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: Guelph Lake II sprint triathlon (with a 46k bike ride warm-up)

A 46k net uphill ride to the race site is not exactly the best strategy for getting oneself onto the podium; however, if you know me at all, you’ll know that that isn’t what motivates me to compete!
Early morning ride, because, why not?
And so it was that Alasdair and I set out in the pitch dark at 5:15 AM for the Guelph Lake Conservation Area, where we would compete in the Subaru Guelph Lake II sprint triathlon, a 750m swim, 30k ride, and 7k run. It was the perfect opportunity to get in a good training day in preparation for the Barrelman half ironman later this month while still racing and having fun. We even arrived before race registration started.
Arrived at Guelph Lake in the daylight.
After changing into my triathlon clothes, I went through registration and then set my stuff up in the transition zone. I had a banana and a piece of homemade zucchini bread to replace some of the calories I had burned biking.
Ready to go!
I tentatively walked in bare feet on the gravel of the parking lot transition zone as I headed down to the lake. I wondered how I would manage to run on it during the race! There were carpets down the main “aisles” but nothing down the individual rows. I did a super short warm-up swim and discovered how rocky the water was – big rocks that would hurt your feet if you ran into them. I resolved to walk until I could swim (this was not an “in water” start). Some of us removed rocks and threw them to the side of where we would be swimming. 750m swim I was struck by how short the swim course looked! After doing a couple of longer swims in races recently, this short swim course was a welcome sight! Alasdair was in the 4th wave, and me in the 5th. When my race started, I walked into the water as planned, not wanting to cut my feet open! I had a pretty uneventful swim. The water was the yuckiest we’ve been in this season, with goose feathers and other floating detritus. Not exactly appealing. For the most part, my sighting went well, and I was relatively pleased to see 17:07 when I stood up. I had swum until my hands started to hit the sand, but many others starting walking long before me – the water was quite shallow until the first/last buoys. I ran up the hill to the transition zone
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750m swim done.
30k bike After a quick change into cycling gear, I set out for the bike mount line, wondering how my legs would do after already having ridden 46k! It was definitely different starting the bike ride with somewhat tired legs. I wanted to push the bike pace as much as I could, while still remembering that I had to ride 46k home after the race! I found myself in much more bike traffic than I have been in lately. I passed a lot of riders, sometimes several one after the other. At one point, I saw another athlete in front of me crash. I’m not sure what caused it, but he fell in the gravel shoulder and appeared to hit his head. By the time I got there, he was sitting up, wiping blood from his arm I think. I asked him if he was okay, and he said that he was. I said “Are you sure? I think you hit your head.” “A little bit,” he replied. A couple of other people asked if he was okay as they passed us. I asked him again if he was okay, and he indicated that he was going to continue. I left him, but less than a kilometre down the road I slowed almost to a stop and informed the police officer at the intersection that a rider fell in front of me and hit his head, gave the bib number, general description, and said I wasn’t so sure about him continuing but he said he was going to. Now I can’t remember his bib number so I’m not sure if he completed the race or not.
Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 12.14.22 PM
Fog but no rain for the 30k ride.
I spotted Alasdair a couple of kilometres from the bike turnaround, pretty much where I expected to see him. I had forgotten the awful condition of the road for the first and last 5k of the bike course – so rough and bumpy! I was glad to be done the rough stuff at the end. I wasn’t able to ride as fast as I would have on a normal race day, but I’m pretty happy with my 27.6 km average given the circumstances. 7k run I stopped at a portapotty just after leaving the transition zone, then headed out for the run. It had been a few years since I’d done this race, and I had forgotten how hilly the beginning and end of the course are. However, my legs felt surprisingly good after all that biking! I didn’t run as fast as I have in my last few races, but I think that was understandable. I think I was close to the 2k mark when I spotted Alasdair running toward me. In the last kilometre I started to get hungry, so it was a good thing my race was nearly done.
Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 12.14.54 PM
Finishing the 7k run.
In the end I finished the race in 2:12:56.4, good for 9/18 in my age group.
Enjoying my non-alcoholic beer just past the finish line.
After the race, we packed up all of our stuff and headed for the awards presentation, where I promptly dropped my bike (specifically, the pointy party of my bike seat) onto my calf – ouch! We grabbed our post-race food and settled in for the awards.
Snow cone hit the spot!
Just before getting dressed back into my cycling clothes and heading home, I enjoyed a very refreshing snow cone! Then it was time to hit the road and cycle another 46k… we hit the first hill, and wondered how we were going to make it there! Thankfully though, my legs warmed up (or resigned themselves to torture) and things got better. We stopped after 10k for a quick snack at Tim Hortons, around 20k for a 5 minute rest in the shade on someone’s front lawn, and around 35k for a quick bathroom break at the library before finally reaching home! 123k of cycling in a day is my new record high. What a day!
Home! 123k of cycling for the day.
Race stats:
  • Time: 2:12:56.4
  • Women 40-44: 9/18
  • Women: 54/159
  • All athletes: 255/463
  • 750m Swim: 19:08.9 (2:33 min/100m)
  • T1: 2:18
  • 30k Bike: 1:05:04.9 (27.66 km/h)
  • T2: 1:38
  • 7k Run: 44:47.3 (6:23 min/km)
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Race report: Toronto Island Triathlon 2018

