I’ve read triathlon race recaps that have to be broken up into several parts; I used to complain (to myself) that they were too long, but I think I get it now. A lot goes into these longer races, and my experience at the Barrelman Triathlon fits the bill. I learned a lot, felt a lot, suffered a lot, smiled a lot. So, while I’m not sure how to break up the actual race experience, I’m going to devote this post to everything leading up to my swim start.
On the Saturday, we took the Kids to Ashbridges Bay for the Beaches Kids of Steel Duathlon. I wanted to devote my energy to getting the Lightning Kid through his first race, and it turned out we had registered Shark Boy for the age 6-7 category, which meant no parents on the race course. Luckily, he’s always been able to roll with changing circumstances, and he’s done enough of these to feel confident.
Taking the Lightning Kid through his race acted as a nice little shake-out run for me, and he did a fantastic job. He ran the first leg (50m) hard enough to get a little gassed, and I helped him with his helmet and bike. He walked the bike (which he didn’t get to practice much before hand) out of transition to the mount line, and then we took off. There were occasional stops to look at dogs, and I’m actually proud he chose to dismount for the one part where a decline was too steep – discretion is the better part of valour, after all. Not that he lacks guts; he managed to get his glider bike up the biggest incline on the course (600m) and rode quickly back into transition. The way to get him to keep up the pace was simply to say “FAST!”…. I must have said it 100 times in the race. We headed out for the final run (100m) and before I knew it he was crossing the finish line to collect his medal, and his high-fives of course.
Shark Boy had to tackle new distances this year. I already mentioned how well he dealt with having his expectations subverted – this was a big deal, since he hasn’t turned 6 yet, and was expecting to win or place in a race where everyone was younger or smaller. In the 6-7 age category, he’s a small fish in the big pond again. He handled all the distances (longer than he’s experienced before 250m run, 1.0km bike, 100m run) no problem, and I explained that running with the big dogs and not coming first was worth more than coming in first in a contest that is easy. He seemed to get it.
After a celebratory round on a trampoline they had there, we headed home and I got to packing. I had intended to dash off right after the kids’ race, but with the mandatory athlete briefings at 2:30 and 5:00, I could opt for the second one and linger a bit. I figured I’d be leaving my wife with both of them for the rest of the night, so whatever I could do to lessen the load before leaving was a good move. The Lightning Kid was tired, so I helped get him down for a nap, and apparently the plan was to go see a movie, Shaun the Sheep, which would be the Lightning Kid’s first trip to the movie theatre. I left the house at 2:00PM for the drive to Welland, and got a text message that while they were all playing in the back yard, Shark Boy had locked his mother out of the house in a fit of pique. Guess he’s the one who should have had a nap – not a good sign for peace on the home front.
The drive to Welland was peppered with rain showers and some downpours, but the forecast for Sunday/Race Day was good, so I didn’t get too worried; I just didn’t like my bike getting wet on my car roof. The swim and T1 were located at the Welland International Flatwater Centre which is used for open water races such as Dragon Boating, Kayak, and Rowing. I got my race kit/swag, different gear bags and timing chips. The rain kept me from experiencing the exhibitors at the expo, and some were packing up for the day anyway. I did get a chance to talk to Jessica from LifeSport Coaching about getting our kids involved in multi-sport; getting them on bikes seems to be a common difficulty.
The Welland International Flatwater Centre in the rain
I was on Periscope a fair bit that day, and I’ve compiled all the scopes I did on Saturday into one video:
As you can see, I got my race kit, scoped out the swim venue as best I could, spied on bikes and drove to Niagara Falls. During the race briefing, they mentioned several spots on the road where large trucks carrying the blades for wind turbines had damaged the roads. I knew those wind turbines would be an interesting sight on the ride, and it certainly was windy in the general area. From Welland, I made my way to the Chippawa area of Niagara Falls, where I stayed in a cheap motel steps away from Kingsbridge Park where the T2 transition area was to be. I described the motel as a “great place for a drug deal to go bad”, it reeked of cigarette smoke, had borderline no hot water, and various other failings, but it had free wifi, the owner was a nice enough fellow, and it was one of the better deals for accommodation in the local area. I organized my gear into the various bags (black was to keep my wet-suit and anything else I would drop in T1 – Welland to be transported to the race finish, red had anything I’d need in T2 for the run, and a clear bag for anything I’d need after the race was done like clean, dry clothes), then tried to go to sleep. I got a late night text message. The Lightning Kid was having difficulty breathing; throughout the cold and flu season this seems to happen. He wakes up wheezing, and difficulty breathing is pretty serious. When we take him to the hospital emergency room, sometimes it’s not really anything, but at least once he’s had pneumonia. This time ended up being one of the worse ones – my wife stayed up with him from 10 PM to 3 AM before taking him to the hospital – he would be put on an oxygen mask and given oral steroids for the better part of Sunday morning. Plan A had been for my mother to take care of the kids so my wife could take a bus to Niagara Falls and cheer me on for the run portion, and we’d take Sunday night as a romantic getaway. Instead, my mother went to the hospital to assist my wife, Shark Boy went to his grandfather’s house for Sunday, and I would race alone.
