Bracebridge will be my last triathlon of this year.  I decided I couldn’t do any more triathlons until I can make bike rides of 2 hours or more a regular part of my lifestyle.  I knew this about a week before the race, and to be honest, I found it liberating.  I love triathlon and I hope to be doing it the rest of my life, but leading up to the race, and pretty much all season long, I felt guilt about miles I wasn’t getting in (especially on the bike).

I had done a pretty good job of exercising on the whole, but when I wanted to do Yoga or Pilates or Crossfit or Burbathlon I often did, yet at the end of the week (or whenever) I’d look at my mileage on Endomondo and cringe.  I don’t want to cringe anymore, I want to have fun.

I (or I should say, we) do have a few runs and endurance races in our near future.  First is the Levac Attack back for 2013.  We’ll be running the ‘Hard Taco’ event at 11.2 km.  We’re hoping Shark Boy will bike it beside us, with the Lightning Kid in the Chariot except for the last few hundred meters where we’ll try and get him to run/walk.  It’s on September 7th; if you’d like to donate, please click here.  We’d love to have you if you’d like to run it too, registration ends August 29th.  There’ll be great t-shirts, a bouncy castle for the kids, post race food from the Pickle Barrel, you name it.

The next week is a double-header with the Terry Fox run for the whole family on the Saturday.  We’ll probably do 5 km with both boys in a combination of Chariot and Bike, much like last year.

The next day (Sunday) I’ll be doing a trail run with the 5 Peaks series.  I had great fun with them last year, and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to fit in more of their races this year.  There’s a kid event I’m hoping I can get Shark Boy to do… maybe even the Lightning Kid, who knows?

Last but not least, Shark Boy will have a return appearance at the Kids Of Steel Duathlon run by Family Fun Fit on the weekend of September 21st.  That day has another big event, but I’m not going to talk about it in this post.

Triathlon season may be over for me, but the multi-sport fitness adventures continue!

Race Recap: Bracebridge Olympic Triathlon

After last year’s no-show, I was eager to sink my teeth into this course.  I had an English muffin with Nutella for breakfast, and I decided to go with something a little extra: there was Cinnamon Toast Crunch on the kitchen counter and I had a bowl of that too.

I drove to Annie Williams Park with my wife, mother-in-law and the Lightning Kid in tow.  I was a little surprised to see how small the transition and race area seeemed; the Sprint Triathlon had taken place the day before, so I guess it was only a fraction of the usual field of athletes I see at these events.  I hadn’t gotten there much before the official start time, but everything was so nicely contained that I had lots of time to organize my transition area and get my wet-suit on after getting my bib and race kit yet before the pre-race briefing.


The swim was in the Muskoka river, and the water was quite warm and pleasant.  It was my first time experiencing the time-trial start.  Athletes lined up by bib number along the dock and started 5 seconds apart.  The crew did a fantastic job calling bib number blocks (about 50 at a time) and getting them organized.  It was a little anti-climactic realizing the race had already started when I saw about 20 swimmers in the water (I was #128), but it was such a smooth way to go to see the people in front of you take off one at a time and have a little space of your own to start your swim in.

The course started going with the current – apparently, I have to say the current seemed negligible to me, in fact, I had to look up which part was upriver and which one was downriver on the Multisport Canada website.  I did end up with a little physical contact with other swimmers occasionally, especially on the turns, but it’s nothing compared to a normal mass swim.  I honestly felt like I was keeping up a pretty good clip, and with a little sprint to the swim exit, I was out of the water in my fastest swim time for the Olympic distance.

Time: 28:07

Transition 1

Oof.  This part was not the greatest.  I like wearing my Garmin on the swim because I like knowing swim metrics, and I get little alerts for every 100 m I swim which helps keep me motivated, but I have to wear it on the outside of the wet-suit.  That means I should remove it before trying to take off the wet-suit – that is not what I did.  I ended up struggling with getting my right sleeve off.

Problem two: I didn’t wear a one piece tri-suit.  I simply feel more comfortable in my tri-shirt, but it’s too loose to wear under the wet-suit without causing bunching and chafing on the back of my neck, so I have to put it on my wet torso in transition and that’s always another tangle.  The gels I had put in the pockets fell out and I had to pick them up.

