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Shocking...Yet True

  • Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 07:02 MDT
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Sporty Spice A full month (and then some) ago, I competed in my first triathlon. A so-called Try-It Tri, but a person has to start somewhere. It was located at Coral Springs in the NE with a swim of 350 m, a bike of 10 km and a run of 2.5 km. I was really nervous that I was going to finish dead last or maybe have the dreaded DNF by my name.

However, once all was said and done I finished a solid 20th out of 47 and got to show off my Sharpie-marked arms and legs for two days afterward as proof of my accomplishment. In fact, I was so excited about my finish that I immediately signed up for a second Try-It on August 8th where I finished 3rd out of 10in my age category. That has led to the unfortunate level of confidence where Iíve been foolish enough to sign up for a half-marathon in November. At this rate I will either be dead or skinny very soon. The first tri was on a sunny morning before the weather had a chance to get too hot. I checked in and was marked and given my timing chip. That was the moment I realized that there was no way out. It was kind of the same feeling I had the day of my first solo when my wheels left the ground (admittedly, the tri did not have the fear of death aspect).

Although I had been to the site the day before for a meeting and to do a recce, the swim buoys had not yet been placed. They were out in the morning and it sure looked like a really long swim from where I was standing on the beach. The problem with training in a pool is that itís hard to gauge what an actual open swim is going to be like. There arenít many lakes around to practice in so it was just a matter of diving in. Although I lagged behind in the swim, I still managed to keep ahead of a few people. The nice part about the open swim was not having to turn around at the end of each length.

By the time I got out of the water, I had energy to burn. I was thrilled to have made it through the swim because it was the event I was most worried about. In transition I didnít have any trouble finding my kit but putting socks on my still wet feet was a bit tricky. When Iíd bought my tri-suit (essentially, a padded Lycra onesie), I thought that I would put shorts over the bottom but by the time the day arrived I realized that I really didnít care about what anyone thought about my less-then-perfect form. Besides, I didnít want to add to my time in transition.


The bike portion was quite easy. There were very few climbs and the route was smooth and not very busy. In fact the bike felt a bit like a break because I could coast occasionally. I passed about ten people while on the ride and made up some of the time that I had lost in the swim.

Once the bike ride was done, I found that I had a bit of adrenaline rush going on so I was able to head out with good energy for the run. I learned from my 5 km to take it easy at the beginning of the run and I hit a nice pace. My only regret is not running the route before the run. Had I done that, I would have known when I could push it a little bit and use up the rest of my energy. When I hit the finish line, I knew that I could have pushed it a little more. Still, I felt good about the race.


The next tri was at Lake Chapparel and was slightly shorter at a 300 m swim, 7.5 km bike and 2 km run. The race was different in that although I had to check in by 0745 hrs my race didnít start until 1030 hrs. The waiting around was a bit difficult but I killed the time by doing some school work. It was a rainy and cool day but the lake water was quite pleasant. When I got on my bike I realized that I had bent one of my gears and it made for a very nasty ride (thatís what I get for not going to the bike check). The bike course went down into a valley and although I made it up the climb without getting off my bike (thanks to all those trips home from work up the hill at Max Bell) I was not able to gain too much time on the ride. The run seemed very short to me so I was able to really work hard on quickening my pace. I was surprised when the results came in as I didnít expect to do as well as I did because I canít say that it felt like a very good race. In the end I think that I made up the most time in transition. I wore my shoes without socks this time and I had my things much more organized.

An irritating note about the race was the filming of a reality TV show called X-Weighted. Iím not terribly familiar with the show but itís one of these ďletís have a personal trainer yell at fat people so we can all laugh at their humiliationĒ type things. They had put the ďcontestantĒ (for lack of a better word) in the sprint tri. In spite of the name, a sprint tri is not for someone who is new to fitness. At 750 m in the water, 15 km on the bike and 5 km running, it is a level that needs some serious training, even on an amateur level. From my perspective (and this is the perspective of someone who was once grossly obese) it would have been kinder to put the girl in the try-it category. Girl is the operative word here, too. The contestant was a pre-teen with a weight problem and what better way to convince her to engage in a healthier lifestyle than having her finish dead last in a race she did not have the fitness level to compete in. Of course, what do I know; Iím not a personal trainer. I do have experience with marketing, however, and I know that you get better ratings with humiliation than you do with feel good stuff. Child services should have been waiting at the end of the race to question her parents about signing any waiver for her and charging the trainer and production company with exploitation of a minor. When I was a teenager, I wasnít even close to being fat but I wasnít perfect either (I was within my correct BMI but no one was going to offer me a contract as a model) and I can tell you that being constantly humiliated about my supposed ďweight problemĒ lead to an actual weight problem when I got to university. Quite frankly, I wish I would have turned to drugs and alcohol. In my opinion, thereís nothing worse than being fat and I wouldnít wish the pain of struggling with weight on my worst enemy. Watching that poor girl struggle all day brought back some very painful memories and it jaded the day for me.

In all fairness to the organizers of the event, I doubt they have much experience with that sort of thing as most of the people who work for Multi-Sport Canada (MSC) have likely never been anything but fit and active so they see anyone getting involved in their sport as a good thing. I understand the importance of getting free coverage in a sport that isnít one that gets a lot of press but I doubt the image of that girl struggling so terribly is going to encourage many people to get off the couch and try the sport.

My game plan for the next year is this: right now Iím training for a half-marathon in November and I may throw in a couple of 5 km runs or a ten in the months leading up to the half for good measure. Iíll train for a second half over the winter (probably in April). Then I want to begin training for a full marathon. I plan to do Melissaís Marathon in Banff in September of 2011. I like doing the tris but the training is difficult to coordinate between baby, work and school so I think I might stick to running for the next year and then re-evaluate after my first marathon. When Simon gets a little older, he and I will be able to train for tris together as there are plenty of kidsí triathlons available.

On a side note, snow is predicted at Lake Louise this weekend. You know what that meansÖ.


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  • Shocking...Yet True
  • Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 16 2010 @ 10:55 MDT
I am so proud of you! Way to go!!!!! NT

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