What am I doing at a Triathalon? I can’t swim the distances required and haven’t been on my road bike this year. I’ve never spectated at a Triathalon before, never mind participate in one.
I’m running the run portion of the Tinfoil Triathalon relay in Morden, Manitoba. Chantal asked me if I was interested in participating as her team mate. She had Nationals the next weekend and this was to be a training experience for her. Chantal would swim 950 m and ride 30 km. I would run 10.5 km.
It was a cool morning for a run. Perfect.
We have an athletes meeting on the beach which includes a roll call so they can do a head count as the swimmers come out of the water.
I change into my running clothes after the meeting and miss the start of the race. As the swimmers come out of the water they run up a hill from the beach into the transition area where they remove their wetsuits and get their bikes. A quick change, put helmets on and they walk/run their bikes to the bike start line before they can mount them and start their ride. The weather is changing now. The wind is picking up and the temperature is heating up. Once Chantal is on the bike and off for her ride, I go for a two mile warm up run. She expects to be about an hour so I have lots of time.
My warm up run completed, I change again from a t-shirt to a singlet as it’s getting warmer again. I chat with an official who will be leading the lead runner out on the run course. “Its well marked”, are his last words to me.
The lead riders are coming in. They have to rack their bikes before taking their helmets off, then they can run. Well, after they get their running shoes on. A very frantic place to be. I am in the transition area where Chantal is to rack her bike. She comes in somewhere in the top ten. I’m so excited I lose count. I remove the ankle bracelet from her which has the chip in it for recording our race time and put it on my leg. I’m off, first working my way out of the transition area and then onto the gravel road leading to a path through the golf course. The trail is well marked until I get onto the golf course path. I start the race too fast, seeing a 5:50 min/mile pace on my watch, decide to slow down to look behind me for runners to confirm that I am in fact on this well marked course. I do this twice, the second time on a steep down hill that has two fences across the path too slow bikes down. I pass three runners on the golf course and have no one else in sight in front of me. Once I leave the golf course, its into a residential area. A few family members are on the course cheering.
A man loading his kids into a van tells me that he thinks I’m on the wrong street as he has not seen any other runners come by. I look back at where I’ve just run and can’t see any one. Van guy tells me to go back to street (name I can’t remember) and I do and turn right onto it then left onto the highway. Well, a half a kilometer later Van guy drives up and tells me I’m still going the wrong way and to turn left at the next street. I do and see other runners a block away. I join the crowd telling everyone that I got lost. The funny part is passing the same three runners that I passed on the golf course. “Didn’t you pass me already?”, “Yes, I got lost”, “snicker snicker”
My mind is a bit distracted now trying to figure out how much extra distance that I have to run. The heat and trying to do mental math while running is taking its toll on me. At the aid stations I’m dumping water on my head.
I pass Ian (Chantal’s fiancé) who is competing to do the whole course and tell him the story. No snickers, my frame of mind is a bit better. At an out and back part of the course I see Ian again and repeat my claim that I got lost and expected to be faster. His comment is that Chantal will be disappointed. Time to pick up the pace with about two miles to go, I can’t have her disappointed.
Back on the golf course, I know where to go. I look at my watch and 10.5 km is done and I still have to run up the hill. By the second gate I’m running on my toes as the hill is so steep, I walk for about 10 feet. Not wanting to disappoint Chantal, I start running again, eventually getting to the top of the hill where my pace starts to increase. With 300 m to go, Chantal is there and runs with me encouraging me on. I pick up the pace and smile as we cross the finish line for the imaginary camera as I hear the announcer confirm that we are the first relay team to finish. A lot of the credit does go to Chantal who had both a great swim and ride.
My average pace for the race is 6:45/mile, right on where I told Chantal what I could run for 10.5 km not the 11.7 km that I did run. So the race results will show my pace to be 7:07/mile.
I learned a lot about Triathlons and running out of town races, as well as my gracious teammate who didn’t ever show any disappointment. As a reward for coming in first we each were presented with a t-shirt. I hope Chantal asks me for next year as I want to be the fastest runner on the 10.5 km course.