The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

RACE REPORT: Somersault Promotions Early Bird Sprint Triathlon, Ottawa Ontario. May 21, 2005

The Morning Of

Got up at 6:00, showered, shaved, had a generous bowl of Honey-Nut Cheerios, got the kids up and ready - out of the house at 6:45, arrived on site at about 7:15 - found a spot in the parking lot, kissed the kids, and I headed down to the Transition Zone to setup - Guylaine took the kids to a park for their picnic breakfast.

I didn't really know where I was going, but I just followed the constant parade of bikes down and around campus and it lead me straight to the Transition area. I quickly took it all in, (at 7:20ish or so, it was already about 75% full); I found a spot, hooked my bike up, it didn't feel right, so I found another spot - this felt better, and I left my stuff. First things First: Get the Timing Chip (Sometimes, there can be quite a line up, and the last thing you need is to be waiting when they announce 5 minutes to start!) -- There was a small, line, and I got my chip quickly. As I got my chip, they made an announcement, saying that you needed to have your number on your back for the bike, and on the front for the run. ARGH! I had firmly attached mine to the front of my shirt, and I didn't feel like biking with my shirt on backwards -- fortunately, they announced that race-belts were conveniently available at the announcer's station for $15.

I had been looking all week for one, everywhere was sold out - so I was happy to hear they were available - a bit of a cash grab - but I wasn't going to sweat it. I got my belt.

Set Up

I lucked out a bit, and I think there were only 6 bikes on my rack, as opposed to the 8 the race directors were requesting - this meant a little extra elbow room, for setting up. I laid out my little towel, bike shoes set up (bottom and middle strap done up - top strap open), running shoes set up (laces undone), socks (untangled) and placed neatly in each shoe. TZone water bottle standing up beside shoes (a couple of kleenexes underneath). Number on belt, hanging on bars. Helmet on bars. Shades in Helmet. Shirt on Aerobars. Bike bottle on bike. Backpack tucked away.

Next, I re-oriented myself - Bike Out (check); Run Out (check); Run In from swim (check). My bike rack was 4 in from the top - remember that (check). All set, get body marked.

Got marked. Ok, let's get ready to roll. Walked up to the pool area (man, a long way from the transition area). Quick visit to the men's room (thankfully no lineup). Into the men's changeroom - find an empty locker to dump my shoes - head out to the pool.

Ohhh, what's this -- people are lining up their shoes by the backdoor. Smart! (I was going to run barefoot to T1, but the thought of having shoes sounds much more appealing!) Go back, get shoes - put them beside the line. Head out to the pool deck. Wow, what a lot of people!

The Swim (500m)

The pool swim consists of 10 laps of the 50m pool, up and down one lane, up and down the next and so on....

Rather than a mass-start, the swim start uses time-trial like seeding, and people start 10 seconds apart. Racers, line themselves up in order from fastest to slowest. Hopefully, most people know their abilities and seed themselves appropriately. I can swim 500m in about 8:30, that said, this is at a pretty fast pace - and the last thing I wanted to do was swim too fast - so I planned to swim at 8:40 pace (which even though only 10 seconds less, it feels much more relaxing for me). So - I slotted myself in; a lot of people were iffy (e.g. they'd be like "I don't know, I'm about 8:30 or 9:00 -- well, that's a big difference - what are you going to swim today??) My 8:40 seeding put me at about 80-90 people back from the start. At 8:00 AM, the first swimmer hit the water - and my heartrate started to dance - I could feel the adrenalyne starting to flow.

Around this time, I spotted my family in the balcony - My Mom and Dad had come down, and Guylaine and the kids were all smiles and waves. I started to do my pool-deck warm up - 10 arm circles, clockwise - thumbs up 10 circles counter-clockwise. Stretch up, down, up down etc.. Before I knew it, it was my turn to go.

The starter, turned out to be a former client of mine, from the Air Force, Lynne Bermel, (herself, a former "ranked" Ironman triathlete). She tried to give me a quick tip on how to start - but I still managed to botch it a bit - the thing with the start is, that you're not allowed to dive in, but you need to keep your right ankle on the timing mat. When they tell you to go, you kind of drop down, and push off - to make a long story short - I enetered the water not very gracefully, and with little to no push off from the wall.

Nonetheless, I'm in the water, and swimming. "Nice and easy, Nice and easy, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3". It felt great. I wasn't the slightest bit nervous, I was swimming at a very comfortable pace - I got to the end of the lane, flipped and started the second lap. This was the first time in over 20 years, I'd swam in an Olympic pool, and it really is much (much, much, much) nicer than a 25yd pool - you can really get into a nice relaxing rythm, you don't have the constant interruption of the end-of-the pool to deal with.

Even though I had practiced doing flip turns underneath the lane markers, I decided not to do it in the race - I just didn't need the added pressure of it, so I didn't do it.