Of course, a big part of me was questioning what kind of man I was, not being at the side of my wife and family, and instead gallivanting about in some vain attempt to prove something… to who? For what? Did I think I was some kind of hero or something? Then I’d argue that I’d come this far (including a fair distance from the hospital and home), and I should try to enjoy the day. So my mindset went from giving my all to simply trying to auto-pilot my way through the race and soaking in some of the experience while fighting the temptation to throw in the towel and go home to take care of business on the home front.
I drove to the parking lot of the Rapidsview Park (getting a little lost on the way), with plenty of time to spare. I’m guessing I caught one of the first shuttle buses. Though I joked to the crowd:”Anyone feel like doing a little swimming, biking and running today?” my mood was dark and I mostly kept to myself on the bus ride back to Welland. I verified my fear that I hadn’t packed my timing chip into any of my gear bags, it was still back in my car. This is the kind of little mistake that is no big deal when you arrive with time to spare, but the end of the world when you’re running late. Fortunately, I fell into the former camp and joked with the volunteers about being in a special little club with other who had done the same. I set up my transition area, including mounting my phone on my bike, but not before I took my last selfie before the swim.
I headed down to the water and waded in to get a few practice strokes in. The water was surpisingly warm, and the swim was less about a warm-up than just checking that the wet-suit was on comfortably. I met my friend Peter, and helped him with his Garmin. The elite and first two swim waves went off starting at 9:00 and every 5 minutes after that. You could start on either side of this floating divider, and though they encouraged faster swimmers to go on the far side of it, the far side was more crowded so I ended up floating on the side closer to shore as I waited for the horn to go off. I had a long day ahead of me. To be continued! You can still donate to my RODS Racing Page to aid in the adoption of an orphan with Down syndrome.
This is the final week of “training” before the Barrelman Triathlon. I put training in quotation marks, because between lower back pain, a head cold (that descended to my chest on Sunday), and some of the rainiest weather I’ve seen in at least a month, I haven’t been hitting a lot of workouts. I thank my lucky stars that I’m tapering, and the workouts don’t count as much (or at least that’s how I’m consoling myself).
The good news is that I’ve gotten chiropractic treatment for my back and it’s been improving slowly yet steadily, and I’ve got until next Sunday to shake this cold. Doctor Wife’s prescription is to be in bed by 10:00PM (N.B. my wife is not a doctor, but I still think it’s a good prescription).
I’m feeling ambivalent about the last few weeks of training that I’ve been through. On the one hand, I’ve hit new records for distance in every sport (all time distance for open water swim and bike, and 2 year records for running, pool swim record probably occurred earlier in the season), I’m faster and stronger than I’ve probably ever been, and I’m thankful that I’ve been able to undertake the journey at all. Still, I feel controlled by the program: Monday=Strength, Tuesday=Swim+Run and so on. I was watching a Periscope a few weeks ago where the host was distinguishing between exercise and training. If I understood her correctly, training has a finite goal, and is structured to serve that purpose, whereas exercise is more about general maintenance, health and fun. I commented that I missed exercise and was sick of training, but I don’t think I really made myself clear. I just want to take an exercise class for fun sometimes, without questioning which of the 3 masters (Swim, Bike, Run) I’m serving.
This needs updating with a bunch of other new ideas…
I’m already wondering what I’m going to do with myself when it’s done; which feels like a mistake, because I haven’t finished the race yet. Still, stay with me for a bit while I ruminate. Most of all, I want to re-devote my time to my family; while I think I did ‘Walk The Line’ the way I said I would on my Vision Board, how can I ever really give enough? Big ticket items include volunteering with Shark Boy’s Beaver Scout Colony and helping the Lightning Kid with speech and occupational Therapy work.
The race weekend is going to be a hectic one. On Friday, I turn 42, so this race is kind of my birthday present to myself, and the sacrifices my family has made are the only presents I really wanted. Saturday will see us put both boys in the Family Fun Fit Beaches Kids of Steel Duathlon. This will be Shark Boy‘s fourth year, but the Lightning Kid’s first. He’s been really improving on a glider bike, and participated in a bike camp during the summer to get better on a pedal bike with training wheels. The trick will be keeping him focused on forward motion rather than waving at fans. He also does fall off sometimes, and even steers into his father’s legs (trying to cause a DNS no doubt). From the race, I’m going to Welland to set up my T1 and bike, pick up my race kit and get informed and oriented, then I head to a cheap motel in Niagara Falls on my own. My wife will be in Niagara Falls on Sunday to cheer me on (for the run leg) and then we’ll have our romantic getaway night… sore muscles and all.
