Friday, July 17, 2015

Belwood Triathlon - July 11th, 2015

I don't think triathlon is really my thing this year. I have a theory about that, but that's a story for another day.

For now, courage.

The week leading up to Belwood was complete and utter balls. I'm still injured, had to say goodbye to a dearly loved friend, and got maybe 25hrs of sleep from Sunday to Friday. The only thing that got me out of bed at 5:30am on Saturday was the prybar known as "you spent money on this, stupid", which to date has a 100% effectiveness rate.

Get to race site. Grab everything from car. Wander toward transition, once again getting gravel stuck to my bike tires and scraping more paint off the rear wheel cut-out in the frame. Discover that fencing precludes anything like a reasonable route to the bike check-in entrance of transition. Hop some of said fencing, find a rack spot, do all the things.

Fortunately, in my 7th season of triathlon, I can accomplish most of said things on autopilot. I very seldom stupidly forget to put my nutrition on my bike or anything foolish like that anymore, even when all I really want is a nap.

Did I pack a mattress?

Portajohn. Wetsuit stuffery. Bah, still too fat for a good fit. Wander into water, flail about 50m out. Water safety person on paddle board tells me to head back. Wave legs around in water in attempt to warm up my injured whatever-it-is-that-hurts, then flail 50m back to shore.

Is it too late to change to the duathlon?

First wave goes. Kiss Tank, head down to start line, and position myself way off to the right in case I'm doing that awesome pulling-to-the-left thing that happened at Mine Over Matter. Of course, everyone else seems to have the same idea.

Horn sounds, and while everyone else seems to be in a big hurry to set off, I just kind of meander forward and then dolphin dive.

So much meh.


I feel like I'm doing ok until I'm apparently attacked by a facehugger with bad aim...or rather someone's hand splayed firmly on top of my head. It's the same water safety chick on her paddleboard, and she's pointing me off to the right. Yeah, happened again; drifted off to the left. Really though, I'm not that badly off course - just a few metres. While it's nice to be back on the right track sooner than later, I could've done without having my melon grabbed.

Whatevs. Onward.

Navigation is fine now, but I keep getting boxed in by other athletes. There are arms and legs everywhere in my field of vision, and I can't find a way through them. Finally make it to the first turn buoy, and it's wall-to-wall rubber and thrashing limbs around me. I pull up short for a quick breast stroke to see if I can locate an escape, but all I really succeed in doing is slowing down even more.

A continent drifts past. I can't even stay on its feet.

Through the second turn and headed back to the shore, I now have the dam beside me for easy navigation purposes and manage to find some clear water (because everybody else has left me behind). I am, however, tired. Bone tired. Even with accelerating my breathing pattern, I'm still I side stroke a bit. 

Yeah, the swimming equivalent of walking the run. Again. I just swim like crap when I'm tired.

I do still manage to swim slightly more freestyle than side stroke, but it's a pretty narrow margin in the last couple of hundred metres. Eventually the spastic twitching of my limbs brings me to water shallow enough that my hand touches bottom, and I rise from the murky lake like some kind of chubby swamp creature.

From the black rubber lagoon?

750m swim: 17:20 @ 2:18/100m

Ok, that does include the absurdly long run-up to transition, but still - pretty pathetic.

Seldom has a photo so accurately portrayed my feelings.

Really, calling what I did on the way to transition "running" would be awfully charitable - I felt completely shelled and probably would have gratefully collapsed into a heap for a snooze had someone put a cot anywhere in view. I trundled to my bike, learned exactly how difficult it is to put cycling shoes on wet feet one-handed as you cling to a bike rack to keep from falling over, barked my shin on my pedal leaving said rack, and cursed my way to the mount line.

T1: 01:34

Other than my pedals now being out of position, saddling up went ok. I spun myself up to cruising pace and set out to execute my plan - I'd learned after the race last year that the first half is mostly flat or downhill, so with some bike fitness built while not running much due to injury, I dropped my meager hammer.

