Hi all! Another weekend, another race…what else is new, right? On Saturday it was the Bluewater Triathlon for both Michelle and I, followed by the Ironkid race on Sunday for Kennedy and Jackson. I raced in the Olympic distance tri while Michelle had her first tri of the year and tackled the Sprint distance.
The race is one of our favourites and this is the third year in a row I have done it. It is held at a school in Bright's Grove, which is just down the road from the cottage, near the Sarnia, Ontario/Port Huron, Michigan border crossing. The race is put on by one of the local churches, St John's in the Wilderness, and this is the church's 20th year hosting the event (and the 33rd year overall). Quite an old event, going back to the very early days of triathlon! They always do a great job with the event and as many people come for the great post-race pig out as they do for the race itself!
The Olympic triathlon is a 1500m swim, 36K bike (construction on the regular route caused the 40K course to be shortened) and a 10K run. I have always suspected the swim to be shorter than the 1500, and mapping it out looks like it is closer to 1300. The Olympic started at 8:30 for the women and then the men were off at 8:46.
The Swim -
We were all gathered on the beach waiting for the starting horn to go off. The swim was point-to-point right along the shore of Lake Huron and the lake was relatively calm. There were some rolling waves lapping the beach, but nothing like Musselman the week before, or even the Bluewater last year when they were forced to cancel the swim due to rough water. However, the water was frigid…like 18°C/64°F frigid! Glad I had a wetsuit, but there were a few athletes who were just in their trunks. I lined up on the beach right beside the starting flag so that I had the shortest possible route to the first buoy, where we would make the turn down shore. I was surprised how many people just lines up wherever was handy instead of trying to position themselves…oh well, better for me. I wanted to sprint as hard as I could to make that buoy quick and avoid the crush once the mob got there.
The horn went off and I busted it to the buoy, getting there within the first 5 swimmers or so…the plan worked. After that it was pretty smooth sailing…mostly open water though I did have a couple guys swim into me here and there and had to empty out the goggles once as they were knocked a bit and leaking water. I made it to the final buoy and turned back to shore, where we exited the water and climbed a set of stairs up to the 200m run back to transition. My dad was at the top of the staircase cheering me on and told me I was 9th out of the water (turns out I was 8th as one of the other swimmers was in the relay). What a boost that was! I knew it was a good swim but that was awesome!
Swim Time - 20:04, 8th overall, 2nd AG
The Bike -
T1 was easy enough as I was in and out in 1:13, and I didn't kick my rear bottle off this time either (truth be told I took my rear bottle cages off). We hit the road for the flat 36K bike and right away I noticed there was a little bit of a headwind to deal with. Being a flat course it didn't bother me too much, and it was an out and back so I knew I would make up for it on the back portion.
We exited the school grounds and set out onto the neighbourhood streets before making it to the main portion of the bike on Old Lakeshore Road. As the name would indicate, the road is right along the lakeshore and there are lots of nice homes in the area before you eventually make it out into some farmland. nearly 10K into the ride you hit the Sprint turnaround and the Olympic course veers off to the south at that point as well. The new portion of the bike introduced the only incline of the ride, an overpass at Highway 402. Overall the ride was solid and uneventful…a good combination in a race! I downed my entire water bottle, which I had filled with Lemon Lime Nuun, and had a couple of chews as well. The most exciting thing that happened was when an old man decided to pull his van out of his driveway right in front of me and I had to swerve around him…just a hassle more than anything. It was also a little dicey at times on the back portion once the Olympic hooked up again with the Sprint race. There were a lot of newbie's doing the Sprint and their bike skills were a little lacking, so there were some people getting cut off and a lot of blocking and pack riding as well…just not 100% safe. I survived though.
Bike Time - 1:02:45, 14th overall, 1st AG
The Run - 10K
Another decent transition in T2 at 1:06, although I did lose a couple of seconds when I started running, then stopped because I realized I forgot to pull my laces tight on my running shoes…oops! The run was pretty much a simple 10K out and back with another little out and back section added at the beginning to get the distance correct…so two turnarounds. I had noticed in T2 that Michelle's bike was already back on the rack (no assigned racks today so we racked beside each other…nice touch!), so I kept my eyes peeled for her as I hit the course. I spotted her before I got to the first turnaround and we exchanged high-fives. I knew right away that the run wasn't going to be my best…I had done Splash n Dash on Wednesday and though my 5K time wasn't bad, I didn't have my top gear like I usually do. My watch took a little bit of time to synch up, but when it did it confirmed what I already knew…my pace was a good 15 seconds per kilometre slower than my Olympic pace. Keeping in mind that I had run a 70.3 less than a week prior to this race, this was somewhat to have been expected. I tried upping the pace a bit and managed to get a speedy second kilometre in, but that wasn't a very good decision as I slowed significantly with every kilometre from there on. I was pretty much beat before I even made it to the second turnaround at the 6K mark…I wanted to walk, but I powered on. By the time I made it back towards the finish I was struggling to hold a 5:22/km (8:35/mile) pace, but I was still running. I saw Michelle and the kids and my Mum & Dad at the turn in to the finish area and they were cheering me on as best they could. I heard them yell to go faster as there was a guy trying to pass me, but I had nothing…there was no finishing kick to give. I decided I didn't care, and the guy pipped me at the end by 3 seconds. Turns out I should have cared as he took third in our age group (10 year AG's, so Men 30-39)…a tiny bit more effort and I would have placed, but I honestly had nothing. I crossed the line at 2:12:08, grabbed a water bottle and just found a spot to collapse…I was totally spent.
Run Time - 47:01, 24th overall, 4th AG
I ended up finishing 16th overall and 4th in my Age Group, and my time of 2:12:08 is far and away my best ever in the Olympic distance…though knocking 200m off the swim (unofficially) and 4K off the bike (officially) really should result in a PR! Of course I had to know where this effort would stand if the distances were standard, so I estimated it out to be 2:22:05…a very respectable time, especially coming off of a 70.3.
One of the best parts of this race is the post-race food…as I mentioned before it is put on by a local church and nobody can put on a dinner like church ladies! There were sandwiches, hot dogs and chili, and then you hit the baked goods table. Cookies galore and the famous buttertarts that everyone seemed to be racing for…they could have saved table space in the food line and just handed the buttertarts out in the finish chute! Michelle and I had ourselves a good pig out
This was actually the last race I had on my schedule for the year…I'm sure I will run some more, but nothing is booked at the moment. I'm really enjoying triathlon this year and the tri season really wraps up in September in these parts…time to look at all of our calendars and see what else we can fit in!
Stay tuned for Michelle's recap coming tomorrow and there may even be a guest post from Kennedy and Jackson about their experiences doing the Ironkid!
Any triathletes out there? What's your favourite distance?
If you haven't done a triathlon, what's holding you back?