Ingredient #1

The first, foremost thing you need in order to write a race report is, um, a race. And I finally, after 18 months of cowardice and lame excuses, have one to report. In order to make it happen, I knew I had to keep the pressure low – I decided to tackle a little sprint triathlon, one that was just a weekday night frolic, one where nobody knew me.

Of course, in order to do that, I had to either race with a paper bag on my head (impedes oxygen uptake like you wouldn’t believe, and totally not aero) or find a race that was about 4000 km away. So I did.

While I was visiting friends and family back east, I jumped into a local race, the Triceratops Sprint. To keep the pressure off, I thought affirming things, like, “It’s fun to swim, bike and run! I do it all the time!” I did it on a borrowed roadie, no carbon anything anywhere, no funny hat, no quick-entry tri shoes. I put on socks for the run. Instead of entering the first, fasties’ wave, whose cutoff was a maybe-reach for me, I just started in my age group wave. And under the cover of anonymity, I was sure I could just relax and have a good time. Until I pulled my unmarked red triathlon suit out of my bag and realized I’d brought the red Team Canada kit with my name printed on my ass in letters four inches high. Hooooooo, boy.

It was such a busy week, however, that I didn’t really have time to get into a major snit about the race until late afternoon, when it was time to go to the site. Even then, a gift from God appeared: a classic midwest, green-skied, sheeting rain, crashing thunder, strobing lightning storm. I totally relaxed. They were going to cancel the race. We racked bikes in the rain, telling each other the race was off. We struggled into damp wetsuits, telling each other the race was off. And 15 minutes before the gun, long after the point of no return, the #*&^@ sun came out.

The fasties went off, then two more waves. By this point, you just kind of go along with the flow of things. So I did. And by gum, by the second buoy, not only was I mowing down swimmers from the previous waves, I was on the front of the 45-49 men and women. Thanks, Clint! Thanks, Tenille!!!

I was the first green cap out of the water, only wrestled a little with the wetsuit, and jumped onto the borrowed bike for a nice controlled, strictly-by-feel ride. (Hid the Garmin. It couldn’t have done me any good). I started mowing down 52-year-old men on carbon bikes.  And nobody ever passed me. Thanks, Clint! Thanks, Barton!!! Thanks, understanding scientists of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, whose road we take over every week!

The run is always my weak point and this was no exception, but I paced it well enough and didn’t die.  And as it turned out, that was enough to win my age group.

It’s a start.  I still struggle with the whole racing thing and did, indeed, spend the time before the race sinking into an ever-deeper silent funk, but I did it and hope maybe this is the start of being able to race with a little less drama and a little more fun.  The really good news (besides having broken the spell and gotten myself back into a race) is that I appear to be in pretty good shape right now.  Maybe I’ll, um, do it again.  On a carbon bike this time.