Ahh a nice relaxing weekend in Kelowna, it’s a paradise for boating, hiking and triathlons! That’s right I competed in a short triathlon called the Apple Triathlon. The distance was called a Try a Tri, something shorter than a sprint and it’s designed to be a good introduction to the world of triathlons. Well it worked for me! I loved it, minus the run. Since I only run when chased it was a bit of a stretch for me to try and get my shit together enough to run 3k.
Friday the 21st… I got up early enough to pack my things and double check I had everything I would need for the competition. Bike, gloves, helmet, bathers, goggles and running shoes are all needed for the race. Check, I had everything I needed and I was ready to go, well I was ready but my ride was running a little late, which was alright since we didn’t need to be there till 5pm… Once my ride got there and I had everything down to the car, we needed to get the rack installed so we could transport my bike, the other two had bikes as well but they were able to fit in the back of someone’s truck, so it was just my bike that needed to go on the car. While attaching the rack one of the other people "helped" me slam my middle finger in the door, the same middle finger I’ve broken two times in the last three years.
After my eyes had finished watering and some choice swear words I finished putting the rack on the car without any further "assistance" from anyone else, got the bike on the rack and we were off!
When we finally arrived in the beautiful city of Kelowna we couldn’t check into the hostel until a little later since the rooms weren’t quite ready yet. So we went for a bit of a wander to get the layout of the city and eyeball some of the areas of the race. After walking for a bit and just enjoying the sun we headed back to the hostel and finally got all checked in. Once that was complete we needed to get to the race office to check in and get our kit into the transition area for the race on Saturday morning. Part of the check-in process included a mandatory equipment check which means my bike and helmet needed to be gone over and approved by the safety folks. Well my bike is in excellent shape and is well looked after, but it seems that my helmet wasn’t. A large crack in the back of my brain bucket was noticed and since you can’t get out of the transition area without a helmet they wouldn’t let me race without it. Turned out that the person who I was traveling with and racing with the next day had the same problem, we went back to the hostel, picked up the car and headed to the local bike shop to pickup new helmets. In theory it should have been an easy task, but in the end it included three separate attempts to find a non-broken helmet and get my credit card to swipe in the payment machine.
Finally, with new helmet in tow we got back to the race transition area to check our bikes in… I went to put my bike on the rack at my appointed space and guess what? Someone had the same race number as I had, that meant instead of just moving the other person, I had to go back to the race office and get them to assign me a new number. Once that was complete I had to wait another 45 minutes until someone finally would come around and install a small sign with my number on it.
One could say bad things happen in threes and they would have been right and laughing at my Friday, first it was my hand, then it was my helmet and finally it was the race number. Finally everything was sorted and seemed to be ok!
Saturday the 22nd… Between having really bad pre-race dreams and sleeping on the bottom bunk of the squeakiest bunk bed on the planet I was up at 5:30 AM and was going to be racing on three hours of sleep.
When I used to swim competitively as a kid I had a routine. Put some music in my ears and zone out in an attempt to find a center before getting to the starting blocks. I tried to do the same thing here, but some people took the no iPod during the race rule a little too literally and kept telling me I wasn’t allowed to listen to the damn thing in the pre-race area. After telling a few people to mind there own business it was time to get ready for the race to start. Water and I have been together for a long time and there’s something calming about it in a race environment for me. I’m lucky that the swim is the first part of a triathlon, since it’s my strongest portion of it and it built my confidence up for the rest, which is good since the ride is my second strongest part and the run is the worst.
It was funny, looking at the rest of the field of competitors as we were wading into the lake for our swim, I thought I looked the most out of place. That and I had a different color swimming cap from the rest of the guys. Mine was the only gold cap, which from what I understood was meant for a higher end race the next day, but that’s what you get when you’re a late registrant like I was. After hearing some of the guys complain about the temperature of the water, I thought it was just right for racing / swimming laps. It wasn’t too hot or cold, it was in that zone of just right to keep you going the longest. I got my shit together and made my way to the starting area. There wasn’t the normal starting gun I was used to as a kid; it was a megaphone blast that got us off the mark. There were maybe 10 people in front of me at the start, but I wasn’t having any of that so I pulled my way through the guys in front, some I couldn’t catch and I was fine with that, but I could tell the ones I needed to be in front of and made sure it happened.
I was 9th out of the water, that’s 9th out of 137 people overall, and ran up to the transition area while others walked. I guess I wasn’t supposed to be taking this too seriously, but I know better, I’m a competitive person by nature and if I can I will go for a win no matter what. This is kind of funny considering what kind of gear I was racing with. The swim is all the person who is doing it. No gear will help you swim faster than your body will let you go. While running is similar there is some gear that will help you run a little better or faster, whereas the bike is all about the equipment I feel. I know I can ride fast, but without the ride gear I was being passed by so many people. In the end I was 23rd out of 137 people on the ride. Which I can honestly say I was happy with, I know I can do better but without the right gear I’m going to be passed. The ride on the other hand was something I knew I was going to struggle with and I did. It’s not a matter of mind games or anything silly like that, it was a combination of the wrong gear and my lack of desire to run any distance longer than a sprint from home plate to first base in softball.
After the run was finished I was dead, or at least that’s how I felt I should have been. It was a great high to have just crossed the finish line, but I was dead to the world and felt like I had been run through a wringer backwards.
Overall I was 75th out of 137 people, for a first timer I’m told that’s pretty good. I’m happy with my performance and I can see room for improvement on all three segments of the race and I will try my hardest to improve before I race in another triathlon! Which I guess means I’m going to race in another triathlon some day…