August 16, 2015

Race report -- Thousand Islands Sprint Triathlon

Aug. 16, 2015
750m swim, 20.7km bike, 5km run
Breakfast: oatmeal w/brown sugar, blueberries and apples, tea, water, 1 egg

Finish time: 1:27:19.5 (5/45 OA, 1/8 AG 40-44, 22/106 men and women)

I love this race. Apart from Lac Tremblant, this part of the St. Lawrence is my favourite spot to swim. The town of Brockville is lovely, and well worth coming down the day before to spend some time in. This year was extra special, as my kids and I spent the night before the race on my parents' boat, moored in the harbour on Block Island within a 5 minute walk of the transition area. Apart from some late-night screeches, giggles, and "stop touching me!!"s coming from the aft bunk area, it was a restful evening and the most convenient home base possible (short of pitching a tent in the T zone). I was up early, so took the opportunity to pick up my race packet and get my bike racked before the crowds arrived.

Sunrise over the swim course

Racked early in front of the oldest train tunnel in Canada

Our digs for the night before the race

Swim (750m) + T1 -- 20:12

Once I had some breakfast into me, it was time to get my gear set up, put my wetsuit on, and receive last minute good-luck hugs and kisses (and a helpful observation from my eldest that I have a hole in the underarm of my wetsuit -- argh!). We had perfect water conditions, and the wave starts worked out great. Under-40 men, over-40 men, then women and relays. The swim felt pretty good, though I haven't put in the time this summer to make any real headway with speed improvements. (Edit: On reflection, I feel stronger on the swim than I ever have. But after putting in quite a bit of swim time over the winter and early spring without a lot to show for it, I got a little discouraged and decided to maximize my overall race gains by focusing those training hours toward the bike and run -- where fitness improvements could yield minutes rather than seconds.) I've been trying to mitigate the damage by staying on a straight course and drafting as much as possible. This is one of the longer local sprint swims (some are 500m), so I was at risk of losing ground early if I wasn't efficient about it. Hard to tell my actual swim time since the split includes the run up from the swim ramp and T1, but I exited transition 12th out of 45 women.

Bike (20.7 km) -- 41:08

I was happy to take 4 minutes off last year's bike split. That said, I had 3 spots on course that cost me some time. First, the turnaround was narrow and I put a foot down (ugh), then took what felt like an eternity to get clipped back in. The second was an encounter with a large fox -- who was crossing the street just as I was coming through, thankfully on a section where we weren't on our aerobars. I stopped pedalling and looked right at him... he paused, then thankfully changed his mind about crossing in front of my bike (which would have been a losing proposition for both of us). The last unfortunate slow spot occurred when I hit the brakes and almost turned left down the wrong street where there was a policeman directing traffic and a bunch of cones were set up across the right-hand lane. Despite the hiccups, I only got passed by one woman on course (who was racing the Olympic, not the Sprint). Instead of the usual "looking strong" or "keep it up", she said "Come on girl, you can go faster than that. Let's go!" Pure gold, totally spurred me on. As did the cheers of "Go Kirsten!" and "Go, Mummy!" as I crossed the dismount line and ran into T2. In fact, some random spectators echoed "Yeah, go Mummy!" for good measure. I managed to gain some decent ground on the bike leg, moving into 6th place.

View from our boat, across the harbour to part of the run course

Run (5km) + T2 -- 25:59.7 (hey, that 0.3 seconds under 26 min. is important)

Cramming half a waffle into my mouth and taking a big swig from my Skratch bottle, I set out onto the run course prepared to suffer. It wouldn't be for long, since it was a 5k course... but the forecast was for oppressive heat, and after my abysmal run experience at Magog I was ready to grit my teeth and push through whatever presented itself. Thankfully it went pretty smoothly, despite some confusion where a new part of the course intersected with a construction zone, and some near-misses due to the unusual "stay to the left" clockwise orientation. "There she is!" came the enthusiastic call and supportive smile from the Olympic tri woman who had passed me on the bike, near the run turnaround where she wasn't too far ahead. With less than 1km to go, a 16-year old blew by me like I was standing still (she would end up beating me by less than 9 seconds). I couldn't answer her speed, so just kept pushing as I was able straight up the hill to the finish line at the crest of the railway bridge. Still managed to gain one more position, moving up to 5th overall and taking 1st place in my age group. 

The best part of the race was sharing it with my Mum and Dad, and my girls. A bonus perk was having access to the marina showers since we were moored there... making for a much more comfortable ride home to Ottawa. Via Dairy Queen, of course. 

Who wants ice cream?


  1. Hi Kirsten,
    As a fellow age grouper in my first year with OTC, I am in awe of your results this year. You posted a link to your blog early this year on the OTC board, and I read your blog, beginning to end. I have learned a lot from it!! I was excited to meet you in the swim line up earlier this year at the Early Bird. I hope to bike and run like you at some point in my tri career, which is just beginning. The bike is coming along but the run.....oh the run....sigh. The swim I am happy with, having lifeguarded many years in my previous life. My transitions are still waaaaayyy slow and that impacts the "swim" time sometimes but the swim itself is good. I still have 2/3 of the race to make big changes in, especially the run. Hip surgery in September should resolve a season-long injury so I am hoping next year to be quicker. Another working mom in my age group in the same tri club who is kicking butt (even when her own is sprained!!) is VERY inspiring. Thank you for sharing your journey. I think you are an amazing triathlete!! Cheers!!!

    1. Wow, Lisa -- I'm so flattered, thank you! It's fantastic that you're such a strong swimmer, I've found it tough to get faster in that leg. I think doing TTP this year has helped my bike, and for me the main focus in my run training is to do it without getting hurt. After establishing a good base in the winter/spring (I took 3 months off at the end of last season to let some bone bruising heal), I started incorporating speed intervals once a week. Since racing has really ramped up, that pretty much constitutes my speed work. Transitions are a terrific opportunity to save a whackload of time! I've got specific ways to lay out my socks, sunglasses, race bib, etc. to save seconds -- maybe I'll write a blog post about the weird little things I do, in case it might help someone. lol I hope your hip surgery goes smoothly, and that you recover quickly. Take the time you need to heal well and completely -- it will be worth it.

  2. Way to go!! Haha I love the lady who told you to go faster. That is priceless and I'm sure it would be super motivating. Sounds like you and the girls had fun! See you next weekend at Cornwall!

    1. It was definitely a great time. Looking forward to seeing you at Cornwall -- hope you're feeling good, and that you're getting back to full strength!