed out on the run course.
10 km RUN
This 10 k course at Wasaga Beach has historically been one of my fastest ever triathlon run paces. Last year, I ran it at a pace of 5:45 min/km. But right off the bat, I knew I wasn’t going to beat that this year. My first kilometre was 6:05, and I got slower from there. On the bright side, with the kids at the finish line, I got to see them 3 times, when I started my 1st loop, 2nd loop, and when I finished. I spotted Emma and Alasdair within the first kilometre (it’s a 2 loop 5 k course), as well as Kristin my new Monday morning swim buddy. They were all finishing their first loop. The cloud cover was particularly nice during the run, meaning that it wasn’t too hot! I did end up pouring water over my head at some of the aid stations though – felt so good. I encountered Emma, Alasdair and Kristin again later as they were heading for the finish line and I was starting my 2nd loop. So depressing to see others finishing and to know that you have to run the loop again! I think I prefer out and back courses – though with 2 loops, athletes do get to see each other more frequently! I had no issues on the run, other than being limited by cardio. My legs felt fine! In the end, I finished the run at a pace of about 6:20 min/km, and the triathlon with a final time of 3:11:37, about 6 minutes slower than last year. I got a great high five from Ailish as I reached the finish line!
After the race, I found Alasdair and we enjoyed a carton of chocolate milk – so refreshing after a long workout. In fact, Alasdair (and Emma!) had entered a contest earlier in the year, and both ended up being the Recharge with Milk racer of the day. The title came with a pretty sweet prize pack – a free race entry, chocolate milk for a month (valued at $30), a cooler on wheels, and all kinds of Recharge with Milk swag (a sweater, hat, race bib holder, ice pack, towel, and more!).
We watched the awards, and before packing up our stuff I checked the race results and noticed that I didn’t have a run time or finish time. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. I went to the Sportstats tent and gave them the finish time on my watch, which they used to give me an official result and a run time.
Before leaving Wasaga Beach, we spent a while swimming at the super crowded beach (though the water wasn’t too bad!).
Given the technical issues with timing, race stats aren’t quite accurate. In my age group there were 17 athletes, but final times for only 14 of us.
Time: 3:11:17 (7/14 women aged 40-44, 81/126 women, 208/344 athletes)
1500 m swim: 39:57.5 (11/17 women aged 40-44, 72/126 women, 242/344 athletes)
Run up (from beach to transition): 0:38
40 k bike: 1:22:53.5 (11/17 women aged 40-44, 64/126 women, 233/344 athletes)
10 k run: 1:03:28.2 (7/17 women aged 40-44, 63/126 women, 209/344 athletes)
Ever swim in 7 foot swells before? Me neither. With a race morning forecast of 38 km/h winds gusting to 59, it wasn’t a bit surprising! Lake Huron can be menacing!
But let me back up. My alarm went off at 3:30 AM, and when I woke up, I was really disappointed because I was sure I had a few more hours to sleep. I briefly considered sleeping until 3:45 but decided to get up. I ate my breakfast just before 4 AM, as late as possible before having to make the 2 hour drive to Goderich. We were supposed to camp at Point Farms Provincial Park the night before the race, but I worried that campers would be playing the Tragically Hip’s last concert and we would have trouble sleeping, so we stayed home instead. We left just before 4:30 AM, but somehow we got turned around on the way and ended up driving at least 45 minutes extra – we didn’t arrive at the race site until 7:20 AM for an 8 AM start – normally, we like to arrive 2 hours before the race! We still had to pump our bike tires, register, get our stuff organized in transition and make multiple trips to the bathroom! It was more stressful than normal, but slightly less stressful than it could have been – before we arrived, I saw on Facebook that due to 7 foot swells, the Coast Guard officially called the conditions unsafe for swimmers (just imagine the job of those poor safety boats). The race would instead be a duathlon (no need to struggle into a wetsuit or do a warm-up swim), with a 10k run, then 42.5k bike, then 5k run. I really didn’t want to swim in choppy water anyway! Last year’s race was the first time I felt sea-sick doing a triathlon. This year’s race was the 25th anniversary, and the first time the triathlon was changed to a duathlon.
Alasdair was still frantically getting ready, so we didn’t get a shot together.
