Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Barrelman 2016

Wasn't it just one short year ago where I swore I would never do another 70.3? And here I am now, my TFL's still angry at me for completing another one. I'm either stupid or a glutton for punishment. Probably a bit of both. A lot of both.

My main goal going into Barrelman this year was to do better on the bike. I've not swum too much this summer and my running is my running, those are what they are. The bike I really wanted to improve on, but how much better could I do? I was quite frankly sick of training by August and skipped a lot of workouts. Only race day would tell.....

After sleeping like garbage all week I finally had a solid sleep on Saturday night. This had to be a good sign right?! I picked Ivanka up at 6am and headed out to Niagara Falls where a shuttle bus would take us to the start in Welland. Been there, done that. There's something to be said about familiarity and at least I had that going for me in this race. I had done the Welland long course in June which is the same swim and 56k of the Barrelman bike course so that really helped me a lot.

We milled around saying hello to people (thanks for coming and introducing yourself Barry!) and I made a quick bathroom break before heading to get body marked by the body marker extroardinaire Nicole. Not many people realize that there is a washroom on the main floor at the Flatwater Centre so even though I was in line behind 2 guys (why do guys take forever in the bathroom any way?! Don't take your #1 poop at the race. Do that at home!) it was still shorter than the long line downstairs. I made a joke to the guy in line behind me that buddy must be taking a shower in there, he's taking so long. "There's a shower in there?!" he asked?

After giving everyone hugs and high fives and taking pics it was time to get my wetsuit on and make my way down to the swim start. I hung out with the birthday girl Irina in the water until the gun sounded, as well as Natalie and Emma. Today I was in the second last wave so expected things to be just as uneventful as they were. I love swimming at this venue. It's just so calm and civilized. Unfortunately they took out the guide wire though so I actually had to pay attention to where I was swimming this time. Boo Flatwater Centre! Swimming is still my happy place at these events believe it or not, and I'm perfectly happy to take my time and enjoy myself out there. Much of my youth was spent hurting in the pool, I'm just not down with that as an adult. Just don't tell my dad. He'd be mortified to see my swim times now. LOL With about 250m to go (I love the distance markers here!) I passed Irina which was a bit of a surprise to actually recognize a friend out there. In no time I was climbing out of the water and trying unsuccessfully to take my wetsuit off (it was stuck on my Garmin) as Nicole snapped my picture. Up into my first transition smoke break of the day and Irina was running past me giving me shit for passing her. Ha. I was surprised to still see so many bikes on the rack because I was pretty slow out there but whatever, I'll take it. I got changed into my bike stuff and strolled out onto the bike course, not a care in the world. I waved at Zindine and started out on my 89km ride.

2k swim + run up to transition 47:21
21/30 AG 138/200 Ladies

Once out on the ride course I ate two dates because I was friggin' starving. I really wish that I'd brought more than a banana to eat because I was pretty hungry before the gun even went off. I was in a fairly large pack for the first little bit but it's hard to spread out that early with that many people around. Not even 3k in and my day was almost ended when I turned to look behind me and somehow during that few seconds the guy I was riding behind had gone around a local cyclist and I almost went crashing into him. Thankfully I was able to get up onto my handlebars and veer out of the way just in time. Buddy sure would have been surprised had I not. And not a nice surprise either. After that things calmed down. People rode past me and commented on the smiley face that Nicole had drawn on the back of my calf and made comments about the wind. I watched the scenery which include lily pads, a magnitude of roadkill frogs and turtles, some water bottles and an asthma inhaler. I wondered if I should pick that up and hand it in but it was too late by the time I thought about it. Once down by the lake I found the crosswind to be really strong so I had to come up onto my handle bars for fear that the wind would pick all 120lbs of me and my bike and send us sailing across the road. At the first aid station I pulled over and had a quick pee in the porta potty (this would be the last pee I had until 8pm that night. Considering I use liquid nutrition that's pretty scary) and was back on my merry way, wondering how bad the crosswind would be once I made the next turn. Turns out it was pretty bad here too. I passed a man who was finishing up fixing a flat and asked if he needed anything. He did not but made sure to tell me on his way by that we'd probably never be rid of this headwind/crosswind all day. Greeeeeeeeat. After this I pretty much sent out a silent prayer at every turn to please please please not be headwind.

When things got boring I would play a game of trying to read peoples names on their bibs. This was actually something I did on the run too. What I would think I saw and what it actually said were very rarely the same. Basil? ....... Nope! Daniel! Pisa?!?! What the heck kind of name is that?! ....Oh! Lise! I got to the spot where Mari had passed me last year and  strangely enough Kim passed me there this year. At least she was in the same swim wave as me! LOL The entire ride was fairly uneventful as far as my triathlon rides go and I was soon chasing Tri Granny #1 down the final stretch along the Niagara River. Into the headwind. Flashbacks of last years Niagara Falls half came rushing in and I may have dropped a few F Bombs down around here. Finally I was cruising over the bridge and making the turn into the park. I thanked Tri Granny #1 for giving me something to chase down that final stretch just as Zindine was yelling out to me to have a quick transition. Ha. I made my way up to where I knew my bike rack would be (thanks Zin for pointing out that transition map to me!) and lit my T2 smoke.

