Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Race Report: Montreal Esprit Olympic Triathlon

My very first Olympic Tri!!  It was an amazing way to end the season. Looking back, it was only a year ago that I decided to really commit to triathlon. I can't even begin to tell you how much my life has changed since then. I've met incredible people, I've grown tremendously as an athlete, I've learned a lot about myself, I've pushed my limits, and I've achieved more than I could imagine. I'm so thankful for this experience and everyone that has been a part of it. A huge thank you goes out to the Ottawa Triathlon Club  for welcoming me with open arms and being such an incredible community.


Jenn, Dale and I drove to Montreal the night before the race.  After getting a later start than planned due to an intense and honestly quite scary thunderstorm, we arrived in Montreal around 8 pm.  After unloading the car, we found a cute little Italian restaurant in the Plateau area to have dinner.  I was happy to see Chicken Parm on the menu of course!  After dinner, we attempted to go to the grocery store (it closed 5 minutes before we got there) and ended up at the corner Dépanneur instead searching for some breakfast supplies / ice / Gatorade /etc.  By the time we got back to our AirBnB rental, it was 10:30. I quickly painted my nails (red with one red sparkly nail) and shared my pre-race ritual of watching Dreams of Glory with Jenn and Dale.  Off to bed by about 11:15 (a lot later than I had hoped).

In the morning, I got up at 6:10, showered and made my usual Vemma Bode shake and oats with Justin's almond butter and banana. We brewed a pot of coffee as well and relaxed for a few minutes before the scramble to pack up the car (3 bikes!) and get all 3 of us out the door by 7:20. It was a really easy drive to the race site, but by the time we got there, we were parked at the back of the lot.  We decided to leave the bikes at the car, as Jenn and I had to pick up our registration packets by 8.  We got our packets and got body marked, then went back for the rest of our stuff. At that point, a light rain had started. 

We returned to the race site and stopped by the bike mechanic tent.  My bike was all ready to go, thanks to the amazing work by Jonathan from Mobivelo the day before.  I set up my transition zone and was thankful to have thrown a bunch of plastic bags in my tri bag, because I was able to use them to keep my bike and running shoes dry, as well as to cover the rest of my gear. The trouble was that I myself was soaking wet since the rain had really started to pick up.  Then, I made my way over to the registration tent, to try to stay "dry" as I put my wetsuit on for the race.  I forgot to bring a plastic bag with me, and since I was wet, my body glide was of absolutely no use. It took quite a while to get the wetsuit on because of it! While in transition, one of the race organizers came over because the girl whose bike was between Jenn's and mine had a flat tire. The organizers made an announcement, but when her bike was still there, they decided to just take it and fix the flat themselves so that it would be ready for her race! We were really impressed.  I later saw the girl and she was really thankful.

Swim: Goal time - 24 minutes; Actual time: 21:54

The swim was in the Olympic rowing basin, which is a little bit longer than 2000m and a perfect rectangle.  I lined up on the "beach" with the other under-29.  The water was so murky and gross, which I guess really surprised me and wasn't what I was expecting.  I usually dip my goggles into the water to clear them off before I start swimming, but didn't want to chance it with the muddy water.  Instead, I just fidgeted with my goggles, wiping the insides out and pressing them back onto my face every 20-30 seconds until the horn sounded.  Right as we were about to start, I heard Jenn and Dale cheering for me! Thanks ladies!  Then we were off to the races.  I was able to get out in the front with 2 other girls right away.  I tried to keep up with them, but had to fix my goggles twice during the race, so lost them the first time.  My goal for the rest was to focus on keeping my stroke turnover high and catching lots of water with every stroke. I used the rope of small buoys as a guideline and only sighted once in a while to see how far ahead the other two girls were.  I was so happy to see the red flags signalling the swim exit.  After running up the beach, I carefully crossed the bridge (I'd been warned it was slippery and it was even more so with the rain) and made my way to transition.  I was totally shocked to see my swim time later.  I was definitely not expecting a 21 minute swim, given my very limited swim training this summer.

T1:  I got my wetsuit off relatively quickly.  I grabbed a swig of one of my water bottles, did up my shoes, put on my helmet, opted to leave my race number since we didn't have to wear it for the bike, and ran out of transition. Pretty smooth considering everything was soaking wet.

