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A Day In The Life - Triathlon / Father's Day Edition

Today is father’s day. Yesterday I competed in the Guelph Lake Sprint Triathlon. My wife Andrea, mother, father, and mother and father-in-law all came to Guelph with me to cheer me on. It was a beautiful day – clear skies, and very hot. There was something poetic about this year’s triathlon. Once again having my father – a former ironman triathlete – cheering me on while my future son (in wife’s belly) is waiting to make his appearance in the world really cemented the pride I have for my father and my excitement to becoming a father myself. In my dad’s footsteps, I have become a triathlete, and in my footsteps my future son will be … I don’t know, we’ll find out. It’s all very exciting.

Some of you have asked about the preparation for the triathlon so I thought I’d give you a snapshot of triathlon day:

Friday Night: Tried to get a good night’s sleep, but found myself tossing and turning while my mind raced with thoughts of the 750 meter swim. Living and working (6 days/week) in Toronto does not afford me the opportunity to train in a lake so I am always apprehensive about the swim portion of the race.

Saturday Morning:

8:00am: Get out of bed to wake up and wash up.

8:30am: Preparing all my equipment for the day. This is a lengthy process involving a page-long checklist so I don’t forget anything. Guelph is long way to go without your bike helmet. Many have made this mistake before. Not I. Not with my trusty checklist.

9:00am: Bag is packed, and car is being loaded up: Bike, helmet, cycling shoes, spare tire tubes and tools (in case I blow a tire), water bottle, Gatorade, bike pump, wetsuit, goggles, triathlon-suit, race belt, visor, running shoes, orthotics, socks, transition mat, energy food.

9:30am: Breakfast: Granola and organic milk w/ organic strawberries. (Thank you Whole Foods for the most delicious strawberries.) Elevate Me Protein Bar, and some Gatorade.

10:15am: Hit the road. Wife in the passenger seat. Bike secured on the bike rack.

11:30am: After brief stop at Tim Horton’s, we arrived at the Guelph Lake Conservation Park. Long line-up to park this year as we waited for the Try-a-Tri racers to exit the parking lot after their morning race (Brings back memories of two years ago when I was small buckaroo on the triathlon ladder doing my first of two try-a-tri’s).

12:15pm: Set-up “Transition Area”: Rack my bike in the Men 30 – 34 age section. Lay down my transition mat with my cycling shoes, running shoes and socks. Prop the helmet and sunglasses on the handlebars (tri-bars for you bike-knowledgeable people), hang my race-belt/no. Then, slipped into triathlon suit (1 piece bike shorts/shirt).

12:30pm: Registration: Sign my waiver – in case I drown in the lake. Pick up my time chip for around my ankle, swim cap, and get my race # and age marked on my body.

12:45pm: Struggle into my wetsuit, realize not much time left until race time (1:00pm), kiss my wife for luck and head down to the lake for a short swim warm up.

1:00pm: RACE TIME. The first wave of triathletes (elite level mostly) are off on. My typical panic sets in as I realize what a mess I’ve gotten myself into again. 3 minutes till race time.

1:02pm: “Oh boy”

1:03pm: Off we go. Swim starts off shaky with arms and legs flailing all around me. Water is warm, wetsuit is buoyant, goggles are comfy, and swim is going okay for the first 100 meters.

1:08pm: “I hate lake swimming”. I cannot seem to swim in the lake the way I swim in the pool. My breathing is different, my strength seems diminished, but I forge onwards.

1:13pm: Swim has gone pretty well, but feeling tired a strong first 10 minutes so I flip onto my back for some back crawl. Not nearly as efficient as freestyle but I gain some energy and then flip back over to finish off the race.

1:21pm: Feet touch down on sand; I breathe a sigh of relief as the hardest part is over. Big hill to run up now to get to my bike. Why rush? I’ll walk as I strip off my wet-suit, tucking goggles and swim cap into the sleeve. Look up! There’s Andrea happy to see me survive the swim with a better time than last year. Moms and dads cheering me up the hill with cameras flashing.

1:23pm: Sunglasses, helmet, cycling shoes, race belt, bike, off we go. Cheered out of the transition zone onto the 20km bike course. HOT outside. 50/50 water/Gatorade is already warm but still refreshing. For me, anything sub 50 minute cycle will be a success and improvement.

2:09pm: 46 minute cycle. Awesome. On track for a new personal best. Rack the bike. Visor for helmet. Socks and running shoes for cycling shoes. Go! Ugg, legs don’t wanna! But, must. Cheered out of the transition again as the 5km run begins. HOT HOT outside. Lots of water stations, with hoses to spray us down were helpful. If I run my 30 or so minute 5km then I will be happy.

2:30pm: Having a short walk as I drink some water, and pour some water over my head. I decide to make friends with a 255 pound guy who’s thrilled to be near the end of the race. How do I know he’s 255lb? He tells me! Big strong guy now runs with me for a few minutes and then lets me know I can go on without him. I wish him luck and tell him I’ll see him at the finish line.

2:39pm: Thank goodness. Almost there. Let’s go! Pace quickens, finish line is in the near future. I reach the top of the last hill. Down hill from here. Run! Faster!!

2:46pm: Someone is on my heels but I’m not losing another place. Into the finish line I run with my family cheering me through. The sense of accomplishment is incredible. But, no time to relish in that. Water bottle, mist-tent to cool off.

2:50pm: Find my family, pose for pictures, eat some party sandwiches, ice-cream sandwich, and more water! Some quick math reveals a finishing time of 1 hour, 43 minutes. 8.5 minutes faster than last year!! Yay me.
The rest of the day is not too exciting. Pack it all up, passenger seat for the way home as Andrea chauffeurs me back to our TO home. I don’t sleep in the car this year though. Feeling energized and strong. Big difference a year makes.

My prize: Besides a great sense of accomplishment: Double patty burger with bacon and fries. Thank you South St. Burger.

Thank you Andrea, mom, mom and dad-in-law for your cheering squad. And, a special thank you to dad for support and most of all: inspiration. Happy Father’s Day!

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