Did I say triathlon? I meant duathlon. That's right folks, the swim was canceled on account of Lake Ontario being extremely grumpy.
This brought our first lesson of the day: anything can happen on race day. As soon as we pulled in the parking lot, my triathlete buddy Karstin walked up to the car and informed me I wouldn't be needing my wetsuit at all. At first I was bummed out, but upon turning around and seeing and hearing the waves crashing in, I quickly became okay with this turn of events.
I want to take this opportunity, though, to say what a valuable lesson this is. On race day, things happen. Events can be canceled. All of a sudden, I was on the hook for a 2.5 kilometer run instead of a 750 meter swim. Although I am a confident runner, I knew the 2.5K run pace was going to need to be a bit faster than I typically race. A whole new strategy, a change in gear needed, and a little bit of a schedule change all happened in the blink of an eye.
Once we got our body markings on, our transition areas set up, and our pre-race jog out of the way (which I put off as long as possible), we got briefed on the new course and got ready to run—and run fast.
When my wave was released, I set out at a pretty fast pace of 7:30 minutes per mile. I hit my first mile at 8:00 even, which for me is pretty fast. I rarely run faster than a ten-minute mile, and honestly, I attribute this newfound speed purely to our new dog, Peggy. Peggy has shown me that I can in fact run faster, and that the old saying is true: "If you want to run faster, run faster." I finished the first run in 12:18, which is a 7:55 pace overall. I was extremely happy with this effort. Karstin also shredded this run, finishing in 12:14.
I was gassed coming into T1, but without having to strip off a wetsuit, I was able to hop on the bike pretty quickly, taking only 1:21. Then, the fun part: the bike. To accomplish the 12.4-mile bike ride, we did two laps on a course with rolling hills and a decent climb through a park. I was able to finish it in 46:24 with a average speed of 16 mph. Karstin bested me again, with a time of 46:06.
I think using Zwift has really helped me quite a bit. Although, my average speed wasn't dramatically better on this ride, but I think that's partially the course in comparison to some of the other rides I've done. Coming off the bike despite racing hard, I was able to have a relatively okay 5 km run to finish. This is where I usually blow up my race. I come off the bike and have nothing left in my legs. Last year at Tri in the Buff, I ran a 35-minute 5K; at the Mini Mussel Man, I ran 36 minutes. Granted those were hotter days, but still, not stellar. Yesterday I was able to do 31 minutes—easily my best run off the bike ever. I think my bike fitness allowed me to enter the run with a lot more energy.
For those keeping track at home, at this point Karstin and I were neck and neck. She was slowly gaining in the events, though my transition times were slightly faster. But she absolutely crushed the last 5 km, running it in 28:06, giving her the win.
Overall, we both had really good races, despite the swim being canceled. I think we both walked away pretty satisfied with our efforts and didn't feel broken afterward at all. For such a small, local triathlon, it was extremely well put together, they made the right decision about canceling the swim, and the volunteers were all fantastic. This is absolutely a race that I would do again in the future.
Thank you to Tyler and Ellie for capturing all our race photos and for being our race sherpas for the day. They both woke up before 5 a.m. to drive out to the start line, and then stand around and wait for a few hours before we even started racing. Behind every triathlete are loved ones spending their weekends ringing cowbells and enduring the smell of their athletes on the two-hour drive home.
- Jono Total Time: 1:29:49
- Karstin Total Time: 1:26:48