Niagara Triathlon (Relay)

Posted: August 9, 2011 in Races
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I had an opportunity to experience a new first this weekend, namely, my participating as part of a relay team at the local Niagara Triathlon.

I initially received a call on Wednesday from a fellow TryForce teammate who was injured recently when he took a tumble off his bike at approximately 41.5km/h, and as such, was unable to fulfill his duty as the lead-off man for the 750m swim leg on Sunday.  Enter myself.  What the hell?

I had never met my relay teammates before, but how can you turn down an opportunity to participate in a team named ‘Two and a Half Men’?  How awesome is that?  I had only initially planned to cycle out and cheer on my other teammates as I am preparing for my own Olympic distance triathlon this coming weekend in Goderich, Ontario but 750m is no big whoop at this point in my training so I figured I’d just chalk it up to another race-day simulation opportunity.  Besides, being hot and muggy as it was, a chance for a cool dip in Lake Ontario sounded ideal – better that than the bike or run leg anyway.

At 9:10am, sharp, the horn blew signaling the start for my wave (the fifth and last to start of the day).  This meant that four other waves had left before us leaving a chum of turned over sand and silt from the Lake bottom…it also meant navigating through approximately two hundred other triathletes to the finish.  Oh goodie.

Right where I like it: smack dab in the thick of it (facing the camera)

I decided from the onslaught  that I was going to go out ‘full gas’ knowing that I didn’t have to bike or run afterwards, and it’s seldom I get to push myself to this limit during a race.  Likewise, I have been training sans wetsuit lately in anticipation of the open water in the Gulf of Mexico, so suddenly having that extra buoyancy sure helped going fast, shall we say, a tad easier?  In fact, I felt like greased lightning in the water and I used it to my full advantage to pull myself to a quick lead over the other members of my wave.

For the first 200m or so I felt the tickle of different sets of fingers on my toes as other swimmers fought to find the perfect draft position behind me but, uh-uh, no way, not today folks.  It was on.  So, in a move similar to that mentioned in ‘The Hunt for Red October, I pulled what I will similarly refer to as a “Crazy Ivan”, where I suddenly change direction to shake off my trailers before reestablishing a new course.  This worked fabulously and I left about a half dozen or so other swimmers in my wake (and how often do you get to say that literally and really mean it?), struggling to find another draftee…of which there were none.  This pleased me immensely and I felt sly – seasoned even.  From that point on, I proceeded to refocus on catching the waves ahead of me.

By about the 300-350m mark I began to catch and mix myself into the swimmers in the waves ahead of me and the tricky task of navigating through the slower, less experienced swimmers began.  I have struggled with this in the past, so this provided an excellent opportunity to practice my sighting and I was I quite successful at picking my spots to slip through without the need to bump elbows, kick or swim over anyone else.  At one point, I even chose the low road and ducked under a lady breast-stroking in front of me.  I wonder what she thought at seeing another swimmer going under her.

By now, the water was getting rough with the splashing and kicking and whatnot as I entered the main scrum of swimmers but I was determined to fight through it instead of simply settling in and getting comfortable with everyone’s pace.  My heart was racing and my shoulders began to ache being unaccustomed to the faster pace I was trying to maintain.  In short, it felt fabulous.  Just what the doctor ordered after an otherwise shitty weekend.

The last turn around heading for home…

Rounding the last buoy I sighted my way to the finish and poured it on, passing another 2-3 dozen swimmer’s from the third, second and even first waves.  I was feeling pretty pleased with myself by this point.  With only a few slight adjustments to go around other swimmers I exited the water in 12:22m (that’s a pace of 1:39 per minute) – a new personal best at that distance.  In retrospect, the last time I swam this course back in 2009 I completed this same swim in 16:48m.  Cool, eh?

I was pleased with my nearly textbook swim and I was proud to have assisted the team to a third place finish in the relay division.  Similarly, my team mates also turned in both strong bike and run splits themselves and, ultimately, we missed second place by only a small margin.

  1. Lori Pajtasz says:

    12:22 minutes??? Holy Cr*#p!! Way to go Terry.

  2. Jeff C says:

    Way to go Terry! I can’t believe you passed someone from underneath…that’s too funny….not to mention cool. Good luck this weekend!!

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