Binbrook Sprint Triathlon

Posted: June 11, 2014 in Races
Tags: ,
  • 750m swim, 30k bike, 7.5k run
  • Chip Time = 1:42:47
  • Category Place = 8/29
  • Overall Place = 42/144

This past Saturday sparked my inaugural season opener in Brinbook.  I competed in Binbrook last year, but only in the thoroughly disappointing and completely unfulfilling Swim/Bike event, or ‘Injured Runners’ category…never again.  So, anyway, this year I returned to complete that business by competing in the Sprint triathlon proper including the 7.5k run and things went, umm, well…

…I think.

Swim: 13:04

Pace: 1:45/100m

Similar to last year, this event also marked my first open water swim of the season.  Thanks to that stupid polar vortex the water in the canal where I train is still been pretty much unbearably cold so – like the sissy I am – I’ve kept my workouts to the pool up to this point.  I’m a pretty confident swimmer and have never found any real issues with swimming in a wetsuit so I wasn’t overly concerned nor did it pose any real significant problem, aside from wedging my still chunky frame into the wetsuit itself that is.


Exiting the water and bracing for the long run into T1

Much to my surprise, the water of the Lake Niapenco reservoir was warm.  Yes…warm.  Like REALLY warm… 70.5° F/21° C to be exact.  How awesome is that?  Who knows what the fuck is going on in the canal?

Anyway, my wave (Men 40-50, Women 19-30) was the second to go and I lined myself up smack dab in the front, located just to the inside of the intended course.  Reflecting on it now, I guess my confidence is growing from year to year as I usually positioned myself at the very ass the ass end and moved ever so slowly forward year by year.  Last year, I tried to be among the first 2-3 rows, this year I was that guy  in the front.

From the start, I was latched myself on the feet of the two other swimmers beside me who were apparently also planning on going out hard and few swimmers latched onto mine.  I drafted off these guys and tickled their tootsies for about 100-150m  before I realized I was definitely out of my element a bit and reluctantly decided let them go to find the pace I knew I could better sustain.  Around that same moment, I noticed that the hands which had slapping my own feet had similarly disappeared.  I refocused on finding the buoys along the course being careful to sight every 5 or 6 strokes or so and this went well with me ending up pretty much on the button the entire way around.  At the turning points, I braced myself for the inevitably melee of elbows and feet as all the swimmers try to turn at the same time but, there was none.   I was pretty much on my own…and I liked it.  After rounding the first 250m corner I peaked around behind me to notice that a gap had grown between me and the main scrum of other swimmers from my wave behind me.  I was maybe 25m behind the two swimmers ahead of me.

By now, my breathing had normalized and my arms were turning over and, yes, I was even kicking.  Everything felt pretty good, so upon sighting the next turning buoy in the distance I amped up the pace just a bit.  The second turning point was just as uneventful as the first as I had put even more distance into the main group but I hadn’t really made much progress on the two in front of me which was okay.  We were all into our own rhythm now and I kind of regretted now trying for just a little longer to stay with the leaders, I might even be up there with them now.  Shortly after the 500m  mark I noticed I was quickly catching the slower members of the first wave ahead of me but fortunately, I was still swimming on the inside of the course where most of the swimmers were more out into the middle of the course, so I didn’t have many obstacles to maneuver around and was I able kept my pace strong right up to the finish until my fingers began to dig themselves into the sand.

Where I had swum pretty much on my own, I exited in much the same way; a A bit behind the leaders, a bit ahead of everyone else and I was happy.  My heart rate felt good and I was able to begin the long run back into transition fairly comfortably.  The 1:45min/100m pace reflects that run up to the mat and my exit from the water was just over 11 minutes, or roughly a minute quicker than last year.  Not a bad start.

Bike: 50:54

Pace: 35.4km/hr

Just as was in the water, I pretty much entered onto the bike course on my own, which is the way I like it.  I got into my cycling shoes easily enough and fell into a comfortable pace early.  I’ve only been on Lucille (my time trial bike) once before now, but I’m finding being aero particularly comfortable, more so than the last few seasons where it took some getting used to.