Remember, you can still sponsor me and donate to RODS Racing; we’re still short of sending Laura home to a loving family. I’ll be wearing my official kit if you see me there! Wish me luck this weekend!
Disclaimer: I was provided with the product for review purposes and compensated for preparing the review. All opinions are my own.
I write about triathlon, I read about triathlon, and I talk about triathlon to people both in real life and online. What’s keeping most non-triathletes from participating in the sport, as far as I can tell, is swimming. Improving your swim is as straightforward as spending time practising in your local pool.
What unnerves even experienced triathletes who have logged countless hours in the pool is swimming in the open water. For example, see Organic Runner Mom here, or Fitness Cheerleader here. While I see this as mostly a psychological hang-up, it is true that open water swimming carries a little more risk than the pool: you might not be able to see or touch the bottom, there are wind and waves (or maybe even current) to deal with, there could even be an encounter with watercraft or wildlife. Yet training your open water swim is very necessary to a triathlete; unless every race you compete in is in a pool, you’ll need to deal with some of the aforementioned factors, as well as skills like sighting, bilateral breathing and rounding corners, or simply the novel sensation of wearing a wet-suit.
It seems to me like if there was a way to give triathletes a psychological crutch AND something to use should an actual emergency or physical difficulty occur, without impeding the swimmer’s technique, we could have a lot more happy triathletes.
I think RESTUBE is the solution. RESTUBE is a portable buoy that can be used for flotation. With it folded up on a belt pouch, you can swim with it strapped around your waist without it getting in your way at all, and a simple pull on a cord will inflate it should you find yourself needing extra flotation. It can also be manually inflated with a mouth valve – then you’d simply pull it along behind you and it’s size and colour would make you more visible to boaters or any other people observing you from a distance.
Have a look at this video for further illustration:
A few notes from the video:
The weight I mention in the introduction comes from the extra two CO2 cartridges in the box. When you swim with just one, it’s much lighter, and if you were to manually inflate the RESTUBE and have no cartridge, the weight would be next to nothing.
I’m 5’11” tall and a lot of that length is in my legs. Many other swimmers would not experience their feet hitting the tube while swimming. Even for me, it wasn’t a physical impediment to my swim, just a bit of a mental distraction.
The CO2 cartridges use compressed gas, which have special considerations for air travel. If you were travelling by air to a destination where you wanted to use your RESTUBE, you’d need to notify the airline and follow the procedures they mandate, simply limit the number of cartridges you pack. The RESTUBE instructions include guidelines for air travel – which is great, because RESTUBE would be handy for snorkeling, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding or other water activities you might undertake on vacation.
UPDATE: Innovation Sports contacted me and let me know that: “Quick note about the green clip you didn’t find in the box, if you had opened the RESTUBE before using it in the water, you would have noticed this little green clip was on the unit. When you trigger it, it breaks the clip and it is now in the lake somewhere… it is normal.
When customers are purchase the pack of 2 replacement cartridges, there are 2 clips in the package for this use. We haven’t provided you with the green replacement clips as we sent you demo cartridges that are only used normally for demos, trade shows and testing. They are bulk, not to be sold and they do not come with the clip.
The unit can be used without a clip no problem. The green clip normally just reminds you that the cartridge is FULL of air. Once used, it becomes RED to tell you the cartridge is empty and needs to be replaced. This is a visual help. The clips also ensure that you do not trigger it too easily… just a safety clip to avoid triggering it for nothing.
Please note that Triathlon Quebec is accepting the product for races. We are working on getting the approval for races by Ironman and also Triathlon Canada.
We just got yesterday the note from RESTUBE that USAT approved it for races in USA!”
Additionally, they have provided a code which lets Canadian customers get FREE Shipping! Simply use RT2015 when checking out. Again, here’s the link to Innovation Sports.
How about you? Would knowing you had a flotation buoy at your fingertips make you feel more comfortable and secure in the water? Would you inflate the buoy before starting for visibility, or just keep it folded up for the just-in-case?
I’ve never exactly been Mr. Supplements. I’ll take multi-vitamins, but I’m pretty unreliable at taking them regularly. Other than that, I started doing an occasional smoothie during the Doctor’s Diet at the beginning of the year. I knew though, that the coming year of Half-Iron training would require some changes. I need protein to build muscle and recover from harder workouts, but most of all, I need it to feel full during the day and help me steer clear of sugary carbohydrate loaded snacks that are too easy to come by around the office and in my life in general. I’d also need to replace electrolytes lost in sweat on longer efforts; simply putting water back into my body wasn’t going to be enough. So I’m glad I’m an Ambassador for Everlast Nutrition which has put me in a position to access both Everlast VP Vegan Protein, and Ever last Fuel.