Two triathlons in two days: what could possibly go wrong? As part of our goal to do all of the Multisport Canada triathlons this summer, I would have to do the Ontario Women’s Triathlon and the Toronto Island Triathlon on the same weekend. Saturday’s Ontario Women’s Triathlon went great, with me ending up 2nd female aged 40-44. I wasn’t sure how my legs would hold up for the next race. It was another early morning, with a 4 AM alarm, 6ish race kit pick-up and 6:30 ferry to Hanlan’s Point. This time, Alasdair would be racing with me. With 800 athletes racing, start times were quite staggered, with the first athletes starting at 8 and the last at 9:20. This was to reduce congestion on the bike course. Alasdair’s start time was 8:40, and me 9:08.
Ready to go! Billy Bishop airport in the background.
After we were all set up, an announcement was made that the water temperature was too warm for wetsuits, so if an athlete wore one, they wouldn’t be eligible for prizes (and the official results would show an asterix next to their names). I had never done a triathlon swim without a wetsuit, but both Alasdair and I decided not to wear them, and see how much slower we were without them. And then, a few minutes later, the swim gods took pity on us and the decision was reversed. Wetsuits it was!
Everything ready.
We headed for the water, and after Alasdair’s race had started, I asked someone to zip my wetsuit up and I did a very short warm-up swim. Then I just sat on the shore until it was my turn. Unfortunately, while putting on my wetsuit a kid stood on my goggles. Fortunately, they seemed undamaged. Unfortunately, I later learned this was not the case. 750m swim My swim started out okay, but it wasn’t long before water was seeping into my left lens. I tried to ignore it for a while, but eventually I had to stop and adjust them. I resumed swimming, and sure enough, it happened again. I delayed fixing them as long as possible. On the home stretch, with about 250m to go, I decided to just close my eyes and swim like that – I probably should have adjusted them again, but I had had enough of goggle adjustments! After messing up my watch the day before, I was careful to press the right buttons this time. I was 18+ minutes in the water, which is pretty much what I expected. After the 400m run through the sand and grass to the transition zone, I quickly got my wetsuit off and put my socks, shoes, sunglasses, and helmet on. I took off for the bike mount line. 20k bike At the start of the bike, I was surprised at how good my legs felt, despite the race the day before. I decided to push it and see if I could beat my previous time. The bike course was 2 loops of a 10k course, slightly uphill on the way out. The difference in this race was that there were far more cyclists on the course at a time. I never had trouble with other riders. I passed many many cyclists, always saying “on your left”! with plenty of warning. I was passed by other riders, but far fewer than the number I passed. And for this race, the road was dry, with one very tiny exception. When I peeked at my watch, I saw that I was holding 30.6 or 30.4 or 30.3 km/h, so I was pretty happy. I never saw Alasdair, because he finished biking before I even started, having begun his race 28 minutes before me. On my second loop, just after the turnaround heading back there were 3 riders in front of me, 2 very close together. A race vehicle passed us, and a garbage truck approached us. There wasn’t room for the vehicles to pass one another, so the race vehicle stopped. The two riders that were close together nearly rode right into the back of the vehicle. Thankfully, no one crashed! Otherwise, there were no vehicles on the race course at all. Back at the transition zone, I racked my bike, then changed my shoes, and tried to put my running hat on top of my helmet – oops! I forgot that it was still on my head. 5k run I headed out for the run, which was an out, 4 times around a small loop, and then a back section. My legs felt pretty good starting out the run, so again, I decided to try to beat my time from the day before. As there were many cyclists on the course at the same time, there were many runners on the course at the same time, but I never found it too congested. When I glanced at my watched, I noticed that I was holding a 5:45 min/km pace, which was slightly faster than the day before. By the end I think I slowed a bit, but I still felt good. I crossed the finish line in 1:31:14, good for 3rd place in my age category! I was a little faster on the bike than the day before (40 seconds), but slightly slower on the run (25 seconds). Happy with my race!
3/12 women 40-44.
What a weekend! Version 2 Race stats:
  • Time: 1:31:14
  • Placing women 40-44: 3/12
  • Placing all women: 37/167
  • Placing all athletes: 204/490
  • Swim: 20:57
  • T1: 1:47
  • Bike: 37:36.3 (30.48 km/h)
  • T2: 1:36
  • Run: 29:19.5 (5:51 min/km)
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Race report: Welland sprint triathlon 2018

