Race report: Gravenhurst Olympic and sprint triathlons

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

Saturday Olympic triathlon

Pre-race with gear ready to go.

1500m swim

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

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

40k bike

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

10k run

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

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

Race stats

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

Sunday sprint triathlon

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

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

750m swim

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

20k bike

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

5k run

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

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

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

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

Race stats

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

Gravenhurst, we’ll be back!

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

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Race report: Barrie sprint triathlon 2021 (a return to racing after Covid-19 hiatus)

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!

Pre-race in a time of Covid-19.

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.

Almost race time! [Photo by D]

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!

750m SWIM

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!

20km BIKE

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.

5km RUN

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!

[Photo by D]

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.

[Photo by Nikki Cole at Barrie Today]

It was so fun to have a triathlon newbie with us! Who is next?!

Three happy finishers! [Photo by D]


  • Time: 1:43:38.8 (10/11 women 45-49; 64/86 women; 199/245 athletes)
  • Swim: 22:25.9 (2:59 min/100m)
  • T1: 2:32
  • Bike: 41:52.9 (28.65 km/h)
  • T2: 2:01
  • Run: 34:47.6 (6:57 min/km)

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Race report: Guelph Lake II sprint triathlon relay (JAK’D!)

One third the stress, three times the fun? This morning Alasdair and I participated in our 2nd ever triathlon relay – again at Guelph Lake Conservation Area – as part of the Subaru Triathlon Series Guelph Lake II sprint race (750m swim, 30k bike, 7k run). Last year, Alasdair swam, I biked, and our friend Rebecca ran. This year, we decided to switch it up a bit, but because Rebecca just had a wee baby girl, we settled on me swimming and Alasdair biking, and an as-yet-to-be-determined-person as our runner! We chose John, who we knew through basketball, even though we knew he was a pretty new runner! When we asked him to join us, he was doing a 5k running clinic at the Running Room in Burlington. We were pretty sure he would have fun, and he agreed to join us (it also gave him extra motivation to continue increasing his run distances)!

After my usual pre-race breakfast of a banana, oatmeal, yogurt, almonds and cranberries, we were out the door at around 6:30 AM, arriving at the race site before 7:30 and not long after John. As relay participants, we had to go through the registration process together, so we signed our waivers, got the swim cap for me, bike stickers for Alasdair, race bib for John, timing chip, and t-shirts for each of us.

We thought we were lining up in order of swim/bike/run (backwards?) but apparently we were just lining up in order of height, and in order of our team name, JAK’D!

Alasdair was one of the first athletes to rack his bike on the relay racks, so he got a prime end position. We each got what we’d need ready, and had plenty of time for multiple bathrooms trips before the 9 AM race start. Alasdair even went out for a short warm-up ride on his bike.

750m Swim

With the timing chip on my ankle (to be passed to Alasdair and John during the race), we headed down to the beach around 8:30 or so, so that I could do a short warm-up swim. I had read online yesterday that the water quality was poor where we would be racing today, but apparently everything was fine this morning. Thankfully, the race wasn’t converted to a duathlon, or I would have been running instead of swimming (I did bring my running stuff, just in case!). I was looking to redeem myself after 2 crappy way-too-wavy swims!

Yay! No run for me today.

Nearly ready for my warm-up swim

Relay swimmers were in the 6th and final wave, about 18 minutes after the 1st wave headed out. Soon enough, a canon fired (VERY LOUDLY!) and the 1st wave was off. Thankfully, subsequent waves were sent off with a much quieter air horn. My wave (older women + all relay teams) was spread out quite wide on the beach (we started on the beach with our feet out of the water). I started right in front, hoping to swim hard and get our team off to a good start! When the air horn sounded, I took off running, something that I don’t normally do! I also dove in, another unusual swim start for me. Things started well, but there was a lot of congestion. I got kicked, smacked, and bumped, but was doing the same myself! I had no issues sighting in this FLAT SWIM but I never did shake the congestion. A few times I had to stop to look around and see how I could get away from people. It also seemed that quite a few people were breaststroking, which always worries me (more likely to get kicked in the head as I swim by). I noticed that I caught some of the swimmers in the wave before me (blue swim caps as opposed to green in my wave). We swam a rectangular course, swimming in a clockwise manner and keeping the buoys to our right. There were 2 turns in total. I felt that I was swimming well, and that I was pushing harder than I normally do. I was expecting my swim to be between 16 and 17 minutes, but was a little disappointed to see 17:23 when I stood up and starting running to the transition zone. I had just run past John when I noticed him, poised with the camera to get a picture of me – it turns out he missed me too, and was a bit worried when the last swimmer came out of the water and he still hadn’t seen me! It was a 1 minute 13 second run up a steep hill and around the transition zone before I reached Alasdair at the rack. I noticed that there were still lots of bikes on the rack (meaning I definitely wasn’t the last swimmer!). He grabbed the timing chip and put it around his ankle, grabbed his bike from the rack, and took off (but not before telling me he was “bursting to pee!”). “Uh oh!” I thought.