VP Vegan Protein
I’ve already reviewed the VP Vegan Protein here, but since then, I’ve gotten better at mixing it into smoothies and other products. I’ve mixed it into our pancake mix which I’ll call a success. I’ve used a VP smoothie (just water and the powder) instead of milk on my cereal with fruit. It was a sweeter treat than the usual, but something I could definitely get used to.
I thought that Vanilla/Sea Salt flavour might go well in my coffee, but that mixture was not a success; somehow it just didn’t work taste-wise. I might try again with some coconut oil to make it creamier and add some healthy fat, like a bulletproof coffee.
This is my favourite. Do you remember creamsicles? Orange popsicles with a vanilla creamy filling? Putting FUEL into water makes a sports drink that tastes like that. I’ve noticed a lot of performance nutrition breaks down into pre-workout, during the workout or post-workout categories, but it all gets a little confusing and inconvenient for me. FUEL acts as all three (without too many calories) and I’ve been using it on all my longer runs and bike rides.
I’ve never really gotten to liking the taste of coconut water, but adding a little FUEL mix makes a supercharged source of electrolytes with a much better taste.
Mixing into my coffee might be a little too crazy, plus the diuretic effect of the coffee would probably cancel any good the FUEL might be doing me…
Everlast Nutrition has some special offers on right now:
1.) Click here to buy 1 bag of Everlast VP and Get a FREE Box of FUEL plus FREE shipping.
2.) Click here to buy 2 Boxes of Fuel for only $33.98 plus get free shipping and free shaker cup.
In either case, make sure to use the code IRONROGUE at checkout to save 5% on your order.
Disclaimer: as an Everlast Nutrition Ambassador, I earn commission on every order placed with the IRONROGUE code.
I think I’ve hit the big times. This weekend (according to my training plan) called for 2 hours of running, 1 of swimming on Saturday as well as a 5 hour ride on Sunday. I woke up at 5:00 AM on Saturday with running gear laid out in advance in the basement. I even remembered hydration for myself.
Ready to roll… before sunrise.
My weather app said the sun wouldn’t rise until 6:30, so I had over an hour to make up my own course that would keep me under street lights. I went towards my office and ran through the industrial areas there. Seeing a truck yard at sunrise isn’t really my cup of tea, but if you want to fit your run in and be available for your family, you have to make some sacrifices. I had a few peaks at a map and I felt 99% sure I could connect back to the Etobicoke Creek Trail once the sun was up. The problem was I would be running beside the airport runways. I got to a point of no return on one of the airport service roads where there were signs saying that you couldn’t go any further… then I saw two cyclists go exactly where I wanted to run. I followed. It was nerve-racking, as I knew there were plenty of police cars patrolling the area; I’d been seeing them all morning. As I envisioned explaining myself to a police officer, my confidence in knowing my local geography dropped from 99 to somewhere in the 80s… Suddenly I recognized a familiar rolling in the landscape and some of the runway lights, and hopped onto the trail for the run home. I thought I’d be over 19 km and find myself trying to go around the block to get 20, but I only clocked 19 once I was already near home.
On my calves, I was wearing lavender calf sleeves by Legend Compression (Disclaimer: I was given a pair of Legend Compression calf sleeves for review purposes, all opinions are my own). I wear compression sleeves while running (and sometimes cycling) mostly to combat Achilles tendinitis and any other calf tightness/injury. What I noticed about the Legend compression sleeves it that the fabric felt very natural and breathable on my skin, like regular socks, and quite unlike most compression wear I’ve tried. That morning was quite cold and though I don’t regret wearing shorts and short sleeves, having a little extra insulation for my lower legs was nice. I could still feel some twinging in the lowest parts of my calf (which don’t get covered by sleeves – which I prefer to socks for the sake of wearing them in a triathlon where my feet get wet from swimming), but I think I weathered my 19 km run better for having worn them.
I was a lucky man that morning, as the kids had slept in, and I found them and my wife cuddled up together. I snuck in a few cuddles of my own and made pancakes (with extra protein from both Manitoba Harvest and Everlast Nutrition). We had a busy afternoon planned, and to make sure it happened, my wife ran errands while I took the kids to L.A. Fitness. The Lightning Kid has been to their Kids Klub daycare a few times, but it was Shark Boy’s first time; I tried to couch it as less than a play centre, but more than a daycare (which he kind of equates with ‘school’), while I quickly got 1150 m (a.k.a 1.15 km) of swimming in to round out the day’s mileage at 20 km.
I got your Fitspo right here..
