Saturday, 28 July 2012

When is a Triathlon Not a Triathlon?

I arrived back in Nuremberg on Thursday following a 10 day visit home. As always, it was wonderful to see friends and family. My sister in-law made her first ever visit from Quebec after 15 years that we've been here. Kate and I even went on a Dinner & A Movie date. I can't remember the last time that happened. Four Okanys saw The Dark Knight Rises in a span of three days.

But the highlight of the visit had to be the Kenora Borealis Triathlon, two days after my return from Europe. Ever since the Phoenix-like rise from the ashes of the Triple Threat Triathlon Club several years ago the team has used this race as a road trip to train a bit, take part in the race and do some great socializing. This year we scored big in the last category with more members and Significant Others than ever before at the pre-race dinner (team only) and the official post-race lunch. The dinner was particularly memorable as it spanned three generations and ages from newborn to.... well, a gentleman never tells and I don't actually know the precise answer so I'll leave it at that.

So, to the competition. Apart from the Noris Share Bikes I have zero opportunity to ride here. I run regularly and make somewhat sporadic visits to one of two local pools. In order not to embarrass myself on the bike several weeks ago I threw an offer down to my teammates. I would swim and run for one or preferably two relay teams if there was any interest. Boy, was there! I swam for a Sprint Team and ran for an Olympic. I like to think I even had some influence on the entry of two additional teams. This was my first time ever competing in a triathlon or duathlon as part of a relay team.

Let me start off by saying that I think relays do have a part to play in triathlon. Our family's first ever exposure to the sport was when Kate ran 10k as part of a team at the Mt Tremblant Olympic distance tri (There were no sprints then. Seriously). Before the advent of the Try-aTri I think this was how the majority of new triathletes got started. I suspect that a significant number still come in that way.

So how was my first exposure to triathlon relays from "the inside"? Well I really enjoyed the camaraderie. Getting the rest of the team members mentally prepared on race morning was fun. And I certainly felt like I had far fewer things to be concerned about. Goggles - check, swim cap - check, Speedo - Whew!(just checking). Good to go. And then after a very long wait make sure my running shoes, tri-shorts and top, sunglasses and hat are on, grab the timing chip, run to the turnaround and then come back to the finish chute making sure to cheer on all the TTTC folks I encounter. Job done. Time to pack up and go.

But, to be brutally honest, to me it's not triathlon. I missed that mental process in the last 100m of the swim where I start preparing for the start of the bike. I miss the transitions. I miss that feeling in the first few hundred meters of the run when I'm not sure my legs will be able to make the switch from cycling to running yet somehow they always do. I miss having to measure my efforts throughout the swim and bike in order to have a strong run and minimize that final time. And I miss racing head to head over the total distance knowing that my competitor and I have covered the same course under identical conditions with the winner being the best prepared and having the better executed race plan.

So yes, I will race a relay again if circumstances lead me that way. But it will always be a second choice. So next month at Riding Mountain, ready or not, I'll be racing the full Olympic distance race. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading,

1 comment:

  1. Not only is a relay not a triathlon, but a PDF becomes something entirely different when the author is not racing and can observe/record in all three disciplines. :-)