It's one of those inflatable ones you can win at the fair.

I passed some people. Some passed me. Not all of them were the same people. I had a sip of EFS Liquid Shot from my flask as I passed the 5k mark, then got whacked in the face by some huge freakin' bug on the out-and-back section. I climbed to the turn-around, sailed down the decline after negotiating the hairpin, ran out of gears on the big stinkin' hill at Oustic, and still made it through the 15k mark in 29:36 - a 30.4kph average.

Bike fitness - I haz some!
Of course, then there's a hill that's a kilometer and a half long. Then another that's over 2km long. My left adductor muscle started to talk, and none of what it had to say was positive. Just past 20k I had another sip of EFS Liquid Shot, then commenced to hammer again as I came through the 25k mark and back onto 18 toward Belwood Lake Conservation Area. I probably could have hit this section a bit harder, but my saddle had compressed under my chubby butt quite a bit by this point, which meant the slightly-too-long seat clamp bolt that sits dead centre in my saddle's big cut-out section began to make itself a very large and personal part of my life.

Note to self: replace that bolt. It's not the sort of thing you can ignore.

After a bit more airborne caterpillar with a young fellow on the home stretch and running out of water in my aero bottle (close enough to the finish I couldn't be stuffed to re-fill from the bottle on my frame), I finally made the dismount line. Still cautious about my idiot injured leg, I came to a full stop and got off the bike gingerly to avoid impeding my run any further.

Let's see how much time I can waste..

30k bike: 1:04:34 @ 27.88kph
(If the race director is correct, that should be 30.2k @ 28.06kph)

Hi-ho fatso AWAAAAAAAAY!

Back to my rack, I had a bit of a struggle to get my tri loafers on, but eventually got moving toward the dam to finish off this idiotic undertaking.


T2: 01:17

Now past 10am as I trotted across Shand Dam, the sun was in full effect and beating my pudgy arse down. Death whistling commenced immediately and did not relent. While the rail trail is lined with trees and shrubs along most of the run course, the sun angle meant there was precious little shade. I grabbed a cup of water from each aid station, had a sip off each one, and dumped the rest down my chest and back in an attempt to cool myself down so I wouldn't actually combust.

This is going to take more than a half-full dixie cup.

Not wearing a watch, I had no idea what kind of pace I was running, but I felt slow as hell - I swear that glacier came whipping past again, so at least I'm slightly faster on a bicycle than geography. All I could do was try to focus on quick turnover and hope my legs held together. Fortunately, the damaged hamstrings and sore adductor decided to cooperate.


I tried to offer encouragement to other athletes along the way, but oxygen was pretty precious by this point - I did make sure to thank all of the volunteers who make this awesome event possible, though. It was heartening that I managed to pass a few people, right up to the last half kilometer - clearly I wasn't the only one suffering in the blistering heat and sun. After a blindingly bright and seemingly interminable waddle through the double turn-arounds, the dam finally hove into view.


7.5k run: 42:13 @ 5:37/km

My smiley face got some compliments.

There was no kick. I had zero energy left when I finally dragged my sorry arse across the line.


6/15 in W35-39 - 57/117 W - 182/286 O/A

So I pretty much sucked, but I did give it all I had on the day. Fortunately I was able to see a longtime friend compete in his very first triathlon just after I finished (GO BILLY! You rawk!), and then enjoyed a delightful afternoon, wonderful dinner and a fantastic play in the very best of company.

This guy is just the best.

It was rather alarming to see how short on volunteers MultiSport Canada was at the race site. If you have a couple of hours to spare, why not give something back to the racing community? It takes a lot of effort to put on these fine events, and donating your time gives you a great new perspective on racing from behind the scenes while giving you an amazing opportunity to see an incredible diversity of athletes as they push themselves to the limit. Go on and give it a try!

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