[Slightly Controversial] 2nd Place Finish in Kayak Tri

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Greetings race fans! Well, I’m happy to be writing to you all about my most recent race experience. On an absolutely stunning summer day, I had the pleasure of racing in the National Capital Kayak Triathlon, one of many races going on at the same time at Mooney’s Bay. While this was a long weekend on the Ontario side, I unfortunately only had a regular weekend. As luck would have it for me though, Deanna decided to spend the long weekend with me, including the Monday holiday, so I had some excellent company, as well as my mini cheering section to watch me challenge the course. As some of you already knew, my ambitions were to actually win this race outright, but as you will learn through reading this post, I only managed to snag a second place on the podium, although there was indeed some slight controversy to this (as in, controversy between 1st and 2nd). To learn the whole story, you’ll just have to click that read more button and read on. Before that though, I invite you to check out some of the pictures that Deanna was able to snap on race day (as well as other pictures from the long weekend).

Given my decision from earlier in the year, this was actually my first triathlon of the year. I’d decided that I wanted to do most of my racing off-road this year, so I’d put racing triathlons at the bottom of the race calendar. However, since I was planning to stick around this weekend, and had no other big events lined up, I figured it would be fun to do this race as a way to keep my fitness level up for later races. Also, being a kayak tri, it was a little more interesting than the straightforward swim, bike and run. Given the low number of registered kayak racers, I would also have a good chance at doing well.

With Deanna arriving on Friday, we decided to have a nice quiet night in at home. I’d been waiting to try a recipe for kettle corn in my Whirley Pop, and made Deanna my guinea pig. I’m happy to report that the results were all we could hope for. Although it involved a lot of sugar, the result was pretty much exactly what we were able to get at Bluesfest. Home run all around! We also fired up the TV and just watched random stuff for a while, which is something I haven’t done in a long time.It was pretty nice as a lead-up to a race. No fuss, no muss, just hanging on the couch with Deanna, and Jonah curled up on the floor.

Race morning rolled around, and the weather was spectacular. It was slightly chilly, but at the same time, we could tell that it would get pretty warm later, and the sun would be bringing quite a bit of UV with it! So before the tri suit went on, I slathered on quite a bit of sunscreen. Had my normal race breakfast of oatmeal and water, then loaded the bike and gear in the car. You might wonder why I didn’t mention a boat? Well, I was lucky enough to be borrowing a more race-worthy boat for this race. Instead of my 14 foot plastic kayak, I was borrowing a 17 foot surfski made of very lightweight materials. I’d never had a chance to try a really fast boat in a race, and my friend Pete was nice enough to let me try his ride, which is conveniently stored just across the river from the race site.

Another nice part about the race was that was that once it concluded, we were already at the beach, so we could just hang out there for a while and enjoy the sunny summer day. I just hoped that Deanna wouldn’t get too bored while I raced for the next hour and a half. Luckily, Pete also came down (I secretly think to make sure I didn’t wreck the boat), and hung out with D for most of the race, keeping her entertained to a certain degree.

So, now, about the race, right? You’d like to know just where the controversy started, wouldn’t you? Okay, allow me to re-cap the race. Before it started, I had a chance to scope the other racers and their boats. To me, this is where I’d be able to size up the competition. Things didn’t look too good. There were about 3 other boats there that definitely looked the part, which likely meant strong racers. Oh well, I could only grit my teeth and hope for the best. I chatted with the guys a bit before the race, and as usual, it was all about ‘well, I haven’t paddled much’ or ‘my boat’s pretty old..’. So on and so forth. I knew better than to believe the empty words. I knew my work would be cut out for me.

A quick kiss goodbye to Deanna, and it was into the water to wait for the start signal. Soon as it went off, just as I thought, the 3 other fast boats took off, with me in hot pursuit. Luckily, I passed number 3, but struggled to keep in touch with the first 2 boats. The lead boat had a stranglehold, with 2nd place trailing behind him, and me about the same distance back from the 2nd boat as he was from the leader. The 4k course was an out and back down the river, and on the way back, the 2 lead guys picked a straight line back to the beach, whereas the guys behind me said we were supposed to go a longer way around a buoy to get back. I complied, clearly costing me some time, but the ‘legal’ route. Upon exiting the water in 3rd, I told D and Pete that the front two guys had cut the course, and they said they’d noticed. Not time to dwell though.

