The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

Cornwall Triathlon - Nirvana Achieved

Sometimes everything falls in place and you have a magical race. This year's Cornwall Triathlon was that race. I had hatched a plan to go sub 2:30 this year. That race time for some reason seems like the Holy Grail for me in terms of Olympic Triathlon finish times. I've come close to it before, but never really cracked it (okay once at Montreal Esprit, but that's a fast course). My plan was contingent on a 26:30 swim, holding 32kph on the bike and a 45:29 10K run to finish it up. 32kph was a conservative estimate for the bike - it isn't rocket fast, but despite being traffic free, the Cornwall course is technical and often the wind can creep up on you.

Swim (1500m) - The swim course looked longer than I expected. I was starting to have doubts. I just put them aside. Fuggetaboutit - just grab a fast draft and hold on. The horn went off, and it was absolute mayhem. It was an uncharacteristically rough (for Cornwall) swim start. Within 50m I was at my frustration limit, I couldn't get any clean water, and it felt like there was a wall of swimmers blocking me the whole width of the channel. I went way wide to swim around them, blowing a ton of matches, and seemingly for nothing. Once past the mayhem, there was no one to swim with. I hit the turn around buoy and found a pack, but they were swimming way wide off course, and so I made a decision to ditch them and swim close to the buoy line. My sighting was great despite my left lens being completely full of water for 1500m. I was constantly thinking about the 26:30 goal I had set for the opening leg, but I didn't feel I was swimming fast enough to get it, I was depending on taking an easy draft off someone, but there was no one there, and instead I could feel constant nipping at my toes. I was getting really peed off. I managed to talk myself down, and after hitting the last turn on the second lap, I gunned it for the shore. I got out at 27:18 --- close, but dam, I was really hoping not to start the day off in the hole.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Branchaud
T1 - I had budgeted 2 minutes. I was in and out in 1:38 thanks to the wetsuit strippers and a clean transition zone.

Bike - 4 x 10k loops on the closed road circuit. It was in a word - exceptional. Over the past 2 years about 50% of the course has been freshly paved, and the remaining road is in very good condition. On top of that the wind that can sneak up on you (coming from the East), was almost non-existent, and when it did start up - it was gently blowing from the West - which feels like a net-benefit on this course. I had set the bike computer up to show only AVG speed, and I was committed to the goal of 32kph. Lap 1 came and went at 33.9, and then by lap 2 it was up to 35, and for lap 3 and most of lap 4 it was staying pretty much at 35. I knew today was the day.  There was a great buzz about the race (as is usual), the course loops around the T-Zone area twice per loop, so eight times over 40k - and there were a ton of people cheering. And all along the bike course, the volunteers at the road blocks were all enthusiastically cheering. This bike course makes you feel like a rock star for sure.

Photo Credit: Andrew Ha

T2 - I capitalized on my learning a few weeks ago at the Maple City Triathlon, and didn't make any of the rookie mistakes I had made there. I was in and out of T2 in 1:15.

Run - a 10K along the recreational path - 5k out and 5k back. This is where I normally blow it. My legs are so fired up, I usually run way too fast right off the bat. I set the Garmin up to display only one field for the run segment: avg pace. I knew I wanted to run close to 45 minutes, so I wasn't going to let myself run any faster than 4:30 pace. Thankfully, I had done that because I came out of T2 running 3:40 something, and it felt like nothing... so I forced myself to slow down. Within 200 meters, I had the pace dialed down to 4:30 and I was feeling good. I was about 5 seconds behind two Zone-3 Sports guys, and they were running consistently, so I made a tactical decision to bridge up. I shadowed them most of the rest of the way, we were splitting 4:35 kms so that was fine for me.

Photo Credit: Jessica Brochert
With 2.5K to go, I finally changed the mode on my Garmin to see what the race time was and how close I was to 2:30. It said '2:12'. I had to do a double-take. I did the quick math, and knew even if I dropped to 5 minute pace I would be in under 2:30. What a great feeling. It was around this time that my Zone-3 valets probably got tired of my mad-horse-breathing and they dropped me like a hot potato. I contemplated the chase for about a half a second, and just enjoyed the last couple of k's. When I approached the finish line, I was shocked to see the clock reading 2:25 - I did the craziest dance of joy, and strutted it in, completely content. Final run was 46:07. Official time 2:25:54. An official PB.

I now have the giant sub-2:30 Olympic gorilla off my back.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Branchaud


SegmentDistanceTimePaceRace Time
Swim1500 m0:27:181:40 /100m0:27:18
Bike40 km1:09:3834.5 kph1:38:35
Run10 km0:46:074:37 /km2:25:54

Average bike speed per 10k loop: 33.9 kph, 35.0 kph, 35.0 kph, 34.4kph
Run pace per km: 4:32, 4:35, 4:35, 4:37, 4:45, 4:27, 4:34, 4:39, 4:42, 4:46

Nutrition Report: 5 Gels on the day (yuck)
#1 30 mins pre-swim
#2 13.5k on bike (second loop between Boundary Rd and Nav Can)*
#3 33.5k on bike (fourth loop between Boundary Rd and Nav Can)
#4 1.5k on run ("sipped" it for about 1k)
#5 5.5k on run (after Boundary Road, again, "sipped it" for about 500m).
3/4 of Aero bottle of water on bike.
1/4 cup of water at each aid station. No gatorade this year.

* The first loop of the bike I had scouted where an opportune time might be to take a gel. The bike course was so fast this year that this was the only 'slow' spot (right after a 180 degree turn and on a slight uphill).

On-site post race:
1x water bottle, 1x chocolate milk,  1x apple juice, 1x orange juice, 1x pepperoni pizza slice, 1x chocolate cookie, 1x chocolate desert square, 1x serving of quinoa salad, 1x serving of bean salad, 1x orange slice

The other Barneses:

Laura rocked the kids triathlon, taking a commanding 3 minute lead out of T2, and winning the Girls 12-14 race. Her "Swan Song" to so speak for the Young Champion's Day. Next year she "Ages up".

Photo Credit: Pete Chaussi

Andrew capitalized on a summer-long "taper" and climbed his way up to a second place overall finish in the Adult Try-a-tri. Besting his last year's time by nearly 3 minutes, he earned a mug for 2nd AG and a $50 certificate to Bicycle World for 2nd OA.

Guylaine, making a game-day switch to Hed3's after her Zipps were determined to be leaking air, rocked a 2nd place AG in the Olympic Triathlon equaling - to the second - her PB time from last year.
Photo Credit: Jessica Brochert

All in all a successful weekend.