Race report: Wasaga Beach Olympic triathlon 2018

I was very relieved to see the calm water in Georgian Bay at the Multisport Canada Wasaga Beach Olympic triathlon on race morning! In previous years, waves had been so bad that they made me feel pukey and even throw up. Not this year. With an airbnb 20 minutes away in nearby Stayner (our first), we were able to get up at a reasonable hour on race morning. We parked our car at a nearby lot, remembered to pay this year, and headed for the race site. After registering and setting up, we were able to cheer on athletes in the sprint triathlon and duathlon while we waited for our race to start. Before the race, Alasdair picked up his new GoFor Cover hoodie, which he’s already sold on (one of its selling points is the ability to get changed under it in a crowded place!).
GoFor Cover fleece oversized hoodie.
Kristin was racing but not at all enthusiastic about that fact. She warned me that I might find her sitting on the ground in transition during the race. Of course I didn’t. And of course she had a great race!
1500m swim The horn sounded for wave 4, and I started to swim. After a very short time, people started walking again (sand bars), and then swimming for good. I was getting sandwiched between 2 women and having trouble getting out. Eventually one of them moved away, and I tried to pass the other one, but she was swimming crookedly, so there I was trying to pass her on the left, then on the right before I finally got past her! With brand new goggles this race (after having my last pair stepped on just before the Toronto Island sprint triathlon), I could see! After the first turn buoy, I was swimming parallel to shore. It was at this point that the wave behind me caught me – there were fast people everywhere! At the next and last turning buoy, I think I encountered a visually impaired triathlete named John, who was tethered to his guide. From there it was a straight swim back to shore, and for once, I had no sighting issues at this race! I kept my sights set just left of the yellow roofed building, which worked perfectly. It also helped that it was overcast, so there was no glare from the sun. I swam as far as I could, but many people stood up early and walked. I was pleasantly surprised to see 33+ minutes on my watch – far faster than I have been swimming lately. 40k bike After a quick change of gear and pee break in transition, I was heading for the bike mount line. The ride was pretty uneventful, other than an impatient woman near the start who yelled at a rider who was passing me – instead of waiting so that she could pass her, she yelled that she’s supposed to ride on the right (yes, unless you’re passing), and then passed between the two of us (unsafe). And then later, I encountered a poor rider pedalling with only one leg just before the half way point (looked like the other pedal had fallen off). I said, “That doesn’t look fun! Are you going to continue?” to which he replied, “We’ll see.” Somewhere on the back half of the bike course my speed dropped dramatically when I hit a headwind and hills, but overall, I was happy with my ride! In the last km, there was a burst of heavy rain, but then it stopped. 10k run As I prepared to leave transition to start my run (with a stop at the portapotty on my way out), a race official suggested to another woman that she might want to take her helmet off – 10k would be a long run with a helmet on. She threw it towards her bike, but the official made her go back and put it down neatly by her stuff. Understandable – otherwise, people’s stuff would be all over the place and it would be hard to get around. She wasn’t impressed. This year the run course changed slightly to remove most of the 2-way traffic along a narrow coned lane at the side of Mosley St. I liked the new course – it had us running on a paved path and then along a quieter side street. It was still 2 loops of a 5k course, which is kind of nice because you get to see other athletes more. I did spot both Alasdair and Kristin twice, though Kristin was in another world the second time! As usual, my 2nd loop was slower than my first (30 minutes for the first 5k, and 33 1/2 for the 2nd). I had a side stitch that forced me to walk for a short time. I managed to get rid of it though, and sped up in the last 500m. I crossed the finish line in 3:04:28.8, less than a minute slower than last year. However, my swim was 4 minutes faster, so that was a big surprise. My bike was just a few seconds slower, and my run 5 minutes slower. After the race, Alasdair and I chatted briefly with our friend Irina (who was taking race pictures for Zoom photo – thanks for the great shots Irina!!), and Cody Beals, who made his Ironman debut the week before at Mont Tremblant, where he not only won the race but set a bike and course record! He was at Wasaga representing Martin’s Apple Chips. I asked him if apple chips were the key to his success, and he replied, “breakfast, lunch and dinner!” At least I know what I’ve been doing wrong!
Trying out the F2C strawberry and vanilla flavours.
Race stats:
  • Time: 3:04:28.8
  • Women 40-44: 15/20
  • All women: 62/112
  • All athletes: 231/348
  • Swim: 35:12 (2:20/100m)
  • T1: 1:52
  • Bike: 1:21:19.8 (29.51 km/h)
  • T2: 2:29
  • Run: 1:03:38.0 (6:21 min/km)
Before the rain returned and the crowd dispersed.
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Race Report: Wasaga Beach Olympic triathlon 2017

What a difference 6 days and a calm Lake Huron can make!

I arrived at Wasaga Beach the day before the race with my husband (also racing) and my kids. We spent the afternoon at the beach, but I didn’t last too long in the water – it was quite wavy and after surfing the waves on a boogie board for a few minutes, I was feeling seasick! I was hoping that the winds would die down for race day. We picked up our race kits and headed to Owen Sound to stay with friends. For the first time, we opted to save $5 each and not get a race shirt – we have so many!

