Cobourg Triathlon: Race report

The long awaited post is here. I have had a lot of people ask me about my first Olympic distance triathlon, so the wait is finally over, you can all finally read the exciting story.

This race truly tested my running philosophy and on many occasions I had to remind myself that this race was yet another adventure in my life of running and triathlons.

The weekend started off nicely, the ride was a little longer than we expected, but Alain and I always seem to make road trips fun. We stayed at the Woodlawn Inn, a small little inn with a feel of the early pioneering days in Canada. The inn was constructed in 1835, but in the years to follow it suffered a devastating fire. In 1988 it was renovated into a hotel. The staff was very kind. As a triathlete, you can never make it down for breakfast at a hotel, because normally you are always out at 6 or 7 a.m. But the staff at Woodlawn Inn made me my own breakfast that I was able to put in our little fridge in the room for the early morning start time.

The Swim

Well, we got there, I got my bib number, my t-shirt, and got my numbers on (Note: for those of you who have never done a triathlon, you need to get your number written in permanent market on your arms and legs, then your distance in written on the back of your calf along with your age).

I headed to the t-zone (Transition Zone) to find my parking spot for my bike. As I started to lay out my socks and hat, and strategically place my helmet, the race director was doing a speech over the microphone. I wasn’t paying much attention, until my selective hearing clued in at “mandatory wet suits”. I don’t have a wet suit…

So, trying to be calm and not panic, I slowly walked to the information table and casually asked if I needed a wetsuit. Mean while, a little anime character with a mouth that stretched her full face was screaming in my head.

Ya just like this:
That day I learned something new. At anytime, a race director at a triathlon can call wetsuit. In other words, wetsuits become mandatory for all swimmers. As a triathlete, I was taking the chance going to a race without a wetsuit. There I was, no wetsuit and slowly dying inside, could this be it, all this training for nothing. The kind volunteer gave me two choices: switch to a duathlon (10km run, 40km bike, 5km run), or buy a wetsuit. And, what luck, there just so happen to be a guy selling wetsuits. He owned a small triathlon store in Cobourg called “Du, Tri and Run” (cleaver I know). He searched his pile, and found the perfect size. There was just one little problem. Wetsuits are expensive, this one was $300.

I turned to my loving partner and all he said was: “I have a credit card”. Don’t you love it when they support you!

Now you may be asking, why were wetsuits mandatory? The weather had dropped dramatically overnight causing the water to get very, very cold, 13 degrees to be exact. Without a wetsuit, a swimmer could suffer hypothermia.

Never having put a wetsuit on was an adventure just putting it on, but I eventually got in. Wetsuit on, gear set up in the t-zone, I was ready. I was a bit nervous because I had never swam with a wet suit, EVER, but I reminded myself of my philosophy, this was just another adventure, learning to swim in a wetsuit.

But wait, what is this, fog? The temperature of the water had dropped, but the air was still warm, this caused fog, and lots of it. Again, the race director got on the microphone and announced the swim was to be postponed until the fog cleared. About a half an hour later the fog had still not cleared. If the fog didn’t clear, all athletes would be forced to do a duathlon. Luckily, the fog cleared just enough for the race coordinators to reroute the swim.

The swim became four laps of 350m (instead of one 1.5km lap). Because the fog was so thick, the route didn’t go any deeper than five feet. Jumping in the water was a shock, the water was so cold I had a hard time putting my face in. My hands and feet went numb, but I just kept kicking. The fact that you float with a wetsuit helped a lot.

The Bike

Transition from swim to bike was, how shall I say, interesting. I had never swam with a wetsuit, which meant I had also never taken off a wetsuit. Needless to say, Alain has the video of me trying to pathetically climb out of the wetsuit. Alas, I made it out, through on my bike gear and started the bike.

About 10 minutes in to the bike, I finally started to feel my feet and hands, which were still numb from the cold. Before starting the race, I had read the bike course was one to brag about if completed. The course was through Northumberland hills. In other words, I climbed a hill at least every 5km. The hills could climb as much as 2km to the top. For most of the climbs I was on my lowest gear and standing, that is how steep they were.

Every time my mind would turn to a negative thought or fear of not completing, I would think back to my positive training philosophy. I was in Cobourg, doing an Olympic distance triathlon, what a remarkable adventure. This thought took me right to the end.

The Run

By the time I got off my bike and started the run course, the sun had come out in full force. It was very hot and humid. However, the kind people of Cobourg sat in their driveways cheering us on and setting up sprinklers for us.

The run was two 5km loops, which really played with my mental state. But again, I turned to my philosophy and just kept repeating, it is just another adventure. I felt slow on the run, but after checking my times, I was fairly average and right on my predicted time.

I crossed the finish line with my signature sprint in the last 200m. At the finish line, there was my sweetheart waiting for me and cheering me on. Have I mentioned he has never missed a race.

I had completed my first Olympic distance triathlon and I had never felt better. My body would disagree, but mentally I was happy and proud. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has encouraged me to make it this far. As for speculations of a half iron man next year, I don’t think so. Next year I plan on doing another Olympic distance triathlon. Mentally I felt great, but physically, I need to train for a few more years before I venture in to the Iron Man field.

The season is over for triathlons for me, I have the Army Run half marathon in September and then I will be done for the season (apart from the odd 5km or 10km races).

Stay tuned!

Did you do the Cobourg triathlon? How was your experience? Leave a comment with your Olympic distance triathlon adventures.

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