The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

A Return to Tupper Lake

In 2007, I was invincible: I was young, I was on the top of my game, I knew everything there was to know about triathlon...  ...or so I thought.

Eight years later, 2015, a return to the Tupper Lake Tinman: older, wiser, smarter, fitter, faster.

The Tupper Lake course is tricky -- the bike is hilly/rolling, and the run is hilly/rolling too. 5:29 was my goal time, based on a previous best of 5:19 at the Canadian 113 (a much easier course, 2 years ago) and 5:46 from the 2007 Tinman.  Actual finish time this year... 5:13:39. A massive improvement from 2007.

Very happy with that.

Pre-Race Intrigue:
Our hotel for the night was in Saranac Lake. We drove down to the hotel first, thus traveling through Malone, New York. ... something was up. Police, everywhere; hundred's of police. It turns out, we were traveling through the area where the massive manhunt for the escaped prisoners was going on. In fact, one of the prisoners was shot and killed very close to where we were, very close to when we passed through.

The Race:

Swim (1900m, 1.2 miles)
The horn went off, and it was chaotic for the first 150 meters or so. It settled down quickly. I swam smart, and tucked in behind others whenever I could. It was nice to be in the first wave, no swim traffic at all. The water was announced as 65°F. The long sleeved wetsuit turned out to be a good choice. Sun on the way back was not a problem this year, as there was a slight cloud cover. Swim split was 33:42.

The bike racks for transition had been set up in such a way that my pre-assigned spot (bib #251) was the absolute most favourable location. 100 out of 100 people, if given the choice, would have chosen that spot.

Bike (90km, 56 miles)
The bike course was much less congested than I remembered it previously. There was only 380 total competitors this year, compared to 910 in 2007.  I rode well, but was continually being passed. I only passed 6 people in total (3 of those were on the side with flats). I hit the half-way turnaround at 1:20:48 - that was fast. I was thinking wow, a 2:40 bike spit would be awesome, but then on the way back I realized why I was so fast - the wind was behind me, and now it was in my face. I struggled to keep the speed over 30kph. My ride home was 10 minutes slower than the ride out. Nonetheless, it was a good bike ride, I was happy with it. Guylaine saw me at me when I was 12 minutes past the turnaround, and called out to me. I was glad she had made it that far without any trouble. She said I was in 30th spot.

The ride felt pretty isolated, except for being passed and the few times I passed people, I was the only bike in sight.  Bike split was 2:51:12 (31.6 km/hr).

In and out in 1:32. Took the time to put socks on for the run.

Run (21.1km, 13.1 miles)
The goal was to try and run 1:45. I knew that was 8 minute miles -- 5 minutes per kilometer. The course, being in the US was all marked in miles, so I just knew to try and keep it close to 8 and stay away from 9. The run was apparently modified somewhat at the start because of flooding. We ran on (soggy) grass for longer than I remembered from 2007 until we finally got to the road. This run course is cruel, it goes up and up and up for the first 3 miles.

I didn't notice the first mile marker, but I did get a split at the second mile: 15:55 (great, I was just under 8 minute pace). Although the pace felt constant, the mile markers were appearing at random times, some came too soon, and others too late (for example mile 6 at 7:33, but mile 7 at 8:31).  On the run, I was mostly alone again. I passed one person that I remember, but was passed by at least 10 others.

At mile 10, I knew I had 5K to go, and started doing the math. Sub 5:20 was looking promising... Sub 5:15 was a possibility. I kept up the effort. At mile 12, it looked like sub 5:15 wouldn't be possible, but nonetheless, I picked up the pace. The last mile was mostly downhill.  Somehow, the finish line appeared quicker than I expected. I finished the run in 1:45:52, and completed the day with 5:13:39. A Huge PB.

I had seen Guylaine on the run twice, and figured she was about 35 minutes behind me. I was able to take a quick dip in the COLD lake to sooth my legs, and get changed to meet her on the finish line.

Guylaine's (almost) finish. This arch deceived everyone. It is about 50 meters away from the real finish line.


Tinman Splits and Pace


  • Pre-race carbo-load dinner at Little Italy: Chicken Ziti with a Blue Moon Beer.
  • Pre-Race Breakfast: Big bowl of Kellog's Vector. Coffee. Cliff Bar.
  • Bike: 3 gels (5K, 35K, 50K), 1 pack of Cliff blocks (half around 65K, half around 80K) and 1 (540ml) bottle of water. It didn't feel hot, and I wasn't thirsty, the one bottle did surprise me.
  • Run: 1 gel at about 10K, half a pack of cliff blocks, water at every station, it was nice and COLD, PowerAde at 3 stations.
  • Post-Race Dinner: Complimentary BBQ Chicken with a Saranac Pale Ale.

2014 vs 2007
Great improvement!

Looking forward to Cedar Point: promising, very promising. Tupper Lake was a fantastic race for me. I surprised myself. I don't think I could have or would have done anything different.