Monday, August 13, 2012

Niagara Triathlon

I faced my demons and came out the winner. The Park Road Hill has nothing on me!

Here's how it went:

6:00am - the alarm went off and up we got. The next hour was filled with breakfast, race outfits, last minute checks to make sure we had everything...and constant glances at the television to see how the men's Olympic marathon was going.

7:15am Game faces on, basal rates dropped to 50% (mine anyway - Doug's basal rates are just fine), bikes in the car and, with a wary eye on the cloudy skies, we headed to Grimsby.

We set up our transition area and I began my obsessive blood sugar checks.

7:45am (7.4)
8:00am (7.2)
8:15am (7.0)

Time for my warm-up swim.

I was in Wave Three, aka the pink swim cap wave. Nice of them to coordinate my cap to my outfit. 

The water was the perfect temperature - cool but not cold. The botton was rocky (hence the dainty walking pose) but became sandy quite quickly. 

I headed out to the buoy to warm up. Didn't make it all the way but went far enough to know that swimming in Lake Ontario was going to be just fine. 

Coming out after the warm up. Apparently I was not thrilled with having to make my way through the blue and yellow cap people. And what's with all the wetsuits? It's August people! 

I did my last pre-race blood sugar check at 8:45am and I was 5.0. Having dropped from 7.0 to 5.0 after a quick swim, I had a package of fruit chews and a gel (40 carbs total). Then I looked at how far I had to swim and decided that another 10 carbs would make me feel more comfortable. In hindsight, that was a very bad idea...

Back in the water I went. This time there were a few more people. The race was about to start and we were being sent out in waves. Wave one (blue caps) went at 9am. Wave two (yellow caps) went at 9:03 and my wave (pinkies) went at 9:06. Wave four (white caps) finished it off at 9:09. 

Wave one start. 

Making my way in as the yellow folks prepared to head off. 

The swim went very well. I was surprisingly ok with people hitting me, grabbing my legs accidentally and cutting me off. I made my way to the front pretty quickly and just kept my head down and swam my own race. At one point I lifted my head long enough to hear what was going on above water. Lots of gasping, chocking, panicking people - I couldn't believe how crazy and scary it sounded above water. I quickly lowered my head back down and just listened to the sound of my own breathing. I made it through the 750m swim and the 300m run to the transition zone in 16 minutes. I was pretty happy with that! 

I transitioned as fast as I could and headed out on the bike. I spotted Erin as I headed out and she said something that sounded like "remember, that hill is YOUR bitch!". I gave a thumbs up as I ran by. 

The hill that haunts my dreams is about 4k into the ride. Because the tri swim started before the duathlon run, I was actually relatively near the front (as opposed to dead last) which meant that the road was full of bikes. As soon as we got to the hill, you could see who knew what to expect and who trained for it...and who didn't. I saw several people fall over because they couldn't handle the incline and couldn't unclip fast enough when they came to a dead stop. I passed people who were walking. I passed people who were retching. I made it to the top in one piece and feeling ok. I was pretty proud of that. It took about 5k to recover though and my legs were not feeling very strong as I tried to speed up to my goal pace of 30k/hour. I kept moving and felt better as the kilometres flew by. Around halfway, Doug came sailing up beside me (he did the duathlon) and asked how the swim was. "Fabulous!" I yelled. 

As I approached the dreaded downhill, I expected to get more and more nervous. Particularly because there were so many people around me. I didn't. Instead, I was feeling more and more like my blood sugar was climbing. I drank my water but could tell that I was pretty high. Nothing to do but finish the ride and get my hands on my glucometer in the transition zone. The downhill came and I did it like a champ. I braked a little bit but nothing ridiculous. I clocked 55+ km/hour and felt ok doing it. A little sheepish as I watched people sail by my like I was standing still but proud nonetheless. 

In the last few kilometres of the ride, I was passed by a large man with a British accent who commented  "I have never gone down a hill that fast in my life...and I never want to go that fast again!". "Scary isn't it?" I replied. I was then passed by a man who had obviously fallen. The back of his shorts were completely shredded and he had so much road rash and blood that I gasped in horror. 

Bike done! 

Blood sugar check in the transition zone confirmed my suspicion. I was 15.6 and feeling crappy. I took 0.6 units because I had to get it down but didn't want to crash during my run. I was hoping it would be enough to get me down to 10 by the end of the run. 

Only 7k. Only 7k. Only 7k. 
If I repeat that enough, perhaps 7k won't seem that far...

The run went fairly well. I was tired and high but I was able to keep running. The deal I made myself was that I could stop and walk at water stations but, other than that, I had better be running. So I did and, almost before I knew it, it was over. 

The last 100m! 

Post-race blood sugar was 13.0. I immediately took a full correction bolus and set my basal to 150% for two hours. And hour and a half later I was back in range and feeling much better. Lesson learned for next time - don't over carb before the swim. 

Other lesson learned? When you swim in Lake Ontario, you will discover that you are covered in all sorts of fun green and brown aquatic plants when you finally peel your clothes off for your shower. 

Oh, and how did Doug do you ask? 

Fabulous as usual! 


  1. You did AWESOME girl! I love everything about this post (except the high BGs bleaaaah) and the pictures are awesome.
    way to go! I'm really impressed with your hill descent. You've gotten so much better at taking them with speed!

  2. Great race report for a well-executed race! Way to go!

    I think it's wonderful that you're getting into triathlon so much. Who would have guessed that a "little" running injury would turn you into a swim-bike-run fiend?

    Diabetes certainly is trickier on triathlon race morning than any other time for me. You can only practice the fourth discipline of a diabetic tri by doing it when it counts. I've done six tris, and I'm still figuring out what works best for me; though it's definitely getting easier the more mistakes I make and work to avoid subsequent times.

    Keep up the great work and the progress, mon amie! And keep having fun!