Sydenham Olympic Triathlon Relay

A while back my friend Erin asked if I would be interested in completing the Sydenham Olympic Triathlon with her as a relay team. I had a lot of fun at the Muskoka Sprint Tri Relay last year, so I didn’t hesitate to say yes! It turned out to be a great girls’ weekend in cottage country, with lilmeg completing her first sprint tri after a great deal of peer pressure, and our friend L (of City Chase fame) competing as well.

We had a great time hanging out at the cottage on Saturday, catching up and getting ready. We even had some champagne and buttertarts to toast Meg’s PhD.

Triathlon puked all over the floor!

We were up and out the door early to arrive at the race site shortly after transition opened at 7AM. It was a hot and muggy morning. By the time our events finished, it was 36C/97F+. I may have even said something along the lines of, “I picked the wrong sport for today.” There were witnesses.

Body marking is kinda fun

The girls were all nervous and excited as they set up their transitions. I didn’t have much to do so I just laughed watched in amusement as they all wriggled into their wetsuits.

The Olympic event was starting first, and pretty soon it was time for Erin to get in the water. We were able to cheer her on as she headed out on the three-loop 1500m swim.

Meg and L had to start getting ready for their event, but I stayed at the water’s edge watching for Erin and snapped a whole lot of pictures of people who were not, in fact, her. Everyone looks the same in their caps and wetsuits!

She was expecting a swim time of about 32 minutes, but came out of the water after about 29 (!!!) with the biggest grin. I knew she had killed it and could tell she felt amazing.

It was a long run to transition, mostly grass but with at least one gravel crossing (ouch!) and I was able to follow her all the way to transition.

1500m swim – 30:53  (includes run to T1)
2:03/100m

She was out of there quick and heading out on the bike.

I had some time to kill and chatted with L and Meg for a bit before running into Juliana and her hubby who were completing the duathlon. After wishing them good luck, I positioned myself right at the bike turn-around outside transition to catch Erin after her first loop. She came in right around her projected time looking strong and happy, ready to tackle the second half.

I headed down to the lake to see Meg and L one more time before starting their swim in the Sprint event.

I was able to stay until L finished her swim, and ran with her to transition.

The morning was heating up fast and I was working up a sweat just running around. I knew it was not going to be pretty on my 10K run another hour later, but I was sure to keep hydrating during this time and trying not to be in the sun too much – which was virtually impossible.

The clock was ticking and I knew it was time to get ready for my run. I watched the athletes rolling in, checking my watch constantly and getting excited to see Erin.

She showed up right when I expected her to, and quickly racked her bike as I yanked the chip off her ankle and strapped it onto mine. I think I managed to utter a ‘Congratulations!’ as I tried to get out of there as fast as possible. 

40KM bike – 1:25:57 (includes T1 and T2)

27.92 km/h

I had shoved my small handheld water bottle into my top so my hands would be free for the chip transfer, and my Garmin was ready to go.

I heard another team yell, “Look at her go!” as I bolted out of there, retrieving my water bottle and starting my watch as I crossed the mats.

Off I went and it was HOT, HOT, HOT. As soon as I knew Erin couldn’t see me anymore, I slowed down. Kidding. Mostly. But I definitely didn’t start at a sustainable pace so I settled into something slightly less excruciating, as I gasped for breath and started sweating profusely after 500m.

I had suggested a projected finish of something around 50:00 given the heat, but even that seemed unrealistic at first. I decided not to look at my Garmin too much and concentrate on a steady (but not torturous) effort. I was surprised to see that I was consistently running in the 4:40s/KM for the most part (~47:30 finish) – my legs felt great but the heat was awful; I was sure I could feel it blazing at me from above and below.

We started out on a gravel track, then headed out on the streets of town before veering on to a dirt trail, with unfortunately very little shade. The trail was pretty narrow and crowded at times given the out-and-back route (double out-and-back for the 10K). I was constantly passing people and being forced off the path into the grass when other runners were approaching.

The nice thing was seeing Juliana and her hubby as well as L out on the route. I tried to be friendly with others as much as possible, but it was clear that everyone was suffering and not in the mood for camaraderie.

There was one water station along the way (which I hit 4 times). I had my handheld, but used the cups to dump cold water over my head. The 2.5K turn-around came pretty quickly, but it was brutal knowing that I was running all the way back to the start/finish only to do it all over again.

I hit the track and volunteers instructed me to turn right to finish or turn left to finish 1 loop – it was so painful to turn left, but off I went! I turned around the pylon and headed back out. When I finally hit the turn-around point again, there were a couple of people cheering and I thanked them, but added, “I’m really glad I don’t have to see you again!”
When I hit the turn-around sign for the Try-a-Tri, I knew that meant 1K to go and picked it up as much as I could – which wasn’t much! I made my way off the trail and along the roads back to the entrance to the track. What a relief to turn right! People were cheering and the finish line was in sight. I noticed the clock ticking towards 2:45:00 and gunned it down the final stretch.

10KM run – 47:54 
4:47/KM (7:43/mi)

Overall Time: 2:44:43
1st place in relay division!

We were surprised to learn that we had placed 1st, which is even more impressive [in my humble opinion] since the others were teams of 3 – and we finished almost 30 minutes ahead of the second place team!

Collecting our prizes: a bike seat, bike cleaner, muscle cream and a bucket of eload.

 I made Erin take most of it, but she sent me home with bike cleaner to keep my new wheels looking spiffy.

We had an awesome day, despite the heat. Congrats to L and Meg who rocked their events as well!

I left the race with another unexpected souvenir… I think I may have finally caught the bug. Normally I leave a triathlon thinking that it’s fun to watch but not something I have any interest in doing myself. Well, this time I left with a bit of a buzz. I hoped it might go away over night, but no such luck. The “dark side” might be calling. Stay tuned… Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!

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32 thoughts on “Sydenham Olympic Triathlon Relay

  1. I knew if I kept getting you to tri events that you'd catch it soon! Thanks so much for racing with me (again). It was a blast! I think we're all set for Syracuse.

  2. WOW Good job. I am thoroughly impressed. We haven't touched anywhere near those kinds of temperatures out west. Right now it's a heat wave when we get over 20°

  3. Oh man — if you start doing Tri's I'm really going to have to step it up! Ha ha!! 🙂 That would be awesome though! Sometimes I think about doing one — but then I think about the swimming part and freak out. LOL. Congrats on such a fun and awesome race!

  4. Awesome, awesome, awesome!! Total blast central there, how fun!! Congrats on a fantastic win, too! Oh…I love the pictures of you running – such total determination on that face (LOVE IT!!)….but oh dear…that heel strike….:/

  5. Hey Marlene…I've been following your training (came over from WB), and what do I see? Photos from my photography company (Zoomphoto)! Glad we could be there to catch your first place finish!!Jesse

  6. You have the runnning, you started biking, now get to swimming and you'll be great!! I can't wait to see where you go from here 🙂 Congrats on the great race!!

  7. Congratulations, you did amazing! I know the feeling about the loops and the urge to turn off (which I did). You hung in there and pulled off a fantastic result. I'm sure you'd do great in a tri…will be great to watch!

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