Swim stats

Time: 18:36 (includes 1:13 run from water’s edge to bike rack in transition zone) (2:19/100m – calculated using 18:36)

Relay placing: 14/27

Age group placing (women aged 40-44), had I been racing the sprint on my own: 18/29

30km Bike

I spotted John outside the transition zone and waved to him. He came back to the rack, and we chatted in transition while Alasdair was out biking. We also watched an older gentleman racked on the relay rack take a very long time getting ready for his ride. John said he was eating oatmeal! Closer to the time we expected to see Alasdair, John warmed up, and we kept watching.

John gets ready for his run

I expected to see Alasdair between 55 and 60 minutes into his ride, but he showed up sooner than that, riding a very fast 54 minute 30k (a PB on this course for him, and his fastest race pace ever)! He felt good on the ride, but was annoyed with 2 athletes who drafted off of him for about 25k, and terrified at another point when he lifted his butt off his seat in anticipation of a bump on the road, but nearly crashed when the force made him lose hold of his handlebar with his left hand. Thankfully, he arrived back safe and sound! He appeared to have increased our placing a bit with the bike (lots of teams still waiting for their bikers to return).

Alasdair approaches the dismount line (2nd bike from the left)

As soon as his bike was racked, I grabbed the timing chip from his ankle and transferred it to John’s (on the 2nd attempt!), who took off running! No matter what happened, this would be a race PB for John, never having run a 7k race before!

Bike stats

Time: 54:13 (33.2 km/h)

Relay placing: 8/27

Age group placing (men aged 40-44), had Alasdair been racing the sprint on his own: 8/81

7km Run

John headed out for his run, telling me later that he was grateful we had explained the run course to him, because a runner in front of him was puzzled near the start and had no idea which way to go – John straightened him out! It was a hot day today, with a forecasted high of 29 degrees Celsius feeling like 38 with the humidity. I was glad I wasn’t running! John was hoping to run the 7k in 42 minutes, but even better if he could do it in 40. Alasdair and I headed for the run course where we could watch for John. Alasdair asked John if he could join him for the end of the run, acting as a bit of a pacer – John agreed. So, I stood where the runners made their final turn toward the finish line (about 200m away, all downhill), while Alasdair went to look for John. Soon enough, I spotted John’s bright orange t-shirt, and cheered for him as he went by.

Rounding the last turn before the finish line

I chased him to the finish line, running around other athletes and spectators as I neared the finish. John was understandably beat when he finished! It turns out he ran his fastest km last.

“I won’t be able to talk for a while.”

He later told us that he was surprised there weren’t volunteers at the various turning points on the run, including the turnaround, where people were turning back early.

John had a great run!

Run stats

Time: 40:41 (5:48 min/km)

Relay placing: 21/27

Age group placing (men aged 45-49), had John been racing the sprint on his own: 34/51

Team JAK’D did awesome!

Overall stats

Time: 1:55:38.5

Relay placing: 13/27

While Alasdair went to get his bike out of the transition zone (to make way for this afternoon’s try-a-tri), John and I enjoyed a cup of alcohol free beer.

Enjoying our alcohol free beer

We had a bit of trouble finding the food for athletes – what we did find was a Subaru tent giving out apples, bananas, and snow cones (and I snagged myself a cow bell!). We were rather shocked that this was the after race food! We found seats in the shade near where the awards would be presented, and it wasn’t until Alasdair found us that we learned that there actually was a food tent, where we got a sub, cookie, chips, and fruit. That’s more like it.