On race morning, our drive along Georgian Bay had me hopeful that the water would still be calm for our 10:30 AM race start. When we arrived at Wasaga Beach, we set up our bikes and other stuff in transition, did body marking and picked up our timing chips.

2017-08-26 | 2017 MultiSport Wasaga Beach Triathlon
Pre-race in the transition zone. [Photo credit: Irina Souiki/Zoom Photo]
I struggled into my wetsuit, careful not to make the crotch hole any bigger. The wetsuit needs to last just one more race this season before I replace it in the off-season. I will have gotten 8 years and more than 50 triathlons out of it – not bad!

Before the triathlon even begins, the first workout is getting into an uncooperative piece of rubber. [Photo credit: Ailish]
1500m swim

I was so excited to see calm water.

Before my warm-up swim [Photo credit: Ailish]
I was to be in the 5th and final wave, with Alasdair in the 3rd. I did a very short warm up swim, and then chatted with Alasdair and a man named Alex who was doing his very first triathlon.

Before long the first horn sounded, and soon enough, it was time for my wave to start. With higher water levels in Lake Huron this summer, there was less beach this year, but there were still the characteristic sand bars. You can be a long way out and yet still be able to stand.

I decided to start on the far right side to avoid some of the crazy congestion I have had to deal with in recent races. It worked. I swam fairly straight to the first turning buoy, drafting off another athlete for a while. I turned at the buoy, and while I felt the waves on that stretch a little bit, it was not an issue. I found the sun super bright as I breathed on the left side (next time, I would stick to right side only breathing through that section). As I made the final turn to shore, I thought I was heading for the swim exit, which in previous years I have aimed for by aiming towards yellow-roofed buildings, but I also seemed to be swimming alone. Finally, I noticed that everyone seemed to be on my left side, so I changed my angle slightly and headed their way. I suspect I wasn’t on the straight course I thought I was on and added distance. Not sure what happened. In any case, I didn’t feel seasick, so all was good!!! When I first stood up my watch said 38 something – slow, but not as slow as I expected. I actually did a few dolphin dives before standing up and walking to shore. Given that I was starting in the last wave, there weren’t many people finishing after me.

I ran up to transition, stopping at the portapotty before I reached my bike. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that only 3 bikes were left on the rack for women 40-44, other than my own. Two women were standing at their bikes, but I beat them out onto the bike course.

40k bike

This year the bike course changed a bit, from a looped course to an out and back. With an out and back, I would be guaranteed to see Alasdair, who had 6 minutes on me starting 2 waves before me.

My ride started well, and as I reached each 5k marker, I maintained a pace of 30 km/h. I was pretty happy with my pace! Only a couple of riders passed me (there weren’t many people starting their ride after me!), but I passed quite a few bikes. I had a gel early on in the bike, and one at 35k. I also had a bottle of gatorade. For a while I leapfrogged a woman named Lisa, who commented that we should just ride side by side (that’s “blocking” and not allowed, however, we would have made good riding partners!). There was a bit of wind but I didn’t find it too bad. At about 17.5 km (a guess based on the time elapsed so far), I spotted Alasdair, but he was passing someone at the time so he didn’t notice me. The one thing I didn’t like about the out and back was that at times there were cars passing riders in the middle of the road, with riders also passing other riders (on both sides of the road) at the same time. So 5 vehicles across and a little too congested. Right until the 25k marker I was maintaining the 30 km/h pace. From 25-35k it dropped slightly, but was over 30 km/h for the last 5k. I pushed hard until the end, and wondered what my legs would be like when I started running!

10k run

I racked my bike, removed my helmet, switched shoes, and had a quick pitstop at a portapotty before I left the transition zone. Amazingly, my legs felt good. I spotted my daughter as I started my run along the beach (at the finish line), and wondered how long it would be before I saw Alasdair. This course is 2-laps of a 5k course, and is almost entirely flat. There is 1 small hill on each loop. I had no idea what pace I was running until I hit the 1k marker. I was pleasantly surprised to see 5:45! It was around there that Alasdair passed me running the other way. I kept running, and at the 2k marker, I was feeling good and saw that my pace hadn’t changed much. I couldn’t believe my eyes when at the 3k marker I saw 5:20. I don’t remember running a 5:20 km in my life! I was careful not to go too hard, because I felt a side stitch coming on. I worked hard to change my breathing and prevented it from worsening. At one point on the run, a woman running towards me pointed at me and said, “I think I read your blog!” It helps to have our names on our bibs! On the first loop, I don’t think I took water or electrolytes from any of the aid stations, but my lips were getting really dry so on the 2nd loop I did. I spotted Alasdair around the 1k marker again, and as we approached each other (at an aid station), I heard him ask the volunteers to “hit me in the face” with water… so I finished my sip of water and hit him in the face! At that point I didn’t even know if he had seen me, but he told me after the race that the volunteers thought it was hilarious – of course they would have had no idea what we were married!

I felt great on this run and while I did spot 6:02 and 6:25 at 2 of the kilometre markers later on in the run, I managed to hold a good pace and finished with an average pace of 5:48. Not a PB, but probably a season best pace.

I spotted Alasdair and the kids as I approached the finish line, and for once felt that I could have kept running!

