Back to the Races

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Yowza! Well, you knew it was just a matter of time before I bit the bullet and strapped on a race bib this summer, didn’t you? There was just no way that I’d be able to idly sit by the entire season without at least one try at the glory of racing. This despite the fact that the last doctor I saw told me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t only think I should be racing in triathlons, but that I shouldn’t race period, as then I’m not ‘focusing on getting better’. Bah! I had to try something, if not just for my own sanity. As such, I had registered only a week ago to take part in the Ottawa Riverkeeper Kayak Triathlon. However, after my latest doctor consult, I opted to switch to the SwimCycle event, which means no running at all (the Kayak Tri had a 5k run, which would have certainly kept me injured longer). This event would be a 1.5km swim, followed by a 40km bike, then a short sprint to the finish. My lovely race photographer was on site once again, and got some good shots of the day. Please feel free to check them out, and when you’re done, come back here and read the rest of the story. I had my GPS on, but haven’t made a custom map with the trail yet. I’m not sure it’s necessary, but if I get around to it, I’ll link it up here as well.

Overall, I’d have to say this was one of the more different race experiences I’ve had in a while. Not just due to the race itself, but my whole mental status in the days and even hours leading up to a race. Normally, I start thinking about the whole event a few days back, and right before the race, I start to get nervous. This time, I really didn’t give it much thought. I suppose it was because I was already sort of discounting the event, since I wasn’t doing the race I wanted to. I did go through some mental prep, as well as pre-racing the course a bit in the days before, but nothing too crazy. I really don’t feel like I’m in race form anymore. It’s definitely going to be a long winter of prep to get back into top form, but I guess that’s just the way it goes, right? In a little bit of good news, I’m happy to report that I still fit into my Orca Elite Tri Suit as well as my Nineteen racing westsuit, so that was a relief. However, I had to scramble at the last minute to get new goggles, as my AquaXPs had starting leaking. Luckily, I got 2 pairs for $30 the day I picked up my race kit. Huzzah. Boy, that last section really sounded a bit like advertising or product placement, didn’t it? Anybody out there feel like sponsoring an injured but energetic athlete? 😉

Another slight wrinkle in the race plan was the fact that ma nature was apparently of the opinion that it was going to likely rain on race day, as well as a good chance of lightening. Normally, that might be cause for panic, but I figured that since most racers are wearing rubber suits and bathing caps, we’re fairly insulated, right? Not sure if that’s really the case, but at any rate, I wasn’t too worried. As I’ve revealed in other posts in the past, I actually thrive in poor weather racing, as I feed off other athlete’s negative energy in those cases. After all, it’s only water or wind, and only temporary. Glory outlasts any poor weather, doesn’t it? By race morning though, conditions actually looked pretty promising, and although it was cloudy and foreboding, it wasn’t raining. The wind was undecided when I first set out, as there were gusts, but it wasn’t clear to me whether it would be an issue.

The race itself was being held at Brittania Beach, with the swim being a 3-lap course around buoys in the harbour, with a run-up along the beach to the transition area. From there, hop on the bikes, and pedal along the bike path to the Ottawa River parkway, where we had to cross a little grass patch to actually get onto the parkway. Once on that, it was a pleasant 4 laps down to a spot between Westboro Beach and Island Park bridge. I had decided in advance that I’d bike down and back to the event, since it was a mere 5km from our house anyway. After all, it’s a pleasant ride, and that way we wouldn’t be polluting the air around the race and take up parking. Also, Jody has just gotten a new road bike, so I’m encouraging her to use it as much as possible. I’ll get her touring with me in no time 😉

I left a little before she did that morning so that I could get my transition area all set up and changed into my wetsuit. On the way there, it did rain a little bit, but that was soon finished, meaning at least my gear would stay dry while I raced. Cool. Got my transition set up, and off I went to the water, with 5 minutes to spare before the race. I actually didn’t get a swim cap this time, as they had ran out, so my brilliant balding head served as a beacon for Jody to spot from the shore. In spite of not having swam much in the past 9 months or so, I still managed to eventually find a bit of a groove, and enjoyed the swim. However, I clearly have a lot of room for improvement. It probably didn’t help that I spent the past month focusing on paddling, and not swimming, but I digress.

I came out of the water feeling good, and apart from having a hard time pulling my damn arms out of the wetsuit sleeves, I had a good transition. I opted to skip the socks, so all I had to do was slap on my helmet, sunglasses and shoes and run out the chute. My plan on the bike was just to give ‘er. Pedal my little hear out, since I had nothing to do at the conclusion of the bike but cross the finish line. The problem here is that I’ve never yet been in a race where the bike was the crux, and the end. I wasn’t sure exactly how hard I could push myself over the next 40km. In spite of that, I’m really happy with the bike leg that I had. The race was supposed to be 40km, but I think it was closer to 42km, and I ended up with my fastest-yet bike split if you factor in the full distance traveled.

Unfortunately, my speed wasn’t good enough to win the day. I went into this one with the knowledge that I probably wouldn’t win. You see, I’m not the only injured athlete out there who can’t run. There are other, much better athletes that have running issues, who also chose to do the swimcycle. As such, I ended up just off the podium, with a 4th overall finish behind 3 other talented individuals. I was a little disappointed, but at the same time was pleased to see I only finished about 2 minutes off of 2nd place, and 4 minutes out of 1st place. At least I wasn’t a boat anchor far in the back of this one, in spit of my injury. However, I will likely gracefully bow out from future races for the remainder of the summer so that I can focus on healing. Just you wait till next year, I’ll be unstoppable! (maybe 😉

Thanks to Jody for coming out and snapping some great shots, as well as the well wishers who sent me both good luck and congratulatory emails on my little race. Sadly, this means I likely won’t have anymore exciting race stories for you in the next little while. Sorry gang, I’ll try to fill the void with some other tales where I can 😉 Till next time, I hope everyone is having a good summer and getting outside and enjoying what the world has to offer.

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