Niagara Triathlon (Relay) or, “How to Buy Your Way Onto the Podium 101”

Posted: August 29, 2012 in Races
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Part of the whole appeal for triathlon to me is that it’s an individual sport.  There’s no one else to screw up, not show, or whatever, and thereby cause ill-performance.  No, in triathlon it’s all about you.  No one else is responsible for your failures or successes.  I like that.  However, it can get rather tedious when you spend so much time training and racing on your own.  Sure, I have some wonderful team mates and peers that inspire me and accompany me on periodic group rides, swims, etc.  But largely, I’m on my own.

So to combat this sense of isolation, it’s become part of my tradition now to try and take in at least one “fun event” each year as a means of enjoying a little team camaraderie.  Typically, this more social approach to the sport comes in the way of participating as part of a relay.  Last year, I did the Niagara Sprint Triathlon where I did the swim leg; and our team ‘Two and a Half Men’  fared pretty well too finishing in third.  So this year I decided to do the same again.  After all, how often do I ever get to go full out on any one discipline?

This year, however, instead of being sought out last minute I had it all pre-arranged with two sixteen year old phenoms who used to train in the pool with my TryForce Group on Sunday mornings.  Eric, aka ‘Aquaman’, is a great swimmer, Spencer, aka ‘Manta Ray’ is a great track and cross-country runner and, well, I can ride a bike.  So that’s two promising young athletes (the ringers) and…me.  Our team name:  ‘He’s with Us’.  Sounds like the formula for a fun day, right?

The day started out great and I met up with the boys in the morning and after what seemed like forever waiting in the porto-potty line waiting for Spencer to do whatever in God’s name he was doing in there, we got all registered, marked and ready to go.  I initially had some concerns that they race organizers were going to object to the young ‘uns participating in which case I had planned to act the ‘liberal day’ and sign any legal waivers, but there no questions or concerns regarding the boys age at all.  Boo-yah!  We were a go.

Aquaman suits up prior to the swim leg start

Eric, being the swimmer was the first to go.  Having suffered a little, shall we say, setback earlier in the year he had only recently begun to get back into swimming (with a wetsuit no less) at the lake while on summer vacation with his family.  He planned on being out of the water around the 15 minute mark.  However, at 13:55  he came charging up the ramp from the beach at full gas, which constituted the fastest swim of the day among all the other relay teams.  Gotta love unbridled youth!  So we were off to a great start…

Yours truly was next to go.  Once we swapped over the timing anklet it was full tilt to the mounting line and onwards.  At rather the last minute, I had decided to bring my road bike (Daisy) over my time trial bike.  I know I took a lot of grief from my team mates since the Niagara Triathlon bike leg is infamous for its challenging Park Hill climb.  My actual decision was based on that I haven’t raced with Daisy in over four years despite accumulating the majority of my annual mileage on her, so I planned on bringing her temporarily out of retirement.  In fact, the last time I raced on Daisy was at the Niagara Triathlon four years ago.  But, whatever, my defense was and still is, ‘always bring the right tools to get the job done’, and climbing Park Hill on a time trial bike wasn’t too appealing sounding.

Park Hill comes relatively early on the course and I decided to hit it at full bore and get up and over as fast as possible knowing that my other relay cyclists would be struggling on their carbon fiber flying machines.  I’ve noticed at relays that the bike legs tend to be REALLY fast as, typically, pure cyclists are chosen to fill this portion of the relay teams so I had no doubt that they would either catch me fast or I’d lose them altogether if I didn’t get up and out early.  I’m a decent cyclist, but I’m no Matty Goss like some of these other guys.  So hit it hard was the plan and let me tell you, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as passing people pushing $8,000 pieces of racing machinery up a hill.  Nice bike, too bad you don’t have the fitness or skill to really ride it.

The rest of the rest went pretty smoothly and I was surprised to keep ahead of the other relay teams for approximately 18-19k,  until I began to get passed by dudes tucked into their aero bars and going at the speed of light.  The wind was strong on top of the escarpment but I managed to keep a good 40-41 km/h  pace for the majority of the ride and I’m very happy with that.  And, of course, what goes up must come down, and so descending Park Hill again at 77 km/h  is (and always will be) a huge thrill.  I used the last 2-3k back to transition to overtake a few of the other rides who had managed to stay ahead of me using my inertia off the hill and finished my 25k ride in 47:11  (7thoverall)…not too shabby considering the long climb.

Last to go was our runner Spencer, or the “Gazelle”, as I overheard another participant refer to him as later that day.  Spence was ready to go, nearly taking off without the time chip he was so eager, and considering the time he spent in the porto-potty that morning, he was probably 15 lbs.  lighter at least.  What would have taken nearly 34-35  minutes to complete (7.5k) on a good day, Spencer managed to finish in 25:52; again, the top running split of the day with authority (nearly 4 minutes faster than the next quickest runner).  Fuck me that’s fast!  Just thinking about that pace makes my heart want to explode.

Our combined time for the day was 1:28:06,  good enough to place first for the Sprint Relay division. The boys were pretty impressed I must say, and why not?  They performed amazingly.  Best of all was the huge ass gold medal we got that was about as big as a dinner plate; definitely a nice piece of hardware to to add to the collection and and overall fun day to boot.

Oh yeah, here’s our official team photo:

Team: ‘He’s With Us’

Pretty self explanatory picture, wouldn’t you say?

I look forward to this event again next year, except the boys will no doubt want to give ‘er a go on their own as well they should, so I’ll be looking for new team mates and given some of the tentative plans I have in the works, it’ll be another unique relay adventure I’m sure.

  1. Carolyn says:

    Awesome. Love the name.

    BTW. I’m still reading and enjoying your successes Terry… Just from my google reader where I’m too lazy to click on the link and comment. Plus this whole pregnancy thing has kinda taken me back from the blog world.

    Keep on keepin on.

  2. Mom says:

    This is the kind of race I would have like to see. I would just need a heads up.

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