This would be just my 2nd time doing an Olympic duathlon, so I’m still at newbie at figuring out how to pace myself for the first run. I was very grateful though that the longest run would be first!
The race started in waves based on bib number, with Alasdair and I starting in the 3rd wave. He took off with the lead guys, and I ended up at the back of the pack not too long into the run. The run starts with a hill, then continues along a grass path until it crosses the river and goes along the Goderich to Auburn Rail Trail. From this point it’s a gradual uphill to the turnaround. Unfortunately, there were no distance markers on the run, so I had no idea how I was doing. Alasdair was just under a kilometre from the turnaround when I spotted him (I didn’t know at the time exactly where we were in the course). It wasn’t until the half-way point that I realized I was running 6 min kilometres, which was my goal for this first run. I chatted a bit with the one runner behind me, who made me laugh when he said, “good job!” to some of the lead runners as they passed us going the other way – when they didn’t say thank you, he said, “you’re welcome!” I told him that sometimes I just don’t have the energy to say thanks, but I do try to wave or grimace at least! He understood.
While I started out at the back of the pack, I eventually passed 5-10 runners. I managed to speed up a bit on the way back, and ended up with a slight negative split. I stopped for a quick pee in the portapotty just next to the transition zone (dodging spectators as I made my way there!), then changed my shoes, grabbed my helmet, bike, and headed for the mount line.
This bike course is never-ending hills, with the added fun this time of crazy wind. It starts with a big uphill, and the hills just keep coming. The first part of the race (going east) we had a tailwind, but I don’t know my speed because once again, there were no distance markers. I had a gel near the beginning, and rationed my gatorade to make it last the whole ride. As we made the turn south, I wondered how awful the cross winds were going to be, but they weren’t nearly as bad as I expected (I never felt like I was going to be blown over!), and nothing like the Barrelman 1/2 iron distance race in 2014. It was during this section that I asked another rider if she knew how far we had ridden. “About halfway” was her answer. A little further on, I encountered another rider, and asked the same question. I didn’t realize that she was wearing headphones (not smart!) and couldn’t hear me, but she eventually told me that we were at 22k – more than half way! Once we turned west, we rode into a headwind, which was even noticeable when riding downhill! Again, I passed about 5-10 other athletes during the ride. I had a gel near the end of the bike course, and was glad to finally notice a distance marker (35 km) painted onto the road. I have no idea if there might have been others – if there were, they weren’t very visible. It was a tough ride, but given the circumstances I did okay (I was 10 minutes slower than last year)! And at least I didn’t do the hills on a unicycle as one racer did! He participated in the try-a-tri, which was also changed into a duathlon. But over 15 km, he managed a pace of 16.4 km/h! Impressive!
I headed out on the run knowing that I didn’t have to run as far as I’d already run, and that at worst I had just 35 minutes of running left if I couldn’t go faster than a 7 minute kilometre. I had only just begun my run when I spotted Alasdair again. He was working so hard that for the first time he told me that he couldn’t hit my hand as we passed each other! I felt pretty good on the 2nd run, except for a cramp that was causing me a bit of grief. I asked a few older people who were walking along the trail if they wanted to trade places with me. No takers (but they did laugh!). It turns out I saved enough in the tank to hold a 6:15 min/km pace for the 2nd run. And looking at the race stats, while I was 7/9 women 40-49 on the 1st run, I was 4/9 for the 2nd – I slowed down, but others slowed down more! Near the end I said to one of the volunteers, “I hate hills!” and she laughed and said to others nearby, “She said ‘I hate this!'” and I replied, “No! I said ‘I hate hills!'” She laughed again. I spotted Alasdair just before I got to the finish, and then, just like that, I was done!
I finished in 3:12:58, good for 5/9 women age 40-49 (and a new PB, since I’ve never done an Olympic duathlon in Goderich before)! Not too shabby! I’m really pleased with my runs.
After the race , we packed up our stuff, loaded the car, and came back to the race site for food (sausage on a bun, fruit, pitas, granola bars) and awards. I even won a draw prize, a $25 gift certificate for 360 Bikes ‘n Boards, a store in Goderich and one of the race sponsors. From their website, “We offer the best in Bikes, Scooters, Skateboards, Longboards, Paddleboards, Apparel, Snowboards, and more.” We headed there after the race and I picked out a pair of cycling gloves for Ailish. Thank you for the draw prize and for supporting the race!
