Rose City Triathlon 2023 Race Report

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Last Updated on August 24, 2023 by Cory Kawa

Race number 2 in my quest to Challenge for the Podium in 2023 was at the flat and fast Rose City Long Course Triathlon.

I originally planned to race Mont Tremblant 70.3, but after aggravating my back building a rock garden a few weeks earlier, I decided to pull the plug and switched to Rose City instead.

Last up in the series was my fifth-place finish at Gravenhurst, Gravenhurst Triathlon Race Report 2023, where I explored the blind spots in my quest to podium, two keys for newer triathletes to help get faster, and how my race went.

Read on to hear:

  • 🏥 – How I fainted after the swim in 2022 and ways to help avoid post-swim vertigo.
  • 🚫 – The critical mistakes I made in transition.
  • 💦 – What makes the Rose City Triathlon great.

Fainting at the 2022 Rose City Triathlon

A view of the top of a port a potty.
Rose City 2022 – Waking Up in a Port-a-Potty

The 2022 Long Course Triathlon at Rose City (Welland) Long Course Triathlon will forever be etched in my mind.

After a decent race at Gravenhurst a few weeks prior, I arrived in Welland electrified to race. I arrived early the day before, got myself settled in, and as the sun finally set, try as I might, I just couldn’t fall asleep. By the time the night was over, I was lucky if I managed three hours of sleep.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I was exhausted and felt horrendous, barely able to function, let alone race. On the other hand, I was there and paid good money to be there, so I decided to race.

I arrived at the Welland Flat Water Centre, set myself up in transition, jumped in the water, and swam to a decent enough time of 43:45. As I exited the water, I had a slight sense of vertigo, as I sometimes get, and a strong urge to pee. I ran to the porta-potty, felt dizzy, thought I might pass out, and laughed it off.

Moments later, I was coming to, trying to place myself in these weird surroundings. Of course, that wasn’t good. I took lots of time to gain my senses, decided that I was fine, and finished the race at a very relaxed pace.

I’m happy to report that after much testing and a few doctor visits, I was cleared to race, and whatever happened that day remains an anomaly.

An interesting thing I’ve learned is that experiencing vertigo after the swim is not uncommon. Triathlete has a great article, Why Do I Get Dizzy After Swimming? where they share a variety of common causes and solutions if post-swimming vertigo happens to you.

The two pieces of advice that work for me:

  • 🦿 – Wake up the legs – When wearing a wetsuit, I’m a notoriously weak kicker. Not kicking may cause the blood flow to be directed primarily to the upper body, then when transitioning out of the water, the legs wake up, pulling blood back down, resulting in lightheadedness and possible fainting. I now ensure that for at least the last 250 meters, I’m kicking for all I’m worth, driving the blood back down to my legs.
  • 👩‍🚀 – Fit the Wet Suit – I rushed to put the wet suit on that morning and didn’t take the time to ensure that the suit was loose enough around my neck. I now take the time to pull the suit up as high as I can, looking to create as much space as possible around my neck and shoulders.

Why Race the Rose City Triathlon in Welland

Including Barrelman, this is my seventh time racing in Welland and the third time racing the Rose City Long Course.

I keep coming back for three simple reasons:

🚣‍♂️ – The Swim – The Welland International Flat Water Centre is a purpose-built rowing facility. Being a rowing facility, it has guide wires about six feet under the water, creating the perfect path to follow. If you can stay on the wire, the only time you’ll have to sight is for the turn.

🏎️ – It’s Fast – Everything about this course is built for speed. From the wire-assisted swim to a nearly perfectly flat bike and run course.

🔑 – Barrelman Prep – If you’re planning on doing The Niagara Falls Barrelman Triathlon, it’s a key training race featuring the same swim and much of the same bike.

I like this course because it makes me feel fast and I’m sure you will too.

Past Performances at Rose City (Welland) Triathlon

I had a few data points to base my goals on:

  • 2022 – 4:06:20 – Age Group 10/18 – Swim 43:49, T1 9:15, Bike 1:46:53 (50km), T2 3:31, Run 1:22:52
  • 2018 – 3:47:16 – Age Group 15/33 – Swim 45:06, T1 5:13, Bike 1:44:19 (56km), T2 3:48, Run 1:08:50 (14.5km)

A few key points to note:

  • 🏥 – Due to the medical issue, last year’s numbers don’t count.
  • 🏃🏻‍♂️ – My run in 2018 was not as fast as I always remembered. SportStats shows the run as 15km at 4:35/km, but as I write this, Training Peaks shows it was only 14.5km at 4:45/km.
  • 🚵🏻 – I averaged 169 watts in 2018 for 32.2 km/hr and 135 watts for 28 km/hr.

Goals for the 2023 Rose City Triathlon

My goal for the season is simple: To make it to the podium at least once in 2023.

My goal for this race is to continue to bike well, see an improvement in my swimming, and make the top 5.

  • 🏊🏻‍♂️ – Swimming at 2:06 or better per 100 meters, hoping for closer to 2:00.
  • 🚵🏻‍♂️ – Maintaining 200 watts / 34 km/hr, targeting sub 1:40.
  • 🏃🏻‍♂️ – Matching my believed run performance from 2018, targeting a 4:30 to 4:35 pace.
  • 🧩 – I did not practice my transitions. I didn’t have a plan for transition. It showed.
  • 🏁 – 3:36, probably not good enough to podium, but a marked improvement.

Flatwater Swim – 11/21 – 42:55

Waiting in the water for the swim start.
Me at the Back Minutes Before the Swim Start

I should start by saying that after last year’s debacle, I spent the previous six weeks sleep training for the summer race season. Although it wasn’t going well, melatonin did come to the rescue for this one.

