Sunday's race renewed my faith in Muskoka as a region for triathlon, and re-invigorated my passion for the Olympic distance format. Getting up at 5AM to make it to the race site was no picnic, especially since the Lightning Kid woke up for a feeding at four, but my wife was enough of a trooper to accompany me to the race while the kids were under the care of their grandmother, aunt and uncle.
Huntsville's Summit Centre has been the race site for most of the non-70.3 races that the Subaru series has run the past few years (I've been coming since 2007, with the exception of 2010), so it there was some deja-vu for me approaching transition. I got one of the last spots in my age group rack, far from the centre aisle that leads to the exit, but there was still space for me without having to cram and a lot of people were hanging their bikes up front first (by the brakes) which is how I like to do it too - it always makes things more harmonious when everybody (or most people) rack their bikes the same way. Race kit pickup went smoothly and efficiently and all the volunteers had big friendly smiles. I'll talk about the swag at the end.
The swim course was about the same as in previous years, just adjusted for length - start in Fairy Lake, head out for a couple of left-hand turns, and back up the river to the Summit Centre dock. I'm happy to have started on the right side and made a good diagonal toward the buoy for the left turn, I think I got by a few swimmers on the turn, without bludgeoning anyone.
The morning light was a bit dim for sighting, but it was still bright overall. Sometime on my way up the river, I noticed how sloppy my technique was, but the TYR Hurricane
saved my butt. The river meanders a little bit, and it can mess with your mind to make you think you're almost finished when you're not, but by the time I exited the water, I saw 34 minutes on the clock (my Garmin 910XT
- first time wearing a device in the water on a race!) and I was very happy. On review it does say that I swam 1800m rather than the 1500m I should have, but I don't remember climbing up a dock the way Garmin says I must have...
Swim Stats - Official Time = 34:32; Pace/100m = 2:19; 21st out of 28 in my age group.
I probably waste time here because I always have a hard time putting on my heart-rate monitor and shirt; I can't bring myself to put them on under the wetsuit. Still I hustled to my bike, and was more or less efficient otherwise.
Official Time = 2:53
Here's where the deja-vu ended. This course was new and was the nicest ride I can remember having in a race - one of the nicest bike rides I can remember having. It was my favourite part of the race, and for someone who does the bike portion of triathlon as begrudgingly as I do, that's saying a lot. The Muskoka region has always presented a challenge, since you'll have nasty hills no matter which way you turn. Still this was the first time riding this countryside that I really got the feeling of 'rolling hills' - there were times I felt like I was flying. It also helped that there was plenty of new road work done recently to smooth things out. Plenty of climbs to gut out, but enough downhill pay-offs without sudden turns to make you lose momentum. The route took us South on Brunel road then West on Regional Road 10 to Port Sydney, which I found quite pretty, though I usually can't spare much attention to that kind of thing while riding. There was a point where several riders ended up getting held up by car traffic before a climb, and though racers were unhappy, we have to be able to share the road harmoniously with local traffic, right? At any rate, with 2 gels in my system I ended up finishing nearly 8 minutes earlier than I thought I'd be able to, with my 3rd best bike time/speed ever (the other two occurring on the flat Wasaga course).
Bike Stats - Official Time = 1:22:49; Average Speed = 29km/h; 24th out of 28 in my age category.
Besides sitting down to switch shoes (it took a lot of energy to get back on my feet again), I don't think I could have done this much better.
Official Time = 1:14
This course mixed the old with the new - some familiar sights from previous years, including the peak of Brunel Road near Princess Street giving us a big climb toward the end of each 5k lap, and some great variety on the new stuff. There was a single loop of a track with rubberized ground like competitive runners (i.e. track and field types) use - my Achilles tendons appreciated this very much. There was a climb past the Waterloo Summit Centre for the Enviroment (I had no idea this existed, but cheers for my alma mater - go Warriors!) and a descent on a trail back to near the swim course which challenged the burgeoning trail runner in me. I was wearing my Zoots for this run, but that portion made me wonder if my Salomon's might not have been more appropriate
I found my heart rate to be constantly bumping above my anaerobic threshold, in fact, it was hovering around 90% of max far too much, so I enforced walk breaks and I don't regret it because I honestly believe it led to a faster overall pace and let me do some pain management. These heart-rate breaks are also my justification for taking a bathroom break near the track (port-a-john) on the first loop. On further review, it's probably what let me really push it toward the end: new Max HR achieved!
I'd wanted a 55 minute time for the run, but in hindsight, I think my pacing estimate was too aggressive as it wasn't based on a full 10k, never mind coming off the bike. Thanks to taking the right amount of gels, and good leg strength and fast turnover built through the structured nature of our running group's program I finished the run with a time I'm happy with - my third best run in an Olympic distance event. Knowing I cracked the 3 hour mark overall, I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face.
Run Stats - Official Time = 57:41; Average Pace = 5:47; 21st out of 28 in my age category
|Shark Boy, Me & the Lightning Kid|
OVERALL STATS - OFFICIAL TIME = 2:59:07; 24th out of 28 in my age category; 254 out of 366 participants.
Post race food included bananas and apples, Sun Chips and Subway sandwiches, which I preferred to the Lasagna served in previous years. It was easier to eat without a table, and more appropriate at 10AM.
Let's get to the swag, shall we? Racers walked away with not one, not two but three bags of stuff. I appreciate the generosity, but unless you're really into those cloth-type shopping bags, it seems like there could have been some sharing and more stuff could have been put into a single bag.
The Subaru bag had some of the usual things: deodorant, PowerBar, Race promo cards, Subaru print material, bread (?).
The Muskoka 5i50 bag had the race technical T-shirt. We also got a hat at the finish, which I'm wearing in the above picture.
gave a transition mat which could come in handy for any triathlete/duathlete. My triathlon equipment bag has a built-in mat which I generally use, but I still think it's a practical gift.
Overall a great event, and I'll be on the lookout for any 5150 event I can drag myself and/or my family to in the future.
Labels: muskoka, race, review, triathlon