2017-08-26 | 2017 MultiSport Wasaga Beach Triathlon
[Photo credit: Zoom Photo]
In the end, I finished the race in 3:03:53.1. I was happy with my result. My swim was slower than I would have liked, but I had a great bike (29.59 km/h) and a super run.

Over at the table with water jugs (really cold water!) and cups, there was a pile of medals for athletes. I remembered then that this year, all finishers at Multisport Canada races get medals. However, there was no one there to give them out, so I assumed they were free for the taking. It felt rather odd to put one on myself, so instead I asked another athlete – Dan – who was standing beside me, if he’d like me to present him his medal. He said yes, so I put his on him, and he put mine on me. I then offered to put another athlete’s medal on.

Alasdair wasn’t going to take a medal, but Ailish put one on him, so he kept it!


We packed up our stuff in transition, grabbed post race food, and then stayed for the awards.

2017-08-26 | 2017 MultiSport Wasaga Beach Triathlon
[Photo credit: Irina Souiki/Zoom Photo]
The draw prizes were at the end of the awards, and Alasdair’s name was called – he won an arm band cell phone holder. Then the watches were pulled out and I hoped that my name would be called. Nope. The last group of prizes were $150 credits for Rudy Project sunglasses. And my name was called! I am most definitely on a prize winning streak!

2017-08-26 | 2017 MultiSport Wasaga Beach Triathlon
And the prize-winning streak continues! [Photo credit: Irina Souiki/Zoom Photo]
Race Stats

  • Time: 3:03:53.1 (11/13 women 40-44, 58/104 women, 223/322 athletes)
  • 1500m swim: 38:57.2 (2:35 min/100m) (13/13 women 40-44)
  • Run up: 30 seconds
  • T1: 2:44 (includes pee break)
  • 40k bike: 1:21:06.5 (29.59 km/h) (5/13 women 40-44)
  • T2: 2:27 includes pee break)
  • 10k run: 58:08.9 (5:48 min/km) (8/13 women 40-44)

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Race report: Don’t Get Lost Snowshoe Raid Adventure Run 2017

Within a span of 5 minutes during the Don’t Get Lost Snowshoe Raid Adventure Run, I narrowly avoided sliding off a cliff and into a valley, then nearly killed my teammate with a dead tree. Thankfully, we’re both still here to tell the tale!

In preparation for the race, Rebecca and I bought Atlas Run snowshoes, and practised running with them as many times as possible before the race. Sadly, with the amount of snow we’ve received so far this winter in south-western Ontario, that didn’t amount to many runs! However, we were undeterred. And we were hopeful that a couple of hours further north at Blue Mountain Resort near Collingwood, there would be enough snow for a snowshoe race!

In the days leading up to the race, the big question on everyone’s mind was “Snowshoes? Or shoes with spikes?” Neither of us owned spikes, so we hoped snowshoes would do the trick. Two days before the race, and after placing all the controls on the race course, the organizers recommended snowshoes, so we scrapped our plans to buy spikes at MEC in Barrie on our way to the race!

The night before the race we stayed at a great little motel in Wasaga Beach called Oasis by the Bay, which was one block from Georgian Bay. We sprayed our snowshoes with a silicone spray to prevent wet snow from clumping on the crampons, then headed to the beach for a test run. It ended up being a walk along the pretty, snow covered beach. Despite us snowshoeing on snow, our snowshoes were covered in sand! Check out the pretty trees we found in the sand.

On race morning, we made the 30 minute drive to Blue Mountain, forgot to spray our snowshoes again, picked up our race kits, and set ourselves up at a table to strategize and plan our route. We worked out compass bearings and marked up our maps. Next time, we’ll use a highlighter to mark our route. We’re still learning!

The format for this race was such that teams of 2 had 3 hours to find as many controls as we could, but we had to start with a 1 km climb up a mountain to find control #40 first. You know how when you go downhill skiing, you ride a chair lift to the top, then ski down? Well, we just climbed the mountain. At the start of the race. As a warm up.

Controls were worth different point values based on their difficulty: green (25 points), blue (50 points), black (75 points), double black (100 points), and ! (150 points).

The race map included a legend (see at the very top – most of it is cut off) and a table with clues for where to find the controls, as well as point values.

However, for every minute over the allotted 3 hours, teams lost 30 points! Each time your team arrived at a control (teammates had to be 25 m apart at the most, with both touching each control), you put your timing chip into the timing machine and registered that you were there. However, there was a section on the map (the “matrix”) where you could separate from your teammate to find more controls, use a “paper punch” to punch your maps, then meet up, and later stop at the aid station to show your paper punches and get credit for those controls. Rebecca and I opted to stay together for the entire race. To make things even more interesting, 2 of the controls (36 and 37) wouldn’t be placed on the course until 12 PM, a full 1 1/2 hours into the race.

Our plan was to find controls 40 (green) and 41 (green), then enter the matrix and attempt to get all of the controls in there, though we hadn’t settled on a definitive order of things. So we’d be looking for 34 (blue), 35 (black diamond), 33 (blue), 32 (blue) and 31 (green). We were open to the possibility of going for 55 (blue) and 56 (double black diamond) outside of the matrix if we had the time (hilarious thinking about it now!). Finally, we would get 36 (green, in the matrix, but not there until 12 PM), and 3 others outside the matrix (37 (green), 42 (blue) and 43 (blue)) if possible on our way back to the finish line, which would be at the bottom of the mountain that we climbed at the start of the race. Oh how optimistic we were!

