When I joined the University of Alberta Triathlon Club in the fall of 2009, I had absolutely no intention of ever doing a triathlon. To be honest, I thought triathletes were absolute nutters, and a bit masochistic. You may ask, then, why would I join a triathlon club? Well, it was because the club had 2 spin classes every week, and joining the club was much cheaper then paying for a spin class.
After spending a year in the club, just going to spin classes, I began to feel like a bit of a triathlon poser. So, last winter I decided (with a lot of encouragement other members of the club) to try a sprint-distance triathlon (750 m swim, 20 km bike, 5 km run). For most of the athletes in the UofA Tri club, a sprint triathlon is child’s play. For me, the thought of doing a triathlon was absurd, especially the swimming and running part. So, my goal was to simply finish the University of Alberta Spring Thaw Triathlon. Well, yesterday I finished, the Spring Thaw Tri, although there were moments (or more accurately, minutes) where I was quite uncertain that I would, in fact, finish.
The doubt started early in the race – about 250 m into the swim, to be exact. Heeding the advice of one of the more experienced racers in the club, I registered for a 14 minute swimming heat, because I had successfully completed a 15 minute, 750 m time-trail in swim training about a month before, and I was told that registering for a fast heat would make me swim fast on race day. As it turns out, this was bad advice (I’m talking to you, Dave).
In fact, registering in a fast heat did make me swim fast – waaaaay too fast – and as I hit the 250 m mark of the swim, trying to keep pace with the other swimmers in my lane, I quietly vomited my peanut butter bagel into my mouth. Now, we all know that vomiting in the pool is not cool, and as I forced myself to swallow my own vomit, I felt a wave of panic come over me, and I thought, “well, that’s it for me”.
As it turns out, the lady in charge of counting the laps for my swimming lane was not about to let me quit, and as she yelled encouragement at me, and as I continued to enjoy my peanut butter bagel again, and again, and again, I thought, “wow, triathlon sure is fun”. I did manage to finish the swim with a personal-worst time of ~18 minutes, and as I swam the last 150 m, the only swimmer left in the pool, I received a deafening round of applause from all of the fans in the bleachers and all of the athletes on the pool deck, who were waiting for me to haul myself out so they could get on with their race. This is what most would call, “a personal growth experience”.
As I walked from the pool to the transition area where my bike awaited me, I reflected on my swim, and figured that I would have to average about 60 km/hr to catch up to the other racers in my swim heat. As it turns out, I managed to lay down a decent bike time (although my transitions definitely need some work), and managed to hang on for the run. In the end I managed to finish my first triathlon; it wasn’t pretty, but I finished. And after a disastrous swim and a mediocre run, I managed to finish about 7 minutes behind the winner (but I’m not sure, ’cause Josh hasn’t posted the results yet Update: results are up), which almost makes we want to try another sprint triathlon. Almost….
There were other athletes, who are in some way or another are affiliated with the Fiera Race Team, but who may have been racing under another banner this past weekend, who rocked the Spring Thaw, including:
- Pat Kong, who won the whole darn thing
- Dave Roberts, second over-all
- Simmon Hofstetter, fourth over-all
- Sanja Bosnjak, second overall (in her FIRST triathlon, whoot!!)
Also, a big thanks to Josh Krabbe for his superb Race Directorship, and for all the others who volunteered to put on an amazingly well-organized race, or who came out to cheer on the athletes. Thanks also to Jan and Joe for their great photos!