I have written a bit about of the sport of triathlon since I’ve started this blog and there certainly will be more posts about it in the future, including today! I have just registered myself for next summer’s Ironman race in Huntsville, Ontario at the beginning of July. It is perhaps the biggest race in Ontario next year and will attract the world’s top athletes based on the beauty and the toughness of the course. And standing right there on the start line will be little ol’ me.
I want to use this post to explain the sport to those that may be unfamiliar with it, as future posts will include some of my training days and the races that I do next spring and summer as I dive right back into this wonderful sport. This sport changed my life, and maybe just maybe by sharing my love and passion for the sport with you, you may want to Give It A Try and it can change your life as well!
Whoever finishes first, We’ll call him the Ironman
During an awards banquet for the Waikiki Swim Club, John Collins, a Naval Officer stationed in Hawai`i, and his fellow athletes began debating which athletes were the fittest: swimmers, bikers, or runners. Later, he and his wife Judy, who had both participated in new competitions known as triathlons in San Diego, decided to combine three of the toughest existing endurance races on the island. On February 18, 1978, 15 competitors, including Collins, came to the shores of Waikiki to take on the first-ever IRONMAN challenge.
Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/history.aspx#ixzz50lbtAJTu
This sport has grown in popularity ever since that day and today Ironman races can be found in countries all around the world. I did my first official Ironman race in Louisville, KY back in 2009 and it changed my life. I was an active competitor in the sport from 2007 to 2010 and the very last race(s) I did was in Wasaga Beach where, believe it or not, I did three triathlons in one day, back to back to back.
I walked away from the sport after that day thinking to myself that I couldn’t end my journey that had started three and a half years ago any better way. After all in my head I felt I had accomplished everything I could in the sport. From experiencing the thrill of crossing the finish line for the first time, to races several full seasons of races everything single weekend, to winning my series age group, to coming in first in my age group, to outright winning a race (kind of…) to doing my first Ironman 70.3 that landed me on the cover of several magazines and print ads, to finishing a full Ironman, to finally capping it all with three races in one day and meeting Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Simon Whitfield who personally presented me with my Series Championship calling me crazy upon hearing that I did 3 races in one day. I also met 11 time Ironman Champion Lisa Bentley and even had the opportunity to train with her one weekend in Guelph.
Done it all, right? It was such an epic life journey that physically and mentally changed me forever.
But as George Costanza might say, “I’m back baby!”
So here is a breakdown of what I will be facing next July. The sport of triathlon is broken down into three disciplines. The first is the swim leg which varies in distance based on which type of race that you are doing, here is the breakdown of each type..
Give It A Try ~ 400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5km run
Sprint ~ 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run
Olympic ~ 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Ironman 70.3 ~ 1.9km swim, 94km bike, 21.1km run
Ironman ~ 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run
I’ve already done this exact swim back in 2009 during a long course triathlon and can it envision the swim exit in my mind. This race as mentioned will be in Huntsville, using the Canada Summit Center as the transition area and start/finish line. This area was completely renovated back in 2010 for a G8 leaders conference and I haven’t seen it since it was completed.
My swim will be 1.9km in distance headed out away from the transition area out into the middle of Fairy Lake turning left a few times and then down river to the swim exit. It will also be what is called a wave start where several smaller groups, all age related, start 3 minutes apart. In a full Ironman race it is generally a mass swim start where all athletes start at the same time. With a wave start it stretches out the field and you have a lot less elbows and feet hitting you in the face as you swim.
When you finish the swim, you would then head back to the transition area where you take off the wetsuit and get ready for the next leg of the day, the bike ride.
This is a 94m bike ride around the Lake of Bays. My family and I have rented a cottage the past few summers on this very lake, and a few years ago we just happen to be headed up to the cottage to start our vacation and stumbled across the bike leg of this very race. These races are done on open roads that are not closed to traffic which can always make bike riding a bit more interesting. On this drive into our cottage, I quickly explained to all the kids in the car what was going on, how Daddy had done this race several years ago and I rolled down the windows and had all of them yell encouragement to the racers as we slowly drove by. I know first hand what the comments from spectators can do to lift an athlete’s morale, especially people who may be new to the sport and struggling out there on the course. It can put smiles on faces, and fill racers with a renewed sense of energy.
There are so many spectators there to cheer on their loved ones, and they share that love and support with all the racers over the course of the day. They may not realize it, but all that cheering and support goes such a long way on these long, and often very hot grueling days. I still can vividly here a man with a thick heavy French accent yelling words of encouragement during a marathon that I did, yelling “Come On Edward you can do it! I believe in you!” That comment filled me with such energy and got me running again as I had stopped to walk as it was towards the end of the race and I was running out of gas.
As you finish up the bike leg you would head back into the transition area where you shed your bike gear and slide on the running shoes for this…
… a leisurely 21.1km loop course in and around downtown Huntsville and there will be lot’s of cheering voices and spectators being a looped run course. This means that it is two laps before turning back towards the finish line and into the finishing chute. This is where the most spectators are, loud music is playing, there is an awesome and inspiring race announcer yelling out everyone’s name as they cross the finish line.
It is such an amazing rush and feeling coming down that finishing chute and crossing the finish line, it is such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction finishing one of these races. The first time I finished this distance of triathlon, I cried that last 2km of the run reflecting on the last year of my life and the journey that I had just finished. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I literally jumped for joy into the air. That photo is one the one that would grace of the cover of magazines in the years to come.
I am pretty sure that I will have the same emotional journey again next summer reflecting on the past few years of my life and the journey that has lead me back to the sport that I love. I know this journey will continue to change my life in awesome and unexpected ways. I plan on sharing this adventure and all that I learn with all of you, enjoy as I know I will.