Archive for September, 2011

Ottawa Canadian Sprint Tri–or how to screw up your transition

September 19, 2011 1 comment


So I don’t consider myself a Rookie per say. I have done 8 triathlons in the last 13 months or so. So on Sept. 3rd when I did the sprint Triathlon distance at the Ottawa “Canadian” you would think I would be ready for it.

Oh Boy…was I wrong. It started quite simply with the night before. Things were tough at home with school starting (I have three young children attending), Hockey season ramping up and the fact that this was on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. I was still winding down from work etc…

This also wasn’t the race to take it easy on. The Sprint course is a 750m swim, 30k bike and 5k run so it’s a bit longer than usual in a sense. As well there were many many races (right up to Ironman) and lots of co-ordination to handle.

So I wasn’t fully on my A game Saturday morning. I left home a bit late and got into the Transition area later than I should have. Also I decided to make two trips from the car park to the racks…doh.  Just wasn’t thinking. And it was the first time I would have to put on a wetsuit so I needed a little bit more extra time for that.

I also made one major assumption. That this was going to be the same Tri course wise as last year. I was wrong. The run course was all new. And I wasn’t able to get to the prerace update so I wasn’t fully aware the run course was new. So a lot going wrong already.  I quickly glanced at my rack space before I headed down to the beach and hoped I would remember where it was. That was going to cost me later….

A while later it was finished and I felt defeated.

In the end I was faster than the year before. I did a1:46:40. Last year I did it in a 1:51:09 so about 5 a bit minutes faster. So that was good news. A major improvement in time is always welcome. But the year to year leg comparisons held some nasty lessons as well. And in general I was not happy with this Tri.


The 750m swim was in the the Mooney’s Bay swim beach area and is a very nice location for it. The water was going to be smooth and the course was exactly the same as last year. For this one I had my new Zoot suit so hoped to do well. As I got down to the beach, later than I should have, I noticed I was still wearing my flip-flops. What was I going to do with those?? Just goes to show how scattered brain I was. I also realized as I slipped on my wetsuit that I had forgotten my  sunglasses in the car..Damn…

I put the flip-flops under a picnic table and hoped they would be there in a few minutes, got my wetsuit on (not too bad in the end) and waded in to warm up.

In 2010 according to the online results I did the swim in 16:30 and in 112 out of 255 swimmers. In 2011 according to the online results I did the swim in 19:29 but 49 out of 187.

Leaving the water thinking I did a better swim than I did

Huh… I think the timing was different. The fastest swimmer in 2010 was 11:16 and in 2011 was 11:45 so I think they added some transition time?? Unfortunately the transition time is not available Sad smile so hard to say for sure. If next year the timing is the done the same way will be able to tell. But anyways I was quite a bit slower it seems. And I had my wet suit, and the swim seemed to go well. So can’t explain this. I think my time out of the water was good, will have to remember to take my own splits as well.


As I ran from the beach up to the transition area I was looking forward to the bike. I felt my wetsuit would leave me a bit more rested after the swim and I certainly didn’t have any of the cramps that I had at the Brockville Tri. Alas my lack of pre-race planning began to tell. As I ran into the transition area I couldn’t quite remember where my bike was, but I found it in the end and I think I only lost 10-20 secs here. Still had a chance of making a good time.  Changed, grabbed my bike and soon I was off. But again a small thing happened that put me off. For some odd reason my Garmin 500 took FOREVER to grab the satellites. It had never done that before. So I wasn’t able to start getting my speed until about 500m into the race. Not a big issue but again something just a little off.

Still carrying a few too many pounds!!

The bike course is fantastic, closed road (Col. By Drive) along the Rideau canal. 7.5 k out then back, with two loops.  I felt fast, faster than I had yet this year and soon I was back at the dismount zone.

Here is my Garmin record of my bike leg. 36kph more or less isn’t too shabby!
Gave up a little bit at the end which is a bit worrying.


With some transition time (I think) I ended up with a bike time of 53.12 for an average of 33.8. That was good enough to give my 18th of all the men (out of 100!). If only I could lose a few pounds again I think I can win these bike legs. And this is still just on my road bike, still no tri bike.  I had the pleasure of passing quite a few folks on Tri bikes but I wonder how much faster I would be if I was on a Tri bike.

Last year my official time was 1:01:29.

So I was 8 minutes faster in the bike, but lost 2 minutes in the other bits. How did that happen?? 

Mostly I think  it all fell apart with the worst Transition ever….

1st I could not find my transition rack. Without the bike as a reference spot ran up and down a couple of rows before I found it. But found it and changed into my shoes and headed towards the run exit…but wait. Where the run exit was last year was simply another exit.. Arrghhh…where is the run exit? Like a mad man possessed I ran around the transition area then gave up and finally asked. 1st guy I asked wasn’t sure either…ARRGHH..There were a number of possible exits but finally I found the right one with help from another marshal.  FAIL!  Finally I was out of the transition area and on my way.


Feeling a little out of sorts I got down to the run. I had been running quite a bit more in the second half of this year and was thinking I could really save some time year. A few days before the race I did a race simulation that seemed to indicate I could shave 2-3 minutes off last year. However….my official run time was worst at 34:01 compared to 28:49. WOW…that really sucked.  And I don’t think I ran slower. My transition simply speaking was soooo bad that it effectively added 3-4 minutes to my overall run time.

