The Woodstock triathlon is relatively new, being around for only 3 years I think. Previously, other races have kept me from doing this race, which is so close to home. This year, I finally decided to do it to get my first triathlon experience of the year.
The day started off with nice temps and just a little bit of rain as we drove down to Woodstock from New Hamburg. Once arriving, we made our way into the park down the twisty, bumpy entrance road and found place to park the van.
After getting the tires all pumped up, I grabbed my gear bag and bike and made my way to transition to check my bib number and rack my bike in the appropriate spot. It was actually a nice spot, at the far end of transition from the swim entrance and close to the bike exit.
After dropping everything off, I made my way through the regular registration process and got body marked, my timing chip and my race number and swim cap.
After getting back to my bike, I got my stuff laid out and put on my cycling gear to go for a short ride. It was about this time that it started raining somewhat steady, and with the little bit of wind we had in the morning, I was actually feeling very cold. I cut the ride a bit short and just came back to transition to get ready for the swim.
I took one final washroom break and got my wetsuit on and headed down to the water to get warmed up a bit and get some water in the suit to adjust the fit. I kept the swim fairly short and came back to the starting line with about 10 minutes before the horn was set to go off at 9am for the first wave that I was in.
After a few final race remarks by John Salt, the RD, the horn sounded and we were off. I hadn’t been in a swim start since Muskoka last year, so it was good to get going and just get the butterflies out of the way.
I found the start pretty good. There wasn’t too much contact and tried to get on some feet early, but those seemed to disappear about as soon as it tried. I should have really focused on doing a bit more drafting, but instead, I think I felt better just finding some open space and swimming my race. I’ve been feeling pretty good at the pool lately, so I was hoping for a swim time in the 12:30-12:30 range…factoring in the 100m run to the first timing mats as we exited the water.
By the time we reached the first turn buoys, things were fairly spread out and I was just focusing on maintaining a good stroke to finish out the first leg. There wasn’t much else exciting the rest of the way, and I finally made it back to shore. I had my Garmin 310 under my wetsuit sleeve, so couldn’t easily see what the time on it was, so I just kept running into transition. By the time I got to my bike, I had the suit down to my waist (but again, getting my left arm out was difficult). When I got to my bike, of course I knocked my helmet and glasses off of it. I also struggled a bit with the suit around my ankles. I think I seriously might need to get a new one. My full sleeve suit is a Zoot, but I also have a sleeveless Xterra suit, and It seems much easier to get on and off. I always have difficulty with my full sleeve Zoot, and my first transitions always take a hit because of this.
Anyway, looking back at my swim split on the sportstats website I finished the 750m swim in 13:25, meaning I likely came out of the water in 13 minutes or so. This put me in 7th in my AG out of 22 athletes and 35th out of 180 participants in the entire race. This is definitely not what I was hoping for, given the extra speed of a wetsuit. Always something to improve upon at least!
Given the bit of wetsuit difficulty I had at the bike and knocking my helmet and glasses off, my first transition took 1:08, well off the mid 30 seconds of the leaders in the race. That’s a smoking fast first transition!
Eventually, I was off with my bike up the fairly long hill and run to the mount/dismount line where we had to go through a bunch of wooden posts in the ground. Luckily, I avoided crashing into any of them, and got on my bike and was off on the 30K ride.
By now, the rain had stopped and the weather was warming up. It was actually pretty nice conditions on the bike as I made my way back up the windy road out of the park and out onto the nice country roads north of Woodstock.
I was familiar with the course, since we basically drove it coming down to the race from New Hamburg. The first 3 or 4 K were mostly uphill as we headed north on line 13. Right away, I had a few racers up the road that became targets. It didn’t take too long to overtake them, and focus on the others that cycled up ahead of me. When we turned right onto county rd 33, we faced a stiff little headwind. I just tried to stay down in the aero position as much as possible and fight on through it. Eventually, I passed a few more riders and made the left hand turn onto line 16, which we would take all the way to the turnaround point, just north of county rd 8.
Line 16 was a pretty smooth road that started off with a nice flat section where I was able to get the speeds up in excess of 40kph for a period of time. I continued to pass more and more riders as we made our way up and over the rollers just before county rd 8. Approximately 1K north of county rd 8, we hit the turnaround point, where we headed straight back the same way we came. I counted the riders as they came back past me from the turnaround, and I was in 14th place, and still behind Angela Quick, the lead female, so I had some work to do!