That busy afternoon, I mentioned? Two birthday parties. The first was a classmate of Shark Boy’s and they went to Air Riderz trampoline park, which also had some climbing features (complete with safety harnesses and helmets). I took the Lightning Kid down the road to a favourite play centre called ‘Balls of Fun‘ where we goofed off and recreated a scene from the old 90s video game Street Fighter II: the Hadouken ‘Fireball’ technique (minus actual fireball).
I collected them from those two venues and shuttled them to another birthday party, with a Frozen (Lighting Kid favourite) theme and bouncy castle. I don’t need to tell you how well they slept that night. As for myself, I had some nerves before the longest bike ride of my life. I had signed up for the Burlington Mountain Equipment Co-opCentury Ride; 100 km in Niagara Escarpment country. I had put out my gear the night before, and I woke up before everyone else. I dressed in my new gear from RODS Racing. If you don’t know, RODS (Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome) helps get children with Down syndrome who are currently being housed in orphanages around the world into the loving arms of families who would like to adopt them; the families are ready, the kids are great, all it takes is cash to get around the bureaucracy and logistics. If you would like to help, my donation page is here.
I drove to Burlington’s Hidden Valley Park to find things in full swing; although I was there before 8:30, which I considered early for the 9:00 start, I had just enough time to switch shoes and put the bike together, pick up my numbered bib and take a bathroom break before they wanted us to start lining up on the road to head out; this was around 8:45.
I asked someone in the crowd what their estimate of the number of participants was, and they figured 250. I couldn’t help but notice that I was the only one with a triathlon bike there; I did see one girl with aero-bars on a road bike (much how I used to ride), but I still felt like a freak among what seemed to be a hard-core cycling crowd. The large numbers did make it seem like it would be safer out on any heavily driven roads. The marshals emphasized this was a ride, not a race, and the roads were open to all traffic, so safety first!
The ride started uphill, of course. For the first 5 km or so, I was happy to take an easy meandering pace, but soon it felt too slow. I needed to pace myself to last for 100 km – I knew this, but if the pace felt unnatural, and maintaining it was going to mean taking longer to finish than I was ready to spend on this event, that meant I would have to pass. This is where I seem to have a bit of a disconnect with pure cyclists. They like to ride at least 2 abreast and occupy the whole lane. This is considered the safest practice, I know, because it forces cars to acknowledge that the bicycle is entitled to the entire lane under the highway traffic act. When cars pass, they go around the group in a separate lane. As a triathlete, though, I have an aversion to crossing the centre line, even when there is not oncoming traffic, just because the rules so strictly prohibit it – it can mean disqualification. Plus, it seems dangerous. So I found myself sometimes waiting for opportunities to pass; I don’t think “on your left” is as much of a thing in straight-up cycling.
After some climbing to get over the Niagara Escarpment, there was plenty of flat land to really see what kind of speed you could build up to on flat land. It was a beautiful day, with perfect weather. The first rest stop came at 23 km, and they had bananas, Clif Bars, Pro Bar Base protein bars and Nuun hydration tablets. No porta-potties though; that might have been a little prohibitive for such a small support crew to transport, but I could have used one. From that point, the century (100 km) and 50 k routes split up. That was also the point where I separated from the crowd. Sometimes I rode behind a pair of riders or so, but for the bulk of the ride I was on my own. The course maps they had provided us had a list of ‘cues’ on the back that told you when your next turn would come in terms of total mileage. That came in handy for reassurance, but for the most part I could see the little white arrows painted on the road because they came as such logical junctures. The route was so rural and abandoned that I often forgot that cars could come by. At the second rest stop (48 km) my drink mix (Everlast FUEL with BCAAs and electrolytes, use the code IRONROGUE for a discount), was getting weak from being diluted with the water I had added, so I popped in a NUUN tablets. I have many blogger friends who rave about NUUN, and now I get it. It gave me some nice pep for the remainder of my ride. I didn’t see any of the Pro Bar Cookie Dough flavour that I had promised myself at the second rest stop, and the third rest stop (same location as the first) had run out by the time I got there.
The ride went through so many small villages that I can’t remember the names of them all, but one location I did recognize was African Lion Safari. One of the riders jokingly suggested a detour through there; “What could possibly go wrong?” I asked. Overall on the ride, I had my chain pop off way too much. Other riders suggested replacing the chain, but the bike is still too new. I think the front derailleur needs an adjustment – this is something I have to take up with my bike shop, as it costs me way too much time, and trying to put the chain back on while balancing the bike at the side of the road seems to get a lot harder as my legs get tired. The last 25 km were a bit of a struggle. I can remember thinking at 82 km “I don’t want to do this anymore.” It wasn’t so much that I wanted to quit, but the aero position was hurting my neck and shoulders quite a bit, and to not ride in aero was making the ride slower and ultimately take longer. Still that part of the ride was a net downhill, and all familiar from the ride out, so the kilometres clicked by fairly quickly.
