Monday, June 16, 2014

Welland Relay Triathlon - Saturday, June 14th, 2014

So. Much. Fun.

We were up at the crack of stupid, persuading ourselves to prep for the race and giving the air temperature some really nasty side-eye. Even after arriving at the race site an hour and a half before gun time, the weather stayed obstinately cloudy, cool and windy.

Even Tanker stayed in his hoodie until the last minute, and was very happy I suggested a wool base layer.

Stuffing myself in my wetsuit just to stay warm.
No significant pre-race drama - we were able to help out a fellow relay racer with a bike tool, as his rear hydration rack had come loose. Tanker got me zipped up, gave me a kiss, and I headed down to the water. I did get in about 150m of swim warm-up (ha!), then due to the time-trial start and relay teams going last, I had to stand around shivering for over half an hour after the first athlete took off at 8:30am. I ran into a fellow accountant and Vanderkitten VIP while I waited - she'd arrived early for the Give-it-a-Tri event starting at 10:30am, in which she'd be doing her first-ever 3-sport race after spending 18 months learning to swim.

Kittens before the races

The athletes ahead took off one-by one, and I finally got back down into the water. It was warmer than the air (and certainly warmer than the cold wind!), but I still made sure to give my face a good dunk a minute before my turn came to set off. I hoped this would go better than my unreasonably slow swim at Woodstock last month - I'd finally managed to get my catch working again the week before (after having lost it due to the 10 days I spent out of swim training commission near the beginning of May), but I wasn't really feeling 100% back to form yet.

Nonetheless, I took my sendoff from MultiSport Canada series technical director Jason Vurma, and started stroking away. There were only 4 athletes due to enter the water behind me, so odds were I wouldn't have anyone swimming overtop of me - the time trial start gives everyone lots of clear water.

The time trail start - 5 seconds apart.
Photo credit to Cathy

I basically focused on trying to keep my elbows high and just gave'er. No navigation issues - I came up on a few people as I approached the first turn buoy, but no problems getting around them. Made the second buoy, and came down so bang on top of it that I actually whacked it with my hand during my recovery stroke. I was feeling like I was swimming decently, but then again I felt I'd swam well at Woodstock, so I'd just have to wait and see. I'd told Tank initially that with bib # 415 and the start being in bib number order, I'd be delayed about 7mins from the actual horn. I am, however, an idiot - that would've been true if we'd gone off 1 second apart, but at 5s apart it would take 34.5mins. I hoped he wasn't worrying about me.

Rubbery leviathan emerging from the deeps

I almost swam overtop of a lady as I made my way to the final turn, but apologized as best I could. Again, bang on top of the big green buoy (which let me avoid a fair-sized group of swimmers taking the turn wide), and just 85m left to the exit. My arms were fatiguing a bit but I gave it all I had since I knew I'd get a rest after the run up to T1. Reaching the exit at last, the volunteers were all occupied with other people as I stood up, so I didn't get my usual helping hand. I did ok, though, and got moving toward the timing mat. It turned out later I actually came out of the water with 29 people behind me, so I guess I managed to pass quite a few!

Holy crap - I don't look like a total mess!

750m swim: 15:20 @ 2:03/100m
8/12 relay teams

Ah, ok - there's the derpyness.

I ran my freakin' arse off on the way to T1 - it's a long slog, but I passed a number of people since I didn't have to worry about getting my wetsuit off.

425m run-up: 1:36

Into transition puffing and blowing, I got Tanker to hold out his left leg so I could whip the timing chip strap off my ankle and onto his (nearly falling over in the process - well done, K), then sent him off with a kiss and attempted to get my breath back.

T1: 00:55

Off he goes to kill it!

The wind was still quite nasty and the cloud cover persisted, though some sunny gaps had finally started to open just before I got in the water.

Clouds over transition as I wait for my honey to finish kicking ass

A moment to breathe.

I did my best to get myself dried off with a towel I'd left in transition, but still had to put my hoodie on to try to keep warm - it still hadn't made it over about 17c/63f yet, and being wet with no way to get out of the wind had me shivering! I did put some sunblock on, though, and finally did my bodymarking; I'd figured there wasn't much point in doing it before the swim, only to have it smeared by my wetsuit.

I also made a small addition.
I did some dynamic stretching plus some high knees and butt kicks, partly to try to keep myself loose and partly to stave off hypothermia. I also drank a bottle of eLoad sport drink to keep myself hydrated and get a few calories into me, but not too many. I was rather amused by one of the other relay teams needing to be informed that the bike had to be racked again before the chip could be handed off to the runner - does noone read the website or listen to the pre-race announcements? Then, just over an hour after I sent him off, Tanker came hammering back into transition!