Last 100m's of the bike

Last 100m’s of the bike

The roads through the Binbrook countryside were largely flat with a few undulating hills making it a rather pleasant course to ride and suited to maintain a consistent race pace.  Add to that practically no wind whatsoever, and you have recipe for a great ride.  I was careful to hydrate and just tried to not over think things and instead focus on maintaining the same pace I started onto the course with (35km/hr).  I passed quite a few cyclists in the early kilometers (playing my usual game of ‘steal their energy‘) and it wasn’t until about the half way point that I started to get passed by some of the faster cyclists behind me.  Happily, this was not a repeat of last year where entire pelotons of cyclists would pull up and surround me making the going difficult.  I still see-sawed back and forth with a few other riders but, largely, I was all on my own without the benefit of drafting or being drafted off of…just the way I like it.

The entire ride went well and I arrived at the finish of the 30k route pretty smoothly.  My legs still felt great and I was successful in keeping to my intended pace…actually a little better.  My time was only 30 seconds slower than last year, but considering that this was all my own effort without the benefit of the odd draft from other cyclists, I was very happy.  Of course, this is where my competition ended rather unceremoniously last year but, now I had chore of running 7.5k ahead of me.

Run: 36:27

Pace: 4:52 min/km

I was nervous about the run, even with it only being a short 7.5 kilometers.  First, I haven’t been able to brick as much I would have liked due to life being particularly hectic lately.  Secondly, the course is partly on uneven ground and I’m not a trail runner by any means; being a dyed in the wool pavement pounder.  So finding my running legs was a bit of a challenge from the get go.

Pleased to be finished

Pleased to be finished

My transition off-the-bike was descent enough (55 seconds), yet, despite coming off the bike feeling good, my heart rate felt like a jack-rabbit in heat entering onto the run course.  Maybe it was the uneven ground and my nervousness about my unsteady footing, or maybe it was just the normal competition adrenaline coursing through my body that I haven’t gotten acclimated to yet, I’m not sure, but I was feeling a little apprehensive.  I did my best to keep pace with the two runners ahead of me (one ended up being the 3rd place finisher for the Women overall), but after the first kilometer and a half of trails I knew I had to back it off if I was going to have any hope of maintaining any pace whatsoever for the rest of run.

Finally, the course steered itself back onto the pavement and I was relieved, when, shit – hills.  My Achilles heel; the thing I definitely don’t see enough of given I train in, like, the flattest place on the planet.  My heart rate was still soaring and becoming difficult to deal with…everything else (namely my legs) felt fine.  I focused on willing myself through the next 2-3 kilometers waiting for my heart rate to stabilize a bit.  It didn’t.  I walked through one of the aid stations, not because I necessarily needed the break but because I’ve never really mastered the art of drinking from a Dixie cup while running as more of it tends to end up splashed over my face than in my mouth.  But, apparently, those 10 seconds or so to swallow a gulp of water was exactly what I needed to get my heart rate back under control so that when I started running again I felt more relaxed and was able to get into a decent pace for the rest of the run.  Over all, I was pretty happy with my time despite knowing I can do better.

The post-race picnic feast

The post-race picnic feast

So here’s the long and short of it: in my age category, I had the second faster swim split and the 4th fastest bike split – at that point, I was comfortably in 2nd place over all.  In the run, I basically got outrun by an average of 3 minutes by the top six finishers (all within the last 1-2 kilometers) placing me in 8th over all.  Had I managed to keep pace with what I know I am capable of – even just 2-3 minutes quicker – which is definitely in my ability, I would have secured myself a podium spot.

So what’s the lesson here?  While I’ve made some significant strides (pun intended) on my running form this year after last years’ sucktastic season of injuries and whatnot, I have to now begin transitioning that fitness to running off the bike more comfortably.  Likewise, losing a bit more belly fat couldn’t hurt either.  So my motivation to accomplish these things has been rekindled in order to regain that off-the-bike confidence I had prior to both Cancun 70.5 and Ironman Wales, where long bricks (at pace) where the order of the day.  Going forward, I’m going to spend more time running off the bike, even if just easily for a few minutes.  Oh, and I might have to cut back a bit on the big bowls of guilty pleasure in the evening with Kelly.

All in all, it was a decent effort for my first time out this season.  And it provided me with a pretty clear understanding of what is working well, as well as what still needs to be developed and improved going into the rest of the season, particularly given my next planned mental toughness challenge following next weekend’s Welland Half Iron competition (post still forthcoming).

  1. Adam says:

    Well done, Terry! Congratulations!

  2. Jeff says:

    Great start to the year Terry! Good luck and good health this summer!

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