We stayed for the awards, and then grabbed all our stuff, posed for a few more pictures, and headed home. Another fun relay!!

All done!

Yay JAK’D!

Race report: Belwood sprint triathlon (Pan Am consolation event)

Just 6 days prior to the Belwood sprint triathlon at the Belwood Conservation Area in Fergus, Ontario, I had a bike crash and wondered whether I would be racing at all (for the record, I have no idea what happened, but I was riding along a quiet country road, about 65 km into a planned 90 km bike ride, when I looked up and was in the gravel shoulder at the side of the road… I briefly considered riding through it and down into the ditch, but instead decided to hit the brakes and do a slow speed tip onto my left side… I immediately felt pain in my right hamstring and wondered how seriously I’d injured myself… after brushing gravel off my left arm (no cuts!), picking it off my left lower leg and checking to see whether I had ripped my shirt or shorts (I hadn’t!), I made a beeline for home and ended the ride at 76 km… turns out I’d likely just whacked my leg on the crossbar when I fell, and by the next day there was little pain, only road rash on my lower leg).

After a 5 AM race day wake-up and breakfast (steel cut oats, yogurt, a banana and a spoon of peanut butter for me) we were out of the house before 6 AM and at our 2nd Multisport Canada Triathlon Series race of 2015 (and 3rd triathlon) by 7 AM. This was to be our first time doing the Belwood race.

We racked our bikes by bib number, which meant that this time Alasdair and I would be using the same rack – we ended up a few bikes away from each other because he didn’t realize we were on the same rack when he found a spot.  We made a quick stop at the Du, Tri and Run tent to say “Congratulations Daddy!” to new dad Steven (Rebecca you’ll be racing again before you know it!), picked up our race bibs, swim caps, t-shirts, and timing chips, and went through body marking (different this time – the addition of our bib number to one leg with the usual age on the other). We went back to transition to set our things up, and chatted with the other athletes.

Before the race began, the day’s announcer let us know that Canada had won the first gold medal of the Pan Am games, which got a pretty good cheer from the crowd! The women’s triathlon was also taking place at the same time as our race.

I was talking with a woman whose bike was racked very close to mine, and I said to her, “I’m only here because I didn’t make the Pan Am games.” “REALLY?” she replied, with a look of shock and awe on her face. “No!” I replied, laughing. (She got a pretty good chuckle out of it!)

B pre race 2
Nearly race time!

For this race (as a test), it was decided that – based on athlete feedback – some older swimmers (“masters swimmers”) would start in the first wave with the pros/elites (normally the swim waves go approximately youngest to oldest – they still need to balance the size of the waves so there aren’t too many athletes in any one wave). Alasdair and I were to start in the 2nd of 3 waves.

B pre race 1
That’s the dam behind us, which we were to run across.

We headed for the lake to do a short warm-up swim. I really did not like the algae/other plant matter under the surface of the water as I swam. It moved at one pace, and me at another, making me feel a bit motion sick! I was hoping it wouldn’t be a problem during the race. After my warm-up, I was relieved to find that I wasn’t dizzy like in Syracuse (hopefully a one-off!).

750 m SWIM

The horn sounded for the first wave at 8:30 AM, with us in our white caps starting about 4 minutes later. Alasdair positioned himself right on the start line, but I was a few people back (but not at the back of the pack as I used to do). My swim start was great. This was an “in water” start (as most of the races are), so there’s no sprinting from the beach into the water. I started swimming sooner than I usually do, diving in and experiencing very little congestion (that came later!). I got whacked on the feet quite a few times, swallowed water at least once, but otherwise had no issues (even the algae didn’t bother me – I think it was displaced by the swimmers in front of me). I was swimming straight, and tried to swim harder than I normally do. At the first turn buoy it was so congested we were practically doggie paddling around the corner! The next section was also pretty smooth sailing. Only the last part, when I was sighting the brown arches that we would run under on shore, did I have a tiny bit of trouble swimming straight – but nothing major! I swam until my arms hit the lake bottom, even though others were walking beside me (more taxing on the legs). When I stood up I saw 15:55 on my watch and was thrilled (may be my fastest sprint swim yet)! I started running to transition and saw Alasdair just ahead of me! He beat me by 16 seconds. The official race pictures show just 3 swimmers between us once we’re out of the water.