After the 9:45 AM pre-race briefing (during which we were told that if we wore snowshoes, we would probably wish we had worn spikes, and if we wore spikes, we’d probably wish we had worn snowshoes), we walked approximately 1 1/2 km to the race start.

Rebecca and I at the start line.

We were in the 3rd wave, so when the last group of people started moving, we took that as our cue to start! (We couldn’t hear what was being said in the loudspeaker, and there was no horn to start the race.) It was the slowest race start ever, and quickly became a slow march up the mountain, with a bottle-neck at a stream crossing. However, we didn’t know until we got close what the hold up was. With some people in shoes and spikes, and others in snowshoes, there were various approaches to crossing the stream – 10 minutes into the race I really didn’t want soaking wet feet. We managed to get across it without trouble, and eventually the racers spread out. At one point, I heard a man say, “I didn’t sign up for heart attack hill!” It was a quad burner for sure. With the delay at the creek and the length of the hill, it took us 29:44 to reach the first control!

From that point onward, it was easy sailing. Ha! Not exactly. We overshot 41, so decided to skip it and get it on the way back. We easily found 38, which was in the deepest snow we found all race (15 cm? with a crusty top), then headed for the matrix. We didn’t have any trouble finding 34, and decided then to follow the ridge line to 33. It was further than we expected, but not hard to find. Next we headed for a black diamond, but we recognized that time wasn’t on our side, and if we didn’t find it quickly, we would have to head back to the finish line! We were walking more than running, and watching the clock closely! We hugged the creek and descended a steep hill, which also happened to be slippery and a bit icy. I had a good fall and bruised up my knee! We were using trees to brace ourselves as we descended. When we heard someone say that they couldn’t find it, we were doubtful that we would be able to, but we continued onward. We had to cross a flowing creek and ascend another hill to find the control, but first we had to find a safe, dry place to cross!  That meant adding distance, but we made it across and climbed the steep hill, which was partially snow covered, and partially mud covered! Remember, we were wearing snowshoes! We had to descend yet another steep hill (this was the only time that Rebecca and I split up – she waited at the top and planned our next steps), but I found it!

Back up the hill I went, and then we headed down the hill to find a marked snowshoe trail. It was at this point that I fell and slipped close to the edge of a cliff. I had been scouting out a route, but clearly that wasn’t the best one! A kind man gave me his hand and pulled me up and away from danger! We decided to descend further before crossing the valley, with Rebecca leading the way. It was at this point that I leaned on a (dead) tree and it gave way, heading directly in Rebecca’s direction. In those few seconds it took the tree to fall, I yelled “LOOK OUT!” and was certain it was going to hit her directly on the head and knock her down. I had visions of what would happen next. She was actually turned slightly to the side, so it looked to me like it hit her sunglasses (which were on top of her head), but no, it actually hit her on the head. She was not knocked down – or out – and while her head hurt, she wasn’t having any other concussion symptoms. Another racer, who was descending the hill behind me, said that the same thing had happened to her! Thankfully, Rebecca was fine and we continued on our way. PHEW. (As a side note, I highly recommend that all racers get certified in first aid and CPR! You never know when you might need it. The Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance offer very affordable courses.)

Looking at our watches, we knew we had to head straight back to the finish line. We weren’t even sure that we would have time to stop at the aid station to get credit for our matrix controls! We reached a bridge and were momentarily uncertain which way to go, but went back the way we had come earlier in the race (through the forest). While it added hills, it was beautiful in the forest, and we were alone (sometimes in these races, this makes me nervous! Why did no one else go this way?)! Others seemed to head for control 31 and the road route to the aid station. We reached an intersection of trails, and turned right, but we soon started to feel that we had gone too far, so we were probably going the wrong way. We turned around, running back to the intersection to reassess, but before we could get there, Patrick – one of the Don’t Get Lost Adventure Running Kids instructors – came running toward us, going the way we originally thought we should go. He confirmed that he was heading for the aid station, and I said to Rebecca after he left, “That’s Patrick! He must know where he’s going!” So we followed him and of course, he was right.

We reached an intersection where we had to make a decision:

  • turn right, go to the aid station, get credit for our matrix controls, then head for the finish, adding time to finish and potentially losing more points in penalty, OR
  • turn left, don’t get credit for the controls we worked so hard to get, but potentially have fewer penalty points.

We chose to get credit at the aid station for our hard-earned, death defying points!! And in doing so, we also got control 36. We hoped that there would be no gear check, since we were so short on time (there was mandatory gear that individuals – and teams – had to carry, such as a first aid kit). Thankfully, all we had to do was put our timing chip in the 3 controls we found, and take off for the finish! We weren’t the only ones making this mad dash! Lots of teams were finishing at the same time. I was pretty thirsty in this last bit, and though I was wearing a camelbak, I didn’t want to slow down by fumbling with a mouthpiece! Thankfully, I’d been drinking Nuun and water and had eaten a granola bar during the race, so I was fairly well fueled!

