The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

The day the weather almost cooperated

~ The continuing saga of the hunt for sub 2:30.

I have a few arbitrary bench marks for middle of the pack excellence: Sub 21 minutes for 5K (check!), Sub 45 minutes for 10K (check!), Sub 1-45 for Half Marathon (check!), Sub 53 for the weekly du (check!) -- so far, I'm excellent in my own mind -- continuing... Sub 3:45 for a marathon (almost, I went 3:47) and the crown-jewel -- sub 2:30 for an Olympic Tri (check*).

Note the asterisk... The one and only time I went sub 2:30 was in Montreal. I had a legitimately awesome race -- but, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, is a gift to wannabe awesome triathletes. At least a 5 minute per 40K time bonus. (If you want a PB - you could spend $8000 on a P5 to shave 30 seconds per 40K, or you could just sign up for a race in Montreal.)

This year - has been a special year for training - and I have been hoping for a payoff in "short-course" racing. A legitimate sub 2:30 Oly would be Suh-weet. National Capital was going to be my coming out party - but we got stung with a long bike course and a brutally hot run - it was a virtual victory - but the annals of Sportstats don't have margins where excuses can be recorded.

Cornwall will bear witness to my next demonstration of middle of the pack awesomeness.

Caption #1: At least I look happy.
Caption #2: Real Men have Body Hair !!
Caption #3: If my legs were any skinnier, I'd start to look like Mario Pinard.

The Cornwall Triathlon, hands down, is the best organized triathlon in the world
This is the venue where I cut my triathlon teeth in 2004 (rocking a 3rd place AG in the Try-a-Tri). This year was my 7th time racing Cornwall, and would be my 4th crack at the Cornwall Oly. This is a tough triathlon: it's an honest course that challenges the competitor and rarely offers up any cream puff freebies ala Montreal. You PB here... you done good. My previous best was 2:36 in 2008 - but that was due to a rare gift, morning of: a 39.2K bike leg due to a last minute course detour around a house fire.

The night before, I sat down with myself and we mutually agreed on a strategy, "Do not give up. 2:30 or bust." Morning of, and the weather was perfect*: Warm, but not hot; and no sign of rain. (note the asterisk, see "The Bike" (below).

The Swim, 1500m
In a word, Perfect. For the duration I felt the discomfort of traveling a hair underneath the red line. I was swimming straight as an arrow, and swam right on the buoy line the entire time. I hardly even sighted. I was the man... I was stringing along about 5 others the entire way. I hit the shore at 30:06 --- Arggh! 2 minutes behind schedule. Has the head Gamekeeper has thrown us a wrench this year??

In a word, Disaster. I was ripped from the wetsuit lickity-split, thanks to the team of Strippers. I got to my bike without problem, thanks to the pre-assigned numerically organized rack-spots. I fumbled with everything else... stuffing my "nutrition" into my pockets; attaching my race belt; putting on my bike shoes; putting on my sunglasses; putting on my helmet. After an eternity (2 minutes and 1 second), I crossed the mount line, and headed out to wreak havoc on the bike course.

The Bike, 40K
In a word, Meh. I pulled out all the aerodynamic stops this year: I wrapped my helmet in Packing Tape, to seal off all the vents; and, I slammed my stem to within 5mm of the head-tube. My National Capital bike leg was outstanding, this was going to be Legend.......ary. Alas, I just couldn't conjure up my inner mojomeister. Heading East, I would flirt with "40" most of the way, only to be slapped back to reality heading West - where an invisible adversary was lurking - the bleeping wind. It wasn't terribly gusty, but just persistent enough to sap 5, 6, 7 and 8 kph from each successive loop.  Final bike split was 1:13:59 @ 32.4 km/hr.  Argh... at least another minute or two leveraged against my precious 2:30.

In a word, Pro-Style. Barefoot dismount on the line, with absolute minimal time loss in the bike-finish-chute. Racked and shod, I was alongside Montreal Road running my heart out a mere 58 seconds from the dismount line. I even put socks on this time.

The Run, 10K
In a word, Out-of-Body. My first K off the bike, is always fast. Often times, way too fast for my own good. I consciously conserved a bit, yet still split 1K @ 4:18, and was feeling good. 2:30 or bust... let's keep this up. 2K @ 4:22., 3K @ 4:25. I'm on track for an open 10K P.B... It was warm, but not horrendously hot. I was picking up water at every station, half the cup in the gullet, the other half over the mullet. A well executed Hammer Gel (courtesy of on-course nutrition) at 3K enabled an absolutely epic journey. I was consistently splitting 4:2X.. and then the math started creeping into my head.  At 7K, I figured I'd need 4:00 splits to hit 2:30... and I gave up. I split 8K at 4:45, and slapped myself in the face. I still had one weapon left: I unpacked the "suit-case of courage". I wasn't going to get 2:30, but I was going to get close... and there was still a chance for a 10K pb. I resolved (in retrospect, a ridiculous determination), that if I hurt myself in the process, I'd have 3 weeks to recover. I split the rest on 4:30s, for a total 10K of 44:39.

The Finish
In a word, Completely-Satisfied. It was 2:31:40.7, but I knew I ran my butt off. I could not have gone faster... maybe 20 seconds in T1. The bike maybe could have been faster, but that would certainly have been at the expense of the run. It wasn't sub 2:30, but it was a Cornwall PB ... and by a lot.

Highlight Reel
  • Watching Eric B get out of the water ahead of me, and all I could think of was getting my ass over the Sportstats mat before him, just to claim a faster Swim time on Sportstats.
  • Getting lapped by a P5 behind Nav Canada. The chattering noise it was making on the rough pavement was horrendous. It sounded like it was losing parts along the way.
  • Getting passed by the Sprint Tri lead biker: The beautiful "Whoomp, whoomp, whoomp" sound of a rear disk wheel.
  • Seeing Guylaine on the bike, when I was starting the run. And then seeing her on the Run again.
  • Passing Rik S and Steve B on the run. Move over, old guys - the youth of triathlon is coming through.
  • Watching Emma S lead Caroline S-B through Gray's Creek, over 1K ahead of me... wow, they were really going well.
  • All the aid stations on the run. I figure about 8 chances for water along the 10K run. Awesome.
  • All the cheering volunteers all over the course. I tried to smile and acknowledge them as much as I could. The cheering really does make a difference, and it is appreciated, even if I'm not able to express that at the moment. I hope they know this!
  • Having Cupa-Joe run me into the finish line - I put on a last minute surge - I wasn't trying to out sprint him, I was just trying to squeeze as many microseconds as possible out of my final time. I know he gave me the finish line glory.
  • Receiving a refreshingly cold bottle of water at the finish line. Nothing ever tasted so good.
  • Watching Tracey finish her first Olympic Triathlon, and then getting mobbed at the finish line by all her friends and family.
  • Seeing Guylaine's name as 3rd AG finisher! And watching her get the well deserved mug for her efforts.
  • Watching Cat walk it in, after a very tough day - a sobering reminder of how lucky we are when our bodies let us finish on our own terms.
  • Setting a PB for 10K after 1.5K of red line swimming and 40K of on-the-rivet cycling: Priceless.
Final Stats: Finish Time - 2:31:40.7 24/71 OA, 6/18 M40-49.

Official Race Results: SportStats

Official Photos: Zoom Photo

Unofficial Splits, courtesy of my Timex:

LegSplit TimeCumulative Run TimeClock Time
Swim, 1500m0:30:060:30:06
Bike, 40 K1:13:591:46:06
T2 0:00:581:47:04
Run, 1K0:04:180:04:181:51:22
10K / Finish0:04:330:44:392:31:40