Wasted run after a bad transition

Finally the finish line beckoned and one neat thing about the Canadian is that they film the finish then send you a link to your finish. Mine is below at 10:22


Naturally I learned more through this particular triathlons than most in the past. While I was faster, it was mostly due to my bike leg. I lost most of my time in the run. That is something I really have to focus on. I have been running tons more than I have in the past and it seems to be working, but I have a long way to go. And need to really pay attention to the transition process!!

Since I don’t want to end on a sour note I have signed up for the Mission Bay Triathlon in San Diego Oct. 2nd. I am “stuck” in Southern California and that ones looks like an awesome one! Expect a report soon!!

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1st Olympic Triathlon–Brockville Thousands Islands Triathlon

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, another triathlon in the books, but this one was a bit different. Finally decided to try the Olympic distance. A 1.5k swim, 40k bike and 10k run. Its a pretty time tested assumption that one great way to move forward is to push yourself more so latching onto a longer distance should move me forward. I have two more sprint tris later in the year, and going for a longer distance should be great training for those.

Now, this tri also came at the end of a weeklong camping trip to upper New York state. Didn’t do a lot of training and ate a bit more than I should. We got home late the previous night and I didn’t have a great sleep the night before. So was a bit apprehensive going in.

So…how did I do?

In a word..I finished but the tri was painful. Back in the eighties I used to do a pretty long tri in Oka Quebec. I don’t remember how long it was but it was longer than the Brockville tri. And one year I just wasn’t ready at all and I bonked big time, threw up and walked the entire run at the end. This one certainly wasn’t anything like that but some of the pains were familiar. Still like I said I was looking for baseline. In my case my baseline for the Olympic distance is 2:56:49.




The swim was in a protected bay of the St. Lawrence river. Thanks to very light winds the water was pretty calm. As stated in a previous post, there was a definite sense of being a fish out of the water as of the 100 so Olympic Tri folks, only about 10 didn’t have a wetsuit. Clearly it was now pretty uncommon not to have one.  Entry was a pretty fun experience, via a boat ramp extremely slick with algae. That would make exit interesting! We were the first wave of the day off as there were sprint tri folks starting about 30 minutes after we got started and many of us would finish after they did started but we would never be intermixed. As usual, some folks warmed up a bit while others bobbed. Soon enough it was time, the horn sounded and away we went. Certainly I was so freaked out about the 10k at the end (I have not run that distance in over 15 years or so) that I kept telling myself to take it easy.

So I tried to pace myself, 1.5k can take a while even if you are fast and I would not be fast. It was a 750k lap and we did 2 laps. Since it was a longer distance I found within 10 minutes there was quite a bit of space between swimmers and it was just you against the clock, which was nice. Soon enough the first lap passed.


About 1/2 thru!!

Then the cramps in my side started up, these would bother me throughout the rest of the swim and I also got an occasional toe cramp. Not enough to make me slow down too much but if I was worried before about the run I was really worried now!! And I found the swim long enough as well that I drifted off from time to time and thought about other things and got off course.  Need to focus on these longer swims!!  The last 5 minutes seemed to go on a bit and I wanted out. That brings up the topic of the ramp again. I know my arms would be a little bit tired and I didn’t know if I could crawl my way out. Luckily they had “handlers” who grabbed you and tugged you out. Thanks!! In the end did a 34.54 which was 53 out of 92 but 14 minutes behind the number 1 finisher. While I shouldn’t I was wondering how much a wetsuit would have helped.

Swim over..but not feeling great!


Bike is where I excel, so was looking forward to this leg. As I ran from the ramp to the transition area I felt my legs cramp up a bit. Crap. That wasn’t going to be good. At this point I needed to figure out how I can keep some fitness in check for the run. As I got to my spot I found it hard to get my shoes on without my calves cramping up a bit. I grabbed my bike and got moving. On the bike the hardest thing was the cramping in my sides, but I found that overall I could still be fast.



Start of the bike leg

I was passing people quite a bit but again was worried a lot about the run so kept saying slow down, slow down. Still look at the pace based on my Garmin 500, after a bit of warm up I was over 35kph and I could have kept that pace. But I knew I needed to slow things down so the following segments were lower. In the end my Garmin 500 said 1:11 but that includes some transition time.



Official timing but me at 1:10:58 and average of 34.2, not bad considering both how much I was hurting and also how much I was worried about the run and keeping some in reserve. Based on this and the fact that I was still able to do the run plan to go all out at the Ottawa “Canadian” Triathlon on Sept. 3rd and see what I can really do.  The 30k there isn’t that long, the swim will be shorter so damn the torpedoes I say. Time to see what I can do.

Finishing up the bike run

There was a short run from the dismount section to the transition area. My legs were no longer cramping during the change to my shoes and like the flash (well, not exactly) I was off…


Then I ran and finished…

That’s how I wished it ended anyways but the run wasn’t pretty. Now on the good side I was able to run the whole time, even if at a reduced pace towards the end, and I never felt like I wasn’t going to make it. The run is two 5k loops, a bit in town but mostly in a nearby urban park. The sun cover was nice and there were water stations 2 per loop.

Not looking great…and about to be eaten by a competitor by the looks of it??

Finally…and I mean finally!!..reached the end. Looking at my time I had the EXACT same time in the run compared to the bike (1:10:58). How weird is that??

There is no way you can make this look good…


The race certainly wasn’t a success but I learned a lot. First off I learned that I still need to lose a lot of weight, I just plain look fat. Secondly time to invest in a wetsuit and thirdly that I probably can win or get close on just the bike leg. Still I could not have imagined doing this one year ago, that has to be better right??

Categories: Triathlon