This year the medals were handed out by Julie Sawchuk, one of the race organizers, who last year just before the race was hit by a car while training on her bike in Huron County. She suffered many injuries, the worst of which were a shattered T4 and burst L1 vertebrae, leaving her paralyzed. Needless to say her life was changed forever. I read her blog regularly and decided to chat with her briefly when the awards were done. She blogs at “Words by Julie” and is very inspiring. Check out her writing.
Time: 3:12:58 (5/9 women 40-49, 20/33 women, 61/84 athletes)
Overheard in our Kingston hotel: (father to 4 or 5 year old son) “You know what, Lucas? Tomorrow some people are doing a TRI-ATH-A-LON! They are going to do a MARATHON, and then CYCLE, and then you know what?” I have no idea what, since the elevator doors closed, but that was enough to make us smile! No wonder some people think we are crazy!!
Sunday morning we arrived at Confederation Park at 6 AM for the 8 AM start of the 33th K-Town Long Course Triathlon (“The Legend”). It was to be the 3rd year that Alasdair and I took part in this race, a 2k swim, 56.2k bike, and 15k run. Since we picked up our race kits the day before (swim cap, race bib, t-shirt), all we had to do was pick up our timing chips and get body marking done. I had my spot in transition set up pretty quickly, so I spent the rest of the time sitting on a bench, laying on the ground, or chatting with people. With less than 5 hours of sleep the night before, I was pretty tired.
The sun rising in the sky over the Royal Military College made for some pretty pictures.
This race features an in-water start, with athletes jumping or diving off a floating dock and swimming to the start line. I didn’t want to get in too soon, knowing that I’d have to tread water until the race started. With about 10 minutes to go, Alasdair and I wished each other luck and I jumped into the water. I was in the 3rd wave (with all women), and Alasdair in the 2nd. There was one wave of swimmers after me.
The horn sounded, I started my watch, and off I went! I swam very straight to the first turning buoy, and shortly after turning had to stop to fix my goggles when I saw one of the straps dangling in front of my face. I swam fairly straight to the next turning buoy, but had to adjust my goggles – again – when they were really fogging up and I had trouble seeing the buoys. I was a bit surprised (and disappointed!) to see how quickly the wave behind me caught up to me (their blue swim caps became visible around me). I noticed a bit of chop in the water in this section too, and was having a little more difficulty swimming straight. The last long section before turning to the dock was likely my most crooked, as it seemed that I had to keep correcting my course. Just before the very last turn, I started to feel sick to my stomach when I saw the weeds below the surface moving one way with me moving another. It was awful! I tried to swim with my eyes closed but that didn’t help. Motion sickness is no fun. As I approached the dock, where volunteers were waiting to pull us out of the water, I hoped to see less than 48 on my watch (last year’s time) but would have been satisfied with 50 given the goggle-fixing and course-correcting. I was horrified to see almost 54 minutes!! At that moment I gave up on beating last year’s race time (4:22 and change).
After a very short run to transition, a quick pee, and a change into cycling gear, I headed out of the transition zone for the bike segment of the race.
Given that I was one of the last swimmers out of the water, there wasn’t any congestion at the bike mount line! For the first 27 or 28k of the ride, we were riding into the wind, and my speed was slower than I would have liked. I played leapfrog with an athlete named Caroline from 10k to the turnaround at 27 or 28k, at which point the wind was behind us and I took off! She was pretty excited at the turnaround and yelled to the police officer there, “Are you having FUN!?” I had such a slow swim that not a single person passed me on the bike! However, I did pass 6-10 people (who later all passed me on the run!). On the ride I noticed interesting things for sale: a dozen worms for $3.50, and antique wooden tables for $25. I also spotted some cool wooden carvings (an eagle, a witch, and I’m not sure what else), and I saw some sort of bird of prey way up in a nest at the top of a hydro pole. I think Alasdair was about 5k ahead of me when we passed each other. The second half of the bike was way more fun, and my speed rose to around 30km/h or so. Near the end of the ride, I caught the slower of the sprint triathlon athletes still out on the course. The most congestion I encountered was down the last hill, across the lift bridge, and where I had to cross into the “middle” lane of the road where we ended at the dismount line. I drank a bottle of gatorade, half a bottle of water, and managed to force down 2 gels and a mini granola bar during the ride.