Last but not least, based on a good riding experience the week before, I had decided to put on compression socks.  I should have gotten body-marked on the back of my knee, because the socks hid my age (not that I mind that much), and there’s no fast way to put on compression socks, at least not correctly.  I simply had to eat that time cost.

The good news was I managed my Garmin correctly (although I hit the timers a little late in transition) and every leg got measured.

Time: 4:08


Exiting the park, I saw one fallen rider and one with mechanical problems, which should have been a bad omen, but wasn’t (at least for me).  In spite of there being a construction problem with a bridge in the first kilometer or two of the course, triathletes were able to cross the bridge unimpeded thanks to great co-operation between the race organizers, the provincial police, the district of Muskoka and most importantly the drivers who had to wait held up at the bridge (my thanks to all of you!).

Muskoka is notoriously hilly in general, but I found this course to have a few really good flat sections where you could really work up a good head of steam.  I was seeing speeds over 30 km/h a lot more often than I usually do.  Which is not to say there weren’t leg-busting hills…. there were times where there was no choice but to stand on the pedals in the lowest possible gear.

I had someone call my name on the bike, it was the guy from TriMuskoka (whose name I can’t recall – sorry buddy!).  He told me he liked the blog posts – then passed me.  Still, I get passed by lots of people without an attaboy for my writing, so I appreciated that.

I still struggle with maintaining focus and the right effort/pace in the middle parts of the course.  I tried rolling through a few different mantras: Seek The Hard, Attah!  I also thought about how much the Lightning Kid has grown and learned in spite of the fact that he’s been dealt a hand that makes such things a little harder… I don’t mind telling you I got a little misty on the bike course, but I tried to use that as a little inspiration.

I figured that it was my last triathlon of the season, and I should leave it all on the course and imagined completely destroying myself and being reborn from the ashes like a phoenix.  That thought was a little melodramatic for my tastes and needed to be dialed back, but you get the idea.

There were some sharp 90 degree turns that made my teeth sweat a little, but if I’m honest I probably like a little excitement like that during the bike course.  On the last 3 km or so, I made sure to really keep the effort level high, and after dismounting, I ran my bike into transition.  I saw my family and started an ATTAH! chant which went over gang-busters with the crowd, but not with the Lightning Kid himself.

Here’s a sample of what I was looking for:

Time: 1:26:06

Transition 2

I wanted to make up any uneccessary time lost in T1 here; racked the bike, took off the helmet and bike shoes, slipped on my Zoot triathlon racing flats (no laces) and I was off.  I put on my hat as I exited transition.

Time: 1:14


I like a simple out-and-back; no keeping track of laps, and you get two cracks at every aid station.  This course didn’t have that much to look at (for Muskoka), but it was pretty flat, and better yet, there was plenty of shade.  I had so much more strength when it wasn’t being sapped by blistering heat.  I really think it was the perfect weather that day; I had noticed headwinds on the bike sometimes, but it was worth it to get a cooling breeze on the run.

I got a chance to see a friend from high school on the run.  He’s a marathoner who did his first Sprint Tri the day before and volunteered to hand out water on the run with his son.  The volunteers were super on the race all around.

I did a lot of checking my Garmin on the run and my pace on the way out was looking good for maybe even a PB, but it kept spiking over 90% on the way back even at paces too slow to make that grade.

With a little over a kilometer left, I checked my overall time. 2:49… not enough to beat 2:53 (what I thought was my PB – it’s actually 2:52:38) – I wasn’t going to make a 4 minute kilometer at that stage, but getting under 3 hours (and thus better than my last 3 Olympic distance races) was nicely within reached.  I took a little walk break to make sure I had my best for the finish line and went for it.  When I could see the end I started another ATTAH chant, picked up the Lighting Kid and carried him (a little bewildered) across the finish line.

Time: 57:57


Overall Time: 2:57:29

My best time since 2010, and a smidgen better than Muskoka 5150 which I called a stepping stone to this one.  I was hurting after the finish line and I knew I did what I set out to do in terms of nearly destroying myself… I had to lie down, and couldn’t really muster a good stretch.