89k ride 3:16
22/30 AG 153/200 Ladies

I knew that my ride was 20 minutes faster than last year so I planned to just try to stick to an easy 6:00/km pace for the run so that I could get a great PB. Haha no I didn't. My plan was a 5:30/km for the first loop and a 5:45/km for the second with a death march contingency plan of 6:00/km. Too bad for me the temp with humidity was 32* so that plan went up in smoke pretty much 200m in. There were walk breaks galore and my TFLs were not very happy with me. And there was something going on with my sock! It felt like it was all bunched up around my heel so I kept trying to stop and straighten it out. Down into the park I saw Emma. Then I saw Mellen. "Are you on your second loop?!?! I yelled to her. Bitch! Then I saw Graeme. Then I went and introduced myself to Amber by creepily grabbing hold of her race bib so that I could read the name on it.
She says it wasn't but this was probably Ambers face LOL

Then it was just me again. Me and my bunched up sock and this awful heat. Finally down along the falls it got so annoying that once I got out of anywhere I thought a photographer might be I sat down in the grass and pulled my shoe off to see what was going on. Turns out the extra hair elastic that I had thrown into my transition bag had found it's way into my shoe. Idiot! Well at least that was one less thing bothering me any way. On a list of 1000. I then made my way back through the park to the start of the second loop where I saw some of Emma's teammates cheering me on and Prasheel! What a nice surprise that was. Hopefully I didn't look as awful as I felt. I stopped at the 10.5k aid station while I heard them call Graeme's name over at the finish area, and put more infinit into my water bottle and filled it back up from their big jug. Now on top of everything else I was super sticky. Perfect. I checked my watch and saw that this first loop had taken me 1:06. I had one hour to match my time from last year. No biggie. I could do this. I made my way back down to the park where I saw Emma again. Dammit. She was almost finished and I still had another hour of suckage to go. Once I got into the park the familiar feel of my stomach cramping up hit me and I knew that things were about to hit rock bottom. I walked a little bit with the rest of the 70.3 zombies and Tri Granny #2 went running past us. You go girl. I got to the turn around down there and commented to a guy that I wished we could just run straight up to the road where we'd only have 2k left to go. "You'll only be cheating yourself" he told me. Thanks, tips. I walked with him for a few minutes where he told me that he found this course harder than Muskoka. I wonder if we did the same Muskoka?! Once I realized he had zero interest in running again I said goodbye and took off. Well, probably taking off is leaving you with a bit of the wrong mental image, but I left him nonetheless. I walked the shitty hill and chatted with another guy there while he ate pretzels. "It's too hot for this shit" I said to him. "At least you can go home after this and not feel guilty about binge watching Narcos" he said to me. "Although you'll only make it through half an episode before you fall asleep". That made me laugh. I may have started going a little crazy at this point. We got to the top of the hill where I told him I did not want to run another step. He wished me well and started to run. And then he walked. And then I ran. And then I walked. And then he ran. And then he walked. We back and forthed like this for a while until I finally passed him and never saw him again. I was running out of steam as I came to the second hill and thought I really need to eat something. I knew that a gel would not be a good idea so I opted for the pretzels. They actually helped my although they were dry as frick in my already dry mouth.

I got to the top of the hill and looked at the falls and thought I may as well take my phone out and take a picture. I didn't though. There was a nice downhill waiting for me so off I went to catch it, even though the pounding killed my TFLs. At the next aid station I grabbed some more pretzels and thankfully my tummy was not feeling any worse from them. I spied Emma and Irina's friend Kyra here and walk/ran my way to catch her to introduce myself. I then steeled myself for that final push to the finish line. I could see Tri Granny #2 in the distance and slowly made my way to catch her. I gave myself permission to walk whenever she walked and eventually passed her. As I was taking another walk break she ran past me and I gave her crap because she was running and I was only allowed to walk when she walked. Hope she knew it was a joke. Unfortch my jokes weren't killing it out here like they were in Muskoka. I think we were all just feeling a little too awful for my comedic gold. Finally there was only 1km left in this God forsaken race and I refused to walk any more. Just get this over and done with.
As I made my way to the finish line I could hear the Iron Canucks cheering for me and as I got closer to the finish I could hear Nicole cheering for me. Finally I made it over the finishing mat, turned my Garmin off and dropped the final F Bomb of the day.

21.1k Run 2:25 loop 1 1:06 loop 2 1:18
15/30 AG 132/200 Ladies

Oh hey, Tin Man!

Worlds best coach who isn't a coach 


  1. Triathlon running is fucking stupid, really. What a terrible sport this is.

    (and we'll be back at again next year, because we are not smart).

    Love your race report as always :) You are awesome.

  2. You always crack me up! Those who don't get the jokes are losers. :-D

    For the love of sport, I vote for strengthening your stomach next year. What kind of regimen do we need to put it through so it doesn't give you grief anymore? Beets? Pickles? Ginger infused spinach with curried eggs?

    Just keep having fun, at least 2 out of three sports. Love ya!

  3. It was great to meet you Sam! Thanks for introducing yourself and suffering with me for a while. :) Irina's "2 out of three sports" sounds about right!

  4. You persevered and finished looking strong. You were absolutely disgusting when I hugged you at the end, but I wouldn't have done anything less. Enjoy your off season now that training weather is perfect. :)

  5. Congrats Sam!! Good work on improving your bike time and getting through a hot run! Character building I'm sure. Well done!