I quickly changed into my running gear, made a pitstop at a portapotty, and headed out on the run course. I knew right away that I had no speed in my legs. I had hoped to try to run at a pace of 6 min/km, to avoid going out to fast and then fading as the km’s passed. But my first km was at a pace of 6:12, and for once, my legs were the limiting factor rather than my cardio. Only a few km’s in, I threw out any time goals for the run, and it became a game of “one foot in front of the other” and “just finish”! I was disappointed, but there was nothing I could do. I had a great run in Gravenhurst on a hot, hilly 10k course just a few weeks ago, so this time it just wasn’t my day! I do wonder whether the aerial ropes course we did 5 days before the race took more out of my legs than I thought (so much fun!!). It might have been around the 5k mark that I spotted Alasdair. Or maybe sooner. It was after I spotted Irina finishing her sprint run (thanks for the cheers Irina – sorry I had nothing to return!).
I have to say that the volunteers on the run course were FANTASTIC! There were frequent aid stations, with volunteers asking whether we wanted water, ice, heed, pretzels, fruit or gels. I drank heed a few times, water other times, and every time poured water on my head. It was far hotter than I thought it was going to be. I also poured ice in my tri top and ate it as I ran. Some of the volunteers were super enthusiastic. I loved the sign that one volunteer was holding around 11 or 12k that said, “Justin Timberlake is at the finish line with puppies!” (Or maybe it was Ryan Gosling!) It was just after this point that there was an aid station with a kid holding a hose – I got a total soaking and declared it “my favourite part of the whole race!”
At 12k I got a side stitch that I couldn’t shake, and my pace slowed until the end. I had to walk a couple of times too for a few seconds.
This was one race that I was very relieved to be done with! At the finish line I received a finisher’s medal and finisher’s hat, had a quick drink of water, then found Alasdair. He beat his time from last year by about 20 seconds, while I was 18 minutes slower (in fact, I was slower on the swim, bike and run segments). Next year!
After downing some chocolate milk and chatting with other finishers, we grabbed our post-race food (pizza, fruit, pretzels) and sat to watch the awards. Alasdair had a secret, which he revealed just before the awards – by being the 90th finisher (90 was randomly selected by the race organizers before the race began) he was the “racer of the day” and received a $310 credit for 2XU compression gear. Awesome!
And, according to the announcer Steve Fleck, the compression gear will put him on the podium in the future! If only.
Time: 4:40:56.8 -10/12 women age 40-44, 41/49 women, 135/155 athletes
2k swim: 53:58.2 (2:41/100m) – 11/12 women age 40-44, 45/49 women, 145/155 athletes
56.2k bike: 1:59.05 (28.32 km/h – last year 29.1 km/h) -9/12 women age 40-44, 38/49 women, 132/155 athletes
15k run: 1:43:13 (6:52 min/km – last year 6:14 min/km) -10/12 women age 40-44, 41/49 women, 135/155 athletes
I might be in my 7th year competing in triathlons, but I made a rookie mistake in this race! I was a lemming – in other words:
“A person who unthinkingly joins a mass movement,
especially a headlong rush to destruction.” (Oxford Dictionary online)
But that’s not how this race began! Alasdair and I were staying at the cottage of friends, and arrived at the race site early enough for me to be the first one in my age group to rack my bike – actually, only one bike in the entire transition zone was racked before mine. That was a first for me!
I went through registration, getting my race bib, t-shirt, product samples, timing chip, and body marking done, then set my stuff up in transition. By 6:45 AM all I had left to do was put my wetsuit on – and visit the portapotty a few times!
Alasdair and I walked down to the water where we would finish our swim, so that he could get a good look at the swim course and figure out how to better pick his route – in previous years he had nearly swum into a nearby bay instead of directly to the swim exit. He warned a few people before the race to be careful what they used to sight…
The race was set to begin at 8:30 AM, which meant that all triathletes had to be at the boat dock at 8 AM. Just before this, there was a pre-race briefing in the transition zone, during which I put my wetsuit on. Alasdair and I walked to the dock, and waited with everyone else to be called onto the boats by our swim waves. We were both going to be on the Wenonah II, the bigger of the 2 steamships that would take us out to the swim start line. Unlike last year, we actually knew we were boarding the same boat, so after my wave boarded, I waited for Alasdair where he couldn’t miss me so we could actually hang out together. We stood chatting with Dave, who has the same swim coach as us, in the fresh air on one of the upper decks. But Alasdair got cold and had to go inside (with motion sickness, I need the fresh air!).
