For two weekends each summer, the Guelph Lake Conservation area is buzzing with talk about faster transitions, negative run splits, and wetsuit regulations. The Guelph Lake Triathlon draws a great crowd of athletes and spectators, and with good reason.
This would be the first race of the season for me, and I was excited to find out what kind of racing shape I was in.
Without any taper I decided I would be very happy to find myself below 2 hours and 15 minutes for the Olympic Distance triathlon.
On race morning, time wouldn’t allow for much of a warm-up aside from small jog from transition to the beach in my wetsuit. I wanted a 22-minute swim but became a little unsure of that goal time as soon as I was looking out across a suddenly wavy Guelph Lake.
The horn sounded and I found myself inside a crew of 20 or 30 fairly aggressive swimmers jostling for positions on the inside. The swim remained fairly rough until the first turn at which point I lost sight of my draft (read: could not keep up with), and was swimming on my own for the way back in for the first loop.
In fear of feeling discouraged, I opted not to look for a clock or check my watch while running along the beach before starting the second swim loop.
I could feel the wind and waves picking up on the second loop, and after taking a few big gulps of water, knew that it was time to start breathing with the waves.
Coming out of the water and running uphill into T1 felt awful… and I attribute that to the fact that I had just finished drinking a substantial amount of Guelph Lake. I hoped that there was enough water left in the lake for the boats and swimmers as I moved through T1.
As I was grabbing my bike, I heard the race announcer call out to my friend Christie Smith as she headed out onto the bike course after being the first female athlete out of the water. Great job Christie!
On the bike course, I was thankful that the higher bike mileage I had put in through May and June was yielding some good returns. Despite showing up to the race with tired legs, I was holding the pace that I had hoped for, and was out-climbing most of the racers around me.
I counted my position at the turn and found myself in 20th overall. A top-20 finish would be in the cards.
I managed to find a few more people on the ride back into T2 and entered the run course knowing that I should be able to break 2:15 with a top-20 finish. My goal of a 39:59 run split didn’t seem too unreasonable at this point.
I decided to “run by feel” with a close eye on my heart rate, paying little attention to my pace/km. I tend to run scared in triathlon races, often worried about blowing up halfway through the run, and as an age-group competitor, not trying to chase down the winner, maybe this is a bit silly. I’ll have to work on that.
During the run, I broke even with my overall position. Being passed by 3 racers, and passing 3 myself. Holding a 4:02 / km pace, I came through the line in 2:13 and change with a 40:23 run time. Good enough.
This finish landed me in 14th overall. And 2/32 in the age group. The race was won by Mark Linseman from Guelph, who is listed as an AG competitor but was recognized in the MPRO category for results. This meant that I would receive a surprise “1st Place Age Group” ranking for myself when awards were dished out.
In addition to the typical swarm of 30-34 and 35-39 athletes ahead of me, there were some serious young studs in the ranks. If nothing else, this might be evidence to suggest that there is some serious athlete development going on in triathlon here in Ontario.
Let’s hope so!
This report and others are on my blog here!