Unfortunately, we still had about 2 km to run to our destination! We did a run/walk combo, with my cardio failing! Rebecca led and tried to keep me going, but I couldn’t manage a steady run. We knew that when we hit control 40, it was all downhill from there – a steep, slippery downhill!

Based on the look on my face, I think this picture was taken as we were racing against the clock trying to get back to the finish line within the 3 hour time limit!

Rebecca led the way, as we braced ourselves on (heathy!) trees, being careful of the hikers coming up the hill, and some of the crazy racers going full speed down the hill (saying “on your left!” or “on your right!” would have been helpful – and far less dangerous). One guy almost slid right into me. At one point, Rebecca decided to slide down the hill on her bum, so she lifted her feet and off she went! I did the same, and it was fun, but wow, we got going fast at times and it was scary! My butt and hands froze (I wasn’t wearing gloves) so I eventually got up and walk/ran again. Next time, I might use my map bag as a toboggan! Rebecca was a little ahead of me the whole way down the hill, saying “Kyra?” and continuing on as soon as she heard me say, “I’m here!” We reached the stream crossing, and while it was congested (and patience wasn’t a virtue of at least one racer), it was much easier and faster to cross than at the start of the race. And from there, it was a short run to the finish! All told, we covered about 9.6 km, according to Rebecca’s watch.

We had such fun!! And for the record, we didn’t regret wearing our snowshoes for one second! I can’t wait to do this race again next year – hopefully with lots more snow!

If you’ve never done an orienteering race, or you don’t know how to use a map and compass, don’t worry, it’s easy to learn!! Try it out, you won’t regret it. As my new friend Mauro said after the race (we met during a race, and became unofficial teammates), “…these races make me feel like I am 10 yrs old again. So much fun. I am in hook, line and sinker….”

Just past the finish line!

Can’t wait for the next race! (The bump on Rebecca’s head should have healed by then!)

Race Results for Team DEFINE “LOST”

Time: 3:07:00

Points earned: 275 (we found 7 controls: 25 points for control 40, 25 for 38, 25 for 36, 50 for 33, 50 for 34, 75 for 35, 25 for 37)

Points lost: 210 (30 points for every minute over the allowed 3 hours)

Final points: 65

Placing: 16/21 female teams, 93/124 all teams

With my medal presented to me by one of my biggest fans.

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Race report: Wasaga Beach Olympic triathlon

What a relief to have calm waters in Georgian Bay at Wasaga Beach for the Olympic triathlon on Saturday, after last year’s waves made me seasick and caused me to throw up in the water! With a temperature of around 27 degrees Celsius feeling like 31 with the humidity, and cloud cover for most of the race, the weather conditions were actually pretty good!

We arrived at the race site around 8:30 AM, with Keaghan and Ailish in tow. I racked my bike, went through registration to pick up my race bib, t-shirt, swim cap, timing chip, and to get body marked, and then went to the volunteer tent to get the kids organized. They were assigned to volunteer at the finish line for the Olympic race – specifically, to removing timing chips from athletes’ ankles. This may be Ailish’s least favourite volunteer assignment, having done it before and having experienced the sweatiness and stinkiness of many, many ankles.

With one of my favourite volunteers!

I went back to transition to get myself organized and all set up, only to discover that another athlete had moved my bike to take the rack location I had chosen. Not cool! I decided to leave that section of the rack completely, because who knows what she might do to my stuff during the race!

After I was all set, I went back to find the kids down by the finish line, where they had found some shade to hang out in until they were needed. That time came sooner than expected when Jason Vurma (Multisport Canada VP and Operations Director) asked the kids (obviously volunteers in their race crew t-shirts) if they’d like to hold the banner for the first finishers in the Try a Tri race. Only a small amount of brotherly/sisterly love (read fighting) occurred during this task – from what I could see.

Keaghan and Ailish holding the tape at the finish line of the Try a Tri (they were told to hide behind the posts, so that they wouldn’t be visible in race photos, which are taken from the other side).

I went back to transition for the pre-race meeting, only to suddenly realize that we hadn’t paid for parking, so I ran back to the car and dealt with that! I listened to the end of the pre-race meeting, then headed to the water for a very short warm-up swim. I was to be in the 4th of 5 waves, with all women 35+ and relay swimmers.


1500 m SWIM

For the most part, the swim wasn’t very congested for me, and I was only swum over a couple of times by people in the wave that started 3 minutes after me when they caught up. I think I swam pretty straight, but had a hard time in the last section sighting the yellow rooftops that were close to the swim exit – at least one person thanked me after the race for suggesting them, because the Recharge with Milk swim exit is brown and pretty much impossible to see. A black and white cow print would be better! In any case, I was prepared for a slow swim because every single one of my triathlon swims this year have been slower than my 2015 swims. I was somewhat surprised to see “only” 39 minutes on my watch – I beat last year’s time by less than a minute, but that was in crazy waves and had me stopping more than once to retch! (So, the improvement wasn’t really an improvement.) I swam until my hands started to hit the sand, then got up and walked a bit before running the rest of the way out of the water.

2016-08-27 | 2016 MultiSport Wasaga Beach Triathlon (Saturday)
Done the swim!