Quick run up to the transition to throw on the helmet and bike shoes, and then off to the 20k bike course. I hammered hard, a little annoyed about the paddle leg. I was putting in a good pace, tearing up the asphalt, and noticed that I passed another kayak racer on the first lap, meaning I was definitely now in second place. I kept the pressure on, but knew the 1st place dude was well ahead. Damn. Turns out he wasn’t just a good paddler, he was also a hard core biker. Undaunted, I kept the pace at redline all the way to the dismount line. I shouldn’t have! At the dismount, I still had forward momentum, and as a result, came toppling down when I tried to unclip and run, with the bike piling on top of me. Ha ha! I popped right back up and kept going, in spite of many concerned onlookers. Again, no time to dwell! I had a job to do.

Another attempt at a quick transition. But where the hell was my gear? I wandered up and down the rack where I *knew* my stuff was, to no luck. Eventually I realized a guy that had finished his race was actually standing on my stuff. I was pretty annoyed, and said “yeah, I woulda seen it if you hadn’t been STANDING on it!!’. Oh well [again]. Still no time to dwell. On with the shoes and hat, and a blaze out the gate to tackle the 5k running course. On the way out on the course, I spotted Deanna and took the time to veer off course and give her a nice kiss before racing on. After all, there are more important things then a race result, aren’t there? Once again, I pushed hard, but upon passing the 1st place guy coming back the opposite direction, I knew I wouldn’t pass him :-(. In spite of that, I still posted a very fast run split of 21:35, the fastest of the race (results show a lady with an 18minute run, but looking at her other results, I’m pretty sure that was an error).

I was very happy overall with my race results, as it was my fastest kayak tri result yet, making me feel pretty good about the fact that I’ve been skipping a lot of long training sessions. Guess I should focus on shorter races for a while, eh? I was still miffed about the paddle debacle, but looking at the other splits and doing some rough math, I’d say he woulda beat me anyway, so I didn’t kick up too much of a fuss. I did mention it to him, as well as the race director, suggesting they should be more clear about the intended route. Maybe if I’d had him closer in my sights I woulda been able to pull off something special… but I digress. The race was over, and I got a podium result I was proud of, and had a great supporter in the crowd as well 🙂

Post-race we hung around the beach for a little while more, with Deanna paddling around in the boat a bit while I did a bit of cool-down swimming. However, the sun was pretty intense, so we decided to head back home, stopping off at the Shouldice roadside stand for fresh corn and yellow beans, as well as the butcher from some tasty meat to bbq. We planned on an early bbq supper followed by a relaxing evening enjoying the beautiful weather.

The next day, the weather was once again amazing, so we planned out a nice loop on the bikes, where we intended to do some geocaching, as well as checking out the Aylmer Marina. However, that couldn’t happen until I taught Deanna how to bike with clipless pedals. She was a quick study, and I’m happy to report she only fell once at an intersection, and the injuries were minor. On the ride, we managed to pick up 5 geocaches (including me picking up my first Travel Bug!), and check out some are at the Aylmer Marina. I also discovered I have a couple pretty damn nice beaches in my neck of the woods! To cap off the ride, we popped into a nearby motorbike shop to browse what they had in stock. As it turns out, they have a pretty nice 2006 Yamaha touring bike, but we’re not quite ready for that yet. Tentative plans are to take a bike course next year and maybe start with a smaller bike before working up to a full touring rig. Yup, pretty spontaneous planning we go through, but that’s what’s fun about life, right?!

And so ends another tale from ActiveSteve. As you can see, I can still manage to find humility in all that I do with things like falling off my bike in a race and not being able to find my gear in transition. Hey, if you can’t laugh at it all, you’ll just go crazy right? Although I didn’t have the Monday off, it still felt like I had a nice long weekend packed with lots of great things. Even checked out ‘Inception’ on Sunday night. Pretty good, but a little tooo hyped in my mind! Hope the rest of you had a great weekend, and got to do the things you love to. Till next post, stay happy!

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