Friday, June 12, 2015

Woodstock Sprint Triathlon - June 6th, 2015

Like triathlon's goofy slapstick cousin, this was ill advised racing at its finest: just 2 weeks after the Sulphur Springs 50k, still badly over race weight, almost no bike fitness and a fresh, tender injury to boot.

At least I was stylish in my Vanderkitten tri suit!

Meh, whatevs. You punches your ticket, you takes your ride. Pre-race faffing went fine: up at the crack of stupid after something best described as a nap, bagel stuffed in face, arrive at site with plenty of time in the chilly morning air to pick up race kit.

My race bib seems to know me well.
At least I didn't pay full price for my idiocy.

I got my transition area set up neatly, basically working on autopilot. It had only taken me about 10mins total to pack everything up the night beforehand, and even less time to lay it all out ready to go. 

It's almost like I might have done this once or twice - or maybe two dozen times - before.

Portajohn, body lube, drink water, shiver a little. Did you know that BodyGlide goes crumbly after 8 months without being used? Totally fail to apply sunscreen. Do own bodymarking anyway, adding a little essential that the volunteers wouldn't have.

At least part of me will be smiling through the whole thing.
Stuff great walloping mass of lower body into teenytiny rubber suit that hasn't been off its hanger since last September. Remember that I haven't done a swim interval longer than 200m in at least a couple of months. Feign optimism while seriously doubting my ability to even get through the first leg of the damn race.


With assistance from Tanker the Wonder Sherpa, ascertain that it is at least possible to get the wetsuit zipped up over my ample insulation.

If one of these seams lets go, there will be no survivors within a 100 metre radius.

Into the lake for a laughable warmup swim, the 20c/68f water feeling much chillier than advertised. Swim most of the way out to the first buoy, note that there is some chop running from the East, get swamped, tired and discouraged. Do some kicking and treading water to try to gently warm up the damaged leg while trying to adjust my too-snug wetsuit so it might feel just a little less constrictive. Realize the only true way to achieve that would have been to put down the damn fork a month ago, and swim back to shore while trying to avoid getting whacked in the face by other athletes.

Werrlllll, I survived that bit anyway.

I was in the first wave right at 9am with the pros, elites, men <24 and women 30-39. So, I figured I'd probably be somewhere around last out of the water in my wave, 'cause I've got no damn business being in with the fast bunch.

Or the medium bunch. Or the less-than-glacial-pace bunch.

The horn sounds, I take a couple of steps forward as everyone else leaped in with gusto, and then dive in like a bloated sea lion. There's a mess of flailing limbs around me, some of which are mine.

The less said about the swim, the better. That bit of chop - just pathetic little 14" wavelets - seemed intent on swamping me every time I'd try to breathe on the way out to the first turn buoy. Even breathing to the leeward side, they were just big enough to wash over my head and try to drown me. Not having practiced any in more than half a year, I wasn't having an easy time sighting, but seemed to be swimming reasonably straight.

That's about the only thing that went ok.

Between unintentionally hydrating myself with lakewater and my total lack of endurance, I ended up side stroking a bit...and then even flipped on my back to kick for a little. This happened more than once, though I did manage to get myself from the 1st turn buoy to the 2nd swimming front crawl. The chop was, after all, running in the same direction I was swimming at that point. Heading for the swim exit after turn 2, the chop was now coming in from my right and there was more side strokery.

I mean, I know my swimming is never good when I'm recovering from a tough race, but this was pathetic. Overtaken by the 2nd wave of athletes just past the second turn buoy, I felt like a failure.

To distract you from my abysmal swim, here's a picture of some ducklings beside the starting area.

I eventually flopped & flailed my way back to land, got to my feet and gave my damaged hamstring tendons their first test of the day as I waddled toward transition. I had sort of forgotten that I'd have to run up to T1 until I was approaching the swim exit.

750m swim: 17:01 @ 2:16/100m
Haven't been that slow since 2012.

Fortunately, the damaged leg seemed to hold up as I staggered along and started stripping my way out of my rubbery casing. Entering the transition area, I ran along the rack looking for my bike...only to discover I was at the wrong rack. Wobbling my way further along, I finally located my gear.


I methodically went through the process of donning my race number, sunglasses, helmet and cycling shoes (a process complicated by not wanting to strain the sore hamstring tendons by bending over too sharply), then began timidly trotting up the hill toward the bike course.

Leg, don't fail me now!
T1: 01:34
00:12 slower than 2014 

Here's where the comedy of errors really gets rolling.

As I ran along, holding my bike by its saddle, the bars swung completely over to the right - effectively halting me in my tracks. I had to use my other hand to correct it and then try to get back into my cautious stride. I finally made it to the mount line just behind a knot of about a dozen other athletes who conspired to completely block the way forward. I mean, I have no problems with running a few metres past the line before hopping on to give other people space, but I literally could not get through. So, I waited. Suddenly making sure my bike was racked with the pedals in the proper position seemed ridiculous - I probably lost 30 seconds just waiting for the mounting area to clear enough for me to swing a leg over my bike. I did actually manage to start my cycle computer, though.