I got to yell a hello to Keaghan and Ailish as I ran past – they weren’t yet on finish line duty.

I had my smoothest wetsuit removal so far this year, so yay for small victories! A quick change of gear and pee stop and I was on my way!

40 km BIKE

During the pre-race briefing, we were told that the bike course had been changed the night before because they would have less police coverage at intersections than expected. It was turned into an out and back. This course is a pretty fast one, although there are a few hills. For the first 15 k, I was averaging right on about 30 km/h, which I was pleased with.

2016-08-27 | 2016 MultiSport Wasaga Beach Triathlon (Saturday)
Near the beginning of the bike ride.

I passed more people than passed me (but there weren’t too many behind me after the swim!).  One guy had me confused and concerned when he rode close to the shoulder on the other side of the road (the side for oncoming traffic) for at least 500 m! I finally caught him and hold him to ride on the far RIGHT side of the road. He just looked at me. Weird. He passed me later, and rode on the right. I later passed him and never saw him again. If I had seen a race vehicle I would have flagged them down – it was so dangerous!

Around the 15k mark, I started experiencing an abdominal cramp that just got worse. I tried to alter my breathing, I lifted my right arm way up and tried to stretch it as I rode – nothing. No change. I had to slow my pace. I started wondering if I’d even be able to run. I imagined myself joining the kids and volunteering at the finish line. It was quite painful. At one point, I thought it was gone, but nope, I felt it again. And then, at just before the 30 km mark, it totally went away! I picked up my pace again and tried to finish strong. Despite my cramp issues, I forced myself to keep drinking my gatorade and to down a 2nd gel.

Back in transition, I quickly changed gear, peed again, and headed out on the run course.

10 km RUN

This 10 k course at Wasaga Beach has historically been one of my fastest ever triathlon run paces. Last year, I ran it at a pace of 5:45 min/km. But right off the bat, I knew I wasn’t going to beat that this year. My first kilometre was 6:05, and I got slower from there. On the bright side, with the kids at the finish line, I got to see them 3 times, when I started my 1st loop, 2nd loop, and when I finished. I spotted Emma and Alasdair within the first kilometre (it’s a 2 loop 5 k course), as well as Kristin my new Monday morning swim buddy. They were all finishing their first loop. The cloud cover was particularly nice during the run, meaning that it wasn’t too hot! I did end up pouring water over my head at some of the aid stations though – felt so good. I encountered Emma, Alasdair and Kristin again later as they were heading for the finish line and I was starting my 2nd loop. So depressing to see others finishing and to know that you have to run the loop again! I think I prefer out and back courses – though with 2 loops, athletes do get to see each other more frequently! I had no issues on the run, other than being limited by cardio. My legs felt fine! In the end, I finished the run at a pace of about 6:20 min/km, and the triathlon with a final time of 3:11:37, about 6 minutes slower than last year. I got a great high five from Ailish as I reached the finish line!

2016-08-27 | 2016 MultiSport Wasaga Beach Triathlon (Saturday)
Getting a high five from Ailish at the finish!

2016-08-27 | 2016 MultiSport Wasaga Beach Triathlon (Saturday)
A rare smile! Must be at the finish!

After the race, I found Alasdair and we enjoyed a carton of chocolate milk – so refreshing after a long workout. In fact, Alasdair (and Emma!) had entered a contest earlier in the year, and both ended up being the Recharge with Milk racer of the day. The title came with a pretty sweet prize pack – a free race entry, chocolate milk for a month (valued at $30), a cooler on wheels, and all kinds of Recharge with Milk swag (a sweater, hat, race bib holder, ice pack, towel, and more!).

We watched the awards, and before packing up our stuff I checked the race results and noticed that I didn’t have a run time or finish time. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. I went to the Sportstats tent and gave them the finish time on my watch, which they used to give me an official result and a run time.

Post-race. [Photo credit: Ailish]
Before leaving Wasaga Beach, we spent a while swimming at the super crowded beach (though the water wasn’t too bad!).

Race stats*

Given the technical issues with timing, race stats aren’t quite accurate. In my age group there were 17 athletes, but final times for only 14 of us.

Time: 3:11:17 (7/14 women aged 40-44, 81/126 women, 208/344 athletes)

1500 m swim: 39:57.5 (11/17 women aged 40-44, 72/126 women, 242/344 athletes)

Run up (from beach to transition): 0:38

T1: 2:17

40 k bike: 1:22:53.5 (11/17 women aged 40-44, 64/126 women, 233/344 athletes)

T2: 2:25

10 k run: 1:03:28.2 (7/17 women aged 40-44, 63/126 women, 209/344 athletes)


Race report: Wasaga Beach Olympic triathlon (sea-sick swim, volunteer stints and a trumpet)

Enough with the choppy race swims! Had I known what we would be facing on race morning, the weekend might have looked a little different…

This was to be my 3rd time racing in Wasaga beach – in 2013 I had a great Olympic triathlon, and in 2014 I raced my first ever international Olympic duathlon, when high wind and waves forced a cancellation of the swim (it was a 10k run, 40k bike, 5k run instead). The last few years have brought wild weather and rough conditions for the Wasaga races – John Salt of Multisport Canada Triathlon Series thanked the athletes for sticking with the race!