With very heavy rain in the forecast, a closed bike course requiring many many turns, and my body only 1-week out from Ironman 70.3 Syracuse, I wasn’t quite sure how the Welland sprint triathlon would go! With race registration ending at 7:45 AM on race morning, we were up very early and out the door at 6 AM, aiming to be there by 7:15 and giving ourselves just enough time to get set up. We didn’t count on the big line-up at registration, and when I heard that the transition zone was closing at 7:45, I started to worry that I might have to do the speediest set up ever. Thankfully, whoever said that was wrong, as the transition zone wouldn’t be closing at all because of the super staggered race start. With a closed bike course (3 loops of 6.6k for the sprint race – and three 180 degree turns around cones per loop), the race organizers wanted to space people out as much as possible (just imagine if most of the athletes were biking at the same time – that would be very congested and dangerous). Instead, swim waves were spaced far apart, with the first going at 8 and the last around 9:40. For this reason, people were allowed to access the transition zone at any time, but had to watch out for athletes who were already racing.
All my gear hidden under a garbage bag.
After setting up, Alasdair headed for the swim start, and I watched some of the race from the transition zone and then from the start of the bike course. It was pouring by the time the first wave started, so I shared a huge umbrella with two spectators. I would have been cold had I not been wearing my wetsuit. IMG_6313 The bike exit became a flood zone, and one poor person’s gear in transition was in the middle of the raging river – I think their stuff was on an overflow rack (they were the only one using it). I was half expecting it to start floating away. IMG_6315 I missed Alasdair as he headed past me with his bike, but spotted him as he reached the mount line. I headed for the swim start, barely remembering to pick up my timing chip at the water’s edge (normally, you pick it up at registration). I did a quick warm-up swim, then headed to the start line. 750m swim I found the start of the swim extremely congested, with swimmers on either side of me squeezing me in the middle. I tried to get away but couldn’t at first, then finally accelerated and got out of that mess! The rest of the swim was fairly uneventful. I used the wires under the water as much as possible to sight, but eventually remembered that swimming right on top of them isn’t a great idea, unless you enjoy whacking small buoys or getting tangled in their ropes periodically! I was slightly disappointed to see how long the swim had taken me – oh well! 20k bike I had never done a triathlon with a closed bike course before, meaning no car traffic. In theory it sounded like a great idea, but I wondered whether the number of athletes biking at once would make for dangerous passing and riding conditions. I needn’t have been worried, as the spaced out swim waves really reduced the number of riders at any one time on the course. I decided to push the bike as much as my tired legs would allow, and was happy with how they responded. The course was flat, and while there was a bit of rain/mist during my ride, the conditions were far better than for the earlier swim waves! There were a few spots on the course where the puddles made us squeeze close to the centre line to avoid the water, but I never had trouble passing people and kind of liked the 3-lap course (a lapped course was also a new experience for me). I tried hard at the end to get my average speed up to 30 km/h but didn’t have enough time to do it. Still happy with my bike! 5k run The run was a 2-loop course along the recreational waterway, mostly flat with one short steep hill. I pushed as hard as I could, but it certainly wasn’t my fastest running pace. Alasdair had already finished by the time I started my run (his race started 35 minutes before mine) so he cheered for me as I set out, and as I started my second loop. There was one racer who was enthusiastically cheering for every single racer she encountered while running – I’m not sure where she got the energy! I was grateful for the short run and happy to be done. Time: 1:33:59.2. I found Alasdair, and we went over to the food tent – it was my first time having oatmeal (Stoked Oats) as a post-triathlon snack! For the first time, there was juice to drink instead of pop – yay! I rarely drink juice (and never drink pop), but after a race, a burst of sugar hits the spot! All in all, not a bad race considering my legs (and body!) were in recovery mode. Race stats:
  • Time: 1:33:59.2
  • Women 40-44: 15/30
  • All women: 92/218
  • All athletes: 255/470
  • 750m Swim: 18:49.6 (2:30/100m)
  • 20.6k Bike: 41:42.2 (29.9 km/h)
  • 4.8k Run: 28:56.2 (6:01 min/km)
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Race report: Subaru Milton sprint triathlon 2018