I remember feeling similarly at Wasaga last time.  The post race rewards of Hero Burgers and Chocolate Milk are a big draw for me, but I felt too lousy to really enjoy them… this time, after enough of a recovery break, I really savoured both, and the chocolate milk was one of the greatest things I’ve ever tasted….

The Multisport Canada series races are always friendly and I found this locale especially good with local support and manageable terrain.  I think I’d put in my Top 5 races.

Race Preview: Bracebridge Olympic Tri 2013

I had said that this was going to be my redemption race.  I had said I was going to work on hills, put in more distance on the bike, and work on my transitions.  Let’s see what happened in terms of cycling mileage…


Not exactly Olympic Triathlon type volume there.  What happened? Let me break down my biking blues…

Bike Blues

On July 1st, a week after completing the Muskoka 5150, for a first training ride, I got a flat tire. Which cut that ride short.  I tried to fix that tire, but when I packed my bike for the next weekend, I noticed another flat; so much for my repair job.

I opted to get the tube replacement done professionally and bought a set of new tires as part of it.  Things were looking good.  I have an adjustable goose-neck (a.k.a headset) that lets me have my handlebars a little higher which is easier on my neck when I’m in aero-position.  I had lowered it a few weeks ago to improve how aerodynamically I can ride.  We were invited to my father-in-law’s place for dinner, so I opted to take my bike for what should have been a 13km ride.  I found that the handlebars kept dropping every time I hit a bump – I could pull them back up to a reasonable position, but all this would do is wear out the threads on the adjustable goose-neck.  I cut the ride short before I flew over the handlebars and called for a pick-up.

I tried to fix this problem by re-installing the original headset, but I must have gotten things wrong, because I ended up with handlebars that wouldn’t turn.  Another stop at another bike shop.  

All set up to make my final pre-race ride, right? Wrong.  After 8km on Saturday, the skies opened up and drenched me, and Papa won’t risk skidding out on the road a week before the race.  I ended up making that one up the next day, but Plan A of having both a ride and a brick on the same long weekend was ruined.

I haven’t done any transition practice either.  I may play a little with getting my bike shoes on and off and mentally re-hearse/visualize my T1 steps this week.  My final open-water swim didn’t feel particularly strong, but the numbers actually looked pretty good over 2km.  Getting the wet-suit on and off wasn’t as bad as I remembered either.

Preview: Swim

The Bracebridge Olympic Triathlon swim is a single loop in the Muskoka river.  Though the 5150 swim course has some current, I don’t consider myself an experienced river swimmer.  I might try and compensate for the current when crossing the river, but overall I hope the challenges give the rest of my age-group more problems than me, and I come out a little ahead.; that’s the best I can hope for.

Preview: Bike

The bike course looks like it comprises a few tricky turns that I hope everyone respects and some of the classic Muskoka hills to climb…
The big hill on my last ride.  To get a sense of scale, look for the car in the pic.
I wore compression socks for the first time while riding (I haven’t loved them for running yet) this past weekend, and I could swear they made me feel a little stronger.  Putting them on for race day will make for a slow T1, so I’m not too sure whether or not I’ll wear them.  I’m not really bad on hills altogether, I think my bigger problem is staying focused and maintaining the right pace after 30 km or so.

The ride promises to be scenic, which can enhance my enjoyment, and I’m glad to see it’s keeping us away from Highway 11 and its bridges/ramps.

Preview: Run

I managed to do a brick (bike/run) using my Merrell Trail Gloves without damaging my Achilles’ tendons.  This course doesn’t seem to have any trail components, so wearing my Salomons might be overkill and maybe I can get away with my Zoot racing flats.  On the other hand, having some cushioning generally lets me be a little more reckless in my pacing.  I’ll bring both and follow my gut on race day.


As an official ‘Redemption Race’ to make up for not making it to the starting line last year, things are looking bleak – any sort of PB is pretty unlikely here.  Trying to be positive means going to the race site, grateful for the fact that I can do this kind of thing at all, and have fun while I’m out there.  I’m going to channel my inner Phaedra from Blisters and Black Toenails while on the course; she’s been killing it and racking up age-group podium spots all season.  I don’t have to have that result to have that spirit, do I?