Creating A Solo Triathlon

Having a cottage makes me one of the lucky ones, I'm well aware.  For a few years, I've had this idea to really take advantage of the location: rather than just do open water swimming, or a long hard/hilly bike ride or run or even a brick, what if I could do all three sequentially, like a real tri?  This Sunday I made it happen.

Not only would it be good training in all three disciplines, it would be a good practice of transition between them, plus it would be fun!  There's a public dock for people to put their boats in the water across the bay; it's accessed by a paved road (unlike the one behind the cottage) so it's great for the bike, and of course the water is right there. I'm registered for the Lakeside Sprint Tri  I decided doing a sprint distance (more or LESS) would be appropriate - I would squeeze it in during the kids' nap.  I've done something like this indoors (using the gym pool, a spinning class and a treadmill) but outdoors is obviously a better simulation of the real thing.

As I said, I'm lucky to be able to pull this sort of thing off, but if anyone reading has a similar opportunity, hopefully you can pick up a few tips from my experience. To maximize training time, I tried to have the car loaded up while being dressed to go during the kids lunch.  My choices were to skip lunch so that I wouldn't have a full stomach weighing me down, or eat with everyone... and burgers were on the menu with me manning the grill.  I love burgers, I love eating with my family, and the truth is I simply get hungry by noon.  I ate a single burger rather than my usual two, and was hoping to have the second one after I was done; bet you didn't know the “Iron” in “Iron Rogue” refers to my stomach...

I parked in the public dock’s parking lot, and locked my bike to some community mailboxes.  Dealing with locking/unlocking the bike falls outside of the usual flow of triathlon transition, but I figured the art of transition is part following a prescribed recipe, part keeping an organized mind that is flexible according to different circumstances.  Besides, T1 (from swim to bike) is the longer transition usually, and I’d still be practising taking off the wet-suit (probably the longest part of transition that isn't related to the distance between swim exit and bike exit).  I sorted out the rest of the stuff for transition in my trunk (should have taken a picture!) and hid my car keys, then headed out to the dock.

The old swim cap I used to keep in my gym bag had long since melted and I haven't remembered to grab a replacement, so I would be swimming with hair in my face.  I pulled on my wet-suit and hopped into the water.  I stuck to my usual open water swimming safety rule of following the shoreline; it's easier to get out in case of emergency (weather, cramps, etc.), boats tend to go slower near the shore and they are watching more closely (important here, since there would be extra traffic near a public dock), and since I wasn't familiar with this side of the lake navigating was easier too.

My goal was to simply swim 400 m out and turn around again for a total of 750-800 m.  I passed by a number of people’s boathouses and it looked friendly enough for swimmers.  It felt like my kicking was very lazy, I regret how much of a crutch my wet-suit can be, but the swim went well enough, and doesn't seem to be too crooked.  I guess my sighting is alright.  I figured out that climbing back onto the dock would be tough so I ended up exiting the water in a grassy/marshy corner close to where I had parked.

I out of the water with my wet-suit half off, and grabbed my car key.  Taking the wet-suit off could still be better, especially with having to contend with the Garmin wristband.  Besides dealing with keys and locks, the other thing these transitions had that race ones don’t is the taking of selfies!

Once I got on the bike, I hammered it pretty hard, and realized it wouldn't be a sustainable pace, but it got me over the first hill OK.  I've used the route for both runs and biking, so it was familiar ground for the most part.  I noticed I’m not naturally comfortable in aero position, and I found myself coming out of it often, sometimes to drink water, sometimes because my concentration would wander.  That wandering mental focus became a theme throughout the ride, as I noticed my pace/effort lagging on some of the long climbs.  I almost wonder if it’s something I really need to change in the short term, since my conditioning isn't going to change vastly between now and race day, and settling into a more ‘natural’ pace for me is what has let me survive previous triathlons and run strong after the bike.  I’d hoped the out and back would add up to 10 km that I could do twice, but it was more like 8 (for a total of almost 16 km).

In T2 I neglected to lock the bike to anything (except itself - wheel to frame), but that ended up being OK - no-one touched it.  I switched to my Zoot shoes which are great for racing but I generally don’t use otherwise.  This always makes me nervous, as you don’t want surprises on race day - so this solo triathlon just gave me an added benefit.  I should be fine on them for 5 km, but for 10 or more, I’m going to want socks and more cushioning.

The heavy legs were there post-bike, but I've been doing this long enough not to get freaked out by the feeling, and while the heat was getting to me, I was able to focus on pace better than the bike.  That’s probably why I like the run so much - I’m not really saving my effort anymore, just trying to finish.  Between the heat and bike fatigue I expected to be slow, but I’m actually pretty happy with my pace of below 6 min/km on average.


I finished with a smile on my face, and though my recovery plan was to have the second burger, I took the boys off my wife's hands and down to the lake in order to make this happen...
Kings of the Lake

I should take a very close look at the Lakeside race course, but if it’s not too hilly, I may be on track for a 90 minute finish.  Fitting swim, bike and run into a single workout has been a goal of mine for years (not really big enough to be called ‘Bucket List’ but still important).  One day I hope to do it on a bigger scale by swimming across the lake (with a chaperone in a canoe or kayak - Google Earth says it’s about 1.1km), followed by a longer ride (perhaps clear around Lake of Bays? it’s about 76km), and of course, a run (maybe 15km to Huntsville for a beer...?)

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