In the past, I’ve always looked at triathletes who rode their bikes to and from races with equal parts respect and incredulity. This time, it was our turn! Alasdair and I wanted to get a long ride in as training for Ironman Syracuse 70.3, which was just 2 weeks after the Subaru Milton sprint triathlon, and I for one didn’t want to do it the day before the season-opener. So, we decided to do it the fun way. We got up super early and rode 30k to the race site, carrying backpacks with our wetsuits, running shoes, and other small miscellaneous stuff like goggles, gels, socks and race belts (well, someone had to buy their 5th one at the race site because they forgot to pack one). It felt rather odd to be carrying a backpack, and it made the hills tougher, but it was okay.
Arrived at the race site after 30k early morning ride.
We arrived in plenty of time to register and get all of our gear organized. I also forced myself to eat shortly after getting there, because even though I wasn’t hungry yet, I knew I wouldn’t want to eat too close to the race start, and I would be starving during the race without sufficient food intake! Two of the runners Alasdair coaches in high school cross country and track were racing in their very first triathlons at Milton (in the try-a-tri), so we got to cheer them on before our own race began. We would be starting in the same wave, which I like. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to draft off of Alasdair in the swim (but couldn’t have held on anyway). IMG_6188 750m Swim I have not been swimming as much as I should be, but far more than Alasdair, who hadn’t done a swim workout since the Barrelman 1/2 ironman in September. My goal for this swim was simple, to swim as straight as possible, therefore as short a distance as possible. I was successful! Overall, I felt that my swim went well. It was also my first time testing out my new 2XU wetsuit (my first wetsuit – a Nineteen wetsuit – lasted 8 years and more than 50 triathlons!). The swim was quite congested in places, and I was swum over once, but bumps and whacks don’t bother me much anymore – more than anything they are just annoying. I had to swim wider around someone when they kept cutting me off (didn’t they know I was trying to swim in a straight line?!), but otherwise the swim was mostly unremarkable. When I turned for the 2nd last time, I was heading into the sun and could not for the life of me see the next buoy. It’s possible that my goggles were also fogged up. So, I just followed the mass of people ahead of me, and hoped they could see. When I stood up and walked out of the water, my watch said 17 something, so I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not a fast swimmer, and I half expected to see 20 on my watch! My new wetsuit came off super easily, which was another nice surprise! I put on my socks, shoes, sunglasses and helmet, and off I went. Time:18:04.6 (2:24/100m; 12/18 women 40-44) 30k Bike Having already ridden 30k pre-race, I wasn’t sure what my legs would feel like. They were fine. I made it up the super steep 6th Line hill (albeit slowly), and felt like I did much better on the rolling hills of this bike course than last year. There was hardly any wind, which helped. The most fun part of this course is the ride down the 6th Line hill, but I was braking while other riders were still pedalling. I’m not sure what my speed was, but I have no interest in riding as fast as possible down that hill! From there, it was just a few more kilometres to the end. Time: 1:03:17.2 (28.44 km/h; 5/18 women 40-44) 7k Run After switching my helmet for my hat, and my running shoes for my cycling shoes, I put my race bib on (new this year – it’s only needed on the run), and took off. This run course is hilly, but I was prepared. About 1k into the run I spotted Alasdair running towards me, and later I saw him again. I like this run course for that reason – the 2 out and back sections mean you get to see people multiple times. I felt pretty good on the run, but dealt with bilateral side stitches for a while. I ran all the hills, and only walked a couple of times while drinking cups of water. The weather was fantastic for running – it wasn’t too hot and was overcast. We lucked out for sure. Time: 43:48.1 (6:15 min/km; 6th/18 women 40-44) In the end, I crossed the finish line in 2:08:40, a surprising 6th out of 18 women aged 40-44. I’ve never finished that well before (except in a try-a-tri). A great start to the triathlon season! (And Alasdair’s “no practice” swim technique got him a swim PB!) After watching the awards presentation, we rode 35k home, for a grand total of 95k on the bike that day. Clearly I should ride to races more often! Race stats:
  • Time: 2:08:40
  • Women 40-44: 6/18
  • All women: 60/109
  • All athletes: 334/458
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Race report: Milton sprint triathlon 2017

Milton is where it all began for me in 2010! It’s where I did my first triathlon, so the venue has special meaning for me. It has been a few years since I did the Subaru Triathlon Series Milton sprint distance at Kelso Conservation Area (other than as part of a relay), but with Multisport Canada’s elimination of some early season races (Woodstock, Belwood), I needed a race before Ironman Syracuse 70.3 in two weeks.

