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Trials, Tribulations and Triumph: Lakeside Olympic Race Report (Guest Post)

In Nat’s yard, ready to drive to Lakeside!
Anj & I were pretty pumped about attempting out first Olympic Distance Triathlon on Sunday. You can read our pre-race ponderings here.

Anj: My text reply to friends who asked how it went is that conditions were “Unfavourable”.

Nat: The weather was cold! As we drove out the car registered 14C but over the day the temperature dropped to 10C. It’s hard to believe 6 days earlier we were sweating in 40C weather. I knew Mallory and her brother Miles would be working the event. It was great to see familiar faces.


pre-race candid
great photo taken by the event photographer as Nat and Anj roll into transition to set up

Anj: Let’s start with the water – the grass was creeping me out to the point that I couldn’t relax and swim. Ok, I think I was actually panicking – implement Plan B – Breast Stroke.  Attempts to crawl resulted in gulps of water due to the high waves, so I decided to limit breaths to the leeward side – but the waves would break over my head mid-breath so I still ended up with mouthfuls of water.  This did nothing to appease any panicking so I resorted to the breast stroke a-lot.

Nat: The swim was going great until the second lap after the first turn (~1,100 m) then I realized I was getting too cold to move my arms and I could no longer feel my legs and feet. The race officials had warned us the combined air and water temperature scored 14.5C, the cut-off for optional wet-suit. I’ll never do a long race again without one. I took off my cap and flagged down the rescue boat. I spoke with the Triathlon Ontario Official and indicated my wish to continue with the race even though I had DNF’d.

I was under dressed and cold the whole ride. The wind was gusting strong enough to make eating or drinking a real challenge. I never did get the circulation back in my feet so when I rolled in from the ride I decided not to attempt the run portion.

Anj: The bike portion managed to be more challenging than the swim.  I repeatedly thought “this tri is kicking my butt”.  The bike tested my mental capacity the most, where I remember giving myself permission to pull out.  Trying to make muscles work like that when you are so cold.  My feet were still numb from the swim even after two hours of cycling.

Nat: I know it’s impossible but that ride felt like a continual fight with the wind. I was surprised how lonely 40 km can be since I now always ride with other people. I’m sad now I didn’t at least try the run.

Anj: I didn’t expect my body to run – but it did.  The body can do amazing things.On an uphill grade I learned about cramps.  I hobbled my way to the turnaround and found out that I was able to run again on the downhill.  The next time I got to that steep of a grade and felt the quad quiver – I switched to a fast walk.

anj finish
If you look closely you can see the muscle cramp in Anj’s leg!

Nat: Would I do an Olympic triathlon again? Yes! Would I do Lakeside? It’s too cold for the time it takes me to do this kind of distance. I definitely need to stick to a training regime for this distance.

Anj: Lessons learned: consider investing in wet suit & tri suit; train in many water settings and train to spot and keep direction while swimming; train in all weather conditions and learn what gear works best in all of them.  I would totally do this distance again – and hope to continue working toward longer distances.  My favourite part was being passed by a woman with a gorgeous body – chatting with her on the bike and then seeing on her calf that she was 71.  I remember wondering – does that mean if I keep doing tri’s that I will have the same longevity, health and body?


Anj is now an Olympic Distance Triathlete and is planning all kinds of fitness adventures including a cycling tour in Florida!

7 thoughts on “Trials, Tribulations and Triumph: Lakeside Olympic Race Report (Guest Post)

  1. Those were super tough conditions. Congrats for making it out there. Now I want to hear about Florida. Is the cycling trip with a company? Which one? When? Take me!

    1. Anj is checking in with her fellow volunteer firefighters. A few have done some great trips and they are looking at going around Easter I think. I will definitely let you know!

  2. Congrats to both of you. Sounds like tough conditions. I too feel wary of Lakeside. Last year was pretty chilly too but not as tough as what you’ve described. Ugh. I recommend bracebridge. It’s in August and its beautiful. If anything it can be too hot. We can talk — I’d like to do one next year and it would be fun to have friends to do it with. You both rock! Thanks for the report.

  3. Wow– those conditions sound really tough, and pulling the plug for personal health and safety reasons was a good call. Congrats to both of you and thanks for sharing the story.

  4. Yikes! No thank you to swimming in that kind of cold, let alone not being able to get into a shower and then under some warm blankets right after.

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