Welcome to my epic race report on the REV3 Niagara Falls Barrelman 2017! I’ve blogged all about training for my first triathlon, how I prepped for the weekend, the 2km swim and the 86km bike ride. Finally, we come to the end – the 21km run!
I was so happy to see my boyfriend as I exited the transition area! My best friend was supposed to come to cheer me on and I asked my boyfriend where she was. “She’s at the casino” he called. “Casino??!!” I yelled back in the photo above, apparently confused by this response.
Once I started running I felt pretty good! My legs weren’t tired at all and despite the heat, there was some shade along the course. I found my stride and fell into my usual marathon routine of consuming a gel every thirty minutes and rotating between water and the electrolyte drink at each hydration station. The run through the park was nice and cool and a pleasant break from the city streets.
As I headed up through Clifton Hill, I weaved my way through the tourists and ran down the path in front of the casino. I was so happy to see my best friend and her daughter! I gave her a big sweaty hug and high fived her daughter, who ran alongside me for a few paces. When you see a familiar face while racing no matter how brief, that little boost of love and familiarity gives you a huge swell of energy.
I felt hot but strong as I completed the first loop and ran past the finish line. A woman spectator made me smile when she called out “there goes my polka dotted trisuit!”, haha! I loved how my fun trisuit was getting lots of attention!
After the 10KM mark though, something REALLY bad start to happen in the bowels below. I had felt a little discomfort around 8K but figured I could live with it and continued on past the port-a-potty. As I ran through the park I noticed a real washroom on the other side of the route. I decided that I might as well be comfortable for the rest of the run, and would stop on the way back out of the park.
Big mistake. I was about 30 seconds away from the washroom when all of a sudden, an explosion erupted in my trisuit. I cannot explain it any other way, but I’m certain that the runner behind me must have heard the blast that came out of my butt. Apologies for going into detail, but there is no other way to describe the situation. Thankfully, the bottom of my suit is black, and tight, so I was able to make it to the bathroom without further embarrassment. I wasted about 5 minutes cleaning up the mess, feeling thankful that at least I was in a real facility.
The remaining 7 kilometres were the most uncomfortable 7 kilometres I have ever run. My stomach felt off so I stuck to water and cut back on my gels. I felt so hot, sweating more than I ever have in my life, having never run more than a 5K in +30C conditions. Worst of all, my wet trisuit chafed like crazy. This was the first time I experienced chafing and WOW, is it ever unpleasant. I tried to use some Body Glide in the washroom, but everything was so wet that it didn’t have any effect. The last few hydration stations were out of ice, but I was such a mess by this point I didn’t care.
With every sweaty, chafed stride, I drew myself closer to the finish line. 19 kilometres, 20 kilometres, until finally, my favourite part of any marathon, the last kilometre. Even though I was uncomfortable I tried to enjoy this last part of the triathlon. I thought about how lucky I was to be physically able to take part in a race like this. How lucky I was to have two legs, two feet, a working heart, strong muscles and bones. No matter what happens to me in my life, I will always have this moment.
I knew what to expect near the end because I had passed the finish line on the loop, so as soon as I turned into the park, I gave it my all. Once I saw that big, white finish line, a surge of energy pulsed through me and as you can see from the photo above, I went into beast mode! I never realized how intensely demented my face looks in these last seconds of a race haha! My feet pounded the pavement, my arms pumped back and forth like Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix, and my breathing sounded like a raging bull. I charged through the finish line and threw my hands up in the air. Barrelman. Done!
This triathlon was a huge goal and I’m so proud of myself for completing one. The training kept me sane during some personal issues that I was going through at the time. Whenever a tough situation arises, I always think back to that feeling during a race when I wanted to give up, but persevered. I hold onto that strength and use it to pull myself out of the dark.
For me, a marathon in comparison is physically harder, but competing in a triathlon was mentally more challenging. The stakes felt higher for a triathlon, and even though I felt physically ready, there were so many other factors and possibility for error. For this reason, I was way more nervous before this triathlon than I had ever been for a marathon.
I finished the run in 2 hours and 20 minutes, my exact estimated time. My final time for the REV3 Niagara Falls Barrelman 70.3 was 6 hours and 20 minutes, 479/863 overall and 149/323 in my age group. While I was incredibly happy with my time, I couldn’t help but think to myself – if only I hadn’t wasted so much time in transition, and then in the bathroom on the run, I could have shaved off another 15 minutes! So it begins..
As I thought about the race on my way home, I couldn’t explain the stomach problems that had occurred, I had never experienced anything like this on a marathon before. I called my friend who had coached me and gave her my race report. She said that it could have been anything from the water in the canal, to the electrolyte drink, but more likely the intense heat or simply the fact that your body is taking on three different activities! I will say that I was very grateful that this was the only problem I had encountered, and would take bathroom runs over an injury any day.
Then it occurred to me, could coconut water be the culprit? When I thought about it, I remembered having similar stomach problems whenever I drank it on a long training day, but had attributed it to other factors. After a quick Google search I learned that coconut water is hydrating but also high in potassium, and can react like a laxative. Since I’m sensitive to potassium (which is why I only have a banana the morning of a race to to get my system going), I should NEVER use coconut water as source of hydration during sports. I was appalled at my stupidity, how had I not realized this earlier? I had drank SO much coconut water today! Then I laughed, I mean what can you do? Live and learn. Plus it does make a pretty funny story!
The second best feeling after crossing that finish line was standing underneath this wonderful, Splash Pad. I could have stood there for hours, relishing the cold water as it rinsed off all my salt, sweat and tears and cooled off my poor chafed bum. I couldn’t have asked for a better race for my first triathlon. The course was straightforward and scenic, and even though the weather was hot, sun is better than rain! The event was very well organized and I was impressed with how the race director John Salt seemed to really care about providing the best race possible.
The one thing I really took away from triathlons is how much I love the community. Everyone was really nice, helpful and encouraging to other triathletes, and I raced with athletes of all different ages, genders and levels. I also felt so inspired by the athletes who raced with disabilities. There was a blind triathlete, and another who raced with their dad who had MS. I’m so amazed with what we can accomplish with our bodies. With that in mind and a half Ironman under my belt…there is faint whisper in the back of mind chanting I-ron-man, I-ron-man…