Alasdair would be cheering me on from the sidelines, with his thumb not quite ready for a return to racing.

It was clearly the first race of the season, as I forgot to pick up my timing chip and get body marking done after getting my race kit (swim cap, food band, t-shirt, product samples). Thankfully, I remembered while setting my stuff up in the transition zone.

Ready to go!

We had to be in the park by 8:30 AM, despite my race not starting until 9:45, because the try-a-tri took place first and race organizers wanted to avoid cyclists and drivers on the same park road.

I was in the 4th of 5 waves, and was thankful for the in-water start (as opposed to running into the water when the race started). There were lots of rocks, making for some very ungraceful entries into the lake!

750m Swim

I lined up for the swim behind a couple of rows of people, and promptly got kicked in the head by a guy as the race began. It was pretty congested for a bit, but then things got better; however, there was still more contact than I would have liked. One swimmer in front of me was wearing shoes! I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed. In any case, my swim went okay – it was predictably slow, since I haven’t been swimming nearly as much as I should be. However, I did fairly well on the navigation side of things (clearly this orienteering business is paying off – ha!).

I struggled to get my wetsuit off, and then realized that I should have had a towel to stand on. The gravel parking lot meant for very messy feet, so I also struggled to get my socks on. As an added bonus, I was a bit lightheaded. I put on my helmet, race bib, and cycling shoes, grabbed my bike and headed for the mount line.

30k Bike

I set out on the bike course feeling pretty confident, knowing that after the one massive hill on 6th line the rest was pretty flat and fast. And then I encountered a whole bunch of rollers, and realized that the course was hillier than I remembered it to be! In any case my ride went pretty well. The roads were drying and the rain held off. I didn’t really have a time goal for the bike, but hoped I could maintain a pace in the high 20s. I knew early on that I wasn’t going to be able to reach a 30km/h average, but in the last 10k, which is more downhill than up, I decided to see how close to it I could get. Turns out I averaged 28.85 km/h in the end. Not bad.

Finishing the bike.

I racked my bike, removed my helmet, changed my shoes, put on my hat, and headed out for the 7k run.

7k Run

The last time I did this race, the run course was quite different. It left the park, crossed Campbelville Road and went through Hilton Falls Conservation Area. Now, the course stays entirely within Kelso, going first through (hilly!) campground areas, then along a path and finally along the main park road. We had heard from try-a-tri athletes who raced before us that the path was very muddy, but when I reached it, I realized that the people saying this hadn’t run the Sulphur Springs 10k last weekend like I did – now that was muddy. I was pleasantly surprised with my pace on the run. I kind of liked the course, with 3 out and back sections meaning that you got to see other athletes multiple times. I got to cheer for my friends Emma and Kristin who were both ahead of me.

On the trail section of the run.

The last 1+ km were pretty much downhill, so I tried to pick up the pace at the end. My average pace was 5:52 min/km, which for me is an awesome pace considering I didn’t feel that I was working that hard for it. Yay for progress.

Just before the finish line.

I crossed the finish line in 2:06:40.2. I’m pretty happy with how it went, considering it was the first race of the season. Lots of room for improvement!


Race stats:

  • Swim (750m): 18:59.4 (2:31/100m)
  • T1: 2:24
  • Bike (30k): 1:02:23.3 (28.85 km/h)
  • T2: 1:49
  • Run (7k): 41:05.7 (5:52 min/km)
  • Time: 2:06:40.2
  • Women 40-44: 14/17
  • All women: 69/118
  • All athletes: 303/425

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Race report: Belwood sprint triathlon

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.

Photo taken by Malcolm, who finished 2nd in his age group, despite losing 9 minutes on the side of the road with a technical problem with his bike!

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!

I’m in the purple cap crouched down, and Alasdair is right in the middle of all the people who are standing. The man directly behind me (Terry) was competing in his 200th triathlon!

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.

2016-07-09 | 2016 MultiSport Belwood Triathlon
I look sickly white but I think it’s the sunblock on my face!

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.

2016-07-09 | 2016 MultiSport Belwood Triathlon
Nearing 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!

Romano, my post-race hat twin.