We decided to bring the kids with us for the first time this triathlon season – as volunteers (we’ve been leaving them home to avoid ridiculously early wake-up times for them – and grumpy travel companions for us). Friday night we stayed with our friends Myra and Doug in Owen Sound, and then Saturday morning we left at 7 AM for the 1 1/2 hour drive to Wasaga Beach. We arrived around 8:30 AM, plenty of time to get ready for the 10:30 AM race start and to get the kids set up for volunteering. The weather forecast was a high of 22 degrees Celsius feeling like 25, possible light showers in the morning, winds of 10 km/h, and partly sunny in the afternoon – it sounded promising. And as we drove through Meaford on our way to Wasaga, the waters of Georgian Bay looked dead calm… could it be?

I put my bike in the transition zone and then went through registration with Ailish, getting my race bib, swim cap, and timing chip, and getting body marked. I took the kids over to the volunteer tent where we grabbed shirts for them, and then we headed to the finish line, where they were to fill water cups and hand them out to athletes who had just finished the race (Ailish had me email the volunteer coordinator a couple of days before the race to say that she “really really really didn’t want to remove stinky timing chips from sweaty ankles” at the finish line!). They were put to work right away, since the try-a-tri was already underway (and they have volunteered before, so they knew what to do!). I left them and went back to set up my stuff in transition. I must say that bringing the kids leaves less room for nerves, since I have to be thinking about them too!

Obligatory pre-race selfie

I had lots of time to make repeated portapotty visits, check on the kids, chat with Irina from Perpetually Moving Target, and watch an older gentleman from the try-a-tri run the wrong way through the transition zone to start his run, necessitating a climb over the fence (I was worried he was going to fall!).

After the pre-race meeting in the transition zone, Alasdair and I mugged for the race photographers, but I had no idea he was making a face!

Alasdair being… Alasdair! [Photo by My Sports Shooter]
1500m swim

With a 10:30 AM race start, there was just enough time for the waves on Lake Huron to pick up! I went down to the water before Alasdair, and asked another triathlete to zip my wetsuit up. I went for a short warm-up swim, discovering that the waves were in fact quite big, but maybe not as big as the ones in Goderich two weeks ago… However, given my experience there, I knew I would feel pukey by the end. I zipped up my swim coach Mat’s wetsuit and then found Alasdair. We wished each other good luck, and then lined up for the race, with Alasdair in wave 2 of 4, and me in wave 3.

I’m in there somewhere, lined up with the rest of the white caps – the waves were much bigger than they appear here! Really! [Photo by My Sports Shooter]
We started in the water, but when the horn sounded, athletes starting running and walking further out, where eventually we would reach deep water. Wasaga Beach has many sandbars, so that even after I started swimming, I looked up and noticed people walking, so I started walking again, and then eventually started swimming for real. The start of the swim was perpendicular to shore and nearly directly into the waves. Swimming toward the 1st turning buoy, it was hard to see and hard to breathe. I felt sea sick before reaching that first turning buoy (and was thinking, “I do this for fun!”). The smell of gasoline from one of the rescue boats didn’t help matters. After a sharp left turn, the waves were coming from the right side, which wasn’t as bad. I did manage to swallow some water and make myself choke, but I recovered and continued on to the 2nd and last turning buoy. By the time I got there, I really was not feeling well. After turning, I was swimming toward shore, with the waves nearly directly behind me. As I swam they lifted me up (like a roller coaster) and I was feeling awful. I started burping, and not too long after the turn I felt my mouth go tingly and I threw up (liquid only) and then had a huge burp. I didn’t know how I was going to get to shore – I felt so awful and thought I might puke more. However, I was not yet at the point of flagging down the lifeguards on paddle boards for help! I stopped frequently to sight and try not to vomit. The distance to shore seemed so far. I was thinking that if ever waves were this big again, I would switch to the duathlon (I later realized that there was no duathlon that day – it was the next day – Sunday). I didn’t know if I would continue the race after the swim or stop and go volunteer with the kids. I decided to start the bike, and if I continued to feel awful I would quit.

Normally I swim right into the shore as much as possible, but this time, as soon as I could touch the ground I stood up. I commiserated with the athletes around me about the terrible swim, and started taking my wetsuit off while continuing to walk to shore (it is shallow quite a ways out). It felt so good to be done that swim!

Never been happier to be standing on 2 feet! [Photo by My Sports Shooter]
I took the rest of my wetsuit off, and left it with my goggles and swim cap in the transition zone. I grabbed my helmet, sunglasses, socks and shoes, grabbed my bike and headed out for the bike course.

Swim stats*:

Note: I have found that Sportstats.ca gives wonky placements. When I look at the actual times of the swimmers in my age group, I see that I beat 5 women, and this is what Sportstats says (I was 11/16), but my bike and run placements are wrong. So the placements you see here are the result of me going through each athlete in the list and seeing how many I actually beat on each segment. Hence no “overall” stats per race segment – I’m not combing through 275 athletes! Surely the computer should be able to do this accurately for them?!

