Saturday, 14 September 2013

Will Swim, Bike, & Run for the Montreal Demi-Esprit Triathlon

I'm not exactly sure when I decided that it would be a good idea to give a half-ironman a try.  Sometime after I completed my first sprint distance triathlon.  That's logical, right?

  We picked the Montreal Esprit triathlon because it was fan friendly, there was no open water swimming, there was a cycling track  and the run was flat.  What more could a girl want?

TRAVELLING TIP: When travelling to a french city make sure that your GPS 'speaks' french. Streets like rue de la Gauchetiere sounded more like rue du la gouche (sounds a bit like a sexually transmitted infection doesn't it). We got lost.  Then we got lost again.  Oh, and then we got lost.  Learn the rules about turning left and right (police officers will help with this by angrily waving their arms and shouting in french should you fail to learn the rules).

The race expo/briefing left a lot to be desired.  Learn. French.  What we understood from the entire briefing (it took about an hour) was that if you were really slow you could go to the special needs table and eat as much as you want and that EVERYTHING happened at the "air pin turn".  There was lots of speaking in french and very little english translation.

The swim took place in the Olympic Rowing Basin.  A basin is nothing like a pool. Don't be fooled.  Prepare yourself for a few weeds and cold murky water (and kayaks & some scuba divers too).  Oh, and prepare yourself for the sound of a whistle that will blow repeatedly because someone has decided to take a swimming tour of the basin.

No idea what I'm in for.

Triathletes are generally pretty nice people from what I can tell.  EXCEPT.WHEN.THEY.SWIM.  The triathlon started with a spartan or gladiator style swim.  I've decided that swim training will now consist of shoving as many people as possible into a bathtub where they will punch & kick each other until there isn't anyone left in the tub. Last person in the tub (and without a broken nose) wins!

If you think the world is out to get you mass start swims may not be for you.  There were more than a few moments when I was pretty sure that someone was trying to drag me to the bottom of the basin by the toes (really, they were just trying to swim overtop of me).  On the upside I wasn't worried about swimming off course (although some people did) or being attacked by fish or a water snake and I did make it out without a broken nose or broken fingers. 

SWIMMING TIP: It helps if you talk to yourself while swimming "I'm okay", "I'm okay" until you actually are okay & having some fun.

Donna, out of the water while I continue to battle it out in the basin.

The bike consisted of 20 laps of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve which is the site of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand-Prix.  20 laps sounds much more manageable than 90K.  I was pleasantly surprised by the "hill" that I had read about.  It was more of an incline really.  The wind decided to make things a little more interesting by blasting you each time you made it to the top of the hill.

CYCLING TIP #1 Learn how to say your number in french.  They will call it out along with a french phrase that means you are done.  Luckily they call out your name as well.

CYCLING TIP #2 Learn to cycle in clipless pedals.  Everyone else is doing it (except me).  Pretty sure they are on to something.

Cycling TIP #3  Cycle in a position that doesn't make you look like Mary Poppins especially in gale force winds.   

CYCLING TIP #4:  Ask your cycling buddies if your cycling/tri shorts are see through (especially if you are wearing a one piece white leotard).  Clearly, many of my fellow triathletes are without cycling buddies or I missed the memo about showing off the crack of my behind.  And yes, I clearly wasn't peddling hard enough if I had time to critique other people's outfits.

watch out boys
Possibly the only time in the race when I didn't look like Mary Poppins 

The run.  The run started down a dirt trail lined with pylons.  You run until you are pretty sure that you are going to be eaten by a dog or a cormorant and then you turn around and run on a dirt trail until you make your way back to the basin.

The run was all fun and games until the last 11k or so.  Then it just wasn't pretty.  You run past the finish line three times before you actually get to finish.  Nobody likes that.

There were people yelling "l'arche pas" which sounds a lot like "marche pas" or in other words don't walk.  It's kind of mean for people to tell you not to walk when you are obviously running really fast or at least as fast as you could possibly go.  Oh, wait.  They were actually saying "don't quit, don't give up".

RUNNING TIP: Learn.  French.

I was lucky to have a cheering brigade waiting for me at the finish line (thank you).  What wasn't waiting for me was a medal. I thought that I was too slow (and I had a pretty awesome race shirt so I wasn't complaining) but it turns out that finish line volunteers just forgot to give it to me.  Who does that (it's kind of important)?

congratulations to me & Donna & Mariane

I skipped the line for subway and post-race snacks (salad, watermelon, etc.) in favour of a bathtub, drinks, and a dinner date.  It was a pretty easy decision given that my subway coupons were in the car and I didn't really want to walk more than I had to.

What next?  I've heard (even though my fingers were in my ears and my eyes were closed) that there is still one more distance to cover.  Relay?

Finally, A big thank you to all of my training partners who convinced me that swimming when the sun was coming up was fun, that biking for four hours followed by a run was a great way to spend a Sunday morning/afternoon, that swimming to an island in the middle of the lake was something I could do and that 0 K was really not the new 8K.

A big thank you to my mom & granny who dog & (guinea) pig sat and cheered me on from home.  

And of course thank you to my biggest fan, translator & chauffer.  I'm sorry about the bike grease, the swimming/biking/running gear that seems to make it's way all over the entire house, sorry about wearing nothing but spandex for months, waking you up at the crack of dawn to find swimming goggles and of course I'm sorry for making you drive in Montreal.  

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