The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

Race Report - Ottawa River Keeper

Ottawa River Keeper Olympic Distance Triathlon. Saturday, June 17, 2006. Westboro Beach, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

This was going to be "The Fun Race". When I registered, months ago, I had designated it the "B" race. This race wasn't about the final time, the rankings or getting a PB. It was just supposed to be 1500m of swimming, 40km of biking, and 10km of running, all bundled together with the fun and excitement that goes hand in hand with an organized race event.

Friday evening, I assembled all my gear, and back-calculated my wake up time. Race starts at 8am, on site at 6:30, half-hour to get there, half-hour to eat/prep, 5 minute buffer... 5:25am

Friday night - slept like a baby. No nerves. It rained something wicked during the night. Fortunately, it had cleared up for the race. Only a little wind to worry about.

Saturday morning, 5:20... Guylaine wakes me up.... "What time did you set your alarm for?" ... "5:25" I respond ... "oh, sorry" .... no problem, I watch the clock for the next 5 minutes. On cue at 5:25, my alarm *Does Not* go off. Ooops. Good thing for light-sleeping spouses.

Breakfast = 2 bowls of high calorie, Kellog's Vector cereal.

I arrived on site as planned around 6:30 and got a good spot in the T-Zone. Transition area was arranged 'Swim In' and 'Run Out' at the East end, 'Bike Out'/'Bike In' at West end. Bike racks were set up East-West making good corridors for transitions. I located myself close to the bike-out. (seemed to make sense: less time running in my bike shoes -- I haven't mastered putting on the shoes while on the bike).

I futzed around a bit, chatted, got chipped and body marked. (Racer Number 9). Ate about 1/4 of a Kellog's Vector bar. Sipped a bit of Gatorade. 7:30 -- wetsuit on, down to the beach for orientation. I hit the water for about 15 minutes of warm up. I practiced "porpoising" for the entry and exit. A couple hundred meters of smooth swimming. I was feeling good.

The Swim: 1500 meters. Beach start. 3 loops of a 500m triangle. Exit the water each loop, run around a buoy on the beach and back in the water.
20 seconds.... 10 seconds... 5, 4, 3, 2, 1: There were only 100 or so competitors, we were allowed to spread out along a good 30m of the beach to start. This turned out to be one of the least combative starts ever. With no one in my way, I "porposed" perfectly, and started swimming not a meter too soon.

Oh, I forgot to mention the "chop". The Ottawa River on this day, was very choppy. The waves were in our faces for the initial 200 meters. This was a swim that would definately separate the strong from the weak.

I swam straight as an arrow, to the first bouy, and breast-stroked "politely" around the bouy with the other 60 or so that had arrived at the same time. Swimming was nice and easy. The wetsuit was not restrictive in any way. I was keeping a very easy pace, with a low heart rate. Back out onto the beach, and around the bouy, to a round of applause from the crowd, and back in. Repeat, and repeat again. I was feeling good and relaxed. I glanced at my watch after the second loop, I was at 19:10. It was reassuring to me, knowing that I was swimming sub 2:00/100m in such conditions.

Exit the water and into T1. No problems getting out of the wetsuit. I had done something different for this race. I wore my singlet underneath my wetsuit. It turned out not to be a hinderance whatsoever. A good piece of learning for the next event.

The Bike: 40 Km. 4 loops of a 10Km "flat-as-a-pancake", closed to traffic route.
The run up to the bike mount line went well. I was not out of breath from the swim, and was feeling pretty good. A little trouble clipping in, but before I knew it, I was off. Prior to this race, I had approximately 2000 fewer kilometers of bike training under my belt from the year before. I wasn't going to kid myself. Keep a good cadence, I told myself, 85+, listen to your legs.

The wind was strong is some spots, dipping the speed to 25km/hr range... but having the opposite effect in other areas, bringing the speed up to 40km/hr. I was hoping to average 30km/hr. Which I more-or-less did. Final average cadence was 89.

2 things:

Thing 1 -- Aero drink. Love it. This was the first time riding with this system. When I first saw these devices, I thought they were gimmicky. Having used one for a 40K race... I don't know why more people don't have them.

Thing 2 -- I am a bad luck charm. At about the 30Km mark, about 50 feet ahead of me. Boom! A lady, crashes her bike, and goes head over the handlebars. Oh no, not again. (This happened to me in the half-marathon a couple of weeks ago). I'm not "racing" this race, so, being first on the scene, I pull over and try to offer assistance. She was lucid and grazed. Fortunately, it happened close to the transition area. Her husband was quickly there. Nothing more for me to do, so I get back on and head out again.

40K and back into the transition zone. Comfortable heart rate. No lactic acid in the legs. Miss my bike rack. Spend about 30 seconds looking for it. Finally find it. Get racked, helmet off, bike shoes off, socks on, shoes on, laces tied (I need to get another set of Yankz). Grab the remaining 3/4 of my Vector bar, and Jog out.

The Run: 10 Km. 2 loops of a 5 Km "out-and-back" along a shaded bike path.
It would have been great to keep a 5:00 pace. But, I knew that would hurt a bit. I didn't push at all, and kept a comfortable 5:10 to 5:30 pace. I stopped at each water station, for a sip and a soak. And, I felt good the whole run. I was far from the "red-zone", and basically just smiling, knowing that I would this event wrapped up, and under my belt within the next 50 minutes or so.

Coming down the "chute" and onto the beach to the finish line, the (small) crowd was really cheering. The finish line announcer, was hamming it up a bit. I was smiling and waving and hamming it up right back. At that moment, I was the man. At least, the crowd made me feel that way.

Over the line, and immediately presented with a medal. "How do you feel?" asked the volunteer. "I feel great" was my honest response.

In conclusion

This was a good fun event. It was the first time (in my relatively short "racing" career) that I didn't feel the need to go 110%. I felt great after the finish. Mostly, I was proud of the fact that, given relatively little focused training, I was able to get through an Olympic triathlon using my base-fitness.

The Stats Official Stats here.
Final Time: 2:46:34
Swim + T1 = 32:03 [2:09/100m];
Bike = 1:19:00 [30.4 km/hr];
Run + T2 = 55:32 [5:34 min/km]
65/105 Total; 10/11 M30-34; 58/74 Men

I must admit, I felt a little sting at my relatively low position in the standings - but I got over it, considering I was just out for fun and -- it looks like the 100 or so that came out, were a pretty competitive bunch.

More Importantly

I've ressurected the idea of a half-ironman. Initially I had discounted that after my half-marathon experience. But, if I can get a bit better base and bike fitness. I could feasibly enjoy "participating" in a half-iron distance race event.