Belwood K swim
Starting to peel my wetsuit off while running to the transition zone. [Photo credit: My Sport Shooter]
Alasdair and I didn’t chat in transition, but we did get to smile (grimace?) at one another! I chatted with the woman beside me, who started in my wave and got to transition before me. She seemed happy with her swim – when I told her my time, she said, “THANK YOU! You made my day!”

Swim stats:

Time: 17:04.5

Pace: 2:16/100m

Overall placing: 182/286 athletes

Gender placing: 68/117 women

Age group placing: 5/16 women aged 40-44

T1: 1:45

30 km BIKE

Alasdair beat me out of transition (by seconds), but only because I struggled to get my wetsuit off (again!) and had to put socks on wet feet (he only puts his on for the run). It was very congested at the bike start – at the mount line, there were people trying to get onto their bikes all the way across the line instead of going further forward and moving to the side. So I lost a few more seconds to Alasdair – ha! I could see him for a bit on the bike, and we passed each other at the only out and back (he was just a few hundred metres ahead of me). I could still see him for a while and then lost him, but I pushed hard because I didn’t want him to get too far away. And, my plan for the day had been to go hard on the swim and bike, and see what happened on the run.

Belwood K bike2
Just starting the 30 km ride. [Photo credit: My Sport Shooter]
Since some of the younger, stronger athletes started after me, I got passed by more cyclists than I normally would. Most don’t say “On your left!” as they approach to pass, but I so wish they would (much safer). “On your left” saved me at one point when the rider in front of me said it to the rider in front of her, who was stopped on the road along the right side where we were riding (not on the shoulder) – I might have had to swerve last minute to avoid him had I not heard her!

I was feeling strong on the ride. At 10k I knew I was going 30 km/h, and at 20k I was still riding fast.

The bike route was hillier than I expected, but it wasn’t Syracuse! I played leapfrog with a couple of other riders during the 30k, which made each of us go a little faster than we might have otherwise (these races are not draft legal, meaning that you must stay 5 m behind the cyclist in front of you… if you get closer, you have 20 seconds to pass… and then, very often, that person then overtakes you… repeat… there are Ontario Association of Triathletes officials riding the course on motorcycles looking for drafting and other infractions). There was very little wind – perfect riding conditions.

And, I discovered my new favourite sugar boost on the bike – chocolate peanut butter balls! Yum!

In the end, I finished the ride in 59:52.4, a very fast race bike speed for me! Alasdair beat me by just under 2 minutes. He had left transition by the time I got there.

Bike stats:

Time: 59:52.4

Speed: 30.06 km/h

Overall placing: 156/286 athletes

Gender placing: 48/117 women

Age group placing: 7/16 women aged 40-44

T2: 1:17

7.5 km RUN

I felt strong starting the run, which goes along the Elora-Cataract Trailway, a former railway now refinished with “stone dust” according to the trailway website. I headed out over the dam, and turned off the trail for a short out and back section, where I met Alasdair who was not yet too far ahead of me. We high-fived and he (unbeknownst to me) winced in pain. The run course was pretty much flat, with little bits of shade here and there. I saw Alasdair again at the turnaround, at which point there were about 3 km left to run. We high fived again but before doing so I heard him say “softer” or “lighter” or maybe even “less powerful” or “don’t hurt me!” The volunteers at the run course aid stations did a great job despite being short on bodies.

At 5k I was suffering from bilateral side stitches, the left side worse than the right. Altering my breathing didn’t help. At the next aid station, I got water and walked a bit. When I started running again, the pain had lessened. I ran the last 2 1/2 k at a slower pace than  the first 5k, with my last and slowest km a 6:15 min/km pace.

I finished the run in 44:37.9, which I am still happy with.

Belwood K finish
Nearing the finish line. [Photo credit: My Sport Shooter]
Run stats:

Time: 44:37.9

Pace: 5:57 min/km

Overall placing: 172/286 athletes

Gender placing: 48/117 women

Age group placing: 7/16 women aged 40-44

In the end, I finished the race in 2:04:36.1 – sub 2 hours would have been nice, but I would have had to have a speedy run to make that happen! Next year!