1500 m SWIM
And just like that, I was standing at the door of the boat and jumping 3 feet down to the water! I was the third one in my age group to jump, and was briefly winning the race as I swam to the start line! But we had to wait for everyone in our age group to jump off the boat before the race began. I learned my lesson the first time I did this race when I was one of the last to jump off, and had to swim very quickly to the start line because they were yelling that the horn was going to sound! Now, I make sure I’m one of the first off the boat. The steamship whistle sounded and the race was on!
As I swam to the first and only green turning buoy, where we were to turn left, I felt that I was swimming well, finishing my stroke and powering through it (no wimpy arms!) and swimming in a direct line. I turned at the buoy, and couldn’t see the orange sighting buoys, so I followed the people ahead of me. Each time I sighted, I had the same problem – no orange buoy! So, I kept following the people ahead of me, and headed for the big building at the shore. I wondered why I couldn’t see the sighting buoys, until eventually a motor boat just to my right yelled, “You have to go waaaaay left!” I looked up and left, and yikes! I was waaaaaaay of course – but I wasn’t the only one! Remember those swimmers I was following?! Well they were off course too. So I swam like mad to get back on course, kicking myself for not having stopped earlier to find the sighting buoys (and ensure I didn’t go off track)! Eventually I made it back onto the course, and after a ways I reached the dock and the ladder we had to climb to get out of the water. I was mentally prepared to see 40+ on my watch, but was “pleasantly” surprised to see 37+. Last year, I did the swim in 33 something, so I was rather disappointed!! (I have no idea how much further I swam than I should have – I don’t have a GPS watch.)
I ran along the dock to the road, across the road and along the grass all the way around the transition zone. I reached my bike and had my quickest wetsuit removal so far this year, put on my helmet, sunglasses, socks, bike shoes, race bib, had a quick pee and headed out.
40 km BIKE
It was a little congested at the beginning of the bike course trying to get around slower moving people at the multiple intersections right in town. But before long, we were more spread out and it wasn’t too bad. The course was rolling hills through the pretty countryside, with lots of shaded areas – in fact, wearing sunglasses made it quite hard in some places to see the very rough road when I was in the shade. The first 5k was my slowest, but some others were over 30 km/h. The ride felt pretty good. One guy was drafting right behind me for a short time, so I turned and said, “You know you’re not allowed to draft, right?” And he replied (rather annoyed) by saying something about just trying to pass. I thought that I might see Alasdair about 2.5 km from the turnaround, given his 4 minute head start on the swim, my 4 minute slower swim this year, and him being a bit faster on the bike – turns out that’s pretty much where we saw one another (I was 4 minutes from the turnaround). The second half of the ride was easier; however, there was a bit of congestion with cars on the route at a couple of intersections. I had a gel at 5k and 35k, and most of a gatorade bottle, but didn’t need the water I had with me. I stopped to pee at a portapotty just inside the transition zone, then grabbed my bike and ran to my spot, changed into running shoes, a hat, and took off.
10 k RUN
The beginning and end of this out and back run route was slightly different this year, but the course was still very hilly. I reached the first km marker in 5 minutes and 3 seconds (very fast for me!), so I wondered if the sign was in the wrong spot. It was only 22 degrees, so the temperature was perfect for running. The sun was out and there wasn’t much shade. There were multiple aid stations on the run but I didn’t stop at the first few for anything, then grabbed heed a few times, walking a bit through the aid stations. Two or three times I poured a bit of water on my head, but it wasn’t too hot. I saw Alasdair at around the 3 km mark. I ran all the hills and felt strong on the run. At 7 k I had a cramp but thankfully I was able to get rid of it by changing my breathing – it only lasted 100 m or so. In the last few hundred metres I spotted Alasdair, who cheered for me as I ran by. I remember in the past the last bit of the run seeming to take forever, with a big loop around the park, but this time, it didn’t seem that way. In this last section lots of people were cheering for me by name – most read it on my bib (and somehow they all pronounced it correctly)! Kathleen (whose husband Paul also did the race) cheered for me and snapped a couple of pictures.
