Niagara Falls Barrelman 2017

Got all my gear together in appropriate bags. Had water bottles full with nuun and Genucan in the fridge/freezer.

 

Morning:
Wake up at 5:30am. Went and got coffee at TH. Back to hotel, ate some bread with peanut butter and banana. Had what I thought was all my gear ready to go. Waited out side for Signe, Marco & Christine. Got to venue and as I was getting my bags out I realized I forgot the water bottles with nuun and Genucan in the fridge/freezer. Marco & Dave drove back to Niagara Falls to get them. I set up what in T1, used Signe's tire pump and decided I better use the port-a-potties at that point. There weren't many of them and I knew a line up would start. Once Dave & Marco got back I grabbed the water bottles and set them all up on the bike and into the appropriate bag (bike to run bag). I drank my Genucan while putting on my wetsuit and was able to get out of transition just before it closed at 8:40. Walked down to the start and there was plenty of room to go for a swim warm up. This was fantastic as it allowed me to relax in the water and pee like a million times.

 

Swim
Got into my swim wave (40-49 - purple swim caps) and made sure to get in behind people. There were suppose to be 74 people in my age group 40-44 so I figured there could be at least 100 people in my wave. That could get a little crowded and I didn't want another water panicking experience. Horn went off and I was able to not get trampled on by others. I then started to pass a few people and found the rope in the water so that I could follow along. Considering some of the races I have done in the past it wasn't too crazy with swimmers on top of me. I heard it was for others but didn't find it that bad. around 1km in I had to go pee though but I was going a little fast and kicking, so I had to stop the kicking and did that for about a minute. Still couldn't relax enough to go pee so I decided that I would just start kicking again because a couple of people passed me so I kicked it up a notch and was able to catch up to those people. I got to the end of the swim and looked at the watch. I was just over 40min. Right in my range. If I hadn't stopped kicking I totally would have been under. Oh well, I got it done in the time I wanted. Next was getting up the stairs. I wanted to get up them fast but I didn't want to fall so I just walked up fast instead of running up the stairs. They were definitely slippery.

 

Photo by: Irina Souiki

 

 

Bike
Got into T1 and I took my sweet ass time. I wanted to make sure I had everything. I needed all my food out there. Had everything ready and my helmet on and I stared running with the Genucan in hand. It was still half frozen. Oops, that was the one that was suppose to go into my Bike to Run bag. Oh well. I put it my back pocket and was going to take it later, I had one of the salt pills but realized I should have had one at the start. Luckily I remembered to do so 15 minutes later. Bike was moving pretty quickly and there wasn't too much wind. However I did feel a bit of a tailwind going out, so I was concerned there would be headwind coming back. Since I had the Genucan at 15min on the bike. I waited until about 40-45min to have a bite of the peanut butter protein ball. I was able to remember to have my salt pills at each hour on the bike. So nutrition seemed to go well here. The first 30km there seemed to be a lot of cyclists around me. We were all trying to be faster then the other but it got pretty crowded. A couple of times there would be cyclists over the yellow line. I actually found it scary a couple of times but eventually I had to eat so I fell back a little from that group. It didn't get as bad after that. There were many times where the older men (55+) would be passing me. That wasn't the problem. The problem was that not one of them said "On your left". It started making me angry and got pretty incensed by it. It turns out I wasn't the only one complaining about it. Maybe it has a lot to do with priviledged old white dudes. I guess they don't have to obey rules. Grrrrr I was under 1hour for my first 30km so I was definitely at the speed I wanted to be at. At 50km or so I saw Dave, Marco & Christine and was surprised to see them. It gave me an extra boost. Went I looked at my watch I realized that I would only be another hour and I was at 1:40 already. I was hoping for under 3 hours and realized with the shorter bike (86km) that I could be under 2:45. In the last hour I did slow down a few times, there were some hills (nothing of note, it wasn't that bad it just wasn't as flat) but then, there were times I was going really fast downhills so it all worked out. With a couple of km left I heard a "Go Carol" and looked over and saw Irina was taking pictures for Zoomphoto. Yay! When I got to the dismount line I heard Dave call out my name and was glad to see him.
 

Photo by: Irina Souiki

 

Run
When I got into T2 I needed to pee since I never did it in the swim or on the bike. It didn't hurt but I knew if I didn't go now it would catch up with me on the run so I got all my running gear together and then went into the port-a-potty in T2. Drank my Genucan there and left the bottle in the port-a-potty. I never did go back and get it. Probably my longest T2 as I was over 5min. Meh, not too worried about it. I had a PR on the swim and a very fast bike (doesn't count as a PR because it was only 86km). When I got out on the run Dave was there and told me he was very proud of me and gave me a kiss. I ran up until just after the 2km part and my stomach wasn't that great. I was also getting the chest pain again although it wasn't as bad as it has been. But the heat was starting to take it's toll. Although I had been eating my food through out the bike, I had drank all my nuun in my aero bottle and the nuun (with carbs) bottle on my bike frame. That is way more then I normally drink when doing my bike rides. I realized I was probably dehydrated that morning and I should have been sipping on some water or nuun before the race. If I had been doing that I probably wouldn't have forgotten the bottles either. I took a small 8 oz water bottle with me and about 3 - 1/2 nuun tablets. Normally I would have one bottle per hour so I figured I was giving myself an extra tablet but nope, I ran out of that after the first loop. I was making sure to grab water at every station and fill up my bottle. I also grabbed ice when I could and would put it under my hat or down my tank top. I also grabbed some coke at one of the aid stations and just after that there was a steep hill. As I was going up I immedately started making my puking sounds and had a big burp. Wow, that coke really does work! I got to the top of that hill and started running again, for a bit. I got to the 5k part and starting walking but noticed an aid station just up ahead so started running to the aid station and then walked again after that. Then you get close to the casino and start going slightly downhill. I started running again. There was a cigarette smoke smell near here (I hadn't realized we were near the casino, but I found out later that's what it was). It was gross and it kind of made me gag, but I kept running. Then we got to the stairs, which weren't all that bad, made a turn and then there was a steep hill going down. I didn't want to blow out my legs but I wanted to keep running. Didn't want to waste that hill. Then there was another turn and there were the falls and lots of tourists. Some got in the way because they weren't looking so I had to get around them. They seemed baffled.

