Niagara Falls Barrelman Half Iron Triathlon - Triathlon

View Member's Race Log View other race reports
Welland & Niagara Falls, Ontario
MultiSport Canada
70'sF / 0C
Total Time = 7h 17m 41s
Overall Rank = 175/200
Age Group = F65-69
Age Group Rank = 2/4
Pre-race routine:

Pretty leisurely. Up at 5:45, breakfast at 6:00..oatmeal, raisins, yogurt, beet juice, coffee. Left from hotel at 7:15 to race start, only 10 minutes away. Bikes were racked the night before, and fortunately I had covered mine securely because it poured rain in the night. We needed to be very well organized for this race, as T2 was at a different location than T1. I had to turn in 1 bag of run gear and another bag with post-run stuff to be transported. Lost track of my baby powder ( for bike & run shoes) but I was able to borrow some.
Event warmup:

Did a walk-run warmup with 2 accelerations along the canal where the swim would be, which allowed me to scope out that course & notice the distance markers. Then I had time to do some dynamic stretching. After putting on my wetsuit I got into the water a bit, but it was too hard to swim much because of the several hundreds of others doing the same thing. Swam about 50 yards & got out.
Had 1 caffeinated gel right before my wave start at 9:15.
  • 53m 12s
  • 2187 yards
  • 02m 26s / 100 yards

I felt pretty relaxed & confident going into this swim. Having looked at the data from the last race and seen how my drafting there had seemed to slow me down, I wasn't so focused on drafting; I had decided to let it happen if I was near a swimmer going at a good pace for me.
It was a large wave, 140 swimmers, and there was a lot of close swimming for the first couple hundred yards. I wasn't thinking about drafting, but about how to get around swimmers who were blocking me. It wasn't freaking me out though. I was just getting into my stroke, trying not to get clobbered, & not worrying too much about sighting because I was surrounded by the pack.
Sooner than I expected, I was pleased to see that big yellow sign on the bank announcing that I had already gone 500 meters.
The first turn buoy was not until the far end, and I hit it perfectly & rounded it neatly. There was a short leg to close the rectangle and then another long leg for the return. I was more on my own here, although still near a few other swimmers. I had to do some sighting as there were very few buoys in between the end ones. I got into a good strong rhythm, changing my breathing side about every 25 yards (measured by singing 1 verse of my songs) & a quick sighting when I switched sides.
The Garmin data shows me going far off course on the way out, which didn't happen, so it's hard to rely on it for accuracy of the 100-yard autolaps. However as a gross measure, it shows the first half as taking about 26:00 and a time of 52:02 when I exited the water. I was trying in the last 500 yards or so to swim faster, but I guess I wasn't. At least I wasn't fading, though. The G recorded my HR when I exited the water as high zone 1.

What would you do differently?:

I think I'll be ready to start swimming harder & faster, especially in the shorter distances next year. I certainly wasn't dogging it, but I wasn't exactly racing either. I have been a bit too concerned with conserving energy for what comes next.
Transition 1
  • 01m 39s

This was a pretty good transition, considering that I needed to stuff all my swim gear into a bag to be transported to the finish. I took a couple of tugs more than usual to get the wetsuit off, but nothing extreme. I did remember to gulp down 100 calories of diluted gel.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing really. I don't know how I compared to others because T times aren't reported on the official results site.
  • 3h 44m 39s
  • 55.9 miles
  • 14.93 mile/hr