And then I heard Steve Fleck announce, “And Kyra Paterson will be our next finisher!” I crossed the finish line in 3:06:12.9. I was a few minutes slower than last year, which was on a different, flatter bike course. The last time I did this same course was in 2013, when I finished in 3:11. Clearly my swim could have gone better, but my bike was good and my run was great! I’m really happy with how my run has progressed – holding a sub 6 min/km pace on a hilly course is a big accomplishment!
After the race, I found Alasdair and we had our cartons of chocolate milk, pizza, pretzels, and fruit, and watched the awards presentation. It is always so impressive to see what the older athletes can do – there was an 84 year old man named Bob who completed the international duathlon (10 k run, 40 k bike, 5 k run). Amazing!!
Time: 3:06:12.9 – 11/16 women 40-44, 52/98 women, 193/272 athletes
1500 m swim: 38:50.8 (2:35/100 m) – 13/16 women 40-44, 70/98 women, 214/272 athletes
40 k bike: 1:23:47 (28.65 km/h) – 10/16 women 40-44, 43/98 women, 183/272 athletes
10 k run: 59:37.8 (5:57 min/km) – 11/16 women 40-44, 52/98 women, 193/272 athletes
We will definitely do this race again. I highly recommend it. But register early, because there’s a cap and it sells out early every year!
A flat tire on our car 200 m from home, a slow motion goose crossing, and 2 baby raccoons who weren’t sure which way to run off the road made for a somewhat eventful drive to the Fergus area for our 2nd time doing the Multisport Canada Triathlon Series Belwood sprint triathlon! (On the bright side, the tire was only flat on the bottom!)
On our way to the race we passed a cyclist with a big backpack, who we figured must be racing, and wondered how far he was riding to and from the race. I spotted him arriving, and it turns out he rode 27 km to get there. Alasdair has always wanted to ride to a race, so we’re hoping to do it later this summer (because we’re crazy)!
Our 7:15 AM arrival still left lots of time for me to register (picking up my swim cap, race bib, t-shirt, timing chip and sample of Martin’s Apple Chips – yum!) and set up my stuff in transition. I discovered that I didn’t have any gels with me, and neither did Alasdair, so he went to buy a few from one of the on-site vendors.
I left Alasdair in transition to scramble to put his wetsuit on in time, and headed to the water to find someone to zip my wetsuit up and to do a short warm-up swim. I also joined in on a group picture for Trysport Niagara (one of the race sponsors) for anyone wearing a Nineteen brand wetsuit (there were more of us, but apparently we were the only ones willing to get in the picture). Turns out Alasdair was in there too!
750 m SWIM
The race was to start at 8:30 AM, with Alasdair and I starting in the same wave, the 3rd and final one. I told him that my plan was to draft off of him for the entire race. I was kidding, and once the race started, congestion meant he lost me pretty much immediately anyway! My swim was very uneventful. I seemed to be sighting well, and felt that I was swimming okay. I did have to stop twice to fix my left goggle lens, and a couple of times to get around someone, but otherwise, it was a pretty straightforward swim. I was disappointed – yet again – to see 17:58 when I stood up in the water.
It was quite a run to the transition zone, where I spotted Alasdair at his spot. A quick pee stop and a change into biking gear, and I was off. I headed out with my bike, knowing that Alasdair wasn’t too far ahead of me.
30 km BIKE
The first 15 km were great – I was averaging over 30 km/h, and felt strong. I spotted Alasdair just before the first turnaround, which was at the 10 km marker. He didn’t notice me. Just after 15 km, we turned into the hills and 30 km/h wind, and my speed dropped drastically! My ride was pretty uneventful. At one point, a man was drafting me for a few minutes, and I almost told him to stop when he pulled ahead. It was quite a pretty ride, with views of rolling farm fields. At one point, a man rode a horse with a cart around a track on a property just on the other side of the road. I forgot the nasty wind for at least a few seconds. When I finished the ride and arrived back at my spot in transition, I had nowhere to put my bike! Someone had left their bike where mine was supposed to be. Another athlete helped me to move bikes over to make room for mine (above my running shoes, hat, etc.).
