Posted by: Tina | July 24, 2011

Point Grey Triathlon 2011 – Race Report

Top lesson learned in the Point Grey Triathlon: if you are even the slightest bit competitive, do not relent. It could mean the 0.7 second difference between you and first place.

The Point Grey Triathlon is held each year at UBC (sprint and short distance course only), starting with a swim in the outdoor pool, a standard bike course, and then a run partially on the trails of Pacific Spirit Park. The number of participants is small and because of the staggered start – small groups of swimmers grouped by estimated swim time start about 20 minutes apart – it doesn’t have the “race feel” of races with a mass start.

The Swim

After lining up in order of anticipated swim time, a female athlete hopped into line behind me and I let her know that if she wanted to pass, she could just touch my toe and I would stop at the end. She must have grossly underestimated herself because before reaching the end of the first 50-metre lane, she had already touched my toe despite starting 10 seconds after me. As she passed, I worried I had underestimated my swim time, but I was passed by only one other athlete a few lengths later. After that, I had a steady swim, although I felt a bit queasy on the first few lengths. When I popped out of the water, I was relieved it was over.

The Bike

There was a jovial mood in transition and I exchanged a few words with a couple other athletes as we changed. I threw on my tri shorts and a t-shirt over my swimsuit, strapped on my cycle shoes, and I was off.

The bike course took us on two loops out along SW Marine Drive (basically the same route as the UBC triathlon in March). It was fun going out as we had the downhill behind us, and then there was a very gradual slog coming back. Because of the staggered start, I didn’t feel like I was racing. Was that person ahead of me on her first or second lap? Was I being passed by someone in my race category? There was no way to know. Instead, I made it a game of, “Can I catch that person ahead of me?” I did quite well, eventually catching the girl who passed me in the pool.

My overall mistake on the bike was that I was so worried that my legs might cramp on the run (having completed a grand total of just one brick workout prior to this race), that I a) didn’t push as hard as I should have; and b) let myself spin my legs out on the gradual incline back into transition, which brought me in too slowly. As I dismounted, the fast swimmer girl I had passed caught me. And she was fast in transition! Seeing her lace up and blast out motivated me to move more quickly.

The Run

I surged out of transition, and kept my feet moving at a high cadence, but not a sprint. It didn’t take me long to catch the girl who passed me – after exchanging a couple friendly words around the 1km mark, I was off. I felt good on the run, and fast. It was over quickly, and I raced to the finish line as soon as it was in sight.

Race Aftermath

This was the most anticlimactic triathlon finish I have experienced. There was absolutely zero fanfare and a bare minimum of food. I was happy that my family and coach were there to give me hugs.

Nobody had thought to time me so I had no clue what my results were. When the results came up online that afternoon, I was surprised to see the following:
Swim: 14:23
T1 + Bike + T2: 46:33
Run: 23:08
Total time: 1:24:03

I was faster than I expected and the final results put me at 2/14 in my age group (Females 35-39), 9/101 women, and 28/179 overall. I should note that an original goal for 2011 was a Top 3 finish in my category. This result translates into goal achieved! And while this was not a target race at the beginning of the year, the result is not too shabby considering I stopped training for six weeks in the spring.

The big shock was that I came in 2nd in my age category by less than one second!  It wasn’t a footrace – there was no Simon Whitfield throw-my-hat-down in the final stretch moment. The first place finisher was nowhere to be seen because she started in a different swim heat. Because of the peculiar logistics of a triathlon with a pool swim, I had no idea I was racing anyone other than myself. Had I known, would I have slowed down on the bike into transition? Would I have been so jovial with other athletes in transition? Would I have walked as slowly (as per the rules) after exiting the swimming pool? The answer is no. But hindsight is 20/20 and changes nothing.

The important thing, then, is to distill something from my 0.7 second comeuppance. Which brings me to…

Lessons From my Point Grey Triathlon Performance
  1. Always race like I am competing. Be relentless. Because even if I don’t know I am competing with someone, I could be. And even if I am not racing against a real person, I’m always in competition with myself.
  2. Focus. Focus. Focus. Think about what my body is doing at all times. Find my mind drifting to what eggs benny will taste like later? Bring the focus back to my cadence, which has probably dropped precipitously.
  3. Get faster on the bike. Biking is still my weak point. Even without the accident that derailed training this year, I would not be much faster on the bike. Riding lots and bike commuting doesn’t necessarily equate to being fast – I have to work on this in a targeted way.

Despite the above, and as I become more competitive, I must remember to still have fun. I’m not a pro. This is not my job – it’s my hobby. I love it and I am competitive, but it wouldn’t be something I spend time on if it wasn’t fun for me and my family.

The Point Grey Triathlon was my first of two triathlons this year. I’ll bring some of these lessons to bear during my return to the Kelowna Apple Olympic triathlon on August 21.


  1. […] the night before, I pooh-poohed the idea of bringing them with me. After all, I competed in the Point Grey Triathlon in July in the same pool, didn’t use earplugs, and had no […]

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