The first 12 miles was westward from the swim venue, flat but into some moderate head/cross winds with a little brief rain. My power target for the first 18 miles was 70% ftp and I struggled mightily to keep my watts that low. The first 3 miles were a few watts over but after that I was on target and my average for that segment was 71%. My pace was frustratingly slow, under 14 mph, but I wrote it off to the wind and tried to stick to the targets. Lots of people passed me, which didn't bother me except I couldn't figure out where they came from. I had been in the last swim wave and assumed I had finished towards the back of that; maybe they were all the people who took a long time in transition? About 5 miles in I was passed by a woman in my AG that I had met the night before; I decided not to worry about my rank in my AG, which was relatively HUGE at 4 competitors.
I was concerned though because I had attached my bento box to my top tube at the seat end instead of the stem end. What a dope! I knew that didn't seem right! I did decide to fix it at the first bottle exchange because it was distracting me and I was sure I'd be dropping my nutrition & supplements.
From 12-24 miles we looped around by Lake Erie a bit before heading back. It seemed like a pretty ride but I wasn't really seeing it as I was in aero the whole time. I don't like to keep my head looking up in aero because it hurts my neck, so have a rhythm counting to 12 three or four times or saying the alphabet. That signals me to pick up my head about every 10-15 seconds to make sure there are no hazards ahead.
At the bottle exchange at 18 miles I refilled my bottle of Heed, fixed my bento box, and took some ibuprophen because I knew that back pain would be on the agenda before the end of the ride.
After that stop, I picked up my power as planned to an average of 72%, which was right on my target. I was hoping to get a little tail wind but didn't feel any. (Why is it always that way?) My speed did pick up a bit, though, so I guess I wasn't battling the headwind.
At 36 miles I came to the second bottle exchange. I just refilled my downtube bottle with Heed and topped off my Torpedo with water. I do like Heed, but the flavor on offer here was something disgusting that I didn't recognize. At both the water stops the Heed seemed extremely diluted too. I also refilled my bento box with goodies from my supplemental stash carried in my seat-tube bottle cage.
Shortly after this stop the route goes by the starting point and continues east for 3-4 miles on good roads which were closed to traffic. My power target after the 2nd stop was now 73% ftp so I upped my intensity.
At 40 miles, the route left the major roads and took a number of back roads for the next 10 miles. Some of these were very very rough indeed with potholes and cracks, not very welcome at all on my nether regions which were somewhat chafed by this time.
By about 42 miles my back had become pretty tired and sore. I continued on in aero for another 6 miles or so because it was still windy, but the last few miles I just couldn't take it so I changed to road position. Also, after about mile 45 my weak back was not allowing me to put out the power I wanted. My average for the last 10 miles dropped down to 71%.
The last 6 miles were along the Niagara River on a very busy shoulderless road, so I wouldn't have felt too safe in aero anyway. Sitting up, I was able to see how scenic it was, but don't know if I was in a frame of mind to fully enjoy it. I was enjoying the fact that it was almost over!
Nutrition: Heed in the one water bottle, refilled twice. Hammer Perpetuem Solids 1 every 20 minutes, except on 2 occasions I substituted a couple of bite-sized energy/protein bars. Total about 800 calories or 213/hour.
Electrolyte cap 1 every 30 minutes. Other Hammer supplements: 1 cap each per hour of Race Caps Supreme, Endurance Amino, & Anti-Fatigue Caps.
Water: the 3 Heeds plus about 1 bottle plain from the Torpedo. About 1 bottle/hour.
What would you do differently?:

It was about as good a ride as I could have had at this time. I would try to do a little better keeping power lower in the 1st three miles, but the rest of the ride was pretty much on target and I don't think that little bit hurt the overall ride very much if at all..
I think my back problems derive from a weak core, so more core work (groan!) would be called for. I have heard that cycling requires a strong core but doesn't actually build one.
My nutrition & energy while on the bike felt ok, but considering the GI upset I suffered after the race, I think if I ever do another race this length I'd omit eating the bars. Also, since the Heed did seem over-diluted I think I'd just bring some gels to consume & not rely on what is offered.
My bike performed very well mechanically; but a real tri bike would nice!
Transition 2
  • 01m 34s