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

Race report: Woodstock sprint triathlon

In the days leading up to the Multisport Canada Triathlon Series season opener at Pittock Lake Conservation Area in Woodstock, the weather forecast kept getting worse and worse. At one point, the forecast was for an 80% chance of rain, 35 km/h winds gusting to 53, with the potential for severe thunderstorms, and temperatures of 30 C feeling like 40+ with the humidity. Thankfully, the storms never materialized, the temperature was “only” 26 feeling like 31, the winds were “only” 30 km/h gusting to 50 something, and there was no rain! Because of the improved forecast, Ailish tagged along with Alasdair and I.

For once I knew there was no hope of me being the overall winner (ha!), as Lionel Sanders (the “green flash”) would be racing, a treat for the rest of us to be competing against such an incredible athlete (who focuses now on Ironman 70.3 and Ironman races). Google him, and you can see how amazing he is. And if you’ve never heard of him, read this article from 2014, which shows how he overcame drug addiction and a near suicide attempt to take the triathlon world by storm.  Now he is a true contender for the Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii this fall.

After finding my bib number, I racked my bike, left my triathlon bag, and headed for registration.

Spotted Lionel Sanders’ bib at race kit pick-up. Thought it might be the closest I got to greatness.

Writing 42 on my leg. (Clearly a shot of my head was unnecessary.)

With timing chip on my ankle and race bib in my hand, I headed back to set up my stuff in transition. I think I was all set up by the time Alasdair arrived, and the one pre-race picture we managed to take didn’t actually work, but I promise he was there too.

A hug over the fence from Ailish (no spectators, coaches, dogs or cats allowed in transition).


Alasdair and I were to start in the same wave this time for the 750m swim, with all women and men aged 40-44. It was the 4th of 6 waves. I did a short warm-up swim, and then waited while the first 3 waves set out. I lined up just behind three guys who I figured would be speedy, and they were (but I also tried to start a bit wide to be out of the way of the quickest swimmers). I had a clear path and encountered no traffic ahead of me for quite a while. I did get kicked in the head and someone swam over me, but it was fine! I’m pretty sure I kicked someone in the head too. For a while near the beginning I was swimming the same pace as a woman doing the breaststroke beside me (Depressing, but useful, I thought, as I wouldn’t have to look up ahead for the buoys – as long as she stayed beside me – I knew that she could see where she was going! Unfortunately, she actually left me behind.). My swim actually went pretty well, with no sighting issues. I swam a straight line to the buoys, and only swam into one tree (there’s a willow at the swim exit, with branches that hang over the water – I hit one as I swam past). However, I was disappointed for the 2nd week in a row when I stood up and saw 20+ minutes on my watch.

2016-06-11 | 2016 Multisport Woodstock Triathlon
Entering the transition zone. [Photo by http://www.zoomphoto.ca]

I ran towards the transition zone, getting my wetsuit down to my waist before I got there. I pulled my goggles and swim cap off my head as I ran, and dropped them by my bike. I was not surprised to see that most bikes on my rack were already gone. I struggled to get out of my wetsuit, and then felt dizzy when I had freed myself from it and stood up. I quickly sat down and put my bike shoes on that way. Sunglasses, race belt, helmet, and I was on my way.


The 20k bike starts with a long run up a grassy hill and along the grass until the mount line. I hopped on my bike and away I went. The ride starts will a climb out of the park, and then we hit the wind! Oh my, this is going to be fun, I thought! Within about 2 km the lead cyclist (Lionel) passed me going the other way. Other than one annoying rider who insisted on riding in the middle of the lane, making it hard to pass her (over and over as we were going similar speeds), rather than riding on the far right of the road as she was supposed to, the bike was unremarkable – except for the wind! The ride was essentially an upside down U shape, with the turnaround at one tip of the U. I spotted Alasdair coming towards me within a km of the turnaround. That section was nice with the wind at our backs, but then we fought it until the last 4k, when again we had it pushing us back to the transition zone. It was in this section that a very strong cross wind pushed me sideways and tipped me. I did not blow over, but I was very grateful to have been holding on tight with both hands!! A woman right behind me yelped, but I’m not sure if it’s because she saw what happened to me, or if it happened to her too. Soon enough, I was back at the dismount line and running all that way back to the transition zone. It was a quick switch to my running gear, and I headed out onto the run course.


