On Sunday, closing day of the London 2012 Olympics, I had the opportunity to unleash my inner Olympian at my very first Olympic distance triathlon. I didn’t actually realize this connection with the date when I registered weeks ago, but it was a nice coincidence. Oddly, I was seriously lacking mojo on race morning – which is not like me at all! The sprint distance had been cancelled the day before due to severe rain and flooding and the weather wasn’t looking great for Sunday either, so I wonder if that had something to do with it.
Sure enough, it started to rain on the drive up and continued off and on as I went through the motions of setting up transition and getting ready. Thankfully it wasn’t heavy rain, and it did end up stopping before the race started – just enough to get everything soaked ahead of time. Grrr… The roads were reported to be safe to ride on, but wet roads still make me extra nervous so I was not looking forward to that.
I was in such a funk that I didn’t even bother to take any pictures of the race site, my transition area or body marking before we started. Also not like me! Ah well, nothing to do but get on with the day!
1500m – 29:41 (includes run to transition)
2/9 F30-34, 107/221 overall
The swim was a rectangular course in the Muskoka River and it was my first time experiencing a time trial swim start. Swimmers set off in order from youngest to oldest in 5 second intervals. We were lined up in order standing along side the dock in the water as we waited for our turn, and the system seemed to work well. I started about 15 minutes after the first swimmer and before I knew it, I was off! “Number 157: 3, 2, 1, go!”
The advantage of the time trial start is completely avoiding the usual chaos of the swim start (the river was very narrow so there would not have been room). The disadvantage is the lack of excitement that comes with a mass start. As it turned out, I swam mostly alone the entire time. I passed quite a few people and got passed as well, but never found the opportunity to follow feet. I just swam, swam, swam all the way to the turn-around (with the current) and then back to the shore (against the current).
Yanked off my wetsuit, goggles and cap, sucked back a gel that I had opened ahead of time, helmet on, shades on, race belt on, shoes on. I even managed to push my bike out with one hand.
40 KM (24.9 mi) - 1:14:20 – 32.3 KPH (20.1 mph)
1/9 F30-34, 50/221 overall
The course started for almost a kilometre on narrow park paths with speed bumps and no passing. It was a slow start and nice to finally get out on the roads. I remembered some of the route from my first duathlon last year, which had covered half the distance. It was mostly on winding, scenic roads with plenty of climbs to keep it challenging. The roads were still wet and I was
overly cautious going downhill and around corners. I would often pass people going uphill only to have them pass me on the downhill.
I definitely didn’t have the drive that I usually do on the bike portion. I was riding blind since my bike computer didn’t start up (had my Garmin on, but don’t like to look at my wrist) so I really had no clue how I was doing throughout the ride. I enjoyed myself for the most part (except for a few sections with broken, dirty road, and a long stretch on a main road heavy with cottage country traffic). There were some gorgeous tree-lined stretches of road and also some incredible views of Lake Muskoka along the way.
I took a gel around half way and unfortunately ran out of fluids at 30K. I thought my aero bottle would be enough, but it wasn’t. Without aid stations, I was left without water for the last 10K; thankfully, it wasn’t hot.
Before long I was back on the park paths and ready to hop off my bike.
10KM (6.2 mi) - 49:32 – 4:57/KM (7:58/mi)
4/9 F30-34, 93/221 overall
The run starts on the grass and immediately goes up a short, steep hill – just enough to make your legs hate you after getting off the bike! I remembered it from last year and tried not to let it suck the life out of me. Hitting the pavement felt better, although my legs were pretty flat. This first 10 minutes or so of the run pretty much sucked and all I wanted to do was stop. It didn’t matter if I slowed down a little or sped up a little, I just didn’t want to be running and 10K felt really far!
I pepped up as I hit the 3K mark, and started breaking the run down. 2K to the turn-around, then I just had to follow my steps back. It was a simple out and back on quiet roads with a few climbs. My pace was pretty steady at (or just under) 5:00/KM (8:00/mi), which is where I had hoped to be. The rest of the run went a lot better. I felt my spirits lift as I started chatting more with other runners and thanking volunteers and police officers. The kilometres were ticking by now and I was heading to the finish.
I hadn’t passed (or been passed by) anyone in my age group during the run, but it would have been arbitrary anyway with the time trial start, since I wouldn’t know how far ahead or behind me they may have started (another disadvantage to the time trial swim).
It was fun to fly down the grassy hill to the finish and I was pretty pleased with my overall time.