1.5k / 40k / 10k – 2:23:57 – 50/347 OA, 9/24 AG

Lead-up

So I figured I should probably do a triathlon this year. It had essentially been a full year since I did Lakeside Olympic distance in 2:23 last year. Having concentrated more on duathlon as well as road cycling this year, I knew I was going to be a bit rusty. While I have been averaging 1,000 km per month on the bike, I’ve only been running on average twice a week, and had done a grand total of one open water swim all year. However, I was relying on good overall fitness and this being my 20th triathlon to carry me through.

I purposely picked Wasaga having never raced there before, as I would like to do all of the “local” races at least once. In retrospect, it was a beautiful venue but a heck of a long drive even for an Olympic distance race. However, the weather was good, the water was flat, I had my new disc wheel on the bike and was wearing my fancy-pants Team Canada kit.

Swim – 1.5k – 29:42 – 1:58 pace

Although I haven’t been swimming open water, I definitely improved my swim over the winter so was hoping for low 1:50’s for overall pace. I positioned myself right in the front row and set out with an ambitious stroke rate. However, this went south pretty quickly and by 300 metres I felt like a 10-year old at a running race having gone out at sprint speed then suffering dearly not even half-way in. I had to dial things back quite a bit and just focus on maintaining my breathing.

Relatively drama free, I’m pretty used to having people swimming around me, so managed to just keep going when the guy to my left clocked me in the head twice in a row. However, my sighting needs some works as coming back into shore I was weaving quite a bit and felt lost at times. Luckily, by this point the fast swimmers from the 40+ group were going by so I jumped on their feet a couple of times.

Bike – 40k – 1:02:54 – 38.2 kph

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Transition was smooth, it was good seeing Raj there meaning I was only 3 minutes behind a very strong swimmer. However, my swim did still put me at 130th overall so I had my work cutout for me on the bike. After doing a flying mount crotch first into the back of my seat, I got going on the bike and cranked it up to a big gear. The tailwinds on the way out were awesome, and I was cruising for a whole section at 50+ kph. While I was passing people constantly, with an out-and-back course I also saw that there were a lot of people a good distance ahead. However, after digging in well into the headwind on the way back, I knew I was coming into the run in shape for an overall time under 2:20, which was my stretch goal for the race.

A real plus side of the ride was I think I have finally nailed my nutrition. The current strategy is a simple breakfast of Cheerios well in advance of the race. Then a gel early on the bike, and water with Nuun during the ride. This gets me the right balance of not bonking (like at World’s), but not getting food related cramps. This race I got a bit dizzy afterwards because I had Powerade on the bike and stopped drinking it because it was making my saliva feel thick. I think the Nuun and water strategy will be better.

Run – 10k – 49:12 – 4:55 pace

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Smooth off the bike and through transition, with T2 being a strength for me. I knew I just had to tick over the legs at a 4:30 pace to get that 2:19 time that was floating around in the back of my mind. However, about 10 steps into the run and the diaphragm cramps kicked in again. It sucked for this race, but I think I’ve worked out that it is definitely related to bike position. I have the bike dialed in so nice and low that I’m really only breathing out of the top of my lungs. Once I stand up straight and start running I’m breathing right down through the belly and this strains muscles from the diaphragm down. Next race I’ll try to focus on breathing deep during the ride, and if that doesn’t work may have to play around with my position.

So, the run was just about survival as I stopped and stretched out the cramps throughout, watching people I had passed go by me. I had worked my way from 130th to 42nd on the bike, but then drifted back to 50th on the run.

Conclusion

It feels good to have gotten in a triathlon this season, and an Olympic distance might have been a bit ambitious given my training (you get what you train for, as I say). However, it was a fun day in a nice venue. It was also funny to have raced a 2:23, identical to my 2:23 last year. This time I rode a lot faster and ran a lot slower.

The plan for next year is to focus on triathlon again, so I’m looking at 5 swims and 5 runs a week through the off-season. This will round out my growing cycling strength, and I’ll try to just maintain the bike with 2-3 rides a week. Now into the off season, with some side training for the Saranac 6er Ultra in October.