Once I was finally in the saddle, I felt better than expected - didn't even have as tough a time climbing the big stinkin' hill out of the park as I'd feared, just focused on keeping the pedals turning. The air was still cool, but the sun was bright and my own effort kept me warm. Spinning along in the small ring up and over the hill Northbound on 13th line, I settled in and started to enjoy myself a bit, coming through the turn East and then the 5k mark in 12:05 - just under 25kph average.

While learning that being in the 1st swim wave means there are even more people to pass you on the bike.

I made the second turn onto 15th line and pulled out my only nutrition for the race about 17mins into the bike: a single packet of Salted Caramel Gu. I got it into my face without crashing or coming out of aero - for which I feel like I deserve a damn medal, what with it only being my 2nd ride on my tri bike since last fall. I even made it through the hairpin turn-around, though slowly and slightly wobbly, while thanking the police officers on course for keeping us safe. Headed back North again on 15th line, I climbed a rise and then shifted to the big ring as I came over the top and into a gentle downhill..

..promptly dropping the damn chain.


So, laughing a bit - 'cause what else can you do - I coasted down the hill until it started to level out, then pulled over and stopped to sort myself out. It occurred to me later that I could have tried using the shifter to pop it back up onto the chainring, but by that point I'd already dismounted, coated my right hand in grease setting the chain back in place, and had to stand on the pedals to get myself moving again.

Fortunately, the rest of the bike leg was uneventful. I successfully shifted to the big ring and back down again a couple of times, and tried to strike a balance between making up a bit of lost time and saving my legs for what promised to be a fairly feeble run.

But hey - no crashing!

Approaching the dismount line I weighed my options while trying to gauge how well my damaged hamstring was holding up, and elected to forgo my walking-on-air parlour trick in the interest of health and safety. Coming to a complete stop, I gingerly swung my sore leg - which was actually feeling ok - over the bike and lumbered back toward transition.


20k bike: 47:08 @ 25.46kph
02:11 slower than 2014.
(My cycle computer recorded 45:32 of moving time)

"Running" to transition

Changing from my bike shoes to my run shoes took longer than it should have for a couple of reasons. First, I was still leery of putting too much strain on my sore hamstrings, so had to be careful picking things up off my little mat on the ground. I was also vainly trying to keep from smearing the chain grease that coated my right hand all over my pristine white cycling shoes, so ended up working left-handed while two-thirds of the way through a race for which I was severely undertrained. I'm sure you can imagine how well that worked out. Grabbing my hat at last, I headed for the exit before they decided to start charging me rent.

T2: 01:06
00:05 slower than 2014.

Shift yourself, woman!

The run may have been the source of my greatest trepidation, but it actually went better than I could have expected. I went out fairly easy, partly to test the hamstring and partly because it was pretty clear I wasn't racing for a PR anyway. As always, it seemed to take forever to reach the dam and the 1km marker, especially since they'd poured some aggregate stone on the trail that was rather uncomfortable to run on with chilled feet in my tri loafers.

Which I keep on wearing at Woodstock, despite knowing the course is mostly trail.

I took the steep descent off the far end of the dam very cautiously to spare my poor, damaged tendons as much as I could, and breathed in the phlox-scented air along the river. The sun was scorching, but the air remained cool so I wasn't suffering too badly. Of course, it seemed like everyone in the whole race was running past me like I was standing still, but that was nothing more than I expected.

I figured I might end up DFL, but didn't really care.

Up the sharp climb to the road, I grabbed a cup of water at the aid station just past the 2k mark and took a couple of sips before tossing the rest down my back. I pattered my way up the false flat to the turn-around, then began the final jaunt as I shouted my thanks to the amazing volunteers and offered some encouragement to the other athletes on course. I'd find out later that I unknowingly said a few much-appreciated words to a fellow Vanderkitten VIP who was having a tough time on the run, managing to brighten her day just a little. Honestly, even if I got nothing else out of racing, that would be enough to keep me coming back.

And where else can I flash the ill advised racing gang sign?

With 1k left to go I was death whistling and my sore leg was talking some serious trash to me, but I pushed on and even managed to just barely pass the guy in the Triathlon Club of Burlington kit who appears in all these photos. He beat me on chip time, of course, but it was nice to pass at least someone out there.

Into the chute with zero kick.

I hit the final turn and the gentle downhill to the finish line, glad I didn't seem to have done any further damage to my injured leg and not having had to walk. Some lady who clearly hadn't left it all on course came flying past me and my TCOB companion, but I crossed the line upright and smiling.

We'll call it a win.

5k run: 28:58 @ 5:47/km
00:05 PR!

Just barely holding off the competition.

12/23 W35-39 - 96/156 W - 283/388 O/A
02:51 slower than 2014

Just happy to be done.

So it appears I'm getting slower every year I do this race - I went 1:31:06 while undertrained in 2013 and 1:32:55 three weeks after being by a car in 2014. While I may have a few excuses - and maybe even something that qualifies as a reason - I really would like to go under 90mins at this race someday. 

2015, however, was not that day.


Still had a hoot doing it on a really beautiful day, though. Of course, then it was time to try to recover hard for further stupidity the next day..


  1. This entry was like a cliff hanger!! Congrats on getting it done, I think you did great, I'm amazed at your placement based on your report and the issues you had. Congrats to you for that result being untrained and injured. You rock!! See you out on the trails.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Robin. Hope your season continues to be fantastic!


Go on, have at me!