I rolled into Hidden Valley Park after nearly 4 hours of time in the saddle (I paused Garmin tracking during the rest stops) with a big smile of accomplishment on my face. While I was tired, I think my legs would still have responded to the command to run, if I had to, so things are looking up for Barrelman. The local Rotary club was grilling burgers for free and a bike shop had put up a beer tent with a local brew; sadly they only took cash so I have a future date with Cause and Effect by Nickelbrook Brewery.
Century Ride Finisher (minus beer) selfie
I drove home and tried to clean myself up – I had chain grease everywhere: my hands, my face, my legs, the insides of my arms. Then I took the boys to the splash pad; they rode their bikes, showing me maybe someday they’ll be up for long rides too. Trips to the splash pad, long bike rides, birthday parties, swimming, running… I wish the summer didn’t have to end.
What’s the longest bike ride you’ve ever done? How are you consoling yourself over the end of summer?
Bracebridge is a great race; I thought so when I did it 2 years ago, and this year confirmed it. In fact, I’m now wondering what was wrong with me that I didn’t do it last year – what probably seemed like a good reason at the time wasn’t.
I went to bed the night before with pain in my right shoulder, and I woke up with a tightness in my right hamstring, but luckily both were long gone by the time I had breakfast (bagel with peanut butter, apple, and 2 cups of coffee) and hit the road.
Due to logistical concerns that I won’t bore you with, I was travelling to the race solo. Though I love having a cheering section, and there were lonely parts of the day, I did appreciate being able to focus like a laser on being organized before the race. Having gotten to the site with a little under an hour to spare, I still didn’t get everything perfect.
From the “Don’t Do Anything New on Race Day”
Somehow, I had left my Saucony Triumphs in the gym locker room at work, and I couldn’t access it on a Saturday while packing. Luckily, I keep a pair of Mizuno Wave Riders with other running gear in my desk for emergencies (like, I forget to pack running gear) and I’ve used them mostly for treadmill runs. So they were my shoes for race day.
I dropped a lot of cash on aerodynamic hydration accessories. While I also got a double bottle cage for my seat-post, I focused on a hydration system that would let me drink while riding. I’m pretty proud that I got it installed correctly, as I’ve seen pics of some jury-rigged setups in some triathlon Facebook groups that would make MacGyver puke. At least, I thought I had it correct; can you see what I did wrong?
I won’t tell you yet, you’ll find out around the same time I did if you keep reading.
I did do a small swim warm-up to make sure the wet-suit was on properly, but ideally I would have done even more swimming before the race. I crossed the river and back, that’s it.
I hadn’t cleaned and oiled my chain the day before, but I had inflated my tires.
I packed both gels I planned to have on the race course in my race belt, and set up my running shoes in transition with laces untied, but the silly part is that I thought I hadn’t, and ended up fretting over it a little during the race.
Besides actually having a swim warm-up, which never happens to me, the other big hit for me was being able to make two trips to the port-a-potty before the race, and not over-hydrating, which meant not having to take any pit stops during the entire race. Let’s break down the legs:
A view looking toward the Swim Exit
Bracebridge maintained its usual format of having a seeded swim start. You simply line up by bib number. Marshals got everyone organized in batches of about 50 people at a time, and it looked like everybody tried to find people close to them in number so it made things really straightforward. Everyone wore red bathing caps, so there was no identifying your age group by colour, but I still like the format, and I think having different colour bathing caps might confuse people into trying to get into waves. When you reach the front of the line (the end of the dock – you are already in the water), the final marshal calls out your number to confirm (I was 107), and finishes the countdown which is 5 seconds from the previous swimmer and you’re off!
The first part of the swim is with the current. I honestly think the current was negligible; someone had commented that they’d seen leaves on the surface that “weren’t in any hurry”, and I couldn’t see much difference in pace from the downriver part to the upriver part. There was no line of sight between the start and the turn-around, so sighting to the next buoy was important, and also was a great way to prevent collisions, but you didn’t have to sight too often. I had the sinking feeling that I wasn’t pacing myself well, and I had to make a persistent effort to calm myself down and not swim too excitedly, so that I’d have a good pace on the second part of the swim.
On the way back, sighting became nigh impossible. The sun was reflecting off the water and directly into our eyes. Sticking close to the shoreline seemed like a good idea because the current would be weaker, and it would keep me on the right side of the buoys, so as long as I was seeing dazzling sunlit water ahead of me, I figured I was doing fine. Besides a minor bump or two with other swimmers, the rest of the swim was uneventful. I could swear I saw some bikes whizzing by along the river, but when I look at the maps, the bike course did not go past the North shore of the river. I still have issues with the seam of the wet-suit bunching up by my neck as I swim, which causes a lot of irritation and makes me lose time when I stop to re-adjust it. I need to find a fix for that which won’t stop me from being able to open the zipper and take off the wet-suit when I hit transition. I finished in 28:12, and that gives me an official pace of 1:52/100m which I’m pretty happy about. The thing is, that’s based on 1500m exactly; my measurements show 1575m in 27:42 which gives me a crazy pace of 1:46/100m!
