Home > Races, Recap > Race Recap: Guelph Lake Olympic Triathlon

Race Recap: Guelph Lake Olympic Triathlon

SubaruI’m moving around pretty gingerly this morning – trying not to move very much at all, to be honest.  So while I’m sitting at my laptop anyway, might as well write up a post race recap, right?  right!

Yesterday I “raced” in the Subaru Guelph Lake I Olympic Triathlon.  This is a relatively large race around these parts, and highly talked about in the race community.  Plus, it’s in the town I grew up in, so it’s long been on my bucket list.  Yesterday I got to cross it off.

Race morning flowed pretty smoothly.  I was up at 5:00 for an 8:00 race gun, at a site 40 minutes drive from my home.  Not too bad.  It was raining outside when I woke up (sigh), but had stopped by the time I got into my car.  I was really impressed with the race area.  Registration flowed very quickly, and I had lots of time to set up in transition.  I ran into some friends of mine who were also racing, which was really nice.  Otherwise I would have had a lot of time to kill, nervously, by myself!

The swim was a lovely out-and-back across Guelph Lake.  The sky was blue, the water was warm and still, and it was wetsuit optional.  Perfect!!  My swim felt very sluggish, in large part because I was having difficulty sighting when breathing to the right.  So I quickly abandoned bilateral breathing, leading to an increasingly imbalanced arm pull.  While breathing to the left the whole swim, my right arm ended up doing most of the work, and started to slow down.  Plus, at the far point of the swim we got pretty close to the shore on the other side of the lake, and I may have gotten a bit distracted by the lovely trees and rocks and blue sky above.  Whoops.  That being said, I swam in 29:38 (1:59/100m), which is a personal best swim time over that distance, so I’m pretty happy with it.

As an aside, I struggle comparing my swim times between races, as there’s a big variable at the end – the swim run-up.  Inevitably, when getting out of the water, you need to run a certain distance from the water’s edge to wherever the transition area is set up.  This can be anywhere from 10m away to several hundred meters away.  Yesterday’s race was the later, and up a steep hill.  Fine.  Somewhere along this path they need to put the chip mats that you step on to record the end of your swim time.  Why do they always put these mats right up at transition, meaning this long run is included in your swim time??  Why can’t they put the mats right when you get out of the water, and include this “run time” as part of T1?  I’m sure that run up the hill took me at least 3 minutes, meaning my “swim” was much better than recorded.  Oh well – one of my little pet peeves I guess.  Carrying on…

T1 went pretty smoothly.  I didn’t suffer from the dizziness post-swim that I normally have to fight off, which was nice.  Although, when exiting T1, a race official pulled me aside and told me I couldn’t start the bike without tightening the strap on my helmet.  I’ve used this same helmet, with the strap in the same spot for every race.  I pulled aside, took off my helmet (dropped my sunglasses) and tried to adjust the strap.  The darn thing wouldn’t budge.  I managed to yank it maybe a cm – probably less – when she said that was fine and I could go on.  It probably only amounted to a minute delay, but was kind of annoying.  Oh well – she’s trying to do her job and keep us safe.  Can’t fault her for that, I guess.  The chip timing company this race used didn’t report on T1 or T2 times, so I can’t tell you how long I was in transition.  You’ll just have to use your imagination.

The bike was where things really unraveled for me.  There is a bike course elevation profile on the company’s website, which I looked at before.  I knew there would be an overall decent elevation climb in the out direction (and a nice overall elevation decent in the return direction), but I didn’t notice all the little – and quite steep climbs – both ways.  They really did me in.  I was trying to stay aero in my new aero bars – by about 15km I started to develop a significant pain in my left lower back.  It may have been in part due to the imbalance in my swim stroke?  Shortly after I had to abandon the aero bars completely.  By about 25km my glutes were toast!  I had to keep talking myself into staying in my saddle.  I haven’t ever had either of these problems – not in training, or any previous race.  I finished the last 10km of the bike ride absolutely grimacing and trying to talk myself into still doing the run portion, and not just DNF’ing.  I was in a lot of pain.  In the end, my bike was 1:34:49 (25.3km/hr).  Yuck.  That’s the slowest official bike pace I’ve ever posted in any race.  I obviously have some work to do here!

