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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Race Report: Gravenhurst Olympic Triathlon

One word: Ouch.

The Race

Gravenhurst Olympic Triathlon (Part of the MultiSport Canada Triathlon Series)


The race itself was great, I would do it again. They use a Muskoka Steamship to transport everyone out into the lake, then you jump out and line up in the water. Very neat!

Organization was stellar as usual. My only beef was the traffic during the bike - it was really bad at times, lots of frustrated and incompetent motorists. Not sure if they can fix that, but it was worse than any other race I've been part of.

My Swim... Buoy that was hard

It started so well! The steamship blew its whistle to signal the start, and I immediately got into a nice rhythm. In fact, I can't remember ever being that comfortable in open water, I felt smooth and fast. I got to the first buoy at 500m feeling very strong, surrounded by blue caps from my wave. I was delighted!

And then... disaster. The sun was right in our eyes, and I could not for the life of me see the next buoy. I started to follow other people who I assumed could see the buoys.

They couldn't.

So at some point, I see a canoe pull up next to the few of us and two girls are frantically trying to get our attention... I pop up and she says "you're going the wrong way!". I look and finally see a big orange buoy between the island and the shore (which I had mistaken for the island). Sigh! I don't know how much extra swimming I did, but it was a lot.

From there on my swim was scrappy and frustrating, I never got my flow back, and by the end of the swim I felt spent... with two more sports to go! Sigh.

My Bike... A bit of vengeance

It took me 10-15km to really feel comfortable and get my heart rate down, but once I finally settled in things went well. The hills were nowhere near as bad as advertised, Muskoka and Coubourg were way worse.

The turn-around points were ... amusing? So many triathletes have no bike handling skills... guys with their inside pedal down trying to make a 180 degree turn, one woman overshot the turn-around, and when she tried it she hit the gravel. Yikes!!!

There were some rough sections of road, but very much what I'm used to. I just put my head down and pretended I was Ryder Hesjedal on the cobblestone stage at the Tour de France and hammered by everyone I could! One of the benefits of having a cheaper bike, you aren't so dainty with it!

I ended up just over 30km/h, which isn't fantastic but isn't horrible. I'm happy with it, especially after spending the early part in the red.

My run... hot, hilly, horrible

I had these delusions of running this at 5:10-5:20/km pace... ha ha. I could tell about 2 minutes in that wasn't going to happen! The heat and humidity caught up to me, the sun was beating down with almost no relief from it, and with the steep rolling hills it was just too much.

Within a few kilometers I was just in survival mode, walking the steeper sections and trying to keep the legs going to the aid stations. I gulped down as much Inifite as my stomach would handle, but just never recovered. My average pace was a crushing 6:07/km... I'm surprised it was even that good, I felt like death (and most of the athletes around me looked like death too!).


Learned two things:

1. Triathlons are hard

I can do a fast run, a fast bike, but what makes triathlon uniquely challenging is switching disciplines in the middle of a race. It's something I've only got right a couple of times, once in the shorter Sprint Triathlon at Belwood, and once at Ironman Canada... but I have been crushed a few times too, Muskoka Long Course and today.

2. I pay dearly for being a weak swimmer

It's not so much the time I give up, but the effort I end up putting in. I come out of the water in bad shape, and once behind the 8 ball it's tough to get back on top of things.

At Ironman, the event was so long (and so was transition) that recovery was a piece of cake. At sprints, the swim is short so it's not as desperately bad. But in these middle distances, it's very very tough for me, and something I have to address if I'm going to continue doing this sport.


Anonymous said...

I was one of those annoying drivers. Perhaps you don't understand that this is a public road which is a major route between 2 major vacation centres. Once a year, though, is tolerable, as long as they don't "do something about that". I am happy that the area attracts this kind of event and the associated spending on food and accomodations. I am not particularly happy about the inconvenience.

Anonymous said...

Ha, I hope you weren't following me during the swim. I was way off course to! Damn sun got me as well.

I feel your pain from that run. I figured I would run a 43:XX ish 10K, but came in over 50 minutes. At around the 8K mark I also walked a hill. First time ever that I have ever walked, be it training or racing. The heat and humidity just killed me. Look at the run times of the top 5 (which were pretty poor, even for a smaller event like this), and you can we weren't the only ones hurting. That run put me into a world of pain that I have just not felt before.

Sean Wilson said...

I have totally had that race.

You are taking something from it though, so it wasn't a loss in any way.

I think the swim is always going to be difficult for those of us who don't come to triathlon from a competitive swim background.

And hey, sighting is always tough, sighting into the sun? There is a reason fighter planes come out of the sun right? Can't see a thing!

Congrats on your race!