7.5 km RUN
I headed out on the run feeling like I had to pee but not wanting to stop – I hoped that I wouldn’t regret my decision. The run route is along an old rail trail, and is slightly uphill on the way out. Right near the beginning another athlete asked me if I would undress him – or at least unzip the back of his tri top! He commented that we needed to find our running legs. I had a pretty good run here last year, and wasn’t sure I’d be able to do as well this time. However, my first few km’s were around a 5:33-5:38 pace, which was faster than last year’s 5:57 pace. I was able to hold off a couple of cramps, and did what I could to not drop my pace too much. I heard Alasdair cheering for me as I approached the finish line.
In the end, my time was 2:09:08.5, which was a little disappointing, given that last year I finished in 2:04:36.1. My swim was 2 minutes slower (not sure what’s going on with my swim this year!), my bike 4 minutes slower, but my run nearly 2 minutes faster, so that’s something to celebrate!
After the race, we visited the Recharge with Milk tent for a cold carton of chocolate milk, and then chatted with Cody Beals at the Martin’s Apple Chips tent. Cody is a pro triathlete from Fergus who now has 2 Ironman 70.3 wins to his name and also has numerous other podium finishes. His very first triathlon was the Belwood sprint triathlon 10 years ago.
We discovered that Alasdair and Cody share a love of physics and earth and space science. Such an approachable guy! Check out his blog at: codybeals.blogspot.ca
After grabbing the post-race food (pizza, pretzels, fruit, Martin’s Apple Chips – a local business and one of Cody’s sponsors), we headed for a picnic table near the swim exit where we could cheer on the last of the try-a-tri swimmers who were finishing their swims.
We spotted Romano, who used to own the Burlington restaurant Buonasera, where Alasdair and I got married nearly 15 years ago!
We stayed for the awards, and then headed home. Belwood, we’ll be back!
Time: 2:09:08.5 – 5/7 women 40-44, 46/81 women, 130/198 overall
750 m swim: 19:23.2 (2:35 min/100 m) – 5/7 women 40-44, 56/81 women, 145/198 overall
30 km bike: 1:03:40.9 (28.27 km/h) – 5/7 women 40-44, 43/81 women, 125/198 overall
7.5 km run: 42:51.6 (5:42 min/km) – 5/7 women 40-44, 46/81 women, 132/198 overall
The Puppy Run (5k) virtual race didn’t play out quite as we had planned when Alasdair, Ailish and I signed up back in March. Instead of me running it at Ailish’s pace, she ended up biking it at my pace because of a not-yet-healed basketball ankle injury. And instead of racing it, I ended up using the 5k run as a bit of a recovery run, after the 1/2 marathon PB I achieved the day before at MEC Burlington Race #3.
But first, Alasdair and I went for a 51.5k bike ride, came home, changed into running gear, and headed out the door (in separate directions), me with Ailish trailing on her bicycle.
We planned to run/ride along a local paved trail, the same place I ran my Pi Day 5k in March (my first virtual race and a 5k PB).
Since I ran hard the day before in my 1/2 marathon, and biked 51.5k just before this 5k run, andhiked 90k in 8-days from May 5-12, my legs were a wee bit tired to start with!
I expected to run at a pace of around 7 min per kilometre, but actually ran a bit faster than that.
Ailish stopped along the path to use the monkey bars and climb a fitness ladder.
In the end, my recovery run Puppy Run 5k took 33 minutes and 8 seconds, for a pace of 6 min 38 seconds per km (a full minute per km slower than my 1/2 marathon pace the day before).
After the run, Ailish was inside the house and asked, “What is that THING on the stairs that looks like an old mop?!” Turns out it was Alasdair’s old stuffed dog called Puppy. Picture coming soon.
The Puppy Run 5k, put on by FitFam, was very well organized. We registered in March and received our race kits in the mail long before race time! We chose to run on May 23, but runners could run or walk (5k, 10k, or a 1/2 marathon) any time between May 20 and 23. “The Puppy Run” Facebook page and @thepuppyrun Twitter account gave runners the opportunity to connect with one another. Times were easily uploaded to the race website, and prizes will soon be awarded (for best kid photo, best shirt photo, fastest time, etc.).