Monday, June 25, 2012

I am Triathlete

Hear me roar!

I really enjoy running.

I like cycling a lot but wouldn't say I love it.

Swimming is my favourite form of physical activity.

Put them all together and what did I learn? I. LOVE. TRIATHLONS!

I think my sister and I approached Saturday's race the right way. We signed up for the super sprint triathlon which is the shortest triathlon option. It's kinda like signing up for a 5k race before doing a 10k - which makes sense. We were able to try it out, and get the hang of it, without killing ourselves in the attempt.

Of course we're now talking about doing the sprint tri (the next longest distance) and the Olympic tri and I've half convinced Janice and Doug to join me in a half-ironman relay next year - yep, I'm hooked!

The day leading up to the event was a little hairy. My sister (Gabrielle) was flying here from Israel and was scheduled to land on Thursday evening. Thanks to a freak storm in Toronto, she was rerouted to Ottawa where she sat on the plane for 4+ hours, spent another 3+ hours waiting in line for a hotel room, got 2 1/2 hours of sleep and then flew to Toronto. She finally arrived at my parents' house on Friday afternoon, a mere 16 hours before the race. She had spent most of the previous day without sleep, food or water.

I showed up Friday evening armed with printouts of transition zones as well as swim, bike and run routes so I could go over the race with her. We went over what she needed to pack, we parted ways, she had an early dinner and went to bed.

Saturday morning dawned and it was beautiful. It was a hot day but the humidity had broken (thanks to the freak storm that kept Gabrielle's plane from landing) so the breathing was good. Race day was busy. Doug was doing the duathlon and his race started at 8:30am. The super sprint tri started at 10:30am. So we arrived at 7:30am, set up our bikes and then I watched him start his race before I turned my full attention to the sprint triathlon. I figured I'd watch their swim and learn lots of tips in time for mine. I learned that I really like how they do the swim in Welland - they do a very dignified staggered start and one swimmer takes off every five seconds. This helps avoid the craziness that accompanies a regular mass start.

Gabrielle showed up and we went to the transition zone to set her up. We got there in time to watch Doug come sailing in from his first run and grab his bike.

Running man...

...turned into cycling man

After cheering Doug on, Gabrielle and I got ourselves ready and then made our way down to the water. We wanted to get some warm-up swimming in before the race. It's a good thing we did - it helped calm the pre-race jitters and helped us get our breathing sorted out before the race started. By the time we got out of the water we were ready to go.

Waiting in line for our turn to swim. 

The swim was by far my favourite part of the race. When it came my turn, I just put my head in and started. I had imagined being part of a line of swimmers and me just following along. I had hoped not to get passed. Well, no one passed me but I sure as hell passed a lot of people. Gabrielle, who started right after I did was near me the entire swim and we came out of the water one after the other. Apparently we share some sort of family swimming gene because we both swam the 400m in exactly 8 minutes and 51 seconds (3/28 in our age group and top third overall!). 

We then had to run 400+m to the transition zone. That was my first ever barefoot run and my poor shins who love supportive, orthotic-filled shoes, were not impressed. But I did the distance in just over 2 minutes which surprised me because I felt like I was gingerly making my way. 

I got to the transition zone just after Gabrielle did (she managed the run in 1:40) and she was out of there a good minute before I was (which I blame on the time spent hooking up my insulin pump and stuffing more gels into my pockets just in case).

Insulin pump re-attachment

I hopped on the bike and set off to chase her down. I had her in my sights by 5k and I had closed the 1+ minute gap to about 20 seconds by the end of the ride. Another kilometre or two and I would have had her!!

The end of the bike ride (20k in 22 minutes)

The biggest lesson I learned was during the second transition. I got in just in time to see my sister park her bike, yank off her helmet and start running. She was in and out in 55 seconds. I parked my bike, yanked off my helmet, changed from cycling to running shoes, pulled on my running hat and ran out in 2:07. That's a HUGE time difference in a race. I learned that, unless you're cycling longer distances (30+k) or cycling up a lot of hills, don't wear cycling shoes. The time I lost changing my shoes was not made up for by the time I saved wearing cycling shoes. 

I took off after her but she was out of sight and well on her way through the 2.5k. I saw her near the turnaround point and she was flying. So was I, comparatively speaking, but I was not going to catch her without a jet pack. 

Gabrielle came blazing in having finished the 2.5k run in 11:19. 

She finished with an overall time of 47:28 and placed 7th in our age group (of 28 competitors). Not bad for a jet-lagged, dehydrated, exhausted little sister eh?

I finished my 5k run in 12:31 (5:01min/k) and finished the race in 50:13 - putting me 9/28 in my age group. 

Blood sugar-wise, it went well but I learned some important lessons. I lowered my basal rate to 60% an hour and a half before because I figured the swim would not affect me much if at all but the run and bike would. I then removed my pump 30 minutes before the swim (because we had to leave the transition zone) so the pump was off for about 45 minutes (waiting patiently in my cycling shoe - thanks for that tip Jeff!). My blood sugar was 5.2 before the start and I had a pack of fruit chews and a gel right before getting into the water. I did not test during the race but I was 10.2 immediately afterward. I bolused for the finish line chocolate milk and my blood sugar an hour later was 21 and climbing. I'm guessing that spike was mostly due to my being disconnected from the pump for so long. An extra bolus took care of the high but it would have been nice not to have had it in the first place. I'll have to figure out what to do about that for next time. 

Because there will indeed be a next time. Holy bananas that was fun!! 

The proud father of two triathletes.

Other race reports: 

Doug did his 5k run / 30k ride and 5k run in 1 hour and 53 minutes. The exact same time as last year. That man is a metronome. 

Janice did her first super sprint with us and placed first in our age category with a time of 44:10. 

Klari completely bypassed the super sprint and leapt right into the sprint tri. She finished third in her age group - despite some wetsuit removal struggles that were kinda fun to watch! 

We're all coming back next year! 


  1. Fantastic! I'm so excited about your accomplishment and that you really enjoyed it. Having fun really is what it's all about.

    I'm glad you're going to do another.

  2. Awesome post my dear! this was so great to read. All you guys have inspired me. It's like Triathalon is the next step in challenging ourselves or something.
    the relay? DO IT! but maybe pick an easier course than Tremblant :S

    LOVE THIS!!!!!!