After the making the turn around, the next group of riders were about 400m or so up the road. I pushed hard, and likely caught them within a few minutes had moved into 12th place. Just up the road a bit more was Angela quick, and I passed her shortly before turning right onto county rd 33. Once onto rd 33, there were two more riders just up the road. I ended up passing both while we enjoyed the nice tailwind on this return section, despite the fact that the road was pretty bumpy.
I finally made the last turn back onto line 13 for the final push back to the park. At this point, I could only see one rider up the road. He was a fair distance ahead and I figured I didn’t have enough real estate to reel him in. By the time we hit the park, he was likely only 150m ahead of me, so I made some good time on him in the last 4-5K. Coming back into the park, it was a no pass zone, so I was lucky that I wasn’t around anyone, and therefore didn’t have to slow down for any overly cautious riders.
I hit the dismount line and got off, with my bike going on one side of the various roadway posts and me going on the other. I could easily see someone coming in hot and crashing into these. That would have been both funny and dangerous!
My bike split ended up being 47:52 for the 30K, good for 7th overall in the race and 1st in my AG. This works out to 37.6kph, but also includes the run to and from transition zone to the mount line. My garmin GPS which I started and stopped right around the dismount line had me at 38.4kph for the ride.
Once back into transition, I quickly racked my bike, took off my helmet and put on my shoes/visor and was off. 37 seconds later, I was on my way out and starting the run. T2 was much more in line with the top guys in the race, compared to my slow T1 (wetsuit issues!).
As we exited transition, there rider who was just up the road as we came in the park, just snuck out before me. As it turns out, his name was Brendan Howard. I had never heard of him before, but he could certainly run. I stayed within 50-100m of him for the first K as we made our way over to the damn across a combination of bumpy grass and gravel roads.
Just past the 1K marker of the run, I knew I likely wasn’t going to catch him today, as he just slowly put more and more distance between himself and me. In the end, he ran the 7.5K run 45 seconds faster than I did.
At about the 2K marker, as we began running on the crushed limestone trail, I ended up passing my first runner. At this point, I could see nobody else up ahead except Brendan, who continued to pull away slowly.
Once I made my way up the short little hill to Tecumseh street, we did a quick right and then a left into the nice trail section in the park. This section was pretty flat, and once we got to about the 3.75K point, it was mostly tree covered and shady, since it had warmed up quite a bit from the pre-race rain showers we had. When the sun was out, it was actually quite hot. I found the air in this tree covered section a lot more humid and “thick” so that sort of offset the shade that we were getting.
In the lower trail section by the river, I passed a few aid stations and one medical volunteer on a bike, but other than that, I was alone and at times, wondering if I was going the right way? The good thing is that they did a great job of marking off any trails we weren’t supposed to go on, so getting off course likely would have been difficult.
I finally made it back to the shared trail section, where I started seeing other athletes coming towards me. This helped push me along, as you wanted other people to see that you are still looking strong. At about the 6K point, there was a short little hill before we got back onto the damn. I was feeling a bit tired and hot at this point, but there was also another runner just up ahead about 75-100m. I pushed hard back up to the damn and about halfway across, I caught up to him and gave him a congratulatory “nice running” comment.
With only about 1K to the finish line, and somewhat downhill, I pushed hard along the final gravel/grass sections. There was nobody else to catch, so I was really just looking to put in the best time I could. As I approached the finishing shoot, both my sons, Holden and Tate popped out and ran with me through the finish line. Holden is fast enough to keep up for the final sprint, but little 4 yr old Tate, ended up coming in behind us. Mike Cheliak of My Sports Shooter, who took all the pictures of the event, took a cool picture me finishing with Holden right beside and Tate coming up from behind. I chose this picture as my award photo for winning my age group.
I ended up running the final 1.5K at a pretty good 3:53 pace, finishing the 7.5K run in 29:16, good for 9th overall in the race and 1st again in my AG.
Overall in the race, I finished 9th and 1st in my age group as I mentioned. So other than not having the swim I wanted and a slow T1, I was pretty happy with the result in this race and the first triathlon of the year. This was the third race for me in as many weeks, going back to the Hamburger Hill 7 mile road race. I’ve placed first in my designated category in all of 3 races, so I really hope this is a sign of things to come as we progress through the summer racing season. The bigger races are coming up fast with Ironman Mont Tremblant my next race likely on June 24th. I hope to put in some good training miles between now and then hopefully continue on with the success I’ve had to date. Stay tuned!