Courtesy of MultiSport Canada
My biggest challenge in transition seems to be getting the Garmin off my wrist before pulling off my wet-suit, only to put the Garmin back on again. I just don’t like the idea of the wet-suit getting damaged by me trying to fit the watch in under the sleeve. Other than that, I think it went pretty well, as 2:35 is actually a pretty good T1 time (in fact, it’s a personal best!). I tried to take a sip from the straw of my aero-bottle while running the bike out to the mount line and nearly knocked a tooth out… I won’t try that again.
I was so excited to take Sable (see here for the bike name explanation) out for the first race? Are there words sweeter to say than “on your left”? Again I think race excitement was making me a little aggressive with my pace at first, but I think I brought the pace/effort down well enough without slacking either. As I passed some athletes, I looked at their gear and their muscles and began to doubt whether passing them was the right thing to do. Still, if the speed I wanted to go at was faster than I needed to go to stay safely behind them without drafting, I really did need to pass, didn’t I?
One notable… observation, shall we say? I passed a female racer who’s tri outfit left something to be desired in the opacity department. Remember that Lululemon controversy? They were like that. Now this was a custom kit with a team name or something on them, but I felt bad about the view I had, and again, she wasn’t really going at a speed I wanted to match, so I passed her. Guilt absolved… until I hit a hill and my chain popped off. While I was replacing it she passed me and I went through the whole scenario again. Twice this happened.
See how the front comes into a point?
Sometime in the last 15 km or so, I looked down at my aero-bottle and noticed that the front had a flat surface facing into the wind. That’s not aero-dynamic! I do believe that I mounted it backwards, although I thought I’d prefer having the main chamber closer to me (there are two different chambers which can be used for different liquids, or the inner chamber can be used to store ice to cool the outer chamber… that’s what I did on race day).
My overall goal, one I’ve been chasing my entire triathlon career, is to average speed over 30 km/h. In spite of some tough hills and stopping to place the chain back on the ring twice, I achieved that goal… as long as you count the course as 42 km which it was (thanks to a last minute course alteration that was made for racer safety). In the books (i.e. Sportstats Website) doing a 40 km course in 1:23:09 makes for 28.9 km/h. Drat.
I noticed heavy legs as soon as I dismounted. With my cleats in a new position on the sole of my feet, I was a little unsteady heading back to my space on the racks.
This is where I got two pleasant surprises: my running shoe laces were untied so I could do them up right and quickly, and I had packed the second carb gel into the same pocket as the first (instead of on the opposite side, as I intended), but I still had it on me and wouldn’t waste time going to my tri-bag (which was off to the side, as Triathlon Ontario rules dictate, which I found out at Lakeside last year). I forgot to wear my visor, but ate the carb gel on the way out of transition. Time elapsed: 2:13. I should have gotten that under 2 minutes.
My legs were still heavy as I headed out of transition, but I knew that would pass, more or less. I was 3 for 3 on being a little aggressive with pace at the start; I could see my heart rate was too high, and I wanted to finish strong. The run course was quite enjoyable as it followed the river and trees provided plenty of shade. There were plenty of aid stations with water or HEED available every 1.5 km or so. By the time I was 3 km in, I felt quite settled; my pace seemed to be hovering close to 5:30/km, which was better than I expected. My legs were hurting, but I noticed that they were still responsive – when I told them to move, they moved and I kept good form.
As I closed in the last few kilometres, I saw the promise of a 55 minute finish, but again, the course was a little long, and I completed 10.43 km in nearly 56 minutes. I had thought about doing a cartwheel or something goofy across the finish line, but when you’re chasing a time goal, there’s no room for fooling around.
Courtesy of MultiSport Canada
I had two goals for this race overall going in, and beforehand I thought they might be at odds with each other:
Use it as a ‘B’ race to work on transitions and other race-day logistics
Beat my previous time at this race, and maybe, thanks to a heavy training load this season, achieve a Personal Best for the Olympic Distance.
I’m really happy to have achieved both of those things. While the new PB makes me happy, I needed the confidence that I know what I’m doing in terms of technique and strategy to carry me forward to the Barrelman Triathlon.