Time: 40:39.9 (2:42/100m)

Run up time (from water to transition zone): 0:37

Women 40-44 placing: 11/16

Gender placing: 77/105

T1: 1:48

40k bike

I felt pukey at the start of the bike, but thankfully the feeling went away fairly quickly! I forced myself to drink gatorade and to have a chocolate peanut butter ball, even though I didn’t feel like eating and all I could think about eating after that swim was something in the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast)! Sadly, I hadn’t brought any of that stuff with me!

Less than 5k in, a squirrel ran onto the road in front of me, stopped, pondered life, and had me thinking, “I puked on the swim, and now I’m going to crash because of a squirrel!” Thankfully it made the right decision and ran off the road before I hit it or had to take evasive action (Alasdair later told me that he growls at them to make them clear the road – I will have to try that next time.).

Also near the beginning of the bike course, a police office made me laugh when he said, “Almost done!”

This bike course is mostly flat, with only 2 small hills. There were lots of cottagers/ residents out on the roads near the water cheering for us. I was passed by a few people at the start just after the mount line, but then I wasn’t passed by anyone else the entire race except for 2 guys at around 20k – this shows how terrible my swim was! I passed quite a few cyclists, including going up those 2 hills. I averaged around 30 km/h for the first 25 km, but when I hit the 25 km marker, turned the corner, and hit the headwind, my speed slowed! This ride was different in that I essentially biked it “alone”. No leapfrogging with other athletes. We were relatively far apart, and only as I caught and passed the other athletes did I have company on the ride! The police officers directing traffic were great – one woman in particular warned us of a tight corner.

Nearly done the bike [Photo by My Sports Shooter]
Bike stats:

Time: 1:22:30.6 (29.09 km/h)

Women 40-44 placing: 7/16

Gender placing: 44/105 (I’m pretty proud of this stat!)

T2: 2:01 (includes pee break)

10k run

My legs felt great at the start of the run. I saw the kids as I ran past the finish line to start the run, yelled “Ailish!” but unfortunately she didn’t hear me (it was loud with music, cheering etc.). She later told me that she wanted to see me to know that I was okay.

Keaghan and Ailish at the finish line filling water cups

I dealt with a minor cramp near the beginning but managed to control it with breathing – it went away, and I had no more cramps during the run. I was averaging around 5:45-5:50 min/km, which is faster than I have been running in races lately, so I was pretty happy about that!

I didn’t see Alasdair during the race until the run, when I was at around the 1k mark, and he was at the 4k mark. I saw him again 2 more times, because we ran a 5k loop 2 times. As I ran along, another athlete asked me if I had heard a woman yelling “Run Forest!” (I hadn’t.)

Heading out on my 2nd 5k loop [Photo by My Sports Shooter]
I was able to hold my pace for the entire 10k run, not even slowing down to take any water or Heed at the aid stations. It wasn’t hot out, and I wasn’t feeling thirsty (normally I would have had something to drink). I also didn’t want to slow down and not be able to regain the pace I had been holding.

Just before the finish, while I was running along the beach, I spotted Alasdair, and heard him yell, “That’s my wife!”

Done! [Photo by My Sports Shooter]
Run stats:

Time: 57:30.4 (5:45 min/km)

Women 40-44 placing: 7/16

Gender placing: 61/105

Despite the crappy swim, I’m happy with my bike ride (though I know I could have gone faster) and even happier with my run. A tough day, but I’m glad I didn’t give up.

Overall stats:

Time: 3:05:05.8

Women 40-44 placing: 10/16

Gender placing: 60/105

[Photo by Ailish]
After the awards were given out, I won a hat when my name was the first one called for draw prizes! I left shortly afterward to go check on the kids at the finish line, and ended up helping them prep those stinky sweaty timing chips for Sunday’s races – undoing them, doing them back up nicely, and attaching them to the boards. I had fun (despite the smell)!

The kids got the same lunch as the athletes did (pizza, fruit, pretzels), and then we played at the beach for a while before heading back to Owen Sound.

For comparison, 2013 stats:

Time: 2:58:20.9

Swim: 38:41 (2:34 min/100m)

Bike: 1:18:02 (30.76 km/h)

Run: 56:56 (5:41 min/km)

Sunday Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon Volunteer Stint

Alasdair, Keaghan, Ailish and I all signed up to volunteer for the sprint triathlon and duathlon, so we drove the 1 1/2 hours back to Wasaga Beach to work the 1k/4k aid station with another family. While we filled cups of water and Heed and handed them out to athletes, Alasdair played his trumpet, taking requests from some of them.

Alasdair warms up

Some he could play, and some songs he had never heard of! We had made a sign and put it just before the aid station so people could think of songs they wanted to hear.


One older gentleman asked for a song from the 1940s, which he hummed for Alasdair, but that didn’t help!

Alasdair plays for the athletes

Two women requested Eye of the Tiger both times they passed him, and two men who weren’t even in the race offered him $15 if he’d go up the road to their friend’s house and play Reveille to wake him up!

Keaghan hands my swim coach Mat some water

We had fun volunteering, as we always do. Athletes are so grateful for a tiny cup of water or an encouraging word! Speaking from experience I can say that someone cheering for me when I’m thinking I’ll never finish means more than they will ever know. I’d recommend that all athletes find a race to volunteer at – these races wouldn’t be possible without all the volunteers, and volunteering is such a rewarding experience!