This year the first 400m of the 5k run course were different, avoiding the gravel and a need for athletes running in opposite directions to cross each others’ paths. Instead, we ran on grass and just stayed to the left. A better course for sure. As I started my run it felt hard, and I thought I must be running very slowly. But then I reached the 1 km marker, and my watch said 5:35 – no wonder it felt hard! I did slow a bit as I ran, but it was a pretty good run for me, considering how hot it felt. I drank Heed and water at aid stations a few times, but mostly I just poured the water on my head. Within the first few hundred metres of the course, I spotted Alasdair holding his timing chip and walking back to the finish line. He decided to withdraw from the race and get a DNF (“did not finish”) rather than risk hurting his hamstring, as it had been bothering him since last weekend’s Milton sprint triathlon relay, and with a half ironman just days away, he didn’t want to take a chance. He had decided before the race that that’s what he might do, so I wasn’t surprised. This run course goes along a gravel park road, across a dam, and then on a nice path along a river or creek. As I was running, I was feeling that I wasn’t ready for a half ironman in 8 days! With about 500m to go, I said to a woman running beside me, “Can we be done now?” and she said “Yes, very soon, this is fun, isn’t it?” And I replied, “Fun and torture at the same time.” I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch, and guzzled a couple of glasses of water.

2016-06-11 | 2016 Multisport Woodstock Triathlon
Done! [Photo by http://www.zoomphoto.ca]
I found Alasdair and Ailish, who told me that they had announced my finish about 20 minutes earlier! Oops – they must have read the wrong name.

In the end, I finished in 1:36:19, a full 7 minutes slower than last year. I was actually slower on the swim, bike, and run this year.

After the race, I talked to my swim coach Mat about how it went, and he noted that everyone was saying the swim felt long, the bike was very windy and the run was hot. Some people thought the swim was choppy, but after last year’s Goderich Olympic rollercoaster swim and Wasaga Beach Olympic swim that made me puke, the water was nearly flat. I noticed a few waves but they were almost unremarkable.

Alasdair and I went to get our post-race food (pizza, fruit, pretzels, cookie), and sat at a picnic table waiting for the awards to start. He had to leave for a cadet event before they began, but Ailish stayed with me. Lionel was interviewed and athletes were able to ask him questions too. It was a bit hard to hear but very interesting. During the awards presentations I said to Ailish, “Would it be weird if I took a selfie with Lionel Sanders?” She encouraged me to do it. A few minutes later, I went to throw out some garbage, and saw that Lionel was having his picture taken with another athlete, so I decided to do the same. I asked if I could take a selfie, then asked his girlfriend Erin if she could take it instead. She was happy to do so. I told Lionel that I have raced against him before (Barrelman half ironman 2014), that I read his blog and that I have one too but “You probably wouldn’t learn anything from mine!” I wished him good luck and he did the same. So nice that he raced in Woodstock to support the Multisport Canada Triathlon Series. (Apparently Lionel and another athlete made a bet before the race: if Prakash was more than 13% slower than Lionel, he would have to wear socks on his hands for 48 hours. Guess who was wearing socks that went way up his arms after the race?)

Photo op with the race winner, Lionel Sanders.

Stats (as of the writing of this blog post, my results on Sportstats.ca are incorrect – I’ve sent a note to them and hopefully they will be corrected)

Swim: 20:33

T1: 1:47

Bike: 43:27.4 (27.61 km/h)

T2: 1:23

Run: 28:56.7 (5:47 min/km)

Time: 1:36:19

Near the end of the draw prizes, my name was called! I have a new running top!

“Deep Relief” draw prize pack. Love the quick dry shirt the most – great running shirt!

Before going home, Ailish and I swam in the lake for about an hour, and had a picnic lunch.

Another great race put on by Multisport Canada Triathlon Series! Woodstock, we’ll be back!

#MSCWoodstock #MSCtri #racelocal

Race report: Milton sprint triathlon relay

The 2016 triathlon season began for me today at Kelso Conservation Area in Milton, Ontario as part of team ARK de TRIumph, competing in the Subaru Triathlon Series season-opening sprint triathlon relay. It was to be our second time doing a relay together – this time I was to swim, Rebecca bike, and Alasdair run. And it was to be Rebecca’s first race back after having wee baby P last year! In the days leading up to the race, I told Rebecca that I may be slow, and she told me that she may be as slow as molasses. She also said, “I can’t promise 30km/hr but I can promise I won’t die. It will be somewhere in between…”

And then last night, I had a dream that instead of swimming, we were going to speed walk across the parking lot and they would use that to give us a swim time!

Love that our team name was put on our bib!

