The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

The Hunt for (another) Sub 2:30

This past weekend, Guylaine and I participated in the National Capital Triathlon. Guylaine did the Sprint, and I did the Olympic. Overall, I was very happy with my result (and pretty proud of Guylaine for hers). I would have really liked to go under 2:30, but given the venue (Long transitions), long bike course (42k instead of 40); and the weather (40+ with humidex) – I will call it a virtual “sub-2-30”.

The swim, 1500m:

It was a beach start – from a pretty narrow starting area, approx 15 people wide, I started 2nd row. There was only slight contact at the start and it was possibly one of the most civilized swims I’ve participated in -- save for one kick to my face. I had a tough time sighting the buoys, but there was enough splash in front of me, I just followed that. I even did something I’ve never done before – cleared water from my goggles – my right lens filled up immediately at the start, and once the initial mayhem of the start had settled, I flipped to the back, cleared it, and continued the swim. Previously I would have suffered the whole way and endured the discomfort to save the 0.38 seconds it took to clear it. I wore my Xterra Sleeveless wetsuit, and although the water was warm, and the sun was hot, (especially on the swim back), I fortunately didn’t overheat.

Transition 1:

I didn’t get much of a draft on the swim, yet I seemed to hit the beach with a pack of 8 other swimmers. I split my watch at 27:33 which is slightly better than average for me. For the last 750 meters of the swim, I had debated my T1 tactic: remove the wetsuit at the beach, or run to T1 in it and remove at the bike rack. I opted to strip it at the beach and I think that was a good decision. It was nice to hear Guylaine (and Rob A.) cheer me on towards the bike racks. T1 at this venue is very long – there’s lots of opportunity for things to go wrong during the long run with your bike – drop a chain, loose a water bottle, trip – I saw it all, but fortunately, I made it through to the mount line okay .

The Bike, 40 km (posted):

The bike course is tolerable. 4 x 10K loops of Colonel By Drive. The pavement conditions are mediocre. The wind was cooperative today: slightly in your face on the way out, and giving a seemingly more helpful push on the way back in. Rightly or wrongly, my strategy was “Balls to the Wall”. Luckily I happenstanced my way into a three-some. X would pass Y, Z would pass X, Y would pass X – etc. etc. It went on for most of the 4 laps. It was all definitely legal and on the up and up. I faded slightly on the last lap, and was dropped by the 2 carrots, whom would eventually go on to place a few spots higher than me in the final standings. Again, it was nice to hear the contingent of Cornwall cheer-leaders at the turnarounds. All in all, it was a fantastic bike leg – my fastest average speed in a race to date at approx 34kph. Nutrition on the bike was 1 bottle of Gatorade, 1/2 bottle of water and 1 gel.

Oh yes... that gel.

After years of protesting the terrible taste and texture of gel, I’ve adopted Cliff shots as a tolerable tonic. (Additionally, I admire the ingenuity of their “Litter Leash” concept.) The only problem with Cliff, is that the Nutritional information on the packet is only printed in English. So to rectify this, they put a thick sticker on the back of each package with the Canadian translation. As I hungrily scraped through the gel pack with my teeth, I ended up pulling half the sticker into my mouth and inhaled all kinds of little bits of foil, plastic and sticker into my respiratory system. I was still coughing it out 2 days later.

Transition 2:

This was mostly uneventful, no tripping, and I found my spot without much trouble. I felt a slight pang at the sight of a lot of bikes racked already, but took some comfort in the fact that my immediate rack-neighbours were not back yet.

The Run, 10km

To Fuel-Belt or not to Fuel-Belt, that is always my conundrum. I had chosen to not Fuel Belt, and throughout the entire run I was really wishing I had chosen to wear one. I might have even sold my soul for a 2L camelback. It was hot, very hot, and there was little shade to hide in. There was an aid station at around the 1.5K mark, so in theory water at 1.5, 3.5, 6.5 and 8.5 (2 x 5K out and back layout) should have been enough, but I was dyin’ out there. I was happy though that the run was relatively flat, and that the monster hill in Vincent Massey Park had been avoided this year. I did carefully take in another gel at 5K.
Despite feeling the chills of over-exertion, I ran pretty well. My splits seemed all over the place, which is probably more a function of slightly misplaced mile-markers as opposed to wacky running technique. As I rounded the 6K mark, I noted that I could break 2:30 if I ran the last 4K at 4:30 pace. I gave it the old college try for about 10 seconds, then I “had that conversation with myself”, and we unanimously agreed that today was not the day. I crossed the finish line at 2:32:16 … and was still able to walk. I told someone that the race was absolutely disgusting – but that I enjoyed every minute of it. And I did.


It was a really good race experience. I was happy with my Swim, Bike, Transitions and, “Nutrition”. Considering the heat, and despite talking myself out of finishing hard, I felt I ran as good as could be expected for me. The race coordination was pretty good. The Cornwall Triathlon really spoils it for all other event promoters, in terms of setting the bar high. One final note: "aging-up" sucks! My finish time would have nabbed 3rd in the M35-39 category this year… Bummer!

Final Stats: Finish Time - 2:32:16. 33/135 OA, 11/25 M40-44.

Official Race Results: SportStats

Official Photos: Zoom Photo

Unofficial Splits, courtesy of my Timex:

LegSplit TimeCumulative Run TimeClock Time
Swim, 1500m0:27:330:27:33
Bike, 42 K (+1/2 T2)1:12:451:44:00
T2 0:00:541:45:55
Run, 1K0:03:520:03:521:48:48
10K / Finish0:04:370:47:212:32:16