This was kind of a messed-up transition and I'm surprised it was so fast. First of all, my appointed spot was at the far end of the T2 area, meaning I had to run about 200 yards in my bare feet on not-too-smooth concrete. (I rode sockless & always take my feet out of my shoes while still on the bike). That was pretty uncomfortable, but I consoled myself that it would've felt worse running that far in my bike shoes. Second, when I got to my spot, I found that the person next to me had racked her bike on the wrong side and in trying to get mine racked, I knocked hers over. Fortunately, before all the bikes fell down, a volunteer ran over and removed the offending bike to the other side.
My run gear was all waiting for me as promised though, and I grabbed it & got off without further ado. I decided not to use the potty since I didn't particularly feel the urge.
What would you do differently?:

  • 2h 35m 24s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 52s  min/mile

I think I did a super job on this run. For the first couple of miles my legs were very stiff & my gait short & choppy, but my pace was good. My strategy was to walk 30 seconds or so at every water stop and that's what I did. At mile 2 (and repeated on the second loop) there was a short--about .1 mile- steep hill, which I walked up; but all the other little upgrades I ran.
After that my hips loosened up and I was running pretty relaxed. I was enjoying passing dozens of walkers, including my AG competitor who had passed me so long ago on the bike. That really energized me because she was walking and I knew I'd place at least 3rd.
This also gave me a new mantra or chant to add to my collection: "THIS is how the RACE is won!" I have a variety of mantras, chanted in time to my steps, that I play in my mind almost continuously when I'm working hard or suffering a bit. In fact, this same athlete had inadvertantly given me another one. We had met & chatted a bit at the race meeting the night before and, observing the t-shirt I was wearing, which was from one of my Cross-Country Championships, she commented, "You must be a runner." At the time I kind of demurred because I think of myself as only a middling runner. But during the run part of this race as I found myself yes running! the mantra bubbled up: "I must be a RUNNER!"
The course is a repeated loop, running through some pretty parkland, then up that hill, a little further along & then up and down some steps; then a little bit downhill and you are running right past Niagara Falls. I have to say that even in the state I was in--especially in the state I was in--I appreciated the POWER of that spectacle and tried to absorb some of it into myself for my use.
By the second loop I was feeling kind of bad. I started to feel like I could use a potty break but I didn't want to risk my competitor catching up, so I didn't take one. Also, I was developing blisters on both big toes. I was wearing my Silly Shoes, sockless, which I had practiced in training to make sure they'd be ok at this distance. I should've practiced running in them wet! At every water stop I'd take a cup or two of water & dump them on my head and/or back. It's a good cooling strategy but my shoes got soaked. I don't think it would've been much better if I'd been wearing socks though, or been wearing real running shoes. So even though my feet were just sloshing around feeling like they were getting torn up, I just thought about my SIL Max, and how many times he's blistered his feet in his races, and tried to ignore the situation.
My strategy had been to run in low zone 2 for the first loop and then bump it up to zone 3 in the second loop. I did step on the gas a bit but only to the point where my body said "Nope." I was listening to my body and hardly looked at my watch. Afterwards looking at the data, I see that in the second loop my HR was in high zone 2. The total time for the second loop was about 2 minutes more than for the first loop so, while not a negative split I was at least hanging on.
Near the steps at the top of the second loop, about mile 10 or so, I came upon another of my AG-mates, also walking. That really energized me since I knew I was at least in 2nd place, and that I was really EARNING this spot by my unrelenting efforts. "THIS is how the RACE is won!"
The last couple of miles was really a lot of pain. Body was saying "Let's walk the rest, your competitors can't catch you now. Even Max walks it in sometimes!" Mind was saying "NO! I can do anything for just 2 miles!" I did take one extra 30-second walk at mile 11 because I thought I was out of water stops, but then I resumed running. (As it happened, there was 1 more stop). Around the last mile I came to masses of competitors along the route leaving the event after the award ceremony. They were giving me high fives & cheering me on BY NAME! (because it was printed on my bib.) That felt really great. Then I saw the finish ahead. If there's one thing I learned in x-c it's to tear it up the last 200 yards, and that's what I did.
As I crossed the mat the announcer said I was first in my AG which made me feel terrific, like a real winner. But later when I saw the official results I saw it wasn't so. The mysterious other woman had me beat by 25 minutes, but that's ok, I'm very happy with my second place.
Nutrition: I had 3 gels in my little flask, 2 of them caffeinated. A little bit spilled. I drank some right away plus the rest in the first hour or so. I grabbed another gel from an aid station and had it I think early in the second loop. I carried my hand-held 12-oz water bottle with Heed and refilled it I think once.
I also had 1 Electrolyte cap every 30 minutes plus my other Hammer supplements: 1 cap each per hour of Race Caps Supreme, Endurance Amino, & Anti-Fatigue Caps.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing really. Possibly go a little slower in the first half? Try not to get my shoes wet!
Post race
Warm down:

As soon as I crossed the finish line I was quite nauseous & dizzy so I was led off to the medical tent. My husband tells me I was a talking out of my head and a bit aggressively. I guess that last little bit I was going on fumes & mental energy.
The medics had me lie down & took my vitals. I learned that my blood pressure--120/80--was the ideal for a champion, so there you have it, proof positive.
After resting for awhile & being released, we moseyed on over to the food tent, where I made a big mistake...eating! Although an orange and half a banana was all I could manage.
Then we went on to pick up my dry gear bag, which had my recovery drink in it. Usually that's what I consume first, but because we didn't want to take any extra steps, we stopped at the food tent first.
Good thing my husband was there and had brought his bike, which has a cargo rack on it. I had 3 bags of gear plus my bike to transport to the car, which was about 1/2 mile away. We managed, and were even able to ride most of the distance.
Before I got in the car, though, I had to sit on the curb & lose that lunch.
Fortunately we had planned to stay that night with a friend who lives in Buffalo. By the time we had crossed the border & reached her house, I was ready to collapse on her couch with the shakes and cold clammy sweats. She nursed me sweetly, and then got me into a hot tub; but not before I relieved most of the symptoms by barfing again. Although I didn't exactly investigate the contents, it did seem like there was some race nutrition in there. That's why I think that if I did this distance again (which I have no plans to do), I'd omit the solid food on the bike.
I rolled & stretched in the morning and again, with ice, after our 3 1/2 hour drive back & a short recovery walk.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Inexperience at this distance.
Overcaution in the swim.

Event comments:

This is a very nice race & I'd recommend it. It's especially confidence-building for a first HIM because of the swim venue. The bike course is flat but I guess it's always windy, sometimes much worse that today. The run has those little hills but they're small compared to those on some courses. Running past the magnificent falls is pretty spectacular, although being on the slow end of the race I was at times barging through crowds of oblivious visitors.
I was very pleased that I was able to execute my race pretty well according to our pacing strategy and am happy both with my time and with the depth of exertion I uncovered in myself.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2016-09-19 12:00 AM
00:53:12 | 2187 yards | 02m 26s / 100yards
Age Group: 3/4
Overall: 0/200
Performance: Good
Suit: full wetsuit
Course: This venue, the Welland International Flatwater Center, is like the worlds largest outside swimming pool, It's a dead-end appendage of the Welland canal/lock system that connects Lakes Ontario & Erie. (If I'd had more time I would have liked to go watch the giant ships moving through the locks!) The competition site was built for the Pan Am Games and is used mostly for rowing events. It's completely sheltered from the wind & currents, not very wide, has spectator seating at the start/finish, and a spectator-friendly path along the length of it. It also has giant yellow signs on the banks announcing 250, 500, 750, and 1000 meters. I really liked seeing these as I was swimming.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 75F / 24C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 01:39
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
03:44:39 | 55.9 miles | 14.93 mile/hr
Age Group: 4/4
Overall: 0/200
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 92
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills:
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:34
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:35:24 | 13.1 miles | 11m 52s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/4
Overall: 0/200
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %-1%
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 4