With the sprint triathlon starting at 9:45 AM after the try-a-tri, we had to be in the park by 8:30 AM so as not to get in the way of the try-a-tri athletes. We arrived shortly after 7:30 AM, left Rebecca’s bike on the relay rack, and went through registration (signed waivers, picked up our race bib, t-shirts, product samples and timing chip). We got ourselves organized in the transition zone, and made use of the real bathrooms up the steep hill and the portapotties by transition.

At 21 degrees Celsius and overcast with a tiny bit of rain and some wind, race conditions weren’t looking too bad (easy for me to say – I wasn’t biking!).

Team ARK de TRIumph (ARK = Alasdair Rebecca Kyra)

After a short warm up swim, in which I remembered how rocky the water entry is, and was surprised by how weedy the water was, it was time for the race to begin! Wave 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the 750 m swim went off without a hitch, but then… one of the big orange swim buoys marking the swim course detached and was riding the waves off course! I yelled to Alasdair to tell the guy with the microphone at the beach what had happened, but before he could, the announcer saw for himself what was happening. He told the remaining swimmers on shore (including me) not to do what everyone in the 4th wave did, which was to cut the course short and just swim directly to the second buoy. We were told to swim to the very small white buoy, to which the orange one was attached before it blew away. And then we were off!

That’s me with my arms up and out to my sides!

I couldn’t even see the white buoy, it was so small. So, I just swam in the same direction as everyone else. Alasdair told me later that most people in my wave didn’t even attempt to swim to the white buoy – they just cut the course short. As I got close to what I thought was where the white buoy should be, I saw an orange buoy to my left (we were swimming a clockwise course, in which you are supposed to keep all buoys to your right) and figured they had added one, so I made a sharp turn to the left and headed for it so that I could swim around it. Then I heard another swimmer yell “over here!” (to the right), at which point I realized that the buoy I was heading towards was being pulled off course by a boat. Talk about confusing! So while other athletes cut the course short, I actually swam further than I should have! I headed for the second orange buoy and from there on in, had no directional issues. I did take in a huge gulp of water at one point and had to stop because I was gasping and had to cough.

Orange buoy and safety kayak visible behind me.

And then, I was done. I will be hoping for a much faster swim in my next race!  I ran into the transition zone, and only had to take a few steps because the relay rack was just to the left of the giant G on the swim arch in the picture above. Alasdair grabbed the timing chip off my ankle and attached it to Rebecca’s. And then she took off for her 30 k ride – what she might lose in speed by riding her road bike (with better Granny gears for the 6th Line Hill than her tri bike) she would make up with her super aero helmet! Later Rebecca would tell us that she was riding out of Kelso Conservation Area at 40 km/h with the wind behind her. Of course, she knew what this would mean later! There were a few other places on the course where the wind was a factor. While she was out riding, I changed into dry clothes, and Alasdair eventually started warming up for his run. He worried that his calf was going to give him trouble (it didn’t). We watched other athletes return from their bike rides and start their runs with their helmets still on their heads, and others who were sent back to their racks to get their race bibs. Eventually the first relay team rider returned to the rack, and then others followed. And before long, we saw Rebecca!

The picture is a bit dark and small, but Rebecca has a huge smile on her face!

Rebecca was ready for me to grab the timing chip off her ankle, but I reminded her that she had to rack her bike first. I grabbed the timing chip, and put it on Alasdair’s ankle. He took off on his 7k run! The run course has changed since the last time we did the sprint triathlon here – now it doesn’t leave the park. It used to involve some trail running at Hilton Falls Conservation Area. Alasdair did like that this course had multiple out and back sections so that athletes got to see one another more.

Just steps from the finish line.

Alasdair had a great run.

In the end, we finished in a time of 1:55:36.1, and all had fun doing so! Alasdair got a bottle of water and a medal at the finish line, and Rebecca and I went to the finishing area to ask for our medals and grab cups of Erdinger alcohol free beer. We eventually made our way to the food tent, where we got a Subway sub, pita chips, granola bar, and apple or banana. Sadly there was only pop to drink.

Look at us! 1st place! Or, maybe not…

We didn’t stay for the awards presentation, because 1 little person and 2 slightly bigger people were waiting at home for the 3 of us!


Time: 1:55:36.1 (7/10 relay teams)

Swim (750m): 20:17.2 (2:42/100m)

T1: 0:36

Bike (30k): 1:02:34.7 (28.76 km/h)

T2: 0:52

Run (7k): 31:16.8 (4:28 min/km)

Yay team!

We will most definitely team up again!


Love the shirt! And new this year, medals for all finishers in the Subaru Triathlon Series.