B stronger
Recharge with Milk photo

Belwood Conservation Area is a great venue for a race, with parking nearby, lots of shade for after the race, and a quiet bike route in the countryside.

B post race 1
Watching the awards.

Overall stats:

Total time: 2:04:36.1

Overall placing: 172/286

Gender placing: 50/117

Age group placing: 7/16 women aged 40-44

B post race 3
Belwood, we’ll be back!

Race report: Woodstock sprint triathlon (and attempting to outpace the chaser)

With a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. each, Alasdair and I decided we were perfectly suited to running a highly scientific clinical trial in the days leading up to the triathlon season opener at the Woodstock sprint triathlon in the Multisport Canada Triathlon Series. With a sample size of 2 and no control group, we would test whether eating canned beets, or drinking beet juice, was more effective. No, we didn’t define “effective”, we just got on with the clinical trial!

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 5:15 AM, and by 6:15 AM or so, we were on our way to Woodstock. Apparently we chose a good route, because we encountered no traffic to speak of, arriving at Pittock Lake Conservation Area before 7:30 AM and snagging a great parking spot.

After racking my bike and setting up my spot in the transition zone, I went to register, picking up my race bib (#202), t-shirt (which reflected Woodstock’s status as the “dairy capital of Canada” – who knew?), and timing chip. The on-site announcer let us know that the water temperature was 20 degrees Celsius (great temperature for an early season race!). With an air temperature of 13 or 14 degrees Celsius, and not too much wind, we were in for good race conditions!

I mentally (and physically) walked through the swim to bike, and bike to run transitions so that I would be able to find my bike easily during the race (i.e. from the lake, I walked into transition and figured out the route I would take, counted the number of bike racks, etc.), and when I returned to my bike, another athlete said to me, “Is this your bike?” I told him that it was, and he told me that one of the race officials taped up the end of my handlebars with black hockey tape where a plastic or metal cap had fallen out long ago. He said that another bike near mine had the same treatment, and that some race series won’t even let you race if your bike is missing that piece (apparently it’s a safety issue). So, I was lucky!

Check out my tiny set-up compared to the guy beside me – not sure what he had in that big white bucket! Had there been more athletes, he would have been forced to compress his set-up (width-wise he was taking up far too much room).

Leading up to this race, I had my fair share (some may argue more than my fair share) of bike issues, from a snapped shifting cable in April to a flat tire and a broken freewheel in May, to squeaky pedals threatening to just fall right off in early June. I had been training with a spare wheel from Bicycle Works in Waterdown for the 2 weeks before the race because of my broken freewheel (need a bike shop? Bicycle Works is the best!), until mine was repaired and I got it back the day before the race!

Here I am with my swim coach, Mat Reid, of the Fighting Koalas Triathlon Team. He reminded me to do a warm-up swim before the race started.

After listening to pre-race instructions and taking a few more pictures, we were off to the water to do a warm-up swim. Mine was about 150m.

Ready to race!

The water wasn’t cold at all, though I wouldn’t have wanted to swim without my wetsuit! It wasn’t long before the race started, and at 9:03, my wave (#2) was off!

Woodstock swim start
And we’re off!

Alasdair almost always starts before me, so it was weird to start in the wave before him! I knew this meant that he would be working hard to catch me during the race – I just didn’t know when he would do it! I had extra incentive to push hard and outpace the chaser!

My wave was women 40-44 and men 25-29, so I lined up behind the guys. The swim start was great, and other than swallowing water a few times from the slightly choppy water, to trying to avoid getting kicked by the woman breaststroking beside me, the swim to the first turn buoy was unremarkable. Getting around the buoy wasn’t easy – I happened to arrive at the same time as too many others! My favourite part of the swim was the segment after this turn, because we had the current with us and it was pretty smooth sailing. I turned at the last turn buoy and headed for shore, but with less than 100m to go I got whacked 4 or 5 times in a row by the breaststroking woman. I accelerated to get away from her! And just like that, the 750m swim was over.

I had a heck of a time getting my wetsuit off my legs (early in the season, out of practice!) and had trouble with one of my right shoe straps, but otherwise I had a straightforward transition. I headed out of the transition zone (forgetting to look to see if Alasdair had beat me out of the water – unlikely given the 3 min deficit) and up the grassy hill to the mount line.