Looking back two months later. I don’t recall much from the swim. I came in knowing I had a decent swim at Gravenhurst, but looking back, I see that I hadn’t swam since, perhaps due to the sore back.

If I can say anything, it was an uneventful swim, set up with a waved start based on finishing time. I’m not a fan of finishing times starts, but I can say that I barely had to fight to hold the wire.

My final swim time was an acceptable 42:55 by the book, 42:36 by my watch, over 2,068 meters, or a 2:04/100m average pace.

Lesson learned: I’m swimming well without practice. Imagine if I tried.

Top Male 45-49 Swim Times: Cristiano Konofal – 25:17, Carlos Robles – 27:45, Paul Feetham – 28:24, Oliver Sordet – 29:38, Jason Pace – 29:38.

The Long Bike – 57.8km – 8/21 – 1:44:23

Riding in aero along the Gardiner Expressway.
With No Pics From the Bike, I Present my Stock Bike Photo for 2023

As I stepped out of T1, my bike computer prompted me to calibrate my power meter. Although I could have skipped this step, I planned to ensure I rode at 200 watts plus and wanted accuracy.

I then attempted and failed calibration multiple times before ultimately giving up. Total time wasted: about three minutes.

Beyond that little mishap, the two things I recall most from the bike:

1️⃣ – Measured Long – At 57.8km, the course ran long, and the distance signs were placed without rhyme or reason. A minor frustration but at least one that everyone had to deal with.

2️⃣ – Wattage Targets – My goal was 200 watts plus. I maintained 195 watts. It never felt easy. Looking at the splits, I was on target for the first 40km before dropping for the final 19. Splits per 15km: 198w, 196w, 198w, 184w.

3️⃣ – Speed Targets My wattage was lower than planned, but I did hit my speed target at 34.1km/hr, based on bike computer time.

4️⃣ – Elevation Matters – Rose City 195w for 34.1 km/hr versus Gravenhurst 204w for 34.1 km/hr.

🥈 – PR – A small victory with my 2nd highest all time power.

Lesson learned: Always calibrate your bike computer when entering transition.

Top Male 45-49 Bike Times: Scott West – 1:35:26, Cristiano Konafal – 1:37:39, Jason Pace – 1:37:57, Mark Rattenbury – 1:40:18, Olivier Sordet – 1:41:56.

The Short 14.5km Run – 3/21 – 1:07:11 – 4:43/km

Running to Another 3rd Best Run Split in 2023

Gravenhurst ran long. Rose City ran short.

My goal was to match or better my perceived 2018 pacing, but it was not meant to be. After starting strong for the first 2km, I slowly faded. I had a decent swim, not quite the bike I wanted, and those last 12km’s on the run were a battle.

3km Splits: 4:32, 4:47, 4:43, 4:42, 4:52.

There must have been something in the air because although it wasn’t great, relative to the field, it was the third-best male 45-49 run time of the day. Small victories.

As noted above, I also just realized that the course in 2018 was short. I always thought I ran at 4:35/km, and I just realized through Training Peaks that I ran at 4:45/km.

Lesson learned: Always look at the real data when making your pre-race plan.

Top Male 45-49 Runs Times: Johnny Leung – 58:28, Scott West – 1:02:22, Cory Kawa – 1:07:11, Mark Rattenbury – 1:08:13, Oliver Sordet – 1:11:10.

Transition – 7:09 (T1 2:57, T2 4:12)

Looking down at the racers in transition.
It Was a Busy Transition with Over 240 Racers

My transitions are a mess for a few key reasons:

💻 – I spent at least three minutes outside T1 attempting to calibrate my power meter.

👟 – I wasted another couple of minutes attempting to untie my shoes.

👨‍🚀 – I continue to waste too much time taking off my wetsuit.

🧩 – I don’t practice transition, and it shows.

Lesson learned: I may not win a race in transition, but I can lose.

Final Result – 5/23 – 3:41:38

6/23 (M 45-49) at Gravenhurst Olympic Triathlon in 2023

It’s another mixed bag of a race.

I came into the year with big goals, and it’s slowly becoming obvious that my lack of attention to detail is killing me.

I was seven minutes back from fourth place, five minutes lost due to poor transitions.

When I first talked about Challenging for the Podium in 2023, I noted sometimes you need to take a step back, look in the mirror, and ask yourself if you’re truly taking the actions to be the person you want to be.

It’s easy for me to say I want to stand on that podium, but with a lack of attention to detail, I’m not acting like the person I want to be.

Top Male 45-49 Finishing Times: Scott West – 3:23:12, Jason Pace – 3:31:24, Olivier Sordet – 3:33:06, Cristiano Konfal – 3:34:31, Cory Kawa – 3:41:38.

Final Thoughts

If I want to be the best me I can be, I need to ensure:

📊 – Follow the Plan – I have a coach. He builds a detailed plan. I’ve been making too many excuses and not bringing my best self come race day.

🧩 – Improve Transitions – I may not win a race in transition, but I can lose one.

🏊‍♂️ – Swim Practice – I’m a triathlete. Triathletes swim. This is my biggest opportunity for improvement.

🧦 – Wear Socks – After wasting minutes untieing my new shoes, I skipped putting on socks and ended up with major gashes on the back of my ankles. It took weeks to heal.

Like Gravenhurst two weeks prior, although a top 3 finish was well out of my reach today, with a few minor improvements, a top 4 was not.

Thanks for reading,

Cory

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