Bike:  Goal time - 1:20, Actual time: 1:14 (1:18:11 including transition)

The bike course was on the Formula One track, so the road surface was nice and smooth... though very, very wet.  The course was a 4.4 km loop, so we did 9 laps for the Olympic.  Despite how many different races were going on, I never felt too crowded on the course.  There were a few times when I had to slow down significantly going around curves and deal with riders who weren't following the course rules of passing on the right and riding on the inside.  I think my time could have been a little bit faster because of that and because I never fully got up to top speed, but I am happy with it overall.  I took two gels during the bike - Clif Chocolate Cherry with caffeine - and my stomach seemed to do fine during the race (after is another story!). On each lap, I said the lap number out loud to help myself keep track even though I had my bike computer as well.  It was awesome to see Dale cheering toward the end of each lap and to see a few OTCers out there (or on the run course for the longer distance races) as well. I almost had a crash though as I cheered and shouted for one of the OTC runners.  Oops, need to contain my excitement and pay a little more attention next time! Overall, the bike course was a lot of fun.  I was a muddy mess by the end, but it was fun. And the rain wasn't bad at all during that portion of the race.

T2:  I took my time in T2.  My towel was waterlogged, so I used it to wipe the gravel and dirt off my feet and put my socks on before putting on my running shoes.  I usually don't wear socks in a sprint, but I also usually have blisters by the end of my 5k, so I felt like I would want socks for the 10k. There were only a few bikes in the T-zone, so I knew things were going well.

Run: Goal time - 48:00, Actual time - 46:18 

I loved the run course. As soon as we finished the first 1/4 of it, we were running around the Olympic rowing basin, so we could see the whole course.  My goal was to keep a consistent pace the whole way since I had no idea what would happen.  My first 5k felt amazing and I was really happy to see my time.  So as I continued onto the second 5k, my goal was the same - keep a consistent pace.  My second 5k was almost identical, but actually a little bit faster!!  As usual, I gave a little shout-out of encouragement to anyone that I passed and thanked the volunteers, even though I didn't need their water since I had my own bottle with me.  Coming into the finish was pretty epic, because you could see the finish for 2k.  As I turned the corner of the basin, I told myself to keep pushing and to get to the end as fast as I could.  Only at the very last half kilometer did I experience any issues, and it was just some pins and needles in the ball of my left foot. At the finish, I gave a wave of the arms and thumbs up.  As I grabbed my water and tried to catch my breath, a woman who I had passed a few minutes earlier came up to thank me for the encouragement.  It turns out she was on her last lap of the half-iron distance and she said it was just what she needed! That certainly brought a smile to my face.

Post-Race:  The chattering teeth set in within a few minutes of the race as I waited for Jenn to finish.  Her wave started about 20 minutes behind mine, so I saw her as she was starting her second lap.  As I waited, I had a chance to chat with Joe, who was arriving for the sprint.  After Jenn's finish, we wandered over to find Dale before her swim start, then we hit the food tent.  My stomach also started to rebel at that point and I am still suffering from some discomfort, days later.  It was again raining quite hard and we were all soaked to the bone. Dale had a great race as well, then we all made our way back to shower, dry up and get some nourishment... and post-race hydration beer.

Overall, my first Olympic was a great experience.  I was really pleased with my result and the fact that the race went really smoothly.  My swim and run were actually faster paced than I do in my sprint races, so that tells me that I can probably push a little harder in my sprints.  It was a great race to end the season and I'm so happy to have shared the experience with my teammates, who have also become my friends. The season has been one of personal growth - physically and mentally - and I am so thankful to have such great coaches and teammates who have pushed me along the way.

Official Stats:

3rd in AG, 10th woman, 132nd overall

1500m Swim: 21:54
40km Bike: 1:18:11
10km Run: 46:18
Final Time: 2:26:21.3


  1. Well done Kelsey! You really convey the enthusiasm and determination in your approach, as well as your appreciation and gratitude for what you have experienced this season.
    I look forward to more amazing accomplishments in your future.

  2. Kels- I loved reading this! You are amazing and your dedication is paying off. I'm so proud of you!

  3. Wow! You know hard work and training is paying off when you exceed your expectations and goals in all three sports!! I could not imagine doing a triathlon in the rain (I'm sure it will happen someday), but to put up those kind of numbers is super impressive. Way to finish the season strong and congratulations on your 3rd place in AG!

    1. Haha, you are from Oregon Kristen... I imagine it will happen one day :) I was really happy with my race and season finisher! Thank you!