I’ve been wanting to write up about my experience getting an aero-fit at BikeZone Mississauga with Coach (Kris) Kurzawinski for some time now. When I finally had some blog post writing time available, it was shortly before the Bracebridge Olympic Tri weekend, and I wanted to get my announcement about RODS Racing out there first. The next thing I’m going to spend time on writing will be my Bracebridge Race Recap, but fear not! As usual, I have a cunning plan to provide you with the relevant info, without spending time churning out text and photos. I’ve been playing around with Periscope, and though I’ve made some fairly bad (e.g. a live broadcast of a bike ride where you couldn’t hear a word I was saying thanks to wind and vibration), I think this one turned out OK. I think only a few people saw it live, but I figured out how to edit the video so everything is right side up, and put it on YouTube (My Channel – Please Subscribe!). Here it is.
I’m racing in the Bracebridge Olympic Triathlon on Sunday… but that’s not the announcement. A charity I’ve been following (and supporting) for the past year or two, has opened up applications to their team, and on the spur of the moment, I’ve joined the RODS Racing Team.
Donation link below.
I’ve seen first hand how a child with Down syndrome can flourish and thrive with a loving family’s support. I’ve seen it in my own child and in the children belonging to the community I’ve joined. Sadly, in other countries, whether because of cultural bias, bureaucracy, or simply lack of resources, children not unlike the Lightning Kid end up in orphanages, where they won’t know the kind of love that every child deserves, and you can imagine how their development wilts, as they are left in society’s furthest margins. There are sad problems in this world that don’t have easy solutions. This is not one of them; you see, there are parents out there just desperate to adopt these children – but the path to international adoption is not a cheap one. The good news is that this is a problem that money can solve. That’s where RODS Racing comes in. Donations go to helping achieve an adoption for a child with Down syndrome from an orphanage, one child at a time. When an adoption is successful, the next child’s adoption campaign starts. As a member of the racing team, I’m looking to raise at least $2500 for Laura’s adoption. I’ll be racing Bracebridge for Laura, and Barrelman too (probably while sporting RODS Racing Team apparel). Please consider visiting my team page and making a donation. RODS Racing is a registered charity and donations are tax deductible. In addition to this campaign, I’ll also have other news for really cool events from RODS Racing in the near future, so stay tuned here, follow their social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and spread the word for this wonderful cause.
You might say I crossed an item off my bucket list this weekend – the odd part is that I forgot that it was on my bucket list (insofar as I have one). You see, when I was little, my father and a friend rode their bicycles around Lake of Bays over the course of a day. He’d repeated the feat with my mother a few years later, though I had forgotten that little factoid. At any rate, he told me that it was a challenge worth taking on, and I always thought I would do it one day “when I was grown up”.
I was trying to come up with a good long, training ride to do at the cottage when I remembered all this, so it fell to me and Sable to get the job done. I called it “Tour De Lake of Bays” #TourDeLakeOfBays.
The first 24-25 km of the route were very familiar to me, as I had rode them last week. It was a lot hotter and sunnier this time, though. There is bridge construction in Dorset, which made for a good time to text a status update and take a CLIF Shot (chocolate flavour) gel.
After Dorset came the Highway 117 leg, which probably caused me more suffering than any other part. It was very long and unfamiliar, and though I hoped that it would be flatter thanks to how it hewed close to the lakeshore, I was confronted with the same kind of hills I’d been climbing the whole time in my own backyard parts of Muskoka. It must have gotten monotonous and seemed worse than it was, because the Garmin analysis shows I kept up a speed average of over 25 km/h for over an hour.
When I rolled into Baysville, I was seeing familiar sites. I’ve heard stories of people on long bike rides stopping for Starbucks, or Tim Horton’s or whatnot, but stopping at a brewery would take the cake. I didn’t though, since I knew I wasn’t going to be keeping to my projected 3 hour schedule, and I didn’t want to shirk child-minding duties entirely. I doubt the alcohol would have done much for my safety or performance, but it would have tasted SOOOO good.
While being familar ground, the final stretch of Brunel Road followed by South Portage were the toughest. For starters, there was construction on Brunel Road for the first 3-4 km. I had been forewarned about it, but I figured it would be a closed lane or some narrowing; the road was as good as gone!
I didn’t like taking my brand new bike over that gravelly road, but I didn’t have much choice, and taking it easy for safety was a good excuse to take it easy, and give my legs a rest. When I reached the end of the construction zone, I saw a sign that put me a little on the defensive…
The last part of the ride along Brunel takes you by some very pretty lakes; there’s Shewfelt – which is nearly a pond, and Axel Lake (!) which isn’t too visible from the road. I stopped to take a pic of North Tooke Lake (I think) and it’s one of the nicer landscape pictures I’ve ever taken (at least with the help of an Instagram filter).
I finished the ride back at my starting point with a time of 3:17 and texted for a pick-up. I was pretty spent, and even laid down in the dirt for a bit. Being attacked by bugs made me realize that at least I’m in good enough shape to recovery quickly from when I think I’m all tapped out.