At the end of lap 4, I had caught up to a girl in front of me (who started 6 people ahead of me). She must have had a melt down, and looked a bit frazzled when I passed her.

At the end of lap 5, someone politely grabbed my foot. "No problem," I thought, and pulled over at the end of the pool, and they flipped by without incident. I got back into my rythm. At the end of lap 7, another person grabbed my foot - same thing, I let them pass. This was the only passing that happened - the pool was fairly calm the whole time.

Somewhere along the swim, I lost count of how many laps I had done. I started my last lap, I couldn't see anyone swimming down the lane beside me - "Oh no! I'm doing 2 extra laps!!", "No- that can't be", "Oh well, do them, and that'll be that". 10 seconds later I notice people swimming down the other lane - "Phew!" I wasn't doning extra laps afterall - of course I wasn't why would they end the swim 2 laps away from the wall!!?

I finish the swim, get out of the water and look at my watch: 9:08.

"Whoa, that's slow!" I first thought, and I was instantly dissapointed, but then almost as quickly, I was happy -- "No, that's a good time", only 28 seconds slower than what I budgeted for. More importantly - I was not the least bit tired. My 2 other triathlons I had exited the swim Exhausted - and not enjoyed either swim - this swim was easy and fun - I had full energy - strangely enough, being slower than expected was a good thing.


T1 - for this event, is actually made up of 3 transitions.

T1 a

75m walk/jog from the pool to outside. "Sir, please walk!" they called "ok"... imagine walking in a race.

T1 b

Outside the building, down 7 iron stairs - slip on the shoes I had put beside the door - 300 m run to the real transition area. The best part here, was that Andrew and Laura were outside waiting for me, and Andrew looked like he was going to run along with me - I gave him a high-5 as I passed by.

T1 c

Found my bike - put on my shirt, helmet, glasses, slowly and methodically put on my bike shoes (without socks), took a sip of water from my Transition zone bottle, attached my race belt, jog with bike to the mount line (Oops, forgot to reset computer -- fumble with reset action on computer), mount bike, and off we go!

Bike (22.2 km)

The bike starts with a leisurely 1k ride along University Avenue, to Colonel By Parkway. I gradually wound myself up, and hit the Parkway at about 27 km/hr. The rest of the course consists of two, 10 K loops, and then finishes with the 1k back to the TZone along University Ave. For the most part, the course is flat, a slight uphill portion on the way back-in.

I got the first turnaround with average speed of 32km/hr, not bad, I thought - I hoped I would be faster. I had been passed about 3 times, and perhaps passed 3 other people. I got back to the second turnaround at 34km/hr average - pretty good - faster than I thought - I figured, I'd finish with 33km average speed, 3rd turnaround I was 35 - and I had passed a lot of people - the course was starting to get congested with the duathlon participants on the course as well. I played leap-frog with another rider for a while - he beat me into the last turn to University Avenue.


Found my spot, rack bike, off with the helmet, off with the shoes, on with the socks, on with shoes, double-knot, quick hit of water from my transition bottle - Run out.

The Run (5k)

Ok, where do we go??? I'll just follow Lindsay. On the bike, I had managed to catch up and pass a guy I knew from my duathlon training group (Lindsay Murphy) - apparently he had passed me in the transition, and was directly in front of me for the run. I thought, if I could keep up with him for the run, I'd be ok. As it turned out - I felt I could run a bit faster, so I ended up passing him 500m into it.

The run was actually pretty good - I didn't feel tired, my legs were ok - I felt like I wasn't really holding back. I got to the turnaround in 11 minutes and change - and I thought that was pretty fast. At about 3 K, another guy from my duathlon group, Cliff Johnston, was coming up the other side of the road (small world). 500m from the finish line, I hear "Come on Phil - almost there", it was Cliff - he zoomed by me like I was standing still, I tried for 1/2 a second to keep up, but no luck (I guess that's why he's on the OAC racing team, and I'm not!). Anyhow, 100m from the finish line, and the whole family is there cheering (which is always a great feeling). I crossed the line at 1:16:48. Which was about 5 minutes faster than my guess-timate.

The Splits

500 Swim 09:08 (1:49 / 100m)
T1 03:51
22.2K Bike 38:46 (34.4 km/hr)
T2 02:02
5 K Run 23:08 (4:37 /km)
Total Time 1:16:48

Curse You, David Seel

I don't know this person (I'm sure he's a nice guy), we had the exact same finish time, except he managed to get listed above me in the final stats, and in our age group! I'll get you next time (whoever you are!)

Final Results

72 out of 346 overall (Top 21%)
62 out of 196 Men
11 out of 32 Men 30-34
Official SportStats Results for the race

What I did Right

* Planned transition strategy - didn't hurry, didn't panic
* Brought extra water bottle, just for transition
* Didn't panic in the swim - took it easy
* Practiced riding my bike, without socks to ensure I didn't get blisters!
* Practiced swimming in my tri-shorts

Overall -- A Great Race