GLI2014BikeProfile

T2 went smoothly.  Nothing to report.  And since I don’t know what my T2 time split was, we’ll just move on…

I have mixed opinions on the run.  It was tough, and slow – in large part because my lower back and glutes were both shot from the outset.  Every little climb on the run and my back started barking.  And there were hills.  Lots of them.  There was no elevation map for the run on the website – I was not prepared for the amount of steep rolling hills on the run.  I don’t think there was a flat stretch longer than 10 meters at any point on that run course – everything was an incline or decline.  And my back hurt the whole way.

The run was really interesting though – the first half of the out-and-back course was through the conservation area’s campground, which was reasonably booked up.  Which means there were people lining the course, watching, for most of this stretch.  But they weren’t cheering.  They were curious – some of them outright heckling at the spandex clad runners running past their campsites at 10:00am.  Many of them were irritated, trying to drive their cars in and out of their site, or walk to the washrooms or water pumps, and having so many runners in their way.  I love running past cheering spectators.  This was very different.

The run course then left the camping area and went into some back fields on the conservation area’s property.  We moved from primarily paved roads to primarily dirt trails through fields.  Still just as hilly, but not a tree in sight.  This was the first time I realized that I hadn’t put any sunscreen on.  It was hot.  By this point I was reduced to running 2:1 run/walk intervals, and walking up most of the steep hills.  Between the heat, my back, and by this point a significant fueling deficit, I was just trying to keep moving.  It wasn’t pretty.  But for me, the run is never pretty.  Still, I’d like to get to a point where I can reliably run the run, instead of suffering through it.  More work to do.  That being said, I finished the run in 1:14:01 (7:25/km) – not nearly the pace I can hold on a straight 10k run, but better than the run on my previous Olympic distance tri (1:18:19).  In other words, not nearly as bad as it felt!

Overall, I raced in 3:23:48.4 – 27/30 in my age group, and an Olympic tri Personal Best by about 1 minute.  I would have liked a better time, but to drop my time (even if only by 1 minute) on a course that was much hillier in both the bike and run, and much hotter as well isn’t a bad thing at all!  I’m making progress.

With this race now in the rear view mirror, I’m 3 weeks away from my ‘A’ race of the season, the Toronto Triathlon Festival Olympic Tri.  I’m not sure how much I can accomplish in three weeks to learn from yesterday’s race, and improve.  I need to keep putting the work in on the bike and the run – particularly my long distance workouts in both.  In the off season, I need to do a lot of work on strengthening my back side – traps, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.  But I know the TTF course better than this one – particularly the run – and it’s quite flat and familiar.  I won’t be surprised by hills this time, and the race starts an hour earlier, so I might not have to deal with the heat as much!  And who knows – I might even remember to put on sunscreen (you should see the sunburn today – it’s pretty epic).  I’m hoping for a great race at TTF, and a Personal Best!

Do you put sunscreen on for races?  Do you put it on before the swim, or quickly in T1?

PS – my apologies for the lack of pictures in this post.  I was flying solo at this one – my wife was on call and so had to stay home.  Thus, no pictures 😦

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  1. June 22, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Good report and PR is always good no matter. Sounds like you are making progress and things are shaping up well for you. Can’t wait to hear about your adjustments for the next race. Sounds like your race went better than mine, let’s just say I finished and will have a recap up soon. Good job and good report.

    • June 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Thanks buddy. Can’t wait to read your recap, but glad to hear you got to finish this one!!

      • June 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm

        Thanks, finish is a good way to describe it. Just like you, pushing on and trying to Getty better every race.

  2. June 23, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Way to stick with it brother, and congrats on the PR.

    I always layer on the sunscreen in transition before the race; gives plenty of time to soak in. I reckon not many racers will walk away without a burn somewhere…..

    • June 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Cheers buddy. I figure sunscreen before the start is all gonna wash off in the swim (especially with a sleeveless wetsuit), but it’s probably still better than nothing.

  3. June 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    PR on a tough course? Well done!

    It was hot out there, and I still got a sweet burn despite sunscreen…c’est la vie. Every race is a great opportunity to learn for the next one, so take away a few things for Toronto and build on them. Sorry about the back pain, that really makes everything difficult…great willpower to suck it up and power through!

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