Woodstock K bike
My leapfrogging friend Drew is in blue.

One very impatient athlete yelled at others around him “C’mon people!” because clearly they weren’t getting on their bikes fast enough. I had to fix 2 straps of my left shoe that had come undone, but I wasn’t in his way.

Almost as soon as we got out of the park, I wanted to pass someone, but another rider was blocking me. I asked him, “Are you passing him?” and he replied, “I’m trying to!!” He sped up and did get out of the way, at which point I was able to pass. Later he must have passed me, or me him, and he said, “You again?” We ended up leapfrogging each other for the entire race, with him saying to me at one point, “You have to teach me how to ride the downhills!” I expected Alasdair to pass me on the bike, and told my new friend Drew as I rode past him that I couldn’t let him catch me! Less than 250m after I made the turnaround at the half way point (10k), I saw Alasdair! Next time Drew and I passed each other, I told him that we had to pick up the pace, that “my husband is on our tail!” He laughed. I was not feeling incredibly fast, and would have preferred slightly less wind (though there wasn’t much!). I had a gel with about 5k to go, and proceeded to get my right hand all sticky! In the last few kilometres of the race, I was sure Alasdair would pass me, and I expected those passing me to be him… but, I made it back to the transition zone before him (and before Drew)!

My transition to the run was smooth, and shortly after starting my run, Drew passed me and we chatted for a minute… I asked him his name, and then he asked me, “Do you run fast downhill too?”

Heading out on the 5k run.

I looked at my watch and thought there was no way I would beat last year’s race time of 1:32:35.7, but as I ran, I didn’t pay too much attention to the 1k splits, just ran as hard as I could comfortably (and maybe not so comfortably when I got bilateral side stitches!). I was sure Alasdair would pass me on the run, but I didn’t see him until shortly after I turned at the half way point. With 2.5k left, it looked like I would beat last year’s time, and with 1k left, it was almost certain! Despite the side stitches I was managing to hold my pace (no wonder I had side stitches – I was running faster than I ever do!).

Done! A new PB!

For once during a race I actually felt like I could have run further (though I was really glad I didn’t have to!). In the end I beat last year’s time by more than 3 minutes, in a time of 1:29:26.2, having been faster on the swim, bike, and run segments compared to last year!

Alasdair beat me by 15 seconds on the swim, 51 seconds on the bike, and 4 minutes 28 seconds on the run, with a finishing time of 1:24:20 (1 minute 20 seconds faster than last year).


We had chocolate milk, pizza, fruit and pretzels after the race, and stayed for part of the awards, but unfortunately we had to leave to take Ailish to Buffalo for a basketball tournament.

Watching the awards

Triathlon #1 of 2015 was a great race for both of us!

About to head home

My bike is currently in the shop getting new pedals in preparation for my next race! And as for our double blind placebo controlled multi-centre clinical trial? Clearly beet juice is more effective, because Alasdair was faster than me… or, maybe canned beets are more effective, because I improved the most over last year… or, maybe it’s all in our heads!



Time: 1:29:26.2

Overall placing: 241/361

Gender placing: 74/148 women

Category placing: 14/23 women aged 40-44

Swim: 17:07 (2:16/100m, 238/361 overall, 86/148 women, 11/23 women aged 40-44)

T1: 1:52

Bike: 41:48 (28.72 km/h, 250/361 overall, 80/148 women, 12/23 women aged 40-44)

T2: 1:06

Run: 27:35 (5:30 min/km, 242/361 overall, 74/148 women, 14/23 women aged 40-44)

And for comparison…


Time: 1:32:35.7

Overall placing: 225/281

Gender placing: 56/84 women

Category placing: 12/14 women aged 40-44

Swim: 17:35 (2:20/100m, 260/281 overall, 56/84 women, 10/14 women aged 40-44)

T1: 1:50

Bike: 42:56 (27.95 km/h, 217/281 overall, 52/84 women, 11/14 women aged 40-44)

T2: 1:08

Run: 29:08 (5:49 min/km, 227/281 overall, 56/84 women, 12/14 women aged 40-44)