 

 

There was a cloud over this part so I noticed it was cooler plus some mist from the falls. It was a welcome relief. Then I started walking again. Then back to running. I did that until I got near the turn around point to go back and do another loop. Saw Dave and he asked how I was. He was concerned the problem was with my knee but that didn't come into play at all. It was the heat, chest pain and some stomach issues. Although the stomach issues weren't there consistently. It took me 1:18 to get to that part so I knew it was going to be a long day. I told him I was fine but that I'm going to be doing a lot of walking. He gave me a couple of kisses and gave me some words of encouragement and I was off again, but at this point I just walked. Just after that I realized I hadn't been taking my gels. Oh that's not good. So I went to eat one. Had about half of it and said, Nope. That wasn't going to stay down. When I got to the next aid station I started drinking the F2C it wasn't too bad and wasn't that sweet. My stomach was tolerating it so it was all good. I also grabbed some pretzels because I knew I needed some food. Pretzels seem to be tolerable as well. I tried walking in this section (Dufferen Islands) and did so for a minute here and a minute there. It was shaded so that certainly helped. The chest pains were coming back so I had more Coke but it didn't seem to be helping. I went up the steep hill again and as I was coming up there was a fellow TTC member that was hunched over. I asked how he was and he said he was cramping. I asked if he wanted some pretzels but he said he had 16 already. He asked me to get the person up ahead (it was a police officer at one of the corners) so I did. She was on it so hopefully he was taken care of. I kept on walking and at this point I was really bothered by the heat. However there is a slight sloping down on the road so I started running again. I got to the 5k mark again however that was closer to the 16.5 mark and then kept running to the aid station. They had run out of ice but one of the volunteers poured a couple of cups of water over me. That felt so good. I started going up another hill again and just kept walking. I got to the casino area again and started running, smelled the smoke again but it didn't bother me as much as before, but there were less people at that point. Walked again and then got to the stairs and ran down the steep hill. I made the turn again to see the falls and just before the aid station there I realized I was going to do one of my loud burp/barf noises with all those tourists around. It was loud and it was oh so good. Had some F2C, poured water over me and started running again. I definitely got my second wind. Got some mist off the falls again but the cloud was gone so it was still hot. There are some more slopes going up so I did some walking but when I could I was running. I got to the 19km and walked again and then started running again.

 

Once I got to 20km I started picking up the pace. During the whole walk/run there were familiar faces as it was a bunch of us that were going about the same speed. But at 20km I picked it up and lost them. I was going around 9:20min/mi and then as I got closer to the finish line I really picked it up. I noticed that as I was coming in, there were quite a few atheletes that had finished and were walking along the run course with their families. They were taking up some of the course and I had to move over. It was kind of annoying. Walk on the grass! As I was getting near the end I passed a 20 year old kid which felt great. I heard Marco & Christine cheering me on, but then I could hear the 20 year old picking up the pace behind me. I started running faster and yelled out "Hell no" but he ran passed me so hard I couldn't keep up with him. But I still kept going hard and yelled out at the end. There were a few people clapping so that felt good and I had a strong finish. I said thank you to the 20 year old kid for helping me push it and he said "strong finish".
 

 

Photo by: Dave Hood

 

 

I got a water bottle, my medal and a hat. Dave was there making sure I was good. He got me to go get food but I wanted something cold so he got me a popsicle. It wasn't part of the free food but I wanted it. Once I had that I went to the water fountain. Oh that felt so good. Just after that I saw Irina again and got to chat with her for a bit. The line for the Hero burger was insanely long so I butted in and just grabbed fruit and Dave and I went back to Marco and Christine where we were waiting for Signe. She came in a bit after and had some food (the line up was shorter). I got to see some Facebook friends, Roxanne and Kim and we got to enjoy the race atmosphere. We then grabbed our bags and gear and left.

 

Overall it was a great race and I would love to do it again. I definitely need to make sure I get more training experience in the heat. I was probably too dehydrated as I didn't drink enough water theday before, plus I didn't eat all my dinner on Saturday night so I think my food intake wasn't high enough. The roads for the bike weren't nearly as bad as I thought they would be. There was one section that was a little rough but it was marked well and since there were no cars there I could get around them. I hope next year they can move the waves a little more so that there is more time in between.

 

Thanks to Marco, Signe and Christine for getting me and my husband to Welland and then having to rush back to Niagara Falls to get my water bottles. Thanks to my husband for being supportive and cheering me on and thanks to my coach Rebecca for getting me through this. It was a very challenging year for me as I had issues with illness back in early June and then a knee injury following a bicycle accident not long after that.

 

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