And he brought the sunshine with him!


28.8km bike: 1:03:15 @ 27.3kph
6/12 relay teams

So much kickassery.

With just one last thing to do, I grabbed the chip off Tanker's leg (once his bike was racked, of course), slammed it onto my own ankle, gave him a kiss that he described as "being more like a headbutt with your lips", then sped off at a totally untenable pace out of transition.

T2: 00:50

Artist's conception

See ya!

I started my watch as I crossed the timing mat on the way out through the run exit and figured I'd get some splits. I knew I had taken off way too quickly, but wasn't sure how bad it was or if I was going to blow myself up. The Welland sprint run course is a bit of a bother as there as 2 turn-around points and endless corners, but all I could do is keep my legs moving and see. I passed the queue of Give-it-a-Tri athletes waiting for their swim start and screamed something like "HAVE A GREAT RACE CATHY!" as I went by. I sincerely doubt she heard me, but the effort was there.

Saying hi to Larry, who took 2nd O/A in the duathlon.

As I passed onto the bridge toward the first out-and-back, I noted the 7k marker right at the final turn to the finish line. Ok, all I had to do was make it there and I could try to kick. I ripped up toward the first turn-around on the pathway, passing some people as I went, then hit my lap button as I passed the 2k mark. Split time: 10:22.

Um, I'm running at my open 5k pace.

This is not sustainable.


Back along the West side of the recreational canal on the pathway, my left hamstring started to complain about ill treatment. WHAT A WHINER! There was nothing I could do about it, so I just had to hope that it wouldn't get any worse. The second portion of the course does have some tiny little lumps to it, and the hammy didn't like inclines, but it held together. I whipped across the canal again with a tailwind, hitting the 4k mark in 21:17 - the second 2km split was a much more realistic 10:55, at a pace of 5:27/km.

Realistic, but still not sustainable.

From 4-5k I may have been distracted watching Give-it-a-Tri cyclists heading out on the bike, and by the rowers out on the canal. I also really, really wanted to be finished because I'd been death whistling since kilometer 1 and was starting to think I'd blown myself up and would have to walk. I made the turn-around, then hit the 5k mark at 26:56 - I'd slowed down to a 5:39/km pace and my disintegration showed no signs of relenting. At least I was now headed directly for the finish line, though there were still 4 turns to go.

Hurt. Freakin'. Bagged.

My worst kilometer was from 5-6k, taking me 5:49 as I struggled with the headwind on the bridge back to the West side of the canal and all the 90-degree turns. The 2k split from 4-6km was a pathetic 11:28 at 5:44/km. I might well have benefited from a sip of water or sport drink, but I didn't want to slow myself down any more than I already had. Fortunately, while the sun was out in full force, it stayed relatively cool out on the recreational trail, so I was still passing some people - if it had heated up, I'd have been in much worse shape. As it was, my hamstring was very grumpy about all of these corners.

I finally made the final turn at the 7k mark, and it was mostly a false-flat downhill to the finish, so I tried to pick up the pace as best I could. I'd come through the last full kilometer in 5:34 for a 7km total time of 38:19, and was hoping I could push and bring it in to finish under 41mins. I made the last half-kilometer in a rather astonishing 2:30, just barely making that goal.

Done at last!

7.5km run: 40:49 @ 5:27/km
5/12 relay teams

Official time: 2:02:42 - 7/12 relay teams

Post-race group shot!

We met up with Cathy and Amy after their race was finished, and found out later that they both won their age groups - great job ladies!

For the perfect addition to a fun morning of racing, we then drove down to Niagara Falls and did some super-leisurely cycling along the Niagara Parkway. A bike is the perfect way to get around that world-famous tourist destination: just park the car and roll around, stopping or diverting anywhere you like to check out the sights. We cycled across the King's Bridge, through some of the Dufferin Island trails, hit a gluten-free bakery in Chippewa, and had a really wonderful time. A really good steak and a campfire later, we were both ready for bed after a truly transporting day spent in the best of company.

Thank you for an incredible day sweetheart - I'm so happy we could share this!


  1. One day, I will get photographic proof that both my feet can be off the ground at the same time... 25 yrs of running and so far, nothin'. Great job you guys!

    1. Haha, thanks! I've managed it a couple of times, but only Tank is slick enough to do it while running with the bike.

  2. It was great to meet you!!! Amy

    1. It was my pleasure - congrats on your awesome race!


Go on, have at me!